News: Rain and Frost Leave Farmers Pondering Replanting, Alayna DeMartini

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Heavy rain saturated swaths of farmland across the state in recent weeks, compelling significant numbers of farmers to reorder seeds or take measures to help their newly planted corn or soybeans prosper.

Even many farmers who didn’t watch their seeds wash away in rivers of rain are still forced to consider: Should I replant?

Warm, dry weather in early April encouraged some farmers to plant early, but then the rain struck and stayed. And frost on May 7 and May 8 in many parts of the state only added to the problem.

Farm fields in the west-central counties near the Indiana border were drenched, the hardest-hit area in the state. In that region, which includes Darke, Auglaize, Mercer, Shelby and Miami counties, the amount of rain was three times more than usual, said Aaron Wilson, climate specialist for Ohio State University Extension, the outreach arm of The Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

Between May 5 and May 6, rain totaled three to four inches in that region. Since the beginning of May, five to six inches have fallen there — about an inch higher than the typical total rainfall for that area for the entire month of May, Wilson said.

“It was like every field had a river running through it,” said Sam Custer, describing field conditions on May 5 in Darke County. “Everywhere was full of water.”

With the water, some newly planted seeds washed away, as did soil and nutrients, leaving farmers fretting, said Custer, an OSU Extension educator in the county.

Darke County has the highest number of corn and soybean acres in the state, and by April 28, nearly all the corn and almost half the soybean acres in the county had been planted, Custer said.

Be patient, he tells farmers.

“If we can get the crops replanted that need to be and just watch the crops come out of this wet and cold, the farmers will be alright, and they’ll see the possibility of a very good crop,” Custer said.

Cold Temperatures Compound the Problem

Cooler than normal temperatures and frost may have also slowed or stopped some wheat plants’ growth, particularly in areas where wheat is at the flowering stage, said Laura Lindsey, an OSU Extension soybean and small grains specialist. At that stage, the wheat is most vulnerable to below-freezing temperatures.

Colder weather can shut down a plant’s metabolism. Combine that with the rain, and plants become more susceptible to fungus and disease.

Weather challenges have come at a bad time for farmers statewide.

Across Ohio, as of May 7, 46 percent of corn was planted, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, an office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That compares to 30 percent that had been planted by the same time last year and 38 percent, the five-year average for that time period.

Soybean planting is ahead of last year’s planting. Sixteen percent of soybeans had been planted as of May 7, the agency said. That compares to 8 percent that had been planted by the same time last year and 14 percent, the five-year average for that period.

“Growers are concerned that there may be need for significant replanting of corn fields due to the cold and wet conditions,” Cheryl Turner, Ohio state statistician with the agency, said in a written statement.

The Rain Isn’t Over

More rain is on the way in the west-central region of the state, an expected one-half inch to one and one-half inches before the end of the week, Wilson said. But then there’s a reprieve: After this week, the forecast is for warmer, dryer weather.

“It is not that unusual to see heavy rainfall during the spring,” he said. “But, certainly the timing of this deluge is unfortunate, and the impacts may not be fully understood until the end of the growing season.”

Soil flooded more than 48 hours becomes depleted of oxygen. And without oxygen, a plant cannot take up nutrients from the soil or extend its roots.

“You may not have flooding on your field, but if you have saturated soils, it can be just as bad as having flooding,” said Peter Thomison, an OSU Extension agronomist.

Had the weather been above 77 degrees, the flooding would have had an even harsher effect, killing off plants in about 24 hours. So the cooler than normal weather has prolonged the survival of some flooded plants, Thomison said.

Once the growing point of the corn plant extends over the water level, the chance of the plant’s survival is significantly higher.

Still, plants that survive flooding are more likely to have roots that don’t develop fully, leaving the plants subject to more injury during a dry summer when long roots are needed to access the water lower down in the soil, he said.

Extra Care Needed for Soggy Soils

Even if water drains quickly from fields, muddy soil, when it dries, can form a crusty surface that could delay the emergence of the plant, Thomison pointed out. Farmers facing this situation may have to rotary hoe to break up the crusty soil.

Farmers should watch for seedling diseases as well.

The color of an emerging corn plant should be white or off-white; a darker color could signal the plant’s death, Thomison said.

The farmers who waited to plant corn can high-five their friends who did the same. The optimal time to plant corn is between April 10 and May 10, but sometimes farmers plant in late May because the weather deters them from planting sooner.

Planting later in the season comes with some challenges including a shorter growing season and a higher risk of disease and plants succumbing to insects.

“The goal should be to plant under as favorable conditions as possible,” Thomison said, “but that may be difficult this year.”


April will end warmer and wetter than normal. A series of storms will impact Ohio and surrounding areas later this week into next week. This will mean wetter than normal conditions into the first week of May. Temperatures will remain above normal as well. Rainfall on the attached graphic shows the heaviest will fall in central sections of the corn and soybean belt. Rainfall in Ohio will range from 2-4 inches for the next 2 weeks with heaviest totals in western areas of Ohio. Normal is about 2 inches.

The first week of May will be mild with wetter than normal weather. The middle of May will dry out and cool down before a warm finish to the month.

The outlook for summer still looks warmer than normal with rainfall highly variable with a tendency toward drier.

WHEAT GROWTH STAGES AND ASSOCIATED MANAGEMENT: FEEKES 7, 8, AND 9 Author(s): Laura Lindsey, Pierce Paul, Ed Lentz

This stage is characterized by the rapid expansion of the head and the presence of two nodes. One node should be between 1.5 to 3 inches from the base of the stem and the other should be about 4 to 6 inches above the base of the stem. These nodes are usually seen as clearly swollen areas of a distinctly different (darker) shade of green than the rest of the stem. Note: the upper node may be hidden by the leaf sheath – you may have to run your fingers along the stem feel it: if only one node is present, then your wheat is still at Feekes growth stage 6. Wheat will still respond to N applied at this time if weather has prevented an earlier application; however, mechanical damage may occur from applicator equipment. Feekes 7 and 8 identification video:

Feekes 8.0: Flag Leaf Visible, but Still Rolled Up

This growth stage begins when the last leaf (flag leaf) begins to emerge from the whorl. This stage is particularly significant because the flag leaf makes up approximately 75 percent of the effective leaf area photosynthesis that contributes to grain fill. It is therefore important to protect and maintain this leaf heathy (free of disease and insect damage) before and during grain development. When the flag leaf emerges, three nodes are visible above the soil surface. To confirm that the leaf emerging is the flag leaf, split the leaf sheath above the highest node. If the head and no additional leaves are found inside, Stage 8.0 is confirmed, and the grower should decide whether or not to use foliar fungicides to manage foliar fungal diseases. This decision should be based upon the following considerations:

  1. Is a fungal disease present in the field?
  2. Is the variety susceptible or are weather conditions favorable (wet and humid) for rapid spread and development of the disease(s) found in the field?
  3. Does the crop yield potential warrant the cost of application of the fungicide in question to protect it?
  4. Is the crop under stress?

If a positive answer applies to the first three questions, and a negative response to the last, plans should be made to protect the crop from further damage. Check product labels and apply as soon as possible. In most situations, the greatest return to applied foliar fungicides comes from application at Feekes Stages 8-10. Nitrogen applications at or after Feekes 8.0 should only be applied if earlier applications were not made or if N losses may be large from excessive wet conditions. Late N applications may increase protein content but this is not important for yield or milling traits of soft wheats.  Moreover, additional N may increase the severity of some foliar diseases, particularly the rusts, and damage from ground application equipment may lower yields.

Feekes 9.0: Ligule of Flag Leaf Visible

Stage 9.0 begins when the flag leaf is fully emerged, determined by a visible ligule. At this time, there will be four visible leaves along the stem including the flag leaf and the lower leaves are referred to in relation to the flag leaf (i.e., the first leaf below the flag leaf is the F-1, the second leaf below is the F-2, and so forth). After flag leaf emergence, yields may be reduced if heavy army worm infestations remove the upper leaves during early grain fill. Feekes 9 and 10 identification video:


Planting depth recommendations for Ohio are 1.5 to 2 inches deep to ensure adequate moisture uptake and seed-soil contact. Deeper planting may be recommended as the season progresses and soils become warmer and drier, however planting shallower than 1.5 inches is generally not recommended at any planting date or in any soil type. When corn is planted 1.5 to 2 inches deep, the nodal roots will develop about 0.75 inches below the soil surface. However, at planting depths less than 1 inch, the nodal roots develop at or just below the soil surface. Excessively shallow planting can cause slow, uneven emergence due to soil moisture variation, and rootless corn (“floppy corn syndrome”) later in the season when hot, dry weather inhibits nodal root development (Nielsen, 2010). According to some field agronomists, shallow plantings increase stress and result in less developed roots, smaller stalk diameters, smaller ears and reduced yields. In a recent OSU evaluation of planting depths, grain yields were about 14% greater for the 1.5-inch and 3-inch planting depths than the 0.5-inch planting depth in 2011, and 40% greater in 2012. The lower yields of the shallow planting were associated with a reduced final stands and 6 to 7 times as many “runt” plants as the other two planting depths.

In a 2013-2014 Cornell University study comparing planting depth across a range of soil types and plant populations, Cox and Cherney (2015) concluded that optimum seeding depth differed across sites and at times across years within sites. Additionally, the risks of reduced population or grain yield were generally greater at the shallow seeding depth compared with the deeper depth (2.5 inches). Research at Kansas State University (Roozeboom, 2012) that evaluated six planting depths ranging from 1 to 3.5 in. supported planting depth recommendations of 1.5 to 2.5 inches depending on soil conditions

Despite potential risks, many growers continue to plant at depths less than 1.5 inches. There is a perception that seed planted shallower than 1.5 in. will emerge more rapidly due to warmer soil temperatures closer to the surface. This is an important consideration as corn growers across the Corn Belt are planting earlier (Kucharik, 2006) so they can complete planting before yield potential begins to decrease after the first week of May. Particularly in soils that crust, speed of emergence is critical in order to establish plant stands before heavy rainfalls “seal” the soil surface.

Recent work by Deere & Company and the University of Illinois (Armstrong et al., 2016) suggests variable seeding depth planting within fields may improve corn yield especially when soil moisture conditions become less ideal (drier or wetter). Research is underway to improve our understanding of corn response to planting depth across different soil types and conditions. Results of this work may enable more effective use of planting technologies that allow variable planting depths during the planting operation.

Literature Cited:

Armstrong, K.L., E.G. Coronel, S.G. Gray, T. G. Mueller, L. L. Hendrickson, and G. A. Bollero. 2016.

Evaluating equipment performance at the row and plant levels. International Annual Meeting. ASA-CSSA-SSSA. Madison, WI.

Cox, W.J. and J.H. Cherney. 2015. Field-scale studies show site-specific corn population and yield responses to seeding depths. Agron. J. 107: 2475-2481.

Kucharik, C.K. 2006. A multidecadal trend of earlier corn planting in the central USA. Agron. J. 98:1544–1550.

Nielsen, R.L.  2010. “Rootless” or “floppy” corn syndrome. Corny News Network, Purdue Extension. [On-line] at URL: (verified 4/24/17)

Roozeboom, Kraig. 2012. Seeding depth of corn. K-state extension. Agronomy e-update. No.333. Jan. 20, 2012.

Pests, Weeds and Crop Diseases Arriving Early, Alayna DeMartini –

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A warmer than usual winter and wet spring are ushering in some crop diseases and weeds early in the season and could trigger a pestier summer.

Ohio State University entomologists are keeping a close eye on insect species that survived the winter and may appear earlier and more abundantly. Particularly concerning are the pests that preyed on last year’s crops, including slugs, stink bugs and bean leaf beetles on soybeans, cereal leaf beetles on small grains, and Asiatic garden beetles and western bean cutworms on corn.

“We emphasize the importance of scouting for farmers so they know what’s in their field at any given time and they know what levels,” said Kelley Tilmon, a field crop entomologist with Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Armyworms that migrate from southern states where they spend winter, may be more prevalent this year because they left their homes earlier to head north, Tilmon said. After migrating and finding homes, the moths begin to lay eggs in grasses, including wheat fields and cover crop fields.

While most farmers are focused on sowing corn and soybeans in the next few weeks, the alfalfa weevil larvae should not be ignored. The pest devours leaves, causing major alfalfa damage in its larval stages.

“With any of these pests, they’re sporadic. But when you’ve got them in sufficient number, you’ve got to deal with them,” Tilmon said.

The cool, wet and humid spring has created perfect conditions for some early season wheat diseases: Septoria tritici blotch and powdery mildew. Symptoms of Septoria tritici first appear on lower leaves as irregularly shaped spots with a tan center and yellowish margin. Under favorable conditions, lesions spread up the plant.

Powdery mildew develops as white, powdery spots, starting on the surface of lower leaves and stems. Besides clinging to wheat, powdery mildew can seize on cucumbers, squash and pumpkins.

As growers scout for insects and signs of diseases, they may also notice more weeds. Purple deadnettle is casting a colorful hue across fields statewide, and giant ragweed and marestail are greening up and spreading much earlier than usual, said Mark Loux, an Ohio State University Extension weed specialist. OSU Extension is CFAES’s outreach arm.

The additional and early appearance of some weeds will mean farmers will have to stay aggressive with their herbicide treatments, Loux said.

“We’re having one of those years where they’re greener and bigger and there are more. They basically had a head start coming into spring.”

CLEARING THE FENCE ROW AND TRIMMING BACK OVERHANGING BRANCHES Peggy Kirk Hall, Asst. Professor, Agricultural & Resource Law Written by: Chris Hogan, Law Fellow, OSU Agricultural & Resource Law Program

Farmers are gearing up for spring and preparing to plant crops and graze livestock. Part of spring-cleaning may involve clearing partition fence rows at the edge of fields and trimming back overhanging branches above the fence. Overgrown tree branches can affect crops and pose a hazard to agricultural equipment. Removing trees that obstruct the fence row, noxious weeds tangled in the fence, and other unwanted vegetation is a serious matter for Ohio farmers. Ohio law provides for ways to clear a partition fence shared between two neighboring properties. Ohio law also cautions against damaging trees when trimming overhanging branches.

Clearing the fence row

This section only applies to the removal of vegetation in the fence row. Clearing overhanging trees above the fence is a separate matter discussed further below.

A partition fence is a fence that follows the division line between adjoining properties of two owners. The term “fence row” refers to the strip of land that is on either side of the fence. In order to keep a fence in good condition, owners should occasionally clear the fence row of obstructions caused by vegetation. Clearing a fence row keeps noxious weeds, brush, briers, and other vegetation from spreading onto a neighbor’s property. Ohio law provides several methods for a landowner to clear the fence row legally.

The easiest way to clear the fence row is to ask a neighbor to clear his or her side of the partition fence. Ohio law creates a duty for owners on either side of a partition fence to clear brush, briers, thistles and other noxious weeds in a strip four feet wide along the line of the fence, after a landowner gives notice to a neighbor asking them to do so. It is best to be polite, patient, and clear when speaking with a neighbor about when you would each like to clear the fence row. A landowner and a neighboring owner should try to establish a timeline to clear each side of the fence row.

What if a landowner asks a neighbor to clear the fence row on their side of a partition fence and they refuse? Once a landowner asks a neighbor to clear a fence row, that neighbor has ten days to do so. If a neighbor does not clear it within ten days, the landowner can ask the local board of township trustees to arrange for the fence row to be cleared.

After a landowner notifies the trustees that a neighbor refused to clear the fence row within ten days, the township trustees must view the property to determine if there is just cause for the complaint. Next, if there is a cause for the complaint, the trustees will enter into a contract with a third party to clear the fence row and certify the associated costs to the county auditor. The county auditor will bill the neighboring landowner for the work to clear the fence row. The auditor will assess these costs against the neighboring landowner by adding these costs to his or her property tax bill.

Trimming back overhanging branches

Landowners have the right to trim vertically and remove overhanging obstructions from above their side of the fence. Ohio courts recognize this privilege to remove obstructions, but not without limitations. Ohio courts do not permit landowners to cause harm to the other side of the property line. A landowner should be careful not to damage the neighbor’s trees or trespass on to the neighbor’s property when trimming overhanging branches. Landowners may be liable to a neighbor if they recklessly damage a neighbor’s tree when removing overhanging branches.

Landowners should review their rights and responsibilities to maintain fences prior to clearing the fence row this spring. For more information on line fence law, visit the Ag Law Library here.

Farm bankruptcies could rise – — Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Declining farm income and farmland values likely will lead to an increase in the number of farmers who are delinquent on their loans and eventually a rise in farm bankruptcies, predicted a pair of Ohio State University agricultural economists.

While the current farm bankruptcy rate is low, two per 10,000 farms nationally, that rate has gone up slightly in recent years and likely will continue to do so, said Ani Katchova and Robert Dinterman, both from the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Bankruptcy rates seem to be a lagging indicator of financial stress after debt levels rise and delinquencies on agricultural loans increase, Katchova, Ohio State’s Farm Income Enhancement Chair, pointed out.

“Currently, only a limited number of farmers are experiencing financial distress, but if we see another two to three years of flat or declining income levels, it will be much harder for farmers to service debts. It puts them in a more vulnerable position,” Katchova said. “Farm bankruptcy rates will probably continue to go up in 2017 and beyond if current conditions continue.”

One indicator of financial stress on farmers is the national increase in debt-to-asset ratio, which is projected to be 14 percent this year, a rate that has steadily risen since 2012.

Also, net farm income is expected to decline this year by 8.7 percent to $62.3 billion, the fourth consecutive year of declines after reaching a record high in 2013, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service.

Farmers financial wellbeing is also strongly tied to the value of agricultural land, Dinterman pointed out. For the past three decades, agricultural land values have been increasing, with the exception of 2009 and 2016, when there were declines, he said.

“When land values rise and then suddenly fall, that seems to trigger bankruptcies across the U.S,” Dinterman said.

Offsetting the current financial stress on farmers are low interest rates and farmers’ solid financial standing.

“A lot of farmers are in strong equity positions right now. They have been in a position where they could ride it out a few years, but how many more years can they sustain with farm incomes that seem to be stabilizing into low levels?” Katchova asked.

Farmers in financial trouble have a variety of options to pursue through bankruptcy chapters including Chapter 12, which was specifically designed for farmers and fishermen to reduce their financial burden while continuing operations.

Key highlights from Dinterman and Katchova’s research include:

  • While there is a considerable variation across the U.S., farm bankruptcy rates remain low and stable for several Midwest states.
  • Farm bankruptcy rates (Chapter 12 filings) have remained relatively low during the last decade, compared to the rates in the 1980s.
  • The agricultural downturn during the last three years has resulted in a small uptick in farm bankruptcy rates, much of this driven by a slow-down in farmland values.

Katchova presented the farm bankruptcies research at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago Ag Conference on Nov. 29, 2016, and at the USDA’s Agricultural Outlook Forum on Feb. 23.

View Katchova and Dinterman’s USDA Ag Outlook Forum presentation and read their April 2017 Farm Bankruptcies Policy Brief. Learn more about research conducted by Ohio State’s Farm Income Enhancement Program by visiting

– See more at:

Warm weather hurt Ohio honeybees

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Unseasonably warm weather last fall and winter has created confusion for honeybees and has added to a list of problems they face as researchers investigate how to help them survive and continue their vital role in pollinating crops.

Bees huddle for warmth and rely on whatever honey is stored in hives when temperatures fall below 40 degrees. February brought high-than-normal temperatures to central Ohio that lured bees from their hives with nothing to eat. When wintry weather returns, like it did in March, bees are in danger of freezing to death. The Ohio Department of Agriculture says the state’s bee colonies have faced this issue the past three years. Ohio farmers rely on bees to pollinate 70 different crops.

House Agriculture Committee Reviews the Farm Credit System

Today the House Agriculture Committee held a hearing to review the Farm Credit System (FCS). Members of the committee heard from representatives of the Farm Credit Administration as well as representatives from institutions that provide credit. The hearing highlighted the century-long mission of FCS to provide credit to rural communities in both good times and bad, and it reviewed the overall health of the system.

Congress established the FCS in the Federal Farm Loan Act of 1916 at a time when credit was largely unavailable or unaffordable in rural areas, and lenders avoided agricultural loans due to their associated risks. The FCS was created to provide a permanent, reliable source of credit to American agriculture.

“Modern agriculture is far more complex than it was 100 years ago. With advances in agricultural technology, increasing global competition, rising input costs, and greater regulatory burdens, U.S. producers require more capital to keep their businesses afloat. That’s why it is so essential that farmers and ranchers across the country have access to reliable sources of credit. FCS has long played a crucial role in meeting that need, and I am confident that it will continue to do so for years to come,” said Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway.

Written testimony provided by the witnesses from today’s hearing is linked below. Click here for more information, including Chairman Conaway’s opening statement  and the archived webcast.

Witness List:
Mr. Dallas P. Tonsager, Chairman and CEO, Farm Credit Administration, McLean, VA

Mr. Jeffery S. Hall, Member of the Board, Farm Credit Administration, McLean, VA

Mr. James Dodson, Chairman, Farm Credit Bank of Texas Board of Directors, Robstown, TX

Mr. Doug Stark, President and Chief Executive Officer, Farm Credit Services of-America, Omaha, NE

Mr. Tom Halverson, Chief Executive Officer, CoBank, Denver, CO

Ohio Legislature is Set to Reconsider CAUV Bill: Chris Hogan, Law Fellow, OSU Agricultural & Resource Law Program

The Ohio Legislature is once again considering a bill regarding Ohio’s current agricultural use valuation (CAUV) program. CAUV permits land to be valued at its agricultural value rather than the land’s market or “highest and best use” value. Senator Cliff Hite (R-Findlay) introduced SB 36 on February 7, 2017. The bill would alter the capitalization rate used to calculate agricultural land value and the valuation of land used for conservation practices or programs. The bill has yet to be assigned to a committee.

The content of SB 36 closely mirrors the language of a bill meant to address CAUV from the last legislative session: SB 246. Introduced during the 131st General Assembly, SB 246 failed to pass into law. SB 246 proposed alterations to the CAUV formula which are identical to those proposed by the current bill: SB 36. According to the Ohio Legislative Service Commission’s report on SB 246, the bill would have proposed changes that would have led to a “downward effect on the taxable value of CAUV farmland.” The likely effect for Ohio farmers enrolled in CAUV would have been a lower tax bill.

Due to the similarity between the two bills, the potential impacts of SB 36 on the CAUV program will likely be comparable to those of the previous bill. The proposed adjustment of the capitalization rate is likely to reduce the tax bill for farmers enrolled in CAUV. More specifically, the bill proposes several changes to the CAUV formula:

  • States additional factors to include in the rules that prescribe CAUV calculation methods. Currently, the rules must consider the productivity of the soil under normal management practices, the average price patterns of the crops and products produced to determine the income potential to be capitalized and the market value of the land for agricultural use. The proposed legislation adds two new factors: typical cropping and land use patterns and typical production costs.
  • Clarifies that when determining the capitalization rate used in the CAUV formula, the tax commissioner cannot use a method that includes the buildup of equity or appreciation.
  • Requires the tax commissioner to add a tax additur to the overall capitalization rate, and that the sum of the capitalization rate and tax additur “shall represent as nearly as possible the rate of return a prudent investor would expect from an average or typical farm in this state considering only agricultural factors.”
  • Requires the commissioner to annually determine the overall capitalization rate, tax additur, agricultural land capitalization rate and the individual components used in computing those amounts and to publish the amounts with the annual publication of the per-acre agricultural use values for each soil type.

To remove disincentives for landowners who engage in conservation practices yet pay CAUV taxes at the same rate as if the land was in production, the proposed legislation:

  • Requires that the land in conservation practices or devoted to a land retirement or conservation program as of the first day of a tax year be valued at the lowest valued of all soil types listed in the tax commissioner’s annual publication of per-acre agricultural use values for each soil type in the state.
  • Provides for recalculation of the CAUV rate if the land ceases to be used for conservation within three years of its original certification for the reduced rate, and requires the auditor to levy a charge for the difference on the landowner who ceased the conservation practice or participation in the conservation program.

To read SB 36, visit this page. For more information on previous CAUV bills, see our previous blog post.