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Low price concerns looming for corn and soybeans

By Doug Tenney, Leist Mercantile

It’s hard to fathom spring planting season is just around the corner, particularly when last fall’s wet weather pattern looks to continue through spring. Many had expected to see some price rally for corn, easing their decision toward more corn acres. Crop budgets remain very tight with many seeing negative profits for corn and soybeans. Troublesome to those budgets are soybeans losing more per acre than corn in spite of corn input costs exceeding those for soybeans.

Last year the United States planted 89 million acres to both corn and soybeans. This year corn acres could likely climb to at least 92 million acres. Soybean acres could decline at least 3 million acres. Therein remains a huge problem. The soybean acres decline is likely way too small, with soybean ending stocks of 925 million bushels. We will be gain much more clarity (be much smarter) with the release of the March 29 USDA Planting Intentions Report.

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Tough stretch for ethanol profitability

By Scott Irwin, Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, University of Illinois

The U.S. ethanol industry faced considerable headwinds in 2018, including the lowest prices over the last decade, policy setbacks in the implementation of the RFS, and political resistance to granting a year-round RVP waiver for E15. The impact of these headwinds on ethanol production profits is certainly of interest to those in the ethanol industry, as well as policymakers and legislators interested in the financial health of the U.S. renewable fuels industry.

A model of a representative Iowa ethanol plant was used to track the profitability of ethanol production. The model is meant to be representative of an “average” ethanol plant constructed in the last decade. There is certainly substantial variation in capacity and production efficiency across the industry and this should be kept in mind when viewing profit estimates from the model.

Ethanol prices started 2018 at historically low levels of $1.25 per gallon, rose to a peak of $1.43 in April, and then fell most of the rest of the year, reaching a low of $1.06 in late November.

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Changing nitrogen recommendations for wheat

By Harold Watters, Ohio State University Extension agronomist

Do we have any wheat left in Ohio? Last numbers I saw suggested we were below 500,000 acres. I know we had a rough fall to get wheat planted, with wet conditions and harvest delays, but I would like to see more acres. It makes our other two crops better and reduces weed, insect and disease problems for them. The new Ohio Agronomy Guide has just a bit of an update on spring nitrogen (N) recommendations for wheat in Ohio.

We do rely on yield potential to make the wheat N recommendation — not for corn anymore, but we still do for wheat. Once you have set a realistic yield goal, follow rates suggested in the table. These recommendations are for mineral soils with adequate drainage and 1% to 5% organic matter.

 

Nitrogen rate for wheat by yield potential.

Yield potentialTotal N rate
bu/Alb/A
6060
7075
8090
90110
100130

 

We do not give any credit for the previous soybean or cover crop, since we do not know if that organic N source will be mineralized for the wheat crop — with cool spring conditions this process is slowed down.

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Prospects for corn trade in 2018/19 and beyond

By Ben Brown, Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics, The Ohio State University

The agricultural industry is a global economy with buyers (consumers), sellers (producers) and traders. In the United States, producers of corn have a comparative advantage- the ability to produce it cheaper per unit or at higher quality- over most other parts of the world. However, genetics, changes in weather patterns, land limitations, politics and global gross domestic product affect quantities of production and consumption.

Long-term trade projections for U.S. corn published by the Economics Research Service of the USDA look positive due to the expected rise in world GDP and population; however, increases in competition from other exporting countries continue the decreasing trend of the United States’ share of world exports. Trade negotiations between the U.S. and China are in the middle of a 90-day trade truce, which ends the beginning of March. It is uncertain what, if any, resolution will surface before or at the deadline.

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Addressing rutted fields from the soggy harvest

By Matt Reese

Though it always seems the rutting is a bit worse in the neighbor’s fields, the soggy fall and winter harvest conditions have left no shortage of problem areas to address in Ohio’s corn and soybean fields before spring planting.

Seed Consultants, Inc. agronomist Bill McDonald has seen plenty of rutted up fields in his travels around the state and fears there are no easy answers as long as the wet conditions persist.

“It really concerns me because the closer we get to spring, we are still wet and saturated. I’m afraid the chisel plow is going to be out — with these conditions there is going to be no chisel plowing to get those ruts turned in. It would have been nice if we could have chisel plowed last fall and let this winter freeze take care of that and help with some of the compaction we caused out there this fall, but I don’t see that as an option.

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Soil Health Partnership call for proposals

The Soil Health Partnership (SHP) announced it is accepting proposals for partnerships and collaboration for 2019. SHP encourages any organization or individuals who have an interest in working together to submit ideas.

“At the SHP, we collaborate with a diverse network of partners ranging from universities to industry and government groups to non-profits,” said Shefali Mehta, executive director of the Soil Health Partnership. “These broad partnerships enable SHP to maximize the impact of our work. This year we are making this specific call for proposals to ensure that we continue to seek out diverse partners and include a fuller range of ideas.”

Applicants are required to complete the Request for Partnership form on the SHP website. The deadline for submissions is Friday, March 15, 2019.

“Whether working with soil science or agronomy experts, developing a partnership in a new state as we expand our farmer network, or fueling a graduate student’s passion for soil health, SHP knows that partnerships make our work stronger and more impactful,” Mehta said.

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Lawmakers prioritizing water quality

The Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association (OCWGA) and the Ohio Soybean Association (OSA) expressed their appreciation to the Ohio General Assembly for its proposal to address water quality among the priority legislation for the new session. Senate Bill 2, co-sponsored by Sen. Matt Dolan and Sen. Bob Peterson, proposes to create a statewide watershed planning structure for programs to be implemented by local soil and water conservation districts.

“Ohio lawmakers are sending a strong message that water quality is a top priority in the coming session, and Ohio grain farmers share that priority,” said Jon Miller, OCWGA president. “While the General Assembly is still working out the details of the legislation, we applaud them for their commitment to Lake Erie and other bodies of water.”

Ohio grain farmers have embraced new farming priorities and practices in order to keep nutrients on the field, have invested in scientific research and new farming equipment, and are applying less phosphorous on their fields than ever before.

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Young farmers should keep balance sheet, credit report top of mind

By Joel Penhorwood and Kolt Buchenroth

Finances are on the mind of all producers, but even more so for those just getting started. At the recent Young Ag Professional’s Winter Leadership Experience, Jessica Draganic with Heartland Bank said credit awareness should be high on the priority list.

“We really promote people making sure they are aware of their credit score and their credit situation. A good balance sheet is the most important thing in our opinion, especially doing an end of year balance sheet where you’re looking from year-to-year on your operation or even your personal financial situation. It’s so important for any banker or lender that you’re working with,” Draganic said. “Making sure that you are aware of a business plan or what you want to do with your operation — what you see now in the current situation, in five years and 10 years — and how do you get to that point.

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New or replacement drainage in 2019 and drainage education

By Larry C. Brown

Now is the time to start checking your existing agricultural drainage system for any field conditions that may need your attention after the last crop season and certainly after the excessive rainfall in 2018. Check drainage outlets for damage or blockage, and clean the animal guard; check the field for drain blowouts or soil failures where excessive runoff and sediment may enter the subsurface drains; check areas that ponded last crop season, or where crop yields were reduced because of excessive rainfall and soil wetness to assess the need for additional drainage, etc.

You may be considering new subsurface drainage or replacing parts of older systems. When considering a new system, you might want to think about an alternative system design, a Drainage Water Management System. All of the benefits that come with a traditional subsurface drainage system can be achieved with a system that is designed for drainage water management, plus at least several important extras.

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Determining the right corn plant population

By Matt Hutcheson, CCA, Product Manager, Seed Consultants, Inc.

One factor that greatly influences corn yields is plant population. Determining the correct plant population may take some effort, however, it is a critical factor that every corn grower needs to get right in order to maximize yields. Recent research performed by universities and seed companies has determined that that yields increase significantly as populations are increased up to a point of 34,000 seeds per acre. In general, yields begin to level off at planting rates around rates 36,000 seeds per acre. Recent studies have also determined that even in low yield environments planting rates of 31,000 seeds per acre maximize yield and economic return. In very productive, 250 bushels per acre yield environments, research results show that higher populations (38,000+ seeds per acre) maximize yields. Breeding and advances in genetics have improved the modern corn plant’s ability to yield at higher populations when compared to corn hybrids from the past.

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Ohio’s numbers from USDA Feb. 8 reports

We’ve heard about the national and world side of crop and livestock production from the Feb. 8 USDA reports, but what about Ohio?

Ohio Annual Crop Summary

Ohio’s 2018 average corn yield was 187 bushels per acre, a new State record, according to Cheryl Turner, State Statistician, USDA NASS, Ohio Field Office. Growers harvested 3.30 million acres for grain, up 5 percent from 2017. Total production of corn for grain was 617 million bushels, up 11 percent from the 2017. Ohio’s average soybean yield for 2018 was 58 bushels per acre, also a new State record. Growers harvested 4.98 million acres, down 2 percent from 2017. Production, at 289 million bushels, was also an all-time high.

The full report.

Winter Wheat Seedings

Ohio winter wheat seeded area for 2019 is estimated at 460,000 acres, a decrease of 6 percent from last year, according to Cheryl Turner, State Statistician of the USDA NASS, Ohio Field Office.

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Double-crop soybean yields after barley in Northwest Ohio

By Eric Richer, CCA, Sarah Noggle, Garth Ruff, Ohio State University Extension

Several growers across the state had the opportunity to grow winter malting barley in 2018. We had the opportunity to work with eight of those growers from Northwest Ohio, in particular, to learn more about the viability of growing this newly, re-introduced crop. As a learning cohort of sorts, these growers agreed to share their yield and quality data results while participating in a simple, field-scale research project with these two objectives:

1) Determine the field-scale, simple averages for yield (grain & straw), harvest date and quality characteristics for barley grown in Northwest Ohio.

Simply put: Can we grow barley with high yield and good quality?

2) Compare the yield and plant/harvest dates for the same variety soybean as a i) first crop system, ii) double crop after barley system and iii) double crop after wheat system.

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Big, but neutral, USDA report day

By Doug Tenney, Leist Mercantile

Finally, the numbers.

It looks to be a neutral report. Corn and soybean production reduced as expected. Corn fed to livestock was reduced 125 million bushels while ethanol was cut 25 million bushels. Soybean exports are down 25 million bushels, crush up 10 million bushels.

The market and traders were thrilled with finally seeing some numbers from USDA today at noon. For weeks market participation has been reduced with daily volumes moving lower and narrow daily ranges. This past week corn has seen days with less than a two-cent range while soybeans could not muster a five-cent daily range. The market thrives on information. Today we get a massive dump of numbers.

USDA published both the January and February numbers that are found in the Supply and Demand Report. They included final 2018 corn and soybean yields and production, and quarterly grain stocks as of Dec.

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Initial Brazil soybean harvest not record-breaking, still solid

Soybean harvest in Parana, Brazil, the country’s second-largest soybean-producing state, has reached 25%, well ahead of the 2018 pace.

Brazilian government forecasting agency DERAL says, although the state suffered through a mini-drought in December, early yield results show no material losses. Only 6% of the state’s soy fields are reportedly in bad condition. The number his still higher than last year’s zero ‘bad’ fields.

DERAL says 24% of fields are considered average, compared to 14% in the last cycle. The remaining fields are considered in good condition. As it stands currently, Brazil’s crop will be short of the record-high estimates of 122 million metric tons. Weather issues in Brazil are not widespread or significant enough to put a major dent in production.

Elsewhere in South America, harvest expectations in Argentina are nearing 53- to 55-million metric tons, coming off 38 MMT in 2018.

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The LL-GT27 soybean — what’s legal?

By Mark Loux, Ohio State University Extension weed control specialist

We are starting to see the availability of soybean varieties with more than two herbicide resistance traits, which can expand the herbicide options, improve control, and allow multiple site of action tank mixes that reduce the rate of selection for resistance. One of these is the Enlist soybean, with resistance to glyphosate, glufosinate, and 2,4-D. As of this writing, full approval for the Enlist soybean is still being held up by the Philippines (because they can apparently).

The other is the LL-GT27 soybean, which has resistance to glyphosate, glufosinate, and isoxaflutole (Balance). There is no label for use of isoxaflutole on this soybean yet, but it is legal to apply both glyphosate and glufosinate. In Ohio, as long as neither label prohibits applying a mixture of two herbicides labeled for a specific use, it’s legal to apply the mixture. So, it’s also legal to apply a mixture of glyphosate and glufosinate to the LL-GT27 soybean.

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Conservation Tillage & Technology Conference March 5 and 6

By Randall Reeder, Ohio State University Extension

CTC at Ada, March 5-6 (Tuesday-Wednesday), will feature about 75 speakers on a wide range of topics. Here are a few highlights.

Bob Nielsen, Purdue U., returns, speaking about on-farm research. The session on Precision Ag & Digital Technologies includes several of our County Extension Educators discussing their on-farm research results (published in the 2018 eFields book).

Nutrient Management is a hot topic to be covered by 11 speakers. A Water Quality session on Wednesday includes results of several research projects. Many of the speakers both days are intent on keeping P and N on the farmland and out of waterways leading to Lake Erie or the Gulf of Mexico. This session starts at 8:00 am.

The Soil Health and Cover Crops session also starts at 8:00 am, in the Chapel. Featured speakers include NRCS Soil Health Specialists, Barry Fisher and Jim Hoorman. Jason Weller, formerly Chief of NRCS and now with Land O’Lakes, will speak on “Venture Conservation: Public + Private Solutions for Healthier Soils.”

In addition to Bob Nielsen, Corn University includes Kurt Steinke of Michigan State and Emerson Nafziger, Illinois.

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Crop rotation and second year soybean yields

By Matt Hutcheson, CCA Product Manager, Seed Consultants, Inc.

As spring approaches and plans for the 2019 crop are finalized, growers will determine what crops to plant and plant crop rotation across their acres. When considering crop rotations and yields, many focus on continuous corn and the yield penalties associated with that practices. However, there is one possibly overlooked benefit of crop rotation: avoiding a soybean yield penalty.

In this article, the University of Kentucky’s John Grove discusses soybean yields for first year and second year soybeans from 2009 to 2016. Grove’s research data shows an average yield penalty of 2.3 bushels per acre across that 7-year period, with some years being showing yield losses greater than 10 bushels per acre. In another article from No-Till Farmer, Greg Roth shows data that predicts a four- to six-bushel per acre yield penalty for second year soybeans.

Yield loses from continuous soybeans (and other continuous crops) are usually associated with increased disease presence as well as pests.

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Practices for big corn yields highlighted at OABA Industry Conference

By Matt Reese

The Ohio AgriBusiness Association Industry Conference always features a diverse and interesting program and this year is certainly no exception. Thursday’s topics included an overview of the state’s livestock industries, a look at global grain markets, and regulations, just to name a few. Among the more popular presentations was the topic of striving for high corn yields with Fred Below from the University of Illinois.

“I talked about my seven wonders of the corn yield world. These are the management factors that each impact yield. This is not rocket science. I talked about how important weather is and how weather interacts with nitrogen, about getting the hybrid selection right, managing the rotation, and plant population. The plant population is a big factor that has changed and has to change in order to grow higher yields — narrower rows and more plants. Finally I try to put it together in a systems approach.

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How many soybean acres do we need in 2019?

By Todd Hubbs, Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics University of Illinois

We have reached the time of the year where speculation about acreage for the 2019 crops begins in earnest. While the number of acres planted to soybeans appears set to decrease, current projections indicate an intention to plant significantly more acres than necessary to reach breakeven prices in Illinois under current consumption and stock level forecasts.

Projections by industry analysts place 2019 soybean planted acreage in a range from 84.5 to 86.5 million acres. A reduction in soybean acreage from the 89.1 million acres planted in 2018 seems probable.

We currently project soybean planted acreage at 85.7 million acres. An analysis of the number of soybean acres necessary in 2019 to produce a 2019-20 marketing year price for soybeans near the cost of production may be revealing. This analysis uses a 2019 crop budget on high productivity farmland for soybeans following corn in central Illinois.

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Tri-state fertilizer recommendations changing

By Harold Watters, Ohio State University Extension agronomist

Things are changing for the Tri-State Fertilizer Recommendations for agronomic crops. We are giving these updates this winter in advance of the publication update likely to come at the end of winter, and maybe too late to put in your plans for 2019. First the work. Steve Culman our OSU soil fertility specialist coordinated much of it:

  • From 2014 to 2017, over 300 on-farm strip trials were conducted across Ohio.
  • Yield responses to P and K fertilizer in soils at or above the current maintenance range were very rare.
  • Long-term data shows that when Ohio soils are in the current maintenance range, they supply sufficient P and K to meet corn and soybean demand for many growing seasons without yearly fertilization.
  • Recommended corn N rates were updated and are based on maximizing farmer profitability, not maximizing yields (http://go.osu.edu/corn-n-rate).
  • Corn, soybean and wheat today yield more grain with less nutrients.
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