Current abundance does not assure long-term wheat food security

Near record production and higher beginning stocks that added to a comfortable level of world wheat supplies, got the lion’s share of attention in USDA’s first estimate of wheat supply and demand for marketing year 2015/16. Looking beyond the snapshot of today’s situation, however, there are trends and other information that could present unseen challenges — and demand new solutions.

Over the past few years, good conditions blessed the majority of the world’s wheat farmers. They produced record yields of 717 million metric tons (MMT) in 2013/14 and increased that to 726 MMT in 2014/15. USDA’s initial forecast for 2015/16 is down, but only to 719 MMT. The International Grains Council forecast is even less optimistic, with production at 708 MMT for 2015/16. The global stocks-to-use ratio of a 28% forecast by USDA matches the five-year average and adds comfort for buyers.

However, the trend in world demand is even more impressive.… Continue reading

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Wheat crop, weather and acreage estimates all at play in markets

Last month, July CBOT wheat did see a rally. However, if you only observed closing prices from April 30 and $4.74 and May 29 at $4.77, you would have missed the rally, thinking little price movement had taken place. To the contrary, with a new contract low of $4.6075 early in the month, it then moved higher to $5.3025 just two weeks later.

In spite of funds having a record short position in wheat that has seen multiple new records in the past six months, they did lose some control with recent weather events. The southeast wheat areas of the United States had excessive rains in May. In addition, Europe and Russia experienced a drought that threatened to reduce production. Those two forces together were instrumental in pushing prices to the $5.30 level. Producers sold wheat in a limited fashion on this rally of 70 cents.

The wet weather of May does raise some quality issues for U.S.… Continue reading

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Head scab risk for wheat generally low

The last few wheat fields — mostly later maturing fields and fields in northern Ohio — are finishing up flowering this week. According to the forecasting system, the risk for head scab is low for these last fields that were flowering. Although it has rained through several crucial periods of risk for the disease, conditions have been relatively cool, which likely reduced the risk of the scab fungus infecting the wheat spikes.

During most of the flowering window for the 2015 season when the crop is most susceptible to infection, conditions have generally not been favorable for scab — either too dry or too cold. Scab develops best under moderate to warm temperatures and humid conditions.… Continue reading

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Ohio Soybean Council to elect five trustees

The Ohio Soybean Council (OSC) Board of Trustee elections will be held in five districts this summer.


Districts up for election


District 1               Fulton, Henry, Lucas, and Williams

District 2               Erie, Ottawa, Sandusky, and Wood

District 5               Allen, Hancock, and Putnam

District 9               Delaware, Marion, Morrow, and Union

District 13             Adams, Brown, Clermont, Clinton, Highland, and Warren


To be eligible for election to OSC, candidates must live in a county in the districts listed, be a soybean producer engaged in the growing of soybeans in the State of Ohio, who owns or shares the ownership and risk of loss of such soybeans at any time during the three year period immediately preceding November 15 of the current year.

Those eligible producers (spouses who jointly produce soybeans are considered to be a “family” and are considered to be one person) who have contributed to the soybean checkoff and have submitted a petition with the signatures of 15 eligible soybean producers who reside in the respective district shall be determined candidates for election.… Continue reading

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Scout fields now for better yields later on

Finally, corn and soybean fields are planted and are up and growing. Some growers were able to plant early, but up and down weather patterns affected corn and soybean planting in many parts of the state. Compared to 2014 planting, 2015 conditions were drier and corn emergence was delayed until moisture arrived. Many fields didn’t get planted until the middle of May and the crop struggled to get out of the ground due to cooler temperatures and water issues. What happens in the next 80 to 90 days will have a major affect on maximizing yield potential.

A good tool for part of your scouting plan is to carry the Corn and Soybean pocket Field Guide from Purdue or Ohio State University. We scout now so as to eliminate issues that can have an affect on harvest yields later on.

As we have seen in past years, growers need to walk their fields often or hire a professional to identify crop issues now that can impact yields.… Continue reading

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Feeding Farmers Week #2 – Ellis Farms, Clinton County

Tuesday’s cooler than normal temperatures greeted the crew of the Ohio Ag Net as they ventured to Clinton County for the second installment of the 2015 Feeding Farmers in the Field sponsored by AgriGold Hybrids. The week’s winners were Ellis Farms – a corn, soybean, and wheat operation unique in the fact that it is also a successful pheasant hunting preserve.

Scott and Matt Ellis lead the operation. Overall, the two said that rain would be very welcome and their planting season was quick. Now, the farm is attempting to catch up on spraying.

“April was cold and wet for us. A lot of people around here didn’t get in until the last week, right before the first of May,” said Scott Ellis. “Wheat in particular didn’t get in putting pre-plant ammonia on until about the 26th or 27th of April. Started planting corn around the first and second of May.… Continue reading

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Successful planting season for many in 2015

In travel destinations and conversations around the state during the spring planting season, the OCJ and Ohio Ag Net staff members get a fairly broad vantage point of the ups and downs of corn and soybean planting progress. When combined with the official crop progress numbers, it reveals a good general picture of the planting season.

According to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service for the week ending May 31, Ohio’s corn was 93% planted, which was 8% ahead of last year and 12% ahead of the five-year average. Soybeans in Ohio were 85% planted compared to the 64% five year average and 61% last year. Prior to that, big planting progress took place the week ending May 13 with 40% of the state’s corn crop and 19% of the soybean going into the ground, according to USDA.

Along with the numerical data, here are some of the updates through the 2015 planting season from different farmers around Ohio.… Continue reading

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Tips for sleeping well when markets are a nightmare

The EPA released their ethanol and bio-fuel requirements last week and the estimates were close to expected results, so the market changed very little. Nothing else big happened, which made the market a little painful to watch as it generally drifted lower. Curious, I reviewed what I wrote a year ago to see if I could gain any insight. Interestingly, nearly every bullet point I wrote last year this week is relevant today except:

  • Prices are $1/bu less
  • Instead of last year’s PED virus, this year we have the bird flu.

No two marketing years are exactly the same, but it does seem that history may be repeating itself….


Here is my Market Commentary for May 30, 2014



The planting progress compared to the last five years is on schedule and weather conditions across the Midwest have been good this week. The following are trends to keep an eye on:

• End users have good coverage on through June-July, so don’t expect a rush to purchase August/September. … Continue reading

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RFS rules released by EPA

Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the 2015 EPA Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) rules that will determine the volume of Ohio biofuels blended into the nation’s fuel supply. The revised RFS reduced volume targets to levels below those previously mandated by federal law — an 11.27 billion gallon shortfall over the three years for total biofuels. The corn ethanol obligation was cut 3.75 billion gallons from 2014 to 2016. The biomass-based diesel volumes were set at the following levels:

  • 2014 — 1.63 billion gallons of Biomass-based Diesel, 2.68 billion gallons of Advanced Biofuels
  • 2015 — 1.7 billion gallons of Biomass-based Diesel, 2.9 billion gallons of Advanced Biofuels
  • 2016 — 1.8 billion gallons of Biomass-based Diesel, 3.4 billion gallons of Advanced Biofuels
  • 2017 — 1.9 billion gallons of Biomass-based Diesel


“The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) has been incredibly successful, achieving every goal that it was designed to accomplish,” said Chad Kemp, Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association president.… Continue reading

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Saving money to make money


For corn, a significant rally will be difficult with the amount of unpriced old crop and another good growing year. End users tell me any board rallies will continue to shake some bushels loose. Many unpriced farmers continue to wait, because they don’t have an exit strategy.

Some farmers (who don’t have marketing plans) asked me recently what I would do if I were them. Most are shocked when I suggest forgetting about their 2014 crop, and instead focus on 2015 and 2016. Farmers can still get premiums in the market if they shift their focus more long-term. The 2014 crop has no real story left, and by continuing to ONLY focus on it they are giving away profits and potential on 2015 and beyond. Too many farmers focus short-term without looking forward. Savvy farmers are planning years in advance.



Informa reported more bean acres than the USDA.… Continue reading

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Use caution when making replanting decisions

With the majority of soybeans now planted in Ohio and some plants beginning to emerge, growers statewide should evaluate soybean stands to determine if their crops are doing well or if they may need to consider replanting.

With high costs associated with replanting, most growers should carefully weigh all options before deciding to replant, said a field crops expert in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University.

While most soybean growers across Ohio report good stands, a few growers are seeing damping-off and uneven emergence, said Laura Lindsey, a soybean and small grains specialist with Ohio State University Extension.

“If soybean emergence is uneven, growers should determine the cause before making decisions on whether they need to replant,” Lindsey said. “Most reports I’ve heard from growers are that things are looking good right now, with a few reports from some growers of uneven soybean emergence because of dry soil.… Continue reading

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USDA moves forward with new rootworm technology

The National Corn Growers Association is encouraged by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s positive initial review, released last week, of Monsanto 87411, a product with RNAi technology to combat corn rootworm pressure. The initial reports, which indicated the product does not pose either a plant pest or environmental risk, are a first step toward getting this critical technology to market in a quick and safe fashion.

“We applaud the USDA for moving this new mode of action closer to availability to farmers,” said NCGA Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team Chair John Linder, a farmer from Ohio. “As insect pressures continue to grow, a new tool such as this will enable us to better combat pests while growing a healthy, abundant corn crop.”

USDA has suggested deregulation of this product based upon the positive results of this draft environmental assessment and plant pest risk assessment, thus helping ensure safety while also moving forward in an expeditious manner.… Continue reading

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First look at 2015 crop shaping the markets

This month’s USDA supply and demand report provided their first extensive outlook into new crop corn, soybeans, and wheat. For decades dating back to the 1970s, the May reports have been the first outlook for the newly planted crops in the United States. They originated because of the Great Russian Grain Robbery from the 1970s. It took the U.S. public completely by surprise. Russia bought grains on credit supplied by the United States. The grain purchases were not publicly announced for months. Contrast that to today when purchases of 100,000 tons or more must by detailed to USDA within 24 hours of the transactions taking place.

The reports had the U.S. corn acres and yield unchanged from the February outlook report. USDA estimated corn acres at 89.2 million acres with a yield of 166.8 bushels per acre. That yield ranks in the top three U.S. corn yields. For months, numerous analysts suggested that the estimated corn yield was pretty lofty since last year’s 171 bushels per acre was a record yield.… Continue reading

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Vinoklet Winery takes Best of Show in Ohio Wine Competition

In a blind tasting featuring more than 240 Ohio wines, eight local wines took top honors at the 2015 Ohio Wine Competition, May 18-19 at the Kent State University Ashtabula Campus.

Two panels with four judges evaluated the wines. The Overall Best of Show was awarded to Vinoklet Winery for its 2013 “Brother Joe” Cabernet Sauvignon/Chambourcin Blend.

The seven Best of Class winners were:

Best of Class: White Wine
Ferrante Winery, 2014 American Riesling

Best of Class: Red Wine (Tie)
Valley Vineyards, 2013 Syrah
Ferrante Winery, 2013 Cabernet Franc Signature Series

Best of Class: Blush/Rose
Matus Winery, Pink Catawba

Best of Class: Fruit Wine
Brandeberry Winery, “Black Dog” Cayuga and Red Raspberry Blend

Best of Class: Dessert Wine
Gervasi Vineyard, “Sognata” Vidal Blanc Ice Wine

Best of Class: Sparkling
The Winery at Versailles, “Stampede” Concord and Niagara Blend

The Ohio Grape Industries Committee is housed at the Ohio Department of Agriculture and provides wineries a means to market their top-quality wines against well-known California and European wines.… Continue reading

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Feeding Farmers Week 1 – Maple View Farms, Erie County

Dale Minyo and the crew of the Ohio Ag Net took a trip north on Tuesday for the first 2015 installment of Feeding Farmers in the Fields, sponsored by AgriGold Hybrids. Maple View Farms based in southern Erie County was the winner. The farm is run by Keith Edwards and two of his sons Kirk and Kent.

As far as their spring, Keith said it has been without much struggle compared to other years.

“We’ve had actually what we’d call a normal spring, which we haven’t had in many years,” said Keith. “It’s been a good spring.

“We are sidedressing. Spraying – we’ve got a little moratorium on that – we’re in between spraying time. And hay, as soon as we get a weather window we’re ready to cut hay, but we’re dry right now.”

The farm is in the process of transition from Keith to Kirk and Kent. Each have their own duties on the operation.… Continue reading

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Watch fields for black cutworms

Black Cutworm moths are starting to arrive in the Corn Belt with the recent weather fronts moving from southwest and we need to be ready with the rescue treatments, if necessary. We need to learn about their habits and what to look for while scouting. Some of the important points are as follows:

• Black cutworms can’t survive the winters in the Midwest. They fly south before the winter arrives.

• Every spring, moths come back with spring storms and lay eggs on grasses and weeds like mustards, chickweed or even winter wheat.

• From egg hatching to becoming adults it takes 40-50 days depending on temperatures. Even though cooler temperatures earlier may have killed some of the moths, warmer temperatures that followed increased the speed up their development and more will come. Some cutting activity has already been observed in Southern Illinois.

• Corn and soybeans are not their favorite hosts.… Continue reading

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The costs and rewards of spraying soybeans

First of all, what does spraying cost me? You might be thinking of herbicide cost, but I’m thinking of something else. If your row spacing is 15 inches or less, there is always yield loss when you post spray and run over plants. One study estimated losses at 2.5% with 60-foot booms, 1.9% with 90-foot booms, and 1.3% with 120-foot booms. That’s a $6.50 per acre difference that may pay for the cost of your custom application, if you decide to have them sprayed with 120-foot booms instead of your 60-foot sprayer. In Beck’s Practical Farm Research (PFR) we saw a five-bushel per acre yield loss by letting the fields get too weedy before post spraying. Spraying earlier means you are spraying smaller weeds and there will be less yield loss than if you are running over beans in the reproductive stages.

When to spray soybeans? The herbicide label is the strongest guiding arm in this decision.… Continue reading

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Head scab risk on the rise

Southwest Ohio wheat growers with early flowering fields planted with highly scab-susceptible varieties are at moderate risk for Fusarium head blight development this week, said a wheat expert from the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University.

And while northern Ohio is at a high threat for Fusarium head blight, also called head scab, growers there don’t need to panic because much of their wheat is probably not at the critical flowering stage yet, said Pierce Paul, an Ohio State University Extension wheat specialist.

Much of Ohio’s wheat has progressed considerably over the last week and is now heading out in some fields, said Paul, who is also a plant pathologist with the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center.

“Some fields in southern Ohio as well as those planted early or with early maturing varieties in the central and northern parts of the state are at the flowering growth stage or will be flowering by the end of this week,” he said.… Continue reading

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NCGA continues push for a Highway Bill

After the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill late Tuesday to extend the United States Highway Trust Fund’s authorization only through July 31, National Corn Growers Association President Chip Bowling issued the following statement:

“We are disappointed in Congress’ repeated failure to pass a long-term highway funding bill. There isn’t a county in this country that does not have a road or bridge in need of work. Farmers need all available modes of transportation to safely and efficiently get our products to market and be globally competitive. It’s time to move past short-term stopgaps and toward a long-term strategy to invest in our national infrastructure.”

The Highway Trust Fund, established in 1956, is a federal transportation fund that pays for the construction and maintenance of highways, roads, and bridges. In the past eight years, there have been 32 extensions and five revenue shortfalls to transportation funding. Last July, Congress passed a measure to extend the Highway Trust Fund through May 31.… Continue reading

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A Ohio rubber crop is coming your way from OARDC

In 2004, the History Channel broadcast a Modern Marvels Special on Natural Rubber. My favorite quote from that special is “Our four most important natural resources are air, water, petroleum, and rubber.” (I would have argued for soil to be part of the list.) Nonetheless, while most people guess the first two, some also guess petroleum; almost no one imagines that rubber is fourth on the list.

I recently found out that many Ohioans think that black rubber, like what we see in tires, seals and gaskets and hoses, is synthetic and derived from petroleum. In fact, this is far from true — natural rubber looks black when it is reinforced with carbon black — Natural rubber is used to make about 50,000 different products. The rubber component of a passenger car tire may be 50% natural and 50% synthetic, but the higher the performance required the greater the proportion of natural rubber.… Continue reading

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