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Agronomic Crops Network

Ohio State University Extension


C.O.R.N. Newsletter: 2016-29

  1. Prepping Your Yield Monitor for the 2016 Harvest Season

    As the use of precision agriculture continues to increase across the US, it is more and more important to ensure that all equipment is prepped, calibrated, and ready for a successful harvest.  One of the more common uses of precision agriculture comes in the form of yield mapping.  Yield maps not only help growers understand end-of-year performance within fields, but also can be used to characterize in-field variation. Information about this variation is often used by service providers to deliver prescriptions, recommendations, or other information back to the farmer.  Because yield maps continue to be an important data layer to learn from and help drive changes or decisions at a field level, proper management of the yield monitor in 2016 is key in order to generate accurate and reliable yield data.  Grain moisture and test weight, along with grain flow through the combine, will vary within passes and across the field.  Therefore, the flow and moisture sensors on combines must be calibrated to these expected conditions in order to log accurate data.  The following best practice guidelines provide essential pre-harvest and harvest yield monitor tips:

    • Be sure to update firmware and/or software for the yield monitoring systems. If necessary, contact your equipment or technology service provider about available firmware updates and where they can be downloaded.
    • Most yield monitors use a mass flow sensor at the top of the clean grain elevator. Due to the grain impact, the plate will wear to the point of developing a hole if it isn't replaced soon enough. The wear that occurs changes the reading from the mass flow sensor.  Be sure to replace the plate if wear is evident.  Don’t neglect to recalibrate after replacing yield monitor components.  This recalibration is necessary to ensure accuracy of the yield monitor.
      • A more simple explanation is that a worn impact plate can result in an incorrect yield reading on your display.  It is important to not overlook the yield mapping system as a worn component will throw off yield readings.
    • Update and/or configure DGPS. Software related to auto-steer, yield monitors and other GPS-based systems requires separate attention. Licenses must be renewed. Calibrations and parameters must be updated or confirmed—especially if the display screen in the combine cab was used for planting or spraying earlier in the year. It’s necessary to meticulously switch every setting and value, from machine dimensions to type of crop and operation, so they are relevant to harvest operations.
    • Check auto-steer operations and that previously used AB/guidance lines are available within the display. Remember, you may have to adjust sensitivity settings.
    • It is also important to calibrate yield monitors for every crop, each season to ensure that all data being collected is as accurate as possible. The yield monitor needs to “be taught” how to convert the readings from the mass flow sensor into yield; therefore, it is necessary to show the yield monitor the range of yield conditions it will encounter throughout the season.
      • It is wise to periodically check the calibration throughout the season to be sure the data being collected is still accurate.
      • Remember to recalibrate if harvest conditions change. For example, if:
        • Yield monitor components are replaced or adjusted.
        • Grain moistures increase or decrease by over 6% to 8%.
        • After a rain shower but still dry enough to harvest.
    • The use of grain carts to calibrate yield monitors can be acceptable as long as it weighs accurately compared to certified scales.  One should make sure the weigh wagon is on level ground (<2% slope) and stationary for a few seconds before documenting the weight.
    • Bring along your field notes so you can review them during harvest as crop conditions vary or issues are observed.
    • While harvest is a busy time, taking notes and images during harvest (especially if conducting on-farm research) can be valuable data when finally sitting down for post-harvest analysis and summary.  We all forget, so notes and images can help document important information!

    For more information on calibrating yield monitors, please check out the Ohio State Precision Ag website where a variety of yield calibration quick guides are available. 


  2. Fall Manure Application Tips

    Author(s): Glen Arnold, CCA,

    Silage harvest is moving along rapidly in Ohio, with corn and soybean harvest expected to be earlier this year than normal. Livestock producers and commercial manure applicators will be applying both liquid and solid manure as fields become available.

    For poultry manure, handlers are reminded to stockpile poultry litter close to the fields actually receiving the manure. Stockpiles need to be 500 feet from a residence, 300 feet from a water source and 1,500 feet from a public water intake. Poultry litter cannot be stockpiled in a floodplain and cannot have offsite water running across the litter stockpile area. The site also cannot have a slope greater than six percent.

    Litter stockpiles need to be monitored for insect activity and steps taken to keep insect populations in check if necessary. Farmers receiving poultry litter from a permitted facility need to have their fertilizer certification training completed. While field application rates of two to three tons per acre of poultry litter are common, farmers should still have soil tests and manure tests taken so manure nutrients being applied are fully utilized by the following crop rotations.

    For liquid manure applicators, examine fields for tile blowouts, soil cracks, worm holes, and any other situations that might allow manure to reach surface waters. Old clay tile that are not charted, and may have an outlet buried in the bottom of a ditch, have caused a number of manure escapes in Ohio over the years.

    Liquid manure application rates are limited to the moisture holding capacity of the soil or no more than a half inch or ~13,500 gallons per acre for tiled fields. Limiting application rates below legal limits can help keep more nutrients on fields. Remember, a corn-soybean rotation will remove about 120 pounds of P2O5 over two good growing seasons. That will drop your soil test level about 6 pounds per acre. Applying high amounts of manure will rapidly raise soil test levels and result in greater losses of phosphorus from farm fields.

    Incorporated liquid manure or liquid manure incorporated within 24 hours does not have a setback requirement from ditches and streams this time of year. If just surface applied, with no plan of immediate incorruption, a vegetative setback of 35 feet is recommended or a 100 foot setback if there is little or no vegetation growing in the field. These recommendations for non-permitted farms are the rules for permitted farms.

    The state-wide rule for surface manure application is a weather forecast saying “not greater than a 50% chance of a half inch or more of rain in the next 24 hours or for very heavy soils (typically Hydrologic group D) ¼ inch of rainfall can cause runoff when combined with a half inch of liquid applied on the surface.  It’s advisable to print out the weather forecast when you start applying manure so you have the needed proof if an unexpected storm drenches the area.

    The rain forecast does not apply to incorporated manure. However, the soil must be fractured and disturbed when manure is applied to quality for incorporated. Just poking holes in the soil does not qualify as incorporation. Deep incorporation of manure nutrients could help break up the phosphorus stratification issues that may be contributing to the increasing levels of dissolved phosphorus leaving Ohio farm fields.

    For permitted farms, when more than 50 pounds per acre of manure nitrogen is being applied, it’s required that a field have a growing crop or cover crop be planted. In manure amounts, this could be a little as 1,500 gallons per acre of swine finishing manure, one ton of poultry litter, 3,000 gallons of dairy manure, 1,000 gallons of liquid beef manure or five tons per acre of solid pen pack manure.

    All farmers should consider utilizing cover crops with manure applications to capture the available nitrogen and turn it into organic nitrogen in the form of additional roots and stems. Livestock producers in the Western Lake Erie Basin watersheds must have a growing cover crop in the field if they intend to apply manure to snow covered or frozen soil this winter.

    Cover crops can help livestock farmers recapture manure nutrients and conserve soil by reducing erosion. Cover crop seedings do not have to be perfect. The goal is to combine nutrient recovery and protecting the environment.

  3. Is the No-Cutting Fall Rest Period for Alfalfa Really Necessary?

    Author(s): Mark Sulc,

    The long-standing recommendation has been to take the last harvest of alfalfa by early September in northern Ohio and mid-September in southern Ohio. Every year I observe that many people do not follow this recommendation, probably for various reasons.  Most people taking only three cuttings are finished with the final harvest by early to mid-September.  But the fourth cutting is another story. As of the end of last week, only about half of the fourth cutting of alfalfa in Ohio was complete, which reflects the rate of fourth harvest completion going back at least five years.

    I have heard some say that the fall rest period is not necessary and fall cutting never harms their stands.  This could well be the case in many years on many farms, especially where excellent management is in place…where a good variety is used under excellent fertility and high soil pH, on well-drained soils, etc. Our killing frosts for alfalfa are also later than they used to be, and this fall is predicted to be warmer than normal.  So I am not going to disagree with people about their fall cutting practices.  But my question for those who take fall cuttings is: are you certain that it is not harming your stand productivity at all?  Have you made a side-by-side comparison to see if there is a difference? If not, then try it this year.  Leave some strips that you don’t cut when you take a fall cutting this year, mark those spots and look at them carefully next spring compared with where you did cut in the fall.

    Cutting is always a stress to the plant. The recommendation to give plenty of time for recovery before winter is still a sound and very safe recommendation, particularly on soils that have less than ideal drainage or where the alfalfa is stressed.

    There are situations when taking some risk may give a reward.  The beautiful high quality fall forage present in an alfalfa field in late September to early October may be valuable enough to take some risk with cutting it at that time.  The weather through the rest of the fall and winter may cooperate nicely and it could be no problem.  But be aware there is more risk with cutting late, and the risk probably increases in the latter half of September and into early October because the recovery time for replenishing energy reserves used in regrowth soon after cutting is growing shorter with each passing day.

    A number of factors affect the level of risk incurred with cutting during the fall period. These include overall stand health, variety disease resistance, insect stress on the stand during the summer, age of stand, cutting management, fertility, and soil drainage.

    A vigorous, healthy stand is more tolerant of fall cutting than a stressed and weakened stand.

    Alfalfa varieties with high disease resistance and good levels of winter hardiness will be more tolerant of a fall cutting.  Adequate fertility, especially soil potassium levels, and a soil pH near 6.8 will improve plant health and increase tolerance to fall cutting.  Stands under 3 years of age are more tolerant of fall cuttings than older stands where root and crown diseases are setting in.

    The cutting frequency during the growing season can affect the energy status of the plant going into the fall. Frequent cutting (30 day intervals or less) results in the plant never reaching full energy reserve status during the growing season. This makes the critical fall rest period more necessary for plants to accumulate adequate reserves before winter. So a fifth cutting taken in the fall carries more risk than taking a fourth or third cutting during the fall.

    A final factor is soil drainage. Alfalfa stands on well-drained soils tolerate later fall cuttings better than alfalfa on moderately or poorly drained soils.  Low plant cover going into the winter from late cutting increases the risk of winter heaving on many Ohio soils. We have observed significant heaving in the past in NE Ohio, and many of those stands had been harvested the previous fall.

    Cutting alfalfa during the critical fall period is always tempting due to the high quality of the forage in the fall and the sunny fall conditions.  Carefully consider the condition of the stand and the risk factors discussed above before taking a fall cut. We will be taking a fourth cutting in one experiment around September 21-23, right beside where a fourth cutting was taken September 9th. So next year we will closely look at the spring yield following those two fall harvest dates. Join us with your own side-by-side comparison.

  4. Soybean End of Season To-Do List

    Author(s): Anne Dorrance

    Soybean variety selection is the crucial first step to a successful year and bountiful harvest.  In Ohio, we face many challenges and some of them were quite apparent in different parts of the state.  Frogeye leaf spot, sudden death syndrome, white mold and even more surprising, Phytophthora stem rot.  To add to this soybean cyst nematode (SCN) can now be found at detectable and higher levels than 20 years ago.  There is very good resistance to all of these pathogens in the soybean cultivar line up of all companies.  We sometimes just get the wrong genetics in the wrong field or in the wrong region. So it is time for folks to take these things seriously and know what fields these pathogens are in and how much damage they are causing.  A good scouting at the end of the year will give producers a handle on if:

    1. The variety they purchased had the right resistance package for Ohio’s plethora of pathogens.
    2. Pathogens are present – what resistance packages will be needed in future years – aka drop that variety in that field

    Key for Phytophthora, the Rps genes will only go so far, and what is critical for Ohio conditions is the quantitative resistance portion of the package (seed companies market this as tolerance, partial resistance).

    Resistance to SDS has come a long way: In our trial this year (North Central Soybean Research Program), only the susceptible checks developed symptoms, very impressive!  Be sure you also have the SCN portion of the package.

    How long have you been growing SCN resistant varieties with PI88788 and do you now have SCN? If the answer to this is a long time and a lot- you are past due for a genetic change to Peking sources.  These aren’t easy to find, so start your search now.

    Frogeye seems to be a recurring theme for a disease that really was never a problem before 2005.  With lower soybean prices, it is time to get away from depending on the sprays and moving towards eliminating this disease by planting more resistant varieties.  I have had side-by-side trials of resistant and susceptible varieties the last 2 years at Western – Resistance is winning hands down.

    White mold – we have had a similar pattern with this as well. Check out the OSU Soybean Pathology facebook page for a gorgeous picture of resistant vs susceptible – side by side plots.  The resistance is there so for those regions where this disease is now an annual occurrence (even in a dry humid 2016), choose varieties with higher levels of resistance.

    These are all good things to ask the seed companies next week while you are at Farm Science Review!

  5. Western Bean Cutworm Damage and Heavy Feeding on Cry1F

    We have been contacted by several growers and crop advisors regarding heavy feeding on corn ears by Western bean cutworm (WBC).  These observations were confirmed during a recent visit to several fields in Northwest Ohio.  It was very easy to spot damaged ears, and most, if not all, of these fields showed economic damage.  It is quite clear that WBC has become the primary corn ear pest in NW Ohio, and that it will need to be properly managed.  Although the damage is already done, now is a good time to see the extent of WBC feeding in your field to help prepare for next year.

                    Of particular concern was the extent of damage on ears with Cry1F (see figure). Cry1F is also known as the Herculex gene, and is present in a fair number of hybrids, including SmartStax and a few Acremax varieties (for a complete list see this Bt trait table:  Cry1F includes control of WBC on its label—but it is clear from the figure that this is not control. Based on data from Ohio and other surrounding areas (MI, IN and Ontario), we would highly recommend that growers inspect any fields with Cry1F for WBC damage and to make sure that the Bt gene that you paid for is performing to expectations. Cry1F is one of only two Bt genes that offer control of WBC.  Vip3A (commonly known as VIP or Viptera) from Syngenta will still protect against WBC damage and those looking for a transgenic option for WBC control should consider varieties that include this gene.  Besides the transgenic options, growers can scout fields in July to observe egg masses and larval hatching.  Our WBC trapping and monitoring program for Ohio has shown peak adult flight is July 15-20 resulting larval hatching in late July through early August. Pyrethroid sprays are an option at this time but require treatment before the larva reach the ear or within 7-10 days post-hatching.

    Figure 1.  WBC feeding on Cry1F ears. WBC damage evident by the damaged ears, holes in the husk, and caterpillar frass. Ear molds are often a secondary result of WBC feeding. The white stick with 2 purple bands shows that Cry1F was indeed present in that particular corn plant.



    As we move into harvest season, everyone wants to know what is up with the weather. It does look like there could be some delays in harvest this fall especially west of Ohio. However, it does not look real significant. Historic autumns coming out of big El Nino events are usually warmer than normal, a slightly later freeze and rainfall that goes from drier than normal to normal or slightly wetter than normal why end of fall.

    It looks like lots of fall swings are in store. However, for the remainder of September, even though we will have bursts of cooler temperatures we still expect temperatures to average 1-3F above normal.

    Rainfall is more complicated as there are indications of a slightly wetter period coming for the second half of the month around a high pressure system in the Southeast U.S. Therefore, we expect rainfall to average from 0.50 inches below normal to 1.00 inches above normal for the rest of the month of September.

    October looks to return to drier than normal for the first half of the month with temperatures possibly cooler a few degrees below normal.

    Again the trend into November is still preferred warmer than normal with precipitation becoming variable.

    Finally, based on the ending of El Nino with a chance of La Nina by winter, indications are the first freeze would arrive from normal to a week late this year. Typically first freezes are in the Oct. 10-20 range.

    You can see the latest NOAA/NWS/OHRFC 16-day rainfall outlook in the attached document: Rainfall Outlook. Normal rainfall is just over 1 inch for the period.


  7. Liabilities & Security Safeguards

    Author(s): John Fulton,

    In today’s world, many of us have electronic data stored on multiple devices and in various locations.  Whether that’s banking information, medical information, or in the case of farmers, agricultural data, this data is entrusted to a service provider or managed internally to the farm business.  A common concern expressed is the event of security breaches.  In recent years, security breaches over data have occurred at large name companies causing consumers to be on edge even more when it comes to protecting their personal information.  The final and 13th farm data principle outlined in the American Farm Bureau “Privacy and Security Principles for Farm Data” highlights Liabilities and Security Safeguards.  This principle states thatThe ATP should clearly define terms of liability. Farm data should be protected with reasonable security safeguards against risks such as loss or unauthorized access, destruction, use, modification or disclosure. Polices for notification and response in the event of a breach should be established.”

    All parties involved in a contract are subject to various terms and conditions, and when one of the parties fails to perform in accordance with those terms, this is known as a breach of contract.  Often, these breaches are in the form of an inability to securely protect data and information.  ATPs should be clear and concise when outlining these data protections, in addition to what events to notify you about in case of a breach, plus the protocol to rectify the situation.  Some factors to consider when storing data in the cloud or off-site location are:

    1. Prompt notification by the service provider or data management company when a breach occurs.
    2. Details should be provided regarding the situation and the steps you will need to take.
    3. Changing your password / log-in information may be necessary.
    4. Information should be provided about whether your data was compromised.
    5. Look for a company phone number, website or expert you can contact to discuss the details.
    6. Verify that data has been back-up and can be fully retrieved.

    As with any contract, liabilities are assumed but should be clearly outline and understood.  Data today is collected by many companies in agriculture and is only growing as digital agriculture evolves within the industry.  With the storage and aggregation of farm business data in the cloud or other off-site locations, this only increases the chances of others wanting access to it, possibly in an illegal manner.  No set of security measures is completely infallible to a breach.  However, the considerations outline in this article are a great way to help ensure that your data is secure and available when you need it.

Crop Observation and Recommendation Network

C.O.R.N. Newsletter is a summary of crop observations, related information, and appropriate recommendations for Ohio crop producers and industry. C.O.R.N. Newsletter is produced by the Ohio State University Extension Agronomy Team, state specialists at The Ohio State University and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC). C.O.R.N. Newsletter questions are directed to Extension and OARDC state specialists and associates at Ohio State.


Amanda Bennett (Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources)
Amanda Douridas, CCA (Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources)
Anne Dorrance (State Specialist, Soybean Diseases)
Bruce Clevenger, CCA (Field Specialist, Farm Management)
Elizabeth Hawkins (Field Specialist, Agronomic Systems)
Eric Richer, CCA (Field Specialist, Farm Management)
Glen Arnold, CCA (Field Specialist, Manure Nutrient Management )
Greg LaBarge, CPAg/CCA (Field Specialist, Agronomic Systems)
Jason Hartschuh, CCA (Field Specialist, Dairy & Precision Livestock)
Ken Ford (Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources)
Laura Lindsey (State Specialist, Soybean and Small Grains)
Lee Beers, CCA (Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources)
Mark Badertscher (Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources)
Mike Gastier, CCA (Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources)
Pierce Paul (State Specialist, Corn and Wheat Diseases)
Sam Custer (Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources)
Sarah Noggle (Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources)
Ted Wiseman (Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources)


The information presented here, along with any trade names used, is supplied with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement is made by Ohio State University Extension is implied. Although every attempt is made to produce information that is complete, timely, and accurate, the pesticide user bears responsibility of consulting the pesticide label and adhering to those directions.

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