They’re BAACK… The Hairy Bittercress Horde!

Authors: Erik Draper

As I was outside soaking up the glorious October warmth and sunshine, I suddenly noticed little flecks of green scattered out in the landscape beds.  Intrigued and forever curious, I wandered over, saw what was growing and I got a twitch in my eye.  I remembered receiving an email from a reader telling me that I should remind everyone about seasonal timing and control of this despicable landscape curse.  I wrote this Spring (April 23, 2021) in an attempt to stem the tide of the prolific green horde of wicked plants taking over the garden world…but of course, they have returned!  This vile weed belongs to the mustard family (Brassicaceae) and is commonly known as Hairy Bittercress (HB) or Cardamine hirsuta.


Hairy Bittercress, Cardamine hirsuta seedlings
Hairy Bittercress, Cardamine hirsuta seedlings


Like a true winter annual weed, HB germinates and leaf’s out as a basal rosette to sneakily and vegetatively pass through winter, harvesting and using any available sunshine.  In early Spring, the frilly, yet tidy green mound sends up flower stalks with tiny, white flowers to begin to create the real mess… pods full of seeds!  Each plant has the potential to produce 600 to 1,000 little green bombs called seeds!


Hairy Bittercress, Cardamine hirsuta with flower stalk
Hairy Bittercress, Cardamine hirsuta note the flower stalk already!


But the salient message in this moment is… NOW IS THE TIME TO CONTROL THIS GREEN MONSTER!!  This annoying plant scourge of the landscape can now be managed using a combination of different types of herbicides.  Since it has recently germinated, the seedling is very tender and has not established an extensive root system yet; therefore, it is very sensitive and susceptible to ANY disruption or disturbance.


Hairy Bittercress, Cardamine hirsuta young seedlings
Hairy Bittercress, Cardamine hirsuta young seedlings


IMMEDIATELY assault the green bombers using a non-selective postemergence herbicide that is a contact, foliar-applied, cellular membrane disruptor.  For example, products like pelargonic acid (Scythe®), potassium or ammoniated soaps of fatty acids (FiNALSAN®, BioSafe Weed & Grass Killer®, etc.), citrus oil (Avenger®), vinegar ≥ 20% acetic acid (WeedPharm®) or any combination of these oils (AllDown®) are also known as “burndown” herbicides.  These products will do a great job wiping out those tender, green seedlings of grief, impacting only the plants they are directly sprayed on… but they will have NO IMPACT whatsoever on seeds!


Hairy Bittercress, Cardamine hirsuta young seedling
Hairy Bittercress, Cardamine hirsuta young seedling


So, in order to achieve successful control of the plague of HB, preemergence herbicides are needed to inhibit any new seed germination and must also be applied NOW.  Don’t hesitate to apply a preemergence herbicide, like trifluralin (e.g. Preen®) or whatever is your preferred or favorite weed preventing product, and ACTIVATE IT!  To activate preemergence herbicides, one simply needs to spread the chemical out uniformly into the top layer of soil.  This is usually achieved applying about one-quarter to one-half an inch of water (irrigation), to create that chemical barrier!


Hairy Bittercress, Cardamine hirsuta maturing plant
One single, rapidly maturing Hairy Bittercress, Cardamine hirsuta, plant!


Remember to remain ahead of this seed flinging machine, don’t let those HB plants flower or mature to develop those blasted seed pod launchers!  Keep after any escaped germinating seedlings until the preemergence herbicide kicks into gear.   And even then, keep on your guard for the emergence of any member of the hairy green horde and shamelessly “BATTLE THE BITTERCRESS”!


Hairy Bittercress, Cardamine hirsuta young seedling plants
Hairy Bittercress, Cardamine hirsuta young seedling plants

Hedge Apples (Bois D’Arc)

Authors: Joe Boggs

Bois D’Arc was the original name Europeans gave to Osage-orange (Maclura pomifera (family Moraceae (mulberry family)).  Other common names that have developed over time include mock-orange, hedge-apple, horse-apple, hedge balls, monkey balls, and monkey brains.  I’m not sure how monkeys crept into the name game.




The native North American tree grows anywhere, has glossy, dark green foliage and deeply fissured orangish-tan bark with great winter interest.  What’s not to like?  Just don’t stand or park your car under female trees at this time of the year.












You can avoid the potentially head concussing or windshield smashing large fruits by selecting more mannerly cultivars. The prickly issue with menacing thorns can be solved by selecting “thornless” cultivars.  Two well-known male and thornless cultivars are ‘White Shield’ and ‘Wichita.’  Finding these cultivars may be a challenge; however, they are worth the effort.  Taking that route can make this tough native tree a go-to for difficult urban sites.  Osage-orange trees are also relatively free of serious pest and disease problems.






A Convoluted History

The scientific name Maclura pomifera (family Moraceae (mulberry family)) originated in 1907.  The genus honors William Maclure, a geologist who produced the first geological map of the U.S. and has been called the “father of American geology.”  The specific epithet is derived from the Latin meaning “fruit-bearing.”








Maclura pomifera was not originally called “Osage-orange.”  In fact, the native Americans referenced in the tree’s name did not originally call themselves “Osage.”  The origin of that name is based on what the French thought they heard the tribe call themselves and then what the English thought they heard the French call the tribe.


Exactly what the Osage people called M. pomifera has been lost to history.  However, the French named the tree for what they saw the Osage people do with the wood.  The remarkable strength and elasticity of the wood made exceptional bows that were not only prized by the Osage, but also by other neighboring tribes.




The French named the tree bois d’arc which means “bow-wood,” or “wood of the bow,” or “wooden bow,” depending on your reference source.  The common name “bobark” is based on what the Americans thought they heard the French call the tree.


Bois d’arc, or bobark trees, did not originally grow in the current relatively small native range confined to the eastern part of the Red River drainage watershed in Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, and perhaps extending into parts of Kansas, Louisiana, and Missouri.  M. pomifera as well as 7 other species in the genus were once widespread in North America before glaciers bulldozed most of them from the Earth.  M. pomifera is the only remaining member of the genus that lives on.




Of course, Osage-orange trees can now be found growing in all 48 contiguous states.  Its widespread distribution was supported by its use for several utilitarian purposes and its boundless adaptability to wide-ranging environmental conditions.




Trees were planted as living fences before the development of barbed wire.  Dense, crossing branches and sharp thorns growing from the leaf axils discouraged livestock from crossing close-planted hedges.  It was also one of the primary trees used in Works Progress Administration (WPA) programs aimed at preventing soil erosion.  Thousands of miles of Osage-orange shelterbelts were planted throughout the 1930s as part of WPA soil stabilization efforts.



Large Fruits and Megafauna:  Ghosts of Evolution

Scholars were once puzzled by why there are so many trees in North America and elsewhere that expend a considerable amount of energy to produce large fruits containing seeds for which there are no current means of dispersal.  Osage-oranges hit the ground with a thud and remain there unless slopes and gravity cause them to roll away.






Although Osage-orange fruit and branches ooze a latex-like sap when cut, several studies have shown that the fruit is not poisonous to livestock, wildlife, or humans.  Horses will eat the fruit, but not as a preferred meal.  Cattle may eat Osage-oranges but have been known to choke on the large fruits.  Deer will nibble away at the outer flesh.  Squirrels will strip out the seeds, but they destroy the seeds as they consume the inner goodness.  There just isn’t anything alive that will snarf down the entire fruit in one gulp then redistribute the seed out of their other end.








There are also no animals that gobble down whole pawpaws (Asimina triloba), Kentucky coffeetree seed pods (Gymnocladus dioicus), honeylocust seed pods (Gleditsia triacanthos), and avocados (Persea americana).  Pawpaw and avocado flesh tastes wonderful, but we don’t eat the entire fruit in one gulp and we don’t eat the seeds.




Kentucky Coffeetree






Why do Osage-orange trees and wild honeylocusts produce such wicked thorns when there’s no animal large enough to threaten the entire tree?  Indeed, the honeylocust specific epithet, triacanthos, translates to “three-parted thorns.”






The big fruit and thorny defense puzzles can be solved if viewed in the proper context.  What we see now was shaped by animals that no longer exist; they are extinct.  Big fruits were for enticing big animals, megafauna.  Sharp spiky thorns were for keeping the big animals a branch length.




American mastodons (Mammut americanum), mammoths (Mammuthus spp.), American camels (Camelops hesternus), American rhinoceroses (Teleoceras spp.), gomphotheres (family Gomphotheriidae), and giant sloths (Megatherium spp.) once trampled the ground from the Pacific coast of Washington to the Atlantic coast of Florida.  These megafauna could take mega bites and large fruits rewarded both beasts and plants.  These big animals served as high-capacity moving vans for spreading seed; a dispersal mechanism known as endozoochory.


The megafauna left the North American scene relatively recently; somewhere between 13,000 and 9,000 years ago depending on the species and the location.  Indeed, our Neolithic ancestors witnessed the disappearances; perhaps they even had a hand in it.


The mega-extinction of megafauna was so recent that natural selection has not had time to reduce, modify, or erase many characteristics that once bestowed great coevolutionary rewards.  Consequently, many plants still live in the shadows of their extinct coevolutionary partners.


The trunks of honeylocusts are festooned with wickedly large thorns.  The spike-like thorns start a few feet above the ground and end at about the highest reach of a mischievous mastodon with the greatest concentration positioned for maximum protection.  Honeylocusts continue to adorn their trunks with huge thorns to defend against the phantom trunks of American mastodons.




Osage-orange trees, Kentucky coffeetrees, and avocado trees continue to produce large seed packages in the expectation that some large animal will reward their efforts by pooping out their offspring in far-off locations.  You can thank giant sloths for having to deal with the huge avocado pits the next time you make guacamole.




Several North American animals were also shaped by extinct coevolutionary partners.  No living North American predator can catch pronghorns (Antilocapra americana) as they sprint at more than 55 mph. However, their apparent waste of energy makes sense if you consider that they are still being chased by the ghosts of fleet-footed American cheetahs (Miracinonyx spp.).


Recommended Reading:  Connie Barlow, 2000:  The Ghosts of Evolution: Nonsensical Fruit, Missing Partners, and Other Ecological Anachronisms (Basic Books, New York. 291 pp. (ISBN-13: 978-0465005529; ISBN-10: 0465005527)).  Although the book was published over twenty years ago, it has aged gracefully.  Many of the concepts and much of the general information remain current.  It’s well worth a read.



Osage-Orange Misconception

There is no research evidence supporting the stubborn myth that Osage-orange fruit repels insects and spiders.  Researchers have found chemical compounds in the fruit that has some insect repellency properties; however, the natural concentrations of these compounds in the fruit are far too low to serve as an effective repellent.


On the other hand, as demonstrated below, throwing the fruit at insects and spiders can have an effect.





Jack Frost Will Bite Soon – Precautions for Feeding Frosted Forages

Author: Mark Sulc

One of these days soon we will have a frost. There is potential for some forage toxicities and other problems that can develop after a frost. Prussic acid poisoning and high nitrates are the main concern with a few specific annual forages and several weed species, but there is also an increased risk of bloat when grazing legumes after a frost.

Nitrate accumulation in frosted forages. Freezing damage slows down metabolism in all plants, and this might result in nitrate accumulation in plants that are still growing, especially grasses like oats and other small grains, millet, and sudangrass.  This build-up usually is not hazardous to grazing animals, but greenchop or hay cut right after a freeze can be more dangerous. When in doubt, send in a sample to a forage testing lab and request a nitrate before grazing or feeding the forage after a frost.

Prussic Acid Toxicity

Several forage and weed species contain compounds called cyanogenic glucosides that are converted quickly to prussic acid (i.e. hydrogen cyanide) in freeze-damaged plant tissues, or under drought conditions. Some labs provide prussic acid testing of forages. Sampling and shipping guidelines should be carefully followed because prussic acid is a gas and can dissipate during shipping leading to a false sense of security when no prussic acid is found in the sample.

Plant age affects toxicity. Young, rapidly growing plants of species that contain cyanogenic glucosides will have the highest levels of prussic acid. Pure stands of indiangrass can have lethal levels of cyanide if they are grazed when the plants are less than 8 inches tall.

Species with prussic acid poisoning potential. Forage species that can contain prussic acid are listed below in decreasing order of risk of toxicity:

  • Grain sorghum = high to very high toxic potential
  • Indiangrass = high toxic potential
  • Sorghum-sudangrass hybrids and forage sorghums = intermediate to high potential
  • Sudangrass hybrids = intermediate potential
  • Sudangrass varieties = low to intermediate in cyanide poisoning potential
  • Piper sudangrass = low prussic acid poisoning potential
  • Pearl millet and foxtail millet = rarely cause toxicity

Species not usually planted for agronomic use can also develop toxic levels of prussic acid, including the following:

  • Johnsongrass
  • Shattercane
  • Chokecherry
  • Black cherry
  • Elderberry

It is always a good idea to check areas where wild cherry trees grow after a storm and pick up and discard any fallen limbs to prevent animals from grazing on the leaves and twigs.

Frost affects toxicity. Cyanogenic glucosides are converted quickly to prussic acid (i.e. hydrogen cyanide) in freeze-damaged plant tissues. Prussic acid poisoning potential is most common after the first autumn frost. New growth from frosted plants is palatable but can be dangerously high in prussic acid.

Drought stress can affect prussic acid poisoning risk. Drought-stunted plants can contain or produce prussic acid and can possess toxic levels at maturity. Prussic acid poisoning can be associated with new regrowth following a drought-ending rain. Rain after drought plus young stages of plant maturity can combine to cause toxic levels of prussic acid in forage.

Fertility can affect poisoning risk. Plants growing under high nitrogen levels or in soils deficient in phosphorus or potassium will be more likely to have high prussic acid poisoning potential.

Fresh forage has more risk. After frost damage, cyanide levels will likely be higher in fresh forage as compared with silage or hay. This is because cyanide is a gas and dissipates as the forage is wilted and dried for making silage or dry hay.

Prussic Acid Toxicity Symptoms

Animals can die within minutes if they consume forage with high concentrations of prussic acid. Prussic acid interferes with oxygen transfer in the blood stream of the animal, causing it to die of asphyxiation. Before death, symptoms include excess salivation, difficult breathing, staggering, convulsions, and collapse.

Ruminants are more susceptible to prussic acid poisoning than horses or swine because cud chewing and rumen bacteria help release the cyanide from plant tissue.

Grazing Precautions Against Nitrate & Prussic Acid Poisoning

The following guidelines will help you avoid danger to your livestock this fall when feeding species with nitrates or prussic acid poisoning potential:

  • Do not graze on nights when frost is likely. High levels of toxic prussic acid are produced within hours after a frost, even if it was a light frost.
  • Do not graze after a killing frost until plants are dry, which usually takes 5 to 7 days.
  • After a non-killing frost, do not allow animals to graze for two weeks because the plants usually contain high concentrations of prussic acid.
  • New growth may appear at the base of the plant after a non-killing frost. If this occurs, wait for a killing freeze, then wait another 10 to 14 days before grazing the new growth.
  • Do not allow hungry or stressed animals to graze young growth of species with prussic acid potential. To reduce the risk, feed ground cereal grains to animals before turning them out to graze.
  • Use heavy stocking rates (4-6 head of cattle/acre) and rotational grazing to reduce the risk of animals selectively grazing leaves that can contain high levels of prussic acid.
  • Never graze immature growth or short regrowth following a harvest or grazing (at any time of the year). Graze or greenchop sudangrass only after it is 15 to 18 inches tall. Sorghum-sudangrass should be 24 to 30 inches tall before grazing.
  • Do not graze wilted plants or plants with young tillers.
  • Under drought conditions, allow animals to graze only the upper one-third to one-half of the plant or the leaves of coarse-stemmed forages if the nitrate levels in these plant parts is safe. Monitor animals closely and remove them quickly when the upper portion of plants is grazed off.
  • Generally, forage nitrate levels drop significantly 3 to 5 days after sufficient rainfall, but it is always safer to send in a sample for testing before grazing or feeding forage soon after drought stress periods.
  • Making hay does not reduce nitrate levels in the forage, but the hay can be tested and diluted sufficiently with other feeds to make it safe for animals.
  • Ensiling forage converts nitrates to volatile nitrous oxides, or “silo gases”. These gases are highly toxic to humans. Safety practices include removing tarps from a portion of the silo a day or two before removing the silage from the bunker.


Green-chopping will not reduce the level of nitrates and is not likely to greatly reduce the level of prussic acid present. However, green-chopping frost-damaged plants will lower the risk compared with grazing directly, because animals are less likely to selectively graze damaged tissue. Stems in the forage dilute the high prussic acid content that can occur in leaves. However, the forage can still be toxic, so feed greenchop with great caution after a frost. If feeding greenchopped forage of species containing cyanogenic glucosides, feed it within a few hours of greenchopping, and do not leave greenchopped forage in wagons or feedbunks overnight.

Hay and Silage

Prussic acid content in the plant decreases dramatically during the hay drying process and the forage should be safe once baled as dry hay. The forage can be mowed any time after a frost if you are making hay. It is rare for dry hay to contain toxic levels of prussic acid. However, if the hay was not properly cured and dried before baling, it should be tested for prussic acid content before feeding to livestock.

Forage with prussic acid potential that is stored as silage is generally safe to feed. To be extra cautious, wait 5 to 7 days after a frost before chopping for silage. If the plants appear to be drying down quickly after a killing frost, it is safe to ensile sooner.

Delay feeding silage for 8 weeks after ensiling. If the forage likely contained high levels of cyanide at the time of chopping, hazardous levels of cyanide might remain and the silage should be analyzed before feeding.

Species That Can Cause Bloat After Frost

Forage legumes such as alfalfa and clovers have an increased risk of bloat when grazed one or two days after a hard frost. The bloat risk is highest when grazing pure legume stands and least when grazing stands having mostly grass.

The safest management is to wait a few days after a killing frost before grazing pure legume stands – wait until the forage begins to dry from the frost damage. It is also a good idea to make sure animals have some dry hay before being introduced to lush fall pastures that contain significant amounts of legumes. You can also swath your legume-rich pasture ahead of grazing and let animals graze dry hay in the swath.  Bloat protectants like poloxalene can be fed as blocks or mixed with grain. While this an expensive supplement, it does work well when animals eat a uniform amount each day.

Frost and Equine Toxicity Problems
(source: Bruce Anderson, University of Nebraska)

Minnesota specialists report that fall pasture, especially frost damaged pasture, can have high concentrations of nonstructural carbohydrates, like sugars.  This can lead to various health problems for horses, such as founder and colic.  They recommend pulling horses off of pasture for about one week following the first killing frost.

High concentrations of nonstructural carbohydrates are most likely in leafy regrowth of cool-season grasses such as brome, timothy, and bluegrass but native warm-season grasses also may occasionally have similar risks.

Another unexpected risk can come from dead maple leaves that fall or are blown into horse pastures.  Red blood cells can be damaged in horses that eat 1.5 to 3 pounds of dried maple leaves per one thousand pounds of bodyweight.  This problem apparently does not occur with fresh green leaves or with any other animal type.  Fortunately, the toxicity does not appear to remain in the leaves the following spring.

2021 Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium Program and Registration Announced

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Noble County

2021 Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium Flyer

To register directly for the event, please visit:

2021 Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium QR registration code. Scan this code with your phone to register.

The Ohio State University and Ohio Sheep Improvement Association is pleased welcome all to the 2021 Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium in Wooster, Ohio on Friday, December 3 and Saturday, December 4 at the OARDC Shisler Conference Center. This year’s symposium theme is genetics and reproduction and will feature a wide variety of speakers and gathering opportunities. In addition, this years program will have two options for attendance as all are welcomed to join either in person or virtually. To secure your spot at this years event, please following the links in the flyer provided above or by scanning the QR code to the right.

On Friday, December 3 from 2-5 p.m. attendees will enjoy an afternoon of discussion on genetic appraisal, reproductive strategies, and record keeping from all aspects of the sheep industry. On Saturday, December 4 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. there will be a collection of sessions including the annual OSIA business meeting, educational presentations, and an awards ceremony. Throughout the day attendees will hear insights on recent changes in the sheep industry and discussion on strategic management of genetics and reproduction. As a whole, the symposium will be an opportunity for shepherds to engage with one another for the betterment their home flocks and the American sheep industry.

Special guests at the symposium will include Isabel and Etienne Richards, Leroy Kuhns, Mike Stitzlein, Dr. Brady Campbell, Nick Forest, Jim Percival, Don Hawk, Susan Shultz, Jacci Smith, and Dr. Eric Gordon.

The symposium will also offer special events for shepherds ages 18 to 40 at the Young Shepherd’s Assembly on Friday evening, December 3 from 5-8 p.m. Young adults are invited to stay for candid Q&A and one-on-one conversation with special guests Isabel and Etienne Richards, grass-based Kathadin producers from North Brookfield, New York, and with their peers. Pizza and drinks will follow at JAFB Wooster Brewery 120 Beall Ave, Wooster, OH 44691.

Shepherds ages 6 to 18 can be involved too through the youth program on Saturday, December 4 at the Shisler Conference Center. OSIA LEAD Council representative Russ Johnson will lead a free and fun program designed especially for youth. Plan to bring your youngest shepherds for this multi-faceted youth program, while you take in the symposium topics.

Shepherds of all ages, sectors, and regions are invited to attend the symposium to connect with other shepherds and to continue learning together. If you are unable to attend the symposium in-person, you won’t have to miss the event. The 2021 symposium will be held in a hybrid format including options for both in-person or online participation depending on your preference.

Mark your calendars for December 3-4, 2021. Proceed to register online, print a form, or view the full program schedule visit OSIA Programs at or the OSU Sheep Team Events/Programs page at Registrations are appreciated by Nov. 19, 2021.

2021 Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium Flyer

Maximizing Carcass Value Through Weaning Management and Stress Reduction

– Dr. Francis Fluharty, Professor and Head, Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences, College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences, University of Georgia

Presently more than 80% of U.S. cattle harvested are grading Prime and Choice.

Many all-natural programs, commercial feedlots, and cattle producers who retain ownership through the feedlot understand that weaning programs that boost the immunity of the calf by minimizing the stress of weaning are important, as weaning can have impacts on animal health, growth rate, feed efficiency, and marbling (Duffand Galyean, 2007). Cattle Fax reported at this summer’s NCBA convention in Nashville that in a recent survey nearly 30% of cow-calf producer respondents retained ownership through thefeedlot. For those producers, and anyone trying to manage calves for a premium, understanding the relationship that weaning stress and morbidity have on USDA QualityGrades is critical.

We need to understand that the days of 3% USDA Prime carcasses, and loads of 50% USDA Choice carcasses are gone. According to the . . .

Continue reading Maximizing Carcass Value Through Weaning Management and Stress Reduction

Does This Fall Market Offer Post-weaning Opportunities?

– Kenny Burdine, Livestock Marketing Specialist, University of Kentucky

Earlier Josh discussed the record beef export levels that were seen for August. International trade continues to be a bright spot for cattle markets and fed cattle prices have not yet pulled back, as they often do in the fall. Note the seasonal decrease that is usually seen from summer to fall in the red line on the chart below as compared to blue line for 2021. However, calf markets have not managed to avoid their seasonal decreases, as can be seen in the KY price chart below for 550 lb steer calves. Fundamentals continue to look encouraging for improved calf markets next year, but we are seeing calf prices decline seasonally.


Calf prices make their lows in fall / early winter for several reasons. First, calf runs pick up as most spring calvers are selling weaned calves during this time. The timing on this is often weather driven, but usually happens in October / November. Secondly, changing weather patterns can create health challenges for calves, which tends to lower their market value. Based on local conversations, I do think this is an issue this year as well. Third, calf values become more impacted by feed-based programs once we move past the traditional grazing season. While wheat grazing operations are active placing calves in the fall / winter and some operations may have stockpiled pasture to start calves on, a large number of calves that move through markets in the fall are placed directly on feed. While this is very common, significantly higher feed prices this year are leading to a stronger preference for heavier feeders.

While declining calf prices in the fall is very typical, I do want to point out something unique about market conditions right now. Calves that move through markets in the fall, and go into growing operations, are driven by the cost of growing those calves through winter and their expected value in the spring. There is no question that the cost of growing calves on purchased feeds will be higher this winter, but the expected value of heavy feeders is also expected to be very strong come spring. As I write this on October 18, 2021, spring CME© feeder cattle futures are trading in the low $160’s. Basis can be very different across the south, but I would encourage everyone to consider what a spring CME© futures price in the $160’s suggests about the likely price of an 800 lb steer in their region for spring 2022. A quick glance at the chart below reveals that 550 lb steer calves have dropped below $150 per cwt in several southeastern states over the last few weeks. Using typical spring basis expectations, the market is currently suggesting that 800 lb steers in the spring may sell at a very similar price per cwt to a weaned steer this fall. This suggests very high value of gain on lbs that are added to calves this winter.

From my perspective, this has implications for cow-calf operators and winter backgrounders. First, if cow-calf operators have the ability to wean calves on the farm and retain ownership of them for a period of time, this may be a good year to consider doing that. A lot of the southeast has been blessed with adequate rainfall and many areas have stockpiled forage available to add some inexpensive post-weaning gains to calves. However, there is potential that feeding programs may also look attractive this winter due to expected higher value of gain. Operators want to avoid feed price “sticker shock” and not make their decisions based on feed prices alone. While feed prices are high, and winter cost of gain will be higher than we have seen for a long time, this must be compared to the expected value of gain on those lbs that could be added. This can only be done by running a detailed budget. Markets generally evolve with changes in cost of gain and we are seeing that occur this year. Spring CME© feeder cattle futures are suggesting a strong spring feeder market, and I think potential exists for good returns to growing programs this winter, despite current feed prices.

Grow Your Own Fresh Veggies Over Winter

By Tim McDermott

I like to say that Ohio is a four season growing environment.  I grow and harvest every month of the year including January and February.  I recently did a class on Growing Over Winter and many asked if I had a recording of that to view.  You are in luck.  Check out the Growing Over Winter webinar below.

There is still plenty of time to get seeds in the ground so that you can enjoy some fresh veggies all year long.

New laws and new resources on wind and solar facility siting in Ohio

By: Peggy Kirk Hall, Wednesday, October 13th, 2021

Large-scale wind and solar energy development has generated both opportunity and conflict across Ohio in recent years.  For several months, we monitored the progress of Senate Bill 52, a proposal intended to address community and landowner concerns about wind and solar facilities.  This past Monday marked the effective date for Senate Bill 52, passed by the Ohio Legislature in June, and we’ve been busy developing new resources to help explain the laws that are now effective.

The legislation expands local involvement in the siting and approval of large-scale wind and solar facilities in several ways:

  • County commissioners may designate “restricted areas” where such facilities may not locate.
  • County citizens may petition for a referendum to approve or reject restricted area designations.
  • Developers must hold a public meeting overviewing a proposed facility in the county where it would locate.
  • County commissioners may prohibit or limit a proposed wind or solar facility after learning of it at the public meeting.
  • County and township representatives must sit on the Ohio Power Siting Board committee that reviews facility applications.

The new laws also require wind and solar developers to submit decommissioning plans and performance bonds to address removal of a facility at the end of its lifetime.

Our two law bulletins and video series on Senate Bill 52 are now available.  The resources work through each part of Senate Bill 52 and explain which types of facilities will be subject to the laws.  You’ll find the new resources in our energy law library on the Farm Office website at

Be Prepared for Combine Fires during Harvest Season

Author: Dee Jepsen

The combination of high temperatures and dry conditions are the perfect conditions for field fires and combine fires during harvest.Combine fire. Photo Credit: Flickr

Photo Credit: Flickr

Dry grasses, crop residues, and woodland debris along many of our farm fields provide fuel for field fires. Likewise, leaked fuel, cracked hydraulic hoses, heated bearings, overheated belts and chains can provide the ignition for equipment fires.

The combine is a critical piece of equipment for fall harvest. Here are several precautions for protecting combines from fire this season.

Prevent Combine Fires from Starting
Work crews should take extra precautions to prevent fires from starting.

  • Park a hot combine away from out-buildings. Keeping a combine out of barns, sheds, and away from other flammables is a common prevention strategy in case a hot spot ignites. Insurance claims can double when equipment fires are responsible for loss of farm structures.
  • Regular maintenance is priority. Check the machine daily for any overheated bearings or damage in the exhaust system. Keep the fittings greased. Maintain proper coolant and oil levels. Repair fuel or oil hoses, including fittings and metal lines, if they appear to leak.
  • Keep dried plant material from accumulating on the equipment. Frequently blow dry chaff, leaves and other crop materials that have accumulated on the equipment with a portable leaf blower or air compressor. Be sure to inspect the engine compartment and other areas where chaff accumulates around bearings, belts and other moving parts.
  • Maintain the electrical system. Pay attention to machine components that draw a heavy electrical load, such as starter motors and heating/cooling systems. Monitor circuits for any overloading, especially if fuses blow regularly. Keep wiring in good condition and replace frayed wiring or worn out connectors.
  • Refuel a cool engine whenever possible. Never refuel a combine with the engine running. It is recommended to turn off the engine and wait 15 minutes; this helps to reduce the risk of a spill volatilizing and igniting.
  • Prevent static electricity while operating in a dry field. Use a ground chain attached to the combine frame to prevent static charges from igniting dry chaff and harvest residue, letting the chain drag on the ground while in the field.

Protection Strategies for Combatting Fires
Have equipment ready to fight field and combine fires.

  • Have 2 fully charged fire extinguishers on the combine.  ABC fire extinguishers are recommended on farm machinery. In a combine, keep a 10-pound unit in the cab and a 20-pound unit mounted at ground level.
  • Have 1 fully charged fire extinguisher in the tractor, grain cart, and pickup truck. ABC fire extinguishers are recommended on farm machinery. These extinguishers are good for fires at incipient phases – meaning at the first sign of smoke or a small flame.
  • Have a portable water tank and shovel on standby. A water tank at the edge of the field can help extinguish field fires. A shovel can be used to throw dirt over burning field residue. However, stay back if the fire takes off.

What to Do When a Fire Appears
When a fire appears, it is important to put worker protection before saving equipment.

  • Turn off the engine. If in the combine cab, turn off the engine and exit the machine.
  • Call 911 before trying to extinguish the fire yourself. In many situations, first responders cannot arrive on the scene fast enough to extinguish a fire. Calling 911 puts professionals in action sooner than later.
  • Use a fire extinguisher. If the fire is in the cab, stand on the exterior platform and use the 10-pound fire extinguisher from the outside of the cab. If the fire is inside the equipment, use caution when opening the engine compartment or other hatches as small fires can flare with extra air. Stay a safe distance away from the fire as you use the 20-pound extinguisher.
  • Use water and a shovel on small field debris fires. These items can stop field fires from spreading.
  • Have an emergency plan in place and be sure all employees know the plan. Combine fires happen fast – be sure to talk to employees (the hired and the “helper crews”) to know what to do if smoke or fire appears. The safety of the people always comes before the saving of equipment.

New bulletin explains Ohio’s sales tax exemptions for agriculture

By:Peggy Kirk Hall, Associate Professor, Agricultural & Resource Law Tuesday, October 05th, 2021
Ohio sales tax exemption form

If you’ve ever claimed a sales tax exemption on a purchase of farm goods, you may have experienced some confusion over whether you or the good is eligible for the exemption.  That’s because Ohio’s sales tax law is a bit tedious and complicated.  The law has several agricultural exemptions, but it can be challenging to understand who can claim them and what types of goods and services are exempt.  Those are the reasons for our newest law bulletin, Ohio’s Agricultural Sales Tax Exemption Laws.  We walk through the different sales tax exemptions that apply to agriculture, offer examples of goods that do and do not qualify for the exemptions, explain who can claim an exemption and how to claim it, and explain what happens when sales taxes are overpaid or not correctly paid.   We also offer steps a farmer can take to obtain the full benefits of Ohio’s agricultural sales tax exemptions.  The bulletin is available in our law library and through this link.