Markets reacting to USDA reports

By Doug Tenney, Leist Mercantile

Typically, the February USDA reports are non-events. However, grains all closed lower that day. The corn sell off resulted in 10 successive days of lower closes.

This month’s USDA reports included the monthly supply and demand reports. Corn ending stocks increased by 20 million bushels to 632 million bushels. Declining exports were to blame. They were lowered 50 million bushels to 900 million bushels. This is the lowest number since the early 1970s. The drought last summer as well as plentiful corn supplies from Brazil and Argentina has had a dramatic effect on U.S. corn exports. Mid-February they stood at just 326 million bushels. Last year at this time they were 741 million bushels.

Corn basis levels are at record numbers for this time of year. Central Ohio has seen values of 20 to 40 over March. The high corn prices seen since last summer have certainly had a dampening effect on ethanol production.… Continue reading

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National farm groups oppose ag cuts

In a letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, 12 national farm groups stated their opposition to disproportionate cuts to farm programs as part of the recently-introduced American Family Economic Protection Act advanced by Senate Democrats to avert cuts under the sequestration set to take effect March 1.

The proposal would cut $27 billion dollars from agriculture spending, however the cuts would come entirely from commodity programs under Title 1 of the farm bill, a lopsided approach opposed by the farm groups. “While we understand the goal of passing legislation to avoid budget sequestration, your proposal takes all of the budget savings from just one section of farm bill,” stated the groups in the letter. “The fact that this proposal, if adopted, would simply delay sequestration until January 2014, in hopes that a larger long-term deficit reduction deal could be reached by Congress and the White House has us very concerned that agriculture is the only non-defense budget sector being cut while other sectors are not touched.”… Continue reading

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USDA announces planting transferability pilot program sign-up now available

The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) Planting Transferability Pilot Project (PTPP) permits Ohio producers to plant approved vegetables for processing on base acres under the Direct and Counter-Cyclical Program (DCP) or Average Crop Revenue Election Program (ACRE). The sign-up period for PTPP began Feb. 19, 2013, and ends April 5, 2013. USDA will not accept any late filed applications.

“PTPP offers producers the opportunity to diversify their crop production and better use their base acres. This project supports state farmers with additional sources of revenue and the production of healthy fruits and vegetables,” said Steve Maurer, Ohio FSA State Executive Director.

PTPP allows producers to plant approved fruits or vegetables for processing on a farm’s base acres. Approved plantings include cucumbers, green peas, lima beans, pumpkin, snap beans, sweet corn or tomatoes. Without the PTPP, planting these crops on base acres would be prohibited. Base acres on a farm will be temporarily reduced each year on an acre-for-acre basis, for each base acre planted with an approved fruit or vegetable on that farm.… Continue reading

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Waiting on ACRE decision may be best

By Matt Reese

Now that the window has opened for producers to once again consider enrolling in the Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) program, Ohio State University Assistant Professor and Extension Educator Chris Bruynis offers some advice — wait.

“Wait and see what happens during the spring. If we plant the country fence row to fence row in corn, the probability of an ACRE payment increases as prices will fall,” he said. “There is also a box producers need to check on the form when signing up for Direct and Counter-Cyclical Payment Program that acknowledges that direct payments may not be made if there are insufficient funds.”

The possibility of insufficient funds for the Direct and Counter-Cyclical Payment Program (DCP) may make some farmers think twice about their decision to take the DCP payment and be done.

“The cost of ACRE is 20% of direct payments and with the possibility that 20% of nothing may occur, the cost is zero — on the average it would amount to $3.72 per acre,” Bruynis said. … Continue reading

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Winfield now offers MasterLock® adjuvant

Today’s farmers are constantly adapting their management practices to combat pests and get the maximum return from their fields. To help farmers enhance their disease and insect management programs, WinField developed MasterLock® adjuvant.

“Combating yield-limiting pests involves more than just selecting the right crop protection product,” said Bruce Senst, director, Winfield Adjuvants. “In order to get the most from their crop protection investments, farmers need to ensure the products they select are reaching the areas pests attack.”

New MasterLock® adjuvant combines the proven deposition, canopy penetration and drift reduction of InterLock® adjuvant with new DropTight™ spreader-sticker technology. More of the spray gets into the crop canopy and stay put for optimized pesticide performance. MasterLock® works effectively with fungicides and insecticides and may be used with herbicides and other crop protection products.

Simply put, MasterLock® adjuvant reduces the amount of fine particles that evaporate or drift away. That leaves more spray particles within the most effective size range for more consistent coverage and better canopy penetration.… Continue reading

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Insurance for crops following a cover crop

Producers in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio who want to insure corn, sweet corn, popcorn, hybrid seed corn, processing pumpkins, soybeans, processing beans or grain sorghum following a cover crop must: stop haying or grazing the cover crop by May 10, 2013; and terminate all cover crop growth at least seven days before the final planting date for the spring crop being planted.

Additionally, producers are required to terminate a cover crop before planting the spring crop. Producers with a history of planting into a living cover crop may apply for a written agreement to allow insurance for this practice.

In areas where double-cropping is insurable, producers may be able to insure soybeans, processing beans and grain sorghum without meeting the requirements above. However, additional rules and higher premium rates apply.

Brian Frieden, Director of the Risk Management Agency’s Springfield Regional Office urges producers to contact their insurance agent if they have questions about insuring spring crops following cover crops.… Continue reading

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Understanding termite digestion could help biofuels, insect control

A termite’s own biology with help from microorganisms called protists, are keys to the insect’s digestion of woody material, according to a Purdue University scientist.

Michael Scharf, the O. Wayne Rollins/Orkin Endowed Chair in Urban Entomology, studies termite digestion to improve biofuels production and find better ways to control termites. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates the cost of controlling termites and repairing damaged homes is $2 billion each year in the United States.

Much of the study on how termites break down woody materials, which focused on the symbiotic relationship between the insect and the bacteria living in its gut, found that bacteria apparently have little, if anything, to do with termite digestion.

Scharf and collaborators at the University of Florida wanted to see how diet affected those bacteria. If the bacteria play a role in digestion, the type of materials the insect eats should affect the composition of the bacterial community living in the termite gut.… Continue reading

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Temperature swings can hurt wheat

Extreme changes in temperature are the biggest concern wheat producers have for the development of their crop this season, a Purdue Extension agronomist said.

Temperatures in recent weeks have risen to between 50 and 60 degrees and then dropped to single digits.

“The cycling of cold to warm temperatures is a great recipe for freezing, thawing and winter heaving,” Shaun Casteel said.

Winter heaving occurs when moisture in the soil expands as it freezes and then contracts as the ice thaws. The soil gets pushed up and down, shoving young plants higher out of the ground and exposing roots. The plants’ lack of access to soil moisture and soil contact could result in stand loss, Casteel said.

Another weather concern is that there has been little snow to protect wheat from extreme cold.

“A lot of wheat fields no longer have a blanket of snow for insulation, and they’re exposed to the cold weather,” Casteel said.… Continue reading

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Seed treatments linked to bee deaths

By Matt Reese

Bees are big business, pollinating $15 billion in crops per year including apples, cherries and berries.

The dollar figures involved are generating significant concern as pollinator populations continue to decline worldwide. More people are demanding answers about the factors behind the colony collapse disorder blamed for bee deaths.

“We saw a 3% loss in hives per year from 2007 to 2012 in the U.S.,” said Christian Krupke, associate professor of entomology at Purdue University. “More and more of the arrows are pointing to pesticides in a more convincing way as a part of colony collapse disorder.”

Mites, weather and other factors are certainly involved in the decline in bee populations, but Krupke has found fairly conclusive evidence that the use of neonicotinoid insecticides in seed treatments for corn and soybeans is at least partially to blame in areas of production of those crops. Analyses of bees found dead in and around hives from several apiaries over two years in Indiana showed the presence of neonicotinoid insecticides.… Continue reading

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Nematodes to be discussed at CTTC

Amid growing questions about the impact of nematodes on corn yields, researchers with Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) are in the midst of a multi-year project to sample soils in Ohio fields to determine whether the tiny, worm-like organisms are indeed damaging corn yields.

Using survey methods and advanced scouting techniques, researchers have spent the last three years conducting corn performance tests for nematodes to determine if the worms are causing problems for Ohio growers and whether seed-treatment nematicides are needed, said Greg LaBarge, field specialist in agronomic systems and one of the leaders of the OSU Agronomic Crops Team.

LaBarge, along with OSU Extension educator Alan Sundermeier, will present the most recent survey findings during the Conservation Tillage and Technology Conference March 5-6, offered by OSU Extension and OARDC.

The conference will feature some 60 presenters and include information on nutrient management, soil and water, “Corn University,” “Soybean School,” crop scouting, no-till and seeding technology.… Continue reading

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Yield contest boasts 75 entries beyond 300 bushels

Farmers participating in the National Corn Growers Association 2012 National Corn Yield Contest set a new record by submitting 75 entries that surpassed the 300 bushels-per-acre mark. Bucking trends and overcoming severe drought conditions, these entrants showed the incredible achievements that are possible in farming using advanced practices and state-of-the-art technology.

“NCGA’s corn yield contest continues to enjoy such popularity because it showcases what is possible for our industry moving forward,” said NCGA Production and Stewardship Action Team Chair Dean Taylor. “I applaud the level of achievement that this record number of entrants attained this year and thank them for their contribution to agriculture. Through knowledge acquired from entrants we learn practical techniques that can be applied on other farms thus enhancing our ability to continually improve as farmers.”

Despite higher average yields nationally among all farmers in 2011, only 10 entries achieved the 300 bushels-per-acre mark that year. Entries showing yields this high have not exceeded approximately 30 per year even under optimal weather conditions.… Continue reading

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Flexible cash farm leases: Are they worth a try?

By Barry Ward,
Department of Agricultural Environmental and Development Economics
Ohio State University Extension, Leader, Production Business Management

We have been preaching about flexible leases for years. Flexible cash leases are the answer to all problems plaguing farmers and landowners attempting to find an equitable cash lease each year. Right?! Well….OK maybe not. Flexible leases may not be for everyone, but they may be a tool you should at least consider as you try to manage the volatility in the crop sector these days.

Landowners and farmers have found it increasingly hard to agree on an equitable cash rent as crop prices and input costs have experienced a fair bit of volatility over the last several years. Cash lease rates aren’t public knowledge and don’t have any public clearinghouse such as a futures exchange so information on rates is often sketchy. The local diner does not qualify as a reliable information clearinghouse!… Continue reading

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Winter snows recharging soil moisture

By Jeff Rectenwald, Asgrow/DEKALB Territory Agronomist

Winter in Ohio has been very good to growers who are wishing for re-charged sub soil moisture. The first big snowfall melted slowly and into ground that was not frozen. This was good for soil moisture accumulation. The very cold temperatures occurred while there was no snow cover. It was good to have one week of 10 degree temperatures at this time to gain a “cracking” of the soil profile. We get more fine cracks and benefits when the soil is fully loaded with water and then freezes. These “cracks” help with water infiltration and aeration during the growing season. They also provide the benefit of nutrient mineralization during the growing season by adding water and oxygen to the soil profile.

While we could have used another week of deep freezing temperatures, the last two snowfalls have been good for soil moisture accumulation and we are on our way to re-charging the soil from the 2012 summer drought.… Continue reading

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Do seed treatments pay for soybeans?

By Matt Reese

While 2012 offered ample challenges for farmers, it had its fair share of obstacles for plant pathologists as well. Drought conditions are just not conducive to most plant pathogens and led to limited results from research conducted by Ohio State University Extension plant pathologists. Last summer, Extension plant pathologist Anne Dorrance and company worked with 1,676 plots to evaluate material in 39 tests from 10 companies, in addition to other Extension field tests, at 11 field sites across 9 counties in Ohio.

One area of research was in the benefits and value of seed treatments in soybeans.

“There are a lot of seed treatment choices out there. I think as farmers are talking with their seed dealers, they are getting a lot of packages and they need to know what is in all of these packages. They have changed from the old days when there was just a little Captan and a little Metalaxyl,” Dorrance said.… Continue reading

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Cover crops and crop insurance still a concern

A coalition of farm and commodity groups recently met with USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) Acting Administrator Brandon Willis and other top RMA officials. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss cover crop rules in federal crop insurance.

As farmers increasingly adopt cover crops, often with encouragement and technical assistance from other USDA agencies like the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), a few have found their cover crops bring them into conflict with crop insurance rules. RMA staff stressed Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s interest in expanding the use of cover crops, and innovations in cover crop usage including the planting of radishes and peas.

They also discussed the general rationale for cover crops, which is to get the maximum benefit for the cash crop from the farmer’s decisions on cover crops. RMA staff pointed out that they made changes in cover crop rules for 2010-11 and again in 2012-13; they will make more changes as they are needed.… Continue reading

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NCGA says RFS is a priority

In a panel presentation this week, National Corn Growers Association CEO Rick Tolman highlighted the importance of the Renewable Fuel Standard to help increase and guarantee a vibrant domestic renewable fuel market.

“We cannot underestimate the importance of the RFS,” Tolman said. “It cut imported oil and serves as the basis for investment in infrastructure growth. It’s the single biggest reason for the prosperity across all of agriculture since its inception. It also has lowered fuel costs for consumers and created hundreds of thousands of jobs across America.”

Tolman’s presentation, at the Renewable Fuel Association’s National Ethanol Conference, centered on five areas: the success of the RFS to-date, the importance of preserving the program, implementation challenges and opportunities, pathways to 36 billion gallons by 2022, and the future role of corn in the Renewable Fuel Standard.

NCGA is involved in several programs to protect the RFS and ethanol’s role in America’s fuel sector, such as the Fuels America coalition and the American Ethanol racing program with NASCAR, Tolman said.… Continue reading

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Biodiesel poised for a big 2013

By Matt Reese

Biodiesel is poised for a big year in 2013 as a number of important components have fallen into place for the industry in recent months. The renewal of the $1 tax credit, the increasing volume requirements of the renewable fuel standard and more marketplace integration have set biodiesel up for a good year.

“We’ve got a lot of momentum as we go into 2013. This industry is poised to produce more gallons of biodiesel. The renewable fuels standard has increased the base demand for us to 1.28 billion gallons and we’re looking forward to a very good year for biodiesel here in the U.S.,” said Gary Haer, Chairman of the National Biodiesel Board. “We’re seeing the fuel become more available to customers and we’re seeing some markets doing very well, but it has been a long time coming and we still have a lot of work to do.”… Continue reading

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Glyphosate Resistant Weeds


By Dave Nanda, Seed Consultants, Inc. 
Director of Genetics & Technology

Those of you who were able to attend our winter meetings heard from our Agronomy staff about the presence of glyphosate resistant marestail in Indiana and Ohio and how to control it. Listed below are some of the facts about glyphosate resistant weeds.

• Glyphosate resistant crops were introduced in 1996. It was a good technology which needed good stewardship to extend the use of this herbicide. It was adopted by the growers and quickly became popular because of the dramatic price decrease and ease of weed control in corn and soybeans.

• University Extension personnel and Crop Consultants advised the farmers against continuous use of glyphosate resistant corn and soybeans.

• However, trait, chemical and some seed companies were promoting it; growers liked the easy and cheap weed control system and everyone was trying to make quick buck.… Continue reading

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Corn yield progress depends on new practices

Increasing plant population density will be critical to growing yields in U.S. corn production, but increasing this density will be dependent on the economics farmers face as they seek to increase yields, according to a new report released today by researchers at the Rabobank International Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory (FAR) group. The report, titled “Crowding The Fields,” finds it likely we’ll see one to two years of stagnant plant population growth due to high input costs and dry soils in the U.S.

“Corn Yield growth in U.S. is reaching a key milestone as the trend of increasing plant population per acre is challenged by limitations of the current production processes,” said Sterling Liddell, Vice President with the Rabobank FAR. “We know the confines of current equipment and production techniques will eventually challenge the ability of U.S. farmers to sustain historic yield growth trends. Trends our global population is demanding.… Continue reading

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FDA seeking comment on produce safety standards

Last month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA),  released proposed standards for growing, harvesting, packing and holding fresh produce on farm. Now farmers and other stakeholders are encouraged to review and comment upon the proposed rules.

FDA spokesman Samir Assar said the agency is seeking informed and thoughtful critique of the proposed FDA rules.

“We really need your specific feedback through informed comments. This is not a done deal and it doesn’t happen overnight. We are asking questions about what directions we should go with these proposed regulations,” Assar said. “We will continue to do outreach and let people know what is happening. We are committed to doing public meetings. We can’t do this on our own. We need help from this broad stakeholder set.”

In developing the rules, the FDA held 500 meetings around the U.S., including four meetings in Ohio, and met with agencies outside the U.S. The massive document outlining the rules includes justification for how the rules were determined.… Continue reading

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