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Crops



Will March move markets?

March is a huge month for USDA reports. Today’s March 8 monthly Supply and Demand Report expectations suggest corn exports could increase even more. Last month USDA pegged U.S. corn exports at 2.050 billion bushels, an increase of 125 million bushels. Conversely, private estimates suggest U.S. exports could drop even more in the months ahead. USDA estimated soybean exports in February at 2.10 billion bushels, down 60 million bushels from the previous month. That decline pushed soybean ending stocks to 530 million bushels, a jump of 60 million bushels. Yet, report day in February failed to push soybean significantly lower compared to previous years when soybean ending stocks had that much of an increase. Instead, dry weather concerns in Argentina were the feature that day, overshadowing the bearish news. A decades old analogy suggests that when bearish news does not produce bearish price results, the news event is no longer relevant.

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RFS tinkering would deal a substantive blow to farmers

A new economic analysis by the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) at Iowa State University backs up what corn farmers have been telling the Administration — that manipulating the RIN market mechanism would reduce ethanol blending and impact corn prices. A drop of 25 cents per bushel in corn prices, as CARD economists project from a RIN price cap, would devastate farmers and stagger rural communities.

This spring farmers will begin planting knowing they face their fifth growing season with corn prices hovering at or below the cost of production. According to the Federal Reserve Bank, we lost 12,000 farms in 2016. This decline must be stopped. The CARD analysis clearly shows an artificial cap on Renewable Identification Number (RIN) prices in exchange for an RVP waiver allowing year-round sales of E15 would be a bad deal for rural America and the nation’s consumers.

Providing regulatory parity for E15 and higher blends helps address concerns about RIN values.

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Cover Crop Field Day in Preble County

Preble Soil and Water Conservation District invites local farmers to an upcoming Cover Crop Field Day to be held Tuesday, March 27. The field day will be held at the site of the cover crop demonstration plot at the Leedy Farm, located at 3302 Eaton Lewisburg Rd., Eaton. The field day will begin at 9:00 a.m., conclude around 1:00 p.m., and will include a free lunch provided by La Crosse Seed, Buckeye Soil Solutions, and Peak Agronomy Solutions.

Speakers will include Hans Kok of the Soil Health Partnership, Scott Wohltman of La Crosse Seed, Eric Niemeyer of Buckeye Soil Solutions, and Matt Deaton of Deaton Soil Services. This group has a great deal of experience in working with cover crops, and they will discuss topics such as best management practices, pros and cons of different seeding methods, getting started with using covers, economics, and benefits to soil health. During the program, attendees will be able to look at the demonstration plot including seven different cover crop seed mixes and observe root growth in a soil pit.

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Had your auxin training yet?

With the growing now of dicamba resistant soybeans and the products to spray on them, we need a plan to avoid the problems we saw with drift and volatility in some areas last year. That means everyone who uses a dicamba product on soybeans must be a Licensed Pesticide Applicator and attend auxin training from the manufacturer; registration and locations found at these websites:

www.roundupreadyxtend.com/stewardship/education

https://events.basf.uscampaigns/engenia/#stewardship

www.fexapan.dupont.com

From my one and a half hour training I learned that to use the products you must:

  • Keep records.
  • Follow buffer requirements.
  • Use no AMS.
  • Apply with an approved nozzle that will deliver large droplets.
  • At 24 inches above the canopy.
  • In winds between 3 and 10 miles per hour.
  • But drive below 15 miles per hour.
  • And spray small weeds
  • Plus rinse 3 times after application.
  • And more…

The current labels for the dicamba-soybean products say we shall spray 4-inch or smaller weeds — however, READ the LABEL, the label is the law.

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Revised phosphorus index can help curb agricultural runoff

Ohio farmers will soon have access to a newly revised tool that can quickly and easily tell them their risk of agricultural phosphorus runoff that could potentially move into Ohio waterways such as Lake Erie.

The revised Ohio Phosphorus Risk Index is a program developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service to help farmers assess their risk of phosphorus moving off farm fields. It will soon allow farmers to input their farm-specific data to generate their risk of phosphorus in agricultural runoff through an online program.

The revised index is the result of the multiyear On-Field Ohio project led by Elizabeth (Libby) Dayton, a researcher in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) at The Ohio State University. The index has significant water quality implications statewide, considering that misapplied phosphorus has a high likelihood of degradation Ohio’s surface water and is a major contributor to harmful algal blooms.

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Consider Corn Challenge shines a light on corn’s growing potential in bio-economy

Six new technologies, that are poised to change the way the public perceives our country’s most abundant crop, were highlighted today in Anaheim, Calif. as winners of the inaugural Consider Corn Challenge, an open innovation contest hosted by the National Corn Growers Association. The diverse range of science unveiled shows that corn is squarely situated on the cutting-edge of technology, ready to support a wave of growth sweeping through the renewable products industry.

More than 30 scientists and start-up companies answered the global call to bring forth their best ideas focused on the conversion of corn into bio-renewable chemicals. Contest entries reinforced that corn can improve the environmental footprint of many products used by consumers, including plastic bottles, acrylics, solvents, fibers, packaging, and coolants.  Many of the submissions included bio-advantaged molecules, with the ability to deliver performance and value that exceeds petrochemicals.

The six winners of the competition are:

  • Lygos — The Berkley, CA company is producing Bio-Malonic acid (Bio-MA) from renewable sugars using cutting edge biotechnology.
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BASF moving forward with new pesticide technology

BASF’s insecticide portfolio is expanding with two new compounds on the horizon for release in the near future to increase the number of tools for insect control and resistance management.

The active ingredient broflanilide brings a new mode of action that has demonstrated excellent levels of control for chewing pests — the biggest insecticide market segment — for use in row and specialty crops as well as the professional pest management market. The other novel active ingredient, afidopyropen, with the trade name Inscalis, is effective against piercing-sucking insects, providing long-lasting control of aphids, whiteflies, and certain leafhoppers, psyllids and scales for use in specialty crops, soybeans and other row crops, and ornamentals. Both products will be launched soon in several markets across the globe.

At Commodity Classic, the focus from BASF was on the expected commercial release of Inscalis in the next year.

“It has fast onset of action that quickly stops the feeding of key target insects. 

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A look at acid rain and the farm phosphorus conundrum with water quality

Farmers understand that Lake Erie turns green in the summer and that part of the blame is rightfully being directed at agriculture due to issues related to nutrient management, specifically phosphorus. What is less understood is why this is happening.

In a time period where on-farm phosphorus application levels have decreased substantially and recommended conservation practices have increased in the agricultural landscape, the troubling harmful algal blooms again started showing up in the Western Basin of Lake Erie after many thought the water quality issues had been corrected decades earlier.

Even more confusing are the smaller lakes in more remote parts of the state and country where algal blooms are showing up in lakes surrounded with little to no agriculture to blame on the issue. There are numerous theories as to why this could be happening. One of them was a topic in a study published in the Journal of Soil and Water Conservation last summer: “A possible trade-off between clean air and clean water.”

Douglas R.

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Bin run seed — some lessons from the past

With lower prices and higher input costs in today’s soybean farming operations, some farmers are looking where to shave a few dollars off their costs of farming. Based on the calls directly from farmers on which seed treatments to use, it is not too hard to figure out where some of those savings might be coming from. This used to be general practice but there are ways to do this to be sure it really is saving farmer’s money.

1. Make absolutely sure that this seed is a candidate to use again. The harsh reality of the new generation of technologies that go into the new soybean varieties is that it probably takes the total profit of the U.S. soybean crop to go from discovery, development, U.S. and European government approvals, and producing that seed. Companies are forced to protect that investment and in reality — part of how we have raised the state yield average from 30 bushels per acre to 52 bushels per acre is because of these improved varieties.

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DowDupont announces new name for ag-focused company

The Agriculture Division of DowDuPont announced the name of the intended company once it is spun-off, which is expected to happen by June 1, 2019. The intended Agriculture company will become Corteva Agriscience, which is derived from a combination of words meaning “heart” and “nature.”
“This is the start of an exciting journey,” said James C. Collins, Jr., chief operating officer, Agriculture Division of DowDuPont. “Corteva Agriscience is bringing together three businesses with deep connections and dedication to generations of farmers. Our new name acknowledges our history while looking forward to our commitment to enhancing farmer productivity as well Cortevaas the health and well-being of the consumers they serve. With the most balanced portfolio of products in the industry, nearly a century of agronomic expertise and an unparalleled innovation engine, Corteva Agriscience will become a leading Agriculture company, focused on working together with the entire food system to produce a secure supply of healthy food.”
Corteva Agriscience brings together DuPont Crop Protection, DuPont Pioneer and Dow AgroSciences to create a market-shaping, standalone agriculture company with leading positions in Seed Technologies, Crop Protection and Digital Agriculture.
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Long-awaited, Northey confirmed as Undersecretary at USDA

By voice vote, the U.S. Senate confirmed the nomination of Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey to the position of USDA Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation.

Northey has been serving as Secretary of Agriculture for Iowa and the confirmation is generally viewed as a big win for agriculture and renewable fuels.

“After a needless four-month delay, farmers across the country will be well-served with Bill Northey finally on the job at USDA,” said Kevin Skunes, president of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA).

The confirmation came at a very critical time for the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) in the ongoing debate over Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs). Renewable fuel opponents have been pushing for capped RIN values, claiming the costs are too high for refineries.  

“Today in Washington President Trump, officials from USDA and EPA, and Senators met to discuss issues affecting the RFS. There was no deal cut at this meeting.

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NCGA emphasizes RFS importance to the Trump Administration

The National Corn Growers Association, along with other agricultural organizations, sent a letter to President Trump on Monday, calling on the President to maintain the integrity of the RFS.

“We appreciate the President’s support of the RFS since the early days of his campaign,” said NCGA President Kevin Skunes. “Rural America supported President Trump last year, now we need the President to support rural America.  Supporting policy changes that undermine the RFS will hurt farmers, renewable fuel plant workers, and rural America.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture projects 2018 net farm income will decline an additional $4.3 billion this year, a 6.7 percent reduction from 2017 levels. This represents the lowest net farm income, in nominal dollars, since 2006 and is a 50-percent decline in net farm income since 2013.

The letter to the President disputes the recent claims made by an East Coast refinery that the RFS is to blame for their recent bankruptcy. 

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Nutrient management and cover crops meeting

Applying crop nutrients when they are not needed is costly, especially in the current farm economy and harmful to the environment. Conversely, not applying enough fertilizer will cause a reduction in crop yield causing a decrease in profitability.

Cover crops are important to soil health, but how do you make them work? There are many options, what is the best option for your operation? Is soil health important? These questions along with nutrient management will be addressed at the upcoming meeting entitled: “Improving Your Bottom Line With Nutrients and Cover Crops”.

The meeting will be held March 13, 2018 from 9:15 AM to 3:40 PM at the Eagles in Wapakoneta (25 E. Auglaize St.).

Topics that will be discussed include: Basics of Cover Crops, Cover Crops for Forages, Making Cover Crops Work, Nitrogen and Gypsum Research Results, Nitrogen and Phosphorus Management and Management of Micronutrients. Speakers include: Alan Sundermeier, Allen Gahler, Mike Dailey, Joe Nester, Greg LaBarge, and Harold Watters.

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Commodity Classic kicks off in the California sun

Farmers from around the nation are gathering in Anaheim, Calif. this week for the 2018 Commodity Classic to find the answers, ideas, innovation, technology, equipment and expertise that can make a powerful difference on their farms while also setting policy for their national commodity organizations for 2018.

Established in 1996, Commodity Classic is America’s largest farmer-led, farmer-focused convention and trade show, produced by the National Corn Growers Association, American Soybean Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Sorghum Producers, and Association of Equipment Manufacturers. Visitors to this year’s Commodity Classic get to enjoy the event’s massive trade show and hear from speakers including U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, the Hefty Brothers, the nation’s highest yielding farmers, and many other industry experts.

Last night events kicked off with some committee meetings, state caucuses, issues briefings, and the National Corn Growers Association Corn PAC.

“Money that we raise for the PAC will be used to promote agriculture and to get our word out as we educate legislators about the importance of agriculture and the importance of corn growers to help ensure the status of our industry in the United States,” said Gene Baumgardner, chairman of the NCGA CornPAC Committee and a farmer from Jeffersonville, Ohio.

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Crop production cost analysis

Which number is closest to your total direct and overhead cost of production per bushel of corn: $3.08, $4.17, or $6.21? Do you know? Forty-two farms completed their 2016 farm business and crop enterprise analysis in 2017. Farm size ranged from 40 to more than 1,900 acres.The four lowest cost producers averaged $3.08 per bushel, the median COP was $4.17, and the four highest cost producers averaged $6.21 per bushel.

Only the high 20% of these corn enterprises generated a positive net return for corn. For the other 80%, the personalized benchmark reports they receive helped them identify strengths and areas of opportunity in each crop enterprise.

The highest cost producers will know if their costs were high compared to previous years due to weather or other yield-depressing event or if these numbers are “normal” and are waving a big red flag. Combining the real-numbers information from enterprise and benchmark reports with production information gives each farm manager powerful information to make positive changes.

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Increased rainfall for Ohio has ag implications

Ohio receives 10% more rain per year, on average, than in the 20th century.

“You can think of it as the ‘new normal,’ ” said Aaron Wilson, climate specialist for Ohio State University Extension, the outreach arm of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) at The Ohio State University.

Ohio’s current annual average is 42 inches, up 3 inches from the 39-inch average in the 20th century, Wilson said. Three inches may sound like just a drop in the, well, bucket, but “the problem is the intensity at which the rain is falling,” Wilson said.

The additional 3 inches aren’t spread across the entire year. Instead the bulk of Ohio’s rain is falling in intense rain events, followed by an increase in consecutive dry days, Wilson said. In July 2017, a rainfall dumped 5.5 inches of rain in two hours within Darke County, in the west central part of the state.

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Sluggish soybean seed orders for 2018

The dicamba issues from 2017 continue to loom large for 2018 soybean seed orders. As training sessions have continued on the label changes and application requirements for the dicamba products in 2018, farmers have been waiting to make their soybean seed purchase decisions in what seems to be a generally sluggish soybean-ordering season.

For those still holding off on making soybean orders because of unanswered dicamba questions, tight budgets, market uncertainty, or the tough agricultural economy, placing orders sooner is probably more beneficial than closer to the quickly approaching planting season.

“Seed companies are packaging and treating what has been ordered. If you wait too long you may be limited on seed treatment options and your first choice of varieties may not be what you get. You may have to get something different or go up or down on maturity. We are starting to sell out of things. Plus you miss all of the early order discounts,” said Stuart Yensel, with Seed Consultants, Inc.

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What are wheat tillers and how do they contribute to yield

In the coming weeks as the weather warms, up winter wheat will break dormancy and will begin to green up. After a period of about 2 weeks producers should evaluate their stand in order to make management decisions for their wheat crop. Part of this evaluation includes counting tillers to determine if there is an adequate stand for achieving high yields. According an article in a 2014 C.O.R.N. Newsletter written by Laura Lindsey, Ed Lentz, Pierce Paul, “Yield potential is reduced if tiller numbers fall below 25 per square foot after green up.”

So, what is a tiller? And how should they be counted? Tillers are additional stems that develop off of the main shoot of the plant. Primary tillers form in the axils of the first four or more true leaves of the main stem. Secondary tillers may develop from the base of primary tillers if conditions favor tiller development.

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New virtual reality video tells soil health story from every angle

As interest grows in soil health and its potential to optimize farming, the Soil Health Partnership (SHP) has developed a new tool to immerse the inquisitive. Partnering with StoryUP, the nonprofit ag group has produced a “virtual reality” video that will allow viewers to visit a farm enrolled in SHP and experience a Virtual Field Day.

An initiative of the National Corn Growers Association, the Soil Health Partnership is a data-driven program working to quantify the benefits of practices that support soil health from an economic as well as environmental standpoint. The Soil Health Partnership is a farmer-led initiative that fosters transformation in agriculture through improved soil health, benefiting both farmer profitability and the environment. With more than 100 working farms enrolled in 12 states, the SHP tests, measures and advances progressive farm management practices that will enhance sustainability and farm economics for generations to come. SHP brings together diverse partners to work towards common goals.

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