August 17 2018
The planted wheat acres of Allen, Hancock, and Putnam counties was 63,800 acres in 2016 and 53,500 in 2017, a 17% reduction. Much of the lost wheat acreage has been due to better cash prices for corn and soybeans which have less risk of losing value like wheat. All it takes is marginal weather in the spring and a wheat crop that survived the winter with good potential can be lost thanks to head scab causing vomitoxin or stripe rust taking yield. We have had three good years of wheat in Northwest Ohio, losses due to diseases like head scab or stripe rust have been minimal. You may be wondering if we can have a fourth good wheat year? Fortunately, breeding for resistance to these diseases and increased grain yield along with foliar application of fungicides has helped improve wheat stability. With recent price inversions of corn and soybeans compared to wheat, more farmers are considering to plant wheat for the 2019 crop. That is good news to this former Wheatie, but that does also bring me concern that a hasty decision to plant wheat in the fall can create a headache in the spring. I do not want to discourage anyone from planting wheat, but I do want to encourage everyone planting wheat to invest their time to manage wheat like a row crop.
The first consideration of planting wheat this fall is which field? Not surprising, but high yielding wheat comes from the same high yielding corn and soybean fields. If you are planning to plant wheat in fields that need work you will want to select appropriate varieties to match the field conditions. If you are willing to plant wheat in your highest yielding field, pick a racehorse variety, manage it properly, and you will set yourself up for yield potential and bragging rights for years to come. Since wheat acres have been decreasing, seed companies have responded in kind by producing less seed, it may take more work to find premium seed and it may be tempting to buy bin run seed from a local source. I would strongly discourage planting bin run seed; it may be a mixed lot and you do not know what you have, a seed lot of mixed varieties may have sub-par germination. In 2018 we had some pre-harvest sprouting and it seemed that ‘whiter’ wheat was more likely to sprout which is consistent with my experience. Also, many of the current wheat varieties are patent protected and purchasing that wheat to plant as seed would be in violation of the patent. Additionally, with the increased waterhemp in the area, it would be risky to buy wheat that has not been systematically inspected to protect against spread of this noxious weed. These are all compelling reasons to purchase known quality seed.
Timely planting is very important, planting a few days before to two weeks after fly free date is the best window to plant wheat. Top growth going into winter is a concern, but I have planted wheat from St. Louis to Detroit, the times we lost wheat to frost damage we planted very early near Evansville, IN. Not to say you will not have risk losing wheat planted in late September, but the reward is greater than the risk. Obviously soybean harvest impedes wheat planting, If you have late group II to early group III beans you should be okay to plant wheat. But if you are thinking to follow a mid to late group III bean with wheat, you may want to think twice. Late planted wheat can be compensated by increasing the planting population, but there are limits.
If you are still reading this and I have not discouraged you from maintaining or adding wheat to your rotation, there are many benefits you may see:
· Can spring overseed red clover to build the soil health, add nitrogen and organic matter
· Post wheat harvest is a good time to grid soil sample and make soil amendments.
· Summer deep tillage is a great option to break up compaction.
· Increase crop rotation to help spread workload, and decrease disease, and weed risks.
Reduced crop and chemical rotations are contributing factors of increasing waterhemp. Wheat can be part of a waterhemp control plan by adding diversity to your rotation and providing fields for the weed seed to germinate and eliminate through proper weed control measures. Applying herbicides to wheat stubble to work towards depleting the soil seed bank may be a valuable part of waterhemp control. Conversely, it will be important to manage wheat stubble fields so that waterhemp does not grow and produce more seed, magnifying the problem. Also plan your wheat management to possibly include split applying nitrogen to feed the wheat a little at spring green up and feed it again with a second nitrogen application right before rapid growth in late March or early April. In season scouting and management are also important to deliver a good wheat crop. Even the best varieties for genetic resistance to head scab and vomitoxin will benefit from application of a fungicide. Spray timing is critical, it is better to make the decision to spray wheat with a fungicide early rather than later so to provide the largest window of application. Fortunately, Pandora Grain and Supply is helping you to make this decision, if you work with PGS to spray with a fungicide, PGS will purchase your grain up to 18% moisture with no drying charge. We are taking orders for wheat seed but key varieties are becoming scarce so if you are thinking to add wheat to your 2019 cropping plan, consider these and other points and contact your sales associate at PGS to make the best crop possible in 2019.
August 6, 2018
I have not talked much about soybeans even though the acreage is close to that of corn. This season many of the soybean fields have been stressed by either too much water, too little, or even both. In many fields spotty occurrence of phytophthora root rot (PRR) occurred but has been difficult to diagnose as crisp dark lesions in the stem are not always evident like the first photo. Fields that do have PRR are not completely wiped out, small areas still demonstrate symptoms but most of the beans are producing pods and yield, but yield will be compromised. Diagnosing PRR has been difficult as soil compaction is also common and many of the obvious soybean plant physical symptoms are similar. As you are scouting bean fields these next weeks it will be important to dig plants and evaluate the roots for signs of compaction as in the second photo comparing roots from compacted area in a field (plant on right) to a less compacted area (plant on left). Also carefully split the plants looking for PRR as brown necrotic zones, mostly towards the base of the root. Both of these problems can be solved, but will take different approaches.
Missy Bauer from B & M Consulting provides a comprehensive discussion of soybean diseases here: https://www.agprofessional.com/article/missy-bauer-soybean-disease-watchouts
Having said all that, the soybean crop has turned a corner with this last rain and plants are adding yield. In much of the area we stand a strong chance to have both great soybean and corn yields. One last but big item to scout while walking your bean fields, will be to diligently scout for waterhemp and palmer amaranth. I previously provided information about both weeds and that we have found waterhemp in southern Putnam and northern Allen counties. I have also found waterhemp in fields along the Blanchard River, Cranberry and Riley Creeks; the seed likely flowed into the fields along with the flood waters. Farmers in these areas will want to take care so that if the plants go to seed, they do not carry seed into their other fields with the combine. Ed Lentz the Hancock County Extension Agent provided a nice article in the Findlay Courier July 31 edition. Additional information is available here from The Ohio State University http://u.osu.edu/osuweeds/super-weeds/palmer-amaranth/
The fields below are clean but in the bean field you can see waterhemp where the interplant units had not started planting, there are also waterhemp along the field edge towards the road in this field. The waterhemp in the corn field is spread throughout so this farmer will want to plan his 2019 bean program to best control the waterhemp.
It will be very important to work to reduce weed seed carried into all your fields. It will also be important to plan for next years crop system of seed and herbicide, as you are making decisions on seed variety decisions, you are also making herbicide program decisions. The two main herbicide options for controlling waterhemp in season are Liberty and Dicamba products; both bring baggage of either poor control of Giant Ragweed or volatility for in season application. In both herbicide cases, it may be good to heed my colleagues advice and add Dual to the post-emergence application so to recharge your herbicides residual period. If planting Extend beans, it would be good to plant fields with waterhemp early so that you have a better chance of spraying the Dicamba herbicide in late May or early June before the volatility risk is so great that custom applicators do not want the liability to spray. Finding waterhemp in a field is not a terminal end for that field, but that field will require much greater management and implementation of a seed herbicide system to keep that field viable and contain the weed seed from spreading to your other fields.
July 30 2018
I would like to talk about corn and revisit the topic of Growing Degree Days and determine where we are at this season and when will we see black layer in corn. Using the tool previously mentioned on June 1, the heat unit calculator available at
and a planting date of May 1 and on July 23 we accumulated 1669 heat units. A 105 day hybrid will need 2521 heat units to achieve black layer leaving 852 heat units needed to reach physiological maturity; this is estimated to occur on September 2. For a 112 day hybrid 2691 heat units are needed for black layer leaving 1022 heat units needed for physiological maturity; this is estimated to occur on September 12. You can use this tool to predict black layer based on your hybrid maturity and planting date.
On Monday I walked corn fields from south of Gomer to East of Leipsic; the overall crop looks good, it is starting to run short of water and in talking to local farmers there are concerns about having enough moisture for complete ear fill. As I walked fields I noticed some Northern Corn Leaf Blight, most fields the lesions are about 5% of the leaf area and below the ear with a few exceptions of 20-30% leaf damage. These next weeks will be critical for walking corn and assessing hybrid response if they were treated with fungicide. I will use the next weeks to evaluate hybrid response to the disease so that I can have a better answer than “Consider treating your racehorse hybrids”.
Most ears I pulled and counted were 14-16 kernels around and 33 kernels deep. I did observe an ear that pinched from 16 to 14 kernels around, this area was drier in late May early June and continued during ear formation.
In a few fields I noticed kernel abortion with one ear demonstrating about 5% aborted kernels scattered throughout the ear; we did have high heat and some water stress this season.
However, that may not have been the proper hybrid for that field or additional stresses like soil compaction may have been a contributing factor to these losses. I am not talking concrete level compaction but certainly yield compromising. Over these next weeks, this is the time of the season to start gathering the evidence to help you understand what compromised the yield potential of your fields. At harvest time, if you find yourself thinking that a field should have done better than it did, it will difficult to find the reasons why this happened when the only data you have is less grain in the tank. Now is the time to assess your fields to manage expectations so not to feel underwhelmed at harvest. More importantly, what you learn now will help you better prepare for improving next years crop.
July 23 2018
At Pandora Grain and Supply, our goal is to keep you informed and provide proper information to support the management decisions for your farm operation and the local environment. By this point we all are aware of the Governors recent executive order to aggressively take action towards improving the water quality of Lake Erie and the decision of the Ohio Soil and Water Commission to send the watershed decision to subcommittee.
These actions may be a preview of coming attractions of the political back and forth pinning farmers in the crosshairs and water quality as an opportunity to say “look what we did in the great state of Ohio”. There is no doubt that we all want to see a cleaner lake; I highly doubt that anyone is maliciously laughing as they are mentally preparing their cropping plans for next season. Since I started working here at Pandora Grain and Supply I have been collectively analyzing customers soil test reports to look for trends and I find that we are in line with the annual summaries for Northwest Ohio provided by A & L Great Lakes Laboratories. The data supports that we are doing a good job of managing our nutrient application rates, but these data do not inform about the sources, times, and places where nutrients are applied. Not to say we are not careful with the sources, rates, and places of application, but we need to have proper documentation saying we did what we did. When this executive order takes effect, compliance will require us to do the greatest fertilizer work ever, properly applying and documenting the right source, rate, time, and place where nutrients are applied to our farm soils.
This executive order will affect farmers by directing the state Department of Agriculture, Department of Natural Resources, and the Environmental Protection Agency to recommend rules establishing nutrient management plans for all nutrient sources. Since this executive order was issued, I attended two agriculture technology workshops where this topic was discussed along with demonstrations of fertilizer deep placement, injection, and other technologies. These technologies offer opportunities to produce our crops while complying with the new regulations, but at considerable costs. These tools may be made available through funding associated with this Executive Order. Additionally, the Tri-State Fertilizer Recommendations are being updated and these changes will be incorporated to fertility recommendations we supply with Grid Sampling. Pandora Grain and Supply has two Certified Crop Advisors on staff and staff members are seeking additional training to help you navigate these new requirements. We will help you develop these nutrient management plans and prepare documentation to follow compliance. We are happy to discuss your farming system with you and what technologies may help you comply with the Executive Order. While the political powers debate which watersheds and when they will be declared in distress, we still have a chance to demonstrate that we are capable of balancing economic and ecological production agriculture.
More information will be coming, but what can you do in the meantime?
Implement Grid Sampling and variable rate (VR) lime or fertilizer applications. Savings associated with VR lime application often cover the costs of Grid Sampling.
Adopt conservation practices like cover crops, buffer strips etc. to prevent field runoff or erosion of soil particles and nutrients. These practices are not a silver bullet, but are steps in the right direction.
Consider adopting technologies like adding guidance with RTK to your planting equipment to better utilize precision fertilizer equipment available for rent.
Consider squaring off corners or removing point rows from fields where there is considerable nutrient overlap. It is a shame to not crop on these acres, but it may be more of a shame to double apply nutrients that are not used and escape off target.
Implement field naming conventions that will help with record keeping, the Harshman farm is informative to me but provides very little information to someone helping to manage my data.
July 10 2018
Sixteen Pandora Grain and Supply customers attended the Cover Crop meeting on July 9; the group was a mix of seasoned and youthful farmers with different goals. Some attendees were looking to add diversity to their mostly soybean cropping, and others were looking to sequester nutrients for later use through mineralization.
Alan Sundermeier from the Wood County, OH extension office opened the meeting describing how farming is a system and cover crops are a valuable tool towards extending the life of this system. Most everyone in agriculture appreciates the value of organic matter and the relationship of organic matter and cover crops. Imagine two fields with the same soil textures, but one having organic matter of 2% the other having 4%; the higher organic matter is a sponge and will have more plant available water as in this figure
available at:https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/nrcs142p2_053288.pdf. This is one of the many benefits of adding cover crops to your farm management system.
Alan discussed the topics of selecting cover crops for successful corn production, proper termination methods, and controlling voles in cover crop fields. As every farm and the desired goal from a cover crop cover are different, cover crop selection should be matched to each farmers management, a tool to help select cover crop species for a given management program is available here https://www.ars.usda.gov/plains-area/mandan-nd/ngprl/docs/cover-crop-chart/.
Crimping cover crops along with herbicide termination of cover crops was discussed. It is important to evaluate cash crop herbicide persistence and possible restrictions for planting cover crops; useful information is available here http://blog.uvm.edu/cvcrops/files/2012/09/Cover_crop_and_herbicides.pdf.
The last topic was control of voles which is somewhat difficult as some of the beneficial aspects of cover crops may also provide a robust environment for voles. Information is available here https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb1251776.pdf and cover crop management strategies are available to reduce losses to this pest.
A representative of LaCrosse seed provided additional information and recommended seed offerings to match farm management strategies. Contact your Pandora Grain and Supply Sales associate or Agronomist for additional information if you are interested in adding cover crops to your farm management program.
June 28 2018
Anticipated heat Stress on Corn
As we enter into the weekend of June 30 with very high heat predictions and corn fields around Pandora are likely to start tasseling early next week, there may be concern about how this may compromise your corn yields this fall. Fortunately, the overall health and plant available water in the region are very good, the excellent planting conditions we had this spring provided a foundation for the crop to withstand the anticipated heat this weekend. With the ample soil water and only a short window of predicted temperatures above 90 degrees the corn crop will enter into pollination with little to no yield losses from the heat. R1 or silking following tassel emergence is the period of greatest water demand by the corn plant and heat stresses of four days in this period may reduce yields by 1%, five days yield may be reduced an additional 2%. Iowa State Research available at:
Remember that corn is originally a tropical grass originated from the mountains of central Mexico where it was adapted to warm daytime (above 86 oF) and cool nighttime (below 70 oF) temperatures. Daytime temperatures above 86 oF will make the corn plants uncomfortable but corn is adapted to cope with the heat. The nighttime temperatures this weekend are predicted in the lower 70s and that will increase dark respiration in the corn but not at rates that will significantly compromise yields. During this weekend of high temperatures, worry more about hydrating and protecting yourself from the heat than your corn crop.
June 26 2018
Preparing for in season fungicide applications
In a recent blog article from the University of Illinois “Tips to help you make fungicide decisions” found here http://cropdisease.cropsciences.illinois.edu/?p=743 Nathan Kleczewski provides key points to help in deciding to spray (or not) fungicides:
· Fungal diseases only occur when the correct pathogen, plant host, and environment occur together
· The amount of disease is related to the duration of time conditions for disease are met
· Not all disease results in yield loss
· Fungicides minimize fungal disease
· Economic returns are greatest when fungicides are applied to susceptible plants and conditions favoring disease occur.
As we all know we have had extremely variable and sometimes very heavy rainfall in Northwest Ohio; disease pressure may not be uniform and decisions will be made farm by farm rather than across the region. If this pattern continues wet fields could persist into the fall, overall plant health including stalk integrity may become more of an issue at harvest. We typically measure fungicide efficacy by grain yield, but if fungicide application results in improved plant health and standability at harvest allowing easier/faster harvest, saving time and reducing stress at harvest may be incidental benefits of treating fields. In season commodity prices have changed and may cause farmers that typically spray to reconsider decisions. Conversely, farmers that have not historically sprayed may consider spraying to protect their investment of a good looking corn crop. These management decisions will be different for all farm managers. Regardless, Pandora Grain is prepared to help you with these decisions. We have aerial application services retained for fungicide applications, reach out to your sales advisor for additional help in protecting your 2018 crop.
June 15 2018
It is time for diligent weed scouting.
As you are scouting your fields be on the lookout for Waterhemp and Palmer Amaranth. We have identified Waterhemp in Allen county this season and are working to control this problematic weed.
Additional resources are available from The Ohio State University at
Controlling these weeds requires a systems approach including diligent scouting throughout the season, possibly tillage, applying herbicides with a residual, and stacking multiple herbicide modes of action. Obviously controlling the weeds early in the season will help the 2018 season. Controlling these weeds will be realistic if Liberty or Dicamba resistant beans were planted. If these weeds are found in conventional or Glyphosate only resistant beans herbicide options become limited and a control strategy of containment becomes more realistic so not to spread seed from these weeds to other fields to further spread the problem. In the case of Palmer amaranth, contact Dr. Mark Loux at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (614)292-9081 to report an infestation. Also contact your Pandora Grain sales representative if you find these weeds in your field and we will work with you to provide products to limit the effects of these weeds. It is more important to control these weeds in the first quarter than punt in the fourth; a systems approach of diligent scouting, stacking herbicide modes of action, and limiting spread will lessen the risk of these weeds compromising your farming success.
June 1 2018
With over 80% of the Ohio corn crop planted and 65% emerged, farmers can be thinking about the next milestones for the 2018 corn crop. Most of the local crop was planted well and side dressing is winding down; the stage is being set for good yields. When evaluating this crop, one tool that may help in decision making on this and future crops is a Growing Degree Day (GDD) calculator provided by the High Plains Regional Climate Center https://hprcc.unl.edu/gdd.php#
Here is an example of April 23 planting date of a 111 day RM hybrid planted in Putnam County Ohio. Based on 30 year data, the estimated silk date for this hybrid is July 20 and estimated black layer (physiological maturity) is September 24. The years 2015-2017 are included for comparison. This tool can be accessed at https://hprcc.unl.edu/gdd.php# and I encourage you to input your planting dates and hybrid maturities and compare to the progress of your corn crop.
Additional interesting things you may evaluate:
· Compare planting dates when we have spring rains causing two planting seasons.
· Pick years that were extremes: wet, dry, or wet spring then dry summer.
· See if there is a change in GDD accumulation from 1981 till now.
Dr. Jim Uphaus joins Pandora Grain Co. as an agronomist bringing his fourteen years of experience in seed research to support customers needs in managing emerging agricultural complexities. Jim is originally from Glandorf, OH, worked for his uncle’s near Leipsic, OH and traveled the great plains while working on a wheat harvest crew. Jim studied agronomy at The Ohio State University and Plant Breeding of wheat at Purdue University. Jim worked at major seed companies in corn to improve genetic resistance to ear, leaf, and stalk diseases and also worked in wheat to improve grain yield, foliar disease, and head scab resistance. His experience in the seed industry allowed Jim to conduct research and understand agricultural adaptations to improve production across diverse regions. Jim is now looking forward to working with local farmers to support their agronomic management decisions.