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Ohio State University Extension


C.O.R.N. Newsletter 2009-03

Dates Covered: 
February 3, 2009 - February 17, 2009
Harold Watters

Are non-transgenic corn hybrids a viable alternative to stacked trait hybrids?

Authors: Allen Geyer, Rich Minyo, Peter Thomison

As was noted in a, transgenic corn hybrids are now the most widely grown hybrids in Ohio. According to the USDA-Economic Research Service ( in 2008, two thirds of the state’s corn acreage was planted to transgenic corn hybrids with 37% of total acreage planted to stacked trait hybrids, 17% to herbicide tolerant hybrids, and 12% to some type of Bt hybrid. It appears likely that in the near future that the availability of non-transgenic corn hybrids will be limited and that acreage of non-transgenics corn will continue to decline. However, many corn growers in Ohio (in 2008 one third of the corn acreage was non-transgenic) are still interested in growing non-transgenic corns. Some of these growers want to take advantage of the premiums offered for non-GMO corn (about $0.50 or more per bushel) and others want to grow non-GMO corn to reduce seed and herbicide costs associated with traited corn. Growers who have not experienced serious problems with rootworm and corn borer and who have controlled weeds effectively with traditional herbicide programs question the need for transgenic hybrids. Non-GMO corn producers cite increasing difficulties locating non-transgenic corn hybrids and are concerned that the yield potential of non transgenic corn hybrids is lower than that of transgenic corns especially stacked trait hybrids.

These concerns are understandable since there has been a perception among some growers that stacked trait corn hybrids are higher yielding irrespective of insect pest pressure. A frequent comment I’ve heard is “stacked trait hybrids are doing more for us than protecting yields.” One explanation for this perception is that some seed companies are no longer developing non-transgenic versions of certain hybrids. So, when a new high yielding hybrid is introduced it’s only available with stacked traits and certain single traits (e.g. a glyphosate resistant version). As a consequence, some believe that in order to optimize yields with the newest “genetics” you need to plant stacked trait corn hybrids. Another explanation for the perception is that the gene stacking itself enhances yields. Different genetic backgrounds respond differently to insertion of transgenes. Yields of some transgenic hybrids are lower than the non traited isogenic hybrid whereas others are higher. I’m unaware of any research indicating stacking traits per se increases yield.

In 2008, nearly all the hybrids entered in the Ohio Corn Performance Test (OCPT) contained one or more transgenic traits with over 60% of the entries containing three or more traits. In order to provide non-GMO corn producers with information on the performance of non-transgenic corn relative to that of transgenic hybrids, we asked seed companies entering the OCPT for non-transgenic hybrids that we could include in the 2008 regional tests. A total of 18 non-transgenic hybrids were evaluated in addition to 214 transgenic corn hybrids. At the eight test locations across Ohio (with three sites in the Southwest/West Central region, two in the Northwest region and three in the Northcentral/Northeast region) average grain yields of transgenic and non-transgenic hybrids in the early maturity tests differed by 2 to 14 bu/A with the transgenic hybrids showing a slightly higher yield at only one of the eight sites; average grain yields of transgenic and non-transgenic in the full season maturity tests differed by 1 to 12 bu/A with the transgenics showing higher yields at four of the eight sites. Differences in stalk lodging between the transgenic and non-transgenic hybrids at the eight test sites were negligible. A comparison of average OCPT plot yields of the non-transgenic hybrids with that of hybrids containing one or more events (16 different events and combinations of events) revealed that the non-transgenic corn yielded as well as most events and better than some.

One of the seed companies participating in the 2008 OCPT, provided us with two non-transgenic hybrids (a 109- and a 110-day hybrid). In addition, they provided six different “versions” of these two hybrids each containing one or more transgenic traits - Roundup Ready (RR), Yield Gard (YG) corn borer (CB) Bt, RR+YGCB, “YG Plus” (CB + root worm or RW+Bt), RR+YGPlus, and YGVT3. We compared the performance of these hybrids at seven OCPT sites to determine effects of transgenic traits on agronomic performance under different growing conditions. Yields of the 110-day hybrids, (yields averaged across the seven isogenic hybrids and seven test sites) were 26 bu/A greater than that of the 109-day hybrids. However, yields, averaged across test locations, were not significantly different among the isogenic hybrids. Yields of non-transgenic hybrid yielded as well as the stacked corn hybrids. At two of the seven test sites, there were significant differences among the 109-day isogenic hybrids for stalk lodging with hybrids containing RR+YGPlus, and YGVT3 showing significantly greater stalk lodging (51% and 64%, respectively) compared to the non-transgenic hybrid (6%). These differences in stalk lodging were not present for the 110-day hybrids.

Results of the 2008 OCPT and isogenic corn hybrid evaluations suggest that non- transgenic (non-GMO hybrids) are available that will yield competitively with many transgenic corn hybrids, including stacked trait hybrids, in the absence of corn borer and rootworm pressure. Growers interested in identifying high yielding hybrids for non-GMO grain production should consider accessing the Ohio Corn Performance Test website Once a region or test location is selected, the sort feature under “Traits” can be used to find “NON-GMO” hybrids.

AND as a follow up to last issue’s listing of seed companies ( with available non-GMO soybean seed, here are two additions: Contract acres and seed are available from HAPI-O in Marysville, Ohio, contact is 937-644-8215. Pioneer has limited quantities of non-GMO varieties, contact your seed representative.

Herbicide options have never been better for non-GMO corn and popcorn

Authors: Mark Loux

The emphasis on glyphosate-resistant corn has overshadowed some of the improvements in the herbicide options available for non-GMO corn and popcorn over the past several years. New preemergence (PRE) and postemergence (POST) herbicides make it possible to put together herbicide programs for non-GMO corn that provide weed control and yield similar to those in glyphosate-resistant or Liberty Link corn, at a roughly equivalent cost. This has come about through the increasing use of safeners in formulations, the development of reasonably priced POST herbicides that have grass and broadleaf activity and excellent crop safety, and the development of new active ingredients by several companies.

A few notes on the discussion that follows:
1) popcorn producers should check to make sure that the products mentioned here are labeled for use on popcorn, and approved by the seed company for use on the popcorn hybrid being grown; and
2) it is not the intent of this article to provide an update on all of the new herbicides available for corn, since a review of new herbicides appeared in

There are three primary approaches to herbicide management in corn – total PRE, PRE followed by POST, and early POST with a residual component. Any of these approaches can provide effective weed control, depending upon the weeds that are in the field. The total PRE approach can be effective in fields that have low to moderate weed populations, and are not infested with perennials or weeds that have a tendency to emerge late in the growing season. Several companies now market broad-spectrum PRE herbicide programs, although they are not necessarily inexpensive. Some examples: Lexar/Lumax; Corvus + atrazine; Balance Flex + an atrazine premix product of your choice; Hornet + Keystone or other atrazine premix product of your choice. Balance Flex is a new formulation of isoxaflutole that contains a safener, which alleviates the injury concerns that limited the rate and use of Balance. Corvus, which just received federal approval for use, is a premix of Balance Flex and a new ALS inhibitor that has foliar and residual activity on grasses. It’s also possible to work SureStart into a broad-spectrum total PRE program, but this product was developed for use in a planned PRE + POST program. The use rates of SureStart are generally too low to ensure ‘season-long” control, but mixing it with a reduced rate of Keystone or another atrazine premix can result in broad-spectrum control and sufficient residual. One possible failing of the total PRE program is its reliance for effectiveness on timely rain, within a week or so after application. When this fails to occur, herbicide costs in this system increase above what was initially planned, because POST herbicides are needed to “bail out” PRE programs that provided less than adequate control.

The PRE followed by POST approach provides the most consistently effective control of weeds that emerge continuously throughout the growing season or emerge late in the season, such as giant ragweed, waterhemp, annual grasses, burcucumber, and a number of perennial weeds. The PRE + POST program also works better than the other approaches in really weedy fields. One of the advantages the planned PRE + POST program has over the total PRE is that the former factors in the cost of PRE and POST herbicides up front, and it rarely requires much modification in the middle of the growing season. There is much less risk of costs increasing above a predetermined figure, compared to when a total PRE program fails and then has to be ‘bailed out”. Consequently, considerable thought should be put into the following decision – “am I better off spending money on a broad-spectrum total PRE program, or spending the same amount or a little more on a PRE + POST program that can provide more consistent control of the weeds that I am dealing with?” It is of course also possible to use a comprehensive full-rate PRE program and follow with POST herbicides on an as-needed basis. Some companies will contribute money toward the cost of the POST treatment in this situation where you have used their PRE herbicides.

The following three general guidelines will help ensure that you maximize the benefit of a planned PRE + POST program:

1. Use a PRE herbicide treatment that includes a true “grass” herbicide, and use a rate equal to at least 75% of a normal full-season PRE rate. Results of our research indicate that PRE treatments of atrazine, atrazine plus simazine, or Balance + atrazine are less effective at protecting yield in this system than atrazine premix products (Bicep, Harness Xtra, Guardsman, etc), or products such as SureStart or Corvus.

2. Use a POST herbicide treatment with activity on both grass and broadleaf weeds. Possibilities here include Impact, Laudis, or mixtures of Steadfast, Resolve Q, or Option with a broadleaf herbicide. If you are absolutely positive that there are no grasses present at the time of the POST treatment, it is possible to use a herbicide that controls only broadleaf weeds. However, mixtures of Impact or Laudis with atrazine are effective on most broadleaf weeds, as well as small grasses, for a relatively low cost.

3. Apply the POST treatment when corn is not more than 12 to 14 inches tall, or before weeds exceed about 3 inches in height (grasses less than 1 to 2 inches tall for Impact and Laudis). Where the PRE herbicides have controlled weeds well, so that none are evident in 14-inch corn, it is possible to delay POST applications. However, corn is competitive with weeds once it reaches a size of about 20 inches tall, and POST herbicides should be applied before this size. Exception – burcucumber, which requires a strategy all of its own.

It is possible to make a total POST herbicide program work in non-GMO corn, but this approach can be less effective at protecting corn yields, compared with the PRE + POST program. The total POST approach is also less effective then the PRE + POST approach in fields with perennials or a history of late-emerging annual weeds. Use of the total POST approach assumes a weed-free start at planting, through use of tillage or preplant burndown herbicides. Keys to success with this approach include the following:

1. It is essential that weeds are no more than 1 to 2 inches tall at the time of POST herbicide application, to ensure that they are not a yield-limiting factor.

2. Include broad-spectrum residual herbicides, and take a similar approach with rates as indicated above the PRE + POST program. Reducing rates too much or failing to use a broad-spectrum approach can result in weed problems later in the season.

3. Make sure that the herbicides applied will effectively control the weeds present in the field. The rate of atrazine in atrazine premix products can be sufficient to control small broadleaf weeds, but products such as Lexar and Lumax are often more effective for broadleaf weed control than atrazine alone. Atrazine can control very small grasses, but this is dependent upon use of a high enough rate and appropriate adjuvants to maximize activity. The addition of a herbicide with better activity on grasses can be a more consistently effective approach where grasses are more than an inch tall. Possibilities here include Impact, Laudis, Steadfast, Resolve Q, and Option, but check labels to make sure that mixtures of these with the residual herbicides are allowed. Another possibility is Corvus, which is labeled early POST on corn, and provides control of emerged grasses along with residual grass control (mixing some atrazine with it provides the full measure of broadleaf weed control needed in this approach).

Crop Production Conference presentations now online

Authors: Mark Loux

The presentations from the 2009 OSU/OSBA Crop Production Conference and the OSU Advance Agronomy School are now online. They can be found at, in the “Presentations” section. The Powerpoint presentations are in pdf format, and can be read by most browsers or saved on a computer by right-clicking and selecting “save as….”.

Want to voice your support for 2,4-D?

Authors: Mark Loux

EPA is seeking public comments on a petition to revoke all tolerances and cancel all registrations for the pesticide 2,4-D. The petition was submitted by the environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). The
NRDC claims in their petition that EPA cannot make a finding that there is a reasonable certainty of no harm from dietary residues of 2,4-D. The petition also states that EPA also did not consider the full spectrum of potential human health effects associated with the pesticide.

The public comment process allows anyone with an opinion of the value of 2,4-D in agriculture to provide input, which should then be considered in the EPA’s decision-making process. Public comments must be submitted by February 23, 2009. Information on submitting comments is available at:
The docket information is available at:

On-Farm Grain Storage Meeting – March 4 & 5

Authors: Bruce Clevenger

Anytime is a good time to save money in farming. Finding ways to conserve energy and reduce costs associated with growing crops continues to be a critical challenge for Ohio agriculture. For example, the production of an average field of corn can require an estimated 8 million Btu of purchased energy per acre. An estimated 3 million of the fuel and electrical energy use may be required for conventional grain drying.

OSU Extension and MSU Extension is sponsoring an On-Farm Stored Grain Management workshop on March 4, 2009 at the Ridgeville American Legion near Ridgeville Corners, OH beginning at 1:00 PM and second meeting on March 5, 2009 at Cabela’s in Dundee, MI beginning at 9:00 AM.

Dr. Robert Hansen, OSU Ag Engineering, will teach how natural air drying systems can dramatically reduce energy inputs for drying. For example, drying corn from 25.5 to 15.5% moisture with a natural air system may use as little as 25 to 40% of the total energy of high temperature systems. Dr. Dee Jepsen, OSU Ag Safety and Health, will present facts on keeping health and safety in mind when operating grain handling equipment. Dr. Linda Mason, Purdue University, will teach participants how to monitor and control stored grain insect pests.

Registration material can be found at or from your local OSU Extension office. Registrations postmarked or received by February 25, 2009 is $15 per person. For further information, contact Bruce Clevenger, OSU Extension Educator at or 1-800-745-4771.

Phosphorus Fertilizer Forms and Formulations

Authors: Keith Diedrick, Robert Mullen

We get a lot of questions regarding which form of P fertilizer is best for Ohio crops, and the debate of dry vs. liquid and “ortho” vs. “poly” ensues.

For almost all situations (unless you are in the desert southwest), the choice of dry or liquid is one of material handling and price per pound, not plant availability. Dry fertilizers are made to be water soluble, else they would serve no purpose over ground-up rock in the soil (see our article on the use of rock phosphate here Both liquid and dry phosphate fertilizers will stay put in the soil when incorporated, too, so picking dry or liquid is up to you and your application equipment. Pick the cheapest commercial source once you calculate the value per pound (and read a recent soil test report for your field).

Other questions about phosphate are about “ortho” versus “poly” fertilizers. First off, a little plant physiology refresher: plants can absorb either H2PO4- or the HPO42-, the latter being the orthophosphate ion described above. Regardless of the form, commercial fertilizer, manure, or organic bone meal, if the P does not break down into either of the two ions above, it simply will not be absorbed by the plant roots. Back in the 60s, the old forms of P fertilizer were all orthophosphates, but advances in chemistry led to the production of more concentrated (thus more efficient to transport and apply) P fertilizers, the polyphosphates and pyrophosphates. Some folks may choose all “ortho” liquid, as it is already plant available, however when polyphosphates are introduced into the soils in your field, they convert to orthophosphate anyway, usually in a very short period of time (in less than a day if the conditions are right). This process is fast enough to supply plants with the P they need, so again, pick the cheapest form of fertilizer that meets your needs.

References: Havlin, J.L., et al. 1999. Soil Fertility and Fertilizers, 6th ed. Prentice-Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ.
Lohry, R. 2001. Ortho vs. poly. Fluid Journal, (35) p.17-19.

Respect Private Property Owners

With the many recent snow we have received lately, many people have been able to enjoy riding their snowmobiles and four-wheelers. However, in so doing we must be aware of private property owner’s rights and respect those rights. This past week I have received some calls from property owners complaining about people on recreational vehicles trespassing on their property and damaging crops.

One of the main concerns is damage to wheat, which is planted in the fall, then goes into dormancy until the warm weather in the spring. Driving on it during the winter months may cause damage to the crop. Mainly, when snow and ice is compacted on top of the plants it may damage the crown and/or prevent oxygen from reaching the root system causing the plant to die. Estimates of approximately 40% crop loss can be attributed to plant damage and compaction by driving on wheat plants in the winter months. This estimate may increase or decrease depending on the condition of the soil (frozen or wet), and if the snow is compacted into ice.

Although the total acres affected by a single snowmobile driving across a field is very small, it’s still the responsibility of the driver to obtain permission from the property owner in order to prevent violating any trespassing laws.

Ohio law addresses many questions raised about farm security. Is there any recourse against four-wheelers who destroy farm crops? How can a farm owner be compensated for harm caused by trespassers? When addressing acts of harm to farm property, it is important to understand the difference between criminal and civil actions. Criminal laws define our duties to behave a certain way in the community. Civil laws define our private rights. Where someone intentionally destroys or harms property, that person may be breaking a criminal law and also violating the individual rights of the property owner. The person could be subject to legal recourse under both criminal and civil laws.

In addition to fines or imprisonment, criminal charges might include a request for compensation to the victim of the crime. But if the individual is not charged with a crime or compensation is not ordered or is inadequate, the property owner can bring a civil action against the individual. Where the property owner's harm is not resolved through informal processes such as mediation or arbitration, the civil action would likely result in a court trial.

Reporting Crimes. The local sheriff's office or police station is the primary law enforcement agency to which a property owner should report a crime. The Fish and Wildlife Service, a division of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, also has limited law-enforcement authority and may be willing to investigate or file charges when hunters or fishermen trespass or harm farm property.

The criminal trespass provision in Ohio law states that a person may not, without permission, do any of the following:

- Knowingly enter or remain upon the land or premises of another.
- Knowingly enter or remain on land or premises that are lawfully restricted to certain persons, purposes, modes, or hours.
- Recklessly enter or remain on another's land or premises when notice against unauthorized access has been given by actual communication to the offender, or by posting or fencing the property.
- Negligently fail or refuse to vacate land or premises after being told to do so by the owner.
A person who violates this law is guilty of criminal trespass, a fourth-degree misdemeanor. In addition to fines and imprisonment, the court could order restitution to the property owner for damages caused by the criminal trespass.

Destruction of Crops and Timber
A law specific to farm situations is the law on "destruction of crops." The law states that a person who, without permission, recklessly cuts, destroys, or injures crops, trees, vines, bushes, shrubs, or saplings growing on the land of another is guilty of a fourth-degree misdemeanor. "Recklessly" means that the offender realized the risk of harm that would be caused by his or her actions and acted with complete disregard of the harmful consequences. A person who violates this law is subject to a maximum imprisonment of 30 days and a maximum fine of $250. The crop and timber destruction law requires payment of damages to the property owner. In this case, the damages are severe, triple the amount of total loss to the property. These are referred to as "treble damages," which are intended to punish the offender for reckless behavior.

Under Ohio law, a property owner has the right to use reasonable force to defend himself/herself or another person against a trespasser and would not be liable for harm caused to the offender. However, defense of property is not a valid legal justification for injuring or killing a trespasser. A property owner who harms or kills a trespasser who is not threatening a human being could be liable to the trespasser or his/her family.

For more information on agricultural law you may go to or contact your attorney or local Extension Office.

Upcoming Agronomic meetings – February

Authors: Harold Watters

Feb 5th - Northern Ohio Crops Day
Start Time: 9 a.m.
County of Meeting Location: Sandusky County 

Name of Meeting Place: Ole Zim’s Wagon Shed 
Address: 1375 N. State Route 590 
City, Zip code: Gibsonburg, Ohio 43431
Cost: $10.00 
CCA Credits Offered: Yes
PAT Credits Offered: Private: Yes Commercial: Yes
Meeting Coordinator Name: Mark Koenig 
Phone Number: 419-334-6340 

Feb 5th - Champaign, Logan, and Union Agronomy Workshop
Start Time: 3:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
County of Meeting Location: Union

 Name of Meeting Place:Union County Service Center, 940 South London Ave, Marysville, Ohio 43040 
Cost: $10.00
CCA Credits Offered: No
PAT Credits Offered: Private: Yes Commercial: No
Meeting Coordinator Name: John Hixson
Phone Number: 937-644-8117
Agenda Web Link:

Feb 17th - Agronomy School
Start Time: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
County of Meeting Location: Coshocton/Muskingum 

Name of Meeting Place: Conesville, Ohio
Address: 195 State St.
City, Zip code: Conesville, OH 43811
Cost: $15
CCA Credits Offered: Yes
PAT Credits Offered: Private: Yes Commercial: No
Meeting Coordinator Name: Marissa Mullett and Mark Mechling
Phone Number: 740-622-2265 or 740-454-0144
E-mail: or
Agenda Web Link:

Feb 24th - Tri-County Agronomy Day
Start Time: 10 a.m.
County of Meeting Location: Carroll

Name of Meeting Place: Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church Hall
Address: Roswell Rd.
City, Zip code: Carrollton, OH 44615 
Cost: $8
 CCA Credits Offered: No
PAT Credits Offered: Private: Yes Commercial: No
Meeting Coordinator Name: Mike Hogan
Phone Number: 330-627-4310
Agenda Web Link: agenda (not up yet)

Feb 24th - Risk Management Decisions for 2009, Understanding Crop Insurance
Dr. Art Barnaby ( from Kansas State University will be in Ohio for one day February 24th. He will be in Chillicothe, Ohio in Ross County in the morning and in Urbana in the afternoon for this Risk Management Decision making program. Dr. Barnaby is an acknowledged Crop Insurance and Risk Management expert. Plan to attend this 4-hour afternoon session with us to learn almost everything you need to make your crop risk management decisions for 2009. This year with the changes brought on by increases in crop input prices AND the new Farm Bill, understanding your risk management options is more important now than ever!
Where: Champaign County Community Center – 1512 South US Hwy 68, Urbana, OH 43078. Date & Time: February 24th from 2PM to 6PM with a meal following. Price: $10, Register by February 19th. Cointact: Harold Watters, 937 484-1526

Feb 25th - Benefits of Cover Crops special session at CTC Conference
Start Time: TBA
County of Meeting Location: Allen

Name of Meeting Place: Ohio Northern University 
City, Zip code: Ada, OH 
Cost: See agenda 
CCA Credits Offered: Yes
 PAT Credits Offered: Private: No Commercial: No
Meeting Coordinator Name: Gary Wilson 
Phone Number: 419-422-3851 
Agenda Web Link:

Feb 26 & 27 - Conservation Tillage Conference
Start Time: See agenda, County of Meeting Location: Allen

Name of Meeting Place: Ohio Northern University 
Address: Ada, OH 
Cost:See agenda 
CCA Credits Offered: Yes
 PAT Credits Offered: Private: No Commercial: No
Meeting Coordinator Name: Gary Wilson 
Phone Number: 419-422-3851 
Agenda Web Link:

Archive Issue Contributors: 

State Specialists: Peter Thomison (Corn Production), Anne Dorrance, Pierce Paul and Dennis Mills (Plant Pathology), Ron Hammond, Andy Michel, and Bruce Eisley (Entomology), Mark Loux (Weed Science), Robert Mullen and Keith Diedrick (Soil Fertility), and Jim Noel (NOAA). County Extension professionals: Mark Koenig (Sandusky), Roger Bender (Shelby), Harold Watters (Champaign), Todd Mangen (Mercer), Steve Foster (Darke), Greg LaBarge (Fulton), Glen Arnold (Putnam), Tim Fine (Miami), Flo Chirra (Williams), Wesley Haun (Logan), Marissa Mullett (Coshocton) and Mike Gastier (Huron).

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.