Crops



Producing corn to feed the world

By Matt Reese

There has been much talk in recent years about the exploding world population. To feed all of these people, food production will have to increase dramatically and the world will be looking to the U.S. to shoulder much of the burden. In terms of corn production, experts think an ambitious, but maybe necessary goal is a national average yield of 300 bushels per acre by 2030.

“We know 300 bushels is an achievable yield, so maybe increasing the national yield to 300 bushels by 2030 is not so pie in the sky,” said Bob Nielson, Purdue Extension corn specialist. “To get 300 bushels, you need ears with 1,000-plus kernels — that is 18 rows by 60 kernels long. At only a modest 30,000 plants per acre and a modest 85,000 kernels per bushel, it equals 381 bushels per acre.”

Unfortunately, at the current rate of average gain in yield increases each year, the national average would only be at about 200 bushels per acre by 2030, far short of what the hungry world will be demanding.… Continue reading

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Sulfur for corn?

By John Brien, CCA, AgriGold regional agronomist

Common knowledge for corn growers is that nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium are essential macronutrients in grain production. Crop health and yield gains have long been observed by providing plants with adequate amounts of the macronutrients. Sulfur is another important but often overlooked nutrient required by plants in adequate amounts.

Recent yield responses of supplemental sulfur applications in some areas of the corn belt continues to gain attention by many industry experts and growers. Sulfur is a component of several enzymes that regulate photosynthesis and nitrogen fixation. When sulfur is limiting, chlorophyll production is reduced causing younger leaves at the upper part of a plant to appear yellow.

Sulfur is different from nitrogen in that sulfur is not mobile in the plant while nitrogen is mobile. Nitrogen deficiency will be observed on lower leaves first. Typically, sulfur deficiency is not uniform across fields. Often times sulfur deficiency occurs in spots or streaks often associated with residue cover, organic matter content, compaction and/or drainage.… Continue reading

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Commodity prices back on the rise

Commodity prices are back on the rise after they fell quickly in reaction to the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis in Japan, Purdue Extension agricultural economist Chris Hurt said.



Corn fell 10% in the first few days after the earthquake and tsunami, and soybeans and lean hogs were down 6%.



“However, markets have recovered those early losses as the effects aren’t nearly as negative as we initially thought,” he said. “That’s due in part to the fact that Japan is a wealthy nation and its people will continue to consume their normal products.”



The impact on food likely will center on a reduction in Japan’s production. But Hurt said it likely will be small and mostly can be replaced by importing processed goods from other countries.


Japan is the fourth-largest buyer of agricultural products from the United States. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that Japan will spend $13 billion on U.S.… Continue reading

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Nematodes raising corn concerns

Nematodes are microscopic, worm-like soil organisms. Certain species can be detrimental to the growth and development of corn as well as other crops. While nematodes have typically been of minor importance, they have received more attention in recent years. In the past, insecticides have provided control of key corn pests. Nematodes are now being viewed as a more important yield limiting factor in corn production.

The presence of certain nematode species varies according to environmental conditions, soil types and actively growing plants. Nematodes can cause damage by feeding on corn roots. Nematodes feeding on root cells reduce the plants ability to uptake water and nutrients.

Damage caused by root feeding can further injure a plant by allowing fungal and bacterial pathogens to enter into the plant. Nematodes are also known to transmit viruses to the plants they feed on.

Symptoms of Nematode Damage

Symptoms of nematode feeding are most noticeable when environmental conditions cause plant stress.… Continue reading

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Natural disasters and conflicts affect markets

The corn market, along with most other commodity and financial markets, was negatively affected by the uncertainty created by the natural disaster in Japan and ongoing conflicts in North Africa and the Middle East. The Japanese situation is especially important for corn because Japan is the largest importer of U.S. corn, said a University of Illinois economist.

“Japan accounted for 33% of U.S. corn exports in 2008-09 and 30% in 2009-10, typically importing about as much U.S. corn as the next two largest importers, Mexico and South Korea, combined,” said Darrel Good.

The damage from the recent earthquake and tsunami has the potential to reduce Japanese feed demand and import capabilities in the short run. Most experts believe that long-term disruptions will be minimal and that Japan will continue to import large quantities of U.S. corn, he said.

New export sales of U.S. corn were large in six of the seven weeks ended March 10, averaging 41.6 million bushels per week.… Continue reading

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Overseas customers tour Wooster wheat breeding program

From Chinese steamed bread to Middle Eastern flat breads to Latin American galletas, soft red winter (SRW) wheat is used around the world for the largest variety of end products of any wheat class. However, each end product requires different quality specifications — meaning it can be difficult at times for a customer to find just the right amounts of protein, water absorption or gluten strength.

U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) brought several overseas customers to Wooster last week to discuss SRW wheat quality targets with domestic millers and wheat researchers as part of the Overseas Varietal Analysis (OVA) program. Each of the participants is a cooperator for USW’s OVA program, which utilizes international millers and bakers to extensively test new varieties of SRW wheat for use in specific end products. Results are used by state wheat commissions to develop recommended variety lists for farmers and set quality targets for U.S. wheat breeders.… Continue reading

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Volunteer corn challenges

Volunteer corn has proven to be more than just a nuisance, with major yield reductions to both corn and soybean crops, said Purdue Extension weed scientist Bill Johnson.

Problems with the weed arise when corn kernels that dropped during harvest persist in the soil, overwinter and grow in the spring. With most of the annual corn crop resistant to glyphosate, or Roundup Ready, volunteer corn has become increasingly difficult to control.

“We’re rotating Roundup Ready corn with our soybean crop, which is typically 95 percent Roundup Ready,” Johnson said. “With glyphosate being the primary herbicide used on soybeans, we simply are spraying it on a weed that it was not designed to kill.”

With heavy, untreated infestations, the weed can cause up to a 40% yield reduction in soybeans or up to 30% in corn.

“Volunteer corn is more frequently a problem in fields where farmers use fall tillage, because it buries the corn seed and allows it to overwinter,” Johnson said.… Continue reading

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Will the wheat crop make it this year?

By Justin Petrosino, OSU Extension Darke County

After last year’s wheat crop, many growers are wondering if this year’s crop will do any better. The crop this year was planted on time thanks to last year’s early soybean harvest, but suffered through somewhat dry fall conditions. This winter seemed very harsh and spring doesn’t seem to be going any easier on the wheat.

Thankfully over the winter we had good snow cover and wheat is a very resilient crop.

In early winter, wheat goes into a period of dormancy where metabolic processes are decreased, water content of leaves is decreased, and the plants ability to survive freezing temperatures increases. The growing point of wheat during dormancy and tillering is safely protected below the soil surface. It takes temperatures as low as -9 to -11 F to kill the growing point of wheat. A stress that may cause some losses this spring is ponding.… Continue reading

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NCGA disappointed in VEETC repeal amendment

National Corn Growers Association President Bart Schott released the following statement in response to Senator Tom Coburn’s (R-Okla.) amendment to immediately repeal the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit in the small-business program reauthorization bill:

“We are disappointed that Senator Coburn is singling out the ethanol industry in his amendment to immediately repeal the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC) while tax credits to the oil and gas industries remained untouched.  The American ethanol industry provides and supports 400,000 jobs here in the United States during a time of economic uncertainty. In addition, in the past year alone, ethanol added more than $50 billion to the national Gross Domestic Product and displaced the need for more than 360 million barrels of imported oil, valued at $16 billion.

“If this amendment passes, it could result in the ethanol industry reducing its production volume by 38 percent.  That is approximately 4 billion of the 10.75 billion gallons produced in 2009. … Continue reading

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Who's to blame for high food prices?

As prices continue to climb on the grocery store shelves, upset consumers are looking for someone to blame.

“Though several factors contribute to increased food costs, farm commodities continually receive the blame, but farm products represent only 19% of retail food prices. Prices of many agricultural commodities are still less than the levels that sparked 2008 food riots and real food prices have decreased 75% since 1950,” said Dwayne Siekman, CEO of the Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association. “Yes, grain prices are at increased levels. So, too, are the costs of supplementary root causes of increased grocery store prices including labor, energy, product marketing/packaging/shipping and speculation of the commodity markets. In fact, producer prices increased 3.6% throughout the past 12 months, according to a recent Bloomberg story. It also noted that growing economies in Asia and Latin America are boosting global demand for oil and other imported commodities, which increases input costs for American businesses.”… Continue reading

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Who’s to blame for high food prices?

As prices continue to climb on the grocery store shelves, upset consumers are looking for someone to blame.

“Though several factors contribute to increased food costs, farm commodities continually receive the blame, but farm products represent only 19% of retail food prices. Prices of many agricultural commodities are still less than the levels that sparked 2008 food riots and real food prices have decreased 75% since 1950,” said Dwayne Siekman, CEO of the Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association. “Yes, grain prices are at increased levels. So, too, are the costs of supplementary root causes of increased grocery store prices including labor, energy, product marketing/packaging/shipping and speculation of the commodity markets. In fact, producer prices increased 3.6% throughout the past 12 months, according to a recent Bloomberg story. It also noted that growing economies in Asia and Latin America are boosting global demand for oil and other imported commodities, which increases input costs for American businesses.”… Continue reading

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Corn and soybean prices: mission accomplished?

In the Jan. 18 Weekly Outlook, it was suggested that corn and soybean prices had the dual objectives of (1) allocating old-crop supplies so as to maintain pipeline supplies at the end of the year and (2) directing spring planting decisions.

“Specifically, these prices needed to ensure an increase in corn acreage and maintain soybean acreage at the 2010 level,” said University of Illinois economist Darrel Good.

For soybeans, the declining pace of both the domestic crush and exports, along with the prospects for a large increase in double-cropped acreage in 2011, suggested that soybean prices had increased enough by mid-January to accomplish the dual price objectives.

“That conclusion was reinforced by the improving condition of the Brazilian soybean crop and prospects for a record harvest in 2011. The USDA confirmed prospects for a record large Brazilian soybean crop last week,” he said.

Soybean prices increased another 40 cents from Jan.… Continue reading

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OCWGA shapes national policy

The Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association (OCWGA) delegates went to the Commodity Classic with a purpose of establishing a national set of guiding principles for policy development that will address changes to ethanol and farm policy. The OCWGA delegates introduced language during the Corn Congress for the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) as well as during committee meetings for the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG). OCWGA has affiliation with both national trade organizations.

In addition to the specific policy pieces, OCWGA introduced a resolution for both national organizations to adopt as a core belief. The resolution stated, we believe the U.S. Government should balance the budget by reducing spending resulting in a reduction of the federal debt. NCGA delegates approved the language as part of the organization’s ‘What We Stand For’ section. NAWG has currently tabled the resolution in order for member states to allow for discussion at the state level across the country.… Continue reading

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What’s new from Commodity Classic

By Matt Reese

Commodity Classic provides a great opportunity for all of the major players in crop production to highlight new products on the horizon. Here are some highlights from the trade show at Commodity Classic.

BASF

BASF Crop Protection unveiled a new active ingredient called Xemium. This proprietary substance is the next generation fungicide of the chemical class of carboxamides, also known as SDH (Succinate Dehydrogenase) inhibitors, which describes their mode of action. Field trials show Xemium to be a highly effective and selective fungicide against major diseases in cereals, soybeans, corn, oilseed rape and specialty crops including grapes and potatoes.

Depending on regulatory approval, first market introductions are planned for 2012 in North and South-America as well as in Europe.

“Our years of experience with carboxamides enabled us to discover Xemium, which is a perfect extension of our current fungicide portfolio. The unique mobility in the plant and the high inhibition of fungal target enzymes deliver excellent disease control,” said Christoph Wegner, head of Research and Development at BASF’s Crop Protection division.… Continue reading

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Cold winter weather will probably not slow western bean cutworm

Corn farmers who might have hoped that a new insect threat would be slowed by this winter’s frigid temperatures could be disappointed, says a Purdue University Extension entomologist.

The western bean cutworm is likely to emerge from winter in numbers capable of exacting a toll on the corn crop this summer, said Christian Krupke.

“A question I’ve gotten a lot from farmers is, with the colder-than-average winter will we have a lot of mortality of the overwintering larvae?” Krupke said. “The answer is probably not. That’s not because of the temperature of the air; it’s more because we’ve had so much snow and relatively few days without snow.”

Snow cover insulates crop fields and “keeps the temperature in the soil higher than it would be if the soil were bare, which actually helps the larvae survive,” he said.

Fortunately, timely scouting of fields, insecticide treatments and some biotech (Bt) corn varieties have proved successful in controlling the bug.… Continue reading

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USDA crop report fairly uneventful

The biggest news in a somewhat uneventful Crop Report from the Agriculture Department is the drop in projected U.S. wheat exports and the subsequent bump in stocks, according to Bob Young, chief economist for the American Farm Bureau Federation.

“Most traders expected little change in today’s report and that’s pretty much what happened,” Young said. “The big report to look at will be USDA’s planting intentions report that will be released March 31. USDA still sees very tight global grain stocks, and we are going to need to see big U.S. and world grain crops to make up the balance.”

USDA’s March World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates or WASDE report showed no changes in corn or soybean stocks, but USDA did lower projections for U.S. wheat exports for the 2010-2011 marketing year by 25 million bushels from the February estimates. USDA forecasts increased global supplies of wheat, particularly in Australia, and a slower than expected pace of shipments into the final quarter of the wheat marketing year that ends May 31.… Continue reading

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EU renewable energy policy is a concern for ag trade

The American Soybean Association (ASA), joined by other U.S. oilseed producer and industry organizations, has expressed serious concerns to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Ron Kirk about the requirements of the European Union’s (EU) Renewable Energy Directive (RED), and with the impact the RED is having on access for U.S. agricultural products to EU markets.

In a letter delivered to Secretary Vilsack and Ambassador Kirk, the group is requesting a meeting with USDA and USTR to consider options for responding to trade barriers resulting from and influenced by the RED. The letter asks USDA and USTR to place an immediate priority on seeking to initiate bilateral negotiations between governments. Further, the group asks USDA and USTR to communicate with third country governments regarding the implications of and needed response to the RED. ASA believes a highly coordinated effort is needed to identify and respond to the immediate, as well as longer-term, market threats resulting from RED implementation.… Continue reading

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10 tips for getting the most out of your sprayer

By Erdal Ozkan, Ohio State University Extension

Spraying season is just around the corner. Just take a moment to review some common sense ideas I will mention here to get the most out of those expensive pesticides you will be spraying. The following “Top Ten” list will help you improve the performance of your sprayer and keep it from failing you:

1)  Applying chemicals with a sprayer that is not calibrated and operated accurately could cause insufficient weed, insect or disease control which can lead to reduced yields. Check the gallon per acre application rate of the sprayer. This can only be determined by a thorough calibration of the sprayer. Use clean water while calibrating to reduce the risk of contact with chemicals. Read OSU Extension Publication AEX-520 for an easy calibration method (http://ohioline.osu.edu/aex-fact/0520.html).

2)  How the chemical is deposited on the target is as important as the amount applied.… Continue reading

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Ohio State’s Overholt Drainage School set for late March

Ohio State University’s Overholt Drainage School, March 21-25 in Northwest Ohio, will feature the latest developments in soil and water management.

The comprehensive training program provides continuing education for farmers, land improvement contractors, soil and water conservation technicians, engineers, consultants, sanitarians and others interested in learning more about the purpose, design, layout, construction and management of soil and water conservation systems.

It will be held at the Fulton County Junior Fair Building, 8514 State Rt. 108,Wauseon — not far from the Michigan and Indiana borders.

“The emphasis for the school is proper drainage on existing cropland, with a focus on balancing food production, economic and environmental goals,” said Larry Brown, a professor in Ohio State’s Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering (FABE). “Improved drainage is quite beneficial on Ohio’s poorly drained soils for increased and sustained crop yields. And with improved corn and soybean prices the past four years, the potential for yield increases to cover the costs of new or improved subsurface drainage is much greater than in the past.”… Continue reading

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Ohio State's Overholt Drainage School set for late March

Ohio State University’s Overholt Drainage School, March 21-25 in Northwest Ohio, will feature the latest developments in soil and water management.

The comprehensive training program provides continuing education for farmers, land improvement contractors, soil and water conservation technicians, engineers, consultants, sanitarians and others interested in learning more about the purpose, design, layout, construction and management of soil and water conservation systems.

It will be held at the Fulton County Junior Fair Building, 8514 State Rt. 108,Wauseon — not far from the Michigan and Indiana borders.

“The emphasis for the school is proper drainage on existing cropland, with a focus on balancing food production, economic and environmental goals,” said Larry Brown, a professor in Ohio State’s Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering (FABE). “Improved drainage is quite beneficial on Ohio’s poorly drained soils for increased and sustained crop yields. And with improved corn and soybean prices the past four years, the potential for yield increases to cover the costs of new or improved subsurface drainage is much greater than in the past.”… Continue reading

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