Tariffs quickly affect locals

Hello Trumbull County. It’s August already, and I don’t know where summer went. I imagine the rain washed it down to the Ohio River and it will soon be floating around in the Gulf of Mexico. That’s my rain complaint for this month.

There has been a lot of talk in the past couple of weeks about the ongoing trade war, tariffs and subsidies to farmers. When decisions are made in Washington, D.C., it often seems that by the time the impacts of those decisions are felt locally, they have been so diluted that the effects are minimal. This is not the case with the trade war going on with China as all Ohio farmers growing soybeans will feel the effects.

At the beginning of June, soybeans were trading between $10 and $10.50 / bushel, but as of this writing they are trading for $8.75 / bushel. That’s a 17 percent drop in less than two months.

Soybeans seemed to be a safer basket to place eggs this year compared to other crops because of stable market prices. Farmers realized this, and there were more soybean acres planted in the United States than corn in 2018 — the first time since 1983. Additionally, many local farmers that were planning to plant corn acres switched to soybeans as they could be planted later in the season. With a record number of soybean acres planted, and a 17 percent pay cut to that check, the prediction for the lowest farm income in 12 years will likely hold true.

President Trump has realized that his trade war has negative consequences for farmers and he has asked the USDA to assist farmers in several targeted areas. This assistance comes in the form of $12 billion that will be used in three areas: 1) direct payments to producers of soybeans, sorghum, cotton, corn, wheat, dairy and pork; 2) purchase targeted agricultural products for distribution to food banks and nutrition programs; 3) trade promotion program to develop new markets for agricultural products. Any payments made to farmers would be a one-time only payment and is viewed as a short-term solution. The long-term solution would be to come to a trade agreement that would see farm commodity prices stabilize and increase.

We all hope the trade war is resolved soon. In the event that soybean prices stay low going into next year, farmers may want to look at some new markets that are becoming a viable option again in Ohio. I’ve talked about malting barley and field peas before, but many farmers are hesitant to risk growing a new crop that may have a learning curve. There is a definite learning curve, but if prices stay low it may be worth learning something new. If you are considering a new crop, OSU Extension can help make the learning curve a little less steep.

Speaking of field peas, the first crop was harvested a couple of weeks ago. It was probably the first field pea harvest in Trumbull County for about 100 years. Yields were okay, but a lot of knowledge was gained during the growing season. A couple of points to note for anyone trying to grow peas next year. Double up on the inoculum to get nodulation off to a good start and applying a little early season nitrogen may get them going faster.

Peas do better in dryer conditions and do not germinate well when mudded in. Glyphosate and paraquat can both be used as a harvest aid, but paraquat appears to have a more uniform dry down than glyphosate, and it also works faster. Late season peas will need to be scouted regularly for powdery mildew, and don’t miss a fungicide spray this year — the conditions are perfect for infection.

As we head into August, the pest and disease pressure in our crop fields and gardens will peak. Many gardens already have powdery mildew, downy mildew, blight, Japanese beetles, corn borer and a variety of other issues. Diseases will only increase in severity as the disease cycles kick into high gear. Get out and scout now to detect any issues before they reach a serious problem later in the growing season.

OSU Extension will be hosting an Insect and Disease Field Night 6:30 to 8 p.m. Aug. 13 at the Dave Millard Farm, 6151 Woodard Road in Andover. OSU Extension Specialists Anne Dorrance, Kelley Tillmon, Andy Michel, and Pierce Paul will provide hands-on training for scouting for diseases and pests in corn and soybeans. The program is free, but call 440-576-9008 to register.

For information on any program, call the OSU Trumbull County Extension Office at 330-638-6783 or visit trumbull.osu.edu.

Beers can be reached at beers.66@osu.edu or 330-638-6738.