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What is a drought?

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader: a project of the Ohio Soybean Council and soybean checkoff

When the National Drought Mitigation Center constructed the latest U.S. Drought Monitor on March 16, much of the northern half of Ohio was considered D0 “Abnormally Dry”, with a portion of extreme Northwest Ohio being classified as a D1 “Moderate Drought.” The U.S. Drought Monitor is produced through a partnership between the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The Drought Monitor summary map identifies general areas of drought and labels them by intensity. D1 is the least intense level and D4 the most intense. Drought is defined as a moisture deficit bad enough to have social, environmental or economic effects. D0 areas are not in drought, but are experiencing abnormally dry conditions that could turn into drought or are recovering from drought but are not yet back to normal.

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NMPF urges more balanced dairy purchases in USDA listening session

 National Milk Producers Federation Senior Vice President for Policy Strategy and International Trade Jaime Castaneda urged federal officials to effectively allocate dairy products as a source of high-quality, cost-effective nutrition in any successor to the Farmers to Families Food Box Program at a USDA listening session

“Dairy foods, including milk, cheese, yogurt and butter, and many other dairy products are staples of our diet. No single food contains as much nutritional bang for the buck as milk,” said Castaneda during the session, hosted by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service. “Additional USDA purchases of milk and milk products, to then be donated to food banks and other charitable feeding organizations, would deliver a wide range of healthy nutrients to people at a relatively low federal cost. The cost-benefit equation for providing milk’s nutrition to the nutrient-insecure is enormous.”

USDA is soliciting feedback on how it should overhaul or restructure the Food Box program, implemented last year as part of the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic.… Continue reading

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USDA announces COVID-19 aid expanded to include more producers

USDA announced its plans to distribute more than $12 billion under a program called Pandemic Assistance for Producers, which includes aid that had been put on hold as well as funds newly allocated in the Consolidated Appropriations Act. The program assists farmers and ranchers who previously did not qualify for COVID-19 aid and expands assistance to farmers helped by existing programs. Farmers will need to sign-up only if they are applying for new programs or if they are eligible for CFAP assistance and did not previously apply.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack shared details of the new plan during a virtual meeting.

“We appreciate Secretary Vilsack’s action to release funds and expand eligibility for farmers hit hard by the devastating effects of COVID-19,” said Zippy Duvall, AFBF president. “USDA’s decision to distribute aid based upon previous applications will help deliver assistance quickly. It was good to hear directly from the Secretary today about this program and his priorities going forward.”… Continue reading

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Agriculture must be prioritized for COVID-19 vaccine

The American Farm Bureau Federation is urging the Biden administration to prioritize agriculture for the COVID-19 vaccine. In a letter sent to the administration, AFBF President Zippy Duvall called for the elimination of barriers to vaccine access for America’s farmers and farmworkers.

“We fully appreciate and support that our nation’s heroic first responders, medical professionals, the elderly and caretakers, along with other vulnerable individuals, clearly have the highest priority for vaccination,” President Duvall wrote. “As new COVID-19 vaccines are approved and ready for distribution, we encourage the administration to support granting priority vaccine access to employees across the food and agriculture supply chain. This prioritization would ensure that planting, harvesting, processing, and distribution of human and animal food can continue to ensure our grocery shelves and food pantries remain stocked.”

The administration recently directed states to prioritize vaccines for teachers. AFBF’s request that similar action be taken for agriculture is consistent with the recommendations of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s Framework for Equitable Allocation of COVID-19 Vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) COVID-19 Vaccination Program Interim Playbook for Jurisdiction Operations, and the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ recommendations.… Continue reading

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Growing a crop for a specialty market

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader: a project of the Ohio Soybean Council and soybean checkoff

When farmers look for new markets, and ways to receive a premium for their crop production, one option is growing an identity preserved (I.P.) crop. 

“If you are growing a non-patented seed, you are actually raising an I.P. product that you could be paid a premium for,” said Fred Pond, of Pond Seeds in Van Wert County. “Seed production for larger companies is typically in the ‘I’ states (Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana) and already established, however smaller companies may be interested in contracting with local growers.”

If starting a contractual agreement for an I.P. crop, it is important for farmers to understand the expectations. 

“When farmers consider business agreements to contract the production of I.P. crops, it is important to understand why the buyer is paying a premium for the product they are raising,” Pond said.… Continue reading

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SCN management: Seed treatments and sampling

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader: a project of the Ohio Soybean Council and soybean checkoff

Soybean Cyst Nematodes are one of the leading yield robbers for Ohio soybean producers every year.

“Real damage is being caused by Soybean Cyst Nematodes (SCN),” said Kaitlyn Bissonnette, researcher from the University of Missouri.

Ongoing research is being conducted by the SCN Coalition, which is a multi-state public-private partnership between universities and industry partners.

Kaitlyn Bissionnette, University of Missouri

The lifecycle of SCN begins with the adult female cyst nematode in the soil. One female SCN can produce up to 250 eggs per generation. There can be 5 to 6 generations of SCN per year depending on the location.

There are multiple stages in the SCN life cycle. The adult female nematode produces eggs. Once the eggs are in the soil, the eggs transition from an unhatched juvenile in the egg, to a hatching juvenile, to a penetrating juvenile (penetrating into the soybean root).

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Plant nutrient availability

By James Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

Plant  nutrient availability is dependent on several factors including soil moisture, temperature, microbes, pH, chemical nutrient form, and plant root proximity.  Plant roots require moist soil, adequate soil temperatures, and teaming microbes.  The microbes generally make most nutrients available in a reduced form.  Soils that are slightly anaerobic (lack oxygen) and slightly saturated result in reducing conditions for making nutrients plant available.

Farmers want to avoid the extremes to maximize plant growth and yield.  For example, highly oxidized and dry soils (nutrients tied up) are just as bad as highly saturated compacted soils where nutrients may be available, but tend to leach or be lost with flowing water.  Ideally, an inch rain is better than no rain or 3 to 5-inch rains. Roots cannot grow into saturated conditions so they need oscillating wet and dry cycles to absorb most nutrients efficiently.

Some soil nutrients are highly mobile while others are relatively immobile. 

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Apple Farm Service, Inc. announces new location

Apple Farm Service, Inc. is excited to announce the addition of their newest location in Washington Court House, Ohio. Beginning April 1, the Washington Court House location of Baxla Tractor Sales Inc. will be owned and operated by Apple Farm Service, Inc. 

 “We look forward to continuing the excellent customer service that the team at Baxla Tractor has created and building new relationships,” said Bill Apple, President and CEO of Apple Farm Service. “We wish Chris Baxla and his other two locations the best as they transition from three stores to two.”

Baxla Tractor Sales Inc. will continue to operate their two other locations in Seaman and Batavia. These two locations will not see any changes, and will operate under the same management that their customers have been accustomed to.

“I’m happy we could work together on this transition,” said Chris Baxla, owner of Baxla Tractor Sales Inc. “I’ve known Bill Apple for years.… Continue reading

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Forage planting this spring

By Mark Sulc and Jason Hartschuh, CCA, Ohio State University Extension

Early spring provides one of the two preferred times to seed perennial cool-season forages, the other being late summer. The outlook for this spring is for probabilities of above average precipitation in April and May. Planting opportunities will likely be few and short. An accompanying article on preparing now for planting along with the following 10 steps to follow on the day you plant will help improve chances for successful forage establishment.

  1. Check now to make sure soil pH and fertility are in the recommended ranges.  Follow the Tri-state Soil Fertility Recommendations (  Forages are more productive where soil pH is above 6.0, but for alfalfa it should be 6.5 to 6.8. Soil phosphorus should be at least 20 parts per million (ppm) for grasses and 30 ppm for legumes, while minimum soil potassium should be 100 ppm for sandy soils less than 5 CEC or 120 ppm on all other soils.
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South American corn production

By Jon Scheve, Superior Feed Ingredients, LLC

Global demand is focused on China’s upcoming needs, which are largely unknown.  The market is watching to see if they will buy more, cancel purchases, or delay shipments to next season.  

Supply is also uncertain and ever changing because it is heavily influenced by U.S. and South American weather, which is highly unpredictable. 

With so much uncertainty in so many areas of the world, the market will continue to be volatile until U.S. crop production estimates become clearer by August.  

South American corn production

There are many different corn crops grown in South America. The earliest planted is the Brazil’s first season corn crop which is planted from early September to mid-November. Argentina also grows a corn crop at nearly the same time with most of it planted in October. Brazil’s second and largest corn crop is planted in February and early March.  In the last couple of years there has even been a third Brazilian crop being planted in the north eastern portion of the country which is planted at nearly the same time as the U.S.… Continue reading

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Growing concern about trade relationship with Mexico

In March, 27 leading food and agriculture associations sent a letter communicating growing concerns over the rapid deterioration of the U.S.-Mexico trade relationship to Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai. The letter calls attention to alarming recent developments with regard to food and agriculture trade relationship with Mexico and urges action to address these challenges. 

Together, the group of associations represent much of the food and agriculture sector that is responsible for roughly one-fifth of the country’s economic activity, directly supporting over 23 million jobs — constituting nearly 15% of total U.S. employment. Signers include the American Farm Bureau Federation, the American Soybean Association, Corn Refiners Association, International Dairy Foods Association, North American Meat Institute, National Grain & Feed Association, and the U.S. Dairy Export Council.

The letter reads:

“Mexico is one of America’s most important food and agriculture trade partners. NAFTA has yielded strong benefits to both countries and the U.S.-Mexico-Canada… Continue reading

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Ohio Agriculture Conservation Initiative deadline fast approaching

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader: a project of the Ohio Soybean Council and soybean checkoff

Acronyms and Initialisms are abundant in agriculture today. Almost every discussion at the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) office, or County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) office involve them. Two of the latest initialisms that some producers may not be familiar with include: OACC and OACI.

“The OACI is a product of the OACC,” said Kris Swartz, farmer from Wood County, Ohio, and Chairman of OACI. “The OACC is the Ohio Agricultural Conservation Council, which is a group of agricultural and environmental organizations, and educational entities that have the goal of improving water quality in Ohio.”

The Ohio Agriculture Conservation Initiative (OACI) is an innovative collaboration of agricultural, conservation, environmental and research communities. OACI was formed in early 2019 to strategically address Ohio’s water quality issues. “The main goal of OACI is to help in decision making on the farm.

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National Ag Day

President Joe Biden has proclaimed March 23, 2021 as National Ag Day. This year marks the fifth year that The White House has publicly recognized National Ag Day as a salute to the contributions of America’s farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses.

The proclamation highlights how American agriculture has stepped up over the past year to ensure a safe and abundant food supply. It also stresses during the build back there will be an ag sector that works for everyone and highlights that ag will play a critical role in combatting climate change. The entire proclamation can be viewed at

Greg Horstmeier, DTN/Progressive Farmer, chairman of the board for the Agriculture Council of America, the national organization charged with promoting National Ag Day, said receiving this type of recognition from the administration and USDA greatly enhances the stature of National Ag Day, as well as the many local and state Ag Day activities planned around the country.… Continue reading

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Ohio’s Country Journal & Ohio Ag Net Podcast |Ep. 197 | Brackets and Beef

The madness has hit OCJ- March Madness that is! Kolt, Matt and Dusty talk NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament brackets with Stephanie Singer of the Nature Conservancy. Stephanie talks about the Farmer Advocate for Conservation Program. Kolt has audio with Roger High, Director of Livestock Policy with Ohio Farm Bureau Federation on the new guidelines for the 2021 Fair Season. Matt has audio with Pam Haley from their time at the 2021 Ohio Beef Expo.… Continue reading

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Ohio Beef Expo worth the wait

By Matt Reese

Judges scrutinized, auctioneers sold, and ringmen bellowed out the bids. Fitters fitted and exhibitors showed their cattle with poise. By all accounts, the trade show was well attended and clearly attendees were happy to see each other and gather as an industry. The cattle, as always, were top notch. 

The cattle industry met in Columbus for the Ohio Beef Expo for the first time since March of 2019. The event has tremendous implications for the state’s cattle industry and was a welcome addition to the March 2021 schedule for attendees. Making the show a reality, though, took an extensive effort from the planners, including Pam Haley, co-chair of the event.  

“We usually, on a normal year, start everything in early fall to start piecing things together. This year it has been ongoing since we had to cancel last year. We had to wait on the state to open up.… Continue reading

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Blue jackets, bright futures for new Allen East FFA

By Meredith Oglesby, OCJ FFA reporter 

When FFA members reflect on their time in the organization, memories of the blue corduroy jacket, friendships and endless opportunities rush to mind. Now, students at Allen East High School have the chance to grow, learn and become leaders through the new Allen East FFA Chapter

The chapter, which was started in the fall of 2020, currently has 85 FFA members. Chapter members have already been participating in service activities, the FFA fruit sale, FFA week and virtual career development events (CDEs). 

“The most exciting part of our new chapter is all of the new experiences that are happening,” said Grace Studor, an Allen East FFA member.  

The FFA organization is not entirely new to the Harrod area. Students in the 1960s were a part of the Harrod and Lafayette FFA Chapters. Harrod and Lafayette High Schools later consolidated in 1965 to form Allen East High School, during which the two FFA chapters disbanded. … Continue reading

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Upper Scioto River Watershed targeted with new conservation effort

American Farmland Trust, along with Ohio Corn and Wheat, Ohio Soybean, and Nutrien Ag, are partnering with the Soil and Water Outcomes Fund (SWOF) to offer farmers in the Upper Scioto River Watershed (USRW) the opportunity to sell both carbon and nutrient water quality credits. 

“By stacking a water quality credit payment on top of a carbon credit payment, the SWOF is offering significantly more money per acre than the current carbon-only credit payments,” said Mark Wilson, Farming for Cleaner Water project manager for American Farmland Trust. 

The Soil and Water Outcomes Fund provides financial incentives directly to farmers who transition to on-farm

conservation practices that yield positive environmental outcomes like carbon sequestration and water quality

improvement. We provide significant per-acre payments to farmers and landowners by selling these environmental outcomes to public and private beneficiaries.

Farmers and landowners are uniquely positioned to implement conservation solutions. These solutions generate value well beyond the farm, and the Soil and Water Outcomes Fund is structured to fairly compensate for that value.… Continue reading

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Grass tetany/ Hypomagnesemia — Start preventive measures now

By Michelle Arnold, Ruminant Extension Veterinarian, University of Kentucky Veterinary Diagnostic Lab; A special thanks to Dr. Jeff Lehmkuhler for his contributions to this article

What is “Grass Tetany” and when are cattle most likely to have it? Grass tetany, also known as spring tetany, grass staggers, wheat pasture poisoning, winter tetany or lactation tetany, is a condition resulting from a low level of magnesium (Mg) in the blood. Maintenance of blood magnesium depends on the amount obtained from the daily diet since the magnesium present in teeth and bones and is not easily mobilized in times of need. 

Magnesium is required for proper nerve and muscle function so low levels in the blood result in “tetanic spasms” where muscles contract uncontrollably. The disorder in an adult cow begins with separation from the herd and going off feed. The ears are often erect and twitching and the cow is alert, hyperexcitable and may be aggressive.… Continue reading

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Topdressing wheat with liquid swine manure

By Glen Arnold, CCA, Ohio State University Extension

Wheat fields are firming up across Ohio and topdressing with nitrogen fertilizer has started. We have had less precipitation than usual, and more livestock producers may be considering applying liquid swine manure as a topdress for wheat.

The key to applying the correct amount of manure to fertilize wheat is to know the manure’s nitrogen content. Most manure tests reveal total nitrogen, ammonia nitrogen and organic nitrogen amounts. The ammonia nitrogen portion is readily available for plant growth. The organic nitrogen portion takes considerably longer to mineralize and generally will not be available when wheat uptakes the majority of its nitrogen before mid-June.

Most deep-pit swine finishing manure will contain between 30 and 40 pounds of ammonia nitrogen per 1,000 gallons. Finishing buildings with bowl waters and other water conservation systems can result in nitrogen amounts towards the upper end of this range.… Continue reading

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Improving weed control and fighting resistance in soybeans

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader: a project of the Ohio Soybean Council and soybean checkoff

Since the 1970s the number of herbicide resistant weed species — and the sites of action that they have achieved resistance to — has increased dramatically.

“This is concerning to farmers considering that no new herbicide chemistries have been approved since Liberty (glufosinate) in the early 1990’s, said Mike Hannewald, field agronomist for Beck’s. “The amount of money and time it takes to develop a herbicide and then get the proper approval means there will not be anything new introduced in the near future. Farmers need to wisely manage weeds with the tools already available.”

Mike Hannewald, Field Agronomist for Beck’s

The best way to beat weed pressure is to stop the weeds before they start.

“Starting clean is the first step,” Hannewald said. “Burndowns can control weeds such as giant ragweed and marestail that emerge early in the season.

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