April 20, 2010
New costs of operation figures are available as of this month. These figures are called custom rates in other states, because they are more of a survey of custom operators there. In Illinois, rates are calculated on the actual costs of the operation. For the new rates, click the link:
The new rates use the following cost assumptions:
Purchase price85%of list price, Interest rate6.0%of remaining value, Insurance and housing1.0%of remaining value, Diesel fuel $2.90per gallon, Lubrication cost10%of fuel costs,Tractor hours300per year, Years of life10years, Labor charge$16.00per hour, Labor time1.10times tractor hours
April 16, 2010
Compared to the last two yearsthis growing season has different supply and demand
dynamics influencing prices, says IL marketing specialist Darrel Good. Read his latest
newsletter at: http://www.farmdoc.illinois.edu/marketing/weekly/html/041210.html
• For corn, Good says stocks are more abundant at 1.9 billion, and the most in four years.
He says acreage is projected at 88.8 million, 2.3 million more than last year, with
expectations that number may increase if favorable weather conditions continue.
• For beans, Good says the USDA's acreage projections continue to grow year after year.
However, the modest US soybean stocks will be overshadowed by the projected 4.842
bil. bu. crop being forecast in South America, 1.3 bil. larger than the 2009 crop.
• Darrel Good says keep in mind that yields will be determined by summer weather, not
spring weather, and consumption will be influenced by world economic conditions,
energy prices, crop production outside the US, and the Chinese import policies.
• The stocks to use ratios are rising for corn, both domestically and globally says Dan
O'Brien at KS St., whose recent newsletter reports world corn ending stocks at 17.8%,
and for coarse grains the ratio is 17.2%. He says that is nearly 40% higher than in 2007,
and the trend toward larger ending stocks is a primary indicator of the "larger supply,
lower price" situation that now exists in world coarse grain markets.
• Domestically, corn stocks are rising as well, says O'Brien. He says the USDA cut in
estimated corn use for feed pushed up stocks, and the stocks to use ratio is now 14.7%, up
from 13.8% in March and 13% in December. O'Brien says that is why the midpoint of
the price range is $3.60, compared to $4.06 last year and $4.20 in 2007/2008. Read more
of his newsletter: http://www.agmanager.info/marketing/outlook/newletters/default.asp
• How fast will the Cornbelt be planted? The Palmer Drought Index shows the Dakotas
and Nebraska to be very moist. However, if the drying progress continues in the eastern
Cornbelt, it is likely the corn crop will be planted in a timely manner in those states.
• Corn may germinate faster this year than last, based on the accumulation of growing
degree days, which are increasing faster this year than they did last year. OH
agronomists report GDD accumulation at nearly three times what it was last year. Corn
needs 90 to 150 GDD to emerge. If the average is 100 GDD for emergence, divide 100
by the number of GDDs per day, and that indicates how many days the corn will take.
• What did you pay for cash rent in 2009? If you were in Central Illinois, it may have
been among the highest, according to averages computed by USDA's statisticians. It
may have just been who was asked, but IL economist Gary Schnitkey says 41% of IL
counties saw increases and 37% had decreases. Anecdotal reports indicated some county
averages fell as much as 18% and some rose as much as 24% compared to 2008.
• What determines cash rent? Schnitkey says local factors influence rent levels, and
what may be occurring in one county may not occur in another. He also says rents vary
considerably between farms of similar productivity, within a single county. He says it is
difficult to determine an average, with some farms $100 above or below the average.
• Will you be signing up for the ACRE program in 2010? The deadline is June 1 and
there are some decision aids if you are interested. FAPRI offers an excel spreadsheetbased
tool at: http://www.fapri.missouri.edu/farmers_corner/tools/acre.asp . KS St. has a
similar tool at: http://www.agmanager.info/policy/commodity/2007/KSU_ACRE.xls .
• Weed control #1. Winter annuals have been enjoying the great weather and abundant
moisture and IL weed specialist Aaron Hager says their growth is robust. He says tillage
may help control them, but if the soil is wet and clods form, then weeds are damaged and
not killed. A damaged weed can be difficult to control with an herbicide application.
• Weed control #2. Hager says the best control of existing vegetation is herbicides, but if
you have glyphosate resistant horseweeds, it will take a tank mix with alternatives. He
says, "Products containing saflufenacil, 2,4-D, dicamba, glufosinate, or paraquat are other
herbicides that can be used to control horseweed prior to corn or soybean planting."
• Weed control #3. If weeds are large before any management operation is implemented,
Hager says spraying a burn-down herbicide a few days before the tillage operation may
work best. "If aggressive pre-plant tillage is planned to alleviate field ruts, it's probably
better to till before applying a soil-residual herbicide." And he recommends placing that
soil-residual herbicide into the top inch of the soil profile.
• Weed control #4. Contact herbicides may not be as slow to act as translocated herbicides
under cool conditions. Hager suggests when the forecast calls for several days or nights
of cool air temperatures, symptoms of activity on existing vegetation may develop sooner
with a contact herbicide than a translocated herbicide, such as glyphosate.
• Weed control #5. Aaron Hager says if weeds are large before any management
operation is implemented it might be advisable to spray a burndown herbicide a few days
before the tillage operation. If aggressive preplant tillage is planned to alleviate field ruts,
it's probably better to till before applying a soil-residual herbicide.
• Weed control #6. MO weed specialist Kevin Bradley says he's checked corn yields
against weed management programs and found the highest corn yields were in a two pass
program 67% of the time, featuring a pre-emergent application, and a one-pass post
emergent program that also contained a residual herbicide. The highest yields were in a
one-pass application with a residual herbicide in 29% of the trials, and the best yields
were in a one past pre-emergent program at planting time in 4% of the trials.
• What seeding rate should be used to end up with the corn population that you want?
Peter Thomison at OH St. says consider seeding rate = plant population at harvest/ (seed
germination X expected survival rate.) Read more: http://corn.osu.edu/#B
• Gentlemen, place your bets. What will the next USDA estimation be of the 2009 corn
crop in the Dakotas? NASS statisticians may have updated of corn stocks, yields, and
production in the May 11 Crop Production report. Snow has recently left some fields and
harvest is underway where feasible. Any changes from what had been estimated will be
used in the updated production numbers and the grain stocks will change as well.
• To limit soil compaction, MN soils specialist Jodi DeJong-Hughes advises keeping axle
loads under 10 tons and properly maintain tire air pressure. That will help the soil and
reduce slippage. She also says to use the lightest tractor possible to get the job done.
• Hold up on your plans to spray fungicide on hail-damaged corn. IL plant pathologist
Carl Bradley reports it only costs extra and does not protect your yield. He says the trend
began in 2007 when corn prices were high and chemical companies marketed the concept
as a yield enhancer. He simulated damage for two years with a string weed trimmer,
tested fungicides against control plots, and found no significant yield improvement. He
said during 2007, 10 to 14 mil. of the 76 mil. acre crop was sprayed with fungicide.
• Bean pod mottle virus reduces soybean quality and seems to be more prevalent the more
southern a field is in the Cornbelt. Researchers at Iowa St. have been predicting BPMV
in Iowa, based on infection of seed, overwintering of bean leaf beetles and alternative
weed hosts that were infected with the virus. They also report that earlier planted fields
had a higher risk of BPMV incidence, especially if many beetles survived the winter.
• If you are concerned about high populations of bean leaf beetles in your bean fields,
your treatment decisions should be based on the cost of the treatment versus the market
value of your beans. Former IA St. entomologist Marlin Rice provides a decision aid to
• So far the new wheat rust has been a no show says KY wheat specialist Don Hershman.
UG99 was supposed to decimate wheat around the world because current genetics are not
resistant to it. Many other types of wheat rust have been found, but so far not UG99.
Hershman says when it arrives, it will not come on a hurricane, but come from human
activity, such as in commerce, from researchers, tourists, hobbyists, or terrorists.
• What is the viability of your wheat? IL agronomist Jim Morrison says a stand of 25 to
30 plants per square foot is optimum and 15 to 20 is the minimum to keep, however
tillers will bolster a low plant count and 60 of those per square foot are needed to
compensate. He says take your counts at several locations in a given field.
• When assessing your wheat stand, Morrison says check the crown to ensure it is firm
and white and new roots are developing from it. He says if that is the case the plant is in
good condition. He also suggests digging some plugs of soil and wheat, keeping them a
week in a sunny cool area and checking the crowns for any new growth.
• With cleaner air, because of EPA regulations, there is less sulfur in the air, and Purdue
agronomists are warning about sulfur deficiencies being more common in crops. Check
your wheat: http://www.agry.purdue.edu/ext/soilfertility/updates/Sulfur-wheat.pdf
• Those "dollar menus" at your local fast food restaurant have been contributing to the
demand for slaughter cows, and livestock economist Tim Petry at ND St. says cow prices
are $10/cwt higher than last year and above the 2008 record year. He says an early start
to the grilling season and higher prices for pork and chicken have helped hamburger.
• Cow slaughter is paralleling the high levels of 2009 and is 20% above the 2004-2008
average. Petry says it should soon slow down because of seasonal trends. His bottom
line is that cull cow prices should remain strong until the seasonal decline in September.
• The fast food demand for hamburger defines about 60% of the value says UT St.
economist Dillon Feuz, and the other 40% comes from the consumer who has had to
lower the quality of meat they purchase to be able to afford steak on a lesser budget. He
says the demand for high quality has declined, but the demand for lower priced beef cuts
may have actually increased. Read more: http://cattlemarketanalysis.org/index.html
• Add $25 per head to the selling price if you put a tag on a calf that tells when and
where he was born. That satisfies consumers, say IL livestock researchers, who are
willing to pay premium prices for age and source verification, although few producers are
doing it. The tags are attractive to the high end US market, as well as export buyers.
• Dairymen and other livestock operations are being urged by MN animal scientist
Marcia Endres to join the National Dairy FARM program, Farmers Assuring Responsible
Management. She says it is a proactive approach to demonstrate to consumers that
producers are dedicated to providing the best possible care to their livestock. There are
self assessments, second party evaluations, and third party verification of practices.
Endres says more information is available at www.nationaldairyfarm.com .
• The planned April 8 closure of the Morrell packing plant at Sioux City, IA reduces the
US slaughter capacity by 14,000 head per day, 3% of national capacity. MO economist
Glenn Grimes believes the closure may narrow the east-west price spread, which was
$7.27/cwt more in the western Cornbelt than in the eastern Cornbelt.
• Illinois is the latest state to rework its Extension system. After radical changes in states
like Iowa and Minnesota, Illinois will be eliminating 15 regional offices over time and
regional educators will shift to county offices. However, 76 county offices will be cut to
only 30, with each office serving multiple counties. Staff members will be reduced also,
which results from a reduction in state financial support for Extension and 4-H.
• Cornbelt Update observes its 12th anniversary with this issue, 624 consecutive weekly
issues designed to inform Cornbelt farmers about marketing, farm management, new
research, and current agronomic issues that are important in maintaining profitability in
grain and livestock. It is also the last issue that will appear on the farm gate blog.
• Cornbelt Update will be available every week to paid subscribers, beginning with the
April 23 issue. Request subscription details by e-mailing StuAgNews@aol.com . If you
are among the 90% of those regularly receiving Cornbelt Update by e-mail, don't hesitate
to obtain your own subscription. Don't rely on someone else purchasing a $52 annual
subscription and then forwarding their copy to you and others every week.
April 15, 2010
Stored corn is almost like "the perfect storm": quite a bit of it went into bins a little wet; some had a little bit of damage to it (making storage more difficult); it was too late last fall to get much natural drying done; temperatures are warming quicker than normal; corn is still above 14-15% in bins; roads have been posted the past month when moving corn could have been accomplished, etc. This leads to concern about the ability of corn to hold its own in conditions we have now.
For those who still have corn in the bin, if you've not been keeping track of grain temperatures and moistures, do so now. Turn the fan on to see if any off odors are present. Many have said that corn "got a little wetter during the winter". If you've not taken the core out, get that done to improve air flow, as the broken corn tends to concentrate in the center of the bin and those particles make for uneven air flow.
If corn was cooled during the winter, you'll need to be thinking about warming it back up. The temperatures we've been experiencing of late are going to make corn heat up in the bin. This warming will begin to cause problems. As the heat builds, the warm air will migrate upward on cool grain, which will begin to cause condensation. This will lead to increased moistures, which will lead to increased temperatures, which will lead to grain going bad.
The rule of thumb is to get grain to within 10-15 degrees of outside air, to prevent the above from occurring. The big question is if you've got corn stored that is 18-20 percent moisture or more, can you get it dried with just air, before it goes out of condition. The answer depends upon several things, the two biggest are: how wet the corn is and how much air flow the fan will provide.
Most drying bins have fans large enough that they'll be able to push a drying front through the bin within 3-5 days. Storage bins don't have fans with that high of air flow, and can take up to several weeks to get a drying front through the bin. This is a huge difference when attempting to naturally dry corn with temperatures increasing. It works much better in the fall, as temperatures are decreasing. The warmer temperatures we're experiencing won't allow you to store wet corn for very long before it begins to go out of condition.
We've some guidelines to determine how long corn can remain before it begins to go out of condition. For corn at 20 % moisture, and 60 degree temperatures, you've got approximately 25 days of allowable storage time before corn goes out of condition. At 70 degrees, that time is only 14 days. Don't take chances on your investment. Yes, I know you are probably busy in the fields, but take the time to monitor your grain bank. And if you need to use LP, don't hesitate.
April 9, 2010
While the market may tradeexpectations, it should trade stocks and consumption, says
IL marketing specialist Darrel Good, who says that relationship is more important than
trader guesses. He says the soybean "expectations for March 1 stocks were misguided."
While the inventory was 70 mil. bu. more than the market expected, Good says soybean
disappearance was well within the range experienced over the past 15 years. Read more
in his newsletter: http://www.farmdoc.illinois.edu/marketing/weekly/html/040510.html
• Darrel Good also noted that the pace of soybean exports is larger than projected by
USDA, and he suggests year ending stocks could be smaller than the current USDA
estimate of 190 mil. bu. Good says the market's predictions would have that number
move higher, based on traders' estimates of March 1 soybean stocks. He calls it "irony."
• On the other hand, Darrel Good believes the rate of use of corn in the first half of the
marketing year "implies that USDA will have to lower the projection for the year and
substantially increase the projection of year ending stocks." Good says seasonal corn
usage patterns have shifted for unknown reasons, but may be cleared up in June.
• The market believes that producers will eventually plant more area than stated in their
intentions when the USDA was collecting that data in early March, so says IA St.
economist Chad Hart. And he says that is leading the downward price pressure. Read his
• Hart's observations following USDA's recent Stocks and Intentions report include:
1) Both on-farm and off-farm corn storage are up by double digits over 2009.
2) On-farm bean storage is down 7% from last year and off-farm storage is 2% higher.
3) Farmers in MN, MO, & OH are carrying soybeans deeper into the marketing year.
4) The Cornbelt corn and soybean acreage is holding steady from 2009.
5) Most of the soybean acreage decline is in the SE, and being replaced by cotton.
6) US farmers plan will plant 319.5 mil. acres of principal crops, up 2.4 from 2009.
7) Corn acres will be up, but sorghum, barley, and oat acreage will decline.
• Hart says the weather premium has been minimized in the market for now, but that
could change. He suggests, "The soggy planting problems of 2008 and 2009 were
brought on by springtime rainfall, not a large snowpack like we had this year. And with
subsoil moisture being more than adequate across most of the major corn and soybean
lands, it would not take much additional moisture to have an impact on planting."
• Where will 2010 harvest prices be? That question was asked at the USDA's Outlook
Conference recently. At the time Chad Hart at IA St. said, "USDA put out unofficial
season-average price estimates for 2010, $3.60 for corn and $8.80 for soybeans. At the
time, futures prices pointed to 2010 season-average prices around $3.80 for corn and
$8.95 for soybeans. Following the March reports, futures prices are pointing to 2010
season-average prices around $3.61 for corn and $8.85 for soybeans."
• While GRIP crop insurance used to be an automatic indemnity check, IL economist
Gary Schnitkey says farmers in only 7 IL counties will be paid for 2009 county crop
yields. Examining yields throughout IL he said some southern counties had corn yields
more than 20 bu. above the trend line, while northern IL counties frequently had yields
below the trend line, 6 of those earning GRIP indemnity payments. Read more:
• But don't look at NASS yields to determine whether you might get a GRIP indemnity
payment, says Schnitkey. He says NASS yields are different from RMA yields.
1) NASS defines yield as the total production in a county divided by harvested acres.
2) RMA defines yield as total production divided by planted acres.
3) Planted acres can never be less than harvested acres in a given county,
4) Therefore, yields used to calculate GRIP payments will be less than NASS yields.
• Should you apply fungicide on soybeans? Bradley says seed treatments can be used to
help ensure good emergence and stand uniformity, but will not guarantee higher yields.
He says use soybean seed fungicides if your seed is poor quality due to infection by a
fungal seed borne pathogen. But he says it will not help mechanically-damaged seed.
• If you are buying a soybean seed treatment, Bradley suggests that you obtain a product
that has broad-spectrum protection against many diseases. He says the active ingredient
should either be mefenoxam or metalaxyl, which protect against phytophthora and
pythium, and he says it should contain another fungicide that controls fusarium and
rhizoctonia. Read more: http://ipm.illinois.edu/bulletin/article.php?id=1274
• Are you buying soybean inoculants? IL soybean production specialist Vince Davis
says inoculants are relatively cheap, but they rarely provide large increases of yield on
higher quality soils. He says the payback may only be an extra bushel or less, and after
testing several last year, he found no statistically significant yield differences using it.
• The old standby soybean genetics from PI88788 that are resistant to soybean cyst
nematode are losing resistance because SCN is adapting. IL soybean breeder Brian Diers
says it still has an advantage, but with 90% of SCN resistant soybean varieties depending
on the PI88788 traits, Diers and others say an alternative must be found. He says some
wild soybeans are good at controlling SCN and their genes are being tested.
• Soybean aphids just jumped ahead in the race with researchers to develop soybeans that
are resistant to aphids. Those soybean varieties are still in the experimental stage, but a
new soybean aphid specie has been found that is not affected by the supposedly resistant
soybeans. IL soybean researcher Glen Hartman advises farmers to still plant the resistant
varieties when available, if they have had past problems with soybean aphids.
• Nearly half of US cornfields were planted with stacked genes in 2009 to provide insect
resistance, and well over that level in some states. IL entomologist Mike Gray says
despite the heavy use of Bt resistant corn hybrids, he says we have been fortunate that
field-level resistance has not developed for either European corn borer or corn
rootworms. Read more at: http://ipm.illinois.edu/bulletin/article.php?id=1269
• Gray's concern about resistance is shown in the results of a survey that indicate at least
20% of farmers using Bt technology do not plant the required refuges within or adjacent
to the Bt cornfield. Gray's survey found that 90% of IL farmers would be willing to use
a seed blend that contained 2-5% non Bt seeds, but if the non-Bt blends were increased to
a 6-10% range, then willingness to plant it to ensure resistance falls below 60%.
• Nationally, compliance with refuge requirements for Bt corn toxic to European corn
borer is falling, from over 90% between 2003 and 2005, to only 78% in 2008. For Bt
corn toxic to corn rootworm, the compliance with refuge requirements was 89% in 2006
and fell to 74% in 2008. Stacked hybrid refuge compliance dropped from 78% in 2006 to
72% in 2008. Collectively, 1 US farmer out of 4 is ignoring Bt refuge requirements.
• If refuge requirements are not met, IA St. specialists say the regulatory process may be
changed and groups like the Center for Science in the Public Interest will become
involved in pushing for penalties on farmers. They say beyond insects developing
resistance to the Bt genetics, there is also a social role and responsibility. Read more:
• Bt corn hybrids experienced severe corn rootworm damage in 2009 in the corner of MN,
IA, and WI. Rootworm larvae damage may not be seen unless the corn begins to lodge,
and is undetectable prior to harvest. Mike Gray at IL suggests that farmers planting large
acreages of Bt hybrid dig up some roots in mid-July and check for potential damage. He
says that will be a chance to check the value of your investment in Bt corn this year.
• 2010 bug check: what insects will/won't be a problem in Cornbelt fields this year? Plan
your IPM program with this advice: http://ipm.illinois.edu/bulletin/article.php?id=1270
1) The spring flight of soybean aphids from buckthorn to soybeans will be small.
2) The spring flight of European corn borers may be hardly noticeable.
3) The infestation of western corn rootworms should be light to moderate.
4) Japanese beetles will continue to be a problem this year.
5) The jury is still out on black cutworms, corn leaf aphids, armyworms, & earworms.
• Chemistry caution is being offered by IL weed specialist Aaron Hager, because of
herbicide and insecticide conflicts. He says if you have planted a multi-stacked hybrid,
and are planning to use an organophosphate insecticide to control other insects, your corn
may be hurt if your follow it with an ALS or HPPD inhibiting herbicide. Hager's chart
depicting problem chemistry is at: http://ipm.illinois.edu/bulletin/article.php?id=1271
• If you have horseweed or marestail that is resistant to glyphosate, grit your teeth
suggests IL weed scientist Aaron Hager. He says, "No novel herbicide active ingredients
for postemergence control of broadleaf weeds in soybean are likely to be commercialized
in the next few years, so managing herbicide-resistant weed populations will become
increasingly challenging into the foreseeable future." If you have glyphosate-resistant
weeds, download a management brochure at: http://www.vipsoybeans.org .
• Are your fields getting wooly? If the moisture has kept cultivators and sprayers out of
the field, take the opportunity to identify the weed crop you are growing and ensure your
herbicide will control them: http://ipm.illinois.edu/bulletin/article.php?id=1272
• Wheat was planted late last fall and had little chance to establish a stand and
accomplish any tillering before dormancy. Your wheat crop may look puny and IL crop
production specialist Emerson Nafziger says there are some legitimate questions of
whether it is worth keeping. Call your crop insurance agent before taking action. Your
wheat has delayed development and harvest could be later than normal. Nafziger says
wheat yields will be reduced if rainfall is normal or above and temperatures are high.
• Minor planter adjustments make a major difference in the quality of your stand of corn,
say IA St. specialists, who suggest those settings may not have carried over from 2009.
Read more: http://www.extension.iastate.edu/CropNews/2010/0408hannaelmore.htm
1) Varying field conditions require adjustments to closing wheel downward pressure.
2) Poor adjustments and faster planting speed makes for seed depth variability.
3) Sufficient weight is needed so depth gauge wheels are firmly on the soil surface.
4) Higher pressure on press wheels helps bring capillary water to seed in dry soil.
5) Wet soils should have either light or no downward spring pressure on press wheels.
6) In wet soils reduce the pressure on disc seed openers to avoid soil compaction.
• Rutted fields from the 2009 harvest can be problems for 2010 no-till planters. Many
producers may need to consider some spring tillage to level the soil. That is allowed in
no-tilling, but consult your NRCS staff first and document what problems you needed to
correct. IA St. specialists say first, ensure your soil is dry enough to work.
1) Tillage ahead of the planter is not needed if ruts are less than planting depth.
2) Deeper irregularities can be addressed with a field cultivator or light tandem disk.
3) Tilling only the surface will avoid pushing, smearing, and compacting wet soil below.
• Whether grandpa was a pioneering county agent, had the first tractor in the county, or
was the first in the region to use rock phosphate on his wheat you'll be able to read
stories about him from your home computer if they were printed in one of the leading
farm newspapers of his time. Numerous farm publications from the late 1800's to the
early 1900's are available on line at http://uiuc.libguides.com/fff/ with more on the way.
April 5, 2010
• Acreage expansion of several crops will impact prices, according to Dan O'Brien at KS
St. He says, "Market expectations for larger production and total supplies of feed grains
and oilseeds in 2010 have increased, although confident projections of such are
premature. Assuming normal yields and steady demand for US grains in the 2010-11
marketing years for feed grains and oilseeds, increased production in 2010 would likely
lead to reduced prospects for grain prices for the coming 2010-11 marketing year. Wheat
market prospects for excessive supplies relative to demand and generally lower prices
have not been changed appreciably by the 2010 Planting Intentions report." Read his
• Purdue's Chris Hurt agrees with O'Brien, and he says with the demise of the brief
wheat revival and larger stocks of corn and beans, he expects "prices for the two
commodities to fall, leaving farmers with tighter profit margins." He says the Stocks and
Plantings reports have "a tone that would suggest weaker prices until we can perhaps see
lower prices begin to stimulate usage in the United States and around the world."
• But how low does he expect prices to go? Hurt says, "Corn could well be in the lower
$3 per bushel range. Soybeans certainly could drop back below the $9 per bushel mark,
as we think about new crop beans especially. This begins to squeeze, given relatively
high production cost, the margins for producers. We're reverting now a little bit back to
the norm in US agriculture. And the norm in US agriculture has been we have more
ability to produce than we have the ability to consume."
• 88.8 mil. acres of corn would imply harvested acreage of 80.72 mil. O'Brien says if the
USDA's projected yield of 160.9 bu is used, the 2010 production would be 12.99 bil. bu.
of corn. That would only trail the 13+ bil. bu. corn crops produced in 2007 and 2009.
• 78.01 mil. acres of beans would imply harvested acres of 76.9 mil. acres. With a 42.9
bu. average yield, the 2010 soybean crop would equal 3.30 bil. bu. of beans. O'Brien
says that would be the second largest soybean crop, only behind the 3.36 bil. bu. of 2009.
• USDA's track record for acreage estimates have been within 3.5% of the final estimate
for corn acreage and within 3.6% of the final estimate for soybean acreage 90% of the
time says O'Brien. The corn crop has been greater than the Intentions report on 12 times
and below the report on 8 times, over the past 20 years. Final bean acres have been
below the Intentions report 13 times and greater than the report on 7 occasions.
• You've already heard the USDA's Grain Stocks report found more grain than expected.
Corn stocks were at 7.69 bil. bu., up 11% from last year. Both on-farm and off-farm corn
storage was up by double digits. Soybean stocks were down 2% from last year, to 1.27
bil. bu. On-farm storage dropped by 7%, while off-farm storage is up 2%. Wheat stocks
are up 30% from last year, at levels unseen since 2000. IA St.'s Chad Hart says, "This
will continue to pressure wheat prices and could have implications for the feed markets."
• Concerns were expressed about light test weights resulting in a more rapid
disappearance than would normally be expected. KS St. economist Dan O'Brien says
that has not yet proven to be, "If low test weights of corn resulting from late maturity and
poor harvest conditions during fall 2009 were to impact corn usage as some market
analysts expected, then the impact would be reflected in these quarterly corn usage
numbers. The Dec-Feb 2010 usage figure seemingly does not reflect any significant
impact on usage from light corn test weights or poor quality in the 2009 U.S. corn crop."
• This is not a typical year to MN marketing specialist Ed Usset. He says new crop Dec
futures usually move higher in the spring, and in 12 of the last 20 years, the March to
May period offered the opportunity to sell futures 5% higher than the early January price,
which was $4.45. He says that did not happen in 1994, 2001 & 2002. He adds, "Unless
we see a strong rally in April or May, we will add 2010 to this list of atypical years."
You can find his perspectives on marketing at: http://edsworld.wordpress.com/
• Increased corn yields will increase profits. And OSU agronomist Peter Thomison has
10 keys to do that that. Some are simple. You know most. But here's the checklist:
1) Know the potential of the field, its yield history, and soil productivity.
2) Pick hybrids with high yield history, and use Bt hybrids where they might help.
3) Follow pest management practices with timely control on weeds and insects.
4) Aim to finish planting by 5/10, but if planting early, avoid poorly drained soils.
5) Adjust planted to give proper seed depth, population, and to optimize emergence.
6) Adjust population for each field, with higher populations on more productive soils.
7) Apply the most economical rate of N, and apply products to minimize N losses.
8) Use soil tests to guide P & K application rates and avoid unnecessary amounts.
9) Perform tillage only when necessary and under proper soil conditions.
10) Take advantage of crop rotation to produce 10% more corn following soybeans.
• If fertilizer application is a headache, follow the NE soil fertility recommendations at:
1) Delay N application in fields prone to flooding and side-dress after planting.
2) For other fields, apply 20-40% of N pre-plant and remainder after emergence.
3) In-season application will provide benefits during wet springs and in sandy soil.
4) If applying UAN or urea on heavy residue, use an inhibitor or controlled release.
5) A controlled release N applied at pre-plant or planting time is a sidedress alternative.
• Are soybean cyst nematodes anxiously awaiting your planter? MO agronomist Allen
Wrather says obtain an SCN soil test immediately, since the results come back a month
later. That will be in time to make any planting rotations if needed, since seed treatments
are non-existent for SCN. Wrather says resistant varieties are available and yield well.
• Select the proper varieties. Period. And MO agronomist Laura Sweets says you will
minimize your yield loss in soybeans. She is concerned about phythophthora, and says if
you use a race resistant variety and an appropriate fungicide, you should increase your
success. Variety selection is also important to reduce problems with Sudden Death
Syndrome, caused by fusarium, and with SCN. Cut your losses with variety choices.
• Fall weather was not kind to wheat and MO agronomist Bill Wiebold says few wheat
plants produced any tillers, which was necessary. That can be helped in the spring with
an early fertilizer application, but it was still too wet, and your yield potential is
declining. Wiebold says yield projections are hard to do, and if 60 heads per square foot
will be a yield maximum, then you can guess at 30 heads being close to a 50% crop yield.
• You can't prevent winter injury to your forage crop, but an early spring evaluation of
its viability will help manage its survival. IA St. agronomist Stephen Barnhart says
injury is more likely on species with limited hardiness such as alfalfa, orchardgrass and
ryegrass. Older stands are more susceptible to injury and it is more likely where four
summer cuts were made, a late fall cutting was made, or fall grazing was allowed. Read
• Floodwaters can damage forage and pasture just like farmsteads. If you have damage:
1) 30-50 lb of N will provide an economical increase in dry matter and animal gain.
2) If reseeding, select a crop that is compatible with the surviving crop.
3) Will soil moisture conditions and expected rainfall help or hurt the new crop?
4) Will weed competition be a problem for the newly planted crop specie?
• Will diesel prices rise? KS St. economist Kevin Dhuyvetter projected non-taxable
diesel fuel prices for the next 12 months, and all of the monthly averages are well above
the price of the corresponding month one year earlier. April and May will be 55% to
65% higher than spring planting time of last year. For the following 9 months, prices will
be 20% to 40% above the corresponding month a year earlier. Prices in 2009 were 46%
below that of 2008, but the 2008 price average was 146% above that of 2004.
• The latest Hogs and Pigs Report was quite positive, and more bullish than the trade
estimates ahead of the report, says MO economist Glenn Grimes. The report said:
1) The total number of hogs and pigs on farms was 2.8% less than March 1, 2009.
2) Retained stock for breeding was down 3.9%, compared to 2.6% trade expectations.
3) Market inventory was down 2.7%, compared to the trade estimate of 0.9%.
4) Winter farrowings were down 2.7%, spring will be down 4%, and summer off 2.4%.
• You may not need sunglasses yet, but Purdue economist Chris Hurt says the outlook for
pork is brighter with the combination of reduced supplies and increased demand. He is
forecasting profits at $18 per head for 2010, compared to $20 per head losses in 2008 and
2009. More: http://www.farmdoc.illinois.edu/marketing/weekly/html/032910.html
• Pork demand is an unusual calculation. Hurt says production will be down 3%, but
the amount of pork available per capita will be 5% less this year compared to 2009
because pork exports will expand 8% and that will take product from the meat case. He
says with a 2% drop in beef supplies, retail prices for pork will be sharply higher.
• Pork profitability will come from market prices moving into the low $60 range in late
spring and early summer, along with the outlook for lower feed costs. Chris Hurt says
the pork industry has reached the point of being able to survive with $3.50 corn, and
production costs should fall to $47 down from the low $50 range in 2008 and 2009.
• Should you expand? Chris Hurt says, "I cannot remember a time when there have been
so many possible negative events from outside the pork industry that should make
producers cautious." His reasons include odor and water complaints, criticism from
HSUS, and the negative implications of climate change. But he says the bottom line
reason is the fact that most lenders will be adverse to extending credit for expansion.
• If you are feeding cattle, have you priced DDGS lately? NE livestock economist
Darrell Mark says DDGS usually dips in price about 8% in March, compared to adjacent
months, but this year the drop was 20%. He says demand is part of the reason since cattle
on feed numbers are 6% under recent years, and he says there is an abundance of silage
and wet corn that needs to be fed. Additionally, supplies of DDGS are larger. He is
bullish on using DDGS because the cost of gain can decline dramatically with it. Read
• Sellers, buyers, and transporters of DDGS have long held complaints about uneven
load weights. Purdue researchers found the common discrepancies stemmed from odd
sized particles of DDGS, with smaller and larger particles segregated through the loading
process. Fines are in the middle just like broken kernels of grain in a bin, and the ratio of
fines to larger particles can have a distinct impact on the weight of a truck or railcar.
• It may look like a Haloween decoration, but it is not just orange-colored corn. It is
corn that has had a gene adjustment to create more vitamin A, and foods created with it
will have significant benefits for reducing childhood blindness and mortality in
developing countries. The corn has a higher level of carotene, like carrots and sweet
potatoes, and Purdue geneticist Torbert Rocheford says he's "turbocharged" it.
• How will you get agricultural information in the future? I don't have a crystal ball
either, but DuPont wants to ensure information continues to flow and is investing
$200,000 toward the agricultural communications program at the University of Illinois.
It is part of a $2 million plan to add three more teaching positions in ag communications.
• Another need of the future is for plant breeders, and currently universities are turning
out less than two-thirds of what the industry needs. Half of the current workforce of
plant breeders is expected to retire in the next 10-15 years, and more than 1,400 new
graduates will be needed annually by 2020. Scholarships are becoming abundant.
• The "You Must Be Kidding" Department. Farm kids usually know about the birds and
the bees well ahead of their city cousins. But everyone is just now learning that Hessian
flies, which dictate when you plant wheat, have three basic sexes. Three. There are
males, and there are two types of females, ones that produce males and ones that produce
other females. Purdue entomologist Jeff Stuart happened onto the fact of nature when
trying to modify Hessian fly mating habits so they could eliminate themselves.