Can My Woodlot be a Solution to Climate Change?

Join us Friday May 7th for the webinar ‘Can My Woodlot be a Solution to Climate Change?’  Join SENR’s Roger Williams, Associate professor in forest management, to explore how our forests sequester carbon, what management practices affects carbon sequestration and what practices may qualify for carbon credits.  AEDE’s Brent Sohngen and SENR’s Sayeed Mehmood join us for the Q&A session to help answer the questions you have.


Both ISA and SAF continuing education credits are available for this webinar.


Register here


Beef Quality Assurance Certification: Online Training on May 18

This program will be hosted and taught by Dean Kreager, Extension Educator in Licking County and Clifton Martin, Extension Educator in Muskingum County .

All producers selling beef for meat are encouraged to have BQA Certification.

Online certification and recertification is also available anytime at

Poison Hemlock and Wild Parsnip: Control Them Now!

Authors Joe Boggs

Published on April 6, 2021


Poison Hemlock and Wild Parsnip

Poison hemlock (Conium maculatum L.) and wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa L.) are combined in this report because these invasive non-native weeds are increasingly found growing together in Ohio.  However, the defense chemicals of these weeds are very different and have vastly different modes of action.  This is important to understand relative to management options as well as medical treatments for exposure to these highly dangerous weeds.

Wild ParsnipPoison Hemlock

Life as a Biennial

Poison hemlock and wild parsnip belong to the so-called carrot family, Apiaceae (= Umbelliferae).  They superficially share floral characteristics with other members of the carrot family such as Queen Anne’s lace (Daucus carota); however, this non-native biennial blooms much later in the season.

Poison hemlock has a biennial life cycle. The first year is spent in the “vegetative stage” as a low-growing basal rosette; the stage that is currently very apparent.  Plants “bolt” during the second year “reproductive stage” to produce erect multi-branched stems topped with umbrella-like flowers.

Wild parsnip is also reported to have a biennial life cycle.  However, it may occasionally behave as a monocarpic perennial spending more than a year in the vegetative stage before flowering once and then dying.

Mature poison hemlock plants can measure 6 – 10 ft. tall.  Mature wild parsnip plants are shorter in stature but still impressive at up to 4 – 5 ft. tall.  Both are prolific seed producers with seeds remaining viable for 4 – 6 years for poison hemlock and around 4 years for wild parsnip.

Poison Hemlock and Wild Parsnip


Poison Hemlock

Poison hemlock was imported into the U.S. as an ornamental in the late 1800s from Europe, West Asia, and North Africa.  Rogue plants remained relatively rare until around 30 years ago.  Since that time, poison hemlock has elevated its profile from an uncommon oddity to a common threat.

This non-native is one of the deadliest plants found in North America.  It is the plant used to kill Socrates as well as the Greek statemen Theramenes and Phocion. Poison hemlock plants contain highly toxic piperidine alkaloid compounds, including coniine and gamma-coniceine, which cause respiratory failure and death in mammals.

All parts of the plant are poisonous: leaves, stems, seeds, and roots.  However, the toxins must be ingested or enter through the eyes or nasal passages to induce poisoning.  The toxins do not cause skin rashes or blistering.  Regardless, this plant should not be handled because sap on the skin can be rubbed into the eyes or accidentally ingested while handling food.  Immediate emergency medical attention should be sought if an accidental poisoning from this plant is suspected.

All stages of the poison hemlock plant have bluish-green leaves that are 3-4 times pinnately compound.  The deeply cut parsley-like leaflets have sharp points.  Flowering plants have hairless, light-green to bluish-green stems that are covered with obvious purplish blotches; Maculatum means ‘spotted’.  Clusters of tiny white flowers are borne on structures called umbels that look like upside-down umbrellas.


Wild Parsnip

Wild parsnip sap contains psoralen which is a naturally occurring phytochemical grouped in a family of organic compounds known as linear furanocoumarins.  Psoralen acts as a photosensitizing compound by inhibiting DNA synthesis in epidermal cells which kills these light-shielding cells responsible for protecting us from long-wave ultraviolet radiation (LWUVR) bombarding us in sunlight.

Severe blistering occurs when the affected skin is exposed to LWUVR. The synergistic effect is called phytophotodermatitis (a.k.a. Berloque dermatitis) and the burn-like symptoms, as well as skin discoloration, may last for several months.

Connecting skin blistering to exposure to wild parsnip sap can be a challenge.  It takes around 24 hours for symptoms to first appear after exposure to LWURV and severe blistering typically doesn’t peak until 48 -72 hours.  The time required for symptoms to appear after exposure to the sap means the effect may be disconnected from the cause.

Wild Parsnip

Psoralens are also found in several other members of the Apiaceae family including the notorious giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) which has captured national attention in the past.  However, giant hogweed has only been confirmed in Ohio growing in the extreme northeast part of the state primarily in and around Ashtabula County.  Wild parsnip is found throughout the state and is equally damaging.  Of course, giant hogweed has a more threatening sounding common name while wild parsnip sounds like a vegetable gone wild; which it actually is!

Parsnips have been cultivated as a root crop in Europe for centuries, perhaps millennia. The “L.” in the scientific name Pastinaca sativa L. means Linnaeus first described the species.  Both the cultivated and wild types share the same scientific name; however, it is clear that there are significant differences in toxic biochemical properties between the two types.

It is theorized that the wild parsnip plants in Ohio represent “escapes” from cultivated types brought to North American from Europe and a “reversion” back to a wild type.  The wild genes were always there but remained suppressed until revealed through natural selection.

Wild parsnip rosettes have celery-like leaves confined to growing from a short stem near the ground.  While in this stage, the plant produces a long, thick taproot.

Flower stalks that eventually arise from rosettes have leaves that are alternate, pinnately compound, branched, and have saw-toothed edges.  Each leaf has 5 -15 ovate to oblong leaflets with variable toothed edges and deep lobes.  The mature flowering plants have a single, thick, deeply grooved, greenish-yellow stem that sprouts lateral branches topped with hundreds of clusters of the yellow umbellate flowers.



Unfortunately, poison hemlock and wild parsnip are becoming more common throughout Ohio and many other states in the upper Midwest as well as states in the eastern U.S.  Worse, owing to the lack of awareness (e.g., identification) or poor management practices, or both, these dangerous non-native weeds are increasingly being found growing in close proximity to people which increases their risks to human health.

Additionally, it is not unusual to find poison hemlock and wild parsnip growing together which can create misinterpretations of exposure symptomology.  This may account for some online resources incorrectly attributing skin blistering to contact with poison hemlock.

Mechanical management of poison hemlock can be used if it is certain that no wild parsnip is lurking within the poison hemlock.  Still, personal protection equipment is strongly recommended particularly eye protection, gloves, and clothing to cover arms and legs to prevent sap from entering through the eyes or skin wounds.  Hand-pulling and tilling are effective options if the area is immediately overseeded with grasses or other competitive plants to help suppress poison hemlock re-establishment from seeds germinating this fall.

Mowing can also be used; however, given that a sizable percentage of the current low-growing rosettes may escape the blade, it’s best to delay mowing to target bolting plants.  String trimmers are also effective but present an even greater risk of flinging sap compared to mowing.  All mechanical control options should be applied before plants begin to flower!  Waiting until after plants flower, or worse after seeds are produced, can increase an infestation by removing canopy competition.

Given the extreme risk of phytophotodermatitis from wild parsnip sap, mechanical control is problematic.  Hand-pulling is a high-risk endeavor and not recommended.  Likewise, tilling could release a huge amount of harmful sap.  There have been reports of sap spattered by mowers and string trimmers producing phytophotodermatitis on exposed arms and legs of equipment operators.

The safest approach to controlling this invasive weed as well as poison hemlock is to use herbicides.  Of course, as always, read and follow label directions paying close attention to application sites, recommended rates, warnings against making applications close to desired plants (e.g. trees) or near water, and whether surfactants are recommended to enhance herbicide efficacy.

Both poison hemlock and wild parsnip are susceptible to several selective and non-selective postemergent herbicides.  However, keep in mind that non-selective herbicides such as glyphosate (e.g. Roundup) can also illuminate plants that compete with these weeds.  Herbicidal openings produced by non-selective herbicides provide perfect opportunities for more wild parsnip and poison hemlock to spring forth from previously deposited seed.  Thus, it’s important to have a plan for establishing competitive plants such as over-seeding with grasses.

Selective post-emergent herbicides will preserve competitive plants.  Herbicides effective against wild parsnip and poison hemlock include clopyralid (e.g. Transline), triclopyr (e.g. Pathfinder II), metsulfuron (e.g. Escort XP), and combination products such as 2,4-D + triclopyr (e.g. Crossbow), or 2,4-D + mecoprop + dichlorprop (e.g. Triamine).  Applications made now and before plants start to flower can significantly reduce infestations of both wild parsnip and poison hemlock.

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Don’t Let This Warm Weather FOOL YOU!

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This has been a long, cold winter.  Thank goodness spring is in sight, Saturday, March 20 marked the first day of spring.  With this being said, it’s time to start thinking about planning flower and vegetable gardens.  If starting a new garden, soil testing the site where the garden will go is a good idea.  If it is an existing garden and the soil has never been tested, now would be a good time to think about testing it.  Your local OSU Extension office can help with soil testing.

Another gardening task to be thinking about is seed starting.  Growing plants from seed is a lot of fun and now is the time to be doing this.  Below is a chart from The Old Farmers Almanac that will help determine when to start seeds indoors, transplant seedlings outdoors, and when to start seeds outdoors.

This has been a long, cold winter.  Thank goodness spring is in sight, Saturday, March 20 marked the first day of spring.  With this being said, it’s time to start thinking about planning flower and vegetable gardens.  If starting a new garden, soil testing the site where the garden will go is a good idea.  If it is an existing garden and the soil has never been tested, now would be a good time to think about testing it.  Your local OSU Extension office can help with soil testing.

Another gardening task to be thinking about is seed starting.  Growing plants from seed is a lot of fun and now is the time to be doing this.  Below is a chart from The Old Farmers Almanac that will help determine when to start seeds indoors, transplant seedlings outdoors, and when to start seeds outdoors.

Takeing a look at the chart above notice that some of the vegetable crops we like to plant in the garden can handle cooler temperatures and those are recognized as cool season crops.  Some of those include:

  • Cole crops (or brassicas) which are an amazingly large and varied family, whose edible portions span from   leaves to flowers to roots. This includes broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, radishes, turnips, kohlrabi, arugula, Asian greens, and mustard greens (Brussels sprouts, a brassica, are planted in the cool season but take many months to mature).
  • Peas (both edible-podded and shelling) are another familiar cool-season crop.
  • Lettuce is yet another group that has a huge number of varieties.
  • Spinach is also included the cool season assembly.


Now that we have talked about testing the garden soil, starting seeds and cool season crops. We need to think about the frost free date in your county.  According to the Old Farmers Almanac the frost free date is May 10th for Morrow County where I live.  However, I caution folks of following this date.  I like to use Memorial day as a frost free date in Central Ohio because the last several years have presented us with a frost and or freeze near Mother’s Day.  Mother’s Day has always been a good rule of thumb for safely planting vegetables and flowers outside, but I caution folks to watch the weather and think about planting around Memorial Day, all threat of frost should be gone by then.


I know the temptation is always there to start earlier especially if we are experiencing 65 and 70 degree days.  That is why it is important to follow the planting guide above.  If you have raised beds or micro climates under cold frames the soil might warm up quicker allowing you to start a little earlier.  Ideally cool season crops would like soil temperatures to be above 40 degrees and warm season crops would like soil temperatures to be at or above 55 degrees.


If you do jump the gun and plant before memorial day your crops can potentially be protected from frost with old blankets, cardboard and row covers.


Whether you are starting transplants from seed or purchasing them, watch the weather forecast to ensure your little plant babies are protected.  Have a fun and successful spring.


If you have questions call your local OSU Extension Office

A flurry of tax proposals in Congress

Farm Office Blog

A flurry of tax proposals in Congress

Friday, April 9th, 2021

Written by Peggy Kirk Hall, Associate Professor, Agricultural & Resource Law

You can count on tax law to generate interest in the agricultural community and that’s certainly the case with several tax bills recently introduced in Congress.  Within the last month, members of Congress proposed a flurry of tax proposals that could impact agriculture if enacted.  Of course, passing tax legislation is always difficult and subject to partisanship, and we expect that to be the case with these bills.

Here’s a look at the tax proposals receiving the most attention.

Death Tax Repeal Act of 2021.  Sen. Thune (R-SD) and Rep. Smith (R-MO) are the primary sponsors of S. 617 and H.R. 1712, companion bills introduced March 9 that propose to repeal the federal estate tax, which the sponsors claim to be “the most unfair tax on the books.”  The Act would also repeal the generation-skipping tax and make modifications to the computation of the federal gift tax, beginning at 18% under $10,000 and incrementally increasing by an additional 2%.  Cosponsors of the Senate proposal includes 30 other Republicans, and the House bill has 137 cosponsors including one Democrat.  The bills were referred to committee but have yet to see any further action.

For the 99.5 Percent Act.  Introduced March 25 by Senators Sanders (D-VT), Gillibrand (D-NY), VanHollen (D-MD), Reed (D-RI) and Whitehouse (D-RI) to “tax the fortunes of the top 0.5% and reduce wealth inequality,” this bill would reduce the federal estate tax exemption from its current level of $11.7 million per individual.  Under the proposal, estates in excess of $3.5 million per individual and $7 million per couple would pay the estate tax, which would begin at 45% for estates between $3.5 and $10 million.  The tax would increase incrementally, reaching 65% for estates over 1 billion.  The proposal would also reduce the lifetime gift tax exemption from its current level of $11.7 million to $1 million but would not reduce the annual $15,000 per person per year gift tax exemption for cash gifts.  It would limit the exemption for gifts to trust at $20,000 per year.  Protections for farmland include allowing farmland value to be lowered by up to $3 million for estate tax purposes and increasing the maximum exclusion for conservation easements to $2 million.  The bill would also prohibit reduced valuation for assets held in a pass-through entity, affecting the 35% valuation discount that is typical for farmland LLCs.

Sensible Tax and Equity Promotion (STEP) Act.  A group of Democrats in the Senate introduced the STEP Act on March 29 in an effort to “close the stepped-up basis loophole by taxing unrealized capital gains when heirs inherit huge fortunes on which the original owner never paid income taxes.”  The proposal would tax the transfer of property that has a net gain either during lifetime or at death.  During lifetime, a completed transfer to a non-grantor trust or individual other than spouse would be subject to tax but the first $100,000 of cumulative gain would be exempt.  At death, the first $1 million of appreciated assets would pass without taxation.  Transfers to charity, spouses, charitable trusts, qualified disability trusts would be exempt, as would gains on residences up to $250,000 per individual or $500,000 for married couples.  Taxes on illiquid property such as farms and some farm assets could be paid in installments over a 15-year period, and any taxes paid under the Act would be deductible from the federal estate tax.  The bill would also require gains on non-grantor irrevocable trusts to be reported every 21 years.

Corporate Tax Dodging Prevention Act.  Another bill by Sen. Sanders (D-VT) would go after the corporate tax rate.  The bill would restore the top corporate tax rate to 35%, its level prior to the reduction to 21% by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.  It also includes a number of provisions to reduce the ability of corporations to avoid paying federal taxes by moving income and profits offshore.

We are likely to see several more tax proposals in Congress in the coming year and time will tell whether any of them will have traction.  Some may merely be bargaining chips among the many legislative agendas in Washington.  One thing is certain–tax bills will continue to generate interest in the agricultural world, so we’ll keep readers updated on these and future proposals.

What is Your Growing Degree Day (GDD) Number?

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OSU Growing Degree Day Website

So what is your GDD – or growing degree day? Before you reach for a piece a paper, a pencil, and a calculator to figure out what your number is, check out the OSU’s Growing Degree Day website. This website does the ‘math’ or the calculations to determine your GDD for you. All you need is an Ohio zipcode – type it in and hit enter. The website uses weather stations across Ohio to determine what the accumulations, and provides website visitors their GDD and where they are in a biological calendar of certain plants in flower and insect activity.

It is important to note that microclimates in our own landscape, or landscapes that you manage, can sometimes be ahead of, or even maybe lagging behind, but this information can be so useful and interesting. It is important to note that even if you appear to be ahead or behind of what the website is indicating, the order of plant bloom and insect activity remains the same. The sequence of order remains constant.

This morning, when I checked the website, Toledo (zipcode – 43615) was at 205 GDD. What this means is that gypsy moth caterpillars have begun to hatch (192 GDD), Donald Wyman crabapple is in first bloom (197 GDD), snowdrift crabapple is in first bloom (198 GDD), full bloom of compact garland spirea (205 GDD), full bloom of Koreanspice viburnum (GDD 205), and on the horizon is the egg hatch of the azalea lace bug (206 GDD).

This is why GDD is so useful!

Additionally, it fun (at least I think so) to compare where we are today, compared to the past. Sometimes we think, this spring is so early, or it feels like we are far behind an average spring. This website can help us remember what was happening horticulturally on this same day in the past. And even more cool, you can change the date too! So let’s compare this spring, April 15, to year’s past on the same day, April 15.

  • 2021-205 GDD
  • 2020-90 GDD
  • 2019-85 GDD
  • 2018-83 GDD
  • 2017-201 GDD
  • 2016-129 GDD
  • 2015-78 GDD
  • 2014-80 GDD
  • 2013-69 GDD
  • 2012-275 GDD
  • 2011-66 GDD
  • 2010-206 GDD
  • 2009-103 GD

So if you look and compare we have definately accumulated more GDD than other years, except for 2012 when at this same time, we had accumulated 275 GDD.

Hopefully you have been using the website and tracking your GDD, and then heading outside to verify what the website says we are at, to what your plants are doing. It really has been spot on this season. I can look out from my office window and see many of the plants that are included on the website. Additionally, I can head out to the field and monitor for and observe insect activity that is included in this list.

The post would not be complete without thanking Dan Herms, Denise Ellsworth, Ashley Kulhanek and others who have worked on this project including the research and data collection that allows OSU to have such an excellent website that used by many.

More Information



How to Build and Maintain a Healthy Pond

Licking County Soil and Water Conservation District is hosting a Pond Clinic April 28th from 5:30-7:00 pm.

Brent Dennis of Soil & Water, will cover considerations for building a new pond, including soil types and how to determine the size based on your watershed.Steve Fender of Fender Fish Hatchery, will address pond concerns, fish stocking, fish habitat, methods to control aquatic vegetation and provide insight on how to maintain a healthy pond.

Soil & Water will be taking orders for our Fish Sale until April 29th. Pick up May 8th at Backyard Conservation Day.

Clinic will be hosted at a pond at 2400 Montgomery Road, Newark, OH, signs will be posted. There are two pavilions next to the pond where the class will be held.

In the case of inclement weather, the clinic may be rescheduled or cancelled.

Questions? Call Soil & Water at 740-670-5330 or email  Register Here

Thank you to our partner, Granville Milling for supporting this workshop!

There’s still time….Perennial School

Ohio State University Extension Clermont County presents Virtual Southwest Ohio Perennial School as a four-part series held Thursdays in April (8,15,22 & 29) at 11:00 am.

Registration is now open:

The series is free to attend, but registration is required. You can choose to attend one or more of the following sessions.


April 8  

Filling in the Blanks with Colorful Annuals – Pam Bennett, OSU Extension, Clark County

As a perennial gardener, you know at times, your perennial bed lacks massive color.  In between blooming seasons, while plants are getting established and other times, annuals can offer that extra WOW to your beds.  Learn about low-maintenance annuals that give color all season long in this fast-paced presentation of color that will leave you even more anxious for spring!


April 15  

Bad@$$ Trees for Poor Places – Scott Beuerlein, Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

Originally titled “Good Trees for Bad Places,” it was determined by a committee of sobriety-challenged but internationally renowned horticulturists that it needed an upgrade. The trees in this talk are the survivors. They laugh at incorrect planting techniques, mulch volcanoes, bad pruning cuts, and other poor maintenance practices. They embrace poor soil, and they spit at drought. Some of the usual suspects but some you probably won’t know. Enjoy this romp through trees so ornery they’ll resist the very worst that nature can hurl at them and be there to shade your children’s children.


April 22  

Spot this – Report It – Amy Stone, OSU Extension, Lucas County

The spotted lanternfly is an invasive insect that should be on everyone’s radar in Ohio. This session will cover basic information that will empower gardeners to do some scouting in their own landscapes for this sap sucking plant hopper. The nymphs have a much wider host range than the adult, and you may just have those plants that you can monitor and help us ‘spot the spot’ before populations build and their activity could be extensive. There will also be a discussion about how this insect is moving and get you thinking about the modes of transportation that might just be the avenue to your garden or community. In addition, cicada, cicada, cicada will be discussed for the 17-year brood emergence this year.


April 29 

Connect the Dots…2021 – Joe Boggs, OSU Extension, Hamilton County

Integrated Pest Management has always been a way to help improve your vegetable and flower gardens, as well as orchards and more. Learn new ideas and practices from this 2021 version for how flowering plant diversity in landscapes reduces the need to use insecticides?