C.O.R.N. Newsletter : 2017-05

  1. March Weather Update


    It was one of the warmest February's one record. Here is a great summary by the National Weather Service in Wilmington, OH.


    Further, for the period of January and February combined, many reporting stations in Ohio had the most number of 60+ days ever recorded.

    Columbus 60+ degree days Jan/Feb (rank, year, #60+degree days, missing days)


















    Cincinnati 60+ degree days Jan/Feb (rank, year, #60+degree days, missing days)













    Dayton 60+ degree days Jan/Feb (rank, year, #60+degree days, missing days)
    1 2017-02-28 13 0
    2 1930-02-28 9 0
    3 1976-02-29 8 0
    - 1950-02-28 8 0
    - 1932-02-29 8 0
    - 1916-02-29 8 0

    The warm-up has led to green-up conditions running about 3 weeks ahead of schedule in Ohio.

    This is the current look at USGS green-up conditions...


    The outlook for March calls for near to slightly warmer than normal temperatures. We will not see the record warmth in March we saw in February. Precipitation will be near or slightly above normal.

    The outlook for April and May calls for a turn fr4om near normal temperatures in April to warmer and slightly drier than normal conditions by late April into May.

    The summer outlook continues to call for a warmer than normal period with rainfall at or below normal.

    The freeze outlook continues to suggest a near normal or slightly later than normal last freeze based on current climate trends. Normal last freeze is generally between April 10 to 20 for much of the state. However, with early green-up and budding there is an elevated risk to fruit trees and other sensitive crops this spring as even a normal last freeze means things will be exposed.

  2. Winter Wheat Progress and Management- Check Your Fields

    Last year, wheat winter progressed quicker than usual due to warm temperatures. In our Pickaway County trials in 2016, wheat reached Feekes growth stage 6.0 by April 6. This year, with unusually warm temperatures, we may see something similar. Don’t rely on calendar date. Check your fields for growth stage.

    Freezes can be a concern when wheat progresses earlier in the spring. Last year, we evaluated winter wheat freeze damage at several growth stages. At Feekes growth stage 5.0, very little to no injury was observed at temperatures as low as 14°F. At Feekes 6.0 (jointing), wheat plants were sensitive to temperatures of 24°F and lower. We are continuing our wheat freeze work this spring.

    Feekes 5.0: Leaf sheaths are strongly erect. Plants will have an upright appearance, but the growing point is still below the soil surface.

    Feekes 6.0: Prior to Feekes 6.0, the nodes are all formed but sandwiched together so that they are not readily distinguishable. At 6.0, the first node is swollen and appears above the soil surface. This stage is commonly referred to as “jointing.” Above this node is the head or spike, which is being pushed upwards eventually from the boot. The spike at this stage is fully differentiated, containing future spikelets and florets.

    By Feekes 6.0, essentially all weed-control applications have been made. Do not apply phenoxy herbicides such as 2,4-D, Banvel, or MCPA after Feekes 6.0, as these materials can be translocated into the developing head, causing sterility or distortion. Sufonyl-urea herbicides are safe at this growth stage, but for practical reasons, weed control should have been completed by now. Small grains can still show good response to N topdressed at this time.

    To identify Feekes 6.0 growth stage:

    1- Pull, or better yet, dig up, several clusters of tillers with roots and soil from multiple locations in the field;

    2- Identify and select three to four primary tillers from each cluster – usually the largest tillers with the thickest stem, but size can be deceiving;

    3- Strip away and remove all the lower leaves (usually small and yellowish or dead leaves), exposing the base of the stem;

    4- Now look for the first node anywhere between 1 and 2 inches above the base of the stem. This node is usually seen as a slightly swollen area of a slightly different (darker) shade of green than the rest of the stem. If the first node (and only that node) is seen at the base of the stem, then your wheat is at Feekes growth stage 6.

    Here is a video showing how to identify Feekes 6.0 growth stage: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iukwznx4DPk

  3. Alfalfa Risks from the Wild Weather Ride This Winter

    As farmers call in to discuss this strange winter and its risks to their alfalfa stand, concerns continue to grow as the green color has started to come back to alfalfa fields. Actually predicting what this weather is going to do to our alfalfa crop is impossible but scouting this spring will be imperative to determining how your alfalfa crop might do this year.

    As temperatures rose into the 60’s or even set records in the 70’s recently it has awakened at least some of the alfalfa plants from their winter dormancy. Once dormancy is broke, the plants start using the nutrients that were stored in the roots and crowns to start spring growth. The early start to regrowth is not the problem, the challenge is going to be how many times winter temperatures returned to average and force plants back into dormancy. Then when another round of warm weather comes through, the plants will break dormancy again utilizing more of their root reserves. Alfalfa is a strong deep-rooted crop and can handle this cycle a couple times but eventually it can run out of root and crown reserves.

    The other risk factor we are concerned about is ice formation on the soil surface each time we get a rain shower and it drops below freezing. The ice stops the exchange of gasses between the air and soil, if the exchange stops for a prolonged period of time toxins can build up in the soil, causing the roots to run out of oxygen that damages the roots, weakening the plant reserves to break dormancy. The other risk of wet soils and freezing and thawing is crown heaving. This usually snaps the taproot and raises the risk of crown damage during harvest. When the taproot snaps secondary roots can form that keep the plant alive but its nutrient uptake and ability to survive drought conditions decreases. 

    The next step is going to be an intensified scouting program this spring paying special attention to low areas and soils that warm up and cool faster which could have broken dormancy more times than other areas of the field. While scouting look for areas that are greening up slower or have uneven regrowth. In these areas root digs will be beneficial. Healthy roots are going to be white and firm while injured roots are spongy, yellowish grey, dehydrated, or even worse, they can be brown with a rotting slim feel.

    When doing your scouting after dormancy breaks you will want to take stem counts per square foot to get an idea of how the stand will perform this year. If stem counts are greater than 55 stems per square foot, stand density will not be a limiting factor. When densities decrease to 55-40 stems, there will be some yield reductions but, yields will still be adequate in years of low inventory or high hay values. When stem counts fall below 40, the stand is poor and termination options need evaluated. If damage is spotty across the field and a mixed stand of grass and alfalfa could work for your operation, you could consider inter-seeding annual or perennial grasses to improve yield.

  4. Early Season Forage Seeding Considerations


    I have been getting questions about seeding forages, both frost seeding and drilling, and this year’s weather pattern needs to be considered when making a seeding decision. Generally March is a good time in our area to consider frost seeding. Frost seeding works better some years than others. Successful frost seeding is dependent upon several factors:

    1. The broadcast seed can actually get down to the soil surface. For this to happen you have to be able to see bare soil when you look down upon your sod base. This will not work if there is a thick sod base that covers the soil. Bunch types of sod, composed of orchardgrass and/or tall fescue, work better to frost seed into than sod-forming grasses such as bluegrass. To prepare for frost seeding the recommendation is to “rough up” or “open up” the sod by grazing down tight or mowing very low in the late fall or in the early spring. If livestock are used to do a grazing pass the hoof action can also help to open up the sod. Light tillage may also work.
    2. Freeze/thaw action. This happens when we get night-time temperatures in the 20’s and day-time temperatures in the 40’s, preferably for at least several days after broadcasting the seed. These type of days have been very limited to date. If you read any of the fact sheets about frost seeding you typically will see the phrase “broadcast seed on to frozen soil”. We do not have frozen soil this year, thanks to the unseasonably warm temperatures we have experienced in February. This may be another strike against frost seeding success this year.
    3. Forage species. Frost seeding works best with heavier seed that has a better chance of getting down to the soil surface. Legumes such as red and white clover work well and have good seedling vigor. Birdsfoot trefoil is also a good candidate for frost seeding but it is a slower establishing species and it may need 2 to 3 years after seeding before it makes much of a contribution to the pasture mix. Grasses do not establish as well with frost seeding, but there has been some limited success with perennial ryegrass and orchardgrass when frost seeded. I believe that for the dollars spent for seed, drilling grasses is the preferred method of establishment. Broadcast legume and grass seed separately because the difference in seed weight between the legume and grass seed results in the grass seed not being thrown as far as the legume seed.
    4. Soil pH and fertility are conducive to good seedling establishment and growth. Soil pH should be at a minimum above 6.0 and preferably at 6.5 if legumes are being sown. Phosphorus is an important element for new seedling growth and soil phosphorus level should be at 25 ppm or higher (Bray P1 extractant). Soil potassium should be in the 120 ppm range.
    5. Management after frost seeding. The new legume seedlings need sunlight to develop. This means that the grass plants in the sod mix can’t be allow to shade out the new seedlings. It will be necessary to do either a quick “flash” grazing pass to take off the top of the grass plants and leave a 4 to 4.5 inch residue or a mowing that leaves the same residual height. Once the seedling is established regular grazing or mowing passes can be practiced.

    With regard to establishing a new forage stand with a drill, I think we have to look at this year’s weather pattern and what it is doing to soil temperatures. The third week in February we had 50 degree plus soil temperatures at a 2 inch depth. As I write this article in early March we have 40 degree plus soil temperatures at a 2 inch depth. We are ahead of our average. Seed placed in the soil now is likely to germinate and emerge more quickly this year. That may be okay, but it is early March and we could very well get some low to mid 20 degree temperatures yet. Legumes, especially alfalfa, are susceptible to getting that young seedling killed or damaged by these temperatures because their growing point is above the soil surface. Grasses have a little more protection as their growing point is at the soil surface. So, even though you might be able to drill seed now, from a risk management point of view, it may be best to wait until late March or early April.

  5. Overholt Drainage School to Start Monday in London

    Author(s): Larry Brown

    The Overholt Drainage School will be March 13-17. The school will be held at the Beck’s London Facility, London, Ohio.

    The school is designed to provide continuing education for land improvement contractors, soil and water conservation technicians, farmers, engineers, consultants and others in soil and water conservation systems; especially in water management and quality. Instructors of the 5-day school include land-grant university faculty and staff, engineers and technicians with Natural Resources Conservation Service, Ohio Department of Agriculture-Soil and Water Conservation, USDA Agricultural Research Service, and Ohio Land Improvement Contractors and Associates.

    The school is divided into three sessions. Cost of attending is $650 for all three sessions (March 13-17), $475 for session 1 (March 13-15), $350 for session 2 (March 15-16), or $150 for session 3 (March 17). For information and to register, click here http://agnr.osu.edu/events/overholt-drainage-school.

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)
Chris Zoller (Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources)
Dennis Riethman (Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources)
Elizabeth Hawkins (Field Specialist, Agronomic Systems)
Glen Arnold, CCA (Field Specialist, Manure Nutrient Management )
Greg LaBarge, CPAg/CCA (Field Specialist, Agronomic Systems)
Harold Watters, CPAg/CCA (Field Specialist, Agronomic Systems)
Jason Hartschuh, CCA (Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources)
Jeff Stachler (Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources)
Lee Beers, CCA (Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources)
Mark Badertscher (Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources)
Mary Griffith (Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources)
Mike Estadt (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)
Steve Culman (State Specialist, Soil Fertility)
Wayne Dellinger (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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