Showing posts from April, 2021

Controlling Corn and Soybean Pests

Controlling pests of corn and soybeans can be difficult. Most farmers rely on seed treatments and broad-spectrum insecticides which terminate the pests but also takes out the beneficial natural predators. The most common Ohio pests in corn and soybeans fields with cover crops are wireworm, seed corn maggot, black cutworm, true armyworm, slugs, and grubs. Wireworms have a five-year life cycle with adults (called click beetles) laying 100-200 eggs in the spring and early summer. Larva live in the soil until they mature into adults. Wireworms are a copper color, long, and slender. Wireworms damage corn and soybean seeds and cause seedling roots damage. Wireworms have many natural predators including centipedes, soldier beetles, wasp which infect their eggs, and parasitic nematodes. Metarhizium fungi are a great wireworm predator; infecting the eggs, larva, and pupae and may give up to 95% control. Metarhizium fungi infect up to 200 insect species in 50 families including root weevils, fli

GMO vs. Non-GMO Crops

Ohio is one of the leading states planting Non-GMO crops. GMO stands for genetically modified organisms. About 92% of the US corn and 94% of soybeans in 2018 were genetically modified for weeds, insects, or drought tolerance. Japan and many European countries are demanding crops that are Non-GMO, so farmers can pick up premiums by growing these crops. Premiums vary by company, crop variety, and purity but premiums may be around $0.25 per corn bushel and $1-$2 per bushel on soybeans.  In a GMO crop, scientist identify a gene in a organism, then copy and insert that gene into a crop like corn, soybeans, potatoes, etc. GMO crops are typically resistant to herbicides like glyphosate (Roundup with CP4 gene) or Glufosinate (Liberty Link, PAT gene). GMO corn insecticides resistance is obtained by using up to seven genes from the Bacterium thuringiensis that produces proteins that are toxic to certain insect pests like corn rootworm, corn stalk borer, corn earworms, fall army worm and several

Weather and Spring Planting Issues

The warm weather this past week primed many farmers for spring planting. Government weather forecasting had gotten better but the results are still variable. According to the NOAA, the year 2020 was a year of extremes, with record temperatures, dry overall conditions, and forest fires in the West. Northwest Ohio was dry last year with some rain coming later in the summer and fall. This year, NOAA predicts slightly cooler temperatures as the weather moves away from a La Nina (80% probability) to a more neutral weather pattern. The El Nino Southern Oscillation or ENSO measures how warm the Pacific tropical ocean water temperatures are with El Nino’s being warmer and La Nina’s being cooler. NOAA predictions for the last half of April call for cooler than normal temperatures and possibly wetter than normal, depending on how quick the shift is from La Nina to neutral conditions. May and June, according to predictions, may be wetter than normal with normal temperatures. Government prediction

Spring Planting Decisions

Last year, spring planting occurred during a cold dry spring, while this year conditions are warm and dry. Farmers have several planting options, depending on whether they are conventional tillage farmers or planting no-till with cover crops. What options farmers choose and their success may depend upon soil and moisture planting conditions. First, the wheat crop is really green and uniform this year in Northwest Ohio. February snows protected the wheat from cold temperatures and most wheat did not drown out. Microbial levels are generally low after winter and start building as temperatures rise. The soil is a grave yard of dead microbial bodies which have abundant nutrients. During excessive snow melt and heavy spring rains, many soluble nutrients wash away. The dry spring kept soil nutrients around and plants are absorbing these abundant nutrients, promoting lush green plants. Conventional tillage farmers may be tempted to do more spring tillage, but each tillage pass reduces soil mo