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Tips to maximize planting

By John Brien, AgriGold agronomist

Planting corn is a race against time — trying to cover all of the acres in a very narrow window. Because of the time crunch, planting is often seen as just another operation that needs to be completed quickly, when in all actuality, planting is the single most important operation to achieve a bumper corn crop. Planting is not just about putting seed into the ground, planting is about providing the proper conditions to achieve an even stand with a quick and uniform emergence. The key to planting success is the corn planter.

Why is so much emphasis put on the planter? Because once a corn seed is planted, there is very little to nothing that can be done to fix the errors of planting. Therefore, properly planting the crop the first time is essential. The following is a list of some last minute tips to help get the corn crop off to a great start.… Continue reading

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USDA prospective planting report has corn acres up in 2012

By Matt Reese

USDA’s planting intentions report has corn up 4% from 2011

USDA expects a large acreage for corn in 2012 in the Prospective Plantings report that had traders scrambling prior to its release.

“The long awaited USDA planting intentions report and grain stock report has finally been released. In the days preceding the report, corn fell off 52 cents,” said Doug Tenney, with Leist Mercantile in Pickaway County.”Traders have been extremely nervous as they have been liquidating positions in an attempt to reduce risk heading into the March 30 reports.”

So far, the markets appear to be responding.

“Calls are all over the spectrum heading into the 10:30 opening,” Tenney said. “Corn is called 5-10 cents higher, other calls have corn 20-30 cents higher.

Soybeans are called 30-40 cents higher.”

Driven by favorable prices, U.S. farmers intend to plant 95.9 million acres of corn in 2012, up 4% from 2011, according to the report released today by the U.S.… Continue reading

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Farmers should still keep tillage passes to a minimum

Unseasonably warm weather might have farmers tilling their fields earlier than normal, but a Purdue Extension agronomist cautioned them against tilling more than necessary.

While there’s nothing wrong with early tillage, Tony Vyn said producers need to think ahead and not increase the total number of passes they’re making across their fields.

“From the soil, fuel and time conservation points of view, early tillage operations need to be considered as candidates for the final tillage operations farmers complete,” he said. “It’s important not to till now and then do it again later before planting. That means that when farmers are ready to plant, they should consider using a stale seedbed approach.”

Vyn also said that with long time gaps between tillage and planting, it is important to avoid the risks of excessive seedbed moisture loss if dry conditions prevail.

“Cloddy seedbed preparation several weeks before planting should not even be considered acceptable, and certainly not on high clay soils,” he said.… Continue reading

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Seed size and planter prep

A conversation with Jeff Rectenwald, DEKALB Asgrow agronomist.

OCJ: Jeff, you get questions every year about seed size and shape and how those factors relate to spring planting and yields. What are some important things growers need to remember about handling different seed sizes in their planters and how it can impact yield?

Jeff: Following manufacturers’ recommendations and considering tools to enhance plantability can help limit the risk of poor plantability. If plantability concerns related to seed size are managed properly, the effect of seed size should not significantly affect yield potential under most conditions.

Corn seed size or shape is not related to genetic yield potential. Research to evaluate the effect of corn seed size on yield potential has been conducted several times finding that seed size does not affect yield potential under normal planting conditions. There are always exceptions to normal conditions. To understand the effect seed size may or may not have on yield potential, it is important to: understand how seed size is determined, examine how it might affect emergence and early growth, understand the importance of proper planter settings, and know management techniques that may be used to help improve plantability of various seed sizes with different types of planters.… Continue reading

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Is there enough seed for a replant?

By Ty Higgins, Ohio Ag Net

It is unprecedented that Ohio farmers start rolling corn planters during the third week of March, but that was exactly what some did, getting 2012 off to a really early start.

So what is the advantage? According to Steve Prochaska, Ohio State Extension agronomy field Specialist, there isn’t one.

“We have 6 more weeks to plant corn and still be at 100% of yield,” said Prochaska pointing out that yields in 2011 were remarkably high considering a planting date as late as June 1.

Prochaska said sowing corn that early is quite a gamble and there are many factors that farmers will have to look at if they have already shown their hand for this planting season, including their stand by planting date and uneven seedling emergence.

“What we have found through the years is that we really want corn to come up very evenly,” Prochaska said.… Continue reading

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Will there be a shift to soybeans?

Although decisions on what to plant essentially took place last summer or fall when farmers ordered seed and other inputs, now is the time many consider tweaking those plans, says an Ohio State University Extension agricultural economist.

Barry Ward, production business management leader for OSU Extension, said both corn and soybean prices have been up and down since harvest.

“Farmers usually look at those signals as they fine-tune plans for planting,” Ward said. “They have the ability to make changes as long as they haven’t done any kind of field activity, like applying anhydrous ammonia or pre-emergent herbicides, that would prohibit them from switching. And, every year we have different weather considerations — last year, some farmers switched from corn to soybeans because of all that rainfall and the lateness of planting.”

This year, corn prices remain strong despite the fluctuations since fall, but recently soybean prices have strengthened in comparison, Ward said.… Continue reading

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Urea up $200 a ton in Ohio

By Heather Hetterick, Ohio Ag Net

Talk about sticker shock. When farmers go to buy fertilizer they may be taken aback by the price of urea that has jumped upwards of $200 per ton since February.

“You have farmers that were very slow to commit to their needs for the upcoming season,”  said Phil Altstaetter, Crop Nutrient Manager for Trupointe.

Two or three years ago, people owned fertilizer positions and farmers said we aren’t going to buy. People like Altstaetter held those positions as they devalued tremendously in 2008 and 2009 and then they took smaller positions than traditionally. Now, when farmers are ready to buy there are fewer tons available.

Also, he says the values were too low over the winter. That sent nitrogen to markets outside the U.S. Then in February, concern over having enough nitrogen for all the corn acres foretasted drove bids higher to get imports to the U.S.… Continue reading

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Nicholson to oversee OCWGA

By Matt Reese

The Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association (OCWGA) proudly announces that Tadd Nicholson will be serving as the new executive director. In his new role, he will also manage two of Ohio’s check-off programs, the Ohio Corn Marketing Program (OCMP) and the Ohio Small Grains Marketing Program (OSGMP).
Nicholson has 19 years of experience as part of the Ohio agriculture industry and has served

OCWGA for eight years, previously as its director of government and industry affairs and most recently as its interim executive director.

“I look forward to extending my role for OCWGA because I really believe in its purpose and mission,” Nicholson said. “We represent the best interests of Ohio’s grain farmers and I’m going to work to ensure that our organization’s legacy continues to be successful.”

Nicholson will jump right into his new duties by addressing a number of important issues for Ohio’s corn and wheat growers.… Continue reading

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Get corn plants off to a good start

By Kirk Reese, Agronomy Research Manager, Pioneer Hi-Bred International

When considering corn planting for 2012, one certainty is that the growing season will be different than past growing seasons. However, there are some tactics, including planting at the proper depth, that will help overcome weather challenges in the crop.

Corn planting depth is easily measured shortly after emergence. Taking care to dig up as much of the plant as possible, the distance between the growing point, also known as the first node or crown, and the soil surface is usually three-quarters of an inch deep when planted at recommended planting depths. Measuring the mesocotyl, the area between the seed and the growing point, then adding three-quarters inch, will determine planting depth in the soil. Under ideal conditions, corn can emerge in a week to 10 days. Under more stressful conditions, such as wet soils or extended periods of temperatures below 50 degrees, corn may take up to three weeks to emerge.… Continue reading

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Between the Rows-March 26th, 2012

Mark Thomas, Stark County

“We milk 400 cows and farm 2,000 acres. Around 75% of the crops go for the cattle, whether it is corn silage, alfalfa or wheat for straw. We sell the wheat grain, soybeans and some of the corn. We typically have around 650 acres of corn, 650 of soybeans, 300 of wheat, and 350 acres of hay. We also grow some sudangrass for cattle feed. We don’t have set numbers, but we try to make a solid rotation based on what the year throws at us.

“Our wheat is going to be a 75% to 80% crop this year. I have a field that will go for crop insurance. Where it is nice it is beautiful, where it is not, there is nothing. I got the N on in March and the fertilizer and the warm weather have it looking nice.

“It looks like in another two weeks we could be making first cutting alfalfa.… Continue reading

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New insights into spray drift

Chemical additives that help agricultural pesticides adhere to their targets during spraying can lead to formation of smaller “satellite” droplets that cause those pesticides to drift into unwanted areas, Purdue University researchers have found.

Carlos Corvalan, an associate professor of food science, said understanding how the additives work together means they could be designed to decrease the health, environmental and property damage risks caused by drift. Corvalan; Osvaldo Campanella, a Purdue professor of agricultural and biological engineering; and Paul E. Sojka, a Purdue professor of mechanical engineering, published their results in a February issue of the journal Chemical Engineering Science.

“When we spray liquids, we have what we call main drops, which are drops of the desired size, and we can also have smaller satellite drops. The smaller drops move easily by wind and travel long distances,” Corvalan said. “Now that we know better how additives influence the formation of satellite droplets, we can control their formation.”… Continue reading

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How early is too early for planting corn?

By Brad A. Miller, C.C.A., Territory Agronomist for DEKALB & Asgrow, Northern Ohio

With the unseasonably warm temperatures and good field conditions many producers have
considered, or may have already begun, planting corn. Curren highs have been reaching into the
80’s and the extended forecast looks favorable, making the thought more tempting. Current soil temperatures
are near 60° F and the favorable temperatures are allowing us to collect as many as 15 growing degree units (GDU) per day. These soil temperatures are high enough to begin germination. Corn requires about 120 GDUs to emerge after planting. If conditions stay similar, as indicated by the forecast, enough GDUs would be collected if corn were planted on March 23 to possibly emerge by March 31.

There is considerable risk when planting this early, however. The earliest dates with a 50% or less chance of frost (32°F) range from April 20 for areas immediately adjacent to Lake Erie to May 15 in east central Ohio.… Continue reading

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Field history important in disease management

Successfully controlling yield-limiting crop diseases comes down to analyzing field history and making the right management decisions for individual fields, says a Purdue Extension plant pathologist.

Once soil-borne crop diseases are present in a field, they rarely disappear. When the right weather conditions present themselves, diseases such as sudden death syndrome, root rot, white mold and seedling blight can substantially decrease crop yields.

“Managing diseases starts with knowing what is present in the fields,” Kiersten Wise said. “Growers need to know what diseases have shown up in their fields in the past, and they need to plan for those diseases even if they haven’t seen them in a few years.”

Disease development is mostly dictated by environment, planting date and seed variety. Wise said there could be more problems after a very warm, wet winter because soil-borne diseases are there and waiting for the right conditions to flourish.

“Soil diseases don’t go away, so growers need to plan to manage them,” she said.… Continue reading

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Is ag up a creek without a paddle on phosphorus issue?

By Matt Reese

I think I have convinced my children that I am pretty smart. They are at the ages where they ask copious amounts of questions. And, every time they ask me a question, I have an answer for them.

“Daddy, why is this soccer ball round?”

“So it rolls after you kick it.”

“Daddy, why do we have a fireplace?”

“So we can stay warm in the winter.”

“Daddy, where do baby puppies come from?”

“Ask your mother.”

And, while it is important for all-knowing parents such as myself to have all of the answers, it is a matter of political survival for politicians. The reality is, though, that nobody has all of the answers. In the case of what to do about the oft-discussed algal blooms in Lake Erie, there are no clear answers. But, an “I don’t know” from a politician in response to an angry constituent

who got a gooey glob of blue-green algae stuck in his jet ski is not acceptable.… Continue reading

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Beef supplies short in 2012

U.S. beef producers have started the early stages of herd expansion as beef supplies remain very short, says Purdue Extension agricultural economist Chris Hurt.

Beef cow numbers have dropped by 9%, or 3 million head, since 2007. They dropped by 3% in 2011 alone, meaning a smaller calf crop in 2012 and lower slaughter numbers through 2014. But strong finished cattle prices and moderating feed costs have driven some producers to start the expansion.

Producers have reduced their herds in recent years primarily because of escalating feed costs since 2007 and a drought in the southern Plains that dried up pastures and forages.

According to a January U.S. Department of Agriculture cattle report, the most recent available, beef heifer retention has increased 1% — a sign that producers are starting to expand. If U.S. crop yields return closer to normal during the 2012 crop year, Hurt said feed prices could come down even more, which would encourage further herd expansion.… Continue reading

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Why it’s ethical to eat meat

I happened upon a New York Times article that kicked off a “contest” to make the strongest possible case for this most basic of daily practices…consuming meat.

Here is just some of the article.

Ethically speaking, vegetables get all the glory. In recent years, vegetarians — and to an even greater degree vegans, their hard-core inner circle — have dominated the discussion about the ethics of eating. From the philosopher Peter Singer, whose 1975 volume “Animal Liberation” galvanized an international movement, to the novelist Jonathan Safran Foer, who wrote the 2009 best seller “Eating Animals,” those who forswear meat have made the case that what we eat is a crucial ethical decision. To be just, they say, we must put down our cheeseburgers and join their ranks.

In response, those who love meat have had surprisingly little to say. They say, of course, that, well, they love meat or that meat is deeply ingrained in our habit or culture or cuisine or that it’s nutritious or that it’s just part of the natural order.Continue reading

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Why it's ethical to eat meat

I happened upon a New York Times article that kicked off a “contest” to make the strongest possible case for this most basic of daily practices…consuming meat.

Here is just some of the article.

Ethically speaking, vegetables get all the glory. In recent years, vegetarians — and to an even greater degree vegans, their hard-core inner circle — have dominated the discussion about the ethics of eating. From the philosopher Peter Singer, whose 1975 volume “Animal Liberation” galvanized an international movement, to the novelist Jonathan Safran Foer, who wrote the 2009 best seller “Eating Animals,” those who forswear meat have made the case that what we eat is a crucial ethical decision. To be just, they say, we must put down our cheeseburgers and join their ranks.

In response, those who love meat have had surprisingly little to say. They say, of course, that, well, they love meat or that meat is deeply ingrained in our habit or culture or cuisine or that it’s nutritious or that it’s just part of the natural order.Continue reading

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Early herbicide applications could fail

Although the calendar shows it’s March, many Midwest farmers are preparing their fields for spring planting like it’s the middle of April. That’s not necessarily a good thing, says Purdue Extension weed specialist Bill Johnson.

Producers taking advantage of unseasonably warm temperatures to apply an initial round of herbicides could find those applications wearing off well before weeds reach peak growth, Johnson said.

“We normally start our planting operations in the middle of April, but with all the fieldwork being done right now we’re running 2-4 weeks ahead of schedule,” he said. “That means that we’re potentially adding one month onto the growing season. And for producers using what we call reduced or setup herbicide rates, they may find their herbicide programs running out 2-4 weeks early as well.”

A setup herbicide treatment is not intended to eliminate weed problems. The reduced rate application deals weeds a blow until they are knocked out with a post-emergence herbicide later in the crop season.… Continue reading

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Wheat nitrogen management

By Matt Reese

As wheat fields around the state are greening up, last year’s wet fall, late harvest and marginal prices have left many questions about wheat this spring.

In the case of John Hoffman, in Pickaway County, the wheat crop is looking good so far. Hoffman got his soybeans off early last fall and got the wheat planted in good time. He was able to apply his first 28% on March 5, which is normal, and hopes for a second application around April 15. Weeds were sprayed last fall prior to planting and control seems to be holding so far in most fields.

“Wheat looks good in the area if it was planted early,” he said. “You can tell the fields that were planted a little late and wet. With this weather, we could have a dramatic improvement in wheat quality if these conditions continue.”

It is also time to make some decisions about nitrogen on wheat.… Continue reading

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Fighting winter annuals

By John Brien, CCA, AgriGold regional agronomist

 

The Eastern Corn Belt is experiencing one of the warmest winters on record. Temperatures have consistently been 5-10 degrees Fahrenheit above normal for most of the winter months, with some locations recording 60+ degree temperatures in the month of February. The warm weather throughout the winter could lead to a lot of unwanted situations in 2012. One of the unintended situations caused by warmer than normal temperatures is the potential for high infestations of winter annuals.

Winter annuals are unique in that they grow during the cool times of the year when other annual weeds become dormant. The life cycle of winter annuals begin anytime between late summer and early spring. The newly sprouted weeds overwinter as small seedlings and then when the weather begins to warm in the spring they continue to grow, flower, put on seeds and then die. Winter annuals typically grow close to the ground for protection against cold winter days.… Continue reading

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