Modified toolbar accomplishes goals of stewardship and profit

Ask anyone around Kenton about an innovative farm operation in the area and they will likely mention Watkins Farms.

For Brian Watkins, that “ahead of the curve” mentality is forged by a series of objectives, including profit, yield, maintaining long-term sustainability, taking care of the soils and being environmentally sound.

For years, Watkins Farms has been broadcasting fertilizer in the fall, but recently decided that it would be best for them to work those nutrients directly below the surface. A major factor in his thinking and philosophy is the issue of soluble phosphorous that is affecting Ohio’s water quality.

 “Some farmers will choose to do some fall strip tillage and we felt like that didn’t fit what we wanted,” Watkins said. “Soil conditions in the fall are sometimes not conducive to that method because it is too wet and the benefits wouldn’t be there come spring. We needed a zero soil disturbance solution to getting the nutrients directly into the soil.”Continue reading

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Markets continue to monitor planting progress

There has been quite a bit of discussion about the limited market response from planting that got off to a  slow start throughout most of the Corn Belt.

This lack of price jumps as planting stalled this spring is likely due to the fact that the market understands that modern farmers can put many acres in the ground very quickly, said Doug Tenney, with Leist Mercantile in Circleville.

“Multiple days during the first half of May, December new crop corn was lower in spite of the slow start to planting. Did the market not care about the slow planting progress? It’s just that weather realities allowed planting to move along at a rapid pace in the many areas where planting was really taking place. Stop for a moment to think how many planting days it takes to plant corn. It could be suggested that at least 50% to 70% of U.S.… Continue reading

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Bucking the trend: Creekbend Bucking Bulls

Creekbend Bucking Bulls isn’t your average cattle breeding operation.

“Raising bucking bulls isn’t for everyone,” said Denny Thorsell. “They’re pretty aggressive, and you have to be set up to handle them.”

Thorsell, who operates Creekbend Bucking Bulls with his wife, Eileen and son, Shawn, speaks from experience. “

When we brought the first batch home, I had just put up a bunch of wood fence. It was pressure treated, and looked really nice. Those bulls tore that fence up like it was balsa wood,” he said. “That’s when we learned we needed six to eight strands of hotwire and lots of steel.”

Since 1994, Creekbend Bucking Bulls has been raising bucking bulls on a 100-acre ranch in Medina County. The operation began when Shawn was competing in Ohio High School Rodeo events, including bull riding.

“I wanted to help support him, so I’d go to sale barns and buy bulls for him to practice on,” Thorsell said.… Continue reading

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USDA, GM wheat and the farm bill covered in Ohio visit

USDA’s Agriculture Acting Deputy Secretary Michael Scuse visited central Ohio yesterday and planned to talk about the farm bill, though he ended up fielding questions about the discovery of genetically modified wheat discovered in an Oregon field.

“We were notified that a farmer in Oregon had volunteer wheat that was sprayed with glyphosate and didn’t die right away. It was taken for testing to Oregon State University and we were notified by scientists there. APHIS got involved and we obtained samples. We ran our own tests to do the verifications to determine exactly what gene was in this plant. We have an ongoing investigation and we need answers to how this happened,” Scuse said. “We have a team of investigators in Oregon talking with the neighbors and seed companies to determine exactly what happened and how this took place. Many people are waiting for us to complete this investigation so we can supply some answers.… Continue reading

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Zane Trace FFA Travels to State Convention

Every year in early May, FFA chapters from all over the state travel to Columbus to attend the Ohio FFA State Convention.   During the convention students have many great opportunities such as listening to awesome speakers, making new friends from all over the state, and going on agricultural related tours around Columbus.  This year the Zane Trace Chapter took 34 members to participate in the State Convention, one of the largest groups in the chapter’s history!

Many business sessions go on throughout the day during the State Convention.  At these sessions the Ohio FFA officers announce the winners of various state awards, the Ohio FFA band and chorus make some awesome music, and keynote speakers came to talk to the crowd. A number of Zane Trace FFA members received awards over the two-day convention.   Jacob Boggioni and Kevin Daubenmire were selected to play in the FFA band.  Audrey Hoey and David Glass were named state winners in their proficiency award areas of Food Science and Integrated Agriculture Research while Stephanie Glass received a third place proficiency award in Agriculture Communications. … Continue reading

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The cow neck chain apparently the new statement necklace

Saturday morning the Today Show was on the TV and my mom blurts out, “Do you see her necklace? That’s nothing more than a cow neck chain!”

Upon a closer look she was right. The weekend anchor of the Today Show, Erica Hill, was indeed pretty much wearing a yellow cow neck chain around her neck….

We had a really good laugh about it until the following day, when I again saw another person on TV wearing a similar necklace that to anyone with a dairy background appeared to be just a cow neck chain.

It’s seems the plastic neck chain for livestock is the latest jewelry fashion craze.

necklace cow chain comparision

After a quick search looking for the retail version of neck chain I quickly discovered my mom wasn’t the only one who noticed Erica Hill’s interesting choice in jewerly. There was a Twitter uproar about the necklace. About half of the viewers loved it and about half hated it.… Continue reading

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Paulding FFA members earn State honor

At the 85th Ohio FFA Convention in Columbus, five Paulding students received the State FFA Degree, the highest award Ohio can bestow on an FFA member. In order to qualify, members must meet many standards which include; 35 hours of community service or improvement, $3000 earned in their supervised agricultural experience programs with at least $1,000 productively invested, compete in at least two state sanctioned career development events or competitions, maintain a 3.00 cumulative GPA and a 93% school attendance rate and serve as an officer or committee member. A seventeen page application is completed prior to evaluations at the sub-district, district and state levels and then must meet final approval guidelines at state evaluations before being awarded. This year, Tiffany Spangler, Taylor Dangler, Bailey Zeller, Olivia Cramer and Justin Carnahan have all been awarded the State FFA Degree among nearly 700 across the state.

Tiffany is the daughter of Jeff and Melinda Spangler of Oakwood. … Continue reading

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Hay market looks to remain tight

A conversation with…Stan Smith, Program Assistant in Ag and Natural Resources
 for Ohio State University Extension in Fairfield County and Mike Bush, who produces around 40 acres of hay along with a corn and soybean operation in Morrow County.

OCJ: The hay market has obviously been very tight since the drought last summer. As hay production has started for the 2013 season, what is the current status of the hay market in Ohio?

Mike: We’re still short. There is no leftover hay to be had around here. I think prices will hold steady through the first cutting at least.

Stan: Actually, it was getting tight prior to last summer. The incredible values of corn and soybeans were causing guys to shift acres from hay to more profitable corn and beans for the past few years. Compound that with 2011 being one of the wettest years in recent history (horrible hay making weather) and inventories were beginning to slip lower by spring of 2012.… Continue reading

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Greene County Career Center investing in the future of students

The potential dangers of “strangles” in horses were brought to life for 18 high school students as their equine science lecture took place in an arena amid horses, not a classroom with pictures.

Through the Agricultural Research Center in Xenia, the Greene County Career Center now offers dynamic, hands-on experiences for students. To increase the value of this education, the programs are instructed by teachers who have worked in the industry for several years.

After one year of operation, students have already gained experiences that far outweigh the $430,000 that the Greene County Career Center paid for the facility. The Agricultural Research Center offers programs in both veterinary and equine science and a lab experience working with corn and soybean plots.

Veterinary science

Caring for rabbits, cats, donkeys, and rats has provided great learning experiences for the nine students who are studying in the new veterinary science program.

“They’ve seen this program built and they’ve seen this room with nothing in it; they’ve even helped pick some of the equipment,” said Kelly Rickabaugh, a teacher in the veterinary science program and practicing veterinarian.… Continue reading

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Frost a concern for corn and soybeans

Late last week, farmers in the northern part of the state had good reason to be concerned about the threat of frost. In Wayne County, Louie Rehm had a hard, killing frost that left ice on the leaves of his young corn plants in the low areas on his farm. The just-emerging soybeans on Rehm’s farm are also a concern.

Rehm was not alone in his concern about the crops and the frost on May 25.

“Many counties in Ohio experienced a couple of hours of near-freezing temperatures Friday night,” said Brad Miller, from Monsanto. “For the most part, air temperatures at ground level did not drop below 30 degrees F. In my observations Saturday afternoon, corn in the V1-stage of growth appears to have pulled through without injury. Soybeans in the unifoliate stage demonstrated some wilting on 25% of the leaf surface area, with some stem drooping. Forecasted rainfall and warmer temperatures this week should result in rapid recovery as corn and soybean seedlings continue growth and development.”… Continue reading

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Planting late…Now what?

I will go out on a limb and say that most farmers on Ohio had a challenging spring. Real risk taker, aren’t I? Growers were poised to plant corn in early to mid-April just like they did in 2012. Some were able to do so, but most were delayed well into the month of May. Wet soil conditions and cool soil temperatures were the culprits, but now it is time to move forward into the growing season. Does crop management change or does status quo rule the day? Let’s examine this more closely.

First of all, late planting doesn’t guarantee reduced or even below average yields. It is a yield influencing factor, but many other factors will still come into play through the rest of this growing season. Adequate rainfall, heat accumulation, insects, and disease will all have their say about the success of the 2013 crop. All you have to remember is the 2012 crop, which was one of the earliest planted crops on record.… Continue reading

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Between the Rows, May 24


Louie Rehm, Wayne County

“Yesterday I was mowing hay in the afternoon. I pulled into the field with the air conditioner on and by the time I pulled out of the field I had the heater on. It changed that fast. Ain’t farming fun!

“We got the corn all planted. With the machinery we have today we can go at a pretty rapid pace. I always say the first of May is the time to plant corn, and the beans and corn both went in the ground in beautiful conditions. We finished corn last Friday when we put in different test plots for different seed companies. The seed treatment on this corn makes a difference in how it comes up. Some of it came up in five days. Corn likes warm weather and we had the heat. We got .9-inch of rain and it put a little crust on some of the fields.… Continue reading

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Mules: You should be licensed to own one

Let me make it clear before anyone jumps to any false conclusions that I have admired mules for a long time. For the last few years, my admiration has increased, because I have been able to witness first hand the versatility and talent that many mules possess.

My sole reason for suggesting mule owners have sufficient training is for the sake of the mules. It seems to me that they are often misunderstood and underappreciated.

Through the years, I have attended mule shows and seen these equine perform all manner of skills from western pleasure to coon jumping to driving. At my county fair, “mules” is one of the categories permitted to exhibit in the senior fair equine show.

During my participation in my county fair, I have become friends with a man who shows a team of mules. As I have watched his team perform. I have often envied him.… Continue reading

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Dei Fratelli celebrates 90 years

Canned tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, tomato juice, pasta sauce, salsa, sauerkraut and prohibition — this may seem like a strange combination to some, but to the Hirzel family it’s what business is built on.

Now in its 90th year, the Hirzel Canning Company, producer of the Dei Fratelli brand, was started by Carl Hirzel in 1923 when prohibition left the master brewer looking for a new career.  He relocated to northwest Ohio and bought a farm where he began growing crops, which included cabbage for sauerkraut and, within a few years, tomatoes.

“Making kraut is a similar technique to making beer,” said Steve Hirzel, current Hirzel Canning Company President and member of the fourth generation of Hirzels to run the family business. “Within a few years, a lot of the merchants he was selling to said he was making great kraut and should try tomatoes since they’re grown in the area.”… Continue reading

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Assessing Ohio’s corn emergence issues

While the conditions for emerging crops have generally been close to ideal in many fields, problems have been showing up.

Dekalb Asgrow agronomist Jeff Rectenwald has come across some problems with crusting in fields.

“Soil crusting and crop emergence seems to be a widespread problem in Ohio this spring. This not a hybrid specific issue, it is environmental and soil type specific,” Rectenwald said. “Growers need to be scouting their fields to determine which fields may be a candidate for rotary hoeing.”

No-till seems to have helped the situation in at least one Clark County field planted in late April with a population of 34,000.

“There are no problems, a near perfect stand. So far, no-till this spring looks pretty good. In most cases it is less susceptible to pounding rains causing emergence and crusting problems,” Rectenwald said.

Soil crusting, of course, can result in uneven emergence, though uneven emergence can be the result of several other factors as well.… Continue reading

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Drive-by planting observations for 2013

In driving around Ohio roadways during the bustling planting season, I always enjoy peeking in on the progress in the fields via the view from the road.

Here are some trends I noticed in 2013:

1. New equipment is almost the norm. I got so used to seeing new (or almost new) equipment as I was driving around, the occasional old tractor was somewhat shocking. Planters too seemed a little bit newer and quite a bit bigger than in recent years.

2. With new equipment comes new technology. I think I even saw a guy with his feet up by the steering wheel of the tractor one day courtesy of auto steer as I drove past.

3. More fields with less residue. After hearing so much about increasing conservation tillage and a steady trend of moving more toward no-till, it seems that I saw more tillage (and more extensive tillage) in a larger percentage of fields than in the past.… Continue reading

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Malabar Farm Spring Plowing Days

I would venture to guess that most folks outside of the draft horse community tend to believe that plowing with horses is a job performed only by Amish farmers these days. Despite the general trend during the past 50 or 60 years toward tractors and machinery, there are still folks who use their horses to work the land.

Some of these horse owners work their horses for fun, while a determined few still use their horses regularly in all manner of work on their farms. Both types of horsemen and women were present during the 2013 Malabar Farm Spring Plowing Days.

More than a dozen teams participated in the event hosted by the Central Ohio Draft Horse Association on May 18 and 19 at Malabar Farm. All genders and ages of horse people put their teams of Percherons, Belgians and Spotted Draft horses to work during the two-day event. A few spectators also stopped by from time to time to ask questions and take photos during this event that was free to the public.… Continue reading

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Hard work, long hours before show season

The first objective in reaching a goal is setting one. For many young people involved in agriculture, the goal set about this time every year is a livestock exhibit worthy of a blue ribbon. The distance between setting that mark and reaching it is anything but a straight line. Preparing a livestock project for the show ring requires early mornings, late nights and a winning strategy. As with anything that is successful, there are secrets behind that success.

As fair season approaches, Delaware County’s Curtis Harsh is hoping his formula will score him and his percent Simmental and Chianina Heifers big points this summer.

“Over the years, I have really picked up on the feeding differences,” Harsh said. “That concept along with fat ratios will have them looking the best in the ring when a judge has his eye on my projects.”

Harsh will soon begin the process of getting his exhibits ready for the Ohio State Fair.Continue reading

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