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USDA on Thursday called for record soybean production and large ending stocks in its October round of World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) and Crop Production reports.

Farmers are expected to harvest 53.1 bushels per acre of soybeans, up from last month’s 52.8 bpa forecast. Overall production, at 4.69 billion bushels, is slightly lower than last month’s estimate. Both are within the range of pre-report expectations.

New-crop (2018-19) soybean ending stocks were pegged at 885 million bushels on higher beginning stocks. USDA left soybean use unchanged.

On corn, USDA estimated national average yields at 180.7 bpa with production at 14.8 billion bushels. While that’s down slightly from last month’s estimate of 181.3 bpa and 14.83 bb, respectively, it’d still be the highest yield on record and second highest level of production.

This month’s Crop Production forecast is noteworthy because it becomes statistically more accurate.

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

You can access the full reports here:

— Crop Production: https://www.nass.usda.gov/…

— World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE): http://www.usda.gov/…

SOYBEANS

The U.S. soybean crop was projected at 4.69 billion bushels, down slightly from last month and lower than the pre-report average estimate. Still, soybean yield was bumped up to 53.1 bushels per acre, up 0.3 bpa from the September estimate of 52.8 bpa.

USDA lowered harvested soybean acres to 88.3 million acres, down 600,000 acres from the September projection.

Ending stocks were projected at 885 million bushels for soybeans, up 40 mb from last month’s forecast. USDA increased carryover from the 2017-18 crop by 43 mb, but dropped production by 3 mb to bump up the 2018-19 ending stocks.

Despite the export battles, USDA held pat on soybean exports for the 2018-19 crop at 2.06 billion bushels, the same as the September forecast.

The average farm-gate price for soybeans remained at a forecast of $8.60 a bushel with a wide range stretching from $7.35 to $9.85 a bushel.

Globally, USDA raised soybean carryover from the old crop by 1.91 million metric tons, which translated into boosting the ending stocks for the 2018-19 crop as well by 1.78 mmt. USDA did not change production estimates for major exporters such as Brazil (120.5 mmt) and Argentina (57 mmt).

CORN

USDA expects farmers to harvest 81.8 million acres of corn, down slightly from the agency’s previous estimate and 1% below 2017. When combined with its record national average yield projection of 180.7 bpa, production comes out at 14.78 billion bushels.

New-crop (2018-19) domestic ending stocks came in at 1.813 bb, which incorporates the 138 million extra bushels from September’s Grain Stocks report as higher beginning stocks as well as the slightly lower production estimate. USDA lowered feed and residual use by 25 mb while boosting exports by 75 million bushels.

It left the range of national average farm-gate prices unchanged at $3.00 to $4.00 per bushel.

Globally, USDA forecast 2018-19 stocks at 159.35 million metric tons, up 2.32 mmt from last month. However, it’s still less than the 198.21 mmt ending stocks forecast for 2017-18.

WHEAT

Ending stocks for the 2018-19 crop were forecast at 956 mb, up 21 mb from last month’s estimate of 935 million bushels.

USDA bumped up projected 2018-19 yield 0.2 bpa to 47.6 bpa. That increased production 7 million total bushels to 1.884 bb.

USDA also held wheat exports pat at 1.025 bb, but slightly lowered domestic demand 10 mb overall.

The average price was pegged at $5.10 a bushel, but USDA lowered the possible price range by 10 cents a bushel.

Globally, USDA lowered world wheat production by 2.08 mmt for 2018-19 and lowered global imports 1.34 mmt as well. With lower global production, USDA lowered the 2018-19 world wheat ending stocks by 1.11 mmt as well.

U.S. CROP PRODUCTION (Million Bushels) 2018-2019
Oct Avg High Low Sep 2017-18
Corn 14,778 14,851 14,969 14,700 14,827 14,604
Soybeans 4,690 4,733 4,890 4,623 4,693 4,392
U.S. AVERAGE YIELD (Bushels Per Acre) 2018-2019
Oct Avg High Low Sep 2017-18
Corn 180.7 181.8 183.0 180.6 181.3 176.6
Soybeans 53.1 53.4 55.0 52.0 52.8 49.1
U.S. HARVESTED ACRES (Million Acres) 2018-2019
Oct Avg High Low Sep 2017-18
Corn 81.8 81.7 81.9 81.4 81.8 82.7
Soybeans 88.3 88.7 88.9 88.2 88.9 89.5
U.S. ENDING STOCKS (Million Bushels) 2018-2019
Oct Avg High Low Sep
Corn 1,813 1,932 2,352 1,774 1,774
Soybeans 885 860 975 492 845
Wheat 956 960 1,020 895 935
WORLD ENDING STOCKS (Million metric tons) 2018-2019
Oct Avg High Low Sep
Corn 159.3 159.2 165.9 156.0 157.0
Soybeans 110.0 109.4 113.0 105.5 108.3
Wheat 260.2 261.1 263.7 259.0 261.3

 In spite of rain, the U.S. corn harvest has pushed forward, USDA’s National Ag Statistics Service said in its weekly Crop Progress report on Tuesday, which was delayed a day due to Columbus Day.

Listen to the report here: https://post.futurimedia.com/krvnam/playlist/futures-one-crop-progress-report-10-9-5248.html

As of Sunday, Oct. 7, 34% of corn was harvested nationwide, 8 percentage points ahead of the average pace of 26%. That was further ahead of normal than the previous week when harvest was even with the of average.

The soybean harvest, on the other hand, is slowing down. As of Sunday, 32% of the crop was harvested, which is 4 percentage points below the five-year average of 36%. That compares to the previous week when harvest was slightly ahead of the average.

Meanwhile, both crops continued to reach maturity ahead of the normal pace. Ninety-three percent of corn was mature, 10 percent ahead of the average of 83%. Soybeans were 91% dropping leaves, 6 percentage points ahead of the average of 85%.

Nationwide, condition ratings for corn is now at 68% good to excellent, as opposed to the 69% good to excellent rating seen last week. Soybeans were unchanged from the previous week with a rating of 68% good to excellent.

Winter wheat planting was 57% finished last week, ahead of 46% at the same time last year and also slightly ahead of the five-year average of 54%. Winter wheat emerged, at 30%, was ahead of last year’s 23% and ahead of the average pace of 28%.

Thirty-nine percent of the sorghum crop was harvested as of Sunday, behind the average pace of 42%.

Seventy-nine percent of rice was harvested as of Sunday, behind last year’s 84% but equal to the five-year average. Seventy-eight percent of cotton had bolls opening, ahead of the average of 74%. Twenty-five percent of cotton was harvested, slightly ahead of last year’s 24% and also ahead of the average pace of 18%.

To view weekly crop progress reports issued by National Ag Statistics Service offices in individual states, visit http://www.nass.usda.gov. Look for the U.S. map in the “Find Data and Reports by” section and choose the state you wish to view in the drop-down menu. Then look for that state’s “Crop Progress & Condition” report.

National Crop Progress Summary
This Last Last 5-Year
Week Week Year Avg.
Corn Mature 93 86 80 83
Corn Harvested 34 26 21 26
Soybeans Dropping Leaves 91 83 88 85
Soybeans Harvested 32 23 34 36
Winter Wheat Planted 57 43 46 54
Winter Wheat Emerged 30 14 23 28
Cotton Bolls Opening 78 67 71 74
Cotton Harvested 25 19 24 18
Sorghum Mature 73 62 68 72
Sorghum Harvested 39 34 35 42
Rice Harvested 79 70 84 79

**

National Crop Condition Summary
(VP=Very Poor; P=Poor; F=Fair; G=Good; E=Excellent)
This Week Last Week Last Year
VP P F G E VP P F G E VP P F G E
Corn 4 8 20 47 21 4 8 19 47 22 3 8 25 49 15
Soybeans 3 7 22 49 19 3 7 22 49 19 3 9 27 49 12
Sorghum 5 11 29 44 11 6 11 29 44 10 2 6 28 52 12
Cotton 6 19 33 32 10 6 19 33 32 10 8 7 25 42 18

Doug Sieck learned about grazing standing corn 10 years ago, but it wasn’t until prices reached break-even levels in 2016 that he decided it was time for him to try feeding corn right from the field.

The rancher works a 3,000-acre operation in north-central South Dakota, where recent years have seen him convert about 600 acres of cropland back to grass for cattle. Sieck prefers cattle to crops, though he still raises corn, soybeans and hay across about 1,000 acres.

The rancher’s decision to let the herd graze standing corn goes back to a grassland workshop he attended at the University of Nebraska. Today, Sieck jokes it only took him a decade to put the strategies he learned into practice.

CORN YIELD CALCULATION.

When corn prices are low, grazing a standing crop is an economical way to feed cows. Sieck calculates he’s able to feed his 300-head cow herd for $1 per head per day. That’s based on grazing corn that yields between 100 and 120 bushels per acre.

“My cows do fine on 10 pounds of corn plus 10 pounds of corn fodder per day,” Sieck says. “In a field producing 100 to 120 bushels of grain per acre, corn stover amounts would range from 3 to 4.5 dry tons per acre.”

Before Sieck started feeding standing corn, he systematically calculated what it would take to support his cow herd. He harvested all but 30 acres of his corn crop, looked at overall yields and calculated paddock size needed to provide 10 pounds of corn (plus 10 pounds of stover) each day for each cow. With that figure in mind, Sieck used his combine to create a checkerboard pattern across the 30 acres.

“Across the length of the field, I combined six rows and left 28,” Sieck says. “Then, I went across the field, combining a path for fences every 80 or 90 yards. That created 60 paddocks with alleyways that separated the paddocks and left room for fencing. I rotated cattle through those paddocks, moving them every day, over a period of two months.”

The practice was so successful and kept winter feed costs so low, Sieck has continued to use the practice. Before he started grazing standing corn, the producer notes he fed his cows about 10 large bales of hay a day at a cost of $480 per day. Having those same 300 cows on a half-acre of 107-bushel corn and adding a couple of bales of alfalfa to maintain nutritional levels, he estimates he spends around $262 per day, equaling a savings of some $218 each day he’s feeding.

VISIBLE FENCING.

Bruce Anderson, agronomist and Extension forage specialist at the University of Nebraska, agrees grazing standing corn is an economical way to feed cattle and add value to the crop—especially when commodity prices are low. He recommends taking some precautions, however, to ensure cattle don’t break out of a paddock and gain access to too much corn at one time.

“Fencing needs to be visible to cows, especially when there’s very tempting material on the other side,” Anderson says. “One method some producers have found effective is the use of electric tape rather than electric wire, or electric tape with electric wire. The tape greatly increases overall visibility of the fence. You can also tie flags on the fence to make it more visible.”

Volume of volts delivered to either (polytape or high-tensile wire) depends on the charger used. Both can deliver the same voltage, and cost is comparable. The greatest benefit of the tape, Anderson says, is its visibility; although in areas with frequent high winds, it’s more susceptible to wind damage.

“In grazing standing corn, it’s key to restrict the amount of corn allotted to the cattle at one time,” he stresses. “You don’t want the cattle to trample a large amount of the corn, wasting it.”

GRAIN OVERLOAD.

Paddocks not only help preserve standing corn from waste, they help avoid rumen acidosis or grain overload. If cows are moved from a pasture setting to standing corn, it’s important to restrict the amount of corn consumed those first few grazing days to prevent acidosis.

Rumen acidosis occurs when ruminants have a sudden shift in diet from high-fiber roughage (grass or hay) to low-fiber, high-carb grain (corn, barley, wheat). More mature corn crops increase the risk, as kernels are more easily dislodged, and the whole cob is less likely to be eaten. More mature kernels also have more starch, another contributor to acidosis.

It’s important producers monitor cows grazing standing corn to spot problems early. Signs of acidosis may include wandering, panting, excessive salivation, diarrhea, falling, kicking at the belly, etc. To avoid acidosis, move cows frequently, every day to two days, to backgraze stalks or hay.

It may also be important to provide a protein supplement when grazing cornstalks. Anderson says while cows will get plenty of energy from grazing standing corn, they may or may not be getting adequate protein. The only way to know for sure is to check nutrient levels and supplement accordingly.

When cows are first moved from an all-you-can-eat forage system, they often need a few days to adjust to eating less volume of feed. They essentially find a new satiety point when feeding on grain. Producers shouldn’t be surprised if cattle in this scenario are somewhat restless the first few days. Anderson notes in some cases, there is a higher risk of cows breaking out of a paddock if they’ve never grazed corn stalks.

RUN THE NUMBERS.

Beef producers considering grazing standing corn should thoroughly calculate every economic aspect of the practice before trying it. Anderson adds that if the primary goal is to avoid a break-even year on corn production, lowering input costs may be an effective strategy, too.

“Use of bin-run corn or non-GMO corn as a seed source can greatly reduce corn production costs,” Anderson explains. “Yields are lower with this type seed, and if corn is intended for grazing, it could be a significant way to further minimize costs.”

As a cost comparison, for 2017, the University of Missouri Extension Service estimates non-GMO seed cost at $61.25 per acre, GMO seed at $96.25 per acre.

Anderson says Sieck’s long-term planning and detailed management for cows grazing standing corn is the right approach. Monitoring cows during their time in these paddocks helps determine how long it takes to clean up a paddock and whether paddocks should be larger or smaller. Those are the kinds of details that can help refine a program, making it even more cost effective.

While monitoring and moving cattle in standing corn involves daily labor during winter, there’s no need to harvest, transport or store the corn. And, there’s no manure to haul out of a feedlot. The nutrients cattle deposit on paddocks are considered another benefit in the practice of grazing standing corn.

Sieck, who’s used to moving cattle through paddocks all year, sees the system as a positive trade-off.

“There are years when cattle are just break-even, too,” he says. “But, if I have to be in a break-even situation, I’d rather do it with cattle than with crops.”

LINCOLN, Neb. – Gov. Pete Ricketts recently appointed two corn farmers to the Nebraska Corn Board. Ted Schrock, from Elm Creek, assumed the director position from the District 6 region and Andy Groskopf, from Scottsbluff, was named District 8 director. Schrock replaced Dennis Gengenbach in District 6, and Groskopf succeeded Jon Holzfaster in District 8. Both Gengenbach and Holzfaster were at the end of their terms and chose not to seek reelection. Additionally, David Merrell, from St. Edward, was reappointed to serve as the District 7 director.

Schrock farms and ranches in Phelps County and is active both on and off the farm. He served on the Phelps/Gosper County Farm Bureau, the Phelps County Planning and Zoning Commission and is currently a member of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association. His family farm has been in the family for over 100 years, and in 2008, Schrock Farms received AKSARBEN’s Pioneer Farm Award. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s College of Agricultural Science and Natural Resources in 1992.

“As a corn farmer, I’ve always been passionate about the betterment of the agricultural industry,” said Schrock. “I look forward to serving on the Nebraska Corn Board to help carry out the mission of our corn checkoff program by promoting the value of corn by creating opportunities.”

Groskopf attended Western Nebraska Community College and farms with his father and uncle in Scotts Bluff County. Groskopf is a 2010 graduate of the Nebraska Farm Bureau Leadership Academy, the acting president of the Scotts Bluff County Farm Bureau and a member of the Scottsbluff FFA alumni chapter.

“I am ready to hit the ground running with my new responsibilities on the Nebraska Corn Board,” said Groskopf. “I look forward to representing the western portion of the state on key issues such as overall corn production, ag literacy, trade and ethanol expansion.”

Nebraska Corn Board directors serve three-year terms with opportunities to be reelected. In addition to the new director appointments, the Nebraska Corn Board held officer elections at their August board meeting.

David Bruntz, District 1 director, was elected as the chairman of the board. Bruntz has been farming for more than 30 years near Friend, Nebraska. He grows irrigated and non-irrigated corn and soybeans, and he also feeds cattle. Bruntz received his education from UNL’s Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture. He has been with the Board since 2013. Bruntz replaced David Merrell, District 7 director, who now serves as past chairman.

Brandon Hunnicutt, District 3 director, was elected as the vice chair of the Nebraska Corn Board. Hunnicutt farms near Giltner with his father and brother. Hunnicutt is a fourth-generation farmer and the operation has been within the family for over 100 years. On his farm, Hunnicutt grows corn, popcorn, seed corn and soybeans. He earned his bachelor’s degree from UNL and has served on the Nebraska Corn Board since 2014.

Debbie Borg, District 4 director, was reelected secretary/treasurer of the Board. Borg lives near Allen and is a partner in TD Borg Farms, a fifth-generation farm. On their farm, they raise corn, soybeans, alfalfa, feed cattle and are proactively engaged in establishing the sixth generation in the business. Borg earned a bachelor’s degree from Colorado State University. She has served on the Nebraska Corn Board since 2013.

“It’s so encouraging to have a dynamic and passionate corn board that works hard to enhance our state’s corn industry,” said Kelly Brunkhorst, executive director of the Nebraska Corn Board. “Jon and Dennis have contributed a lot to our state’s corn checkoff, so it’s difficult to see them move on. However, we look forward to the new perspectives Ted and Andy bring to the group.”

Each of the officer positions are effective immediately and will last one year. The Nebraska Corn Board is made up of nine farmer directors. Eight members represent specific Nebraska districts and are appointed by the Governor of Nebraska. The Board elects a ninth at-large member.

Farmers are in a tough spot when it comes to controlling weeds. Since conventional herbicides aren’t an option, many choose to use tillage — mechanically turning over the soil to upend weeds. However, tillage can take a toll on soil health and cause run-off. Increasingly, organic farmers are seeking better ways to control weeds while preserving soil health.

To help develop solutions for these farmers, researchers at UW–Madison, Iowa State University and the Rodale Institute are embarking on a new project to assess current technologies that could be used in no-till organic systems and determine which practices will help farmers protect soil health in their fields. The project is funded through a grant from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) that totals $2.2 million, including matching funds.

“We hope to define a set of best management practices for maximizing organic grain production yield while minimizing environmental impact and improving soil health,” says Brian Luck, assistant professor of biological systems engineering at UW–Madison and project lead. “We are aiming to find the best combination of cover crops, cover crop termination methods, planting dates and planter set-up to maximize yield potential in no-till organic systems.”

With partners in Wisconsin, Iowa and Pennsylvania, researchers will have the opportunity to conduct trials at various sites to test planter technologies, cover crop types, planting dates, weed management strategies and more in the first three years of the grant-funded project. They will then use their findings to select the most promising management systems and test them across all of the participating field sites during the project’s fourth year.

Researchers will also conduct on-farm demonstrations for farmers and work to understand farmer perceptions and attitudes toward adopting various practices. They aim to integrate all of this knowledge into guidelines for growers and to disseminate the information throughout organic grain growing regions.

“Testing the methods across locations will ensure that the best management practices for no-till organic production hold up across varying soil types and growing environments,” says Luck. “Farmers will be able to understand what does and doesn’t work when implementing no-till practices in their organic production systems.”

The four-year grant is part of the USDA-NRCS Conservation Innovation Grant Program and is a 1:1 matching grant. For every federal dollar received, the researchers match that amount through funds from their institutions as well as donations of time or supplies from cooperating farms and companies. The structure of the grant means collaboration with industry and producers is essential and indispensable.

“We’re excited to receive this funding from USDA-NRCS and to have invested collaborators who see the value of this work,” says Luck. “We think the work has great potential to change typical management practices associated with organic grain production.”

Other researchers involved in the project include soil scientist Matt Ruark and plant pathologist Erin Silva from UW–Madison; agronomist/horticulturalist Kathleen Delate from Iowa State University; and farm director Jeff Moyer and chief scientist Andrew Smith from the Rodale Institute.

Cover crops have potential for Nebraska farmers that are looking to reduce erosion and soil nitrate loss, improve soil health and provide grazing. However, the predominant corn-soybean erosion limits the selection and productivity of cover crops. Katja-Koehler-Cole, post-doctoral research associate in cropping systems, will present their findings from four years of cover crop research in no-till corn and soybean systems in Nebraska, with implications for both cover crop and main crop management.

Date: Oct. 5, 2018 Time: 3:30 pm–4:30 pm
Keim Hall Room: 150
Contact: Michelle Green-Ihde, 402-472-1503, mgreen-ihde2@unl.edu
Additional Public Info: go.unl.edu/agrohortseminars.

LINCOLN, Neb. – As combines pop up in fields across the Midwest, the Nebraska Corn Board and Nebraska Corn Growers Association encourage farmers, as well as local residents and visitors, to take a second for safety in rural areas this harvest season. To help promote farm safety, “National Farm Safety and Health Week” kicked off September 16 and will run through September 22. This week-long farm safety promotion has taken place every year since 1944 and occurs during the third week of each September.

The theme for this year’s farm safety promotion is “cultivating the seeds of safety.” According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the agricultural sector is one of the most dangerous industries in America. Over 2 million workers are employed full-time in production agriculture, which does not account for part-time help or family members who also live and work on farms. In 2016, there were 180 reported fatalities of agricultural workers, which equates to 21.4 deaths per 100,000 workers. While “National Farm Safety and Health Week” will help remind farmers, rural residents and visitors about the importance of farm safety for seven days, it’s also important for people to be cautious on or near farm operations throughout the year.

“All farmers are excited to gather their crops from their fields, but harvest can be a dangerous time, especially if we don’t practice safety,” said Dan Wesely, president of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association and farmer from Morse Bluff, Nebraska. “There are a lot of moving parts during harvest – combines, tractors, grain carts, trucks, augers and people. It’s important everyone understands their individual responsibilities, remains alert and has an emergency action plan in place, in case something goes wrong.”

Farmers typically have a narrow window to complete their harvest work. Therefore, it’s important farmers take care of themselves to ensure a safe and productive season.

“A well-rested farmer is a safe and productive farmer,” said Dave Bruntz, chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board and farmer from Friend, Nebraska. “It may seem counterproductive, but farmers should take short breaks during the harvest season. They’re often operating large equipment and working long hours throughout the day. By getting enough sleep and eating healthy meals, farmers will be alert and engaged during the harvest process.”

Farmers are not the only people who should be cautious during the harvest season. Anyone who may be visiting or traveling through rural areas should be mindful of increased farm traffic on roads and highways. Harvest equipment should be visible with front and rear warning lights, as well as slow moving vehicle emblems to notify motorists of approaching machinery. In rural areas, parents of small children should also develop safety rules to prevent youth from playing on or near harvest equipment.

Additional tips for farmers, farm workers and rural residents to consider while on the farm this fall (adapted from the National Corn Growers Association):

Equipment Safety

  • Be careful when approaching harvest equipment. Approach from the front and gain eye contact with the operator before approaching.
  • Ensure the harvesting equipment is fully stopped and disengaged before climbing onto a vehicle.
  • Do not place yourself near any unguarded or otherwise running machinery.
  • Avoid pinch points between equipment – such as tractors with grain wagons. Visibility can be limited and serious injury can occur.

Entanglement Hazard

  • Entanglement hazards can happen very quickly.
  • Do not ever try to unplug any equipment without disengaging power and removing energy from the equipment.
  • Never pull or try to remove plugged plants from an operating machine.
  • Always keep shields in place to avoid snags and entanglement when working around equipment.

Fall Hazard

  • Be careful climbing on and off equipment.
  • Be alert and extremely careful when working in wet or slippery conditions.
  • Keep all walkways and platforms open and free of tools, dust, debris or other obstacles. Clean all walkways and platforms before use.
  • Wear clothing that is well fitting and not baggy or loose.  Also wear proper non-slip, closed toe shoes.
  • Use grab bars when mounting or dismounting machinery. Face machinery when dismounting and never jump from equipment.
  • Never dismount from a moving vehicle.

Fire Prevention

  • Carry a fire extinguisher with you in your vehicle (A-B-C, 5 or 10 pound).
  • Remove dust and buildup from equipment.  Check bearings regularly to prevent overheating and chance of fire.

Grain Wagon Safety

  • Be careful to monitor grain wagon weight to never exceed maximum weight limits. As weight increases, grain wagons can be more difficult to control.
  • Load grain wagons evenly to distribute weight to prevent weaving or instability across the grain wagon.
  • Inspect grain wagon tires and replace any worn or cracked tires.

Grain Bin Safety

  • If entering a bin, wear a harness attached to a secure rope.
  • Never work alone.
  • Never allow children to get too close or inside the bin.
  • Wear a dust filter or respirator when working in bins.
  • Stay out of bins when equipment is running.

“All farmers are excited to see the fruits of their labor,” said Bruntz. “By taking a little extra time to exercise safe practices, we’ll continue to do our part to produce safe and abundant sources of food, fuel and fiber for the world.”

China said Tuesday that it will hit back against President Donald Trump with retaliatory duties of five or 10 percent against another $60 billion worth of American products.

The response comes one day after Trump issued the largest number of tariffs yet in an escalating trade dispute. Politico says China is scheduled to implement their plan on Monday to coincide with the new U.S. duties. A total of $113 billion in U.S. exports are now subject to tariffs while duties will be in place on $253 billion in Chinese products.

Trump is prepared to go even higher, saying Tuesday that he’s ready to impose duties on another $267 billion in Chinese imports. The new tariff list includes meat products, including lamb and salted beef; frozen and canned produce like peas and spinach; refined ingredients like soybean, corn, and coconut oil, to processed oats; along with coffee, teas, and liquors.

Ag groups weren’t happy with Trump’s decision to take things further. “As we head into the 2018 harvest season for corn and soybeans out here in Iowa, this escalation of the trade conflict couldn’t have come at a worse time,” says Iowa Ag Secretary Mike Naig.

One of the most basic questions farmers must answer on an annual basis is what to plant. In some cases, this is simply a choice among cultivars in others it is a choice among different crop types. In Nebraska, the choice may vary considerably since many different crop types are grown. This discussion focuses on the factors that affect profitability, which are created by both biology and economics, and how that might be used to make the best crop rotation selection between corn and soybean cropping systems.

The profit equation in its simplest form can be defined as total revenue (TR) minus total costs (TC) equals profit. This profit equation captures the physical realities of production by using both revenue and cost measures. This fact makes this equation a powerful tool for making many business and production choices. This equation makes the relationship between costs and revenue simple to apply.

In the instance of the varying corn and soybean rotations, several biological factors have been generally realized and accepted. First, corn following soybean production can generally be expected to exceed continuous corn production yields. Irrigated fields are noted to have less of an increase in yields compared to those of dryland production. Secondly, soybean productivity is increased following one year of corn culture but even more so following two consecutive years of corn production. Thirdly, soybean production fixes nitrogen that may be available for the following season’s crop. This usually amounts to about 40 to 60 lbs. of N per acre depending on the conditions and productivity of the soybeans.

Obviously, the TR generated from the production of any crop or crop rotation must exceed the TC of producing that crop for profit to be realized. TR for this discussion is defined as the price/value of the product being produced multiplied by the quantity produced. The production of 100 bushels/acre of corn sold at a $4.00 market price provides a total revenue per acre of $400.00. The same calculation for soybeans could be made depending on its yield and value at the time it is sold. TC is more complex and can be further divided into two main components. These components are total fixed costs (TFC) and total variable costs (TVC). The TFC is a cost that is realized regardless of productivity and is fixed for the relevant time period. In a single season, a fixed cost could be a set price for renting land ($300/ac). TVC are those things that vary and are related to productivity, a common example would be nitrogen fertilizer.

Using the fact that corn is more productive following soybeans verses following itself and that some residual nitrogen is available, a higher TR would be expected and a lower TVC would show that corn grown following soybeans is more profitable than corn grown following corn. The problem with this simple analysis is that it doesn’t account for the fact that growing soybeans the previous year may have been more or less profitable than growing corn. Therefore, a good decision requires considering the value of the rotation over its duration, in this case, a minimum of two years. The same result could be said of soybeans following corn or soybeans following two years of corn, which has a three-year rotation period. The appropriate answer to the question requires an analysis over the full cycle of the rotation. This fact adds complexity and requires careful consideration for the most relevant driving factors, which are corn and soybean prices and differences in production costs and yields.

Interestingly the profitability of growing, continuous corn, versus alternating with soybean in some combination is specific to individual producers. Looking at past information from Iowa, given historical average yields, costs and prices, it can be seen that in some years soybean production was more profitable/less costly than corn production and vice versa. Therefore, market values and production costs vary enough among years so that neither crop dominates as always being most profitable. These facts point to the importance of individual farmers knowing the potential productivity of both crops on their respective farms, understanding trends in their local corn and soybean market and having a handle on the varying differences in costs. It is beneficial to balance these primary effects in making a cropping systems selection. Producer’s crop selection decision becomes more profit-centered as they are able to accurately quantify the three primary effects listed above. While not mentioned earlier, there may be other effects of different rotations. For instance, capital investment costs may be lowered by adding an additional crop. In the case of corn and soybeans which are harvested and planted at different times, it is theoretically possible to use equipment, labor and time more efficiently thus lowering costs

As mentioned above, crop rotations have many biological and economic implications. When the profit equation is applied, decision-makers can make profit-centered choices for their farm. Crop rotations are best analyzed as multi-year rotation plans. The three primary drivers to consider in the corn/soybean rotation are corn and soybean prices, expected fertilizer costs and expected yields. Each of these three factors potentially affect rotation choice and therefore become an individual farm decision. Obviously one cannot predict the future but it is smart to consider forecasted prices for markets and production costs. For this reason, it is vital to do the math to clearly see the outcome and make a fair comparison among cropping alternatives.

            We have started to see some movement out in the fields with harvest underway. In terms of corn, some silage has been chopped, high moisture corn is being harvested, and seed corn fields are quickly drying down and are starting to get picked. Soybean fields have lost a lot of their leaves and are drying down quickly. A few soybean fields have already been harvested and it won’t be long before several more will be picked in the area. As a reminder to everyone, this is a very busy and stressful time of year for our farmers. When driving to and from work, please be cautious and courteous of large equipment being moved from field to field. We are going to see several trucks, tractors, and combines moving in the area for harvest. Give yourself plenty of time to get to work in the morning and give them a wave as you pass by. Farmers give up a lot of family time during the fall to bring in a bountiful harvest. Show them your appreciation for their hard work instead of honking as you drive around them!

                Stalk Rots: The major topic of concern at this point of the growing season is the potential for stalk rot damage in corn fields. Corn has been drying down fast this year and while some of that is natural, some dry down may be contributed to late season disease issues. We have received quite a bit of rain in the area during the month of September. Standing water and saturated soils can contribute to the development of stalk rots. Stalk rots can weaken corn stalks which can cause issues with standability. Lodging, stalk breakage, and premature plant death is often a result of stalk rots, which can lead to yield loss and difficultly while harvesting. Another issue to consider is that if the corn crop has stalk rot issues and stalk quality or strength has been compromised, it is common for ears to drop during harvest. This can lead to issues with volunteer corn next year. Several fields in the area had problems with volunteer corn in 2018 thanks to the wind storms that occurred in October last year. I have already heard of some folks in the area who have noticed corn ears on the ground due to wind damage. Hopefully, the extent won’t be near as bad or widely distributed as last year.

                There are several different types of stalk rots that can occur at this point of the growing season. Often times we see stalk rots develop in fields that experienced some sort of damage throughout the year, including hail and wind damage or foliar disease pressure. Excessive rainfall or ponding may also contribute to stalk rot development and other characteristics like hybrid selection, or planting population may increase the risk for stalk rots and lodging in the field. If any of this pertains to your fields and you’re concerned that stalk rots could be an issue this fall, the question you may be asking is “how do I know if my field has any stalk rots?” There are two ways you can easily evaluate potential stalk rot damage. The first method is called a Push Test. Walk a little ways into your field and randomly select at least 100 plants, more is better for good measure. Place your hand on the plant, typically on any portion of the plant that’s above the ear leaf, and extend your arm out away from you. The rule of thumb is to push the plant out about 30 degrees from its natural upright position. If the plant doesn’t snap back to normal or it remains bent when you let go, there’s a good chance you have stalk rot in that field. Another method that some folks prefer over the Push Test is to conduct the Pinch Test. Some folks like this method better because some of the guess work is taken out in deciding if the plant bounced back to normal or not when conducting the Push Test. To use the Pinch Test method, select a plant and find one of the lowest internodes on the plant. The closer to the brace roots the better. Using your thumb and index finger, pinch the internode. If the stalk crushes easily between your fingers, you may have stalk rot. If more than 10% of the plants tested in the field are confirmed to have stalk rot, it’s a good idea to harvest that field sooner rather than later. If you are still uncertain if there is stalk rot or if the stalk has been compromised in any way, you can cut the stalk open lengthwise and look to see if the inside is discolored, if the pith is hollow or spongy, or if the vascular bundles (conductive tissues) are stringy and loose.

                There are several different types of stalk rots that can infect your fields. Common stalk rots found this time of year include Fusarium stalk rot, Gibberella stalk rot, Anthracnose stalk rot, and Charcoal rot. More information about each disease can be found on UNL’s CropWatch website (https://cropwatch.unl.edu/corn-stalk-rots-2018) or in this online publication: http://extensionpublications.unl.edu/assets/pdf/ec1898.pdf. If you conduct either the Push or Pinch test and determine that over 10% of the plants tested had compromised stalks, you may want to know “what are my options at this point of the growing season?” Unfortunately, the answer to this question is, not much. The best thing for you to do at this point is make a note of any stalk rot damage, write down pertinent information to that field (i.e. hybrid, planting population, hail/wind damage, disease pressure this year, etc.), prioritize that field when you start harvesting, and talk to your seed dealer about hybrid selection for next year to help reduce stalk rot pressure in the future. If you are still unsure if you have stalk rots in your field after conducting the Push or Pinch test, or you wish to get an accurate diagnosis, send whole plant samples to the Plant and Pest Diagnostic Clinic in Lincoln for accurate confirmation.