Fall weed control reminders on late and prevent plant acres

By Erin Burns Michigan State University Extension

Horseweed shown in a soybean field. Photo by Erin Burns, MSU

In general, 2019 was a difficult year for weed control with the large number of acres that were planted late or not at all leading to higher weed populations and extensive weed seed production in some fields. Below are reminders for fall weed control that will set the stage for successful spring 2020 weed control given the drastic increase in weed seedbank populations from 2019.

Fall herbicide applications

Seeds of many winter annual weeds for example horseweed (marestail) lack dormancy and can germinate immediately after dropping from the plant this fall. Given the above average horseweed populations across the state, this will lead to an immediate increase in fall emerging weeds. During optimal years, fall burndown herbicide applications should be made by mid-October before the first hard freeze and daytime air temperatures are at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Actively growing weeds are the key to consistent control.

Due to spring conditions, many corn and soybean harvests are late this year. Herbicides can be applied at daytime temperatures ranging from 40-60 F, but weeds may be killed slower at these cooler temperatures. For example at cooler temperatures absorption and translocation of herbicides such as glyphosate and 2,4-D are lower compared with applications at warmer temperatures therefore these applications take longer to kill the plant. When temperatures are below 40 F for a prolonged period after herbicide application, weed control will be reduced. If a hard freeze has occurred, evaluate the condition of the weeds in your field prior to herbicide application. Frost may cause leaf damage (water-soaked leaves that turn black and die) and reduced herbicide absorption. Some winter annual weeds may tolerate a frost and herbicide applications can be made after active weed growth has resumed (appearance of new green leaves), usually after multiple days with nighttime temperatures above 35°F followed by 50 F or above daytime temperatures.

Results from Michigan State University Extension weed scientist Christy Sprague’s research in no-till soybeans found that fall applications of 2,4-D, dicamba, or Sharpen will control fall emerged horseweed and are cost-effective. Tank-mixtures with glyphosate are needed to control other winter annual and perennial weeds outside of horseweed (many populations throughout the state are resistant to glyphosate). For detailed information on controlling horseweed season long see the fact sheet “Herbicide-resistant horseweed (marestail) in Michigan: keys to management in no-till soybean” by Sprague.

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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.

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, https://www.sare.org/Learning-Center/Books/Managing-Cover-Crops-Profitably-3rd-Edition

The Ohio Noxious Weed Law – A Tool in the Prevention of Waterhemp and Palmer Amaranth

By: Mark Loux OSU Horticulture and Crop Science

Waterhemp and Palmer amaranth are both now listed on the Ohio noxious weed law, which means that landowners must take steps to control infestations and prevent further spread.  Since these are annual weeds, preventing spread is achieved by preventing plants from reaching maturity and producing seed.  This is the basis for our “No pigweed left behind” effort, for which the goal is to create an understanding that the only way to beat these weeds is to prevent seed.  Prevention needs to occur in any area that might be subject to infestation, such as roadsides, parks, conservation seedings, parks, etc, in addition to agricultural fields.  The entities managing these areas are responsible for recognizing and controlling infestations of waterhemp and Palmer amaranth, but this does not always occur.  Not everyone involved in crop production or land management is aware of the waterhemp/Palmer problem to begin with, and many managers are busy enough that preventing noxious weed problems has low priority.

Our advice is to pay attention to what’s happening in your area or in the areas that you farm, with the goal of becoming aware of new infestations early enough that plant maturity and seed can still be prevented, regardless of where they may be occurring.  We recommend as a first step contacting the land manager or owner to explain the issue, make them aware that they have an infestation, and request that action be taken.  However, where it’s not possible to have this conversation, or there is a refusal to take action, the Ohio noxious weed law can be used to try to force action.  A two-page summary of the noxious weed law that can be found here on the OSU Ag Law Blog, and also links directly to the law itself.

The basic idea here is that following an unsuccessful attempt to work with a landowner or manager, noxious weed issues should be reported to township trustees, and this must be done in writing.  The trustees then have the responsibility to deal with the issue, and the method for doing so varies depending upon what the land is used for and who is managing it.  If it’s necessary to use the noxious weed law, be sure to start the process early enough in summer, well before potential seed production.  There is a need to allow time for all of the steps in the process to occur, and for notifications to be received and acted on (or not).  Our experience is that not all landowners and managers will take action upon first notification, and in addition to action, their response to notification can include minimal response of protesting their need to act.  Waiting too late to start the process can result in lack of resolution of these issues in time to prevent plant maturity and seed production.  The noxious weed law has been used several times within the last two years to force managers to control Palmer amaranth, and could be used to accomplish the same for waterhemp, which was recently added to the list.  Consider the law a tool to prevent the establishment and spread of these weeds when other methods are ineffective.


Tax Planning in an Unusual Year – Prevented Planting Indemnity Payments, Market Facilitation Payments and Cost-Share Payments

by: Barry Ward, Leader, Production Business Management & Director, OSU Income Tax Schools

Prevented Planting Crop Insurance Indemnity Payments

With unprecedented amounts of prevented planting insurance claims this year in Ohio and other parts of the Midwest, many producers will be considering different tax management strategies in dealing with this unusual income stream. In a normal year, producers have flexibility in how they generate and report income. In a year such as this when they will have a large amount of income from insurance indemnity payments the flexibility is greatly reduced. In a normal year a producer may sell a part of grain produced in the year of production and store the remainder until the following year to potentially take advantage of higher prices and/or stronger basis. For example, a producer harvests 200,000 bushels of corn in 2019, sells 100,000 bushels this year and the remainder in 2020. As most producers use the cash method of accounting and file taxes as a cash based filer, the production sold in the following year is reported as income in that year and not in the year of production. This allows for flexibility when dealing with the ups and downs of farm revenue.

Generally, crop insurance proceeds should be included in gross income in the year the payments are received, however Internal Revenue Code Section (IRC §) 451(f) provides a special provision that allows insurance proceeds to be deferred if they are received as a result of “destruction or damage to crops.”

As prevented planting insurance proceeds qualify under this definition, they can qualify for a 1 year deferral for inclusion in taxable income. These proceeds can qualify if the producer meets the following criteria:

  1. Taxpayer uses the cash method of accounting.
  2. Taxpayer receives the crop insurance proceeds in the same tax year the crops are damaged.
  3. Taxpayer shows that under their normal business practice they would have included income from the damaged crops in any tax year following the year the damage occurred.

The third criteria is the sometimes the problem. Most can meet the criteria, although if producers want reasonable audit protection, they should have records showing the normal practice of deferring sales of grain produced and harvested in year 1 subsequently stored and sold in the following year. To safely “show that under their normal business practice they would have included income from the damaged crops in any tax year following the year the damage occurred” the taxpayer should follow IRS Revenue Ruling 75-145 that requires that he or she would have reported more than 50 percent of the income from the damaged or destroyed crops in the year following the loss. A reasonable interpretation in meeting the 50% test is that a farmer may aggregate the historical sales for crops receiving insurance proceeds but tax practitioners differ on the interpretation of how this test may be met.

One big problem with these crop insurance proceeds is that a producer can’t divide it between years. It is either claimed in the year the damage occurred and the crop insurance proceeds were received or it is all deferred until the following year. The election to defer recognition of crop insurance proceeds that qualify is an all or nothing election for each trade or business IRS Revenue Ruling 74-145, 1971-1.

Tax planning options for producers depend a great deal on past income and future income prospects. Producers that have lower taxable income in the last 3 years (or tax brackets that weren’t completely filled) may want to consider claiming the prevented planting insurance proceeds this year and using Income Averaging to spread some of this year’s income into the prior 3 years. Producers that have had high income in the past 3 years and will experience high net income in 2019 may consider deferring these insurance proceeds to 2020 if they feel that this year may have lower farm net income.

Market Facilitation Payments

When the next round(s) of Market Facilitation Payments (MFPs) are issued, they will be treated the same as the previous rounds for income tax purposes. These payments must be taken as taxable income in the year they are received. As these payments are intended to replace income due to low prices stemming from trade disputes, these payments should be included in gross income in the year received. As these payments constitute earnings from the farmers’ trade or business they are subject to federal income tax and self-employment tax. Producers will almost certainly not have the option to defer these taxes until next year. Some producers waited until early 2019 to report production from 2018 and therefore will report this income from the first round of Market Facilitation Payments as taxable income in 2019.

Producers will likely not have the option of delaying their reporting and subsequent MFP payments due to the fact they are contingent upon planted acreage reporting of eligible crops and not yield reporting as the first round of MFP payments were.

Cost Share Payments

Increased prevented planting acres this year have many producers considering cover crops to better manage weeds and erosion and possibly qualify for a reduced MFP. There is also the possibility that producers will be eligible for cost-share payments via the Natural Resources Conservation Service for planting cover crops. Producers should be aware that these cost-share payments will be included on Form 1099-G that they will receive and the cost-share payments will need to be included as income.

You are advised to consult a tax professional for clarification of these issues as they relate to your circumstances.

2019 Agriculture Challenges FAQ Webpage Now Live

By Elizabeth Hawkins, OSU Extension

The unrelenting rains this spring and summer have created many challenges that the farming community is now sorting through. In order to help with decisions, OSU Extension has created a Frequently Asked Questions webpage. This page provides the most up-to-date answers to questions about topics ranging from MFP and disaster payments to cover crops, forages, livestock concerns, management of crops that are out of sync with normal planting dates, as well as answers to more questions as information becomes available. There is also an option to submit questions that you would like answered. Webinars with more detailed information will also be shared here. The page is available at go.osu.edu/AgCrisis. Since the situation we are facing is constantly evolving, be sure to check back for the latest information available to help you.

Prevent Plant, Cover Crops, and More

Last night I was in attendance as a panel of experts talked us through a lot of the issues we are facing in agriculture this spring/summer.  The event was put on by OSU Extension and Ohio No-Till Council and held at the McIntosh Center on the campus of Ohio Northern University.  We’re also thankful that the Ohio Country Journal was on hand to record the panel and you can watch the video at their website, ocj.com. I’m going to try and summarize some of the issues, but if you have specific questions please get in contact with the extension office by calling 419-879-9108.

  1. If you have livestock and are running low on forages now, or anticipate a need before this winter what are your options? You can plant a forage crop on prevented plant acres and harvest it after September 1st under the new RMA/crop insurance guidelines. In this scenario corn is eligible to planted and chopped for silage.  However, you need to check with your crop insurance adjuster on what exactly is allowable so that you do not jeopardize your prevent plant payment. A common recommendation seems to be to plant the corn in 20″ rows or narrower and increase planted populations to 40,000 seeds per acre or higher.  Again, check with your agent/adjuster to make sure you are in compliance.  Other popular forage options are sorghum/sudan grass and oats.  If you are interested in either of these crops please try to get your seed ordered as soon as possible as supply will get tight.
  2. What can I do with treated soybean seed that is not returnable to the dealer? By far, the best option is to plant them, even as just a cover crop.  There are concerns about the insecticide used and what is the maximum rate that they can be planted at.  We would prefer rates of no more than 300,000 seeds per acre. This seed also needs to be covered so that it isn’t creating a harmful impact to wildlife or pollinators.  If you plan on broadcasting the treated seed you will need to incorporate it with either a disk or vertical tillage tool.  We do not recommend trying to carry seed over for planting in 2020.  The 2018 crop had some issues with poor germination scores already and those scores will only get worse even if the seed is stored under ideal conditions (less than 50 degrees and 50% humidity).
  3. What are my options on trying to kill some of these larger weeds that have grown up in preventive plant fields? Mowing them down would be the cheapest option, but most time consuming.  It will also scatter the weed seed and prolong your problem.  Tillage is an option, but it will probably take several passes to get everything killed.  There are lots of herbicide options available, but we need to be cautious on what the plant back intervals are for each herbicide used.  Most of the fields will have at least one species of weeds that is resistant to glyphosate so we need to be using higher rates and tank mix partners.  We also need to be aware of sensitive crops or gardens that might be impacted by drifts or temperature inversions if we are using Dicamba or 2,4-D products.  Mowing first will not make the weeds easier to kill with a herbicide later.
  4.  Are there any cost sharing opportunities for planting cover crops from soil and water districts or USDA – NRCS? The NRCS today has announced that they have $4 million available to producers that plant a cover crop.  Details are still coming out as far as payment amounts and eligibility requirements.  As more information becomes available it will be shared with producers.
  5. How has the excessive rain impacted my soil health? The rains have diminished our soil structure no matter what management practices are in place on your farm.  No air has been incorporated into the soil and this is greatly impacting the natural soil biology. We need to start the recovery process this summer on those acres.  Do not let them sit fallow until next spring.  Get your soils tested and then use this opportunity to apply lime and gypsum if needed.  This might also be an opportunity to apply manure on fields with low phosphorous levels.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank the Lima and Allen County community for the warm welcome I’ve received over the last couple of weeks.  I’m really excited to meet more of you in the ag community here.  I’m currently looking for some volunteers that would let me come out to their farm and pull samples for some research OSU is doing on soybean cyst nematodes. We need to stay ahead of this pathogen so we can continue to develop resistant varieties.  If you are interested please contact me via email at schroeder.307@osu.edu or by calling the extension office at 419-879-9108.