Photo by Amy Mayer/IPR file

Farmers could be temporarily prohibited from applying pesticides at certain times of the year if proposed new environmental regulations are adopted.

Photo by Abby Wendle/Harveset Public Media

Big farms are collecting taxpayer dollars that they haven’t necessarily earned by taking advantage of a loophole in government subsidy rules, according to regulators, members of Congress and the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

Courtesy of Mike Lee

Mike Lee steers his plane over the Missouri-Arkansas state line, checking out a checkerboard of green and brown fields of rice, cotton, corn and soybeans.

Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

U.S. farmers are bringing in what’s expected to be a record-breaking harvest for both corn and soybeans. 

Lauren Tucker/Flickr

Monsanto has agreed to settle some of the lawsuits brought by U.S. farmers who allege they lost money when an Oregon field was discovered to have been contaminated with an experimental genetically modified strain of wheat.

Most of the corn and soybeans grown in the United States is genetically modified, but GMO wheat has never been approved for farming.

Valdemar Fishmen/Flickr

The ongoing turmoil in Ukraine could impact the world’s wheat supply and with reports that fighting is edging closer to a key Black Sea trading port, farmers and commodity brokers are paying attention.

Pro-Russian rebels appear to be pushing closer to the Ukranian city of Mariupol, a strategic port city. As Ukraine is one of the world’s largest exporters of wheat, any disruption in the harvest or transport of the country’s wheat crop could put a kink in global supply lines and could raise grain prices across the world.

Lynn Betts / Wikimedia Commons

Iowa is nestled in the center of America’s breadbasket; one of our most precious resources is beneath our feet. But it’s a resource in jeopardy.

Amy Mayer/IPR

A fast spreading, crop destroying weed may be coming to the farms near you.

Palmer amaranth, which has plagued southern farms for decades, has been marching across the Midwest. It can decimate a crop. It can withstand many common herbicides. And it can cost farmers millions.

Roger Hargrafen, a farmer in Muscatine County, Iowa, is on the front lines in the battle against Palmer amaranth. His is one of four Iowa farms confirmed as having it.

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

It could be Iowa’s next energy crop: a relative of sugar cane, that looks like bamboo. It’s about to become much more abundant in a state dominated by corn and soybeans. 

Tico /

Spring may still seem far off, but now is the time to plan the garden, and in some cases it is time to start seeds indoors.  Iowa State University Extension Horticulturists Richard Jauron and Cindy Haynes are guests and give advice and answer listener questions.

Amy Mayer/IPR

On a frigid winter day , Chad Hart tries to warm his economics students at Iowa State University to the idea of managing some of the risk of farming using the commodity markets. Because as he told them on the first day of class, farmers don’t make money planting or harvesting crops; they make money selling them. And Hart knows that marketing—managing those sales for the best profit—can be intimidating.

Bob Hartzler/Iowa State University

New herbicide-resistant corn and soybeans are a step closer to reaching farm fields in the U.S. They would help farmers control weeds that are no longer killed by the popular herbicide, Roundup.

Roundup resistant crops dominate corn, soybean and cotton production in the U.S. But the list of weeds that have evolved to withstand Roundup is growing, and as a result, farmers are using more chemicals to keep up.

Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

A new wheat variety may have cracked the code to marry the fluffiness of white bread with whole grain nutrition.

For a long time, American bread makers have been in a bind. Many consumers like the texture and taste of white bread, but want the nutritional benefits of whole grains.

Stefanie Seskin

Nearly all gasoline sold in the U.S. contains up to 10 percent of ethanol—a corn-based liquid often added to gasoline. As a renewable fuel ethanol reduces the amount of petroleum-based gasoline on the market and many farmers receive subsidies to grow corn for the biofuel. But now the Environmental Protection Agency is considering a reduction in the required amount of ethanol for the country's gasoline supply.  Harvest Public Media's Ames-based reporter Amy Mayer and host Ben Kieffer discuss the future of ethanol in the U.S.

Bringing in the Harvest

Oct 28, 2013
IPR's Pat Blank

Pam Johnson has just wrapped up a term as president of the National Corn Growers Association. She and her husband and two sons farm in Floyd County in North Iowa. Johnson testified in July before a U.S. House Subcommittee on Energy about the need to continue the Renewable Fuels Standard for ethanol.

John Pemble / IPR

The 2013 World Food Prize is honoring Marc Van Montagu, Mary-Dell Chilton, and Robert T. Fraley, three scientists whose individual discoveries led to the creation of genetically modified crops. 

Emily Woodbury / IPR

Bailey Sweet, American Mother, Chieftain, Empire...there are many thousands of different kinds of apples in the world. And this year, Iowa apple growers are harvesting bumper crops. Today on Talk of Iowa, we talk apple history, apples in Iowa, heirloom apples, and your favorites.

Host Charity Nebbe speaks with Paul Rasch, owner of Wilson’s Orchard in Iowa City, Dan Bussey, orchard manager for the Seed Savers Exchange, Erika Janik, author of Apple: A Global History, and Patrick O’Malley, of Iowa State University Extension.

Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

The U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts the nation’s farmerswill deliver a record 3.42 billion bushels of soybeans this year. The USDA is also forecasting that this year for the first time Brazil will overtake the United States as the world’s leading producer of soybeans.

Corn Crew

Jul 22, 2013
Pat Blank

A Midwest summertime tradition is in full swing: corn detasseling.  Every summer, seed corn companies hire thousands of seasonal workers to remove the top of the corn plant to produce hybrid varieties.  The minimum age in Iowa to do the work is 14. Those as young as 12 can detassel in Illinois and Nebraska.  Many crew leaders who started in their teens are now in their 50s and 60s.  Workers say even though it's often hot in the cornfield and the work is tedious, they return year after year because they are paid good money by the companies.

Detasseling Delay

Jul 10, 2013
Courtesy photo

The wet spring has delayed the growth of corn used for seed by Iowa companies including the largest, DuPont Pioneer. That, in turn, has pushed back the schedule of hundreds of part time workers who make money in the fields by removing the top of the plant known as the tassel.  Production manager for the Reinbeck facility, Colby Entriken says ,"we're hoping to start pulling tassels next week which is about a week behind schedule.

Who wants biotech wheat?

Jul 2, 2013
Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

Many farmers say they would like to grow genetically engineered wheat to help them feed a hungry world, but it’s not what everyone’s hungry for. And now, with the mysterious appearance of Roundup Ready wheat in a farmer’s field in Oregon a few weeks ago, consumer resistance may grow even stronger.

Most of the corn and soybeans grown in the United States are genetically modified, but GMO wheat has never been approved for farming.

Soybean planting slow

Jun 18, 2013
Courtesy photo

Spring planting could linger into the summer for many Iowa soybean farmers. The state's trading partners and commodity markets are keeping a close eye on what happens here and it could impact the economy down the road. Grant Kimberley is the market development director for the Iowa Soybean Association. He tells Iowa Public Radio's Pat Blank, this year has been a challenge.

Science of the Seed

Feb 20, 2013
Amy Mayer/IPR

People have been cross-breeding plants for thousands of year… Manipulating traits in agricultural crops from generation to generation. When scientists discovered that they could actually modify the genes of these plants in a laboratory the landscape of agriculture changed dramatically and fast. Host Charity Nebbe, explores the science of seeds, as a continuation of the Harvest Public Media series.

Amy Mayer/IPR

We continue now with Harvest Public Media’s three-part series on the Science of the Seed. Over the past two days we’ve considered the beginnings of genetic modification and how control of the technology is changing as patents expire. Today, we wrap up with the question that drives seed company executives and farmers alike: how can we grow more crops?  Iowa Public Radio’s Amy Mayer looks at how seed innovations push the boundaries of what the land can produce.

Tom Woodward / Flickr


Like many Midwestern states, Iowa is closing the 2012 calendar year with soil moisture deficits after this summer's drought. But with the new crop year at least four months away, Iowa State University Climatologist Elwynn Taylor is seeing some spotty

Taylor credits abundant fall rains with helping mitigate the drought, at least for now.

Dust Bowl memories offer present warning

Nov 15, 2012
courtesy Kansas Historical Society

The Dust Bowl of the 1930s is the subject of a new documentary from Ken Burns airing this month on PBS television stations. The man-made disaster left an indelible mark on the Midwest and on history — and, as Harvest Public Media’s Grant Gerlock reports, today’s extensive corn production could make the region vulnerable once again.

Theresa Wysocki / Flickr

A lot of Iowa farmers use a two-year rotation of corn one year and soybeans the next. But what if a longer rotation could yield better crops and was good for the soil? Host Charity Nebbe talks with researchers from Iowa State University whose research found longer crop rotations improved the crops and reduced fertilizer runoff.


Roundup resistance leading to more chemicals, study finds

Oct 17, 2012

Farmers and weeds are in a constant competition. When the herbicide called Roundup came along, farmers got a clear edge. But now weeds are beginning to catch up. Grant Gerlock of Harvest Public Media has more on how Roundup-resistant weeds are changing the game.

Daniel Hillel headshot
Daniel Hillel / Headshot photo

On today's River to River the 2012 World Food Prize laureate, Daniel Hillel, talks about his role bringing advanced irrigation techniques to crops in arid and dry regions in the Middle East. Hillel has impacted farming lands in more than 30 countries with his technique of “micro-irrigation” that keeps the soil continuously moist without overusing the water supply.

Cover Crops Use Expanding

Oct 12, 2012
Amy Mayer

While many farmers were bringing in this year’s harvest, they also were planting.  Cover crops—like oats and winter rye—are becoming more popular, despite the time and expense involved in growing green fields that won’t ever make money—directly.  Together with Harvest Public Media, Iowa Public Radio’s Amy Mayer explains why.