How Will the Invasion of Ukraine Affect U.S. Agriculture?

by: Ian Sheldon, Professor and Andersons Chair of Agricultural Marketing, Trade, and Policy, Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics, Ohio State University and Chris Zoller, Associate Professor and Extension Educator, Agriculture & Natural Resources, Ohio State University Extension – Tuscarawas County

Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine: The Global Impact

The shock to global commodity markets following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is expected to be the largest in the post-war period, and certainly since the oil crisis of the 1970s.  Over the past 30 year, the two countries have become major agricultural exporters, accounting for a quarter of global grains trade in the 2021-22 season (International Grains Council, March 9, 2022).  Across key commodities, they account for a 34, 18, 27 and 75 percent share of volume traded of world wheat, corn, barley, and sunflower oil respectively (International Food Policy Research Institute, February 24, 2022).  With Russia blockading ports on the Black Sea, 16 million tons of grain are currently stranded in Ukraine, USDA forecasting Ukrainian-Russian wheat exports to fall by 7 million tons in 2021-22, Australian and Indian exports only partially filling the gap (USDA/WASDE Report, March 9, 2022)   Also, despite reports of some spring crops being planted in Ukraine, outgoing Agriculture Minister Roman Leshchenko expects total area sown to be reduced by 19 million acres (Reuters, March 22, 2022).

Not surprisingly a market shock of this magnitude has affected both the volatility and level of prices, wheat futures at one point moving above $14/bushel, and eventually falling back to just over $10/bushel, reflecting uncertainty among traders about the invasion.  In turn, the increase in grain prices, are having a significant effect on global food prices and hence food security.  Even before the invasion, several factors were already driving up food prices, including poor harvests in South America, strong global demand, supply chain issues, reduced global stocks of grains and oilseeds, and an input cost squeeze mostly due to rising fertilizer prices.  Adding in the effect of the invasion, global food prices are now reaching levels not seen since the so-called “Arab Spring” of the early 2010s (UN/FAO, March 2022).

The steep decline in grain exports has led to institutions such as the UN World Food Program expressing concern about global food security, the cost of buying food forecast to rise by $23/month – a significant increase to those living off $1.90/day, the World Bank definition of poverty (New York Times, March 20, 2022).  Countries in the Middle East and North Africa such as Egypt, the Lebanon and Tunisia are very dependent on grain imports from Ukraine and Russia, the risk of food price inflation stirring up political and social unrest.  On top of this, there is concern other countries will adopt “beggar-thy-neighbor”-type controls on grain exports to protect their own populations, that will simply intensify the food price spike (Financial Times, March 23, 2022).

Implications for U.S. Agriculture

We are experiencing higher fuel prices at the pump, grain markets (especially wheat) rallied on news of the invasion and resulting sanctions, and the invasion created further uncertainty for fertilizer costs.  What does the future hold for fuel, fertilizer, and grain prices?  It is impossible to say with certainty, but the market does not like uncertainty.  In other words, expect a great deal of continued volatility.  Harwood Schaffer and Darrel Ray, Agriculture Policy Analysis Center at the University of Tennessee (MidAmerica Farmer Grower, March 4, 2022), make the following points about possible impacts:

  • Russia may try to broker a deal with China to avoid trade sanctions.  If this happens, the U.S. may be able to capture markets previously served by Russia.
  • If the war continues, who will harvest the Ukraine wheat crop and how will it be transported?
  • If the consensus is that the wheat crop will be short, expect an increase in prices.
  • If commodity prices do increase, will it be enough to cover rising fuel and fertilizer costs?

Scott Stiles, agricultural economist, University of Arkansas, says the war may provide an opportunity for the U.S. to sell more corn to China and the European Union, who have historically purchased corn from Ukraine (Ryan McGeeney, U of A Division of Agriculture, March 3, 2022).

University of Illinois agricultural economists Gary Schnitkey, Nick Paulson, and Krista Swanson, and Carl Zulauf, Emeritus Professor, Ohio State University (Weekly Farm Economics, March 29, 2022), offer the following potential impacts:

  • Wheat has seen positive price movement.  Because corn is a substitute feed grain for wheat, corn prices may see a greater increase than soybeans.
  • Do not underestimate the resourcefulness of Ukrainian farmers.  However, continued fighting and planting disruptions may lead to higher prices.
  • Expect continued price and availability uncertainties in the fertilizer market.


The invasion of Ukraine is proving a significant shock to global commodity markets, with the very real prospect of worsening global food insecurity as net food importing countries face shortages of key staples such as wheat.  In the short run, the expectation is that there are real limitations on the ability of the U.S. to meet the shortfall: winter wheat is already in the ground, stocks are low, drought conditions are likely to impact yields in states such as Kansas, and farmers face an input price squeeze (Financial Times, March 14, 2022).  Not surprisingly, there is political pressure on USDA to allow farmers to plant on land enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) without penalty (Reuters, April 1, 2022).

Ohio legislature passes statutory farm lease termination and beginning farmer bills

By:Peggy Kirk Hall, Associate Professor, Agricultural & Resource Law Friday, April 08th, 2022
Photo of Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio

Bills establishing new legal requirements for landowners who want to terminate a verbal or uncertain farm lease and income tax credits for sales of assets to beginning farmers now await Governor DeWine’s response after passing in the Ohio legislature this week.  Predictions are that the Governor will sign both measures.

Statutory termination requirements for farm leases – H.B. 397

Ohio joins nine other states in the Midwest with its enactment of a statutory requirement for terminating a crop lease that doesn’t address termination.  The legislation sponsored by Rep. Brian Stewart (R-Ashville) and Rep. Darrell Kick (R-Loudonville) aims to address uncertainty in farmland leases, providing protections for tenant operators from late terminations by landowners.  It will change how landowners conduct their farmland leasing arrangements, and will hopefull encourage written farmland leases that clearly address how to terminate the leasing arrangement.

The bill states that in either a written or verbal farmland leasing situation where the agreement between the parties does not provide for a termination date or a method for giving notice of termination, a landlord who wants to terminate the lease must do so in writing by September 1.  The termination would be effective either upon completion of harvest or December 31, whichever is earlier.  Note that the bill applies only to leases that involve planting, growing, and harvesting of crops and does not apply to leases for pasture, timber, buildings, or equipment and does not apply to the tenant in a leasing agreement.  A lease that addresses how and when termination of the leasing arrangement may occur would also be unaffected by the new provisions.

The beginning farmer bill – H.B. 95

A long time in the making, H.B. 95 is the result of a bi-partisan effort by Rep. Susan Manchester (R-Waynesfield) and Rep. Mary Lightbody (D-Westerville).  It authorizes two types of tax credits for “certified beginning farmer” situations. The bill caps the tax credits at $10 million, and sunsets credits at the end of the sixth calendar year after they become effective.

The first tax credit is a nonrefundable income tax credit for an individual or business that sells or rents CAUV qualifying farmland, livestock, facilities, buildings or machinery to a “certified beginning farmer.”  A late amendment in the Senate Ways and Means Committee reduced that credit to 3.99% of the sale price or gross rental income.  The bill requires a sale credit to be claimed in the year of the sale but spreads the credit amount for rental and share-rent arrangements over the first three years of the rental agreement.  It also allows a carry-forward of excess credit up to 7 years.  Note that equipment dealers and businesses that sell agricultural assets for profit are not eligible for the tax credit, and that an individual or business must apply to the Ohio Department of Agriculture for tax credit approval.

The second tax credit is a nonrefundable income tax credit for a “certified beginning farmer” for the cost of attending a financial management program.  The program must be certified by the Ohio Department of Agriculture, who must develop standards for program certification in consultation with Ohio State and Central State.  The farmer may carry the tax credit forward for up to three succeeding tax years.

Who is a certified beginning farmer?  The intent of the bill is to encourage asset transition to beginning farmers, and it establishes eligibility criteria for an individual to become “certified” as a beginning farmer by the Ohio Department of Agriculture.  One point of discussion for the bill was whether the beginning farmer credit would be available for family transfers.  Note that the eligibility requirements address this issue by requiring that there cannot be a business relationship between the beginning farmer and the owner of the asset.

An individual can become certified as a beginning farmer if he or she:

  • Intends to farm or has been farming for less than ten years in Ohio.
  • Is not a partner, member, shareholder, or trustee with the owner of the agricultural assets the individual will rent or purchase.
  • Has a household net worth under $800,000 in 2021 or as adjusted for inflation in future years.
  • Provides the majority of day-to-day labor and management of the farm.
  • Has adequate knowledge or farming experience in the type of farming involved.
  • Submits projected earnings statements and demonstrates a profit potential.
  • Demonstrates that farming will be a significant source of income.
  • Participates in a financial management program approved by the Department of Agriculture.
  • Meets any other requirements the Ohio Department of Agriculture establishes through rulemaking.

We’ll provide further details about these new laws as they become effective.   Information on the statutory termination bill, H.B. 397, is here and information about the beginning farmer bill, H.B. 95, is here.  Note that provisions affecting other unrelated areas of law were added to both bills in the approval process.

Charitable Remainder Trust strategy for retiring farmers

By Robert Moore, Attorney and Research Specialist, OSU Agricultural & Resource Law Program

Most farmers do a great job of managing their taxable income.  They buy inputs or machinery to offset the current year’s income and wait until next year to sell the current crop.  This strategy works well but it catches up to the retiring farmer.  In the year of retirement, a farmer may find themselves with an entire year (or more) of crops or livestock to sell and no expenses to offset the income.  Additionally, machinery and equipment that will no longer be needed for production will need to be sold.  Selling all these assets upon retirement without offsetting expenses can result in tremendous tax liability.

One strategy for retiring farmers to consider is using a Charitable Remainder Trust (CRT).  The CRT is a special kind of trust that can sell assets without triggering tax liability while providing annual income for the retiring farmer.  The CRT essentially spreads out the income from the sale of the assets over many years to keep the farmer in a lower tax rate bracket.  Also, the CRT allows the retiring farmer to make a charitable donation to their charity of choice.

The primary component of a CRT strategy is that a CRT does not pay tax upon the sale of assets.  Due to its charitable nature, a CRT can sell assets and pay no capital gains tax nor depreciation recapture tax.  The retiring farmer establishes a CRT then transfers the assets they want to sell into the CRT.  The CRT then sells the assets.  For the strategy to work, the trust must be a CRT.  A non-charitable trust will owe taxes upon the sale of the assets.

The proceeds from the sale of the assets are then invested in a financial account.  The farmer works with an investment advisor to determine the desired annual income needed from the proceeds and then an appropriate investment portfolio is created.  It is important to note that income calculations must include leaving at least 10% of the principal to a charity.  The farmer may not receive all the income or the trust will not qualify as a charitable trust.  The term of the payments from the investment portfolio cannot exceed 20 years.

After the financial account is established, the farmer will receive annual income.  This income is taxed at the farmer’s individual tax rate.  By paying the sale proceeds out over a number of years, the farmer’s income tax bracket can be moderated.  Selling all assets in one year would likely cause the farmer to be pushed into the highest income tax and capital gains tax bracket, so spreading out the income keeps the farmer in a lower tax bracket.

Another important component of a CRT is the charitable giving requirement.  As stated above, the farmer must plan to give 10% of the principal to a charity.  The funds are provided to the charity when the term of the investment expires or when the farmer dies.  Depending on the performance of the investment, the charity may receive more than 10% or less than 10%.  The farmer must be able to show that when the investment account was established, the intention was for the charity to receive at least 10% of the original principal.

Consider the following examples, one with a CRT and one without.

Scenario without CRT.  Farmer decided to retire after the 2021 crop year.  Farmer owned $800,000 of machinery and $200,000 of grain.  Farmer sold all the grain and machinery before the end of 2021.  Farmer owed tax on $100,000 of ordinary income due to depreciation recapture on the machinery and sale proceeds of the grain.  Farmer’s tax liability was $450,000 for the sale of the assets.

Scenario with CRT.  Farmer established a CRT and transfered the machinery and grain into the CRT.  The CRT sold the machinery and grain but did not pay tax on the sale proceeds due to its charitable status.  Farmer established an annuity to pay out over 20 years.  Each year Farmer receives $65,000 of income from the CRT.  Farmer pays income tax on the payment but at a much lower rate than the previous scenario.  At the end of the 20-year term, a charity receives $150,000 (original 10% of principal plus interest).

As the scenarios show, A CRT can save significant taxes for the retiring farmer. Also, a CRT allows a retiring farmer to make a charitable contribution to their charity of choice.

A retirement strategy using a CRT is not without its disadvantages.  One disadvantage is the cost to implement the plan.  A CRT plan is complicated and requires the assistance of an attorney, accountant, and financial advisor.  The combined professional fees could be $25,000 or more.  Another disadvantage is the inflexible nature of the plan.  The CRT is an irrevocable trust; once the CRT is implemented the plan cannot be changed.  If the retired farmer finds they need more income than allocated from the CRT, they are unable to make such a change.

Anyone considering retiring from farming should explore the possibility of incorporating a CRT into their plan.  CRTs can save significant income taxes and provide for charitable giving, but it’s not for everyone.  The potential tax savings must be enough to justify the significant costs to establish the CRT and the farmer must be willing to give up control of the sale proceeds.  Retiring farmers should consult with their attorney, accountant and/or financial advisor to assess how a CRT might fit into their retirement plan.

Landowners Meeting – Conservation Easement Options

Thursday, May 5, 2022, from 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm at Homestead Beer Company, Cherry Valley Public House, 2319 Cherry Valley Road, SE, Newark
Interested in protecting greenspace, farmland, and our natural landscape?

Learn about the many options for landowners with Licking County Soil & Water, Licking Land Trust, Licking Park District, and Licking County Farm Bureau.

5:30 – 6 pm ~ Refreshments and visit agency information tables
6 – 7 pm ~ Presentations
7 – 7:30 pm ~ Talk to representatives about your specific questions

For our planning purposes, please RSVP here.


REYNOLDSBURG, OH (March 30, 2022) — Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) has been detected in a backyard chicken flock in Franklin County. The positive detection was confirmed by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS). The samples were first tested at the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory and confirmed at the APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa.

HPAI is a highly contagious virus that spreads quickly and can be fatal to flocks and devastating to poultry owners, both commercial and non-commercial.

State officials quarantined the affected premise, and birds on the property will be depopulated to prevent the spread of the disease. Birds from the flock will not enter the food system.  Federal and State partners are working jointly on additional surveillance and testing in areas around the affected flock. Surveillance activities will be conducted in a 10-kilometer zone around the infected premise.

HPAI can infect poultry (such as chickens, turkeys, pheasants, quail, domestic ducks, geese, and guinea fowl) and is carried by free flying waterfowl such as ducks, geese, and shorebirds. The recent HPAI detections do not present an immediate public health concern, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. No human cases have been detected in the United States. As a reminder, the proper handling and cooking of all poultry and eggs to an internal temperature of 165 ˚F is recommended as a general food safety precaution.

“Enhanced Biosecurity is the number one preventive measure against avian influenza,” State Veterinarian Dr. Dennis Summers said. “HPAI can infect any size flock. We urge all poultry owners to intensify their biosecurity and best management practices.”

Biosecurity and best management practices include:

  • Prevent contact with wild birds and waterfowl. Keep birds indoors when possible.
  • Keep visitors to a minimum.Only allow those who care for your poultry to have contact with them and make sure they follow biosecurity principles.
  • Wash your hands before and after contact with live poultry. Use soap and water. If using a hand sanitizer, first remove manure, feathers, and other materials from your hands.
  • Provide disposable boot covers (preferred) and/or disinfectant footbaths for anyone having contact with your flock.If using a footbath, remove all droppings, mud or debris from boots and shoes using a long-handled brush BEFORE stepping in. Always keep it clean.
  • Establish a rodent and pest control program. Deliver, store, and maintain feed, ingredients, bedding, and litter to limit exposure to and contamination from wild animals.
  • Use drinking water sourced from a contained supply (well or municipal system). Do not use surface water for drinking or cleaning.
  • Clean and disinfect tools and equipment before moving them to a new poultry facility.Trucks, tractors, tools, and equipment should be cleaned and disinfected prior to exiting the property. Do not move or reuse anything that cannot be cleaned.
  • Look for signs of illness. Monitor egg production and death loss, discoloration and/or swelling of legs, wattles and combs, labored breathing, reduced feed/water consumption.

If you notice any symptoms or unexpected deaths in your flock, please report them immediately to the Ohio Poultry Association (614.882.6111), or the Ohio Department of Agriculture (regular business hours: 614.728.6220; after hours: 888.456.3405).

Please click here for more information on the disease. Avian Influenza Trifold (002)

Two programs for homeowners – Safe Use of Pesticides and Understanding Soils and Fertilizer

Join me for one or both presentations at Wilsons Garden Center on April 16th starting at 10 am.  I will have short presentations on both topics to help explain how different products can be used on your garden and lawn and how to safely use them.  I will look forward to answering your questions.  The Pesticide portion will start at 10 a.m. and the soils and fertilizer will start at 11 a.m. Please use this link to register as seating is limited: Register

Get a Head Start on Controlling Poison Hemlock and Wild Parsnip

Published on

Poison hemlock (Conium maculatum L.) and wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa L.) are currently in a growth stage that makes them susceptible to early-season management.  Targeting these dangerous plants with herbicides applied now will prevent flowering and seed production later this season.

Wild parsnip

These non-native invasive weeds are combined in this report because they are increasingly found growing together in Ohio.  Both belong to the carrot family, Apiaceae, and produce umbrella-like flowers referenced in the old name for the family, Umbelliferae.  They also have biennial life cycles requiring at least two years to grow from seed to mature flowering plants.

Poison hemlock

Poison hemlock

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.

Life as a (Variable) Biennial

Plants with a biennial life cycle spend the first season in the vegetive stage.  The low-growing “rosettes” use carbohydrates acquired through photosynthesis to produce a robust root system.

Plants “bolt” during the second-year reproductive stage to produce erect multi-branched stems topped with umbrella-like flowers.  The mature plants die after producing seeds.

Biennial Life Cycle

It’s important to keep in mind that the graphic above provides a generalized view of a biennial life cycle.  In reality, there can be considerable variability in the timing of events meaning that the growth stages within a group of poison hemlock and wild parsnip plants are seldom synchronized.  It’s common for first-season vegetive plants to be mixed with second-season reproductive plants.

Seed viability as well as the timing of seed germination also affects what we see.  Poison hemlock and wild parsnip are prolific seed producers with hemlock seeds remaining viable for 4-6 years and parsnip seeds remaining viable for around 4 years.  New and old seeds produced by both of these plants may germinate in late summer, early fall, to early spring.  As a result, first-year rosettes commonly range in size from small plants if seeds germinated in the spring to larger plants if seeds germinated in the fall.

Poison hemlock

Poison hemlock

Also, some plants take longer than two years to complete their development.  Wild parsnip may occasionally behave as a monocarpic perennial spending more than one year in the vegetative stage before flowering once and then dying.  It’s suspected poison hemlock may also be capable of behaving as a monocarpic perennial although research has not confirmed this speculation.

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.

Poison hemlock

Poison hemlock

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 our body through our eyes, nasal passages, or cuts in our skin 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 accidental poisoning from this plant is suspected.

All stages of the poison hemlock plant have dark-green to bluish-green leaves that are 3-4 times pinnately compound.  The deeply cut parsley or carrot-like leaflets have sharp points.

Poison hemlock

Poison hemlock

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.  Mature poison hemlock plants can measure 6 – 10 ft. tall.

Poison hemlock

Poison hemlock

It’s commonly reported that Wild Carrot (Queen Anne’s Lace, Daucus carota) may be mistaken for poison hemlock or vice versa.  However, white flowers and parsley-like leaves are the only things this non-native has in common with poison hemlock.  The flat-topped flower umbels look nothing like poison hemlock, the stems are hairy, and the bristly leaves are single pinnate.  More importantly, wild carrot blooms in mid-summer long after poison hemlock has bloomed, and plants are collapsing after producing seeds.

Queen Annes Lace

Queen Annes Lace

Queen Annes Lace

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.

Wild parsnip

Wild parsnip

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.

Wild parsnip

Skin blistering 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.

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 not become widespread in Ohio with confirmations confined to the northeast part of the state.

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 America 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.

Wild parsnip

Wild parsnip

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.

Wild parsnip

Wild parsnip

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.  Mature wild parsnip plants are normally shorter in stature compared to poison hemlock.  While some plant may top 6 ft, most mature plants are 4 – 5 ft. tall.

Wild parsnip

Wild parsnip


Unfortunately, poison hemlock and wild parsnip are becoming more common throughout Ohio.  Worse, these dangerous non-native weeds are increasingly being found growing near people which increases risks to human health.

Poison hemlock

Wild parsnip

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.

Poison hemlock

Timing is everything!  The graphic below shows the best and worst times to implement management tactics.

Poison hemlock


The safest approach to controlling these dangerous invasive weeds is to use herbicides.  This minimizes risks associated with direct contact.  As always, read and follow label directions paying close attention to recommended rates and whether surfactants are recommended to enhance herbicide efficacy.

Poison hemlock

The application window for controlling poison hemlock and wild parsnip is now opening in southern Ohio.  Surrounding vegetation has largely not yet started to grow which makes first and second-year plants very evident.

Keep in mind that both of these weeds bolt in the spring; flowers and seeds are produced in early summer.  It’s critical to make herbicide applications before the plants produce flowers.

Non-Selective Post-Emergent Herbicides:

These herbicides kill a wide range of plants after they have sprouted from seeds.  However, keep in mind that non-selective herbicides such as glyphosate (e.g., Roundup) can also illuminate plants that compete with poison hemlock and wild parsnip.

Poison hemlock

Herbicidal openings produced by non-selective herbicides provide perfect opportunities for more parsnip and hemlock to spring forth from previously deposited seeds.  Thus, it’s important to have a plan for establishing competitive plants such as over-seeding with grasses.

Selective Post-Emergent Herbicides:

These herbicides kill a select range of plants after they have sprouted from seeds.  Selective herbicides can be chosen that will preserve competitive plants.  For example, grasses are strong competitors against these opportunistic weeds.  Herbicides that spare grasses but kill “broadleaf weeds” like poison hemlock and wild parsnip will preserve and enhance this competitive edge.

Poison hemlock

Wild parsnip

Selective herbicides effective against wild parsnip and poison hemlock include, but are not limited to, clopyralid (e.g. Transline), metsulfuron (e.g. Escort XP), and combination products such as those that contain 2,4-D, mecoprop, and dichlorprop (e.g. Triamine).  Again, applications must be made before plants start to flower to effectively reduce weed infestations.

Pre-Emergent Herbicides:

These herbicides interfere with the successful establishment of targeted weeds from seed.  Unfortunately, I’m not aware of any published data on the efficacy of preemergent herbicides against poison hemlock or wild parsnip.

To Mow, or Not to Mow

Poison hemlock can be controlled by mowing bolting plants before they produce flowers.  However, low-growing rosettes may escape the blade, and seeds are unaffected.  Thus, an infestation will not be eliminated in one mowing season.

Poison hemlock

Poison hemlock

Improper timing can actually enhance poison hemlock infestations.  The images below show a high-risk location where poison hemlock has been consistently mowed from late summer to early fall after plants had already released their seed.  Worse, the late-season mowing removed shading from taller competitive plants exposing the hemlock rosettes to full sun.  As the result of years of ill-timed mowing, poison hemlock has ascended from a rarity in this location to a dominant plant.

Poison hemlock

Poison hemlock

Poison hemlock

CAUTION: sap from poison hemlock presents a serious hazard.  There is a potential for the sap to become aerosolized with the mechanical removal of actively growing plants.  String trimmers and open flail mowers should not be used.

Care should also be taken with shrouded mowers.  Personal protection equipment (PPE) including eye protection, gloves, and clothing to cover arms and legs is strongly recommended.  Clothing and gloves should be removed and washed as soon as possible after mowing.

Poison hemlock plants may be hand-pulled before flowering and disposed of in a safe manner.  The same PPE recommendations for mowing should be applied.

In my opinion, wild parsnip should not be removed mechanically or by hand-pulling.  There is simply too much of a risk presented by errant sap.  Thus, if wild parsnip is growing among poison hemlock, herbicide applications are the safest option to remove both of these dangerous weeds.

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Spotted Lanternfly! How do I Scout for it?

Authors Thomas deHaas

Published on March 26, 2022

Three counties in Ohio have infestations of Spotted Lanternfly. They include Jefferson, Cuyahoga, and Lorain. Right now, they are in the egg mass stage. But as soon as April, they will hatch into 1st instar nymph.

Time to start scouting! How?

Recently, I conducted a training for workers at a local nursery. It made me think to produce a short video for nursery employees, landscapers, arborists, park workers, gardeners, and local communities.

I created 2 videos. One is in English; the other is in Spanish.

For those of you that want to provide a brief training on Spotted Lanternfly and Tree of Heaven, see the videos below.

English (time – 9:59):


Spanish (time – 7:24):


As always, if you have any questions, feel free to contact me at

Spring Weedy Grass Control in Grass Hay and Pasture

Considerations for weedy grass and broadleaf control options in grass forages during early spring.

From Penn State Extension

The forsythia is starting to bloom. This is a great natural indication that it is time to make applications of residual herbicides to control germinating summer annual weeds, especially grasses. We are receiving more calls about how to control weedy annual grasses such as crabgrass, foxtails, panicum, Japanese stiltgrass, etc. and others in grass forage settings. Unfortunately, these weedy grasses start to germinate at different times in the spring. Japanese stiltgrass can germinate in early spring a couple weeks or more before crabgrass and the other species, thus an early application of pendimethalin will be necessary for initial control. Large crabgrass and the other mentioned grass species typically start to germinate around 200 GDD (growing degree days), however, Japanese stiltgrass begins its germination much earlier. Currently, pendimethalin (Prowl H2O and Satellite HydroCap) is an option to consider for controlling certain annual grasses and broadleaf weeds in cool and warm season forage grass settings.

Prowl H2O or Satellite HydroCap may be applied to established perennial forage grasses (including Kentucky bluegrass, bromegrass, tall fescue, orchardgrass, perennial ryegrass, timothy, switchgrass, and others) grown for forage, green chop, silage, hay production, and/or grown in pastures for livestock grazing.

  • Apply at a broadcast rate of 1.1 to 4.2 quarts of product per acre in a single application or sequential applications made 30 or more days apart. Herbicide must be applied before weed germination in spring, or in-season between cuttings, otherwise weeds will not be controlled. These products may be tank-mixed with other labeled herbicides, but keep in mind nothing is labeled for control of emerged grasses in grass forage.
  • Split applications of pendimethalin are better than a single, high-rate early season application. Make the first application in early spring (mid-March to early April) but before weed germination (2-3 pt/A); and then the second application right after first (or second) cutting (3-4 pt/A).
  • These herbicides may be applied to mixed stands of established cool-season forage grasses and alfalfa (established alfalfa is defined as alfalfa planted in fall or spring which has gone through a first cutting/mowing). Do not apply to mixed stands of cool-season forage grasses with other forage legumes (e.g., clover) besides alfalfa.
  • There is no preharvest or pre-grazing interval for pendimethalin-treated grass forage, green chop, silage, hay, or pasture.
  • Mixed stand alfalfa/cool-season forage grasses may be grazed or harvested for forage or hay 14 or more days after application.

Keep in mind that pendimethalin products do not control established perennials like roughstalk bluegrass (Poa trivialis) which is becoming more of a problem in small grain and forage fields across the state. Fall and early spring are the best times to apply effective herbicides to control this weed; but unfortunately there are no effective products that control roughstalk bluegrass in grass forages. However, in alfalfa settings, the use of Gramoxone/paraquat, Raptor, or Select/clethodim after the first cutting generally provides 85-90% control.

Also, now is the time to scout grass pastures and hay in search of winter annual and biennial weeds.  Both of these types of weeds are potentially susceptible to control right now and an effective herbicide application will prevent flowering and seed production.  Management of perennial weeds such as dandelion, Canada thistle and the woody perennials such as multiflora rose and autumn olive is best performed a bit later in early summer after plants reach the bud-to-bloom stage. Winter annuals including the mustard species, common chickweed, horseweed/marestail, deadnettle/henbit, fleabane, etc. are growing rapidly and have already or will begin to flower and set seed very soon. Biennials including musk and plumless thistle, burdock, wild carrot, etc. should be treated before they begin to bolt and the smaller the better. (Late fall or early spring is really the best time to treat them).  The most common herbicides used for control of many broadleaf weeds in grass hay/pasture this time of year are the plant growth regulator herbicides such as 2,4-D ± dicamba (Clarity, etc.), triclopyr products (Crossbow, Remedy Ultra, etc.), and clopyralid (Stinger, PastureGard, etc.). In addition, products containing metsulfuron (Cimarron, other generic formulations, etc.) can provide good control of many broadleaf weeds in the spring. (Be cautious, if forage grasses were recently seeded and are not yet established many of these herbicides can cause severe crop injury.) Refer to Table 2.6-11 in the 2021-22 Penn State Agronomy Guide  for ratings of these herbicides on many different weed species.