Barley weed control the subject of OSU research

Researchers with the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University are conducting studies to determine the best weed control strategies for spring barley, a crop that is now getting more attention from farmers due to growth of the craft beer industry in Ohio and neighboring states.

“We are currently in our first year of research to determine the safest and most effective herbicide programs for spring barley in Ohio,” said Mark Loux, an Ohio State University Extension weed specialist. “Summer annual weeds such as ragweeds, lambsquarters, pigweeds and foxtails are the primary weed problem in spring-planted crops, and the competitiveness of the crop with weeds will be affected by planting date and stand density, among other things.”

The spring barley weed control study is taking place at the college’s Western Agricultural Research Station in South Charleston. It includes two different planting dates and different types of herbicide treatments, designed to determine what kind of weed control treatments are needed and what the crop responses and yield are.… Continue reading

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Understanding fertilizer numbers

Agronomy professionals can talk all day about a variety of the technical aspects involved in farming and growing crops. And many of them do, even me, or so I’ve been told. And when doing so, most assume that the audience is up to speed on the basics on which the talks are built. But that is not always the case. Recently I was talking with some growers and dealers about the analysis of a blend of fertilizer products, when I realized that there was some confusion on what exactly those numbers meant.

Look at any bag, jug or fertilizer label, and you will see three numbers separated by hyphens. These numbers represent nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium content. Some fertilizers have more than three numbers, and in those cases the extra numbers represent other nutrients. It doesn’t matter if it is liquid or dry fertilizer, as the numbers represent the percent by weight of each nutrient the product contains.… Continue reading

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Farmers have the chance to comment on atrazine assessment

The National Corn Growers Association this week urged farmers to submit comments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, following publication of the Agency’s draft Ecological Risk Assessment for atrazine, an herbicide used for weed control in growing corn and other crops. If it stands, EPA’s recommendation would effectively ban the use of atrazine in most farming areas in the U.S.
“Atrazine is a safe and effect crop management tool. If EPA succeeds in taking away this option, it will be sending farming practices back decades – and hurt the environment in the process,” said Maryland farmer Chip Bowling, President of NCGA. “As a farmer and a conservationist, I can’t let this go unanswered. That’s why I’m urging farmers to contact the EPA and make their voices heard.”
Atrazine is a widely used herbicide proven to combat the spread of resistant weeds, while also reducing soil erosion and improving wildlife habitats.
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OSU Extension tour highlights diversified Fairfield County farm

Farmers Josh and Lynne Schultz put more than eggs in their basket.

They put greens, sweet corn, cabbages, carrots, eggplants, tomatoes and potatoes in it, too – to name just a few.

Then they sell them directly to consumers through farmers markets and their own community supported agriculture program, or CSA.

The Schultzes run Schultz Valley Farms in Lancaster in southeast Ohio, a 200-acre family farm that yields a virtual smorgasbord. Not just fresh vegetables but beef, oats, herbs, baked goods and maple syrup are some of its wares.

“Josh and Lynne Shultz are amazing young producers,” said Jerry Iles, agriculture and natural resources educator with Ohio State University Extension’s Fairfield County office, also in Lancaster. “They have three young children, work off-farm jobs, and grow and sell a huge variety of products.

“Their farm shows how diversified a direct marketing operation has to be to generate enough income to sustain a family business.”… Continue reading

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CCA Exam registration closing soon

The next Certified Crop Adviser (CCA) Exam is to be held August 5, 2016 — we are nearing the end of the registration period on June 24, 2016.

To become certified in the Certified Crop Adviser Program requires the taking and passing of two exams — the International Certified Crop Adviser Exam and a local board exam (for Ohio, the Tri-State exam). In addition to passing both exams, you are required to submit proof of the required work experience and educational background, which will be reviewed by your local board before certification can be granted.

To register for the CCA exam(s), you must fully complete the online exam registration. Within two weeks of the exam, you will receive a confirmation email stating the exact time and location of the exam. Registration instructions for the CCA exams can be found at:

Three new CCA specialty areas were recently developed to meet increasing need.… Continue reading

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Watching for fertilizer burn

Some plants don’t have much of a root system while others show a beautiful root system with no shoot.  What is going on? In each case I have looked at this year, each farmer was using more than 30 pounds of total nitrogen (N) (28% plus 10-34-0) and/or sulfur in a 2×2 system. These reduced stands appear to be caused by fertilizer injury burn.
Urea ammonium nitrate (28% UAN) is made up of 50% urea, 25% ammonium, and 25% nitrate. When urea volatilizes, it turns into ammonia (the same type of ammonia in anhydrous ammonia) and is lost to the air. That’s why we need to work in urea (or stabilize it) within a few days after application if we are using it as a N source. As a starter, stabilizing N is not recommended and is not normally a problem.
So what made urea volatilize faster this year?
  1. Volatility of urea is microbial driven, so warmer temperatures make this reaction occur more quickly.
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USDA report mixed

The USDA report Friday was mixed. Increased U.S. demand for corn and soybeans was supportive. Higher production and higher ending stocks were a negative for wheat. 

Corn ending stocks were reduced 95 million bushels for old crop, new crop ending stocks went down 145 million bushels. The yield remained the same for new crop at 168 bushels per acre. While the corn numbers could be viewed friendly the market action following the report did very little. Before the report corn was up 1 cent. In the minutes that followed the noon release, corn did manage to be up 10 cents. Those gains were not holding at 12:25 with corn down 4 cents. 

Soybeans could be considered a touch friendly. However, like corn the early gains did not hold. Before the report soybeans were up 12-14 cents. After the report they did breach the $12 mark on the July CBOT as they reached $12.08.Continue reading

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Cool, wet spring may increase risk of needle nematodes

A cool, wet spring may put corn planted in sandy soils at greater risk of attack by the destructive needle nematode, Purdue Extension nematologist Jamal Faghihi said.

Nematodes are microscopic, cylindrical worms that live in a variety of habitats, sometimes living parasitically in or around plant and animal hosts. The needle nematode feeds around the roots of corn and other grasses, requires moisture and prefers loose, sandy soil, Faghihi said.

“The needle nematode must have certain conditions to show up. If spring is cool and wet, the likelihood of its showing up is very high,” he said. “In the northern and western parts of the state, the nematodes are a very prominent problem and can cause a lot of damage.”

Symptoms of needle nematode infestation in corn include short, brown roots with clubbed ends and stunted yellow plants. While the symptoms may initially resemble those of herbicide injury or moisture damage, symptoms from these causes will be more widespread across the field, while nematode damage will appear in random patches.… Continue reading

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With planting finished, it’s time to take a walk

Finally corn and soybean fields are planted and are up and growing. Now growers need to walk their fields often or hire a professional to identify crop issues that can impact yields.

What happens in the next 80 to 90 days will have a major effect on maximizing yield potential. A good tool for scouting plan is the Corn and Soybean pocket Field Guide from Purdue or Ohio State University. Here are some potential problems to monitor.

There are corn fields where seedling blights — especially Pythium  — had an effect on the stand, especially in early planted fields. With the wet and cold conditions of early May, soil borne insects including wireworms and seed corn maggots attacked the seed and also hurt the stand. For some fields where 30,000 to 34,000 kernels were dropped, because of seedling blights and insect issues, stands were reduced down to 24,000 to 28,000 plants.… Continue reading

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Handling cover crops in a challenging spring

Nathan Long and Jim Case, who farm in Delaware County, have learned to expect great things when planting into a cover crop.

“Our soil structure and drainage have definitely improved. We see a lot more water percolation through the ground. We were doing this in the 50s and 60s when I was growing up and we had livestock and a nice rotation,” Case said. “We have gotten away from that and the soil structure has suffered. The microbial activity with the cover crops really helps and we are getting a better more uniform seedbed. Then we have a mat of organic matter that holds moisture through the summer.”

In the spring, for planting, they typically kill off the cover crop if it is not already dead.

“If you’re going to plant into it green I would expect the cover crop to pull up the excess moisture we’ve had this spring. The top six inches of tilth from the roots will let the planter run easier and it will close up easier.… Continue reading

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Honeybees pick up “astonishing” number of agricultural, urban pesticides via non-crop plants

A Purdue University study shows that honeybees collect the vast majority of their pollen from plants other than crops, even in areas dominated by corn and soybeans, and that pollen is consistently contaminated with a host of agricultural and urban pesticides throughout the growing season.

Christian Krupke, professor of entomology, and then-postdoctoral researcher Elizabeth Long collected pollen from Indiana honeybee hives at three sites over 16 weeks to learn which pollen sources honeybees use throughout the season and whether they are contaminated with pesticides.

The pollen samples represented up to 30 plant families and contained residues from pesticides spanning nine chemical classes, including neonicotinoids — common corn and soybean seed treatments that are toxic to bees. The highest concentrations of pesticides in bee pollen, however, were pyrethroids, insecticides typically used to control mosquitoes and other nuisance pests.

“Although crop pollen was only a minor part of what they collected, bees in our study were exposed to a far wider range of chemicals than we expected,” Krupke said.… Continue reading

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Frustrating early spring gives way to rapid late planting progress

It has been a very frustrating planting season for Adam Kirian and his brother on their Hancock County farm.

The cool, moist conditions from March through mid-May were great for the wheat, but not for much of anything else on the corn, soybean, hay, fresh produce, and cattle operation.

“I made a joke a couple of days ago and said that I wished we had planted everything to wheat because it looks excellent. We had a cool damp spring and it was favorable for the wheat. There is a lot of fungicide going on right now as we get closer to filling grain. I would say we are 40 or 45 days at least away from wheat harvest. It is starting to warm up right now,” said Adam Kirian on May 26. “We didn’t get any corn in the ground until May 20. We started working ground the day before on the well-drained stuff.… Continue reading

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Soy-based replacement for BPA receives innovation award

A new coating technology, Soy-PK Reactive Oligomer Cross-Linker, which could be used to replace Bisphenol A (BPA) in a wide variety of applications has been awarded second place in the Bio-Based Chemical Innovation of the Year category during the 2016 Bio-Based Innovation Awards. This award follows recognition of the product during the 2015 European Coatings Innovation event as one of the top 10 innovative technologies of the year.

The soy-based alternative was created by the Ohio Soybean Council (OSC) and soybean checkoff in partnership with researchers at Battelle in Columbus.

“We’re very happy to receive this level of recognition and interest in Soy-PK,” said Barry McGraw, OSC Director of Product Development and Commercialization. “It’s great timing with respect to market trends and consumer demands. We have the potential to fill that gap for food production, such as food, beer or soda companies.”

Many food packaging companies have been working to find alternatives to BPA since research has proven its potential to release chemical toxins over time.… Continue reading

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Adjusting for late planted soybeans

Warmer temperatures and drying fields mean more farmers are taking advantage of the mild weather to catch up on planting after delays earlier in the season kept many out of their fields.

But those growers who still aren’t able to get their soybean crops in before June may need to make slight adjustments to their management plans, says a field crops expert in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University.

After weather fluctuations during the growing season this year that have included freezing temperatures and snow flurries to sunny, 80-degree days to excess rain and cooler conditions that have left fields too wet to plant, many farmers need to catch up to get their crops in the ground, said Laura Lindsey, a soybean and small grains specialist with Ohio State University Extension.

Across Ohio, as of the week ended May 22, only 22% of soybeans were planted, according to the U.S.… Continue reading

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EPA going after atrazine, again

Many in agriculture are not pleased with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency release of its draft report for the ecological risk assessment of atrazine.

Here is the abstract from the EPA draft report released yesterday.

“This refined assessment presents the ecological risks posed by the use of the herbicide atrazine. Based on the results from hundreds of toxicity studies on the effects of atrazine on plants and animals, over 20 years of surface water monitoring data, and higher tier aquatic exposure models, this risk assessment concludes that aquatic plant communities are impacted in many areas where atrazine use is heaviest, and there is potential chronic risk to fish, amphibians, and aquatic invertebrates in these same locations. In the terrestrial environment, there are risk concerns for mammals, birds, reptiles, plants and plant communities across the country for many of the atrazine uses. EPA levels of concern for chronic risk are exceeded by as much as 22, 198, and 62 times for birds, mammals, and fish, respectively.… Continue reading

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Be sure hay is dry enough to reduce fire risk

The rainy weather this spring has made harvesting and drying hay for safe storage more difficult, potentially raising the risk of barn fires, a Purdue Extension forage specialist said.

Storing hay with a moisture content of more than 20% without using a preservative could allow the growth of bacteria that release heat and cause mold formation, said Keith Johnson, professor of agronomy. This process increases the inner temperature of the bales, sometimes high enough to cause spontaneous combustion.

Johnson said it can take three to four weeks for temperatures to reach critical levels. He advised farmers to check stored hay regularly for warning signs of moisture or heating, including checking the temperature within stored bales and touching bales to see if they are hot.

Farmers should also be alert for steam rising from bales, condensation on the walls or ceiling of the barn, mold on the outer surface of the hay or an acrid odor.… Continue reading

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Fact sheet could help producers keep specialty crops safe from herbicide drift

Ohio’s corn and soybean growers could soon be spraying a lot more of two powerful herbicides on their fields. That’s why experts from Ohio State University Extension are offering tips on how to keep those herbicides from getting on other crops, especially valuable specialty crops such as grapes.

Doug Doohan and Roger Downer, both of the Department of Horticulture and Crop Science, are the authors of “Reducing 2,4-D and Dicamba Drift Risk to Fruits, Vegetables and Landscape Plants,” a new fact sheet that explains how herbicide sprays can drift onto nontarget fields, the special concerns about the herbicides 2,4-D and dicamba, and how to prevent unwanted damage to crops.

The fact sheet is also intended, Doohan said, to raise awareness of Ohio’s specialty crops, which include not just grapes but apples, berries, peaches, herbs, hops, pumpkins, tomatoes and nursery-grown trees, to name a few. The grape and wine industry alone, according to recent figures, contributes some $786 million to the state’s economy.… Continue reading

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Keeping hay in the rotation

The challenges of making good hay are many.

It requires season-long hour-by-hour weather watching, extensive time management skills, the equivalent of a PhD in engineering required to make even routine in-field repairs, and the patience under pressure of the most skilled surgeons when making said repairs with a rain cloud looming. Those making hay also need to know a good bit about chemistry, biology, agronomy, physics, and have the people skills of a top waiter at a white tablecloth restaurant to deal with an often fickle customer base trying to feed livestock worth more than most homes.

At any rate, it ain’t easy making hay, but somebody has to do it. One of those somebodys is Mike Lutmer from Warren County. Mike and his brother Chris have been working with hay since they were young.

“Currently, we have around 200 acres of hay. We also do some custom work. A majority of our hay customers have been with us for over 15 years.… Continue reading

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It seems everyone has a “package” that gives an extra bump in yield. Many of these packages contain micronutrients. In Ohio, because we generally have clay in our soil and reasonable levels of organic matter, we don’t regularly see a yield impact from applying micronutrients. So should we be concerned about micronutrients?

Our soil tests are most reliable for pH, phosphorus and potassium. We usually use a combination of soil and tissue tests to determine micronutrient deficiencies. Soil pH can also help us know where to look for deficiencies. Table 1 outlines some situations in which to watch for these deficiencies.


Table 1 Crop and soil conditions under which micronutrient deficiencies may occur. This taken from Table 23 of the Tri-State Fertilizer Recommendations.


Boron (B)Sandy soils or highly weathered soils low in organic matterAlfalfa and clover
Copper (Cu)Acid peats or mucks with pH < 5.3 and black sandsWheat, oats, corn
Manganese (Mn)Peats and mucks with pH > 5.8, black sands and lakebed/depressional soils with pH > 6.2Soybeans, wheat, oats, sugar beets, corn
Zinc (Zn)Peats, mucks and mineral soils with pH > 6.5Corn and soybeans
Molybdenum(Mo)Acid prairie soilsSoybeans


Typically we will see deficiencies occurring in small isolated areas of a field first.… Continue reading

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Late soybean planting (and replanting)

Wet weather has kept many farmers (and us) out of the field.  According to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, as of May 15, 10% of the soybean acres were planted.  At the same time last year, 46% of soybean planting was complete.  On average, in Ohio, the majority of soybean acres are planted mid to late May (Table 1).  Although, it is not uncommon for soybean planting to creep into June.  In general, we don’t recommend altering soybean management until planting in June.  Below are some guidelines to consider if planting soybeans in June.

soybean yield by date

Row spacing.  Regardless of planting date, we recommend planting soybean in narrow rows (7.5 to 15 inches).  The goal is to have row widths narrow enough for soybean canopy closure by the time flowering occurs in late June/early July.  This becomes even more important as soybean planting is delayed.  The later in the growing season soybeans are planted, the greater the yield increase due to narrow rows. … Continue reading

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