National Headlines

It Starts With Seed – 5

Caleb Hamer has learned a lot about patience being in the seed-growing business.

It was mid-June, and he needed to be spraying herbicides with his father, Ted, and business partner, Scott Beenken, that day near Traer, Iowa. But he had just received the seed to plant the last 97 acres of foundation soybean seed for Bayer Crop Science, and planting took priority.

“You have to be patient and flexible to grow seed,” said Hamer as he steered the tractor and planter.

Near Tipton, Indiana, Jordan Stafford was in the combine on July 5 harvesting 100 acres of soft winter wheat for seed for Beck’s Superior Hybrids. While many workers had a paid day off because the Fourth of July holiday fell on a Sunday, the wheat needed to come out to preserve seed quality.

“It doesn’t seem to make a difference when it’s planted, (soft red winter wheat) seems to get ripe around the Fourth of July,” Stafford lamented.

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Federal Court Denies E15 Rehearing

LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) — A federal court on Thursday denied a petition for a rehearing of a court ruling that could end year-round sales of E15.

Agriculture and biofuels groups had filed a petition with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in August, asking for a rehearing of the case before all judges in the D.C. Circuit.

The National Corn Growers Association, Growth Energy and the Renewable Fuels Association said in a joint statement they will continue to press the EPA for the return of year-round E15 sales.

“Our petition for rehearing was an opportunity for the D.C. Circuit to remedy a decision that runs counter to legal precedent, and which, if maintained, threatens our nation’s rural economy and progress on moving toward a clean energy future,” the groups said.

“Today’s petition denial is another hurdle to ensuring year-round access to low-carbon E15; however, due to timing, American drivers and retailers will be able to finish out the E15 summer driving season without disruption to their access to cleaner fuel choices at the pump.

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It Starts with Seed – 4

The Handy Bt Trait table is a corn farmer’s best friend.

The chart lists every commercially available Bt corn product, one by one, and untangles the traits within. Every year, it is used by farmers, scientists, industry and others to sort through the nine insecticidal corn traits on the market, cross-licensed in dozens of branded packages within various company trait platforms.

It started 15 years ago as a humble Microsoft Word table taped near Chris DiFonzo’s desk phone. It was 2006, and the table had just five columns, one for each Bt trait found in corn hybrids at the time.

“I just couldn’t keep track of the Bt traits,” DiFonzo, a Michigan State entomologist, recalled. “So, the initial goal of it was just to track them for myself.”

By 2009, the table had expanded — six traits, and 14 corn hybrid packages. “Then people started asking to use it — ‘Can I have your table?

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Trips Tickle Kids and Parents Alike

DECATUR, Ill. (DTN) — Ryan Heiniger turned a hunt for parts this summer into a road trip his 14-year-old son, Matthew, will never forget. The Burlington, Iowa, farmer had spotted some items on Craigslist that appeared to have promise in helping restore a vintage bucket elevator on the farm. Why not turn the journey to inspect the parts into an adventure?

While COVID-19 has temporarily put the kibosh on many attractions, it didn’t stop the Heiniger father-son duo from filling their schedule. Fun and educational offerings that have a farm flavor abound in many areas of the country, and fall is still a good time to sneak in a quick getaway.

“After filling up on Casey’s breakfast pizza and donuts, our first stop was Kinze,” Heiniger said. “It was a two-hour free tour and was so neat to hear the story of how Jon (Kinzenbaw) got started. A trolley took us right onto the manufacturing floor, and it was pretty incredible to be that close to the workers, including some welding robots.”

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Corn Boards to Spend $1.25M on CA E85

LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) — State corn checkoffs in Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri announced they are investing $1.25 million to help expand E85 availability in the state of California.

Under the low-carbon fuel standard in California, ethanol and E85 have accounted for the majority of fuels used to comply with the law.

The Nebraska Corn Board announced in a news release on Wednesday plans to provide the funds to retailers across the state, to expand E85 infrastructure.

Fuel will be supplied by Pearson Fuels, which is the largest E85 distributor in California, with nearly 250 retail stations located throughout the state.

Corn growers from the three corn checkoff groups met with representatives from Pearson Fuels in San Diego in July to explore the potential for expanding E85. California already is the largest E85 market in the country, accounting for over 40 million gallons in 2020 and is on track to reach 50 million gallons in 2021.

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Ag, Biofuels Oppose EPA on 2018 SREs

LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) — Agriculture and biofuels groups on Tuesday asked a federal court to set deadlines for EPA to review 31 small-refinery exemptions to the Renewable Fuel Standard for 2018, and to vacate those exemptions while the review is ongoing.

The 31 exemptions that had been granted by EPA earlier involve roughly 1.3 billion gallons of renewable fuel. The agricultural and biofuel groups with exemptions, if they stood, would lower the ethanol industry’s revenue by $109 million, and lower ethanol prices by another $439 million. Those 2018 decisions led to idling of ethanol plants and caused at least one to permanently close.

The impact of those SREs continues because of the ripple effect of refiners carrying over renewable fuel credits (RINs) to future compliance years. If the SREs are allowed to stand, the biofuels industry could continue to suffer economic harm, the groups told the court.

On Aug. 25, the EPA filed a motion in the U.S.

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It Starts With Seed – 1

Only one corn-breeding line out of about 150 remained standing after a derecho slammed into Beck’s Superior Hybrids nursery, near Marshalltown, Iowa, last summer.

Winds exceeding 100 mph are an extreme test in standability for any experimental corn line, but the fact the variety stood like a tree when thousands of actual trees were blown over during the violent windstorm punched its ticket to further development.

The corn line could help create future hybrids that may withstand high winds without lodging.

“We know that will be a strong line that will be bred heavily,” said Tom Koch, breeding manager for Beck’s.

In upcoming weeks, DTN/Progressive Farmer is posting a special series called It Starts With Seed, to help farmers start thinking about their seed purchases and preparing for next year. The stories will provide insights and information on a wide range of topics. In this, the first story of the series, we look at plant breeders’ efforts to make crops more resilient to weather extremes.

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Minding Ag’s Business

Six-dollar corn is expensive to grow.

The University of Illinois projects corn farmers’ non-land costs will climb by $70 per acre next year, leaving a much thinner profit outlook than corn prices might suggest.

Joe Sinclair, president of national ag chemical wholesaler Quality Ag Service, recently told DTN’s Elizabeth Williams that he advises farmers to check fertilizer prices before making cropping plans. “There will be some sticker shock for producers. Nitrogen and potassium prices are almost double year-ago prices. Phosphorus doubled last year, so the increase is not as much compared to last year,” he said.

For high-productivity corn ground in central Illinois, the University of Illinois crop budgets project farmers making $24 per acre profit in 2022 after paying for inputs and land costs using an average corn price of $4.50 per bushel. That’s down from projected profits of $280 per acre this year.

Soybeans could pencil out a profit of $150 per acre next year, substantially more than corn, with an average price of $12.35 per bushel.

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Ida Expected to Shift Grain Export Flow

OMAHA (DTN) — Grain companies with terminals along the lower Mississippi River are looking at shifting more of their committed grain and soybean exports to ports in the Pacific Northwest while damage assessments and repairs begin in earnest following Hurricane Ida.

Hurricane Ida brought significant wind damage across New Orleans and surrounding areas. The timeframe for resuming operations is unknown due to uncertainty of when electricity will be restored. Officials in some Louisiana parishes say some towns along the coast are uninhabitable.

Entergy, which provides power for much of the region around New Orleans, reported Thursday it had restored power to about 167,000 customers. That still left roughly 791,000 customers without power in the region. The company noted it was focusing on power for hospitals and key infrastructure areas such as wastewater facilities. Entergy noted the hardest-hit areas could be without power for weeks.

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Tips to Manage Storm-Damaged Crops

ANKENY, Iowa (DTN) — Lessons learned from the 2020 derecho can help farmers better manage crops affected by recent severe storms.

“There’s one good thing with the derecho last year, there’s recent experience and knowledge gained from it,” said Mark Licht, Iowa State University (ISU) Extension cropping systems specialist.

The Aug. 10, 2020 derecho, with windspeeds topping 140 miles per hour (mph), cut a destructive path more than 700 miles long from Nebraska to Ohio and about 14 million acres of crops were damaged or destroyed. Iowa was the hardest hit. The storm smashed grain storage and other structures.

Last week, a series of ferocious storms, which packed up to 70 mph winds and torrential rain, rumbled across parts of Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois. The extreme weather wasn’t as violent as last year’s derecho, but it did cause significant of crop damage, mostly down and lodged corn in northeast Iowa.

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Quality Wheat Pays Off

ROCKVILLE, Md. (DTN) — If the country’s wheat farmers needed another incentive to grow award-winning, high quality wheat, they just got one.

Next year’s 2022 National Wheat Yield Contest will give out $500 cash rewards to national winners whose 6-lb. wheat samples reach certain quality standards. The contest, now in its sixth year, has tested the winning wheat samples for quality metrics since 2018. But rewarding growers for them was a calculated addition to next year’s program, said Anne Osborne, project manager for the National Wheat Foundation, which sponsors the contest. (DTN/Progressive Farmer is the official media sponsor of the contest.)

“The farmers who enter this contest are very aware of the need for quality wheat, but for the most part, you don’t get paid for quality the minute you drop it off at the elevator, so it doesn’t necessarily stick in their mind,” the way yield targets might, Osborne said.

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Continued Drought for North-Central US

The latest NOAA north-central region drought status update has some daunting statistics: More than half — 52% — of the central U.S. is in drought; 24% of the central U.S. is in either extreme (D3) or exceptional (D4) drought; it has been 9.5 years, since 2012, since drought has covered this extensive an area of the central United States.

The north-central U.S. is made up of the entire states of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Wyoming; and the Missouri River Basin portion of Colorado.

Of these states, 100% of Montana and North Dakota are in drought; 97% of Minnesota; 95% of Wyoming; 94% of South Dakota; and 57% of Iowa. Also, recent notable rainfall has not moved the drought needle; the report notes that the severity and extent of drought are “virtually unchanged,” according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

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Agriculture Confidence Index Results

COLUMBIA, Mo. (DTN) — U.S. farmers’ optimism is tempering as fall harvest approaches, though according to the latest DTN/The Progressive Farmer Agriculture Confidence Index, they are in a much better state of mind than ahead of the 2020 harvest.

The overall Agriculture Confidence Index is 116.6, down 7.3 points from spring but up 22.3 points from a year ago.

The big reason for the decrease since spring appears to be concerns about keeping costs in line with static profits.

The DTN/The Progressive Farmer index is created by melding responses to how farmers feel about their present situation and what they expect a year from now. Farmers responding to the telephone survey answer a series of financial and income questions that compares those present and future conditions. This summer, 500 farmers were surveyed the first two weeks of August.

DTN conducts the survey three times a year: in early spring before planting, in August ahead of harvest, and in late November, just prior to year-end tax season.

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Kinze Unveils New Grain Cart at FPS

WILLIAMSBURG, Iowa (DTN) — The company that pioneered the grain cart concept 50 years ago unveiled a new model at the 2021 Farm Progress Show, along with other upgrades to its grain cart lineup.

Kinze Manufacturing of Williamsburg, Iowa, announced on Aug. 31 that the Harvest Commander 1121 grain cart will be available in 2022. For those attending the Farm Progress Show in Decatur, Illinois, from Aug. 31-Sept. 2, the new cart is located at the company’s exhibit booth No. 904.

The dual-auger, single-axel Harvest Commander 1121 pays homage to Kinze’s past, with the iconic “Kinze Man” decal on the back but has modern features desired by operators such as on-demand horizontal auger drive and four bottom dump doors for easy and quick crop changeover. The 1121 can hold up to 1,100 bushels, which the company claims is the most desired capacity among farmers. Unloading time is about two minutes.

The Harvest Commander 1121 is a throwback to Kinze’s 1050 model (1,000-bushel capacity), which was discontinued in 2012 as the trend for larger-capacity grain carts grew with the size of farms.

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EPA Moves to Remand ’18 RFS Exemptions

LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) — EPA wants a second look at its 2019 decision to grant 31 small-refinery exemptions to the Renewable Fuel Standard for 2018, after the Supreme Court ruled this summer that a federal appeals court erred in a January 2020 ruling that favored the ethanol industry.

On June 25, the Supreme Court overturned a unanimous ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Denver. The Supreme Court ruled small refiners such as HollyFrontier and others can receive extensions of their exemptions to the RFS even if their earlier exemptions had lapsed.

Now EPA has asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to send the Trump decision back to the agency for review.

The agency outlined its planned approach in a motion filed with the DC Circuit on Aug. 25.

“Following the Supreme Court’s decision, EPA plans to consider what, if any, impact the remaining holdings in the 10th Circuit’s decision may have on EPA’s implementation of the small-refinery exemption provision generally, and what, if any, resulting impact that may have on the small-refinery petitions adjudicated in the decision and challenged here,” EPA said in its motion.

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Protecting Property From Theft

KINGSTON, Mo. (DTN) — Caldwell County, Missouri, Sheriff Mitch Allen was asked to speak in early August at a local event to talk with farmers about rural crime. Theft can come in spurts in rural areas and often leads to the question: Who just got out of prison? People often want to know how to protect their belongings, he said.

“What’s important to people out here? Well, it’s important to keep your stuff safe,” Allen told DTN in an interview. (To see a video from the interview, go to…)

Looking back on some theft cases he worked as both a sheriff and former state trooper, Allen offered some advice on what people could have done to better protect themselves from theft, or at least document that it happened.

Power tools are frequently stolen, but utility and all-terrain vehicles have become popular theft items. Big farm machinery isn’t immune from theft, either.

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Mo. River Water Diversion Wins in Court

LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) — A water diversion project in central North Dakota can move forward after a federal court this week tossed out a lawsuit filed by the state of Missouri challenging an expected diversion from the Missouri River to seven counties in North Dakota.

The decision handed down by the U.S. District Court for the District of Western Missouri allows the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to move on a water-service contract for the project to receive up to 20 cubic feet per second of water from the McClusky Canal in central North Dakota. That project will provide water supply for Burleigh, Sheridan, Wells, Foster, Kidder, McLean and Stutsman counties.

The state of Missouri filed a lawsuit in February 2020, claiming federal agencies violated the National Environmental Policy Act and asked the court to stop the project “unless and until defendants have properly evaluated the impacts upon Missouri’s human environment.”

For decades the Missouri River basin has been the center of disputes between landowners, communities, environmental and recreational interests who have battled for water from the river.

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5 Options to Weather the Parts Shortage

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. (DTN) — Breakdowns are always a headache, but during harvest, there’s little worse than being sidelined. This year, a simple run to the nearest dealership and a sweaty afternoon with a wrench may not be enough to get a machine back in the field.

International supply shortages have ground the supply chain to a halt in many different industries and different sectors of the agriculture manufacturing world. Planter part suppliers set sales records in the spring as demand roared and inventory began to shrink. Then, in the summer, the crisis was so acute manufacturers slashed production and bumped prices to compensate for the dramatic cost increases they encountered on what they could obtain.

So, what do you do this fall? A few working in the industry offered some ideas.


There are parts that break once a decade and those that need replacing every few years. For those “every few years” pieces, this is the time to keep a few handy.

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Can Soybean Yield Hang On?

ROCKVILLE, Md. (DTN) — Soybeans are running out of steam in some fields in the northern and western Soybean Belt as September nears.

With only about 1 to 2 inches of rain since June 1 in the central Kansas counties of Ellsworth and Russell, soybean plants are preparing to wrap up the season, carrying only the pods they can fill, said Craig Dinkel, a crop production and horticulture Extension agent at Kansas State University. Scouting trips there have uncovered aborted pods scattered between rows, and some pods may not fill fully, Dinkel said.

It’s not an uncommon story across droughty parts of the country this spring, particularly the Dakotas and Minnesota, noted Seth Naeve, University of Minnesota Extension soybean agronomist. But growers who see dropped pods shouldn’t throw in the towel on the crop just yet. If moisture arrives before leaf drop, soybeans can compensate for fewer pods or seeds deep into the season, by pouring their resources into the remaining seeds.

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African Swine Fever Protection Zone Set

LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) — In an effort to prevent the spread of African swine fever from the Dominican Republic, USDA is preparing a foreign animal disease protection zone in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service said in a news release on Thursday that once the protection zone is established, the agency will be able to restrict movement of live swine and products out of the protection zone, conduct surveillance within the zone, conduct a public-education campaign on biosecurity on farms, prohibit the movement of live swine and products outside of the region and to contact report clinical cases to authorities.

USDA announced on July 29 that pigs in the Dominican Republic tested positive for the disease, which has no vaccine or cure. A USDA official said earlier in August that the U.S. was trying to accelerate efforts to eradicate feral hogs in Puerto Rico and to expand testing efforts in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

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