Tough Lessons From 2019 Farmers Can Use Now

While 2019 was a nightmare for many farmers, it provided valuable lessons that farmers can act upon this year.

The 2020 spring planting season is starting soggy, which is less than encouraging for farmers, but with 2019 close in the rear-view and means farmers know how to quickly adapt.

Despite recent rain, “right now, as of March, our stream flow is actually more like ‘normal’ compared to last year,” says Ken Ferrie, Farm Journal Field Agronomist to AgriTalk Host Chip Flory. “Which is a sign that if we can just get some weather to break it, we could actually be in a normal time frame right where we sit here from draining these fields out and get ready to go.

“I think we can take what we learned a year ago and apply it to this year,” he adds.

For one thing, Ferrie says farmers are in better shape in terms of field preparation than they were in the spring of 2019. More fall nitrogen was applied, and more tillage was completed, for example.

“From a weather sense, it hasn’t been as intense as it was in 2019,” says Michael Clark, BAM WX meteorologist. “The outlook going forward isn’t nearly as intense, either.”

Here is Clark’s weather breakdown by region for the upcoming week:

  • Parts of Missouri, Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska: Current rainy weather pattern calms down as farmers get into April; good opportunity for more drying. Early April will open up chilly for the first six to 10 days but will eventually warm up.
  • North Dakota and South Dakota: Has been drier—just 15% to 20% of normal precipitation. The outlook for next few weeks is for dry conditions.
  • I-80 Corridor, from Omaha to Ohio: More rain over the next seven to 10 days. Some parts of southern Indiana and into Ohio are running 200% of the normal precipitation for March. The outlook for April is that the rain will stop and conditions will improve.

What if planting gets pushed back?

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecast suggests higher-than-normal precipitation through June. If this comes to fruition, already saturated fields could mean farmers again push planting into late May and June—possibly later, depending on local conditions.

But how late is too late to plant?

“We put this to the test last year of course,” Ferrie says. You have to consider a few factors when it comes to late planting: First, what is the crop maturity you’re planting; what growing degree units (GDUs) do you need to get the crop to maturity; do you have drying capacity if GDUs take longer to accumulate; what is the upcoming weather?

Take those factors into consideration before switching crop maturities, crop types or taking prevent plant.

Written by Sonja Begemann



Can livestock get COVID-19?


While there’s no evidence so far that pets, livestock, or their owners can infect each other with COVID-19, there’s also very little research about a potential crossover.

The novel coronavirus started with an animal, then mutated to transfer to people, but research hasn’t yet shown if the virus has jumped back to animals, said Scott Kenney, a researcher at The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

“Viruses are constantly sampling and evolving, trying to find other hosts,” said Kenney, who studies coronaviruses, including those that cross over from one species to another.

Quickly spreading among people across the world, COVID-19 is believed to have originated in bats, but the bat virus changed, altering surface proteins to be able to efficiently transfer from person to person. These surface proteins are different in the mutated bat virus, so COVID-19 is now less likely to affect the original bats. Whether other animals are susceptible to COVID-19 has yet to be tested, Kenney said.

When viruses infect an animal, they produce billions of copies of themselves. Some of the copies tend to be slightly changed from the original virus. While most of these irregular copies die, occasionally one has a change that is beneficial for the virus, such as altering its ability to infect a different species, Kenney said.

“If the new species is exposed to this altered virus, it can now make many more copies of itself and potentially infect a whole new species,” he said.

So far, the only research on COVID-19 and animals involves studies in China that showed two dogs tested positive for COVID-19. But neither of the infected dogs had symptoms of the virus, and researchers in those studies do not believe they transmitted the disease to any other animals or people, Kenney said. Continue reading

Winter Wheat Stand Evaluation

Source: Laura Lindsey, OSU Extension

Between planting in the fall and Feekes 4 growth stage (beginning of erect growth) in the spring, winter wheat is vulnerable to environmental stress such as saturated soils and freeze-thaw cycles that cause soil heaving. All of which may lead to substantial stand reduction, and consequently, low grain yield. However, a stand that looks thin in the spring does not always correspond to lower grain yield. Rather than relying on a visual assessment, we suggest counting the number of wheat stems or using the mobile phone app (Canopeo) to estimate wheat grain yield.

Wheat stem count method. Wheat stems (main stem plus tillers) should be counted at Feekes 5 growth stage (leaf sheaths strongly erect) from one linear foot of row from several areas within a field.




Canopeo mobile phone app method. Canopy cover should be measured at Feekes 5 growth stage using the mobile phone application, Canopeo ( After accessing the app, hold your cell phone parallel to the ground to capture three rows of wheat in the image and take a picture. The app will convert the picture to black and white and quantify (as a percentage) the amount of green pixels in the image. For example, the screen shot here shows 44.86% canopy cover. (Keep in mind, this app will quantify anything green in the image. So, if you have a weedy field, the weeds will also be quantified in the canopy cover estimate.) Continue reading



By : Leah Douglas

For Jody Osmund, who runs Cedar Valley Sustainable Farm with his partner, Beth, in Ottawa, Illinois, the shuttering of public spaces to mitigate the spread of the new coronavirus presents a significant challenge. He typically distributes his farm shares at brewery taprooms around the Chicago area, which allows him to share a pint with customers while supporting local businesses. So how should he proceed when many bars and restaurants are closed, and heath guidelines demand that people keep their distance?

Enter the pool noodle.

Osmund used the noodle to mark out a safe distance between him and the members of his community-supported agriculture program at this week’s distribution site. “I’d take their name and get their CSA share. Then [I] would set it down for them and back away before they would pick it up,” he described via email. “It was a little awkward, but the pool noodle was disarming and brought a little levity.”

As the spread of the coronavirus causes many cities to curtail public gatherings, farmers who sell directly to customers at farmers’ markets and through CSAs are coming up with novel solutions at breakneck speed to keep their customers fed and their operations viable.

Some food distribution groups are even rethinking their entire delivery model, trying to ensure that farmers still have a market and customers still have access to fresh food.

Their adaptations include, of course, improving sanitary practices by frequently washing hands and offering sanitizer to customers. Farmers at markets are wearing gloves, handling produce themselves rather than having shoppers select items, and eliminating sampling. Those who distribute CSA shares are pre-bagging and bringing them to customers’ cars or operating in the parking lots of the closed business or churches where they would otherwise distribute.

Some organizations are piloting home delivery for the first time, as many shoppers are self-isolating or quarantined at home. Farm Fresh Rhode Island’s Market Mobile program typically delivers wholesale orders of local produce and other farm goods to restaurants and universities across the state. But this week, the group rolled out a new system that allowed individual households to place orders online and have food dropped off right at their door. Continue reading

D. Wilson’s Daily Weather Update

23 March 2020: It is shaping up to be a rather damp week ahead unfortunately, but with a few breaks here and there. Light rain showers this morning are pushing east, leaving mostly cloudy skies in their wake. Highs today will reach the upper 40s to low 50s. Clouds stick around tonight with lows in the mid 30s. Mostly cloudy tomorrow with showers arriving during the afternoon/evening with highs in the low to mid 50s.

Early showers possible on Wednesday with highs in the mid to upper 50s. Thursday looks to be the best day this week with dry weather and highs in the mid 60s. Friday and Saturday may bring a few rounds of showers and storms with highs in the 60s.

Omitting residual herbicides in soybeans – really – we have to have this argument again?

Source: Dr Mark Loux, OSU Extension

According to our network of sources, the effectiveness of new soybean trait systems has some growers once again thinking about omitting preemergence residual herbicides from their weed management programs.  Some people apparently need to learn the same lessons over and over again.  Having gone through this once in the early 2000’s when Roundup Ready soybeans had taken over and we all sprayed only glyphosate all day every day, we think we’re pretty sure where it leads.  We’re sensitive to concerns about the cost of production, but the cost-benefit analysis for residual herbicides is way in the positive column.  We’re not the ones who ultimately have to convince growers to keep using residual herbicides, and we respect those of you who do have to fight this battle.  Back in the first round of this when we were advocating for use of residuals, while the developers of RR soybeans were undermining us and telling everyone that residuals would reduce yield etc, we used to have people tell us “My agronomist/salesman is recommending that I use residuals, but I think he/she is just trying to get more money out of me”.  Our response at that time of course was “no pretty sure he/she is just trying save your **** and make sure you control your weeds so that your whole farm isn’t one big infestation of glyphosate-resistant marestail.”  And that answer probably works today too – maybe substituting waterhemp for marestail.

We need to state here that a good number of growers kept residual herbicides in their programs through all of this, and we assume they aren’t tempted to omit them now either.  For everyone else – maybe interventions are called for.  Where the recalcitrant person is repeatedly thumped with a stick while being reminded of what happened last time, until they change their minds.

Weed scientist:  so you’re going to use residual herbicides right?

Soybean grower:  no


WS:  remember what happened last time – lambsquarters became a problem when every residual herbicide would have controlled it.  Change your mind yet?

SB:  no


WS:  remember when the weather didn’t cooperate and you ended up spraying 2 foot tall weeds because of no initial control?  Do you want this again?

SG:  no

WS:  so you’re going to use residuals?

SG:  not sure


WS:  and you expect your local dealer to clean up whatever mess occurs when you don’t use residuals?

SG: yes


WS:  remember when you burnt out the FirstRate on marestail and then the glyphosate wouldn’t work?  Do you want this to happen with dicamba, 2,4-D and glufosinate?”

SG:  no

WS:  well then

SG:  maybe

Gentler persuasive tap

WS:  You know how bad a weed waterhemp is right?

SG:  yes

WS:  what if residuals will help prevent waterhemp infestations

SG:  Ok then – yes

WS:  ok then

Note:  we considered a number of sound effects here – thump, zap, whack…. Thump won out for no particular reason.  We could not decide whether getting hit by a stick was more or less acceptable than getting shocked in this context.

The bottom line is that residual herbicides provide both short- and long-term risk management in weed management for a relatively low cost.  A non-inclusive list of these:

– reduces weed populations overall and slows weed growth, resulting in more flexibility in the POST application window.

– Reduced risk of yield loss if weather interferes with timely POST application.  In the absence of residual herbicides, soybean yield loss can occur when weeds reach a height of 6 inches.

– increases the number of different sites of action used within a season, slowing the rate of resistance development

– reduces the number of weeds that are treated by POST herbicides, which also slows the rate of herbicide resistance development

– residuals control lambsquarters which is not well-controlled by POST herbicides

– the most significant weed problems in Ohio soybean production – waterhemp, giant ragweed, and marestail – cannot be consistently controlled with POST herbicides alone.  They require a comprehensive herbicide program that includes residual and POST herbicides.  It may be possible to make a total POST system work some years or for a while, but in the end this approach will result in problems with control and speed up the development of resistance.

This whole subject of omitting residual herbicides makes us cranky because we don’t have to guess what will happen.  We’ve made our best case here.  It’s up to you of course, but we suggest that we not have to come back and have this discussion again.  Because next time we’re bringing a few friends, a bigger stick, and a gorilla.

Disclaimer:  Parts of this article are meant in pure jest.  We would certainly never advocate in earnest the use of physical harm or other methods of persuasion to change the behavior of herbicide users.  This goes against everything that the discipline of weed science stands for, and also OSU.  Plus – we don’t even know where to rent a gorilla.


Dr. Wilson’s Weather Update

20 March 2020: Currently, we are out ahead of an approaching cold front that will bring one last brief heavy downpour this afternoon as it moves through. Temperatures in the mid to upper 60s now will fall into the 50s and 40s later this afternoon with windy conditions persisting through the evening. Tonight, temperatures will fall into the mid to upper 20s under mostly cloudy skies. Partly to mostly sunny tomorrow and Sunday. Highs tomorrow will be in the low 40s, with mid to upper 40s expected on Sunday.

Questions Regarding the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) on Farms with Employees

Gustavo M. Schuenemann, DVM, MS, PhD, Professor & Extension Veterinarian Jeffrey D. Workman, PhD, Extension Program Coordinator

Corona Virus In Red Background – Microbiology And Virology Concept – 3d Rendering

What is COVID-19 coronavirus?
COVID-19 is an infection caused by a novel (or new) strain of coronavirus. This strain is new; thus, people around the world do not yet have any immunity to the virus. Group immunity means a high enough proportion of individuals in a population are immune; thus, the majority will protect the few susceptible individuals because the pathogen is less likely to find a susceptible individual. This virus strain is very contagious before any signs or symptoms of sickness appear. It spreads very easily from person to person and has become a worldwide pandemic. In addition, this strain of virus can cause serious disease and death in elderly people and those with underlying health conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes. Anyone who has a suppressed immune system (immunocompromised) is also considered high risk.

Are the risks and concerns regarding COVID-19 coronavirus different on a farm?
The difference between a farm and some other workplaces is that most work cannot be performed remotely. People must be physically present to feed, milk, and care for animals or crops. While automation may reduce the number of people necessary on some farms (e.g., robotic milkers, automatic feed pushers, automatic calf feeders, etc.), people are still needed onsite to operate and manage the automated systems as well as to provide care that cannot be automated.

Is there anyone available to communicate remotely with my employees at the farm?
Yes, we are available to assist farmers remotely via conference call (e.g., Zoom, WhatsApp). Please contact Dr. Jeff Workman at or Dr. Gustavo M. Schuenemann at (Ph: 614-625-0680).

Can livestock or other animals be infected with the COVID-19 coronavirus?
The Center for Disease Control and Preventions (CDC) has reported that while this virus seems to have emerged in China from an animal source, it is now spreading from person-to-person. There is no reason to believe that any animals including livestock or pets in the United States might be a source of infection with this new coronavirus.
There are bovine coronavirus infections that are caused by different strains of coronavirus such as: calf diarrhea, winter dysentery in cows, and bovine respiratory disease complex (shipping fever).
It is illegal and dangerous to use any vaccines or drugs labeled for cattle for human use. No current products will help prevent or cure COVID-19.
Merck Veterinary Manual:


Do farm workers develop a better immune systems?
Your immune system helps your body fight an infection from microorganisms. Microorganisms include bacteria, viruses, fungi (yeasts & molds), protozoa, and algae. The microorganisms that infect and cause disease are called pathogens. Being exposed to various pathogens commonly found on a farm can help your body develop some immunity. However, this novel strain of coronavirus is new and different from other strains of coronavirus in which you may have been previously exposed. COVID-19 appears to spread very easily between people because it is able to spread without people knowing they are infected and there is no immunity to the virus in the population.

How is this coronavirus different from the common cold or flu?
Many different respiratory viruses can cause the common cold, but rhinoviruses are the most common. Other virus such as coronaviruses, parainfluenza, and adenoviruses may also cause the common cold. Flu is caused by the influenza virus. Flu is considered to be a more serious and dangerous infection than the common cold. The COVID-19 coronavirus has many of the same signs and symptoms as the common cold and flu. It would be closest related to those coronavirus strains that do occasionally cause a common cold. However COVID-19 is different because it is novel meaning our bodies do not yet have any immunity, and it can cause serious disease and death in certain groups of people similar to an influenza virus.

How can I protect myself from getting COVID-19?

1) Social distancing: This helps to prevent spread of virus from person to person. Social distancing includes avoiding large groups of people and the closing of certain public businesses and events. Groups of people who are only in contact with those within their house or farm and are not in contact with other people are less likely to experience community spread. Avoid hand shaking when greeting someone and maintain 6 feet of distance from other people.
2) Proper hand washing and sanitation: It is extremely important you wash your hands frequently and after touching a high contact surface. The virus may live on surfaces for 2-3 days. If you touch a surface such as a doorknob or counter that has virus on it, and then you lick your fingers or touch your mouth, nose, eyes, or face, you could become infected. By washing your hands frequently and wearing disposable gloves, you decrease the risk of becoming infected or potentially spreading a virus to others. Most people still need to go to public places on occasion such as the grocery store and gas station. It is important to maintain 6 feet of distance from other people and wash your hands with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds, or if a sink and soap aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol). Keep the bathrooms and break/kitchen area in your workplace and at home clean and disinfected.
3) Avoid any direct contact with individuals feeling sick or experiencing the symptoms/clinical signs of common cold or flu. With the exception of those responsible for providing care for sick individuals.

Should I report to work?
The short answer is “YES”, unless you are sick or experiencing the symptoms/signs: fever, dry cough, and shortness of breath.

What if I start to feel sick or are getting symptoms/signs?
Symptoms/signs are similar to the cold or flu: fever, dry cough, and shortness of breath. Emergency signs are difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to arouse, and bluish lips or face. Emergency signs require that you immediate call your health care provider for help. Do not go in-person as you might spread to others. By calling ahead, health care professionals can give you instructions and prepare for your arrival. You may also contact your manager or supervisor to help you contact the doctor’s office if you are experiencing these symptoms/signs.

How long will this concern about COVID-19 last?
All of the current changes are intended to reduce the spread. Eventually, a vaccine or treatment may be developed and manufactured that will allow protection of individuals and the population such as with the seasonal flu vaccine. No one knows for certain how long it will take for life to return to normal, but a few weeks or months of collective efforts will certainly make a huge difference within our community.
All farms should immediately implement
stricter biosecurity protocols for all outside
personnel and visitors.

For a PDF print out please click here- COVID-19_Handout_ENGLISH     COVID-19 Handout_SPANISH

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