Q&A with a CCA

Deciding when to plant

By Mike Hannewald, CCA, Field Agronomist, Precision Farming Field Advisor, Beck’s Hybrids

As spring approaches, we’ll soon be entering one of the most exciting seasons on the farm. There is nothing quite like the anticipation felt on those first few warm days of spring as the soil dries out and we make the final preparations to our equipment so that we are ready to start planting. Along with that excitement comes some decisions: deciding when to start planting and what field and crop to plant first.

Some years, we are blessed with long stretches of beautiful weather that make those decisions easy. However, in Ohio, we are more often faced with narrow planting windows, challenging weather, and marginal soil conditions. And of course, we can’t forget the ever-important factor of being influenced by what the neighbor might be doing. Over the years, Beck’s Practical Farm Research (PFR) has conducted several studies that can help to navigate those challenging situations and make planting decisions at least a little bit easier.… Continue reading

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Is there a connection between fungicides and vomitoxin?

By Luke Schulte, CCA, Beck’s Hybrids

Vomitoxin is becoming more and more of a reoccurring problem for corn in Ohio, particularly for the last five or six years. Is this due to changes in farming practices? Weather? Are hybrids today more susceptible than they once were? Or is it a result of increased fungicide use?

Fungicide adoption use continues to grow. We thought it was important to better understand if fungicide could be making the vomitoxin problem worse, or if it is helping.

In 2023 we conducted research on this issue in Ohio. Vomitoxin is not an issue they deal with as much to the west. It is more of an eastern Corn Belt problem. We do feel confident about this 1-year data because we did replicate it three different times.

Now before we get into the data, I also think it’s important to understand we purposely set this study up to fail.… Continue reading

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Winter wheat management

By Austen Shoemaker and Dan Griffin, CCA Agronomists, Heritage Cooperative

Winter wheat is grown across the state of Ohio annually for multiple different reasons. Straw for livestock and manure management drives some growers to regularly plant wheat, while rotation breaks from corn and soybean, improving soil tilth, summer drainage projects, and potential double crop options influence other growers. Regardless the decision to plant winter wheat, there are many management practices of this crop that are often overlooked than can help to maximize yield and improve return on investment on your farm.

What are some considerations when reparing to plant wheat?

Ensuring that a potential field has adequate soil pH, sufficient levels of phosphorus and potassium in the fall is essential to getting the crop of to a great start. MAP or DAP, potash, and AMS in the fall to serve as starter fertilizer is appropriate in many situations. Having enough nitrogen and sulfur either available in the soil or applied in the fall to get the plant established helps to assist with the overall growth and development and of the young wheat seedling and promote fall tillering.… Continue reading

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What should be done now to prepare for clean soybean fields in 2024?

By Mike Hannewald, CCA, field agronomist with Beck’s Hybrids

Mike Hannewald

It’s time to start thinking about prepaying inputs for the coming year and part of that is putting together plans for how we’re going to keep fields clean and to be able to know what herbicides we want to purchase and at what rates. In the weed management information accumulated over the years through the Beck’s Practical Farm Research (PFR) program, there is a four-step process specifically for managing weeds in soybeans.

Step one: Starting clean

This seems like pretty common sense. Just before we get those beans planted or shortly after those beans are planted, we want to make sure that we get all the weeds that are out there field so that we have a nice clean field to start the season. In a no-till or a minimum-tillage environment, this will require a solid burndown program. In most cases it’s going to be glyphosate plus pick-your-chemical to help assist with broadleaves — so 2,4-D, dicamba, Sharpen, any of those are good options.… Continue reading

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Managing manure for bigger yields, less impact

A conversation with Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio’s Field Leader and Glen Arnold, CCA Field Specialist, Manure Nutrient Management, Ohio State University Extension

Dusty: How did the summer months and fall go with getting manure applications done?

Glen: It’s been a pretty good year in 2023 for manure application. We had a very dry April, so if people needed to get manure applied to fields in April, the opportunity was there. Then we got crops planted and we stayed pretty dry in June, so for those of us who do a lot of manure application on top of emerged corn or incorporate in between the rows, we were able to get a lot of that done. Then a drier than normal summer and fall has allowed us to get most of our manure application work done in the state. You see most of the dairies, when you look at their manure ponds, they’re pumped down nicely.… Continue reading

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Nominate your favorite CCA for Certified Crop Adviser of the Year award

By Kevin Otte, Otte Ag, LLC

Q: What is the CCA of the Year Award?

A: The award program is designed to recognize an individual who is highly motivated, delivers exceptional customer service for farmer clients in nutrient management, soil and water management, integrated pest management and crop production, and has contributed substantially to the exchange of ideas and the transfer of agronomic knowledge within the agricultural industry in Ohio.

Q: What do the winners receive?

A: The winner for the 2024 award will be recognized at the 2024 Conservation Tillage and Technology Conference in March in Ada. The winner will receive a plaque, recognition in industry publications, and a $1,500 cash award.

Q: What CCAs have won the award? 

A: Past award winners include: Alex J. Lindsey, The Ohio State University; Tina Lust, Lust Seed Sales & Service; Thomas Puch, Heritage Cooperative; Wesley Haun, Tiger-Sul Products, LLC; and Don Boehm, Legacy Farmers Cooperative.… Continue reading

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A look at 2023 soybean diseases

With Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Field Leader, a project of the Ohio Soybean Council and Soybean Check-off and Horatio Lopez-Nicora, Ohio State University plant pathologist

Dusty: Through the growing season and this fall you have been in the lab looking at samples submitted with different soybean diseases. How did the 2023 season start out and progress from a disease standpoint?

Horacio: It was a pretty strange season. We started with very cool soils for those who planted at the end of April. Then we transitioned to that dry period, but it was a very strange drought. It was dry in the very top layer during that drought and we experienced very high evapotranspiration, but the soil underneath that dry layer was still moist. Seeds were germinating and growing a root, but taking a lot of time to emerge. We saw the roots growing out of any seed treatment effect, making those plants more vulnerable to a myriad of pathogens that we normally have in our field.… Continue reading

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What needs to be considered when soil sampling in wet/dry soils?

By Kevin Otte, CCA, Otte AG, LLC and Luke Baker, Brookside Labs

Soil sampling and the subsequent soil analysis have been performed for nearly a century. Sampling the soil is a time-honored service offered by retailers and independent agronomists, with many public and/or private laboratories providing analytical services. Collecting soil samples is as much a science as it is an art. In today’s technological environment, site-specific sample points/grids/zones can be created and utilized by the person in the field collecting the sample. That’s the science part. The art is how the sample is collected. It is more than just pushing a probe into the ground and filling a bag with soil.

Kevin Otte

How deep is the soil core? Was the core looked over before putting it into the bag? Was the sample collected manually or automatically? There are different ways to collect a good soil sample that will represent the area that is being sampled and could go down a rabbit hole with the pros/cons of each.… Continue reading

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A look at SCN

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Field Leader, a project of the Ohio Soybean Council and soybean check-off.

Soybean cyst nematode (SCN) is a significant source of soybean yield loss in the state. What work is being done to address this?

There are numerous efforts to keep raising awareness of how important and damaging SCN is in North America. Horacio Lopez-Nicora is a plant pathologist and nematologist at the Ohio State University He has a laboratory on campus in Columbus in Kottman Hall to analyze soil samples submitted by farmer to assess their SCN levels. But work at the lab is more than just counting the number of eggs in soil samples. It is also about identifying specific SCN populations out there. It has moved beyond just identifying is a field has SCN populations. It is also about identifying those specific populations in the field.

Lopez-Nicora said the process starts with the soil sample.… Continue reading

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Cover crop interseeding

By Clint Nester, Nester Ag, LLC

We have seen a recent uptick in interest for interseeding cover crops. In NW Ohio we typically struggle to diversify from cereal rye due to late corn and soybean harvest dates. Growers often tell us that airplane applications are too unpredictable and crops come off too late in the fall to utilize a drill. Interseeding  opens the door for earlier planting dates as well as additional cover crop species. However, there are multiple things to think about ahead of time before jumping in feet first.

Clint Nester


Most of our growers that are interseeding into corn with a ground rig are seeding around the V5-V6 time frame in order to get the cover crop germinated prior to crop canopy. There are numerous companies now building interseeders: Fennig Equipment, Hiniker and Dawn Equipment have all developed variations of row unit type seeders. Additionally there are numerous broadcast options mounted on toolbars available.… Continue reading

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A look at vertical tillage

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader

Ask any farm equipment dealer what vertical tillage is, and most will have a definition that fits the line of tillage equipment which they sell. The reality is that any original definition for vertical tillage has been modified over time to fit the needs of the farmer, or to fit the products made available by the manufacturers. Over 24 different manufacturing companies produce vertical tillage tools of one sort of another, each tool with its own fit.

So, what is vertical tillage?

The one thing that most manufacturers will agree on however is that vertical tillage is not a disc. A disc is commonly defined as an implement that has 2 gangs of concave blades, typically set at an 18-degree angle which come in contact with almost 100% of the soil. A disc may produce a horizontal compaction layer. Discs and vertical tillage tools differ in soil density reduction. Compaction… Continue reading

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Manure and sulfur management, accounting for all sources

By Jason Hartschuh, CCA, Ohio State University Extension

Sulfur and nitrogen are an important component of crop production. They often come from multiple sources and can be lost to the environment or immobilized during decomposition. Accounting for all sources of these nutrients can improve farm profitability by reducing application needs or accounting for shortfalls with additional commercial fertilizer. Although the release of some sources of these nutrients are harder to predict than others. Currently, the corn nitrogen rate calculator has the most profitable nitrogen rate based on a nitrogen price of $0.70 per pound and corn price of $5.50 per bushel ranging from 156 to 182 pounds of nitrogen per acre. 

Nitrogen availability from manure

Manure is an excellent source of nitrogen but the way it is applied greatly affects how much of the manure test nitrogen will be plant available. When liquid or solid manure is incorporated at application or shortly after for a pre-plant or sidedress application 95% of the Ammonium-N will be available for this year’s crop.… Continue reading

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Lindsey excited about the future of agronomy

The Ohio Certified Crop Adviser (CCA) Program is honored to announce Dr. Alex J. Lindsey as the 2023 CCA of the Year. Lindsey is assistant professor of agronomy in the Department of Horticulture and Crop Science at The Ohio State University. 

“Alex Lindsey’s commitment to the CCA program, not only as a member and researcher, but as a mentor makes him deserving of this prestigious award,” said Greg McGlinch, farmer and educator, who nominated Lindsey for the award. “Alex’s method of teaching agronomic research and practices allows students and farmers to apply the methods on a field scale.” 

Alex Lindsey (left) was named Ohio CCA of the Year at the Conservation Tillage and Technology Conference.

Lindsey was recognized at the 2023 Conservation Tillage & Technology Conference in Ada, Ohio on March 14. He was presented a plaque and a $1,500 cash award, courtesy of the Ohio Association of Independent Crop Consultants, Ohio Farm Bureau Federation and Nutrien. … Continue reading

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Water quality success stories: Saturate that buffer for crop’s sake

By Greg McGlinch, CCA, PhD, assistant professor, Wright State University Lake Campus and Stephen J. Jacquemin, PhD, professor, Wright State University Lake Campus 

Driving across the rural Ohio landscape, you might occasionally see little gray objects with black caps poking their heads up around fields adjacent to streams and rivers. These gray box-like structures hold an opportunity for farmers and landowners to increase their ability to reduce nutrient loading while conserving precious water in their fields. The name of these little boxes are controlled drainage structures and they can be part of a bigger conservation practice called saturated buffers. 

This is a typical saturated buffer layout consisting of a non-perforated tile outlet pipe (1), water control structure (2), perforated distribution pipe (3), and vegetated buffer (4). Graphic is from Extension publication ABE-160-W.

Saturated buffers utilize water control structures to divert subsurface tile water from agricultural fields into the riparian buffer by redirecting drainage through perforated tiles feeding these edge- of-stream vegetated transitional habitats.… Continue reading

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A look at nutrient deficiency

Lee Beers

By Lee Beers, CCA, Assistant Professor, Agricultural and Natural Resources Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Trumbull County 

Q: Last year I noticed some discoloration in my corn crop. I suspect a nutrient deficiency was the cause, but how can I tell which nutrient was lacking?

A: Some nutrient deficiencies are rather easy to spot due to their unique symptoms, but others are more difficult to diagnose. Nitrogen deficiency of corn results in a pale green color that can be relatively uniform throughout the field or follow a pattern like when one anhydrous row unit is plugged. Pale green may also indicate a lack of sulfur, but since sulfur is not as mobile in the plant as nitrogen, you may see yellowing in the younger leaves first. Phosphorus deficiency can result in a purpling of the plant tissues, most seen in corn seedlings in cold soils. Yellowing of older leaves at the base of the corn plant followed by a browning at the leaf margins may indicate a lack of potassium.… Continue reading

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Nutrients and hypoxia

Adapted from Crop and Soils Magazine, September-October 2022, By Tom Bruulsema, Plant Nutrition Canada, and Dr. Matt Helmers, Iowa State University by Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader, a project of the Ohio Soybean Council and soybean check-off

What is the role of plant nutrition in the Gulf of Mexico hypoxia 2022? 

The discussion of water quality issues in Ohio often revolves around what is going on with the algal bloom in Lake Erie. Ironically, a majority of Ohio’s 88 counties drain south to the Ohio River and the run-off eventually ends up in the Gulf of Mexico. That rainwater, carrying nutrients, drains to the Ohio River, then Mississippi River, and finally through the delta region into the Gulf of Mexico. In the hypoxia zone in the Gulf of Mexico, the concentration of oxygen in the bottom waters falls too low to support fish and other marine life.

What are the concerns and economic impacts of hypoxia?… Continue reading

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TMDLs and Ohio agriculture

By Greg LaBarge, CCA, Ohio State University Extension; Rick Wilson, Ohio EPA Division of Surface Water; and Joshua Griffin, Ohio EPA Division of Surface Water

What is a Total Maximum Daily Load or TMDL?

When a stream or lake is not meeting the expectations for a healthy waterbody it is considered impaired and the clean water act requires that a plan is developed to restore it to a healthy state. The plan is called a “Total Maximum Daily Load” or TMDL. A TMDL identifies the linkages between the impairment and a pollutant, then prescribes pollutant load reductions needed to restore the waterbody. 

Sources of pollutants are classified under a TMDL as either point sources or nonpoint sources, both of which are evaluated for needed reductions. Point sources include all sources regulated under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting program, including wastewater treatment facilities, industrial facilities, and some stormwater from developed areas.… Continue reading

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Building soils for the future

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA (Adapted from Crop & Soils Magazine, May-June 2022 by Jerry Hatfield and Wayne Fredericks)

It is often recommended to farmers when adoption a new practice that they start on a small scale so they can make mistakes and learn on a small scale before adopting it across a large number of acres. Over time, much is learned about the practice they are implementing and ways to modify it to best fit the operation. Over that same time period, the soils will also exhibit changes. While not all the changes are understood, many can be explained and managed.

Understanding the soils on your farm is the first step to measuring any change. Soil health and weather work in tandem to produce crops. We cannot control the environment, however as we improve soil health we can mitigate the risk of adverse weather conditions, and hopefully increase crop yields.… Continue reading

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The agronomic art of growing small grains

By Greg McGlinch, CCA, Wright State University Lake Campus, Agriculture Professor

Farmers are like artists when seeding winter small grains, especially if the grain is intended for a specialty or seed market. The seed is the paint, the land the canvas, and the equipment a brush. Farmers must pay attention to special details and make sure there are no flaws in the agriculture masterpiece, as they have only one chance to get it right.

Greg McGlinch, CCA. Photo by Wright State University Lake Campus.

In Ohio, farmers are familiar with soft red winter wheat but with the onset of new opportunities, like malting barley and cereal rye, farmers may need to tweak their management methods. Management practices are similar among winter small grains; however, farmers may need to pay special attention to certain aspects of fertility and care, depending on the intended market. What specifics are needed for the production of high-quality small grains? … Continue reading

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Scouting for disease

By Jason Hartschuh, CCA, Agricultural and Natural Resources Educator, Ohio State University, Extension Crawford County

Q: We had tar spot bad in our area last year should we be planning to spray all of our corn acres this year?

A: Tar spot treatment, like with all other diseases, should rely on a strong scouting program. The risk is higher this year, especially in continuous corn, but we also have to have favorable environmental conditions. In fields where corn is following soybeans or wheat, the risk is slightly lower but if favorable conditions develop, spores may move in from other areas. With all diseases, scouting is critical to determining if a fungicide needs to be applied. Lesions will be small, black, raised spots appearing on both sides of the leaves along with leaf sheaths and husks. Spots may be on green or brown, dying tissue. Spots on green tissue may have tan or brown halos. Once tar spot is identified, fields should be monitored every 7 to 10 days for incidence levels to increase, even if a fungicide is applied.… Continue reading

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