Thoughts from CTTC: When to terminate cover crops?

Experts of all sorts were found at the Conservation Tillage and Technology Conference this past week at the McIntosh Center on the campus of Ohio Northern University in Ada.

Not only is it a great event each year to learn about the latest in farming and conservation, but also a good place to ask questions about practices already in action.

One of those common questions we’ve found recently is the search for the best time to terminate cover crops come planting season. With some saying they prefer to plant into a burned down field, while others taking a more green approach and planting into still growing cover.

Speakers Dave Brandt, Bill Lehmkuhl, and Bret Margraf each take on the question in this video with Ohio Ag Net’s Joel Penhorwood.… Continue reading

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Know to Grow program puts young farmers to the test

Supporting the next generation of farmers is one of the key purposes of Farm Credit Mid-America’s Growing Forward initiative. The program, which started in 2014, just hosted its annual Know to Grow conference in Columbus.

The two-day event featured a wide range of topics, with speakers covering anything from the basics of understanding the farm’s financials, to succession planning to way to maximize the farm’s position financially.

The value of a meeting like the Know to Grow conference is not only help young and beginning farmers who are looking for ideas and new ways to keep the farm profitable, it is also of value to Farm Credit Mid-America as these up and coming farmers learn to be better borrowers.

“Many young and beginning farmers are very good at the production aspect of what they do on the farm, but we are trying to shift that mindset and get them to focus more on the financial management side,” said Jonathan Carter, AVP of Farm Credit Mid-America’s Growing Forward campaign.… Continue reading

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Get no-till corn off to a great start: Tips from CTTC

Ohio has a long history of university no-till plots, but so does Nebraska. And, while Nebraska has not been no-tilling for as long as Ohio, the state does have one man that has been there for all of the 37 years of no-till plot research — agricultural engineer Paul Jasa with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Jasa brought his tremendous amount of no-till experience to the popular Conservation Tillage and Technology Conference in Ada yesterday. Today is the second day of the conference.

“We have done some dumb things with tillage in the past. Mother Nature has roots living in the soil year round, but our ancestors started tilling and have roots growing only five or six months a year,” Jasa said. “We created a plow pan five or six inches deep. Then we broke up that plow pan at five or six inches with a chisel plow and after a few years we created a chisel pan down at 12 inches.… Continue reading

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Red root rot plagued Ohio corn in 2016

While there were many great results even after a tough year in 2016, there were some real disappointments too. According to Levi Runkle, a Tri-Ag Products, Inc. agronomist, some of those disappointing corn yields may have been partially the result of a rare issue in Ohio — red root rot. Runkle found the unique challenge for Ohio in a surprising number of fields last year.

“This is a rare late season destructive disease that leads to lodging. As we went into harvest we started seeing problems with hybrids that don’t usually have problems with lodging or ear drop,” he said. “As we got to looking at it, we started to see a lot of purpling or red on the roots that looked like insect damage. That is something we typically don’t see here. You see it more in the Delaware or Maryland area.”

Red root rot needs the right set of conditions to become a problem.… Continue reading

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Capitalizing on a sideways market

Rumors of changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) mandate last week shook up the markets Many question if the rumor is valid, because changing the mandate would require an act of Congress, which is not a guarantee or fast process. Regardless, this rumor is viewed as “uncertainty” to the market. With corn around $3.75, downside potential seems limited to between 25 and 50 cents, with upside potential high when weather, usage and acre potential are considered.

Funds will likely want to take advantage of this upside potential and continue to buy market dips instead of selling rallies until summer weather is better known. I expect corn to trade $3.60 to $3.90 for the next few months. Excess old crop will keep prices from going too high and reduced 2017 acres will keep prices from going too low.


Market Action

March options expired last Friday with futures closing at $3.63.… Continue reading

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Miami East FFA notes successful state evaluations

The State FFA Evaluations were recently held at the Ohio FFA Center in Columbus, Ohio. Several members of the Miami East-MVCTC FFA Chapter competed in various competitions. Members became eligible for State Evaluations by placing at District Evaluations in February.

American FFA Degree – Emily Beal, Daniel Everett, Stephanie Millhouse, Levi Reid and Hunter Sharp, graduates of Miami East High School, submitted an application to receive the American FFA Degree. Their applications were approved and will be submitted to the National FFA Organization for review. They will receive their degree at the National FFA Convention in October in Indianapolis, IN.

State FFA Degrees – Junior Alex DiNardo, and seniors Katie Bodenmiler, Carly Gump, and Alyssa Westgerdes submitted applications to receive the State FFA Degree. Their applications were approved, and they will receive their Degrees in May at the State FFA Convention in Columbus.

Proficiency Awards – Members applied for a district and state proficiency award.… Continue reading

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Commodity Classic focuses on farmer profitability

More than 350 Ohioans joined nearly 10,000 farmers from around the country for the 2017 Commodity Classic in San Antonio early this month to set policy, network and learn to improve their farms from some of the nation’s top experts.

“The theme of the conference has really been farmer profitability. The last three years we have seen decreasing net incomes because of prices and that is a big concern,” said Keith Truckor, chair of the Ohio Corn Checkoff Board and Fulton County farmer. “Fortunately we had a good run of profitability so we are coming in with pretty strong balance sheets, which is a positive. As we look forward in the next year or two there are concerns about where profitability will be. With that in mind we are looking at trade and biofuels and farm bill policy to make sure we are on the forefront of turning this cycle back to stronger profitability for farmers in the United States.… Continue reading

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Motter kicks off new national role at Commodity Classic

Ohio Soybean Council (OSC) board member John Motter was elected late last year to lead the national United Soybean Board as its 26th chair. He previously served on the USB executive committee as vice chair and treasurer and has been a board member for eight years. This is the first time since USB was created in 1991 that an Ohioan has been elected chair.

He sees an exciting year ahead.

“We are in the second year of our strategic plan and we are really hitting our stride now with the things we are trying to accomplish. We have proven we can produce a large crop of soybeans with three record crops in a row. Now we are really focused on increasing the value and the profitability back at the farm gate,” Motter said. “We are looking forward to kicking off a meal enhancement project and setting the stage for that by having conversations with industry.… Continue reading

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Capitalizing on the basis

There is a lot of unsold corn in farmers hands. Some estimates indicate only 40% to 45% of the 2016 crop is sold. With 16% carryout, there is plenty of supply available for the remaining seven marketing months. End users aren’t desperate for corn.

Despite the abundant corn supply I think corn futures have upside potential long-term. This may be caused by funds buying commodities as a hedge against inflation, reduced 2017 corn acres or a summer drought scare. If this happens, I would expect basis values to drift lower.


Due to heavy supply, basis has been disappointing lately, running lower than normal for this time frame.

  • Beans 40 to 50 cents below normal
  • Wheat 40 to 50 cents below normal
  • Corn 20 cents below normal.

In some ways the corn market is acting similar to 20 years ago. Ultimately basis fell apart as futures increased back then. It’s unclear if basis traders or farmers with HTAs will get burned in the same way this year.… Continue reading

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Input care and management crucial in a tight farm economy

The economics of the situation looking forward for commodity agriculture will require careful planning and management to maximize yields and profitability while minimizing risks and costs per bushel.

“We have to make a plan to think about how to move forward including a clear business plan that includes goals, timelines, and ‘what ifs,’” said Neil Bentley, director of marketing for BASF. “Break even is in sight. We need to think about how we make smart decisions and make sure you have a stewardship plan in place so you can be successful.”

Key inputs need to be managed with great care to balance return on investment, environmental stewardship and product longevity. BASF has developed strategies for field-to-field planning to protect plant health.

“With plant health, the key thing we are trying to understand is how to put the right plant health application on the right acre,” said Megan Andriankaja, project manager for BASF.… Continue reading

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Put your best fork forward this month

“Put your best fork forward” is the theme for National Nutrition Month 2017. It’s a reminder that we each hold the tool in our own hands to improve our health today and in the future. Small bitesize changes are all it takes to make a difference in the long haul of our overall health.

Even our best made baby steps and bite-sized changes toward our quest for a healthy lifestyle often get sidetracked by our oblivious intake of food, irresistible food choices, seductive restaurants and inactive lives. In this techno age we live in, there are some cool new tools at our fingertips to help give us an edge with every fork we take. Two of my favorites are fitness trackers and diet trackers.

Back in ancient days when I first became a dietitian, we would take food diaries and then look up the individual foods in a book to calculate calories and nutrients.

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WOTUS under fire (again)

The much-maligned Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule that took shape in the Environmental Protection Agency during the Obama Administration in 2015 is now coming under more political scrutiny.

Congressman Bob Gibbs (R-OH) introduced a resolution with 36 cosponsors in the House of Representatives that would withdraw the Waters of the United States Rule.

“Since the Obama Administration first proposed their WOTUS rule, I’ve heard from farmers, small business owners, county and township officials, and state environmental officials who have been strongly opposed. Clean water is important to everyone, especially the agriculture community,” Gibbs said. “This resolution expresses just how important it is to rescind this EPA power grab and start from scratch, working with stakeholders to create a sensible rule that protects water quality and preserves the federal-state partnership of the Clean Water Act. Farmers in Ohio and across the nation cannot afford more costly and burdensome regulations from a Washington bureaucracy that thinks it knows best.”… Continue reading

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Did fake news spark Tuesday’s market rally?

On the last day in February farmers — and the rest of the world for that matter — were anxiously waiting to hear what President Trump was going to say as he addressed Congress for the first time. But what got the attention of producers earlier in the day was a major price move to the upside for corn and soybean trade in Chicago. The spike was caused by a news story about possible changes in the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) mandate. That story, like many have in recent weeks, may not have been that reliable.

“At the beginning of the morning on Tuesday, leaked information suggested that there was going to be a significant change to the way the ethanol blender credits are working,” said Jon Scheve, a grain merchandiser with Superior Feed Ingredients. “By midday, the White House would not confirm whether or not that information was real and there might not be a change at all.… Continue reading

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Some clarification on the Syngenta lawsuit

Many of you have been contacted by attorneys regarding a class action filed by farmers against Syngenta. Here is some clarification.

April 1, 2017 is the deadline to opt out of the class action filed by farmers against Syngenta that is pending in federal court in Kansas City, Kansas, if a corn producer wishes to proceed against the company directly. Ohio farmers may qualify for two classes of the nine established by the federal judge overseeing the action — a nationwide class and an Ohio class. While there are other class actions against Syngenta pending in other jurisdictions and hundreds of other individual lawsuits, the Kansas City case seems to be the primary action.

At the risk of sounding like a lawyer, please do not consider this column legal advice. If you are interested in more information, please speak with an attorney directly about your individual situation. It appears that there will be many legal professionals, suddenly interested in corn production and marketing, happy to assist you.… Continue reading

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Drone licensing process makes for better, safer farm pilots

For those with high hopes of gaining a new perspective of agriculture, drones are becoming an increasingly popular addition to farming operations. But while the actual flying of the drone can be very fun and informative, the legalities can be daunting and discouraging.

Paul Ralston of Hardin County decided to face the legalities head on by registering his drone and becoming a licensed pilot.

“It was a lot more than what I thought it was going to be. I didn’t know what to expect. I went through a class at Indiana State. They went through traffic patterns at airports, different airport classifications, knowing how to read a coded weather briefing, and learning how to use the degrees on a compass — all kinds of things,” Ralston said.  “The course was two days — one whole day and three fourths of another day. The instructor was great. They taught you what you needed to know to pass the test for your license and how to resource information on continuing your education.… Continue reading

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Fertilizer Applicator Certification Training to end soon

We are still getting a lot of questions about Fertilizer Certification from farmers.

  • Yes, this new regulation applies to you. You, being almost every farmer in Ohio. You have until Sept. 30, 2017 to become certified to apply fertilizer. And you all tell me you won’t go to meetings after about March 15—so this means get this done now.
  • While there are exceptions, most of these exceptions would only apply to a very small farmer such as one who has 50 acres or less.
  • This site gives more details on the legal issues:
  • And “fertilizer” means anything with an N-P-K analysis — meaning yes this includes nitrogen if your retailer applies everything else and you only apply sidedress N.
  • And if you take manure from a concentrated animal feeding facility — a great opportunity by the way — then yes you too need to be certified to apply that manure.
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Tragedy sparks heroism in rural Ohio

Featured on the news, far too often, are horrifying glimpses of evil at work in the world, but even so, the relative safety of day-to-day life can be easily taken for granted. So it was in the rural west-central Ohio community of West Liberty where residents never expected something so bad to happen so close to home. But the community got a ghastly reminder of the fragility of life the morning of Jan. 20, 2017.

According to the WPKO-WBLL website, the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office reported the following, students were preparing for class at West Liberty-Salem schools, about an hour’s drive west of Columbus when at just after 7:30 a.m., 17-year-old Ely Serna allegedly snuck a disassembled Mossberg 500 12-gauge, pump action shotgun into the high school. Serna reassembled the gun, firing several shots, including shooting fellow student Logan Cole, 16, twice at random in the bathroom.

The official report said Serna apologized to Cole and asked him to kill him in return, handing him the gun.… Continue reading

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Curiosity abounds after antibiotic resistant gene found on farm

Research published in early December last year by Ohio State University animal scientists detailed the discovery of an antibiotic-resistant gene in a farrowing barn. Since its announcement, the industry has responded in various ways, ranging from curiosity to disappointment to calls for further testing.

Thomas Wittum, Ph.D., is chair of the Department of Preventative Veterinary Medicine at Ohio State, in charge of the team behind the discovery of the antibiotic-resistant gene on the production pig farm, the location and ownership of which has not been released.

“We have national surveillance in place looking for important antibiotic resistant organisms in farms. As part of that surveillance, we detected what’s known as a Carbapenem-resistant isolate on a pig farm here in the U.S. That’s a really important type of resistant bacteria because we usually only expect to find those organisms in human hospitals. So they’ve never been observed on farms before in the U.S.… Continue reading

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