Ruff’s Seed Farms celebrates 75 years

By Matt Reese

In the mid 1930s, hybrid seed corn had not yet changed the world of agriculture, but early innovators recognized its potential to do so. One of those innovators was Herb Ruff. Ruff was farming 110 acres just outside of Amanda in southern Fairfield County when he decided he needed to do something different to stabilize his farm income. The result was the start of Ruff’s Seed Farm  in 1936 that is celebrating its 75thAnniversary this month.

“He saw there was a future for hybridized corn and the increased income he could get from raising seed,” said Allan Reid, the current general manager for Ruff’s Seed. “He was a real innovator that was not afraid to try something new and we have tried to continue that philosophy.”

The farm has grown from 100 acres to 1,600 acres and the business remains in the family after 75 years of service to farmers.… Continue reading

Read More »

Corn review for 2011

By Bill Mullen, Director of Agronomic Services, Seed Consultants Inc.

Who would ever thought the growing conditions in 2011 could be worse than those we experienced in 2010. I never imagined corn and soybean planting, for the most part, would start at the end of May and finish up by mid June. Most farmers were ready to start planting corn and soybeans in mid-April, but rains fell for 40 days before fields started to dry out.

With as much continuous rainfall in April and May, many realized planting conditions would have a serious effect on getting the seed out of the ground. Saturated soils kept many from ideal planting situations. The planters and drills were able to plant in the top two inches, but going deeper showed how much mud was below the two-inch depth. Early rains after planting kept the crop growing above the soil surface but did not do much for developing a healthy, root system.… Continue reading

Read More »

Issues and opportunities for shale gas production complex

Farmers and landowners face several complex issues and opportunities relative to mineral rights as Ohio develops natural gas production from Marcellus and Utica shale, advised experts from the Ohio State University speaking at Farm Science Review 2011.

“The best advice is ‘caveat emptor,’ buyer beware,” said Mike Lloyd, OSU Extension educator, and a panelist discussing the impact of natural gas production from shale on Ohio’s rural communities and economies. He joined professors Doug Southgate and Allen Klaiber of the Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics on the Review’s opening day panel.

Lloyd said some of the biggest concerns for potential leaseholders include the complexity of the lease agreements themselves, such as are they OK with a well being drilled on their property, or would they rather sign a non-drilling lease that would require the actual drilling to take place on neighboring land. While most landowners are interested in what their upfront payments and royalties will be, they also need to consider these details before signing a lease.… Continue reading

Read More »

Farm Science Review Photo Gallery

The final day of the Farm Science Review had the most cooperative weather and attendance was 28,774. The total attendance over three days was 134,734 visitors. Corn yields were in the 160- to 170-bushel range and moisture levels were generally around 33%. The harvest conditions and the grounds could best be described as soggy, but the damp conditions did little to dampen the show and the high spirits of those visiting.

Hopefully you got a chance to stop by and visit us at Ohio’s Country Journal and the Ohio Ag Net. Here are some photos for a review of the Review.… Continue reading

Read More »

It is National Farm Safety and Health Week

By Dee Jepsen, Ohio State University assistant professor for Agricultural Safety and Health

National Farm Safety and Health Week is Sept. 18-24. This annual promotional week commemorates the hard work, diligence, and sacrifices made by our nation’s farmers and ranchers.

The 2011 theme is “Safety Counts: Your Community depends on it!” This is a positive message to share with all involved in the farm communities. Farmers, farm families and farm workers need to know they are valued for the food, fuel and fiber they produce. A death or injury can negatively affect a business and personal income; on a larger scale, farm fatalities can drastically change the complexion of the community.

The fact about agricultural safety is that farm hazards don’t discriminate by age, gender or commodity. Farm injuries can happen to everyone, even those who do not live on a farm. For example, people visit farms for many reasons. They may be friends or relatives or have fishing and hunting access.… Continue reading

Read More »

More combines rolling around Ohio

On Sept. 16 Jason Brenner was getting ready to harvest corn on his Fairfield County farm. The field was planted was among the very few in the state planted on April 14 and it was at 25% to 30% moisture.

Brenner said steady rains though the season more than made up for the late start for most of the crop. Their planting season did not wrap up until early June and the rest of the corn crop still needs quite a bit more time to dry down.

Just before the combine started rolling, Sean Rittinger, a Channel district sales manager, arrived at the Brenner farm to conduct the final step for the Channel Field Check Up Series program where Channel seedsmen work with their farmer customers throughout the growing season to observe and monitor crop development. They walk the fields at four distinct periods of the season to learn their challenges so they can help diagnose issues and provide custom recommendations to help maximize their yield and profitability.… Continue reading

Read More »

A most notorious Ohio Century Farm













“In a desolate house on a corner, lived three wealthy men all alone.

For years they had lived there together in the secluded spot they called home.

No mother or sisters had they. Their father had long been dead.

For years they had labored together, cheerfully winning their coppers and bread.

Faithfully they clung to each other, did Loren, Jarvis and John.

And no less than 1,000 acres composed the farm, which they lived on.

In a dark little room apart from the others, stood an iron bound safe firmly locked.

Here was the hoarded gold of the brothers, no stranger allowed on the spot.”

So begins the 1903 song, Jarvis Meach, by Miss Coral J. Irish that sets the stage for the notorious Meach robbery that occurred a year earlier. I recently got to meet with Jarvis Babcock and his sister, Catherine (Babcock) Leary about their family’s Century Farm.… Continue reading

Read More »

Lima ethanol plant celebrates grand opening

Guardian Lima celebrated the grand opening of their ethanol plant with city officials, company representatives, local farmers and area agribusinesses on September 15th. The plant will produce 54 million gallons of ethanol a year and expects to buy 20 million bushels of corn next year.

They have been buying grain since the middle of February and started dumping in March. Actual ethanol has been being produced at the plant since June, but they chose to hold off on their grand opening.

“Knowing the past challenges of the plant, we did want to start the plant quietly,” Guardian Engergy Holdings CEO, Don Gales said. “We wanted to have everything running smoothly and earn the trust of the community.”

Gales said they were attracted to the plant and location because of the crush margin, which took into consideration what price they could pay for corn and what they could sell the ethanol and dried distillers grain for.… Continue reading

Read More »

Farmers get a closer look at Lake Erie algae issues














On Aug. 22, the Ottawa Soil and Water Conservation District held the “Lake Erie Ag Tour 2011.” With all the headlines about algal blooms on Ohio lakes the past two years, and farmers getting much of the blame, the goal of the tour was to get farmers on Lake Erie and let them see things firsthand.

About 40 farmers, local homeowners and government officials participated. They traveled on Ohio State University research vessels to sample the lakes water, then to Gilbralter Island, home of OSU’s Stone Laboratory and Ohio Sea Grant Program, to analyze their samples.

“I want to know what we have to do for our farms to push less phosphorus into the lake,” said Dave Fastinger, an Ottawa County hog producer who participated in the tour. “I like fishing in Lake Erie as much as anyone, so I came to hear the latest ideas of what we can do.”… Continue reading

Read More »

Caldwell family has long history of dairy farming

By Kyle Sharp

Twice a day, every day, at 5:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., the father-son duo of Ron and Doug Caldwell head to the family stanchion barn to milk cows. They do have a local boy who gives them a break on Sundays every other week, but aside from that, the task is all theirs.

It’s a tradition that has taken place at the Caldwell Farm in Harrison County near Hopedale for many years. The Ohio Department of Agriculture recognized the farm as an Ohio Century Farm in 2009, meaning it has been consistently in the Caldwell family for at least 100 years. And as far as Ron and Doug know, an operating dairy has always been part of the farm.

“It’s something to be really proud of, because it’s hard to survive, especially in the dairy business,” Doug said. “So far, we’ve weathered the storm, but it was a real challenge a couple years ago.”… Continue reading

Read More »

While on-farm storage generally pays, use caution this year

The old saying regarding on-farm grain storage goes something like this: “bins pay dividends.” This year, however, may be the one year in many that bucks conventional wisdom, according to one Ohio State University agricultural economist.

“The question is how much of a premium storage will pay this year?” said Matt Roberts. “A lot of farmers will look at last year and see big gains to storage and think those type of opportunities will be on tap this year, but I think that is much less likely to be the case.”

One of the biggest reasons Roberts is more skeptical about storage premiums this year is a significant potential for over-rationing, especially of corn, given the lateness of the crop.

With weather playing a significant factor in how quickly farmers were able to plant corn and soybeans across the Corn Belt, particularly in the Eastern Corn Belt, corn is several weeks behind a normal pace of development.… Continue reading

Read More »

Between the Rows-September 12, 2011

“We’ve had a lot of rain in the last couple of weeks. It should be enough now to finish filling the beans and give some kernel depth to the corn. These rains did come in time to help because the corn and beans were so late. The rain has done us a lot of good. It would have been great if it was a week sooner, but it still really helped.

“The crops are so green yet. We need a lot of warm weather to move these crops along. Last year, we started chopping silage on Aug. 25, though, and we’re probably still three weeks away from chopping silage. Last year, we started bean harvest on Sept. 12 and finished on the 25th. Last year, we started corn harvest on Sept. 25 at 15% moisture and we finished on Oct. 16. We’re probably a month away from harvesting beans and more than that for corn.… Continue reading

Read More »

USDA report has corn in Ohio down five bushel from August

From the USDA National Agriculture Statics Service in Ohio.

Based on conditions as of September 1, Ohio’s average corn yield is forecast at 153 bushels per acre, down 5 bushels from the August 1 forecast and 10 bushels below last year’s state yield of 163 bushels per acre. Total production is forecast at 508 million bushels, down 5 percent from 2010. Growers expect to harvest 3.32 million acres for grain in 2011, 50,000 acres more than in 2010.

Soybean yield is forecast at 46 bushels per acre, up 2 bushels from the August 1 forecast but down 2 bushels from the 2010 state average. Total soybean production for Ohio is forecast at 215.3 million bushels, down 2 percent from the previous year. Harvested acreage is forecast at 4.68 million acres, up 90,000 from 2010.… Continue reading

Read More »

USDA report meets corn expectations, offers surprises

USDA released its latest Crop Production and World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) reports Monday morning.

USDA trimmed its estimate of national average corn yield to 148.1 bushels per acre from the August estimate of 153 bushels per acre. That’s a slightly greater cut than the average trade estimate, at 148.8. The corn crop was pegged at 12.5 billion bushels from 84.4 million acres harvested while demand dropped off.

“The reduction is not a surprise but the severity of how quickly they are posting poor yields is. The September report indicated the U.S. corn crop would have an average yield of 148.1 bushels per acre. Just two months ago with the July report USDA had pegged the corn yield at 158.7 bushels per acre,” said Doug Tenney, with Leist Mercantile in Circleville. “Corn demand continues to be reduced as the yields have come down the past two months. With the September report, USDA reduced corn demand by 400 million bushels.… Continue reading

Read More »

Vilsack outlines Obama’s economic plan for rural America

By Matt Reese











Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack visited The Ohio State University to highlight what President Obama’s American Jobs Act means to Ohioans. This bipartisan legislation aims to put more people back to work and to put more money in the pockets of working Americans. It will be sent to Capitol Hill early next week and the Obama Administration will call on Congress to act on it immediately.

”There is no doubt that these have been tough times. And it’s very tough for the many Americans who are looking for work. So we’ve got to keep finding ways to help the unemployed in the short term and rebuild the middle class over the long term,” Vilsack said. “This is a short term jolt for the economy that is very much needed.”

He said that 200,000 Ohio small businesses will benefit from the tax breaks included in the package, and around $1 billion will be poured into Ohio for infrastructure improvements which could include roads, rail and locks and dams.… Continue reading

Read More »

Are wheat acres getting harder to justify?

By Matt Reese

Wheat had another tough year in 2011, which leaves many farmers again wondering if the crop is worth keeping in the crop rotation. Corn and soybean prices remain strong, head scab and quality issues are a significant concern and yields have been lackluster — all factors stacking the cards against planting wheat again this fall.

Dan Wagner farms in Hardin and Hancock Counties and has long been a believer in the importance of including wheat in his crop rotation, but another disappointing year has him re-examining the benefits of wheat.

“The wheat was off last year and this year the disease levels seem to be better, but the yields are worse,” Wagner said. “Wheat looked great coming into May, but then we started seeing the tile lines and I knew it was too wet. The water killed it in the low areas and in other places there was a head, but there was nothing in it.… Continue reading

Read More »