Ohio Farmer

Saving rain brings new life to Ohio crops

Field Snapshot: Some wheat fields may produce exceptional yields.

Jennifer Kiel, Editor, Michigan Farmer and Ohio Farmer

June 21, 2023

4 Min Read
Nathan Brause's wheat field in Ohio’s Crawford County
WHEAT: Nathan Brause farms about 1,500 acres with a three-crop rotation equally divided into corn, soybeans and wheat in Ohio’s Crawford County. For the first time in many years, part of his wheat crop did not receive a fungicide application. Nathan Brause

Nathan Brause started planting May 15 and finished May 30. “All our corn had not seen a rain until June 11,” he says. About 1.4 inches fell that day, which was followed by another inch of rain June 13.

Before the rain, about 5% of the crop had not peeked through the ground, waiting to germinate. “We ran out of moisture here about two weeks ago,” Brause adds. “Some guys were still planting at that time and waiting for rain — hopefully, they got enough to get it going. I know a few places north of here got only about a half-inch.”

Brause farms about 1,500 acres with a three-crop rotation equally divided into corn, soybeans and wheat in Ohio’s Crawford County, about 5 miles northeast of Bucyrus and Sulphur Springs. He also does custom planting, harvesting and Y-drop applications of nitrogen.

He works with his youngest son, Alex, 25, and two other employees. Together, they work with two other operations, and between the three, they’re farming 3,500 acres.

Weeds are taking a pretty good hold on crops this year. “I’ve heard from other growers around that Atrazine wasn’t really taking effect like it should,” Brause says. “It was quite cold, especially at night. Some of it didn't get the rain, but there was also some that did and should have been activated. It didn't seem to do much.”

Brause switched from non-GMO to GMO corn this year and plans to spray it with Roundup.

Nitrogen was applied at planting, and he will use Y-drops to deliver another dose of nitrogen around V5.

Early beans were planted April 13 and took about a month to get going. “But they look really good right now,” Brause says.

Planting no-till into green rye, Brause says he was a little concerned about slugs. “But the beans look really good considering all the cold weather,” he says.

The rest of the soybeans were planted in mid-May. “They look good, too, but we’ve had some deer and groundhog feeding,” Brause adds.

Wheat received a couple of applications of N, with the last being about 10 days before heading.

A little over half his wheat acres were treated with fungicide, Miravis Ace, while 200 acres received none. It is not a common practice.

“We usually apply fungicide to 100% of our wheat, but this year I kept looking at the weather forecast,” Brause says. “The only thing that scared me into using the fungicide was the 90-degree heat coming in. We really had no disease pressure, no moisture, and we didn't see a whole lot of insect problems. That's the first I have not applied fungicide for quite a few years.”

Overall, Brause expects wheat yields to be good, with some fields being exceptional.

He returned to planting wheat five years ago after about a 10-year hiatus from the crop. Wheat allows the workload to be spread out more, “and it lightens the stress,” he says. “But most importantly, it allows me to put down a 14-way cover crop mix, which includes sunflowers that we harvest in November,” he says.

Some of the better stands of wheat received the growth regulator Palisade before heading.

“I applied it to the heavier-looking wheat, and it's still all standing,” Brause says. “It shortened the plant by about 3 or 4 inches and stiffened up the stock up so it can hold the weight of the grains against winds. I don't know if it's quite the highest yield out there, but it's pretty decent looking.”

Work on the farm has included removing an older dryer in favor of a new, much-higher-capacity grain system. Some trees next to the shop are being removed and concrete will be coming in soon.

The farm has been no-till for many years, but this year some tillage was used on a newly tiled field to work under a cover crop instead of rolling it. “That brought in a whole new crop of rocks that needed to be picked up,” Brause says.

Tillage was also used on a field, as part of the H2Ohio program, to smooth out where manure had been incorporated the year prior.

“I’m an optimistic guy, and I think things are going to be all right,” Brause adds.

About the Author(s)

Jennifer Kiel

Editor, Michigan Farmer and Ohio Farmer

Jennifer was hired as editor of Michigan Farmer in 2003, and in 2015, she began serving a dual role as editor of Michigan Farmer and Ohio Farmer. Both those publications are now online only, while the print version is American Agriculturist, which covers Michigan, Ohio, the Northeast and the mid-Atlantic. She is the co-editor with Chris Torres.

Prior to joining Farm Progress, she served three years as the manager of communications and development for the American Farmland Trust Central Great Lakes Regional Office in Michigan, and as director of communications with the Michigan Agri-Business Association. Previously, she was the communications manager at Michigan Farm Bureau's state headquarters. She also lists 10 years of experience at six different daily and weekly Michigan newspapers on her resume.

She has been a member of American Agricultural Editors’ Association (now Agricultural Communicators Network) since 2003. She has won numerous writing and photography awards through that organization, which named her a Master Writer in 2006 and Writer of Merit in 2017.

She is a board member for the Michigan 4-H Foundation, Clinton County Conservation District and Barn Believers.

Jennifer and her husband, Chris, live in St. Johns, Mich., and collectively have five grown children and four grandchildren.

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