Sunshine finally starting to bring farmers to the fields

We worked on some tile repairs, some fencerow maintenance and we are finishing up our last farm for soil testing. That’s about the extent of the field work.

With the cover crops, we do not really want to spray right now with the rain coming in. We won’t be able to plant right after so we want to hold off on spraying.  We are sort of in a holding pattern now because we don’t really do any tillage work so we are finishing up additions to our planter and moving seed.

The cover crops are looking much better. The fields that were thin are filling in. It is mainly the ryegrass that is growing in right now. I don’t see a lot of other species really growing much out there yet.

After this series of rains this week, I would guess that we could get going next week. There is an 80% chance of rain tomorrow and Wednesday and some chance on Thursday and Friday.… Continue reading

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A look at soil health in the farm bill

By Matt Reese

Bill Richards has been concerned with the health of his soil for a long time.

For more than 40 years, Richards and his family have used no-till to reduce costs and limit soil and nutrient runoff on their Pickaway County farm. Richards has also spent countless hours educating his fellow farmers about the importance of managing their land in a productive way while still protecting the environment. He served as the chief of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Soil Conservation Service from 1990 to 1993 as well.

“In the late 1950s the agronomists were telling us there was no reason to till other than weed control. Ohio is the cradle of no-till because at Wooster we had Dr. [Glover] Triplett and Dr. [David] Van Doren who started the original no-till research. There was a group that got started and I was sort of the ring-leader, trying these things to make them work on a farm level,” Richards said.… Continue reading

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A look at soil health in the farm bill

Bill Richards has been concerned with the health of his soil for a long time.

For more than 40 years, Richards and his family have used no-till to reduce costs and limit soil and nutrient runoff on their Pickaway County farm. Richards has also spent countless hours educating his fellow farmers about the importance of managing their land in a productive way while still protecting the environment. He served as the chief of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Soil Conservation Service from 1990 to 1993 as well.

“In the late 1950s the agronomists were telling us there was no reason to till other than weed control. Ohio is the cradle of no-till because at Wooster we had Dr. [Glover] Triplett and Dr. [David] Van Doren who started the original no-till research. There was a group that got started and I was sort of the ring-leader, trying these things to make them work on a farm level,” Richards said.… Continue reading

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Let’s talk kitchens…

Let’s talk kitchens. Kitchens and tables are the heart of every home. The meals that nourish us are created here. Deals are signed. Problems are solved. Laughter happens. Priceless memories are created around the table. It all starts in the kitchen.

Last fall, Paul and I started a grand adventure of remodeling my childhood home. A cool thing about this house is that half of it was a one room schoolhouse built in the 1800s. My grandpa attended school there. It was moved, used as a corn crib and moved again in the 1940s where it was turned into a house. My dad grew up in the house from the age of eight, got married and lived there 30 more years (that’s when I came along!). It has been a rental house for past 26 years. In this fixer-upper craze, we live in, this seemed like an exciting, fun project for two empty nesters to tackle.

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Groundhog day gobblers

Spring turkey season gets underway April 23 and I plan to do things different this year. Not because my former methods for taking toms haven’t been successful; on the contrary, I have been fortunate enough to fill a tag each April for the past several. I’m simply seeking a different experience, while hoping for a similar outcome.

For the past several springs I have pitched a ground blind in pretty much the same spot, planted the same decoys and enjoyed similar success in the first couple days of the season. Purring in the pre-dawn and yelping as the morning progresses, I lead any gobblers within earshot to believe there may be a lonesome hen in the vicinity. Sooner or later — and lately it’s been the latter around mid-morning — a gobbler waddles over and starts strutting his stuff within range of a magnum shell out of a box of a dozen turkey loads I purchased a decade ago.… Continue reading

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Thinking of the farm as a business

Corn and bean basis has remained strong, or even slightly improved for April delivery, even with the recent futures rally. This likely indicates limited farmer selling and/or good demand. It’s been a while since we’ve seen this type of market situation, and it suggests potentially higher prices going forward.

I expect the 2018 marketing year to be much different than 2017, but I have my plan in place ready to take advantage of opportunities that become available. In order to do this effectively, it’s imperative to know my breakeven price. Several Midwest universities have published their corn and bean breakeven cost structures for various farmers across the Midwest. While I may disagree with a few line items on their budgets, their overall numbers are values that I think is a reasonable level for the average farmer to use as a goal for their own budgets.


Thinking of the farm as a business

I suggest that farmers look at their farm operation as a large company with multiple profit centers working to a common goal.… Continue reading

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Preserving Ohio history one barn painting at a time

Bob Kroeger grew up in Youngstown and spent his career as a dentist in a Cincinnati suburb. So why is he interested in the old barns of rural Ohio?

“It was like an epiphany. My wife and I were on vacation in Licking County. We drove down an old country road toward our bed and breakfast. There at the intersection on top of a little hill was an old gray barn. There were boards missing and the roof was sagging and it was like a thunderbolt hit me right between the eyes and a voice came to me. I don’t know where it came from. It said, ‘You’re going to paint this barn and write about it,’” Kroeger said. “The next morning we went to the farmhouse and an old man came to the door. I tried to explain what I wanted to do. Eventually he loosened up and told me the history of the barn.… Continue reading

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What is the chance of herbicide resistance in Buckeye Gold — the rubber dandelion industrial crop — jumping over to common dandelion?

Buckeye Gold (Taraxacum kok-saghyz, also known as rubber dandelion, and rubber root) is a species of dandelion that is of commercial interest for the high quality rubber produced in its roots. However, it is a slow growing species that competes poorly with Ohio weeds in field plantings, and chemical broadleaf herbicides also kill most of the plants. In order to overcome these agronomic shortcomings, scientists are developing herbicide-resistant varieties by a number of methods, including selection, transgene insertion, and gene editing. However, the release of such germplasm raises the question of gene flow between Buckeye Gold and its ubiquitous weedy cousin, the common dandelion (T. officinale). Could herbicide resistance in Buckeye Gold transfer to common dandelion?


Can Buckeye Gold and common dandelion interbreed?

We have surveyed common dandelions around the world. In North America, we have found only triploid obligate apomictic common dandelion plants. These produce clonal seed with exactly the same chromosomes as the mother dandelions.… Continue reading

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Employee meals/entertainment: These deductions are about to change

The new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will present tight limits on deductions pertaining to business meals and entertainment. Before this new tax reform, taxpayers generally could deduct at least 50% of expenses for business-related meals and entertainment. However under the new law, entertainment expenses incurred or paid after Dec. 31, 2017 will be classified as non-deductible unless they fall under the specifications listed in Code Section 274(e). Let’s take a closer look at the different types of expenses and the deduction rules moving forward.


Meals provided by employer for convenience purposes

This was a 100% deductible expense in 2017. The keyword here is was. In 2018, the new rules will make this a 50% deduction. Look for this to be nondeductible after 2025.


Business meals/employee travel meals

This was a 50% deduction and it will stay that way under the new law.


Office holiday parties

We won’t see change here either.… Continue reading

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Rescue training helps prepare for when the unexpected happens

There is always potential for the unexpected to happen. It is important to be prepared for when it does.

That is one reason many of Ohio’s grain operations employees and first responders have participated in Bin Entry Tech Rescue Training, a program held in partnership with the Ohio AgriBusiness Association and the Grain Elevator and Processing Society. The four-day program is designed to provide hands-on training for emergency situations at commercial operations and farms. It is held at the Grain Elevator and Processing Society Grain Safety Training Center at Sidney Sunrise location.

The program is conducted by the Safety and Technical Rescue Association (SATRA), and led by professional firefighters. Participants learn about issues surrounding grain bins, Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) standards, air monitoring, and more. They also practice practical skills including rope and harness work and rescue procedures using 130-foot grain bins. Participants work in teams of eight to plan and lead rescues in the bins, with SATRA teachers on-site to monitor and check participants’ work.… Continue reading

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CCAs are on the front lines for key agricultural issues

A quick glance at the tidy office of John Fritz at The Andersons, Inc. Fremont facility would suggest that he works in a fairly standard desk job. One look at his weathered work boots, however, belies how he really spends most of his time and what drives the passion for what he does.

Fritz was recently named Ohio’s 2018 Certified Crop Advisor (CCA) of the Year. Fritz has more than 39 years of crop advising experience providing a variety of services to clients. He specializes in precision technology including nutrient management plans, soil sampling, scouting, weed management and seed recommendations, and variable rate planning. At The Andersons, Fritz has been a driving force for change through implementation of new technologies, including the introduction of variable rate technology at the farm center in the mid-1990s. He is also the head of the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Management program and oversees all fertilizer recommendations and rates for customers.… Continue reading

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Ohio Ag Net Podcast | Episode 53 | Early beans, late planting and Farm Bill on time?

The Ohio Ag Net Podcast, brought to you by AgriGold, brings a wide variety of topics for episode 53.

We start off with a parody song written and performed by our own Ty Higgins called “I just want to plant.” Ty also recently caught up with a farm that’s already planted a bit in Ohio for a test of how early soybeans may actually do. We hear his conversation with Jakob Wilson of JCW Farms.

Joel Penhorwood brings some audio from the press conference last week with House Ag Chairman Mike Conaway with the announcement of the first draft of the 2018 Farm Bill. The big question now is whether or not we’ll see it advancing in 2018.

A big topic addressed in the Farm Bill is conservation titles. Matt Reese talks with Jim Hoorman from USDA NRCS about conservation tips during the recent Dave Brandt Field Day.

Dale Minyo was at Wilmington College this past week and caught up with student Sara Pope about her path in agriculture.… Continue reading

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The ins and outs of early planting for soybeans

There has been an undeniable shift toward earlier planting of soybeans. Several Pioneer GrowingPoint agronomy research studies have shown the benefits of early planting for maximizing soybean yield (graph 1). Early planting allows growers to plant full-season varieties with higher yield potential. Additionally, soybeans planted earlier will generally produce more nodes/plant, reach canopy closure sooner, intercept more sunlight and spend a longer duration in reproductive growth (graph 2).

Yield results from DuPont Pioneer Product Knowledge Plots from 1996 to 2012.

The ideal soil temperature for soybean germination and emergence is 77 degrees F. However, soil temperatures at a two-inch depth do not typically reach these levels until late May or early June. Soybeans can easily germinate at soil temperatures of 50 degrees F at a two-inch soil depth, but it is not unusual for emergence to take three weeks at these low temperatures.

However, growers who assume “earlier is always better” without proper planning and management techniques may be on a path to lower yields and missed opportunities.… Continue reading

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(Really) big dairy drama

Lost Valley Farm, the second largest dairy in Oregon, has been in the news numerous times with diverse legal issues. The drama would make for a great made-for-TV movie, but I don’t think it would air on the Hallmark Channel.

Last year, 59-year old Greg te Velde, of Tipton, California, sought permits for a 30,000 cow dairy, which would make it the second largest milk producer in the state of Oregon. The dairy is located on 7,000 acres near Boardman, along the Columbia River in North Central Oregon. More importantly, the site is near the 70,000-head Threemile Canyon Farms, the largest dairy in Oregon. Permitting 100,000 cows in close proximity seems like more than a concentration.

There was trouble from the start. To say it lacked local support might be the understatement of the year. There were 4,200 public comments opposed to the dairy in writing.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture and Department of Environmental Quality granted the CAFO, and the dairy began operations in April of last year.… Continue reading

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Are options the answer?

The market is unsure if bean tariffs will mean anything. Even if China starts buying all of their beans from South America, the rest of the world could still buy U.S. beans. This week the Brazil bean cash offers skyrocketed off the tariff news, but when the futures came down 50 cents other world buyers started buying U.S. beans, as they were the cheapest globally. This is likely why the markets dipped and then recovered shortly after.

Reduced Argentina production is bullish, while U.S. bean stock levels are bearish. It’s still uncertain how many acres U.S. farmers will plant. I expect a roller coaster ride ahead for the bean market.

If corn demand continues to stay steady or increase, prices likely will be strong and have upside potential. If demand were to decrease, so will prices. Weather will start to be an issue in three weeks and could help determine if additional acres will be planted from the USDA estimates.… Continue reading

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The last “honey-do” project before spring

Okay, ladies. I’m back with my farm wife’s seasonal thoughts. I want you to know that I crossed a birthday threshold in January that officially qualifies me as being able to provide “authentic” words of wisdom (or storytelling).

So the weather forecast has not been conducive to getting in the fields anytime soon. Is the planter ready? History tells us that as soon as the National Farm Machinery show is over, they are all in “planting-season mode.” For my urban sisters, that means don’t even THINK about asking for any more honey-do projects. That’s over for the season. Done. (And it’s okay, because we’re ready to get them OUT of the house. J)

The past few seasons have given those of us who farm in the eastern Corn Belt a bit more moisture than we care to have. Reading Ryan Martin’s weather forecast in this morning’s Digital Dale e-newsletter made me wonder if perhaps a few farm sisters might not have “one last chance” to get that last honey-do project done before spring planting.… Continue reading

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Novel loader offers improved safety loading hogs at Cooper Farms

Cooper Farms began their hog business in 1994 and now moves 600,000 and 700,000 pigs a year from barns to trailers to packing plants. Like most hog operations, the pigs were loaded with chutes from the barn into the back of a trailer. That changed in 2009, however, due to an innovative idea of Alan Evers, a Hog Grow-Out Manager for Cooper Farms, encouraging company to research a way to improve this daunting process and reduce stress for the pigs and the people loading them.

The idea for the hog loader began from observing the loading process on a daily basis and brainstorming ways to improve, Evers said. Click here to see the loader in action.

“We were looking for better ways — mainly for our employees, because that’s a lot of physical work for those guys. Pushing 270- to 280-pound pigs, chasing them up the ramps to trailers — that’s a lot of physical work.… Continue reading

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Pay attention to nozzle selection to meet label requirements for the new 2,4-D and dicamba products

Generally, this is the time of the year you complete shopping for nozzles because the spraying season is just around the corner. This task must be on top of your to do list if you are one of those who will be applying the new 2,4-D or Dicamba products for crops that are resistant to these products. According to a survey conducted by Farm Journal magazine and reported in its Mid-February issue, out of the 411 people they contacted (mostly in Midwest, including Ohio) 40% of them indicated they plan to grow dicamba-tolerant soybeans. About 11% indicated they are still undecided. If you happened to be one of these people who will use dicamba products for weed control, you better check the labels because you now have to use one of the nozzles they recommend on their labels, and operate those nozzle within a recommended range of pressures.

In the past, the labels on chemicals gave some vague and general statements when referring to application equipment.

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Assessing alfalfa yield potential

As spring slowly makes its arrival in Ohio, fields sowed with overwintering crops will start to show some life again. Once green up occurs in alfalfa fields, yield potential can begin to be assessed.

“What we are looking at for an established alfalfa stand is a stem count of greater than 55 stems per square foot,” said Kyle Poling, a DuPont Pioneer Field Agronomist. “Forty to 55 stems per square foot is still a really nice stand, but as we get under 40 stems that is going to severely limit yield and the farmer may want to consider tearing that field up and if they need that alfalfa for the upcoming year, consider replacement.”

For the 2017 fall seeding of alfalfa, a grower may have planted up to 25 to 30 plants per square foot. Alfalfa tends to be a tender crop, so if the stem count is at a viable level that will usually equate to 4 to 5 healthy plants per square foot in the spring.… Continue reading

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Neutral report for April

Shortly before the report on April 10 corn was down 2 cents, soybeans were up 8 cents, with wheat down 6 cents. Traders were looking for corn ending stocks to increase due to less corn being fed. Also, soybean production was expected to increase in Brazil.

Shortly after the report corn was unchanged and soybeans were up 11 cents. Corn ending stocks were up 55 million bushels. Soybean ending stocks were down 5 million bushels, traders had expected them to increase a small amount. No surprises for corn or soybeans. Brazil soybean production was up 2 million tons, no surprise. Argentina soybean production was lowered 7 million tons.

The main focus of news in recent days has been the US/China trade situation. Volatility has been extreme and is ever changing. There
continues to be a huge war of words from both sides. The reality to
keep in front of us is that it will be late May or later before any
actions begin to take place.… Continue reading

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