WHEAT MANAGEMENT FOR FALL 2017 Author(s): Laura Lindsey, Pierce Paul, Ed Lentz, CCA

Wheat helps reduce problems associated with the continuous planting of soybean and corn and provides an ideal time to apply fertilizer in July/August after harvest. With soybean harvest around the corner, we would like to remind farmers of a few management decisions that are important for a successful crop.

1.) Optimum seeding rates are between 1.2 and 1.6 million seeds per acre. For drills with 7.5-inch row spacing this is about 18 to 24 seeds per foot of row with normal sized seed. When wheat is planted on time, actual seeding rate has little effect on yield, but high seeding rates (above 30 seeds per foot of row) increase lodging and the risk of severe powdery mildew development next spring.

2.) Select high-yielding varieties with high test weight, good straw strength, and adequate disease resistance. Do not jeopardize your investment by planting anything but the best yielding varieties that also have resistance to the important diseases in your area. Depending on your area of the state, you may need good resistance to powdery mildew, Stagonospora leaf blotch, and/or leaf rust. Avoid varieties with susceptibility to Fusarium head scab. Plant seed that has been properly cleaned to remove shriveled kernels and treated with a fungicide seed treatment to control seed-borne diseases. The 2017 Ohio Wheat Performance Test results can be found at: http://oardc.osu.edu/wheattrials/

3.) Plant after the Hessian Fly Safe Date for your county. This date varies between September 22 for northern counties and October 5 for southern-most counties. Planting before the Fly Safe Date, increases the risk of insect and diseases problems including Hessian Fly and aphids carrying Barley Yellow Dwarf Virus. The best time to plant is within 10 days after the Fly Safe Date (click here for fly safe map). Fall wheat growth is reduced when planting is delayed resulting in reduced winter hardiness.

4.) Planting depth is critical for tiller development and winter survival. Plant seed 1.5 inches deep and make sure planting depth is uniform across the field. No-till wheat into soybean stubble is ideal, but make sure the soybean residue is uniformly spread over the surface of the ground. Shallow planting is the main cause of low tiller numbers and poor over-winter survival due to heaving and freezing injury. Remember, you cannot compensate for a poor planting job by planting more seeds; it just costs more money.

5.) Apply 20 to 30 lb of actual nitrogen per acre at planting to promote fall tiller development. A soil test should be completed to determine phosphorus and potassium needs. Wheat requires more phosphorus than corn or soybean, and soil test levels should be maintained between 25-40 ppm for optimum production. If the soil test indicates less than 25 ppm, then apply 80 to 100 pounds of P2O5 at planting, depending on yield potential. Do not add any phosphorus if soil test levels are higher than 50 ppm. Soil potassium should be maintained at levels of 100, 120, and 140 ppm for soils with cation exchange capacities of 10, 20, or 30 meq, respectively. If potassium levels are low, apply 100-200 pounds of K2O at planting, depending on soil CEC and yield potential. In Ohio, limed soils usually have adequate calcium, magnesium, and sulfur for wheat. Soil pH should be between 6.3 and 7.0. The key to a successful wheat crop is adequate and timely management.

News: Rust on Corn More Prevalent This Summer, Alayna DeMartini

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Resembling rust on a pickup, a fungal disease that can afflict corn has been confirmed in a higher than usual number of cornfields in southern Ohio.

Every year, some Ohio farmers find southern or common rust on their corn plants, but this year both diseases have been more prevalent, said Pierce Paul, an Ohio State University Extension corn and small grain specialist. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) at The Ohio State University.

Typically, rust fungi arrive late in the growing stage and do limited damage. However, this year farmers had to replant several times, and the younger corn plants are at greater risk for damage, Paul said. Common and southern rusts are most problematic when they infect the plant before it produces silk or a tassel.

Southern and common rusts form orangish and brownish raised spots, respectively, on the leaves of corn plants and can cause as much as 30 to 40 percent yield losses, particularly on susceptible corn varieties, Paul said.

Under hot, wet weather conditions, southern rust spreads quickly on a leaf, from one leaf to another, and from one plant to the next.

“I haven’t gone a day over the past two weeks without an email or a call or a box of (corn plant) samples to test,” Paul said.

This summer’s heavy rainfall and humidity may have created conditions that spurred the spread of southern and common rust, as well as other fungal disease on corn, said Peter Thomison, an OSU Extension agronomist.

Despite the heavier than usual presence of southern and common rusts, neither are nearly as frequent as two other fungal diseases, gray leaf spot and northern corn leaf blight, Thomison said. Gray leaf spot and northern corn leaf blight are beginning to show up, and the mild, wet conditions experienced over the last few days will certainly favor the latter.

Farmers finding a lot of rust or another type of fungal disease in their fields have to decide whether to fight it. For all four diseases (the two rusts, gray leaf spot and northern corn leaf blight), farmers need to scout fields before applying a fungicide because, from the road, the disease may not seen as widespread as it is, Paul said. He advised paying particular attention to the late-planted fields as they are the most vulnerable.

Since the price of corn is relatively low, it may not be economical for some farmers to invest in fungicide to fend off a disease, Paul said. A fungicide, if applied at the first signs of disease, could stop 75 to 90 percent of a field’s rust problem, but spraying it can cost up to $35 an acre, he said.

“Farmers don’t want it to reduce their yields. But they’re running the math in their heads to try to see if they’ll have a return on their investment,” he said.

Southern rust typically causes more damage than common rust. More prevalent in warmer climates, southern rust favors southern Ohio, while common rust flourishes in the more temperate climate of central and northern Ohio. The two rusts look slightly different. Southern rust is characterized by small, circular, light-orangish bumps predominantly on the upper surface of the leaves, whereas common rust produces larger, more elongated and darker, cinnamon-brown bumps on both leaf surfaces.

Rust fungi are not unique to corn. Several crops have a rust fungus that can attack them. Soybeans have one major rust fungus, corn and wheat have three, and each is specific to the plant, Paul said. So common rust that can affect corn does nothing to soybeans, and a soybean rust won’t harm corn.

POTENTIAL FOR SILK CLIPPING BY BEETLES Author(s): Andy Michel, Kelley Tilmon

We have received many reports of Japanese beetles and other defoliators munching on soybean over the past few weeks with some reaching economic levels of defoliation. Like a few other insects Japanese beetles are “buffet style” eaters, they have many plants that they can feed on, including corn. On corn, much of the feeding occurs on silks where they chew the silks back to the ear tip and can interfere with pollination. Another well-known insect that can feed on silks is the adult corn rootworm (mainly the Western corn rootworm) that should begin emerging soon, if not already. As tasseling begins and silk emerges, growers will want to make sure that the silk feeding does not reach economic threshold and impact pollination. Common thresholds are: 1) if 5 or more rootworms or 3 or more Japanese beetles are found per ear, 2) if silks have been clipped to within 1/2 inch of the ear tip, and 3) pollination is less than 50% complete. As silk clipping is highest along the edges, growers should check at least 100 plants, (10 plants in 10 different areas) to sample the entire field for any signs of silk clipping.

HAY AND STRAW BARN FIRES A REAL DANGER. Author(s): Jason Hartschuh, Mark Sulc, Sarah Noggle, David Dugan

We’ve heard of one barn fire here in Ohio this morning and a lot of hay was put up last Thursday ahead of the rain. Much of the hay was wetter than it should have been for safe dry hay storage. Watch those moist bales very carefully for the next two to three weeks! Use a hay temperature probe and monitor the internal temperature of the hay during these first three weeks after baling.

Usually, we think of water and moisture as a way to put a fire out, but the opposite is true with hay and straw, which when too wet can heat and spontaneously combust. This is more common with hay than straw because there is more plant cell respiration in hay. When baled at moistures over 20% mesophilic bacteria release heat-causing temperatures to rise between 130⁰F and 140⁰F. If bacteria die and bales cool, you are in the clear but if thermophilic bacteria take over temperatures can raise to over 175⁰F.

The moist bales should be kept outside or in a well-ventilated area. Don’t stack the moist bales, because that prevents the heat and moisture left in the hay from escaping. It is normal for hay to go through a “sweat” in the first few days after baling. Internal temperatures of 110° F in the first five days after baling are quite common in our region and are not a big concern.

Assessing the Fire Risk

  • Most hay fires occur within the first six weeks after baling
  • Was the field evenly dry or did it have wet spots
  • Were moistures levels kept at 20% or less
  • If over 20% was hay preservative used

Monitoring at-risk Hay

If you are concerned that your hay or straw may be a fire risk, you should monitor it twice a day for the first six weeks or until low temperatures stabilize. Ideally, temperatures are taken from the center of the stack or down about 8 feet in large stacks.

If you have a long probe thermometer it can be used but some homemade options are available. A ¾ inch pipe with the ends closed into a point and 3/16 inch holes drilled in the bottom 4 inches can work well, lower a thermometer on a string or the sensor wire of a thermometer into the pipe. The sensor on a long wire can work very well once in place you can read temperatures without removing it. Leave the thermometer in the stack for 15 minutes to get an accurate reading.

Another cruder option is to stick a 3/8 pipe into the stack and pull out twice a day if the pipe is too hot to hold in your hand, you are at risk for a fire. Be very cautious when taking hay temperatures if the hay gets hot and a cavity burns out underneath you can fall in. Use planks to spread out your weight and have someone nearby in case you fall in a burned out pocket. Using a harness and tying yourself off would be even better as a safety measure when checking bales.

Hay bale temperatures of 120° to 130° F will likely result in mold growth and will make the protein in the hay less available to animals. While those temperatures are not high enough to cause hay fires, the concern is if the mold growth continues and pushes temperatures upward into the danger zone.

If the temperature in the hay continues to rise, reaching temperatures of 160° to 170° F, then there is cause for alarm. At those elevated temperatures, other chemical reactions begin to occur that elevate the temperature much higher, resulting in spontaneous combustion of the hay in a relatively short period of time. If the hay temperature is 175° F or higher, call the fire department immediately, because fire is imminent or present in the stack.

Critical Temperatures and Actions to Take

Temperatures (⁰F)

Condition and Action


No Action Needed


Hay is entering the danger zone. Check twice daily. Disassemble stacked hay bales to promote air circulation to cool the hay outside.


Hay has reached the danger zone. Check hay temperature every couple of hours. Disassemble stacked hay to promote air circulation to cool hay have fire department present while unstacking from here on.


Hot pockets are likely. Alert fire service to possible hay fire incident. Close barns tightly to eliminate oxygen


With the assistance of the fire service, remove hot hay. Be aware the bales may burst into flames keep tractors wet

200° +

With the assistance of the fire service, remove hot hay. Most likely, a fire will occur. Keep tractors wet and fire hose lines charged in the barn and along the route of where bales are to be stacked.


If you are in the risk zone and there is machinery or livestock also in the barn, remove them before removing the hay for safety. Also call the fire department when you are in the risk range. They would much rather be present and not have to put a fire out them have to call mutual aid when your entire barn is on fire. For more information on Preventing Fires in Baled have and straw visit- http://articles.extension.org/pages/66577/preventing-fires-in-baled-hay-and-straw

Extreme caution needs to be taken when monitoring hot hay. Please read the article below for additional safety guidelines and procedures for monitoring hot bales and for preventing and controlling hay fires:

Hay Fire Prevention and Control, Virginia Cooperative Extension http://www.pubs.ext.vt.edu/442/442-105/442-105.html


Preventing fires in baled hay and straw. (2012). Farm and Ranch eXtension in Safety and Health (FReSH) Community of Practice. Retrieved from http://www.extension.org/pages/66577/preventing-fires-in-baled-hay-and-straw.

Hay Fire Prevention and Control, Virginia Cooperative Extension http://www.pubs.ext.vt.edu/442/442-105/442-105.html

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: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZ7Lvsux1y8

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: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OHGhq0qSM1o


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: https://www.agry.purdue.edu/ext/corn/news/timeless/floppycorn.html (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 – demartini.3@osu.edu

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.