Research addresses the safety of leafy greens

Leafy green vegetables, power-packed with nutrients, are a growing part of the average American diet. Yet in 2009, leafy greens also made the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s “Top 10 Most Dangerous Foods,” due to a surprising number of foodborne illnesses linked to the seemingly innocuous salad staple.

But a team of researchers with Ohio State University’s Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) is working on an answer.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, 82 foodborne illness outbreaks between 1996 and 2008 were linked to the consumption of fresh produce. More than one-third of them were traced to leafy greens, accounting for 949 illnesses and five deaths. One outbreak alone, the 2006 contamination of spinach with Escherichia coli O157:H7, caused 204 illnesses, including 104 hospitalizations, 31 cases of hemolytic-uremic syndrome (a serious complication), and three deaths. On top of the human cost, the economic impact of that outbreak alone was estimated at anywhere from $37 million to $75 million.… Continue reading

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Ohio is well suited for needed sheep flock expansion

Two key messages came out of a media event held Oct. 25 at Riverwood Farms near Powell: the U.S. sheep industry needs more sheep, and Ohio is well suited to assist with that expansion.

“It’s runaway demand for both lamb and wool, and the only way we’re going to meet it is by increasing how much we have to sell into the markets,” said Peter Orwick, executive director of the American Sheep Industry (ASI), who was on hand to explain the industry’s “Let’s Grow with twoPLUS” campaign.

The primary objective of the Let’s Grow campaign is to encourage current producers to expand their sheep numbers by 2014. If carried out, the initiative will result in 315,000 more lambs and 2 million more pounds of wool for the industry to market. The three main goals are: encourage producers to increase the size of their operation by two ewes per operation or by two ewes per 100 by 2014; encourage sheep producers to increase the average birthrate per ewe to two lambs per year; and encourage producers to increase the harvested lamb crop by 2% — from 108% to 110%.… Continue reading

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Fields of green

This photo was shared by Howard Buffett of John and Chris Dowson’s equipment running.  Dowson’s are the largest farm operation in Illinois and based near Divernon , IL , south of Springfield .

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Anhydrous price on the rise

As the price of natural gas goes up, the cost of producing anhydrous ammonia rises as well, according to a recent report from the University of Illinois.

“The two are related because natural gas is a major input into the production of anhydrous ammonia,” said agricultural economist Gary Schnitkey. “It is the major variable cost item in the production of anhydrous ammonia.”

Schnitkey’s team looked back at the ratio of anhydrous ammonia divided by natural gas prices (anhydrous per ton and natural gas per 1,000 cubic feet).

From 2001 through 2006, anhydrous ammonia prices were 49 times higher than natural gas prices.

“Since that point in time, that ratio has been much more variable and in general much higher,” Schnitkey said. “In recent months, the prices have been over 100 times higher.  Since 2006, we’ve seen commodity price increases.

As the price of corn goes up, production of corn and wheat also go up.… Continue reading

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There is still time for fall herbicide applications

By Matt Reese

As problem weeds like winter annuals, dandelions and marestail have been a growing challenge, more farmers have been relying on fall herbicide applications for better control.

Morrow County farmer Anthony Bush has seen a particular problem with marestail and has found that the only way to get good control is a total herbicide program approach, which usually includes a fall application. Unfortunately, as harvest continues to drag on, there have been few, if any, opportunities to get fall herbicides applied.

“I personally like doing it in the fall, but if I have to do it in the spring I will,” Bush said. “I definitely would say that marestail is a problem in the area. When people don’t take care of it in the beginning with a burndown pass, it makes a mess that is obvious in the fall. My approach to controlling marestail is an overall approach. It is your entire chemical program across all of your crops that takes care of marestail.… Continue reading

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Ohio biodigesters get a boost with USDA funding

Ohio is among the top states receiving USDA funding to expand clean energy production, reduce energy costs, improve water quality, and create jobs.

USDA is funding more than $10 million for Ohio companies to install biodigester projects in Cuyahoga, Morrow, Paulding, Summit, Wayne, and Williams Counties. The funding was awarded through a competitive process by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) through a competitive process. The are funded projects in 7 other states as well.

“This round of REAP funding places Ohio in the forefront of the anaerobic digester industry nationwide,” said Ohio Rural Development State Director Tony Logan. “These advanced biodigesters not only create jobs for Ohioans, they turn our existing waste streams – municipal waste, foods, oils and grease and livestock manure – into valuable biomass inputs. They are solid investments for our economy and our environment.”

One of the biodigesters announced will be located at the waste water treatment plant in Wooster, Ohio.… Continue reading

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Prepare for another cold winter

If you’re wondering how the weather might be shaping up for this winter, just think back to the last one and plan for that. The Midwest could be in for another rough one, depending on how weather patterns develop.

La Nina conditions have returned for the second consecutive year, said Indiana State Climatologist Dev Niyogi. The presence of La Nina raises the prospect of weather similar to last winter’s extreme cold and frequent snowstorms.

“There is a good probability that we could have the same thing that we had last winter,” Niyogi said.

Studies by the State Climate Office, based at Purdue University, show that typical effects from La Nina’s cool Pacific air are an autumn of drought, which was present until recently in some parts of the Midwest, and a transition to conditions colder and wetter than normal across the northern states during the second half of winter.

Farmers will be watching weather patterns closely over the winter.… Continue reading

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Cattle numbers up, adding pressure to tight feed supply

Cattle feeders are going to use more corn than previously expected according to USDA’s latest Cattle on Feed report that showed 5% more cattle in the nation’s feedlots, said Purdue University economist Chris Hurt.

“The real surprise was the higher number of placements in September that has resulted in over one-half million more cattle being fed than a year ago. Feed grains used by cattle in feedlots from the 2011 crop will now likely be more than 5 percent higher than was fed from the 2010 crop,” he said.

Although calves can eat corn, they can also add weight with forages. The surprisingly high rate of placements in September indicates that corn had gotten “cheap” relative to forages, he said.

“December corn futures fell by $1.75 per bushel during September, which was enough to shift the feedlot outlook from bleak to rosy. Managers responded by buying lightweight animals as placements of calves under 700 pounds were up a remarkable 14%,” he said.… Continue reading

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Between the Rows-October 24, 2011

“Yesterday we started cutting beans at 2:30 in the afternoon and we cut until 2:30 at night. The rain was coming so we moved home. It was just barely acceptable and that was on our sand ground. We’re half done on beans and they are yielding very well. We’re at least going to have average yields on soybeans. They have a lot of pods and the beans have good size to them. We’re seeing yields anywhere from 40 to 60 and it doesn’t seem to vary in relationship to the height of the beans. We haven’t had anything under 42 bushels and we’ve gotten as high as 60.

“There has been almost no corn shelled in this area as most of it was planted in June. We have good kernel length in corn and with all of the grain in the silage, we’re thinking our corn might be respectable. We were guessing that our silage would have made 160- or 170-bushel corn, which would be average.… Continue reading

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Causes of corn yield variation in 2011

By Dave Nanda, Seed Consultants, Inc.

Why was there such a wide variation in yields this year? There are several reasons for this:

• Rainfall was one of the main reasons for yield variations.

• Temperatures — cooler areas in the northern Corn Belt had higher yields than south. There isn’t much we can do about changing the weather but pray!

• Soil type — The darker soils with high organic matter with a greater water retention capacity gave higher yields. It was more important during this year with a very hot and dry summer.

• Drainage played an important role in planting as better drained soils dried sooner and allowed planting earlier compared to poorly drained soils. Many farmers are tiling their fields.

• Planting date — the fields which were planted earlier yielded more than later plantings. Most farmers who planted earlier could plant between 11th and 15th of May.… Continue reading

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Vineyard offers idealism and hard work

By Matt Reese

It is such an idealistic dream that Charles Schwab even has a commercial with an animated retiring guy lamenting advice about starting a winery in his golden years. While it is a dream of many to do just that, the retiring guy in the commercial does have a point – starting a winery is serious work.

“It is a lot more work than anyone imagines. It is such a romantic idea to start a winery and then reality sets in,” said Jeff Hicks, who helps manage Gervasi Vineyard in Canton. “Be sure to research it as much as possible.”

Hicks speaks from first-hand experience. His father-in-law was retired for two months before he decided to buy some property and start Gervasi Vineyards. The dream has become a spectacular reality, but the business of making wine is more challenging than most people probably imagine.

Though Gervasi is still a young winery, winemaker Andy Codispoti and vineyard manager Sandy Prentice have extensive experience to seamlessly transition from vineyard to vino.… Continue reading

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Circleville Pumpkin Show

The Circleville Pumpkin Show got its start in October, 1903, when George R. Haswell, then Mayor of Circleville, and superintendent of the water works, conceived the idea of holding a small exhibit in front of his place on West Main Street. Corn fodder and pumpkins (many of them cut into Jack-O-Lanterns) formed the principal decorations, and were responsible for it being dubbed “the pumpkin show.”

On the following year Mr. Haswell was joined by some enterprising neighborhood merchants and the exhibition has grown through the years into the sixth largest festival in the United States. The show boasts an annual attendance in four days and nights of over 300,000 persons and its claim to being the “Greatest Free Show on Earth.”

The Show goes through Oct. 22.… Continue reading

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Answers to corn harvest questions

Brian Essinger, DeKalb/Asgrow Territory Manager, has been fielding questions from farmers in northwest Ohio based on what they have been seeing in fields this fall. Here are some of the most common questions and Essinger’s research-based responses.


Question 1: Have you seen much ear drop?


Ear drop can be genetic, but more than likely what you are seeing this year is caused by environmental stresses. Ear drop problems will vary by environment (i.e. planting date, soil type, and in field stresses). All of the agronomic occurrences are related to the late planting timing, high heat and drought during pollination, and the extended cool wet weather in late August and September. Combine these stresses with the uniqueness of each field and we will get anomalies or scenarios that are not ideal or sometimes unexplainable. Initial reports are they may not have impacted overall yields as much as we thought, but have caused other issues.… Continue reading

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Ohio FFA members shine at National FFA Convention

The National FFA Association has an all time record membership announced at the National Convention in Indianapolis – 540,379 FFA members. Despite the increased competition from more FFA members from around the country than ever before, Ohio is holding its own in terms of national level competitors.

“One thing that the Ohio FFA is very excited about is that we have 14 national proficiency finalists this year, which is the most we’ve had in a long time,” said Leah Amstutz, the executive secretary of the Ohio FFA Association. “We also have the Ridgemont FFA chapter that did very well and we have several Chapters like the Fayetteville Chapter and the Versailles Chapter that will be recognized for being three star chapters in the national chapter award program.”

In addition, Ohio has a National Officer finalist with Amy Jo Frost and competitors in the National Ag Issues Forum and the speaking contest.… Continue reading

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Late wheat planting a growing concern

By Harold Watters, Champaign County Extension

We seem to be having another year with problems in getting soybeans harvested and then in getting our wheat planted. It wasn’t that long ago we had a similar delay and hopefully you still remember the 2009 and 2006 growing season. We know from recent experience and from OSU research that the optimum time to plant wheat is from fly free date until 14 days after. This year we have passed October 15th with much less of our wheat planted than planned. From the five-year average we expect to have 75% of our wheat planted by mid-October. My perspective in western Ohio is that either we have far less than half of our wheat acres planted or we changed plans to have fewer wheat acres.

From research that Jim Beuerlein, our retired OSU Extension soybean and small grains specialist, and others have done we can predict that if we plant our winter wheat as late as November 1st then we likely will only reach about 75% of our normal yield.… Continue reading

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Weed seeds hitching a ride

When you take your four-wheel drive out for a spin this fall, you might be bringing home more than memories. Researchers at Montana State University have found that vehicles are routinely transporting invasive weed seeds.

Seeds can stow away on tires, bumpers, wheel wells or the underside of a vehicle and sometimes travel great distances before falling off in a new locale. As weed seeds sprout and grow, they can crowd out native plants, disrupt native ecosystems and wildlife habitats and reduce crop yields when they spread to nearby fields.

“Take a look at the many types of weeds growing along most any roadside and you’ll get a big clue about the role vehicles play,” says Lisa Rew, Ph.D., a member of the Weed Science Society of America and an assistant professor at Montana State University. “With an estimated 4 million miles of roads crisscrossing the U.S. and an estimated 256 million registered vehicles, even a few weed seeds per car can make a significant impact on the spread of weeds.”… Continue reading

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Farm bill proposals analyzed

The farm bill discussions in Congress and in the agricultural community on the rise with many good (and not so good) ideas for farm policy are cropping up all over the place.

“Amidst the Super Committee’s work to create a deficit reduction plan, many organizations have proposed alternatives to the current Title I farm safety net programs,” said Jon Scholl, American Farmland Trust (AFT). “The result has been an alphabet soup of 10 proposals. The details of any one program can create confusion even for those most versed in farm policy, so we commissioned a side by side analysis to help inform the farm bill debate.”

To help people understand the proposals, AFT has engaged noted Ohio State University agricultural economist Carl Zulauf to analyze the features of these leading safety net proposals.

“Since the 1930s, the federal government has been involved in farm, food and conservation policy,” adds Scholl. “With today’s budget conditions, it’s important to consider what is the right role for the government to play in helping farmers manage risk, and what characteristics set the standard for good public policy.”… Continue reading

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Crop production costs on the rise

Led by increases in fertilizer and seed, farmers can expect to spend as much as 20% more to produce corn and soybeans in 2012 than they did in 2011, according to Ohio State University Extension experts.

“We’re expecting to see input costs increase somewhere between 5 and 20%, depending on the crop and the level of inputs relative to the quality of land farmed,” said Barry Ward, leader of the Production Business Management program in the Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics. “There will be increases, in some cases substantial increases, but this is not unexpected. Most growers are already seeing it showing up in planning for 2012 as farmers make pre-purchases.”

Ward said increases in the cost of fertilizer and seed are the key drivers of the expected increases, reflected in new enterprise budgets developed at Ohio State.

“We’ve seen enough significant increases in fertilizer costs that it will be a pretty big bump over last year,” he said.… Continue reading

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2011 county fair photos

The 2011 fair season wrapped up last week with the Fairfield County Fair. As always we got some  great photos through the season highlighting the excitement from fairs around the state.  As the last of the fair photos from this year roll in during the next few weeks, we will be compiling them and selecting our favorite as this year’s winner. Stay turned for that.

Here are some of the more recent photos we’ve gotten. For more, see the mid-October issue of Ohio’s Country Journal.






 … Continue reading

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Pork outlook back in black

Stronger hog prices and lower feed costs have put the pork outlook back into the black for the coming year, says a Purdue Extension agricultural economist. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Hogs and Pigs report, there has been little increase in the country’s breeding herd.

With growing demand and a fairly stable-sized breeding herd, producers can expect to return to profitability in the next 12 months. The USDA also reported in its September Grain Stocks report that corn inventories now are higher than expected, reducing the cost of feed.

“Pork producers have largely settled for the status quo because of the uncertainty over feed prices,” said Chris Hurt. “As a result, the USDA says the breeding herd has expanded only slightly as producers awaited the corn and soybean yield and price outcomes of the 2011 growing season.”

According to the USDA, the breeding herd increased 0.6% nationwide in the last year.… Continue reading

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