National Headlines

Iowa Chestnut Grower Gets Last Laugh

By Dan Miller
Progressive Farmer Senior Editor

Heath Stolee has embraced the ribbing he gets for the chestnut grove he tends near Radcliffe, Iowa. “We’re in corn and soybean country. All the neighbors are giving me a hard time, saying you’re kind of nutty,” Stolee said. To the 25 acres of Chinese chestnuts planted in astonishingly straight rows, he has bestowed the business name Nutty Farmer Chestnuts (www.facebook.com/NuttyFarmerChestnuts).

Stolee is an Army veteran with tours in Kuwait and Iraq. The 37-year-old works today at the National Centers for Animal Health, in Ames, Iowa, operates a small metal art business and is the commander of his community’s American Legion Post 317.

Some of the 800 trees Stolee has planted are now 4 years old and beginning to produce burrs, the spiny coverings housing chestnuts.

“They’re trying to reproduce,” he said, pulling on a branch with burrs. “Eventually, there will be three chestnuts in each one of those burrs.”

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DDG Weekly Update

By Mary Kennedy
DTN Cash Grains Analyst

OMAHA (DTN) — The domestic distillers dried grains (DDG) average spot price from the 40 locations DTN contacted was down 5 cents at $134 per ton for the week ended April 18, versus the prior week. Spot DDG truck prices were lower as demand has slowed, along with added pressure coming from continued weakness in the corn market.

Based on the average of prices collected by DTN, the value of DDG relative to corn for the week ended April 18 was at 104.66%. The value of DDG relative to soybean meal was at 44.19%. The cost per unit of protein for DDG was $4.96, compared to the cost per unit of protein for soybean meal at $6.38. Soymeal prices have been moving lower most of the week as the soybean futures fell to their lowest price in 2019 at midweek.

The U.S. Census Bureau said Wednesday that U.S.

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Pushing Back on Oil Refiners

By Chris Clayton
DTN Ag Policy Editor

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (DTN) — The Trump administration shouldn’t grant more than three dozen small-refiner exemptions to the Renewable Fuel Standard at a time when farmers are already feeling the impacts of low commodity prices due to lost trade, the head of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association said Wednesday.

Speaking at the Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy ethanol plant, Monte Shaw, executive director of the IRFA, and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig called on the Environmental Protection Agency to reject 39 requests by refiners to be exempt from the blending requirements of the 2018 obligated blend volumes. The requests come after former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt granted more than 50 such waivers for 2016 and 2017 that affected as many as 2.5 billion gallons in biofuel volume.

Shaw listed several reasons why EPA should outright reject the small-refinery exemptions (SREs). The biggest reason, Shaw said, is the low price for Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs), the blending credits attached to every gallon of biofuels.

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To Find a Pigweed

By Emily Unglesbee
DTN Staff Reporter

ROCKVILLE, Md. (DTN) — We’ve all seen them — the startling pictures of giant Palmer amaranth plants towering over soybean fields, with their long, spiky seed heads jutting toward the sky.

But by the time you find that monster in your fields, it’s too late to control it. The coming weeks are prime time for spotting Palmer amaranth plants when they are still small enough to kill and stop an infestation.

The problem is Palmer amaranth seedlings can look an awful lot like other plant species, particularly waterhemp and other types of pigweed.

North Dakota State University Extension weed scientist Joe Ikley has some tips on how to distinguish this weed — which may be new to many in the Midwest — early in the season.

1. THE TOOLS TO HAVE

The magic numbers for weed control are 4 to 6 inches. Weeds bigger than this are harder to kill and more likely to survive a herbicide application.

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Missouri River Floods Debate

By Chris Clayton
DTN Ag Policy Editor

GLENWOOD, Iowa (DTN) — Congress appropriating funds for Midwest levee repair doesn’t necessarily mean that’s where the money would go if the Army Corps of Engineers and the White House use cost-benefit analysis to decide which levees to rebuild first.

That was one of the key takeaways for four U.S. senators who held a field hearing here on Wednesday for the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on the current state of Missouri River flooding.

The flooding has caused an estimated $1.6 billion in damage in Iowa, which includes millions of dollars in grain that was stored from last harvest. Congressional funding would be required to provide an indemnity for the damaged grain.

Blake Hurst, president of the Missouri Farm Bureau, representing the Coalition to Protect the Missouri River, said northwest Missouri has about 187,000 acres under water, none of which will be planted this spring.

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Connect

By Dan Miller
Progressive Farmer Senior Editor

Henderson Farms put two John Deere 1795 planters out into its north Alabama fields this spring mounting RTK guidance systems. “When you’re pulling the planter on a drawbar with a pin, and the GPS unit is centered over the tractor, you get some planter drift,” said Stuart Sanderson, who farms in partnership with his uncle, Mike Henderson, Mike’s son, Chad, and Jackson, Chad’s son.

Their purpose is to have the planter communicate with the tractor. Essentially, the planter takes over guidance to control drift. “It gives you absolute straight rows,” Sanderson said. “We want every plant to be the same distance apart in the row and equal distance from row to row.” There is a 10 to 15% reduction in ear quality from the effects of drift.

That Henderson Farms was able to execute its corn-management fine-tuning is due to the RTK (Real-Time Kinematic) units, aerial photography by drones that recorded the narrow rows and careful record-keeping.

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Property Taxes on the Farm

By Chris Clayton
DTN Ag Policy Editor

OMAHA (DTN) — The big fight in the Nebraska Legislature this year is over plans to reduce property taxes, which has the state’s farm lobbies pushing lawmakers hard for some relief.

Numbers taken from the 2017 Ag Census show Nebraska farmers have more reason to complain about property taxes than farmers in nearby states.

Farm income nationally fell between 2012 and 2017, and land values fell in some states during that time. Property taxes nationally for farmers went up $2 billion over that five-year stretch, jumping from $7.4 billion to $9.4 billion. The average property-tax increase nationally was $21.3%. Just one state, Rhode Island, collected less in property tax from farmers and ranchers over that five-year stretch, according to the Census figures.

Property taxes paid by farmers are listed among farm production expenses on a major initial data set for the 2017 Ag Census, which USDA released last week.

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FCC Details 5G Expansion

By Chris Clayton
DTN Ag Policy Editor

OMAHA (DTN) — The Trump administration is preparing to boost high-speed mobile data considered next generation, or 5G, as well as roll out a $20 billion fund to increase rural broadband access.

The FCC announced the plan just days after a Senate Commerce Committee hearing criticizing the agency for its broadband maps. Critics claim maps inflate actual broadband access in rural America.

But in announcing the 5G expansion on Friday, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said the FCC didn’t want to see rural America left behind. Pai told President Donald Trump that 5G expansion nationally was a success story.

“We want the good-paying jobs that develop and deploy 5G technologies — jobs that support some of the folks in this room — to be created here, in America,” Pai said. “We want these technologies to give our economy a leg up as we compete against the rest of the world.”

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New Ag Census Data Released

By Chris Clayton
DTN Ag Policy Editor

WASHINGTON (DTN) — There were fewer middle-sized farms in 2017 than five years earlier, and the age of the average farm operator continues to tick upward, according to results of the 2017 Census of Agriculture released Thursday.

USDA boasted the 2017 Census of Agriculture includes 6.4 million new points of information about farms and ranches and the people who run them, breaking down more information to the county level. The data is used by policymakers to help determine local funding for a variety of programs, and the census data is often used to highlight specific information about farms and ranches.

USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service said the data shows that both farm numbers and land in farms have had small declines since the last census in 2012. There are more large farms and more small farms but fewer “middle-sized farms,” according to the data.

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Listen to the Land – 14

By Loretta Sorensen
Progressive Farmer Contributing Editor

Most consider conservation practices to be a long-view payoff. Chris Hitzeman sees them as avenues to profitability.

The South Dakota farmer uses soil-quality and soil-health programs as the foundation for his self-guided pheasant-hunting business.

When Hitzeman purchased his 700-acre Charles Mix County farm in the early 2000s, he brought along two decades of corporate experience and the analytical skills of owning his own Minneapolis-based software business.

He intended to move away from hunting pheasants on public land and develop his own private hunting location. Most of his land is made up of riparian areas, trees, sloughs and grasslands recently enrolled in public and private conservation, and habitat programs, creating ideal pheasant- or deer-hunting settings.

Early in the process of identifying and evaluating his farm’s resources, Hitzeman recognized an opportunity to establish a “fair chase” pheasant-hunting business involving his land and a network of surrounding farms.

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Vietnam Bans Glyphosate Imports

By Todd Neeley
DTN Staff Reporter

OMAHA (DTN) — Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development banned the import of glyphosate on Wednesday after a series of legal defeats for Bayer in U.S. civil lawsuits alleging the weed killer caused cancer.

Vietnam Director of Plant Protection Hoang Trung said during a news conference on Wednesday the action was taken because glyphosate affects the environment and is harmful to human health.

At the end of March, a California jury awarded $80 million to a man with non-Hodgkin lymphoma who had used glyphosate at an animal refuge for nearly 30 years. Last year, another jury in the state awarded $287 million to a groundskeeper with cancer who used the chemical. In all, there are 11,200 lawsuits aimed at glyphosate.

Charla Lord, media communications, corporate engagement and preparedness for Bayer, said Vietnam’s decision is likely to hurt both farmers and consumers.

“Unfortunately, today’s decision banning glyphosate will not help to improve food security, safety or sustainability in the country,” she said.

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Forages Needed After Floods

By Russ Quinn
DTN Staff Reporter

OMAHA (DTN) — Nebraska livestock producers who saw their pastures severely damaged from widespread flooding this spring might have to use annual forages until perennial forages can recover.

With pastures now buried under feet of sand along flooded rivers and fences completely destroyed, it will be a long-term project to restore these areas to productivity. Some pastures, however, might not recover enough to be whole again.

PRODUCERS NEED FORAGES

At a meeting in Fremont, Nebraska, on Tuesday afternoon, University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) Extension specialists spoke on the subject of growing annual forages. The need for forages by livestock producers affected by flooding is both an immediate and longer-term need, according to Nathan Mueller, UNL Extension Agronomist for Dodge and Washington counties.

Many farmers in the two counties have seen widespread flooding from three major rivers (Missouri, Elkhorn and Platte) and several smaller streams (Bell Creek, Logan Creek, Maple Creek).

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Field Prep Priorities

By Emily Unglesbee
DTN Staff Reporter

ROCKVILLE, Md. (DTN) — With major storm systems working their way across the Plains, Midwest and South this week, planting may seem a more distant dream than ever.

For some farmers, it may be time to start prioritizing some fieldwork over others, crop experts told DTN.

“Of the big three — nitrogen applications, weed control and planting — nitrogen is the lowest priority, because we can apply that later,” said Bob Nielsen, an Extension corn specialist with Purdue University. “Weed control and planting take priority in a delayed spring like this.”

Farmers can play catch-up with side-dressed nitrogen applications, but once weeds are four- to six-inches tall, weed control will be a season-long struggle, noted Purdue Extension weed scientist Bill Johnson.

And, while early planting is just one of many factors that affect final bushels per acre, it does have a strong and fairly reliable correlation to yield — particularly after May 1.

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NPPC Cancels 2019 World Pork Expo

By Todd Neeley
DTN Staff Reporter

OMAHA (DTN) — As African swine fever continues to spread across the world — most recently showing up in South Africa — the National Pork Producers Council on Wednesday took the rare step of canceling the industry’s World Pork Expo scheduled for June 5-7 in Des Moines, Iowa.

The World Organization for Animal Health, or OIE, reported on Wednesday that a farm in the Ditsobotla Local Municipality in South Africa lost 32 of 36 hogs to the disease that currently has no animal vaccine.

African swine fever (ASF) is a serious viral disease that can cause fever, internal bleeding and high death rates in pigs. According to the World Organization for Animal Health, the disease can be spread by live or dead, domestic or wild pigs, as well via pork products such as contaminated feed and objects including shoes, clothes and vehicles. The disease cannot infect humans, and is not considered a food safety risk.

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Disaster Aid Questioned

By Chris Clayton
DTN Ag Policy Editor

WASHINGTON (DTN) — House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson said Tuesday he sees the need to help farmers with losses in grain bins from Midwest floods. But he said the notion $3 billion is needed for Midwest disaster aid is “baloney.”

Peterson, D-Minn., met Tuesday with members of the North American Agricultural Journalists and spoke about several topics. On disaster aid, Peterson said inserting Midwest aid into a current disaster bill in the Senate could potentially hold up needed aid for Southern farmers whose farms were hit hard by hurricanes last year.

“The Southerners need this,” Peterson said. “They have a lot of crops that don’t traditionally get into crop insurance that were damaged during a tough time in the cycle. Pecan trees and peaches and so forth that are not in the normal farm-program disaster deal. So they need this $3 billion deal they have been working on for the South.”

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USDA Reports Summary

By DTN Staff

This article was originally posted at 11:01 a.m. CDT. It was last updated at 12:14 p.m. CDT.

**

OMAHA — USDA expects larger corn stocks remaining from the 2018-19 crop season. The agency pegged U.S. corn ending stocks at 2.035 billion bushels (bb), up from the 1.835 bb predicted by USDA in early March.

Soybean ending stocks were actually trimmed slightly, to 895 million bushels (mb), down from 900 mb last month.

USDA also boosted South American production corn and soybean production slightly, based on reports of good weather.

These numbers and more were released by USDA on Tuesday in the agency’s monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE).

Tuesday’s new U.S. ending stocks estimates were neutral for corn, soybeans and wheat, said DTN Lead Analyst Todd Hultman. World ending stocks estimates from USDA were bearish for corn and wheat and neutral for soybeans, he said.

For DTN’s exclusive audio comments on today’s reports, visit: http://listen.aghost.net/…

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Major Spring Storm Coming

By Elaine Shein
DTN Associate Managing Editor

OMAHA (DTN) — DTN Senior Meteorologist Michael Palmerino was quite clear on what he thought of the projected path of a major spring storm for the middle of this week.

The storm is aiming for some of the same areas that are still recovering from the mid-March blizzard and rains that triggered historic flooding in the Midwest.

“It’s a terrible, terrible track in terms of its impact on the areas that have already seen terrible flooding back in March,” Palmerino said in an interview. “It couldn’t be any worse of a track to those having flooding in the area,” he said, pointing out that the main difference from a few weeks ago is this time it’s hitting where the snow has already melted.

He added that this storm looks very similar to the March storm and appears to be setting up to drop at least 1 to 2 inches of rain through areas of the Midwest with very saturated soils and that are flooding or have been flooded.

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US-Canada Trade Conflicts

By Chris Clayton
DTN Ag Policy Editor

WASHINGTON (DTN) — Canada could announce a new list of retaliatory tariffs on more U.S. goods, including agricultural products, as early as next week. The tariffs would maintain parity with the U.S. over steel and aluminum tariffs the Trump administration imposed against Canada.

David MacNaughton, Canada’s ambassador to the U.S., highlighted the tariffs Monday as he spoke to members of the North American Agricultural Journalists at the group’s annual meeting in Washington. MacNaughton said Canadian officials are reconfiguring retaliatory tariffs to keep roughly $15 billion in products from the U.S. under either a 25% or 10% tariff.

As a result of some exclusions and modifications, MacNaughton said, Canadian officials “will be refreshing that retaliation list,” likely within the next week, to maintain dollar-for-dollar retaliation.

The retaliation will include “a significant number of agricultural products.” Possible new targets for tariffs could be apples, pork, ethanol and wine, he said.

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Listen to the Land – 13

By Susan Winsor
Progressive Farmer Contributing Editor

Loran Steinlage has a more permanent solution to heavy downpours than tile drain. He’s improving his soil structure. By increasing soil carbon he’s built resilient soil that drains well and stores water for droughts.

His financial returns are highest on the fields with the most diverse cover crops, cash crops and relay crops. By “relay,” he means growing a second crop (soybeans, rye or wheat) in the same growing season.

This diversified soil allows microbes to retain and recycle nutrients, store nutrients and prevent erosion through winter while adding income from cover-crop seed. By comparison, a conventional crop rotation has a “brown winter season” vulnerable to nutrient and soil loss, and the death of beneficial soil microbes.

THE POOR FARM

Town elders once called Steinlage’s Fayette County, Iowa, farm “the poor farm,” an unproductive parcel until Loran’s father, Florian, bought it in 1968. Fifty years later, this self-described “po’ dirt farmer” (his comic term for conservation tillage) now speaks internationally on how his family transformed poor glacial till soil into resilient, productive soil.

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Longtime DTN Columnist Dies

By DTN Staff

OMAHA (DTN) — Walt Hackney, a well-known name in the livestock industry and longtime DTN columnist, has died at the age of 81.

Hackney’s wife, Sue, told DTN Thursday that Walt died Wednesday at a Denver-area hospital following a battle with pneumonia and other health problems. The couple had recently moved from Omaha, Nebraska, to Colorado to be near their son.

Walt was an Oklahoma native and graduate from Oklahoma State University. In addition to writing DTN’s Talkin’ Livestock column, he was a partner in a national feeder cattle company that supplied replacement cattle to numerous commercial feedlots, as well as to independent cattle feeders throughout the Midwest. He has also been a livestock analyst for Iowa Public Television’s Market to Market program and conducted risk management seminars for ag lenders. In the past, he also bought fat cattle for several area packers and directed procurement activities for two major packers.

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