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Around the County

Frequent information updates for agricultural audiences

Cornbelt Update - from Stu Ellis

Posted by John Fulton -

Compared to the last two years this growing season has different supply and demand

dynamics influencing prices, says IL marketing specialist Darrel Good. Read his latest

newsletter at:

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:

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: . KS St. has a

similar tool at: .

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:

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:

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:

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 .

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 . 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.

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