Featured News

USDA announces projects to provide increased renewable energy production, reduce reliance on foreign oil

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the establishment of four additional Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) project areas to promote the cultivation of crops that can be processed into renewable energy. Acreage in Arkansas, Missouri, Ohio and Pennsylvania will be designated to grow giant miscanthus, a sterile hybrid warm-season grass that can be converted into energy to be used for heat, power, liquid biofuels, and bio-based products.

“Renewable, home-grown, clean energy from American producers is vital to our country’s energy future because it reduces our reliance on foreign oil and creates good-paying production jobs that cannot be exported,” said Vilsack. “Today’s announcement will make a significant contribution to rural America and create nearly 4,000 jobs, demonstrating the great economic potential the production of renewable energy holds for our rural communities.”

It is estimated that each of the four project areas and conversion facilities would earn about $50 million per year. According to industry estimates, a large number of biorefinery, agriculture and support jobs will be created in each area.… Continue reading

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June is the time to test for nematodes in corn

There are no good ways to control nematodes in corn once the crop is planted. Votivo has proven effective as a nematicide when applied as a seed treatment. However, because it adds cost, not everyone chose to add it. Companies varied in their policies for adding and charging for treatments.

Nematodes have traditionally been thought of as soybean pests – the soybean cyst nematode. In recent years, though, it became apparent that other nematodes attack corn, particularly in lighter soils. What’s not known is how widespread nematode infestation might be.

The way to see if there is a corn nematode problem is to do soil samples in June, said Dave Nanda, director of genetics and technology for Seed Consultants. Obviously, you’ve already made your decisions for the year as whether to apply the nematicide or not. What you’re looking for by testing in June is looking ahead to making the most economical decisions next year.… Continue reading

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Ohio family featured in national corn coalition campaign

For the third year in a row, our nation’s capital will learn about the U.S. family farmers who produce corn, our nation’s top crop, as part of the Corn Farmers Coalition program that debuts today at Union Station, an important venue for reaching policymakers inside “The Beltway.”

“Even in the 21st Century, corn farming remains a family operation,” said Kansas Corn Commission Chairman Mike Brzon, a farmer from Courtland, Kan. “In many cases, such as mine, this vocation goes back multiple generations. The family farmer growing corn for a hungry world isn’t a myth, but a critical economic engine for our country and it’s important that policy makers and influencers realize this.”

Corn farmers from 14 states and the National Corn Growers Association are supporting the Corn Farmers Coalition program to introduce a foundation of facts seen as essential to decision making, rather than directly influencing legislation and regulation.

“Once again, we’re putting a face on today’s family farmers to showcase the productivity and environmental advances being made in the industry and to provide factual information on how innovative and high-tech corn farmers have become,” said Brzon.… Continue reading

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Head scab is not the only cause of bleached wheat heads

By Pierce Paul and Dennis Mills, Ohio State University Extension

We have received several reports of bleached wheat heads in fields across the state. The distribution of symptoms in the affected fields ranges from individual bleached heads scattered throughout the field to huge sections of fields or entire fields with bleached heads. Timing of symptom development ranges from one to three weeks after flowering. In some instances, bleached heads are empty (blank). Such a wide variety of patterns and symptom characteristics is causing considerable confusion among producers as to whether they are dealing with head scab or some other problem. Scab does indeed cause bleached heads, but it is not the only cause of this type of head disorder. Along with head scab, take-all, hail, frost, flooding, and injuries caused by insects (wheat stem maggot) may all lead to bleached or white discoloration of wheat heads.

Useful information to help you determine whether you are dealing with scab include 1) the weather condition shortly before and during flowering, 2) the timing of symptom development after flowering, 3) the bleaching pattern on the head and the plant, and 4) the distribution of affected heads in the field.… Continue reading

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Owens Community College unveils Urban Agriculture & Sustainability Certificate Program

Area residents with aspirations of learning how to grow, maintain, harvest, store and distribute local produce and animal products will now have the opportunity to begin their educational journey at Owens Community College as the academic institution’s Department of Science unveils a new Urban Agriculture and Sustainability Certificate Program. Beginning Fall Semester 2011, the new academic program will be offered on the Toledo-area Campus in Perrysburg Township and at The Source Learning Center in downtown Toledo.

“Owens Community College is excited to expand our academic curriculum specific to the urban agricultural concentration area and offer this region’s first Urban Agriculture and Sustainability Certificate Program,” said Matthew Ross, Owens Faculty Member of Urban Agriculture. “The popularity of community gardening, especially within urban areas, has grown immensely within the last few years as result of increased awareness of our food systems and the desire of local residents to grow their own produce for economic and health reasons.… Continue reading

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Owens Community College unveils Urban Agriculture & Sustainability Certificate Program

Area residents with aspirations of learning how to grow, maintain, harvest, store and distribute local produce and animal products will now have the opportunity to begin their educational journey at Owens Community College as the academic institution’s Department of Science unveils a new Urban Agriculture and Sustainability Certificate Program. Beginning Fall Semester 2011, the new academic program will be offered on the Toledo-area Campus in Perrysburg Township and at The Source Learning Center in downtown Toledo.

“Owens Community College is excited to expand our academic curriculum specific to the urban agricultural concentration area and offer this region’s first Urban Agriculture and Sustainability Certificate Program,” said Matthew Ross, Owens Faculty Member of Urban Agriculture. “The popularity of community gardening, especially within urban areas, has grown immensely within the last few years as result of increased awareness of our food systems and the desire of local residents to grow their own produce for economic and health reasons.… Continue reading

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Genome offers clue to functions of destructive wheat fungus

One of the world’s most destructive wheat pathogens is genetically built to evade detection before infecting its host, according to a study that mapped the genome of the fungus.

Stephen Goodwin, a Purdue and U.S. Department of Agriculture research plant pathologist, was the principal author on the effort to sequence the genome of the fungus Mycosphaerella graminicola, which causes septoria tritici blotch, a disease that greatly reduces yield and quality in wheat. Surprisingly, Goodwin said, the fungus had fewer genes related to production of enzymes that many other fungi use to penetrate and digest surfaces of plants while infecting them.

“We’re guessing that the low number of enzymes is to avoid detection by plant defenses,” said Goodwin, whose findings were published in the early online edition of the journal PLoS Genetics.

Enzymes often break down plant cell walls and begin removing nutrients, leading to the plant’s death. M. graminicola, however, enters the plant through stomata, small pores in the surface of leaves that allow for exchange of gases and water.… Continue reading

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Between the Rows-June 13, 2011

“We started planting June 2 and finished everything on June 8. We planted all the corn that we were going to plant. We finished beans and corn on the same day. The corn planter never shut off for four days. We had a half-inch of rain last Thursday. It was perfect. Corn and beans were coming up in four days. Maybe we’ll make up for some lost time. If it were a month earlier, the crops would be great. Now we’re putting on anhydrous and spraying.

“We had 40 acres of beans planted early and we had to spray them because the bean leaf beetles were really working on them. We’ve got a lot of people in the county that use ATVs for spraying and they were able to keep the weeds in check for the most part.

“The water created a lot of replanting in the heavier soils. We guessed 10% prevented planting in Defiance County.… Continue reading

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Attention shifting from acreage to corn and soybean yields

In the monthly report of World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE), the USDA’s World Agricultural Outlook Board (WAOB) reduced the forecast of U.S. planted and harvested acreage of corn and rice. Forecasts for the other major crops were not changed from the forecasts in the March Prospective Plantings report, said University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good.

“Analysts lowered the corn planted acreage forecast due to planting delays in the eastern Corn Belt and northern Plains. In contrast, some increase in acreage is expected in the western Corn Belt and central Plains where planting was more  timely,” he said.

USDA judges that planted acreage will total 90.7 million acres, 1.5 million fewer than revealed in the March survey of planting intentions, he said.

According to Good, area harvested for grain is projected at 83.2 million acres, 1.9 million below the May forecast. The large reduction reflects expectations that some planted acreage was lost to flooding in the lower Ohio, lower Mississippi and Missouri River valleys.… Continue reading

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Can small weeds hurt yield?

By Dave Nanda, Ph. D. 
Director of Genetics & Technology 
Seed Consultants, Inc.

When the developers of technology for Roundup resistance and Liberty (Ignite) resistance released these products for marketing to the farmers, they were recommending that farmers let the weeds grow until the corn and soybeans are fairly tall to form a canopy and then spray their weeds and kill them all in one pass. Well, it was a good salesmanship and many farmers bought into it as a way to save money on weed control. Little did they realize that the smaller weeds also hurt the yield potential of the crops.

Studies conducted by several universities and my own observations have indicated that smaller weeds do reduce the yield potential of the crops. When the infra-red light is reflected from the chlorophyll of the neighboring plants, whether crop plants or weeds, each individual plant, because of its micro- environment, “decides” early on how many ears and the seeds on the ears or how many beans it will try to produce.… Continue reading

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The Ohio Crop Progress Report – June 13th

OHIO CROP WEATHER HIGHLIGHTS

WEEK ENDING SUNDAY JUNE 12, 2011

The average temperature for the State was 75.4 degrees, 7.6 degrees above normal for the week ending Sunday, June 12, 2011. Precipitation averaged 1.26 inches, 0.31 inches above normal. There were 162 modified growing degree days, 36 days above normal. Reporters rated 5.5 days suitable for fieldwork during the seven-day period ending Friday, June 10, 2011. Topsoil moisture was rated 0 percent very short, 9 percent short, 75 percent adequate, and 16 percent surplus.

FIELD ACTIVITIES AND CROP PROGRESS

Temperatures and precipitation were higher than normal for the second straight week. The isolated showers did not prevent farmers from getting in their fields. Most field activities included cutting hay, and planting corn and soybeans, with some replanting required. Emerged fields were applied with fertilizer and herbicides. Fungicide was applied to many wheat fieldsas evidence of head scab started to appear. There were isolated reports of cut worm in corn, as well.… Continue reading

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Local food delivery service offers consumer convenience and market for farms

By Matt Reese

From bison and bacon to bok choy and baby food, consumers from around Ohio and the Midwest now have the chance to get quality, fresh, local foods delivered to their door courtesy of Green BEAN Delivery.

The BEAN acronym stands for Biodynamic, Education, Agriculture and Nutrition, but customers know the business better for its dependable delivery of local, often organic, foods to their door. Green BEAN owner Matt Ewer harnessed his passion for local and sustainable foods to find an effective and efficient way to help farmers capitalize on the true market value of their crops while conveniently providing customers in Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton, Louisville and Ft. Wayne the local foods they want.

“We started our Midwest-based local food network in June of 2007 in Indianapolis and spread out since then. I grew up half in the city and half in the farm so I have always been connected to rural and urban areas,” Ewer said.… Continue reading

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Legal Lingo

By Leisa Boley Hellwarth, a dairy farmer and an attorney

Many years ago, my Aunt Grace told me that if a cat sleeps with its nose in the air, then it would rain. Peanuts, my beautiful long-haired tortoise housecat, is more reliable than Doppler radar and more entertaining than the local weatherman. This has been one of the wettest springs on record, with old-timers recalling 1981 and 1967. And our barn cats have been sleeping with their noses in the air since February. Hoping to get a much-needed break from precipitation, I am now waking cats reclining with their noses pointing up.

Regarding felines, there’s a saying that you own a dog, but you feed a cat. Witty, but true. Recently, cats, which required a sitter to feed them when their owner went on vacation, led to an interesting case decided by Ohio’s Sixth District Court of Appeals. This matter is worth discussing because it upheld the Fourth Amendment’s protection from unreasonable search and seizure by the government and the state.… Continue reading

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Cover crops and prevented planting update for Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio

An announcement made by the Risk Management Agency (RMA) states that producers are eligible for prevented planting on acreage where the cover crop was not timely terminated and the subsequent crop was prevented from planting due to an insurable cause of loss.

The statements in the Special Provisions of Insurance are relevant to insuring a spring crop (e.g. corn, soybeans, etc.) following a crop or small grain crop that has reached the headed stage. Producers who plant a crop after a cover crop that has headed, budded, or has been harvested in the same calendar year are required to request a written agreement through their crop insurance agent. Producers have until July 15th to request a written agreement request through their agent, but are encouraged to submit their request as early as possible because a crop inspection is required as part of the written agreement. The inspection must show a yield potential equal to 90 percent of the guarantee.… Continue reading

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USDA seeks applications for grants to help rural cooperatives and businesses create jobs

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA is accepting applications for grants to help rural businesses create jobs through cooperative development centers.

“Cooperative development centers are business and job incubators. They support President Obama’s goal to bring increased economic opportunities to rural communities by assisting new businesses as they create sustainable jobs,” Vilsack said. “The Obama Administration is helping create economic opportunities for rural Americans, and these centers further that effort.”

Under the USDA Rural Development Rural Cooperative Development Grant (RCDG) program, grants of up to $225,000 may be awarded to colleges, universities and non-profit groups to create and operate centers that help individuals or groups establish, expand or operate rural businesses, especially cooperatives. Grants may be used to conduct feasibility studies, create and implement business plans, and help businesses develop new markets for their products and services.

Through this notice, USDA may award up to $7.4 million in grants. Funds may finance up to 75% of the cost of establishing and operating the cooperative centers.… Continue reading

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Silage techniques being research for the future of biomass

By Yebo Li, an assistant professor in the Ohio State University Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering

Silos for storing lignocellulosic biomass

Farmers are familiar with storing high moisture forage crops as silage. Tall silos, horizontal or bunker silos, and more recently “shrink-wrapped” round bales are common examples of storing crops “wet” instead of “dry.”

Today, scientists are looking at “silage” techniques as a way of preserving lignocellulosic biomass. The most common “lignocellulosic biomass” on Ohio farms is corn stover. Storing the crop for use year ‘round is essential to the future success of a bio-refinery. Wet storage has been used since the 1800s for preserving green crops for livestock. Now it is being considered as a storage method for a new industry: bio-refining.

Dry vs. wet storage

For dry storage, lignocellulosic biomass is typically harvested dry at 20% to 25% moisture. For instance, after corn harvest, stover is chopped with a flail shredder, field dried, raked and finally baled with a large round baler.… Continue reading

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Food prices on the rise

Retail food prices at the supermarket increased during the second quarter of 2011, according to the latest American Farm Bureau Federation Marketbasket Survey.

The informal survey shows the total cost of 16 food items that can be used to prepare one or more meals was $51.17, up $2.10 or about 4% compared to the first quarter of 2011. Of the 16 items surveyed, 14 increased and two decreased in average price compared to the prior quarter. The total average price for the 16 items was up about 8% compared to one year ago.

“The effects of continued raw energy cost increases are reverberating throughout the food industry and consumers are bearing the brunt of it,” said AFBF Economist John Anderson. “After food leaves the farm, costs for transportation, marketing, processing and storage come into play. As energy prices continue to run up, shoppers are feeling the pinch at the supermarket.”

Sirloin tip roast, Russet potatoes, sliced deli ham and bacon increased the most in dollar value compared to the first quarter of 2011.… Continue reading

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USDA crop report reflects disastrous weather across the country

A challenging weather year for farmers and ranchers all across the country is clearly reflected in yesterday’s crop report released by the Agriculture Department with drops shown in production, stocks and acreage forecasts for corn compared to the May report.

And with the expected drops in both production and supply, USDA is forecasting record prices not only for corn but also for wheat and soybeans. Prices for all three commodities were moved upward from the May estimates due to weather challenges. The cotton price remained the same as the May estimate, but it is still a record.

“There is no doubt that the wild weather year we’re seeing is impacting all the crops farmers produce,” said Todd Davis, crops economist with the American Farm Bureau Federation. “Drought and floods are taking their toll on cotton, corn, wheat and other crops, and USDA’s newest numbers demonstrate just that.”

In its June World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates released today, USDA reduced planted corn acres by 1.5 million acres from its March planting intentions survey to 90.7 million acres.… Continue reading

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State of Ohio investigating outbreak of infections caused by Salmonella

State officials report that eight separate Salmonella illnesses in Ohio are part of a multistate outbreak associated with chicks and/or ducklings purchased this year at agricultural supply stores sourced from an Ohio hatchery. These birds were sold at numerous agricultural outlets across the state and with these confirmed reports of Salmonella infections health officials are encouraging any purchaser of baby chicks this year to use caution in their handling and care.

The eight ill individuals range in age from 3 months to 76 years and live in Ashtabula, Columbiana, Franklin, Hamilton, Jefferson, Licking, Medina and Wood counties. Specimens obtained from chicks belonging to one of the Ohio cases yielded the outbreak strain of Salmonella Altona.

“I encourage anyone who purchases baby chickens or ducklings to use caution when handling the birds and to always thoroughly wash their hands after touching them, “said ODH Director Ted Wymyslo, M.D.

The Ohio Departments of Health and Agriculture are working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S.… Continue reading

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Dairy industry receives $1.1 million to help producers benchmark and demonstrate their environmental stewardship practices

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a $1.1 million Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) to the Dairy Research Institute (formerly known as Dairy Science Institute, Inc.), an affiliate of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy. The funding will support the development of a Dairy Farm Stewardship Toolkit for dairy producers to evaluate their production techniques and identify potential improvements in management practices. These improvements could increase profitability or reduce costs on the farm.

“This grant will help take the industry’s heritage of dairy stewardship to a new business level,” said Bob Foster, owner, Foster Brothers Farm in Middlebury, Vt. “As dairy producers, we know that consumers want products that are not only nutritious and good-tasting, but also environmentally friendly. We have long been committed to stewardship, but have not had a science-based tool to identify and measure practices that reduce costs and environmental impact.”

The grant, awarded through a nationwide competitive process, is made available through the U.S.… Continue reading

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