BQA: One Year Later

By: Garth Ruff, OSU Extension (originally published in The Ohio Cattleman summer issue)

Early last year I wrote an article titled Understanding Customer Relations in a Changing Beef Industry, which examined the factors that drove the demand for cattle producers to complete Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) training.

Now after a years’ time, with nearly 100 in-person trainings taught, and almost 7,250 Ohio cattle producers BQA certified in-person and another 2,100 online, where do things stand?

As a refresher, the push to have producers trained in BQA was at the request of Tyson, one of the major packers’ decision to only source fed cattle from cattle feeders certified in BQA by 2019. Tyson’s decision was largely due to the commitment of Wendy’s to do the same, at the demand of their customers. As we have seen in all segments of food production the consumer, now more than ever, wants to know how their food is produced. Often in the case of meat, consumers want to be assured that the animal was raised humanely and cared for under good production practices, the basic principles of any livestock quality assurance program.

In 2018, the majority of the producers certified, completed BQA training for the first time. Producer attendance to these trainings, I think often exceeded expectations. Early on, in addition to not knowing how well the program would be received, there were many questions regarding the process of providing proof of certification and identifying those certified producers at the auction markets.

It was through cooperation between OSU Extension, the Ohio Beef Council, and several of the livestock markets, that the implementation of a statewide BQA program was pulled off successfully. The livestock markets stressing the importance of having market access is what brought farmers in the door. Once there, the role of Extension was to teach the programs, and then forward producer information to the Beef Council, where staff generated cards and certificates that producers received as proof of completion. Beef Council staff communicating the continuously updated certification lists with the livestock markets made the process of selling fed cattle as smooth as possible.

After all that has happened in the past year, I think there are two logical questions to be asked: 1) What does “BQA 2.0” look like? 2) Where does the industry go from here?

As we look at the logistics of implementing BQA here in Ohio, we now know what to expect the next time around. Recently, I have had the opportunity to ask other state beef council directors and staff, how their states have implemented the program. Of those I have talked to, few appear to have had the statewide success that we experienced here in Ohio.

From a curriculum standpoint, I am not sure we know exactly what the next round of BQA will look like, but it is something we will work to improve upon. As the beef industry continues to evolve, BQA will have to continue to evolve with it. In addition to food safety and meat quality, I suspect that topics such as traceability, antibiotic use, cattle handling, animal welfare, and transportation will all be of greater focus as we begin BQA RE-certification in fall of 2020.

As we look at current issues in the industry, many of these are already being discussed today. Let’s look at transportation, for example. By 2020, in order to address animal handling and carcass bruising, Tyson has said that all cattle haulers delivering live cattle to their harvest facilities will need to be certified in Beef Transport Quality Assurance (TQA). Coupled with current legislative discussions regarding livestock hauling and hours of service, the focus on transportation is greater than ever.

As BQA becomes a routine part of the production cycle, attending those in-person trainings can keep producers informed as to what may be coming down the pike. Currently cow-calf producers are receiving heavy discounts for calves that are not preconditioned; weaned for 45-60 days and started on feed. Eventually, our trade partners are going to require age and source verification, (i.e. improved traceability). In order to maintain access to premium markets and profitability, all segments of the industry will have to adapt to change.

If we examine some of the changes happening in the beef industry, BQA certification for fed cattle appears to be one of the lower hanging fruits. Expectations are for the other major packers to follow Tyson’s lead. In addition to some of the previously mentioned topics, it is a possibility that the BQA requirements may be extended to producers of cull cows and bulls. If that happens, while there are likely some outliers, we here in Ohio are in good shape, thanks to a proactive industry and a statewide effort to meet growing consumer requests.

What’s in your Grain Dust?

By Dr. S Dee Jepsen, State Leader of the OSU Extension Agricultural Safety & Health Program

As many farmers know, grain dust contains more than meets the eye. Moreover, the dust you inhale may also contain microbes, insects, and additional plant fodder. All of which are affected by temperature and humidity fluctuations. It is important to better understand what is in your grain dust, since many biological contaminants have been linked to health conditions like asthma and chronic bronchitis. That is why the OSU Extension Agricultural Safety & Health Program wants to sample your grain dust during a loud out period. See below for study details:

  1. We know your schedule is ever-changing, that’s why students will be available both weekdays/nights and weekends for sampling. A half day notice will suffice to allow for travel time
  2. Samples may be taken of multiple bins, storing different grains
  3. No preparation is needed for sampling!
  4. Sampling will not interfere with the load-out process.
  5. Measurements will only be taken during the unloading process.
  6. You will receive a dust analysis report ~1 week later showing the amount of Total Dust and Respirable Dust. Results are anonymous, and will not be shared with any other agencies.
  7. There is no fee for this service, and no incentives to participate, besides contributing to our understanding of dust level exposure. N-95 respirators are available upon request.

If you are interested in participating, please contact Dee Jepsen by phone at 614-292-6008 or by e-mail at

Frogeye Leaf Spot – Is It Worth Spraying in 2019?

By:  Anne Dorrance, Ohio State University

Frogeye leaf spot

Several reports over the last two weeks of heavy frogeye leaf spot pressure in some fields as well as low to moderate pressure in others.  This disease will continue to increase and infect new foliage as it develops on these late planted soybeans. Based on our previous research, only once (2018) in 14 years of studies did applications at the soybean growth stage R5 contribute to preserved yield.  At the R5, the leaf at the terminal is fully developed and the pods at any one of the top four nodes is fully expanded, but the seeds are just beginning to expand.

Soybeans that have frogeye and have just begun to flower, are at full flower, or have just reached the R3 growth stage, these decisions are going to be challenging.  In full disclosure, we don’t have data or examples to rely on here.  This late planting and late development is all new territory for all of us.  But there are some sound principles to rely on.

For soybeans that are in the R3 growth stage, pods are tiny, 3/16 of an inch at one of the four uppermost nodes of the plant. This is the time if frogeye leaf spot can easily be found in the canopy, a lesion on one plant every 40’ has in our studies, preserved yield in a normal growing season.  This growth stage in Ohio typically occurs in mid to late July on May planted soybeans.

So here are the questions to address for 2019 and in the order of importance.

  1. The value of the crop – are these soybeans grown for seed, then yes error on the side of caution and apply the fungicide and make a second application 14 days later.
  2. Are these soybeans under contract, and will you actually be able to sell them? If the answer is no, then adding more inputs into the crop may not be a sound investment.
  3. Will the soybean finish making grain before harvest? This question will most likely affect soybeans that are just now in full flower, we are hoping for a very long fall, but this will impact the return on applying the fungicide.
  4. How susceptible is the variety? For some resistant varieties, the frogeye leaf spots are small and only a few will form on each leaf.  So double check with your seed supplier to look at the ratings. In any event your seed dealer will want to watch this variety and work with their breeders.

If you do decide to spray, please leave unsprayed check strips – at least 3 separate locations in the field and collect the yield off each of these separately, the same is true for the fungicides sprayed strips, collect the data from these as well.  The yield maps will be especially important this year.  Secondly, choose the cheapest triazole fungicide that you can find.  This is going to be very important for the economic viability of this year’s crop. Also remember, we have detected QoI resistance in Ohio, and it is not advisable to spray these types of fungicides at these late dates on crops that are further behind in development.

If you don’t spray, and it is a highly susceptible variety, the disease will continue to increase on the plants, but only if periodic rains and heavy dews or fogs continue through the remainder of this crazy field season. Mark this field and this variety. These are important considerations for 2020 field season as this disease does now overwinter in Ohio. Replanting in the same field with the same variety or one that is susceptible to this disease is a recipe for further yield loss in the future.

Frogeye leaf spot

Identifying late-season caterpillars feeding in corn ears

By:  , Department of Entomology

In the last two weeks, I’ve had many calls, texts and pictures of caterpillars in corn ears (hey, at least some fields have ears). It is important to correctly identify which species are feeding in infested fields, not just to make the right management decision but to be sure that Bt traits are working as expected.

The body surface of corn earworm is rough with small, black spines and dark spots. It varies in body color (brown, yellow, pink, green) and has prominent colorful striping. Photo credits: C. DiFonzo, C. Bauer and M. Roth.

The body surface of corn earworm is rough with small, black spines and dark spots. It varies in body color (brown, yellow, pink, green) and has prominent colorful striping. Photo credits: C. DiFonzo, C. Bauer and M. Roth.

I made a tip sheet with pictures, “Identifying late-season caterpillars feeding in the ear,” with helpful ways to identify the three lepidoptera species that I am getting questions about. Some of the pictures came from FonzFacts recipients.

Of the species of concern, western bean cutworm and European corn borer are expected. Western bean flight peaked last week; catch was high in some traps, low in others. Both egg masses and larvae are present in fields. Western bean cutworm can eat through all Bt traits, except the Vip3A protein. Ears in Agrisure Viptera corn should be clean or nearly so compared to other hybrids.

Meanwhile, corn borer moths are starting to fly. Thus far, my trap counts are low. Second generation infestation and feeding may occur in non-Bt and organic corn, and there are many reports of that this year. However, it would be very concerning to find a European corn borer infestation in Bt corn beyond a few refuge plants. Contact a company agronomist and Michigan State University Extension educator if you have such a field so that it can be documented and samples taken. See the Great Lakes and Maritime Pest Monitoring Network website for trap counts for these two species.

Corn earworm has been an unexpected surprise this year in Michigan, surrounding states and Ontario. I confess that I’ve ignored this insect for 20 years because it’s been hard to find in field corn in Michigan after the widespread use of certain Bt traits. Earworm overwinters in the southern U.S. where it is a regular pest of cotton and corn. The first surprise this year was that it moved northward much earlier than normal—in June rather than mid- to late July.

Another surprise are infestations in Bt hybrids that should control it, specifically those with the Cry1A.105 plus Cry2Ab2 combination found in VT Double Pro, VT Triple Pro and SmartStax. It’s true that earworm resistance to Cry1A.105 x Cry2Ab2 was found in sweet corn, and recently reported in collections from field corn in North Carolina; entomologists in the south are concerned about earworm resistance increasing to the both toxins. The earworms infesting our fields this summer originated in the south. As my colleague Pat Porter from Texas says, “You are inheriting our moths,” (and by default, any resistance issues they carry).

But it is a false notion that just because there are resistant earworms in the south, infestation of VT Double Pro corn in Michigan is “normal” and not worth investigating. I’ve never seen a case of heavy earworm infestation in a VT or Smartstax field, ever, so it isn’t “normal” to me. An explanation that I have heard is that Cry1A.105 plus Cry2Ab2 is labeled only for “suppression” of earworm. This is not correct. A quick googlization of VT Double/Triple Pro or SmartStax shows that earworm is still listed as a pest controlled, and a phone call to entomologists in the south confirms the same information in that region. Under normal circumstances, Cry1A.105 x Cry2Ab2 should control earworm. In addition, the Vip3A protein should provide excellent control, and observations from the field so far show that is the case.

The bottom line is if you are scouting fields and finding caterpillars, be aware that they could be earworm. If it’s a Bt hybrid, check the trait package to determine which species should be controlled. If the damage levels are unexpected, then it’s important to investigate and try to explain why. Furthermore, companies are under an obligation to document and report cases of unexplained damage, and take samples if necessary. If something doesn’t look right, contact a company agronomist and an MSU Extension educator sooner rather than later so the field can be visited.

Assessing The Risk of Frost Injury to Late Planted Corn

By: Peter Thomison OSU Extension

Lately I have received questions as to whether corn at various stages of development, especially the blister (R2) and dough stage (R3) stages, will mature before the 50% average frost date. According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, as of August 18, 37 percent of Ohio’s corn acreage was in the dough stage (R4) compared to 70 percent for the five year average, and three percent of the corn acreage was in the dent stage (R5) compared to 21 percent for the five-year average. Many areas of the state corn are considerably behind the five-year average because of late planting. Late maturation of the corn crop had led to questions about the likelihood for frost damage and whether more fuel will be needed to dry corn.

Physiological maturity (R6), when kernels have obtained maximum dry weight and black layer has formed, typically occurs about 65 days after silking. At physiological maturity (kernel moisture approximately 30-35%), frosts have little or no effect on the yield potential of the corn crop.

Dr. Bob Nielsen has summarized research findings from Purdue University and Ohio State University that provide insight into both the calendar days and thermal time (growing degree days, GDDs)  typically required for grain at various stages of development to achieve physiological maturity (kernel black layer, R6). This research was conducted at two locations in Indiana (west central and southeast) and two locations in Ohio (northwest and southwest) with three hybrids representing 97, 105, and 111-day relative maturities planted in early May, late May, and mid-June. The calendar days and thermal time from silking to black layer for the 111-day hybrid maturity are shown in Table 1 from The calendar days and thermal time from silking to black layer for the 97-day hybrid and 105 maturity are also available from this Purdue webpage.

Table 1

The study indicated that corn planted in mid-June compared to early May requires 200 to 300 fewer GDDs to achieve physiological maturity.  According to Dr. Nielsen, while slightly different responses among the four locations of the trial existed, there did not seem to be a consistent north/south relationship. Therefore, growers can use the results summarized in the following table to “guesstimate” the number of calendar days or heat units necessary for a late-planted field at a given grain fill stage to mature safely prior to that killing fall freeze.

How many GDDs can be expected from now until an average date of a killing

frost for a 111-day hybrid planted in mid-June?  To answer this question, estimate the expected GDD accumulation from Aug. 19 until the average frost date (50% probability) for different regions of the state (Table 2).  These GDD expectations are based on 30-year historical normals reported by the Ohio Agricultural Statistics Service. The GDD accumulation was calculated using the 86/50 cutoff, base 50 method.

If you want to determine the “youngest stage of corn development” that can

safely reach black layer before the average frost date at a given weather

station, use the information in Table 2 on remaining GDDs in conjunction with

Table 1 which indicates GDDs needed to reach black layer at various

stages of grain fill. Compare “GDDs remaining” for the site with the GDDs

required to achieve black layer depending on the corn’s developmental stage.

Table 2. Estimated GDDs remaining from Aug. 9 to the first fall frost for Ohio.




Median Frost Date

(50% probability)

Estimated GDDs Remaining

From Aug. 19 to Fall Frost

Northwest Oct 10 – Oct 20 673 – 723
North Central Oct 10 – Oct 25 656 – 741
Northeast Sept 30 – Oct 25 603 – 749
West Central Oct 10 – Oct 15 716 – 773
Central Oct 5 – Oct 15 670 – 796
East Central Sept 30 – Oct 15 645 – 763
Southwest Oct 10 – Oct 15 752 – 815
South Central Oct 15 – Oct 20 841 – 893
Southeast Oct 5 – Oct 15 651 – 774

If your corn is in the milk stage (R3) as of Aug. 19, will it be safe from frost? Table 1 indicates that corn planted in mid – June required about 681 GDDs to reach black layer from R3 and Table 2 indicates that all regions of the state can accumulate that number of GDDs before the 50% frost date.

However, if your corn is in the blister stage (R2) as of Aug. 19, it might be a different story. The kernel development – GDD accumulation relationships in Table 1 indicate that corn planted in mid-June that is at R2 needs about 781 GDDs to reach black layer. Table 2 indicates that three regions of the state, South Central, Central, and Southwest, accumulate that number of GDDs before the 50% frost date. Several other regions, West Central, and Southeast, come close to accumulating this number whereas, the Northeast, Northwest, and North Central regions are least likely to accumulate the GDDs required to achieve physiological maturity.

The research results in Table 1 demonstrate that late-planted corn has the ability to adjust its maturity requirements, and most of this adjustment occurs during the late kernel development stages. In previous growing seasons when GDD accumulation was markedly less than normal, corn planted by mid-June has usually achieved physiological maturity before the first frost occurred.


Nielsen, R.L. 2011. Predicting Corn Grain Maturity Dates for Delayed Plantings

Grain Fill Stages in Corn

By: Bob Nielsen, Purdue University

The grain fill period begins with successful pollination and initiation of kernel development, and ends approximately 60 days later when the kernels are physiologically mature. During grain fill, the developing kernels are the primary sink for concurrent photosynthate produced by the corn plant. What this means is that the photosynthate demands of the developing kernels will take precedence over that of much of the rest of the plant. In essence, the plant will do all it can to “pump” dry matter into the kernels, sometimes at the expense of the health and maintenance of other plant parts including the roots and lower stalk.

A stress-free grain fill period can maximize the yield potential of a crop, while severe stress during grain fill can cause kernel abortion or lightweight grain and encourage the development of stalk rot. The health of the upper leaf canopy is particularly important for achieving maximum grain filling capacity. Some research indicates that the upper leaf canopy, from the ear leaf to the uppermost leaf, is responsible for no less than 60% of the photosynthate necessary for filling the grain.

Kernel development proceeds through several distinct stages that were originally described by Hanway (1971) and most recently by Abendroth et al. (2011). As with leaf staging protocols, the kernel growth stage for an entire field is defined when at least 50% of the plants in a field have reached that stage.

Silking Stage (Growth Stage R1)

Silk emergence is technically the first recognized stage of the reproductive period. Every ovule (potential kernel) on the ear develops its own silk (the functional stigma of the female flower). Silks begin to elongate soon after the V12 leaf stage (12 leaves with visible leaf collars), beginning with the ovules near the base of the cob and then sequentially up the cob, with the tip ovules silking last. Consequently, the silks from the base half of the ear are typically the first to emerge from the husk leaves. Turgor pressure “fuels” the elongation of the silks and so severe drought stress often delays silk elongation and emergence from the husk leaves. Silks elongate about 1.5 inches per day during the first few days after they emerge from the husk leaves. Silks continue to elongate until pollen grains are captured and germinate or until they simply deteriorate with age.

Silks remain receptive to pollen grain germination for up to 10 days after silk emergence (Nielsen, 2016b), but deteriorate quickly after about the first 5 days of emergence. Natural senescence of silk tissue over time results in collapsed tissue that restricts continued growth of the pollen tube. Silk emergence usually occurs in close synchrony with pollen shed (Nielsen, 2016c), so that duration of silk receptivity is normally not a concern. Failure of silks to emerge in the first place (for example, in response to silkballing or severe drought stress) does not bode well for successful pollination.

Pollen grains “captured” by silks quickly germinate and develop pollen tubes that penetrate the silk tissue and elongate to the ovule within about 24 hours. The pollen tubes contain the male gametes that eventually fertilize the ovules. Within about 24 hours or so after successfully fertilizing an ovule, the attached silk deteriorates at the base, collapses, and drops away. This fact can be used to determine fertilization success before visible kernel development occurs (Nielsen, 2016a).

Silk appearance at R1.


Close-up of ovules at R1.

Kernel Blister Stage (Growth Stage R2)

About 10 to 12 days after silking, the developing kernels are whitish “blisters” on the cob and contain abundant clear fluid. The ear silks are mostly brown and drying rapidly. Some starch is beginning to accumulate in the endosperm. The radicle root, coleoptile, and first embryonic leaf have formed in the embryo by the blister stage. Severe stress can easily abort kernels at pre-blister and blister stages. Kernel moisture content at the beginning of R2 is approximately 85 percent. For late April to early May plantings in Indiana, the thermal time from blister stage to physiological maturity is approximately 960 GDDs (Brown, 1999).

Appearance of silks. Growth stage R2.


Appearance of kernels. Growth stage R2.

Kernel Milk Stage (R3)

About 18 to 20 days after silking, the kernels are mostly yellow and contain “milky” white fluid. The milk stage of development is the infamous “roasting ear” stage, when you will find die-hard corn aficionados standing out in their field nibbling on these delectable morsels. Starch continues to accumulate in the endosperm. Endosperm cell division is nearly complete and continued growth is mostly due to cell expansion and starch accumulation. Severe stress can still abort kernels, although not as easily as at the blister stage. Kernel moisture content at the beginning of R3 is approximately 80 percent. For late April to early May plantings in Indiana, the thermal time from milk stage to physiological maturity is approximately 880 GDDs (Brown, 1999).

Appearance of silks. Growth stage R3 (milk).


Appearance of kernels. Growth stage R3 (milk).


Cross-section view of kernel. Growth stage R3 (milk).

Kernel Dough Stage (R4)

About 24 to 26 days after silking, the kernel’s milky inner fluid begins changing to a “doughy” consistency as starch accumulation continues in the endosperm. The shelled cob is now light red or pink. By dough stage, four embryonic leaves have formed and the kernels have reached about 50 percent of their mature dry weightKernel moisture content is approximately 70 percent at the beginning of R4. Near the end of R4, some kernels will typically be starting to dent. Kernel abortion is much less likely to occur once kernels have reached early dough stage, but severe stress can continue to affect eventual yield by reducing kernel weight. For late April to early May plantings in Indiana, the thermal time from dough stage to physiological maturity is approximately 670 GDDs (Brown, 1999).

Appearance of kernels and silks. Growth stage R4 (dough).


Appearance of kernels. Growth stage R4 (dough).


Cross-section of kernel. Growth stage R4 (dough).

Kernel Dent Stage (R5)

About 31 to 33 days after silking, all or nearly all of the kernels are denting near their crowns. The fifth (and last) embryonic leaf and lateral seminal roots form just prior to the dent stage. Kernel moisture content at the beginning of R5 is approximately 60 percent.

More importantly, kernel dry matter content at the beginning of R5 is only about 45% of the eventual final accumulation and there remains approximately more 30 days before physiological maturity occurs. This is sobering considering that farmers and agronomists alike often breathe a sigh of relief when the crop reaches R5 because of a mistaken and, frankly, emotional belief that the “crop is made” by this grain fill stage.

Description of the corn ear.

Description of the corn ear.

Interesting Exercise:
You can get a sense of the importance of the final 30 days of grain filling by calculating a number of “what-if” grain filling scenarios using the traditional pre-harvest yield estimation formula for corn with a range of kernel weight “fudge factors” from about 65 to 105 (representing kernel weights equivalent to 65,000 to 105,000 kernels per 56-lb bushel.)

Within about a week after the beginning of R5, a distinct horizontal line appears near the dent end of a split kernel and slowly progresses to the tip end of the kernel over the next 3 weeks or so. This line is called the “milk line” and marks the boundary between the liquid (milky) and solid (starchy) areas of the maturing kernels.

For late April to early May plantings in Indiana, the thermal time from full dent (kernel milk line barely visible) to physiological maturity is approximately 350 GDDs (Brown, 1999). Thermal time from the half-milkline stage to physiological maturity for similar planting dates is approximately 280 GDDs. One of the consequences of delayed planting is that thermal time from the dent stage to physiological maturity is shortened, though this may simply reflect a premature maturation of the grain caused by the cumulative effects of shorter daylengths and cooler days in early fall or by outright death of the plants by a killing fall freeze.

Severe stress can continue to limit kernel dry weight accumulation between the dent stage and physiological maturity. Estimated yield loss due to total plant death at full dent is about 40%, while total plant death at half-milkline would decrease yield by about 12% (Carter & Hesterman, 1990).

Appearance of kernels and silks. Growth stage early R5 (dent).


Appearance of kernels. Growth stage early R5 (dent).


Cross-section of kernel. Growth stage early R5 (dent).

Physiological Maturity (R6)

About 55 to 65 days after silking, kernel dry weight usually reaches its maximum and kernels are said to be physiologically mature and safe from frost. Physiological maturity occurs shortly after the kernel milk line disappears and just before the kernel black layer forms at the tip of the kernels. Severe stress after physiological maturity has little effect on grain yield, unless the integrity of the stalk or ear is compromised (e.g., damage from European corn borer or stalk rots). Kernel moisture content at physiological maturity averages 30 percent, but can vary from 25 to 40 percent grain moisture depending on hybrid and growing conditions.

Appearance of kernels. Growth stage R6 (physiological maturity).


Appearance of kernels. Growth stage R6 (physiological maturity).


Cross-section of kernel. Growth stage R6 (physiological maturity).

Harvest Maturity

While not strictly a stage of grain development, harvest maturity is often defined as that grain moisture content where harvest can occur with minimal kernel damage and mechanical harvest loss. Harvest maturity is usually considered to be near 25 percent grain moisture.

Corn Market Considerations

By: Clint Schroeder OSU Extension

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) released their World Agriculture Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report earlier this week and it has certainly taken the market by surprise. The debate continues to rage over how acres are classified by USDA and if the information contained in the report is accurate. The WASDE reported that corn acres nationally are at 90 million with another 11.2 million classified as Prevented Plant. The USDA also increased their national yield forecast to an average of 169.5 bushels per acre. This came as a major shock to the market and sent corn futures sharply lower. The December ’19 corn futures have traded 61 cents lower in the days following the report.

This report is especially problematic for producers in Ohio that have not forward contracted any bushels based on uncertainty of yields associated with delayed plantings.  There are also producers that are holding old crop corn in hopes that the cash price would reach levels over $5. This has lead to a very strong regional basis through the summer. It has also begun the process of demand rationing.  One of the major end users in Ohio is obviously the ethanol industry.  Unfortunately, September ethanol futures on the Chicago Board of Trade are trading at their lowest levels since October of 2014. One of the reasons for this is increased stocks. The industry closed the month of July with a new record of 24.5 million barrels stockpiled.  That represents an increase of 11% from the previous year. Needless to say these cumbersome stocks combined with a low futures price and a higher cash corn price, due to the strong basis, have had a negative impact on ethanol margins. It is important for producers to be aware of this situation as any significant rally in the futures or strengthening of the basis will ratchet up the pressure on ethanol plant managers. This could lead to the temporary shutdowns at plants throughout Ohio as managers wait for margins to improve.

Provided by Stephanie Karhoff – OSU Extension

The USDA will release the next WASDE on September 12th and it is unlikely that it will have as great of an impact as the August report. Many of the questions that farmers and traders have been left with will not be answered fully until after harvest data comes in. Given the unprecedented number of unplanted or delayed acres there are many questions on how many acres will actually end up harvested for grain. Ohio had reported over 880,000 of prevent plant corn acres to the USDA as of August 1st.  This will continue to be reflected in a stronger than normal basis in those areas that were most impacted. There also remains plentiful speculation on the possibilities of meeting the yield numbers that USDA has forecasted.

Keep an Eye Out for Tar Spot

Tar spot of corn

Tar spot on corn. Photo: Martin Chilvers, MSU.

By:  Stephanie Karhoff OSU Extension

As the season progresses, keep an eye for tar spot, a new corn disease caused by the fungus Phyllachora maydis. The pathogen originates from Mexico and Central America, but has made its way to the Buckeye State.

Tar spot of corn was first detected in 2015 in Indiana and Illinois, and was later observed in Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio (2018), and Wisconsin. It thrives in wet, cool conditions. Since this is a newly emerging disease, it is important to be vigilant and scout your fields to track its spread and impact on corn yield.

Last season (2018) was the first year yield losses due to tar spot were evaluated in hybrid trials in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin.Across all trials and hybrid maturities, a 0.32-1.36 bushel per acre loss occurred per 1% increase in tar spot. Based on this, we would predict a field with 40-50% tar spot severity on the ear leaf by R5/6 would have a loss of 16.8-38.7 bushels per acre. In these trials, all hybrids experienced some level of tar spot.

When scouting, look for small, raised black spots called ascomata on leaves, leaf sheaths, and husks. These spots are often surrounded by a tan halo (see picture). It is easy to confuse these ascomata with saprophytes or insect frass. The key difference is that ascomata cannot be rubbed off the leaf surface with your fingers. If you suspect it is tar spot, call the Williams County OSU Extension Office at 419-636-5608.

You can find real-time tracking of tar spot occurrence in 2019 here


1Telenko, DEP, MI Chilvers, N Kleczewski, DL Smith, AM Bryne, P Devillez, and et al. 2019. How Tar Spot of Corn Impacted Hybrid Trials During the 2018 Midwest Epidemic. Crop Protection Network.

MI Chilvers. 2019. Corn Tar Spot Outlook for 2019. Michigan State University Extension.

Poultry Litter Applications

By: Glen Arnold OSU Extension

Stockpiles of poultry litter can be seen in farm fields across Ohio. While common each year in wheat stubble fields, there are also stockpiles showing up in preventative plant fields. Poultry litter is an excellent source of plant nutrients and readily available in most parts of the state.

Poultry litter can be from laying hens, pullets, broilers, finished turkeys, turkey hens, or poults. Most of the poultry litter in the state comes from laying hens and turkey finishers. Typical nutrient ranges in poultry litter can be from 45 to 57 pounds of nitrogen, 45 to 70 pounds of P2O5, and 45 to 55 pounds of K2O per ton. The typical application rate is two tons per acre which fits nicely with the P2O5 needs of a two-year corn/soybean rotation.

Like all manures, the moisture content of the poultry litter greatly influences the amount of nutrients per ton. Handlers of poultry litter have manure analysis sheets indicating the nutrient content.

Poultry manure for permitted operations needs to follow the Natural Resource Conservation Service 590 standards when being stockpiled prior to spreading. These include:

– 500 feet from neighbors

– 300 feet from streams, grassed waterways, wells, ponds, or tile inlets

– not on occasionally or frequently flooded soils

– stored for not more than eight months

– not located on slopes greater than six percent

– located on soils that are deep to bedrock (greater than 40 inches to bedrock)

Farmers who want to apply the poultry litter delivered to their fields are required by Ohio law to have a fertilizer license, Certified Livestock Manager certificate, or be a Certified Crop Advisor. Check with your local Soil and Water Conservation District for proper setbacks from steams, ditches and wells when applying poultry litter.

Don’t Leave Mycorrhizae Stranded in Your Prevented Planting Acres

By:  Stephanie Karhoff OSU Extension

What are mycorrhizae, and why should I care?
Mycorrhizae are beneficial fungi that colonize plant roots. They aid plants in scavenging for soil nutrients, by extending the root system via structures called hyphae. In return, plants provide sugars produced during photosynthesis to the mycorrhizae.

Mycorrhizae also produce a protein called glomalin, which glues soil aggregates together to increase soil stability. Overall, this may increase soil tilth, drainage, and the soil’s ability to hold onto essential nutrients.

How has the 2019 season affected mycorrhizae levels?
Flooding events this spring have caused many acres to go unplanted – stranding the mycorrhizae populations that require a growing crop for survival. High soil moisture levels have also led to anaerobic soil conditions that are not conducive for mycorrhizal colonization. When mycorrhizae populations are reduced, the crops that depend on them for nutrient uptake can suffer.

What is Fallow Syndrome, and how can I prevent it?
Fallow Syndrome occurs when a lack of plant growth the previous cropping year drastically reduces mycorrhizae populations. Stunting and phosphorus deficiency are common symptoms associated with Fallow Syndrome. These symptoms are exacerbated in cool, wet soils that limit phosphorus availability. Reduced mycorrhizal colonization is also correlated with yield loss in corn.1

The best way to prevent Fallow Syndrome from occurring in your Prevented Planting acres is to establish a cover crop this summer or fall. When selecting a cover crop, keep in mind that Brassicas, like turnip and radish, are not hosts to mycorrhizae, and need to be mixed with either a legume like clover and soybean, or a grass like cereal rye, winter, and oats. If you have not chosen a cover crop yet, click here to access a recent C.O.R.N. article outlining the selection process.

Phosphorus deficiency in corn. Photo: OSU Extension.

1Ellis, J.R. 1998. Post Flood Syndrome and Vesicular-Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi. J. of Production Agriculture. 11(2):200-204. doi:10.2134/jpa1998.0200.

Managing Cover Crops Profitably, Third Edition,