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A ride through history of Southern Ohio’s scenic railways

By Mike Ryan, OCJ Field Reporter

It is hard to overstate the enormous importance of the locomotive in the development of the American nation. Ever since the steam locomotive noisily announced its presence on the scene in the second half of the nineteenth century, the “steel highway” has played an integral role in United States economic, social, and industrial life. 

Observing the advent of this modern marvel, American naturalist John Muir rightly observed that the locomotive “annihilated” time and space, creating an extreme increase in the speed of travel and commerce. A symbol of American industry, it fueled the Industrial Revolution and facilitated business and trade on a vast national scale. The railroads altered physical landscapes and stimulated urban development and contributed to the affordability of travel. The train was transformative; it inspired a new spirit and vigor in American society, as 19th century essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson noted when he said, “Railroad iron is a magician’s rod, in its power to evoke the sleeping energies of land and water.” … Continue reading

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Forage harvest management to speed drying and store high quality forage

By Mark SulcJason Hartschuh, CCAAllen Gahler, Ohio State University Extension

It is forage management season in Ohio.

For dairy quality hay, alfalfa should be stored near 40% neutral detergent fiber (NDF) and grass hay crops should have less than 55% NDF, which happens in the boot stage, or before the first flowering heads begin to emerge. Keep in mind also that the cutting, drying, and storing process results in raising NDF levels at least 3 NDF units above what it was in the standing crop at the time of cutting, and that assumes quick drying and ideal harvesting procedures.

Cutting forage for haylage or dry hay is certainly a gamble but waiting for the perfect stretch of weather can end up costing us through large reductions in forage quality as the crop matures and the fiber becomes less digestible. Before cutting though, keep in mind that the soil should be firm enough to support equipment.… Continue reading

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Replanting decisions in corn and soybeans: What to consider

By Osler OrtezLaura LindseyAlexander Lindsey, Ohio State University Extension

Early plantings, cold air and soil temperatures, precipitation, wind, and warmer temperatures during or after planting may lead to reduced stands in planted fields due to factors such as imbibitional chilling, frost damage, soil crusting, and standing water. These factors (or combinations of them) can negatively affect seedling vigor, plant growth, crop establishment, and plant stands. Reduced stands may result in lower yields. If reduced stands are a concern, a potential solution is to replant fields. However, before replanting, here is a list of steps to consider:

Step 1. Wait… Plant stand should be assessed after ‘stable’ and ‘better’ conditions are achieved (e.g., warmer temperatures, good moisture conditions). Often, hasty decisions are not the best.

  • For corn, past work has shown that 50% emergence can be expected following accumulation of 150 soil GDDs (base of 50°F) from the time of planting, about 5-7 days under normal conditions.
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Do market conditions warrant $8 old crop corn and $7.50 new crop corn?

By Jon Scheve, Superior Feed Ingredients, LLC

After trading closed for the weekend, the Indian government issued a statement saying they would restrict India’s wheat exports. This is partially due to recent hot and dry weather there, and it seems like a way to curtail hoarding by other world buyers. This announcement sparked an increase in U.S. wheat prices when markets opened Sunday night and pulled corn and bean prices higher with it.

However, the Indian government’s wording in the statement suggests they could change the policy at any time for any reason, so this could lead to more volatility in the market moving forward.

USDA report highlights

Last time corn’s planting pace was this slow was 2013. Just like in 2013, the USDA decreased the estimated yield from what the Economic Forum published in February. It seems the market was already trading a perceived 177 yield, so a price premium was already built in going into the report. … Continue reading

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Planting date and crop yields

By James Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

Every year, weather seems to play havoc with farmer’s desire to get crops planted timely.  Early planted crops generally have a yield advantage over late planted crops. Most crop yield is related to moisture  at pollination in both corn and soybeans.  So, even if crops are planted later than normal, good yields are possible if there is adequate summer moisture.  Usually, July rains have a big impact on corn yields, while August rains have more of an impact on soybean yields.

Dr. Emerson Nafziger, Photo Credit, University of Illinois Extension

With high crop prices, farmers are eager to start planting.  Cold wet spring often delay planting.   University of Illinois, Dr. Emerson Nafziger, offers some insights on corn and soybean planting dates and yield. Generally, there is about a 3-week window in Ohio for optimal planting which is between April 20th and May 10th. Planting after May 10th on average results in about a 0.3% yield loss per day corn planting is delayed and by the end of May, this loss increases to 1% per day. 

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Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities pilot program update

This spring, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the first round of funding through the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities pilot program has received more than 450 proposals ranging from $5 million to $100 million each. The applications USDA received came from more than 350 groups across various sectors.

The American Soybean Association submitted two letters in support of proposals for the program. The first letter supports a project led by Bushel, Inc. and the U.S. Soybean Export Council, which will test the ability of their apps to collect climate-smart production data from farmers and transmit it to grain buyers in an effort to improve traceability and possibly augment the U.S. Soy Sustainability Assurance Protocol (SSAP). The second is in support of a project by the National Corn Growers Association, the National Pork Board and the United Soybean Board that aims to increase cover crop adoption in the corn-soy belt through creation of an innovative private marketplace that will generate demand for climate smart commodities.… Continue reading

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Ohio’s Country Journal & Ohio Ag Net Podcast | Ep. 254 | High Inflation and High Hills

Elizabeth Long of Ag Resource Management talks with Matt, Dusty, and Kolt about high inflation prices currently and what to expect in the coming months. Matt then catches up with Ben Seibert who is a grain and livestock farmer in Western, Ohio. Stephanie Singer of Nature Conservancy chats with Dusty about the Farmer Advocate for Conservation Program. All that and more thanks to AgriGold! … Continue reading

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Spring SCN testing and a research opportunity for Ohio growers

By Horacio Lopez-Nicora, Adapted from C.O.R.N. 2022-13


While it is important to know about the presence of SCN in a field, it is more important to know the SCN numbers. It will determine the best management strategy. It is important, therefore, to Test your Fields to Know your SCN Numbers.

In the spring, either before or at planting, is a good time to sample for SCN.

Soybean cyst nematode eggs (note SCN juvenile inside eggs). Photo Credit, The Ohio State University

A soil test in spring will reveal if SCN is present and if so, at what levels. If you are planning to collect samples for soil fertility or participate in an on-farm trial that requires soil sampling, a subsample can be used for SCN testing  

With funding from the Ohio Soybean Council and The SCN Coalition we will process up to TWO soil samples, per grower, to be tested for SCN, free of charge.

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Soybean planting progress, emergence, and misconceptions

By Dr. Laura Lindsey, Adapted from C.O.R.N. 2022-13

Recent wet weather across the state has slowed soybean planting progress, but should be picking up with warmer and dryer weather. As of the last week of April, 2% of the soybean acres in Ohio were planted. Last year at the same time, 17% of soybean acres were planted. However, 2018 through 2020, planting progress was similar at 1-2%.

Table 1. Percent soybean acres planted in Ohio by week for the past five years (USDA NASS).

As soybean planting continues and plants emerge, here are some things to look for as well as some common misconceptions from soybean extension specialists across the U.S.

What Matters at Planting and Emergence: At this point in the growing season, obtaining a stand of sufficient plant population is the first step in ensuring maximum soybean yield. It is important to seed at a rate that will provide an adequate and relatively uniform stand.

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Planting progress makes a big jump

Dry and warm weather advanced planting opportunities, according to Cheryl Turner, State Statistician, USDA NASS, Ohio Field Office. Topsoil moisture conditions were rated 5% short, 71% adequate, and 24 percent surplus. The average temperature for the week ending May 15 was 66.9 degrees, 7.3 degrees above normal. Weather stations recorded an average of 0.39 inches of precipitation, 0.45 inches below average. There were 4.5 days suitable for fieldwork during the week ending May 15.

The past week’s warmth and wind allowed soils to dry, permitting row crop producers to turn their attention towards fieldwork. Farmers were actively spraying, tilling, planting, and applying manure. Despite the improved weather, corn and soybean planting continued to lag behind the 5-year average. Corn was 31% planted, and 5% of corn had emerged. Soybean planting progress was 18%, while 3% were emerged. Oats were 71% planted and 43% of oats were emerged. Winter wheat jointing was 87% while the winter wheat crop was rated 60% good to excellent condition, up from last week. … Continue reading

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Adjusting feed as costs rise

By Matt Reese

Skyrocketing feed costs have livestock producers pushing pencils, adjusting and re-adjusting their nutrition plans to manage expenses. 

Nathan Eckel farms around 2,000 acres in Wood County and feeds out Holstein cattle with his brother. Eckel considers it a “good” year when crop prices are high because of some restructuring they have done to meet the nutritional needs for the cattle on the feedlot. 

“My brother and I usually have around 700 head of cattle on feed here all the time in conjunction with our row crop ground we farm in northwest Ohio,” Eckel said. “Pre-pandemic, we saw cattle prices dwindling down. We were looking for a way to mitigate our losses and do more with what we have here on the farm rather than having to rely on other producers to produce the products we feed our livestock. We changed our feeding operation to try to capitalize on our livestock operation as feed prices were ticking up and fat cattle prices were heading down. … Continue reading

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Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation awards record scholarship amount

Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation recently awarded nearly $85,000 in scholarships to students across the state, the highest amount given in a single year.

According to Tara Durbin, president of the Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation Board and chief lending officer for agriculture at Farm Credit Mid-America, the Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation has put intentional focus on its purpose to create more clarity and awareness around what the foundation is, and the work that it is committed to. 

“Our focus is to inspire and educate the next generation of agricultural professionals through scholarships, innovative programming and grants. We are in a strong position to catapult the Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation to the next level, thus creating greater awareness around careers in agriculture and success to the next generation of agricultural professionals,” Durbin said. “This year’s record-breaking amount of awarded scholarship dollars is a true testament to the continued dedication and hard work from our board, donors and volunteers.”… Continue reading

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Grass tetany: A complex disorder with easy prevention

By Jeff Lehmkuhler, Extension Professor University of Kentucky and Michelle Arnold, UK Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory

Classic “grass tetany” is a rapidly progressing and potentially fatal disorder caused by low magnesium level in the blood, also known as “hypomagnesemia”. It is usually seen in older, lactating beef cows when grazing young, succulent grass in early spring, particularly during cool and rainy weather. Other common names for this disorder, including spring tetany, grass staggers, wheat pasture poisoning, and lactation tetany, reflect the season of the year, symptoms seen, types of forage, or physiology of the animals most often involved.

Magnesium is an essential mineral as its presence is vital for many enzymes of major metabolic pathways, in normal nerve conduction and muscle contraction, and in bone mineral formation. Approximately 60-70% of total magnesium in the body is bound up in the bones. Grass tetany occurs when the magnesium (Mg) level in blood decreases rapidly, resulting in less than adequate Mg reaching the cerebrospinal fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord.… Continue reading

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Crusting soil concerns

By Osler OrtezLaura Lindsey, Ohio State University Extension

Warmer temperatures combined with dryer weather finally pushed planting progress along. For fields that have been already planted, recent precipitation and warmer days ahead can build conditions for soil crusting. When heavy rains occur after planting, soil crusting can become a concern, inducing a shallow hard layer on the soil surface that forms due to rapid drying (e.g., warm days and wind). Conditions prone to soil crusting include conventionally tilled fields (in addition to soil erosion), low cover crop residue, fine soil textures, and soils with low organic matter. Besides affecting seedling emergence, soil crusting can result in poor growing conditions, reduced stands and plant vigor, and less water infiltration to the soil profile.

For soybean, if you suspect poor emergence due to soil crusting (or any other factor), take a stand count from several areas within your field at the VC growth stage (unifoliate leaves unrolled sufficiently, so the leaf edges are not touching).… Continue reading

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Right to repair?

By Leisa Boley-Hellwarth

Does a farmer have a right to repair his or her own tractor? This is actually not a simple question. And I’m not sure I know the answer. 

            Last July, President Biden issued an executive order promoting competition in the economy. An executive order is a directive by the President that manages operations of the federal government. This order called on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to limit anti-competitive practices as a way to promote economic growth in the United States. Included in this order was a recommendation to the FTC to make it easier and cheaper for consumers to repair items they own by limiting manufacturers’ ability to bar self-repairs or third-party repairs of their products. While right to repair affects many products, agricultural markets are specifically noted as becoming increasingly concentrated and less competitive — meaning farmers and ranchers have to pay more for their products.… Continue reading

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Biden addresses agriculture and tackles food prices

From an Illinois farm in May, President Joe Biden highlighted measures meant to increased crop production in the face of global crop and food stresses brought on by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“Farmers are the breadbasket of democracy. You really are,” Biden said.

The White House released a three-pronged plan meant to increase crop production and curb input costs for producers. 

• Double cropping: USDA will expand double-cropping crop insurance to cover 681 additional counties to incentivize farmers to consider double-cropping crops such as soybeans after winter wheat.

• Precision agriculture: USDA will open programs such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) to prioritize precision agriculture technology for nutrient management or water efficiency in areas prone to drought. Those programs are already funded in the farm bill to encourage such aid and technical assistance.

* Domestic fertilizer: USDA had initially committed $250 million to boost domestic fertilizer capacity.… Continue reading

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