2020 Starting an Organic Grain Farming Operation – Speakers Panel
Starting an Organic Grain Farming Operation – What You Need to Know Program held Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020 at the University of Nebraska Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center. Discussion with program speakers: Dave Welsch - Certified Organic Farmer since 1993 – Milford, NE; Joel Gruver – Associate Professor of Soil Science and Sustainability Ag – Western Illinois University; Clayton Blagburn, Certification Specialist - OneCert Organization Inc.– Lincoln, NE; Alex Wolf, Scoular Organic Grain Manager – Omaha, NE; and Jim Starr, Joel & Jim Starr Partnership – Hastings, NE.
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[00:00:22.529]Okay, have you got some questions
[00:00:23.490]for our presenters,
[00:00:32.230]Clayton, Dave, or Alex?
[00:00:36.780]While you guys think I do wanna start
[00:00:38.870]by talking about imports, that was brought up.
[00:00:41.560]So, the grains from the Black Sea region,
[00:00:44.720]Washington Post 2017 had an article,
[00:00:48.250]there was quite a bit of grains from the Black Sea
[00:00:51.910]that were just non-GMO conventional marketed as organic.
[00:00:56.190]So, you know, responses, the NOP is starting to work
[00:00:59.640]with border-control, you know,
[00:01:01.890]and noting things like that.
[00:01:04.710]If organic grain has to be fumigated at the border
[00:01:08.700]they're starting to notify NOP,
[00:01:10.580]so they're strengthening that way.
[00:01:14.280]The certifiers are working with one another.
[00:01:17.070]You know, I know I talk to people
[00:01:18.440]Eco certifies some
[00:01:24.650]so, I'll check in with their about just specifically,
[00:01:28.400]hey, is this operation certified I'll check in with them.
[00:01:32.310]There's some rule changes, brokers, traders,
[00:01:35.470]people that were previously exempt
[00:01:37.400]that only buy and sell, they're having to become certified.
[00:01:41.740]So, someone is gonna be checking
[00:01:43.030]their imports and exports
[00:01:44.550]and making sure they have proper documentation.
[00:01:47.650]And then something that affects me with all of our clients,
[00:01:51.490]we're asking them to really increase their traceability.
[00:01:54.700]So, anything they receive,
[00:01:56.500]especially something that's imported,
[00:01:58.630]they need to be able to track
[00:01:59.810]the physical movement from an operation.
[00:02:02.230]So, we're looking at the bill of lading.
[00:02:04.640]Where is this coming from in the Black Sea?
[00:02:06.790]Is that specific address certified,
[00:02:10.820]things like that.
[00:02:11.653]So, we're trying to increase our handlers and brokers
[00:02:14.830]to help the producers here in the U.S
[00:02:18.160]with preventing fraud that way.
[00:02:24.130]Yeah, I had a question for Jim Starr
[00:02:26.310]there on cover crops.
[00:02:27.840]If a guy didn't have a cover crop in last fall
[00:02:32.520]what could a guy do this spring?
[00:02:33.880]Is mustard a viable option to gain some cover
[00:02:38.380]and some nitrogen for this year's corn?
[00:02:41.787]You know, you know one of the guys
[00:02:43.660]in our organic group he put four inch peas in early,
[00:02:49.560]probably the first of March
[00:02:51.420]and he got about that much growth out of 'em.
[00:02:54.540]By what time, 30 days?
[00:02:56.830]Oh, before, before he was ready to plant
[00:03:01.440]so I would think maybe first, second week in May.
[00:03:06.090]And that's down in your area?
[00:03:07.720]Yeah, it'd be, that'd be at Dorchester
[00:03:10.290]so it'd be.
[00:03:11.450]So as you move north, like I'm forty miles
[00:03:13.560]south of Yankton, I mean--
[00:03:16.086]Would that still work, or not?
[00:03:17.680]I, I would definitely try it if you haven't,
[00:03:19.730]it would be better than doing nothing.
[00:03:22.150]And now the next question is,
[00:03:24.300]is what crop do you go behind it
[00:03:27.010]and should you add another seed to it,
[00:03:29.220]like a mustard to it, or there's other,
[00:03:33.040]to make it a cocktail, I guess you'd call a cover crop.
[00:03:36.710]Well I was kinda thinking about
[00:03:37.840]doing the two rows of corn and then skipping a row.
And I thought
[00:03:43.103]maybe I'd put like crimson clover in-between.
[00:03:46.800]You could, like if you put those peas down
[00:03:49.430]you would have a lot of nitrogen
[00:03:52.150]and then you might want to put a grass with it,
[00:03:54.840]maybe an oat and that would give you
[00:03:57.533]kind of a nice mixture.
[00:04:00.908]And do this after the cultivation I'm assuming?
[00:04:03.970]Okay I was thinking like here first of March.
Okay all right.
[00:04:10.930]We have experienced planting forage peas in the spring.
[00:04:15.440]That's something that we've done a number of times.
[00:04:17.300]It's typically in a mixture where we have
[00:04:19.420]a low rate of oats and probably some mustard,
[00:04:24.180]and sometimes we've even included Phacelia.
[00:04:27.830]And basically we typically would be planting
[00:04:31.680]mid to late March and would have
[00:04:34.860]maybe 18 inches of growth by mid May.
[00:04:40.290]Joel, your latitude is
[00:04:44.910]Quad Cities, south?
[00:04:46.810]Yeah, we're a little bit south of the Quad Cities.
[00:04:49.370]Okay, so they're south.
[00:04:52.240]We are south of you.
[00:04:55.053]South of your, of the location of Mead.
[00:05:00.660]But not a whole lot south.
[00:05:04.770]What kind of rates on the forage peas
[00:05:07.370]in the spring, and mustard?
[00:05:11.010]So, if you are planting peas as a grain crop,
[00:05:16.510]you'd be planting about three bushels.
[00:05:19.810]We're typically using a hundred
[00:05:22.610]to a 150 pounds
[00:05:26.260]of peas, if our goal is really to fix a lot of nitrogen,
[00:05:32.300]but, in mixtures
[00:05:35.810]it might be as low as
[00:05:38.990]maybe one bushel, well even less than one bushel of peas
[00:05:42.550]and then the mustard might be
[00:05:47.320]oh five to 10 pounds.
[00:05:50.070]The oats might only be maybe
[00:05:54.120]half a bushel,
[00:05:56.700]15, you know, 15 to 20 pounds.
[00:06:09.890]By the way we have a cover crop conference here
[00:06:13.100]on February 13th.
[00:06:14.820]We have a 150 people already registered,
[00:06:16.900]we will open the wall up, we can take up to 250,
[00:06:19.680]but you have to go online and register.
[00:06:23.490]When you terminate the cover crop
[00:06:25.470]I've heard plant the next day, or one day,
[00:06:28.360]or five days, or 10 day, how do you know
[00:06:30.200]when you can plant after a high-speed disk?
[00:06:38.040]You know I think we kinda do it just
[00:06:42.780]whatever works, so (laughing), it's,
[00:06:47.500]you know you're at that time of year when you're busy
[00:06:49.600]and if you've got a empty day you don't wanna sit.
[00:06:53.656]You know we used to wait a week,
[00:06:55.280]and that's when we were running field cultivators,
[00:06:57.970]and then when we got that sunflower
[00:06:59.640]and we found out we could plant the next day.
[00:07:02.490]I think one day is, that's pushing it,
[00:07:05.956]you know five days is awful reasonable though.
[00:07:09.280]But if, if you're working fields
[00:07:11.200]and it takes you say five days to work 'em all,
[00:07:13.900]by the time you come back to the first one
[00:07:15.730]it's ready to plant,
[00:07:17.780]or if you can get a rain in-between there
[00:07:20.010]to kinda mellow the soil down again
[00:07:21.820]that doesn't hurt either, so.
[00:07:26.820]Yeah, I think Mr. Starr is,
[00:07:29.810]is hitting the nail on the head that, you know,
[00:07:33.040]theoretically maybe ideal would be a week,
[00:07:36.630]but you have to use your window of opportunity.
[00:07:41.220]If your weather is prime
[00:07:44.671]and you're ready to go with planting
[00:07:46.160]you can plant the next day.
[00:07:48.600]The key is with these high-residue soil surfaces
[00:07:52.750]you just need to be able to move
[00:07:55.220]that residue out of the row
[00:07:56.560]and effectively place your seed
[00:07:58.700]without any hair-pinning of the residue.
[00:08:03.850]Soil texture probably
[00:08:05.420]plays a role in this as well does it not?
[00:08:12.380]Yeah, I'm dealing with
[00:08:14.420]much heavier soils probably
[00:08:15.850]than what most farmers in Nebraska are working with.
[00:08:20.150]We're dealing with mostly silty clay loams.
[00:08:23.360]Well, that would be what Eastern Nebraska
[00:08:25.710]and South Central, there is a lot
[00:08:27.270]of silty clay loam as well, so.
[00:08:33.700]I have a question about manure restrictions.
[00:08:38.700]What qualifies as acceptable manure
[00:08:43.590]in organic certification?
[00:08:50.050]Yeah, so there's some regulations
[00:08:52.280]for that manure, I can get it over there,
[00:08:55.640]but off the top of my head
[00:08:56.730]I think it has be to composted, un-composted manure.
[00:09:00.840]Lets see, so it goes, manure is allowed
[00:09:02.530]if it's composted no matter what.
[00:09:04.730]If it's for food grade
[00:09:06.890]there's a 120 day or 90-day rule,
[00:09:08.940]so if you know, corn for example,
[00:09:12.810]120 days would be for if the,
[00:09:16.460]like melons are on the ground
[00:09:18.030]and the manure is on the ground.
[00:09:19.130]So you have to apply manure 120 days prior.
[00:09:21.860]If the grain doesn't touch the manure
[00:09:25.490]then it's a 90-day rule.
[00:09:27.860]So un-composted manure either 90 days before
[00:09:31.210]something that doesn't touch
[00:09:32.360]or 120 days before something it will touch.
[00:09:38.830]Yeah, I guess all I would add to that is...
[00:09:41.100]So the, you don't want the food
[00:09:43.830]to be touching the manure for either 120 or 90 days prior?
[00:09:51.800]All I would add to that
[00:09:53.260]is that the manure can come from a conventional facility,
[00:09:59.490]but there are a few restrictions.
[00:10:03.030]For example, if it's liquid manure out of a pit
[00:10:06.720]there are some pit additives that are prohibited
[00:10:10.950]that you basically you get asked about
[00:10:13.590]when you're submitting your certification
[00:10:16.820]and you're indicating what nutrient sources you used.
[00:10:19.680]And so that's the kind of thing
[00:10:20.980]you talk to your certifier about.
[00:10:24.570]But, but most, most types
[00:10:27.790]of conventionally-produced manure are acceptable.
[00:10:33.370]And that's where it goes listed on your OSP.
[00:10:35.710]If you're using manure where is it coming from,
[00:10:38.830]how are you using it, and there'll be followup,
[00:10:40.960]yeah exactly, there can't be
[00:10:42.060]any prohibited substances in anything.
[00:10:48.070]One thing that we noticed,
[00:10:50.350]we send samples in of manure and it's got Roundup in it.
[00:10:55.060]Now is that gonna be a issue, I don't know?
[00:10:59.880]Will it show up in our green crop and cause us problems,
[00:11:03.240]because their checking our beans right now for Roundup.
[00:11:07.100]So I'm not sure where that's going,
[00:11:08.680]but it's just something I've noticed.
[00:11:11.310]Where did they find the Roundup?
[00:11:13.054]Did the (mic not picking up voice)
[00:11:16.240]if they found Roundup in manure, it went through the drain,
[00:11:19.816]it went through the cow, it came out the cow?
(mic not picking up voice)
[00:11:23.319]Yeah, yeah it'd go straight through.
[00:11:26.650]I mean even, even in the sewage industry,
[00:11:29.950]even food, they find the Roundup in the manure.
[00:11:34.830]So, (chuckling) it was supposed to disappear
[00:11:38.790]when it hit the ground, so.
[00:11:45.947]Well, this is more of a comment
[00:11:46.840]I mean as far as, you know, Jim was talking about,
[00:11:50.500]Nebraska's, but I do know a lot of guys
[00:11:53.610]doing the cover crops are not organic,
[00:11:55.480]but they're seeing a lot of,
[00:11:58.107]and a lot of it I think it's competition, but,
[00:12:02.250]restrictions like, well Marestail especially,
[00:12:04.590]right to the row they can tell,
[00:12:06.720]when they're just having cereal rye growing
[00:12:08.630]and, you know,
[00:12:12.060]with no herbicide there
[00:12:14.420]and then right next to it where there's is no,
[00:12:16.370]there's a gap or whatever there's all kinds of Marestail.
[00:12:19.000]So it does, I know it affects Marestail,
[00:12:22.670]and you know they're both, both are different things,
[00:12:26.100]but I know it does some as well, so.
[00:12:30.510]Some other questions?
[00:12:33.700]I have one other comment regarding manure.
[00:12:36.580]I think the biggest issue with manure is that
[00:12:41.300]if people have ready access to it
[00:12:43.690]and I kind of alluded to this in my presentation,
[00:12:46.320]it tends to get over-applied,
[00:12:48.060]particularly by farmers that are early
[00:12:50.760]in their organic transition,
[00:12:52.900]or early in their years as organic.
[00:12:54.560]They, they're trying to apply maybe the same nutrient rates
[00:12:58.790]that they applied conventionally
[00:13:00.960]and when they're targeting
[00:13:05.090]one particular nutrient, let's say nitrogen,
[00:13:07.420]they might be over-applying substantially phosphorus,
[00:13:11.720]or other nutrients and the,
[00:13:14.480]the result of building excessive nutrient levels is,
[00:13:20.010]is just much more than you would think in terms of
[00:13:25.960]much more serious wheat management problems and,
[00:13:30.050]you know, it just, it becomes evident
[00:13:33.330]as you work in organics that manure
[00:13:36.920]is an incredible useful resource,
[00:13:38.620]but it works so much better
[00:13:40.600]as maybe half of your nutrient program
[00:13:43.570]with the rest being provided by the cover crop,
[00:13:47.060]half or less.
[00:13:48.520]And as soon as you start trying to apply
[00:13:50.810]all your nutrients year after year with manure
[00:13:53.130]you start to buildup problems that are difficult to resolve.
[00:14:02.470]Mr. Starr, you mentioned some soil tests
[00:14:04.033]that you had done.
[00:14:06.130]Using conventional soil tests you said it didn't work.
[00:14:09.150]Have you tried any of the newer soil tests they talk about?
[00:14:13.160]Heney Test, PLFA,
[00:14:16.040]or some of those things?
[00:14:19.200]Oh I've, you know,
[00:14:20.033]I've talked to the Haney guys before about their test
[00:14:22.370]and we never,
[00:14:26.990]we kinda had an idea of what was working
[00:14:28.940]and we just never went any further with it,
[00:14:30.730]but, yeah, and I'm not sure
[00:14:32.780]even if that test would tell us
[00:14:34.960]what we're needing to know.
[00:14:36.590]They say it is.
[00:14:39.610]I've talked to some people that have tried it
[00:14:41.290]and they didn't, mediocre response from it
[00:14:43.620]so I never did it.
[00:14:45.350]This is for Joel.
[00:14:47.350]You were talking about a no-till soy beans into rye
[00:14:52.440]and you showed a slide later on in your presentation
[00:14:56.100]going into some pretty tall living rye.
[00:14:59.130]Did you, did you terminate that at all
[00:15:02.240]or what is that situation exactly
[00:15:04.410]on the no-till beans and the rye?
[00:15:06.460]Okay, so that's a great question.
[00:15:08.810]Well, what we have done over the years
[00:15:12.360]is basically moved from rolling first
[00:15:15.680]to essentially always rolling second,
[00:15:18.220]rolling after planting.
[00:15:20.750]And the slickest operation would be
[00:15:22.930]if you had your roller mounted on, you know,
[00:15:27.410]basically on the same setup
[00:15:31.340]so you're rolling and planting at the same time.
[00:15:35.370]Excuse me, (coughing) but what we,
[00:15:40.960]what we strive to do is to plant when we feel
[00:15:45.290]field conditions are right,
[00:15:46.970]and we will come back and roll maybe even,
[00:15:51.760]maybe even weeks after planting.
[00:15:55.410]Frequently it's only a few days after planting.
[00:15:58.780]Our goal is for the rye or triticale
[00:16:03.210]to be in full bloom
[00:16:04.930]and maybe even in early-dough stage
[00:16:08.320]and it will terminate quite readily
[00:16:11.040]with rolling at that time.
[00:16:14.760]But if you (coughing),
[00:16:19.760]if you roll first
[00:16:22.050]you just create a much more serious challenge
[00:16:26.360]for your planter to plant effectively through
[00:16:29.130]that residue that's all been laid down
[00:16:31.450]and, I mean that's, that's a challenge
[00:16:34.110]that can be resolved, a good,
[00:16:36.500]a well-set planter can do that,
[00:16:38.700]but basically any planter can plant
[00:16:41.730]into standing rye, that's very easy to do.
[00:16:45.450]And so we normally plant into the standing rye
[00:16:48.750]and it's, you know, maybe six feet tall in
[00:16:53.410]full-bloom or even late-bloom
[00:16:56.750]and then we come back and roll soon after that
[00:17:00.730]is a typical program.
[00:17:09.560]Just to add to that question,
[00:17:13.600]can you do a sickle mower and just,
[00:17:16.540]and mow that down?
[00:17:18.930]You know, just take a mower and just mow that,
[00:17:22.570]would that crop come through?
[00:17:27.400]I think you potentially
[00:17:31.100]will have problems with your rye
[00:17:33.090]not being anchored to the soil.
[00:17:36.070]And, for example, there would be problems
[00:17:39.400]maybe if you decide you need to come back and cultivate
[00:17:44.051]that you would have all this rye biomass
[00:17:47.170]that would start to move and plug that,
[00:17:49.940]it doesn't do that when it's still anchored to the soil.
[00:17:53.950]I think also probably you would have
[00:17:59.780]a little bit less
[00:18:03.210]shading effect on the soil
[00:18:05.490]if you had mowed as compared to the roll crimping.
[00:18:11.610]What's really critical is reduced light.
[00:18:16.270]So you have very limited light penetration
[00:18:18.540]through your mulch, but also you want to think about
[00:18:23.300]the other factors that matter,
[00:18:25.390]that impact germination.
[00:18:27.260]So, if you keep your soil temperatures very uniform,
[00:18:31.290]which is what a mulch will do,
[00:18:33.780]then you'll have much less germination.
[00:18:36.270]If you keep your CO2 levels really high
[00:18:40.090]you'll have less germination.
[00:18:42.180]So, anything you can do to
[00:18:47.080]minimize the disturbance at the soil surface
[00:18:49.230]and keep your mulches
[00:18:52.120]close to the soil surface as possible
[00:18:53.870]I think you'll get the best effect.
[00:18:56.650]Hey Joel, when you said you could roll or crimp
[00:18:59.440]several weeks after you plant on them beans
[00:19:01.630]how tall could a bean be
[00:19:03.070]before you'd kill it, by rolling it?
[00:19:05.880]Oh, beans are really tough.
[00:19:08.690]I mean I think you guys,
[00:19:10.688]if you have sprayed conventional beans
[00:19:12.930]you know they, they can handle a fair amount of traffic.
[00:19:16.760]The hotter it is.
[00:19:17.910]I've replanted some and you go out there
[00:19:20.143]and you go across the rows
[00:19:21.760]and you don't even see it later,
[00:19:22.930]so I'm just curious how tall could they be?
[00:19:25.540]Yeah, well I, I have particularly heard about
[00:19:31.320]extended, people rolling extended periods after planting
[00:19:35.770]in places like Wisconsin
[00:19:37.630]where they have a shorter season than us.
[00:19:39.630]It's less necessary for us to, you know,
[00:19:44.220]to try and plant earlier than the appropriate time
[00:19:47.780]for termination as to compared to
[00:19:49.950]in Wisconsin or Minnesota.
[00:19:53.340]I think we have rolled when the
[00:19:58.010]beans were as mature as
[00:20:00.740]maybe two, second trifoliate,
[00:20:06.030]but generally we are rolling
[00:20:08.090]before the beans have even emerged.
[00:20:14.050]And we have had situations, one year it rained,
[00:20:19.350]as soon as we finished planting it started raining
[00:20:23.270]and we got four inches of rain and we couldn't come back for
[00:20:28.290]actually several weeks
[00:20:29.970]and we just decided not to roll at all.
[00:20:32.750]And the combination of,
[00:20:36.760]at that time we were using a drill,
[00:20:38.960]so the drill, the action of the drill units
[00:20:41.370]and the dual wheels on the planter tractor.
[00:20:44.550]We had knocked down maybe 2/3 of the rye
[00:20:48.540]and the rest just gradually fell down
[00:20:51.260]and it did not provide
[00:20:54.740]as good weed control I think
[00:20:56.640]as if it had been laid down flat,
[00:20:59.330]but we had better weed control actually in those plots,
[00:21:05.150]those no-till plots, that didn't get rolled,
[00:21:08.100]than the conventional-till soy beans
[00:21:09.860]that were in adjacent plots.
[00:21:15.480]You talk about rolling triticale and rye,
[00:21:19.010]I've had some experience with growing that
[00:21:22.220]for cattle feed, I mean that gets as tall as a person
[00:21:25.350]and I hear you talk about rolling it down
[00:21:27.550]and then coming back and cultivating.
[00:21:30.680]I realize you're working with
[00:21:31.960]a modified International cultivator,
[00:21:34.030]but I don't see how in the world
[00:21:35.390]you'd ever get that to flow?
[00:21:41.085]I should've made that more clear
[00:21:42.520]when I was showing the slides.
[00:21:44.090]We do not cultivate
[00:21:46.610]in a no-till field with the IS153.
[00:21:50.723]The IS153 we only are working with soils
[00:21:53.010]that have had some tillage.
[00:21:54.670]We have a BUFFALO high-residue cultivator
[00:21:57.770]with a single-wide sweep.
[00:21:59.700]And so we either are running 18 inch sweeps,
[00:22:03.530]or 22 inch sweeps, between 30 inch rows,
[00:22:06.820]and it, it slides just right under the,
[00:22:10.917]the residue quite well.
[00:22:13.130]Using hillers too?
[00:22:15.260]There are very few problems with plugging.
[00:22:18.440]Where you using hillers on that BUFFALO also?
[00:22:21.960]Yeah we took off, we took off
[00:22:24.150]the cut-away discs or hillers
[00:22:27.060]when we use it for no-till.
[00:22:30.620]Okay, thank you.
[00:22:33.000]One more question.
[00:22:35.660]Jim, with you being in that field-pea market
[00:22:38.840]what's the typical harvest window for that?
[00:22:41.630]And is there an opportunity for a double crop
[00:22:44.810]with maybe some planting date consideration there
[00:22:47.270]like a short-season corn or something following field peas?
[00:22:53.820]You know generally we'll be harvesting that
[00:22:56.470]about the same time as wheat
[00:22:59.000]so whatever you could do after wheat.
[00:23:01.860]Now if you went to say a sorghum or a sunflower
[00:23:06.060]you've got your nitrogen source there
[00:23:08.470]which would be, give you one more option.
[00:23:13.120]We've done two years of research
[00:23:14.970]at this facility with field peas
[00:23:17.380]planted in the spring
[00:23:18.860]as soon as you can get out there to plant
[00:23:21.590]and then come back with double cropping
[00:23:23.660]and we looked at all different crops.
[00:23:25.330]And the crop that rose to the top was grain sorghum
[00:23:28.490]and that was planted again
[00:23:30.400]in the third week of July after harvest.
[00:23:36.220]It surprised the heck out of me.
[00:23:37.520]We grow 72-day corn.
[00:23:39.090]We grew 1.8 soybeans
[00:23:43.710]and grain sorghum was 80 bushel.
[00:23:51.750]Yeah there's a guy on the Kansas/Nebraska border
[00:23:54.380]down in Pawnee County and he's been doing the field pea and
[00:24:00.070]chickpeas and stuff and,
[00:24:01.087]and he usually plants like a cover crop in there,
[00:24:04.690]or he may plant, and then maybe after that
[00:24:07.560]and he has a lot of cattle and grazes that,
[00:24:09.450]but it's been working good for him.
[00:24:12.170]And then, like you said, a forage sorghum does good too.
[00:24:16.570]Well, thanks everybody for comin'.
[00:24:17.950]I hope it was worth your while.
[00:24:19.390]Make sure, I think, I don't know if Keith's got a box
[00:24:22.460]or something up there, but, for the evaluations,
[00:24:25.420]but hopefully it was a good day for ya
[00:24:28.970]and thanks a lot.
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