Winners of the 2018 WI Soybean Yield Contest are Announced

The 1st place winner in Division 4, Riley Bros Farms of Darlington, grew Asgrow AG2636 and harvested 99.58 bu/a.  In second place, Venable Farms Inc. of Janesville grew Jung 1243R2X and harvested 93.22 bu/a.  In Division 3, Jim Salentine of Luxemburg harvested 79.32 bu/a with Steyer 1401L and in 2nd place, Oeh My Farms of Abbotsford harvested 77.90 bu/a with Credenz CZ 1028LL.  In Division 2, Custer Farms of Chippewa Falls achieved 72.67 bu/a from Asgrow AG19X8 for first place.  In 2nd place, Adam Majeske of Balsam Lake harvested 56.64 bu/a from Asgrow AG17X8 soybeans.  No entries were submitted for Division 1.

Kreuziger Grain Farms of Juneau was the winner of the Soybean Quality contest with 2,737 pounds of protein plus oil per acre from Pioneer P22T41R2.

The contest is sponsored by the WI Soybean Program and organized to encourage the development of new and innovative management practices and to show the importance of using sound cultural practices in WI soybean production.
For more information please contact Shawn Conley, WI State Soybean Specialist at 608-800-7056 or

Finalists for the 2018 WI Soybean Yield Contest are Announced

Many growers across WI experienced above average growing conditions in 2018; however, delayed harvest caused by frequent rainfall events led to fewer overall entries into our 2018 Yield Contest. The top two entries in each division (in no particular order) were:

Division 4:

  • Jeff Riley, Darlington (planted Asgrow AG2636)
  • Nick Venable, Janesville (planted Jung 1243R2X)

Division 3:

  • Craig Oehmichen, Abbotsford (planted Credenz CZ 1028LL)
  • Jim Salentine, Luxemburg (planted Steyer 1401L)

Division 2:

  • Doug Custer, Chippewa Falls (planted Asgrow AG19X8)
  • Adam Majeske, Balsam Lake (planted Asgrow AG17X8)

Division 1: 

*No entries were submitted for Division 1

The Soybean Quality Contest was optional for any Soybean Yield Contest entrant.  There are no geographical divisions for the Quality Contest.  One cash award will be presented statewide to the highest protein plus oil yield per acre (measured in lbs. per acre). The finalists for the Soybean Quality Contest are:

  • Jerry Kreuziger, Juneau (planted Pioneer P22T41R2)
  • Jim Salentine, Luxemburg (planted Steyer 1401L)

The final ranking and awards will be presented at the Corn Soy Expo to be held at the Kalahari Convention Center, Wisconsin Dells on Thursday January 31st during the WSA/WSMB annual meeting.

The contest is sponsored by the WI Soybean Program and organized to encourage the development of new and innovative soybean management practices as well as show the importance of using sound cultural practices in WI soybean production.

For more information please contact Shawn Conley, WI State Soybean Specialist at 608-800-7056 or

Crappy Prices Followed by Crappy Harvest Weather…These Beans Better Not Sprout Too!

The weather outlook does not look promising for any soybeans getting harvested over the next few weeks. This reality has many growers concerned about soybean sprouting in the pod. Fortunately this is not a common concern for northern soybean farmers but may be a problem in 2018. Given my lack of experience on this topic I leaned on a few of my southern colleagues for thoughts and advice on this topic.

Dr. Jeremy Ross; Extension Agronomist – Soybean/Professor ; Crop, Soil, and Environmental Sciences Department; University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture stated:

We’re having issues with this again this year.  From my observation, this tends to be a bigger problem in years where we have adverse weather conditions (typically hot and dry) during early reproduction, and then we have wetter than normal conditions during late reproduction.  This is what we saw in 2009, 2016, and this year.  My thoughts are that the pod cannot expand as rapidly as the seed expands, rupturing the pod suture.  Once exposed to moisture, these seed sprout.  I have seen seed sprout prior to the pod rupturing, and I can’t explain that sprouting other than excessive moisture caused the sprouting.  Usually it’s just a few pods that show this, and they are usually at the same position on the main stem (all the pods developed at the same time).  I’ve seen this happen up and down the main stem, but usually in the upper ½ of the plant is where I see the occur most frequently.  From what I have seen in the past, the affected pods are less than 5% of the total number per plant.  I haven’t  seen this specific to any one particular genetics, variety or company. For more information refer to his blog article entitled: Splitting pods and sprouting soybean seed in the pods

Dr. William Wiebold, Professor of Agronomy in the Division of Plant Science at the University of Missouri provides very detailed and excellent information regarding the mechanisms of sprouting in soybean in this article entitled: Wet Weather Can Cause Seeds to Sprout on the Plant.

Lets just hope the weather forecast is wrong and WI soybean farmers start rolling in their soybean fields like Bucky will roll over Nebraska this Saturday! Go Bucky!!!

Drought Stricken Soybeans..Should I Leave Them or Take Them for Forage?

Late soybean plantings followed by dry conditions have some northern WI growers considering chopping their soybean as a forage. Before you even consider this option make sure you check the label of the pesticides applied to the crop before you grease the chopper.

  • Let’s start with the herbicides first. In short, outside of glyphosate (25 day) and a handful of pre’s and posts (please refer to Table 3-3 in A3646, Pest Management is WI Field Crops) most soybean herbicides are listed as “not permitted” for forage use.
  • Next, many common insecticides used for soybean aphid management implicitly state “Do NOT graze or feed treated forage or straw to livestock” (please refer to A3646, Pest Management is WI Field Crops) .
  • Lastly, fungicide labels are as equally exclusive with pre-harvest intervals ranging from 14 days to “Do NOT graze or feed soybean forage or hay” (please refer to A3646, Pest Management is WI Field Crops) .

If you somehow pass the gauntlet of “Do not” or “Not Permitted” and the forage value is greater than the grain value then the highest protein and yields are obtained from soybean harvested at the R6 to R7 growth stage. Harvesting soybeans for forage between the R1 and R5 stage will result in a very high quality silage, but dry matter yields will be reduced significantly. Forage quality will be reduced from R5 soybean forward if a conditioning process is used during harvest as conditioning will cause significant seed shattering.

Here are some options for you to consider to help think through the forage versus grain decision.

Option # 1: Soybean haylage considerations

  • What is my realistic tonnage expectations?
    • Late planted drought stricken soybean will yield ~1 to 2 tons of dry matter per acre.
  • What is it going to cost me to harvest and put this crop up?
      • Mowing ($14.20 per acre)
      • Swathing ($7.75 per acre)
      • Haylage (Chopping, hauling, & packing bunker; $49.20 per acre)
  • How should I price this crop?
    • If you were to price the soybean forage based on expected grain yield and CBOT then realistic yield levels would range from 15 – 25 bu per acre at $7.95 per bu (local cash price: 8/22/18). Expected forage value range would be $119.25 to $198.75 per acre.

Option #2: Green manure considerations

  • I am tired of throwing money at this crop……….
    • Though you will save on harvest costs the average cost of a plow down disk operation is $19.70 per acre.
  • How much will I save on next years fertilizer bill?
    • By not harvesting the crop you will not remove the 30# P and 85# K (estimated removal rates of P2O5 and K2O for 15-25 bu per acre soybean grain and straw (A2809)).
    • You may contribute 20-40 pounds of N to next years corn or wheat crop.

Neither of these prove to be particularly attractive options. However I would encourage growers, crop consultants, and nutritionists to weigh the true economical value of each option carefully before proceeding.

I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth

Shawn P. Conley, University of Wisconsin-Madison and Jeremy Ross, University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture

For many of us in agriculture, 2017 was a year we would like to quickly forget. Unpredictable weather, low crop prices and last, but certainly not least, many of us were dealing with the D-word, and I don’t mean Dallas. Off-target movement of synthetic auxin herbicides pitted neighbor against neighbor, farmers against state boards and industry against academia. The caustic environment in agriculture in 2017 made the politics in Washington D.C. look like Sesame Street!

On October 30th 2017 Dr. Kevin Bradley published A Final Report on Dicamba-injured Soybean Acres where he listed an official count of 2,708 reported cases of dicamba-related investigations and an estimated 3.6 million acres of dicamba injured soybean. The efforts of Dr. Bradley as well as many other Extension Weed Scientists led to wholesale changes in herbicide labels and mandatory training prior to the 2018 growing season. The collective hope was to keep these herbicides on-site, where we put them!

This spring, Mother Nature gave many growers across the Midwest small windows to plant soybean in April and early May. Planters got ahead of spray rigs, pre-emergent herbicides didn’t get out and boom, we are behind the 8-ball for weed control options. Those early planted soybean acres then decided to bloom in June which put applicators and farmers against the clock to get their post emergence herbicides on according to label. In the Midwest, it has rained for the past week and applicators have been challenged again to get into the field.  Later planted soybeans will start to bloom over the next week and again put applicators and farmers running against the clock to get their post emergent herbicides on consistent with label directions.  If dicamba was applied post emergence, we can simply mark our calendar forward 14-21 days, cross our fingers and hope that the label changes, applicator training, and more recognition of the potential problems worked and we don’t see any off-site injury.

Let’s fast forward to now. The first official unoffical report of crop damage due to dicamba injury was reported by Dr.  Bradley today “Dicamba Injured Crops and Plants Becoming More Evident: June 15th Update”. We are also starting to see images and early reports of dicamba injury coming from the Mid-South and lower mid-western states. It would be irresponsible to make any wide sweeping claims of pending doom; however, if it does show up it would be even more irresponsible to not report it.

I have been told by many colleagues in both academia and industry that farmers across the country are gun shy to report any damage this season. The three main reasons given by growers are:

  1. I am in a drought stricken area and if I report any damage I will be ineligible for crop insurance!
  2. This is my neighbor, we are friends and I don’t want the government involved. We can handle this between us.
  3. We need this technology and I don’t want to lose it!

As a farm kid myself, I fully understand all of the reasons mentioned above. However, we must all be cognizant that just because we don’t report a problem doesn’t make it go away. There are far too many recent examples of institutional non-reporting that have come back to severely damage the reputation of the non-reporting entity (MSU, Face Book, #MeToo, etc.). Our institution is agriculture! We battle misinformation on GMO’s, we battle misinformation on animal husbandry, and we constantly battle educating the other 99% on what we do. If 2018 turns out like 2017 we do not want to stick our heads in the sand and pretend a problem does not exit. If 2018 turns out to have minimal issues then FANTASTIC! Industry and academia should be lauded for their joint accomplishments. The best way to support agriculture and freedom to operate is through honesty and accurate self-reporting.

The Soybean Flowering – Summer Solstice Fallacy

Shawn P. Conley, Lindsay Chamberlain and James Specht

Every agronomist has been ingrained with the Nowledge that soybean is considered a “short-day” plant and will not flower until after June 21st a.k.a. the summer solstice. This belief has held true for decades; however, with agronomists now preaching the virtues of early soybean planting, coupled with the power of Twitter, we now see pictures and evidence of soybean flowers occurring as early as June 1. This empirical evidence has prompted many to question the foundational belief.

In soybean, floral induction occurs when soybean leaves can measure the night length (from dusk to dawn), and thus begins when unifoliolate leaflets appear at stem node 1 (V0) and a young trifoliolate leaf appears at node 2, with induction continuing thereafter in every subsequent leaf (Wilkerson et al. 1989; Fehr and Caviness, 1977). If soybean is planted early enough, flower initiation can then be triggered on the front of the summer solstice (Figure 1). This response is dependent upon the maturity genes present in the adapted cultivars and region of country, however given the germplasm available to farmers in the north central region it is plausible that any soybean planted in this region would flower “early” if planted early.

In 2018 we have experienced exceptionally warm temperatures after V1 that have significantly hastened the calendar date of R1, because the temperature sensitivity of floral evocation (development of floral meristems into flowers – the first such visible flower leading to an R1 stage call), though floral induction in itself is not very temperature sensitive.  In NE in 2017, the website program SoyWater (SoySim) predicted that an Apr 24 planting date would lead to the R1 stage dates for MGs 1, 2, 3, & 4 to occur on Jun 12, 14, 17, & 19; however, this year (2018), SoyWater (SoySim) is predicting for the same planting date of Apr 24 and near similar MGs, R1 stage dates of June 05, 10, 13, & 16!  Those R1 stage predictions were (as Dr. Specht recall) 3-5 days later a couple of weeks ago, so not only a warm spring, but also this exceptional heat wave in the last few days has hastened floral evocation.  R1 is likely to be earlier in all NC USA areas that have experienced both early soybean planting and a much warmer than normal spring. Early soybean flowering has many management implications including shorter herbicide label timings for dicamba (up to R2) and glyphosate products (through R2) (FYI it usually only takes 3-5 days to go from R1 to R2) and earlier risk for white mold infection. In 2018 it is paramount that you scout and don’t just rely on the calendar for spray applications!

Figure 1. Planting date by day length hours in Lincoln NE.

Literature cited:

Fehr, W.R., Caviness, C.E., 1977. Stages of soybean development. Cooperative Extension Service, Agriculture and Home Economics Experiment Station, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.

G, G. Wilkerson,* J. W. Jones, K. J. Boote, and G. S. Buol. 1989. Photoperiodically Sensitive Interval in Time to Flower of Soybean. Crop Sci. 29:721-726.

Variable Germination and Emergence in Soybean: Which Seeds Are Still Viable?

Many of us, including myself, have planted under less than ideal soil conditions this spring.  Often the ground was worked a little on the wet side leading to clods and variable seeding depths for our soybean crop.  Reports of variable and delayed emergence in conventional (more common) and no-till soybean is raising replant and seed viability questions in several areas across the Midwest.  If soybean was planted into dry soil and had not imbibed water (seed did not swell) then there is little to no concern for growers.  Once a significant rainfall event occurs, the soybean will imbibe water, germinate, and should emerge normally.  For yield estimates, we would assign the day it rained as the new planting date.

The more difficult question to answer is “How viable is the soybean seed once imbibition and/or germination has begun?”  The critical seed moisture content for soybean germination is 20%.  A soybean seed that has imbibed water, has a split seed coat, or has an emerged radicle will continue to germinate and grow as normal once the seed is re-hydrated if the seed (embryo) remains above 20% moisture (Senaratna and McKersie, 1983) (Image 1).

Image 1. Soybean germination

If the moisture content within a soybean seed falls to 10% due to dry conditions after germination has started, then a dramatic difference exists among the different seed germination stages.  If the seed has imbibed water for 6 hours (seed is swollen, but the seed coat has not broken), then the seed is dehydrated to 10% moisture, germination is not affected.  If the seed has imbibed water for 12 to 24 hours (seed coat broken, but prior to radicle emergence), then germination is reduced to 60 to 65%.  If the radicle has emerged and seed moisture levels drop to 10%, then no survivors can be expected (Image 2).

Image 2. Variation in soybean imbibition

To test seed viability, growers can conduct a simple germination test.  First excavate 100 soybean seeds and wrap them in a damp paper towel.  Place these seeds in a warm location, and after 24 to 36 hours, count the number of seeds that have germinated (Image 2).  Remember that a typical soybean germination is 90% (Image 3).

Image 3. Soybean germination roll test

Literature Cited:

Senaratna, T. and B. D. McKersie.  1983.  Dehydration Injury in Germinating Soybean (Glycine max L. Merr.) Seeds.  Plant Physiology 72: 620-624.

The WSMB Free Soybean Cyst Nematode Testing Program is Back in 2018!

Ann MacGuidwin, Damon Smith and Shawn P. Conley
The WI Soybean Marketing Board (WSMB) sponsors free nematode testing to help producers stay ahead of the most important nematode pest of soybean, the soybean cyst nematode (SCN). Eggs of SCN persist in the soil between soybean crops so a sample can be submitted any time that is convenient. The soil test report indicates the number of eggs in the sample and is useful for selecting the right variety for the next soybean crop. Retests of fields planted with SCN-resistant varieties over multiple years shows how the nematode population is responding to variety resistance and provides an early warning should the nematode population adapt to host genetics.
In the spring of 2012, the WSMB expanded the nematode testing program to include other pest nematodes in addition to SCN. These nematodes are less damaging to soybean than SCN but can cause enough yield loss to warrant treatment. As is the case for SCN, there are no rescue treatments for nematodes so the primary purpose of this year’s soil test is to plan for next year’s crop. Soil samples collected in corn for nematode analysis have predictive value for explaining yield if they are collected before the corn V6 growth stage. Sampling early in the season will provide information about the risk potential for the current corn crop AND the next soybean crop.
The assays used to recover nematode pests other than SCN in soil require that the nematodes are alive. So, it is important to keep the samples moist and at least room temperature cool. Collecting a sample that includes multiple cores ensures that there will be plenty of root pieces to assay. It is not necessary to include live plants in the sample. The soil test report will indicate which pest nematodes are present and at what quantities and their damage potential to soybean and corn based on the numbers recovered.
For more information on SCN testing and management practices or to request a free soil sample test kits please contact: Jillene Fisch at ( or at 608-262-1390.
Click to view more information on our WI SCN testing program or visit The SCN Coalition.
Remember the first step in fixing a nematode problem is to know if you have one! The WSMB sponsored nematode testing program provides you that opportunity. So Wisconsin farmers….”What’s you number?”

Wisconsin Industrial Hemp Production: A basic FAQ guide for growing an old crop in a new era

Authors: Shawn P. Conley, John Gaska, Adam Roth, Cheryl Skjolaas, Erin Silva, Loretta Ortiz-Ribbing, William Barker, and Patrick Robinson

Wisconsin growers will be able to grow and process industrial hemp under 2017 Wisconsin Act 100, a law recently passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor. The law directs the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) to write an emergency administrative rule that will spell out the details of the program, including requirements for growers.

This document will be updated as new information becomes available. The emergency rule will remain in effect until July 2020 or until a permanent administrative rule is approved. Please consult the official DATCP and State of Wisconsin websites for official information.

Questions that likely will be addressed by the emergency rule are noted here.

Only official rules, regulations, and notices as posted by the DATCP and State of Wisconsin can be used. Official information from the DATCP and the State of Wisconsin supersedes any information contained here.

References for official state information:

If you are interested in receiving email updates from DATCP, please subscribe here!

Please click for more information on the Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program

It is unclear whether there will be a legal mechanism to get hemp seed into Wisconsin in time to plant the 2018 growing season. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will likely require a DEA Import license for any seed coming from outside Wisconsin. Anyone planting before a license is issued is most likely taking a significant risk.

What is industrial hemp?
As defined in s.94.55 (1) Wis. Stats. “industrial hemp” means the plant Cannabis sativa L., or any part of the plant including seeds, having a Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration of 0.3% or less, although this allowable percentage may be raised up to a maximum concentration of 1% THC if in the future federal law allows a higher percentage. The statute includes the definition a substance, material, or product that is not designated as a controlled substance under the state Uniform Controlled Substances Act, or the federal Controlled Substances Act, or both.

Industrial hemp is classified as non-drug Cannabis sativa varieties, whose fruit is technically an achene, or a single-seeded fruit similar to a sunflower. Both the seed and hemp’s tall stalk provide significant carbohydrate feedstocks for a wide variety of industrial purposes that are used in several countries. The oil pressed from hempseed in particular, is a rich source of polyunsaturated omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which are essential for human health. These same fatty acids in hempseed oil make it a fine drying oil that is used in the production of paints, varnishes, and other coating materials. Plastic flooring such as linoleum and similar materials have been made from hempseed oil, and other non-food uses of hempseed oil are similar to those of linseed oil (flaxseed oil).

The State of Wisconsin Industrial Hemp Program
Wisconsin Department of Agriculture Trade & Consumer Protection (DATCP) will promulgate rules establishing an industrial hemp program. The State of WI industrial hemp program must generally maximize opportunity for a person to plant, grow, cultivate, harvest, sample, test, process, transport, transfer, take possession of, sell, import, and export industrial hemp to the greatest extent authorized under federal law.

The authorizing legislation requires DATCP to do the following:

  • Ensure the quality of industrial hemp grown or processed in this state, the security of activities related to industrial hemp, and the safety of products produced from industrial hemp, including any necessary testing.
  • Verify adherence to laws and rules governing activities related to industrial hemp.
  • Enforce violations of laws and rules.
  • Require an initial fee from any person who plants, grows, or cultivates industrial hemp equal to the greater of $150 or $5 multiplied by the number of acres used to plant, grow, or cultivate industrial hemp, but not to exceed $1,000. An annual fee may also be imposed on any person whose industrial hemp activities are regulated by DATCP. This annual fee may not exceed an amount sufficient to cover DATCP costs to regulate those activities.
  • Ensure that certain information in its possession is confidential, except that this information must be made available to a law enforcement agency or law enforcement officer.

Pilot Program
DATCP is required to create a pilot program to study the growth, cultivation, and marketing of industrial hemp. The Act requires DATCP to issue licenses that authorize the planting, growing, cultivating, harvesting, sampling, testing, processing, transporting, transferring, taking possession, selling, importing, and exporting of industrial hemp. Such licenses do not expire unless the pilot program expires or the license is revoked.

Further questions that may be addressed by the new rule are:

  • How do I apply to grow hemp?
  • How long is my pilot production license good for?
  • Am I required to do anything else if I participate in the pilot program?
  • How do you know my field’s THC content?
  • What if my plants test above the acceptable 0.3% delta-9 threshold?
  • How does growing hemp affect my FSA and/or federal crop insurance contracts or program participation?
  • Can I grow hemp inside a greenhouse?
  • Can I see a list of hemp growers or hemp processors licensed in the state?
  • Do I need to notify the sheriff/local police?
  • Do I need to build a fence or put up signs around my field?
  • Can I grow hemp near a school, a town, or a major road? Are there restrictions on where I can grow it?
  • Do I need a license to process hemp?

Besides work done in the early 20th century, there is little information on growing hemp in Wisconsin that is based on local research. The following information is gleaned from these references:

Purdue University Hemp
Kentucky Hemp Production
Cornell University Hemp
Canadian Hemp Trade Association Production eGuide
Finola oilseed hemp

When do you plant hemp?
Based on work done in neighboring states, planting done from mid-May to late-June resulted in highest yields with lower risk of frost injury.

What is the seeding rate?
General seeding recommendations is between 20-40 lbs per acre for grain production, and 40-60 lbs per acre for fiber production. A lot of factors go into determining the optimal seeding rate for your field, including the variety, seed purity and germ, local conditions, etc.

The end use of your hemp crop will dictate the seeding rate. When growing hemp for fiber only production, it is suggested the seeding rate should be double what is used for grain production. The reason for higher seeding rates is to ensure a higher quality fiber crop. Good quality hemp fiber comes from plants that are “pencil thin”. Higher seeding rates will ensure that there will be a high plant population with tall thin plants with longer internodes. Research is limited in Canada to determine proper seeding rates to achieve high yielding and good quality fiber. Low plant populations will not provide competition for early weed control. Hemp can have a high mortality rate under adverse growing conditions. Research has shown that 10% to 70% seed mortality can occur under varied climatic conditions. Based on observations, reasons for high mortality are generally attributed to:

  • Poor growing conditions at seeding
  • Seeding too deep
  • Cracking of the seed coat
  • Toxicity from high rates of seed placed fertilizer
  • Residual herbicides from previous crop

What are some seeding recommendations?

Most conventional drills and seeders will work for hemp. To enhance hemp plant stands:

  • Seed into warm soil
  • Seed into a firm seedbed with good soil to seed contact
  • Seed shallow, 1.25 cm (0.5 inches) to on 2.5 cm (1 inch) maximum
  • Do not seed deep into moisture in a dry year. In spite of being a moderately large seed, hemp will struggle to emerge from deep seeding
  • Avoid seeding before an abundance of precipitation is anticipated. Seed after a heavy rain rather than before
  • Although most seeding equipment will work for hemp it is important to monitor seeder output to avoid seed cracking. Cracking occurs in the manifolds when air volume is too high
  • Take into account germination rate. A common percentage of 70% germination is often used when calculating seeding rates. If spring seeding conditions are ideal this rate can be lowered
  • Avoid compaction from wheel tracks or other soil compaction, as with other crops, will show up under certain conditions
  • Avoid excessive trash that can keep soils cool and could cause hair pinning with disc drills

Can you plant hemp on hemp? How does it fit into a crop rotation?
According to the Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance (CHTA) “hemp fits in with typical crop rotation systems and with typical equipment that would already be found in a grain production system.”

Can I grow hemp organically?
Yes. On August 23, 2016, the National Organic Program (NOP) released this statement: “For hemp produced in the United States, only industrial hemp, produced in accordance with the 2014 Farm Bill, as articulated in the Statement of Principles on Industrial Hemp issued on August 12, 2016 by USDA, may be certified as organic, if produced in accordance with USDA organic regulations.” Some certification agencies will allow industrial hemp to be included in an organic rotation, so long as the growers are properly licensed under a pilot program. However, some certifiers may be taking a more hesitant approach, since there are many questions yet to be answered. Thus, farmers should talk to their certifier before making the decision to include this crop within their organic rotation. If growing industrial hemp, organic farmers will be required to do an organic seed search before using nonorganic seed.

Use practical organic farming practices such as a perennial clover or green manure plow down, with added manure to increase nutrient availability for rapid initial growth. Reduce any weed pressure by plowing and harrowing prior to sowing. The seedbed must be as fine and even as possible. Good soil, farming experience and proper nutrient levels are essential for successful organic oilseed hemp production.

Do you need to fertilize hemp?
Hemp has similar nutrient needs as canola and especially requires added nitrogen. Fertilize like rapeseed (Canola- Brassica napus) with 15% additional nitrogen. Conventional NPKS (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and sulfur) fertilization is recommended at the same levels required to grow rapeseed. Apply additional K and S wherever soils are deficient in these elements.

How/When do you harvest it?
Hemp can be grown for seed or fiber. Hemp grain harvesting is generally done by straight combining, however swathing is also used. Newer models of combines are best suited to handling hemp harvest and require minimal modifications. The new machines have bigger cylinders and cleaning area. In addition, newer combines can operate with headers at higher levels so all stands of hemp can be accommodated. Most new combines are now rotary design. Some new machines have the swath entering at the bottom of the cylinder. The draper header is preferred by growers.

The top third of the crop may be combined for grain while the plants are still “green” (70-90% seed head maturity). Harvesting while the crop is partially green will help minimize cutting and wrapping problems. The main disadvantage at harvest is plugging the combine with stems and other moist vegetative material. Dry field conditions are essential for a good harvest. However, a dead and desiccated crop will be more difficult to cut, more prone to wrapping and subsequent fire hazard. Grain moisture should be at least 10-15% at the time of harvest.

What kind of yield can I expect?
Yields can vary widely depending on the variety, local climatic conditions, cultivation method, and grower experience. For grain, new growers have reported yields between 250-700 lbs/acre. More experienced growers can expect between 800- 1,800+ lbs/acre. For fiber, the average yield for dual purpose crops (those varieties which are harvested for grain and fiber) is 0.75-2 tons/acre. For hemp produced solely for fiber, the average yield is between 3-5 tons per acre.

How deep are the roots?
Hemp has a large root capable of penetrating deep in the soil profile to recover nutrients that may be lost to many other crops, up to the 24-inch level.

What are some weed management strategies?
Given a good start, hemp can be an effective weed suppressant. Currently, there are no registered herbicides for weed control in hemp. A quick, even emergence is the key to effectively compete with weeds, by rapidly creating a dense leaf canopy within the first month of growth. Hemp will self thin to an optimal density, and it is better to have this crop compete with itself, rather than weeds. It is recommended to minimize weed pressure in the previous year and start with spring tilling and harrowing. Perennial forages or green manure plow downs are good preceding crops. Problem weeds may include wild buckwheat, wild oat, Amaranthus species, Chenopodium species, rapeseed, and other volunteer crops.

Where can I buy hemp seed from?
The Act requires DATCP to establish and administer an industrial hemp seed certification program, or designate a member of the Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies or a successor organization to administer a seed certification program. This seed certification
program must include the testing and certification of THC concentrations in hemp plants. Participation in the certification program must be voluntary for growers and cultivators of industrial hemp. The Act also authorizes DATCP to seek federal approval to serve as an importer of industrial hemp seed. Importing seeds into Wisconsin to begin the hemp program may require permission from the U.S. DEA, which could affect the time when production can begin.

Other seed-related questions that may be addressed by the rules are:

  • Can I save seed for planting the following year?
  • Do I need a seed permit to sell hemp seed in Wisconsin?
  • Can I breed a new variety of hemp for Wisconsin?

Do I need a grain buyer’s license to buy hemp grain?
Yes, if you are buying hemp grain with the purpose of reselling the grain or products made from the grain. In addition to a license, a bond must be acquired.


  1. Hemp is sold as a raw food so avoiding contamination is extremely important.
  2. All harvest related equipment should be cleaned out prior to harvest to ensure no contamination occurs from other crop types that are difficult to clean out of hemp.
  3. Combine divergent crops like canola or soybeans before combining hemp. This cleans out the combine and these crops are easily removed if contamination occurs.
  4. Clean grain as soon as possible to maintain grain quality and ensure safe storage. Inspect trucks for cleanliness before loading clean grain that is destined for the processor.
  5. For maximum shelf life, grain should be stored in a clean, dry location. Storage temperatures in excess of 75° Fahrenheit for a sustained period of time may cause rancidity and separation of the soluble and insoluble proteins.


  1. Hemp is combined at a moisture content of 10 to 20% moisture. The majority of the moisture comes from broken plant material, immature seeds and seeds enclosed in bracts. Dockage will range from 10 to 20%. The wetter the sample, the more urgent the drying process is. Drying should begin within hours of harvest. Heated air grain dryers and aeration can be used for drying the seed down
  2. The industry has accepted 10% moisture as dry. A safer level is 8 or 9%. Percent moisture requirement should be checked with contractor.
  3. Hemp grain generally has a lot of bracts and broken plant parts that are higher in moisture than the grain. Once drying begins these plant parts dry quickly and the speed at which the grain dries also increases at the end of the drying cycle.
  4. Monitor grain dryer temperatures to ensure the seed and seed oil quality is not compromised. Overheating the seed can cause the seed to turn yellow and discount the oil quality.
  5. Use grain drying when seed moisture is over 13 or 14%
  6. Monitor the dryer operation closely. Batch and continuous flow dryers are the most commonly used. Augers should be run full and slow to prevent cracking of the grain.
  7. Use heat of 150 to 160 degrees F for the first ½ of the drying period and then use 120 to 130 degrees to finish off the drying.


  1. Cleaning is required to remove contaminants such as weed seeds, plant parts and insects and it should be conducted as soon as possible after harvest. More importantly, cleaning removes cracked seeds resulting from combining.
  2. When cracked seeds are exposed to the air it causes oxidized rancidity of the oil which will contaminate the other seeds in the seed lot. This gives the hemp seed an undesirable taste and shortens the shelf life.

Economics and Marketing
Further marketing information can be found at:
Alberta Agriculture and Forestry

Who will buy my hemp if I grow it?
The market is limited and constantly in flux for hemp in the U.S. due to many different factors. We encourage interested individuals to contact a hemp trade association to learn more about marketing opportunities.

How much can I sell my hemp for?
Prices for hemp grain are widely fluctuating in the U.S. specifically due to the infancy and constant development of the industry. According to the Alberta Agriculture and Forestry Department, the average hemp grain price in 2015 in Alberta was $0.74 per pound. Typical returns for hemp grain in the U.S. have been between $0.40-0.70 per pound for conventional, and $0.75-1.00 per pound for organic. Due to the volatile nature of the current U.S. hemp industry, growers are advised to secure a contract before they plant.

What is the cost per acre?
The Alberta Agriculture and Forestry Department reported an average total production cost for hemp seed grown on dryland in 2015 at $409 per acre. With an average grain yield of 1,074 pounds per acre, that amounted to $0.38 per pound of hemp seed produced.

In Minnesota, hemp seed prices are widely variable based on the variety and the source. Imported seed has additional shipping and customs fees above and beyond domestically produced seed. Farmers should also consider the possibility of needing to buy or rent new harvesting equipment if they grow hemp. In 2016, hemp producers in Minnesota reported costs per acre between $970-$2,500 per acre. In 2017, initial reports indicate production costs of between $300-$600 per acre (does not include land cost).

Other questions that may be addressed by the new rules:

  • Who will process my hemp in WI?
  • Where are processors located in WI?
  • Can I export hemp product to other countries?
  • Can I sell grain or fiber to other states?
  • Can I sell seed to other states?
  • Are there any grants that I can get?
  • Can I grow hemp under contract with someone else?


Can I feed hemp to my livestock?
Hemp is not currently an approved ingredient for commercial animal feed. Therefore, hemp material cannot be sold as animal feed.

Other sources of information
Wisconsin Hemp 101: Educational Seminar
Date: Jan 30, 2018 6:30PM
Venue: Chippewa Valley Technical College – Eau Claire

Congressional Research Report “Hemp as an Agricultural Commodity

Minnesota Department of Agriculture
Vote Hemp
Hemp Industries Association
National Hemp Association

Winners of the 2017 WI Soybean Contest are Announced

The 1st place winner in Division 4, RnK DeVoe Farms of Monroe, grew DuPont Pioneer P31T77R and harvested 93.15 bu/a.  In second place, Bahr Farms Inc. of Darlington grew Asgrow AG2535 and harvested 90.19 bu/a.  In Division 3, Steve Wilkens of Random Lake won 1st place with NK S21-M7 Brand at 89.39 bu/a, and in 2nd place, Jim Salentine of Luxemburg harvested 75.19 bu/a with Steyer 1401L.  In Division 2, Bork Farms of Grand Marsh achieved 91.49 bu/a from LG Seeds C2020R2 for first place.  In 2nd place, Peavey Farms of Woodville harvested 76.47 bu/a from Croplan R2C1400 soybeans.  In Division 1 at 67.02 bu/a was David Lundgren from Amery who planted Croplan R2C1572.  2nd place winner in Division 1 was Dawn Lundgren from Amery.  She harvested 64.22 bu/a from DuPont Pioneer P16A35X.

Bork Farms of Grand Marsh was also the winner of the Soybean Quality contest with 2,970 pounds of protein plus oil per acre.

The contest is sponsored by the WI Soybean Program and organized to encourage the development of new and innovative management practices and to show the importance of using sound cultural practices in WI soybean production.

For more information please contact Shawn Conley, WI State Soybean Specialist at 608-262-7975 or