Ohio House passes bill to limit liability for COVID-19 transmissions

Source:  Peggy Hall, OSU Extension

“Will I be liable for that?” is a common question we hear in the legal world.  COVID-19 has made that question even more commonplace, especially as more businesses reopen or expand services and more people reengage in public activities.  About a dozen states have acted on the liability concern and passed COVID-19 liability protections, and Congress is also deliberating whether federal legislation is necessary.  Here in Ohio, the House and the Senate have been reviewing separate immunity proposals.  Yesterday, Ohio’s House passed its bill, which aims to limit liability in certain situations where a person claims harm from the transmission of COVID-19.

The language of House Bill 606 effectively explains the House’s intent in putting forth its proposal, stating that:

  • The Ohio General Assembly is aware that lawsuits related to the COVID-19 health emergency numbering in the thousands are being filed across the country.
  • Ohio business owners, small and large, as they begin to re-open their businesses are unsure about what tort liability they may face, and recommendations regarding how best to avoid infection with COVID-19 change frequently.
  • Businesses and premises owners have not historically been required to keep members of the public from being exposed to airborne viruses, bacteria, and germs.
  • Those individuals who decide to go out into public places are responsible to take those steps they feel are necessary to avoid exposure to COVID-19, such as social distancing and wearing masks.

The House bill declares that for the above reasons, any COVID-19 “orders and recommendations from the Executive Branch, from counties and local municipalities, from boards of health and other agencies, and from any federal government agency, do not create any new legal duties for purposes of tort liability.”

The bill’s reference to not establishing a legal duty in regards to COVID-19 is important, as it forms the basis of immunity from liability for COVID-19 infections.  Under Ohio law, a person who can prove that harm resulted because another failed to meet a required duty of care can make a successful claim of negligence and receive damages for harm caused.  Negating a legal duty of care for handling of COVID-19 removes the possibility of civil liability.

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Source: Jim Noel

Our attention now turns to the summer growing season and what is in store. Some things are different this summer.

  • The ocean temperatures are cooling in the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean while ocean temperatures are above normal in the Gulf of Mexico into parts of the Caribbean. In addition, Lake Erie water temperatures will trend from cooler to warmer than normal as we get late into the growing season.
  • With recent rains, soil moisture has increased again in Ohio and remains above normal in much of the corn and soybean belt. The soils are not as wet as 2019 but with above normal soil moisture will come plenty of evapotranspiration. In 2019 for Ohio, soil moisture generally ranked in the top 1-5% wettest while currently we are in the top 5-15% wettest. https://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/Soilmst_Monitoring/Figures/daily/curr.w.rank.daily.gif
  • Research shows 30-50% of summer rains come from local evapotranspiration from crops, trees etc. Given the wet soil conditions overall, expect a wetter than normal first half of summer, but not like last summer. We are likely to see the typical summer thunderstorm complexes in June and July ride along the high moisture content boundary of the corn crop from the northern Plains to Ohio.
  • Rainfall becomes more uncertain the second half of summer. Given the warm Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean it will likely favor increased storm activity down there. When that happens we often dry out some at least in late summer up here.
  • The outlook for June-August calls for slightly above normal temperatures with rainfall going from (above normal) first half to (normal or below normal) second half of summer. The above normal temperatures are favored more on overnight low temperatures versus daytime high temperatures due to soil moisture.

The latest climate outlooks are available at: https://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/

CFAP Direct Support Webinar May 27

Join OSU Extension’s Ben Brown and Dianne Shoemaker for a webinar  on “Navigating Direct Support for Ohio’s Farmers and Ranchers” on Wednesday, May 27, 2020 at 9:30 am with special guest, Ohio Farm Service Agency Director Leonard Hubert.  This webinar is generously produced and distributed by Ohio Ag Net.

Go here to access the webinar.

Cold Weather Impact on Corn and Soybean

Alexander Lindsey, Laura Lindsey – The Ohio State University

In Ohio, between May 9 and 10, temperatures were as low as 26°F with some areas even receiving snow. The effect on corn and soybean depends on both temperature, duration of low temperature, and growth stage of the plant. The soil can provide some temperature buffering capacity, especially if soil is wet. Water is approximately 4x more resistant to temperature changes than air or dry soil, and thus will buffer the soil from experiencing large temperature changes as air temperatures drop. Deeper planted seeds may also be more resistant to large temperature swings.

Imbibitional chilling. Imbibitional chilling may occur in corn and soybean seeds if the soil temperature is below 50°F when the seed imbibes (rapidly takes up water from the soil, usually 24 hours after planting). Imbibitional chilling can cause reductions in stand and seedling vigor. If seeds were planted into soil at least 50°F (and have imbibed), the drop in temperature is not likely a problem if the plants have not yet emerged from the soil.

Corn after germination. The growing point of corn is below the soil surface until the V6 growth stage, and therefore is protected from low temperatures to some extent. However, if the soil temperature falls below 28°F, this can be lethal to corn. Temperatures between 28 to 32°F may result in frost damage, and both the temperature and duration will affect the severity of damage. Between May 9 and May 10, the minimum soil temperature at a 2-inch depth was 38°F at the Northwest Agricultural Research Station in Wood County, 44°F at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center in Wayne County, and 58°F at the Western Agricultural Research Station in Clark County.

Soybean after germination. The growing point of soybean is above the ground when the cotyledons are above the soil surface. If damage occurs above the cotyledons, the plant will likely recover. If damage occurs below the cotyledons, the plant will die. Look for a discolored hypocotyl (the “crook” of the soybean that first emerges from the ground), which indicates that damage occurred below the cotyledons.

Assessing your fields. It is best to assess damage to plants or seeds 48 to 96 hours after the drop in temperatures, as symptoms may take a few days to appear. Additionally, cold temperatures slow GDD accumulation and may further delay crop emergence. For corn, recent work suggests 50% emergence can be expected following accumulation of 130-170 soil GDDs (using soil temperature to calculate GDD rather than air temperatures) from planting, which may take 5-7 days to accumulate under normal weather conditions.

Sign up for USDA-CFAP Direct Support to Begin May 26, 2020

Ben Brown, Peggy Kirk Hall, David Marrison, Dianne Shoemaker and Barry Ward – The Ohio State University

Since the enactment of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act on March 27, 2020 and the announcement of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) on April 17, 2020, producers in Ohio and across the country have been anxiously awaiting additional details on how the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) will provide financial assistance for losses experienced as a result of lost demand, short-term oversupply and shipping pattern disruptions caused by COVID-19.

The additional details on CFAP eligibility, payment limitations, payment rates, and enrollment timeline arrived on May 19, 2020, when the USDA issued its Final Rule for CFAP.  In this article, we explain the Final Rule in this issue of News from the Farm Office.

Click here to read the complete article

Starting Tuesday, May 26, 2020, producers can contact their local FSA office and begin to sign up for CFAP.  This bulletin serves as the authors’ interpretations of the Final Rule released by USDA, and FSA interpretation may be different.

OSU Extension and Ohio FSA will conduct a webinar in the upcoming days to outline program materials and answer questions. For information about the webinar and additional information on CFAP, please visit farmoffice.osu.edu.

Burndown and Residual Herbicide Issues

 

Source:  Mark Loux, OSU

Depending upon where you are in the state, it’s possible right now to be experiencing delays in getting anything done, progress in planting but delays in herbicide application, weather too dry to activate residual herbicides, and/or reduced burndown herbicide effectiveness on big weeds due to cold weather.  What’s become a typical Ohio spring.  Some information relative to questions that OSU Extension educators have passed on to us:

1.  Residual herbicides and rainfall.  Residual herbicides do vary in the relative amounts of rain needed for “activation”, or adequate movement into the soil to reach germinating seeds.  Most growers are applying mixtures or premixes of several products, so we’re not sure these differences are as important as the overriding principle here.  Residual herbicide treatments need to receive a half to one inch of rain within a week or so after tillage or an effective burndown treatment, to control weeds that can will start to emerge at that time.  This varies with timing of application and weather.  Summer annual weeds are the target here, and their emergence ramps up in early May, although cold weather can slow this down.  So residual herbicides applied in mid-April, prior to most of the summer annual weed emergence, may not need rain as soon after application, compared with herbicides applied in May.  Aside from this, residual herbicide activity is not really dependent upon soil reaching a certain temperature.  Under more marginal rainfall conditions, it’s possible that herbicides may control the small-seeded weeds that emerge at or just below the soil surface, but be less effective on larger-seeded weeds that can emerge from deeper.  In a tilled situation, a timely rotary hoe can be used to remove some of the weeds that are about to emerge (the “white stage”) and buy some time for rain.  The good news here is that we have effective POST herbicides to remedy many situations where the residual herbicides are not completely effective.

2.  Residual herbicides and crop injury. The concerns here seem to be more about soybean herbicides, which may partly reflect the overall greater safety of residual corn herbicides.  Several residual soybean herbicides can cause injury, depending upon when they are applied relative to planting, rainfall, soil type, seeding depth, etc.  These include products that contain metribuzin, sulfentrazone, flumioxazin, and chlorimuron.  One of the things that has reduced our risk of injury from all of these herbicides is that in no-till soybeans they have usually been applied a week or more prior to planting to accommodate restrictions on 2,4-D ester and dicamba.  Application at or after planting increases the risk of injury, as does use in tilled situations.  We have increased metribuzin use substantially over the past decade, but injury has been extremely rare due to application prior to planting and use of relatively low rates in combination with other products.  We hear more about injury or suspected injury from flumioxazin and sulfentrazone when wet weather delays planting and forces application of residual herbicides after planting.  It’s worth noting here also that the Xtend and Enlist soybean systems do away with the wait to plant soybeans for dicamba and 2,4-D, respectively, and more growers may be waiting until after planting to apply burndown/residual herbicides.

In brief, symptoms of these are as follows:  chlorimuron – slowed development, stunting, yellowing; flumioxazin and sulfentrazone – necrosis on young leaves and stem, stunting; metribuzin – usually delayed until first trifoliate, yellowing and possibly necrosis on margins of older leaves.  Cloransulam, imazethapyr, and imazaquin are generally safer on soybeans than chlorimuron, in situations where injury is a concern.  Activity of metribuzin varies considerably with soil texture and organic matter content, so using the labeled rate for soil type is important.  Injury from any of these may be more likely when herbicide application is delayed for several days after planting, followed by substantial rain as the soybeans are about to emerge.  Labels for products containing flumioxazin state that soybeans should be planted 1 ½ inches deep and herbicide should be applied no later than three days after planting, in an attempt to avoid this situation (does not always work).  The good news here is that early injury to soybeans usually does not reduce stand, but may slow early growth and rate of crop canopy development and leave soybeans open to the effect of other stresses.  In some of these situations, it can be difficult to sort out how much of the damage is due to herbicide and how much is due to other factors.  Yield loss is probably infrequent based on the soybean plant’s ability to compensate for these types of factors.

3. Cold weather and burndown herbicides.  We had a fairly warm winter and early spring, followed by the recent month of colder than normal weather.  The net result of this is large winter annual weeds, and weather that is currently not terribly conducive for burndown activity.  There is not much specific guidance on herbicide labels about cold weather, just general statements about how effectiveness can be reduced under adverse conditions that include cold weather.  We expect many experienced applicators may have their own set of rough guidelines on this, or at least gut feelings.  Under cold conditions, the rate of herbicide activity declines and also the overall effectiveness.  It’s more difficult to define the weather conditions when herbicide should not be applied.  These would certainly include periods when frost or freeze is occurring overnight and daytime weather is cool and cloudy (less than about 50).  One night of frost followed by a warm sunny day may still allow for decent herbicide activity, if weeds appear sufficiently recovered from the frost.  Aside from this we could make a general recommendation to keep applying as long as night and day temperatures are at least 40 and 60 to 70, respectively, although this is still not ideal compared with day temperatures higher than 70 with sun.  One way of dealing with this problem is to just wait for a return to warm, sunny weather before applying burndown herbicides.  Another is to increase herbicide rates and use a more comprehensive herbicide mixture.  For example, adding Sharpen to a mixture of glyphosate plus 2,4-D or dicamba.  As with the less than effective residual herbicides under dry weather, burndown herbicide problems can sometimes be resolved with an effective POST treatment of glyphosate, 2,4-D, or dicamba, depending upon the trait system.

4. Reminder about the value of fall herbicides.  Fall herbicides are an essential tool for marestail management, but given our current situation of dense, big weeds in no-till fields and potential problems with burndown herbicide effectiveness, it’s worth reminding all of us why fall herbicides started being used in the first place.  In the late 1990’s, growers were experiencing problems with dense stands of winter annual weeds such as chickweed that interfered with tillage and planting.  One contributor to this was the occasional reduced activity of spring-applied burndown herbicides in cool weather, which resulted in too slow death and dry down of weeds to prevent the problems the weeds caused.  Fall-applied herbicides became a solution to this, since they result in almost weedfree spring seedbeds up until the point when giant ragweed and other summer annuals emerge (early May for most of these).  As anyone knows who has used fall herbicides, their effectiveness reduces the overall importance of the spring-applied burndown, since it does not have to control a mess of large, overwintered weeds.  It’s all just way easier.    And issues with cold weather and spring-applied burndown herbicides are therefore less important.  For as little as $6 worth of fall-applied herbicide.  Something to think about moving forward.