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Friday, March 20, 2009

Extension Update


Extension Update is a weekly summary of news from Extension, government, and other attributable sources, focused on marketing, farm management, and other issues that are of interest to Midwestern farm owners and operators.

Will corn production match consumption needs for the 2009-10 marketing year? That is what Darrel Good is wondering in his latest newsletter, since consumption will decide ending stocks and influence your cropping pattern for next year. The IL Extension specialist says recent export demand has been strong enough to exceed USDA estimates.

Corn used for ethanol production in December was at a record level says Good, indicating recovery of the ethanol industry and more favorable margins. While USDA’s ethanol use projection is more optimistic than Good expects, he says the mandate for ethanol production is for 12 bil. gal. in 2010, requiring 500 mil. more bushels of corn.

Darrel Good says total corn consumption could reach 12.5 bil. bu. in the 2009-10 marketing year, so 12.2 bil. bu. will be needed this year. With a 152.8 trend yield, he says that will require 79.8 mil. harvested acres and 87 mil. planted. Good says USDA expects 86 mil. planted and the market is currently expecting less than 87 mil. planted. Read more.

Crude oil prices, the stock market, and the value of the dollar have been the main features in the commodity market in the eyes of South Dakota marketing specialist Alan May, “As long as the current recession remains in place, grain markets will be strongly influenced by those outside factors that may override the more typical supply and demand fundamentals of grain.” He said corn has rallied recently despite those.

Soybeans are tied to the hip of crude oil, believes Alan May at South Dakota St., “When crude falls, beans fall in value. When crude oil rallies, soybean prices have improved.” He says crude oil prices have seen a more consistent stabilization with the more recent trend (the last few weeks) being one of modest price growth.

ACRE answers were provided this week by FSA, along with the reminder that June 1 is the sign-up deadline for 2009 participation, and that all producers on the farm must agree to the ACRE participation. The Q & A provisions indicate there is no crop insurance requirement, and participation is allowed in future years, if you opt out of the program for this year. Read more.

ACRE was a question mark when economists at the Food and Ag Policy Research Institute calculated their 10-year projection for prices and production. There was uncertainty about how many farmers would sign up for the ACRE program or stay with the conventional rates for direct payments and market loans. FAPRI economists say ACRE pricing scenarios show advantages for producers of most crops in the Cornbelt.

The FAPRI 10-year baseline begins with acreage contraction in 2009 due to weak global demands that will not support the additional acreage seen last year. FAPRI expects 4 mil. fewer acres being planted this year to the 12 major crops. The FAPRI report on crops and livestock prices is here.

If you are starting the year behind the curve, save time and expense by eliminating tillage for soybeans after corn. Iowa St. researchers say there is an insignificant soybean yield response from tillage. The cost is $18-25 per acre for conventional tillage compared to no-till, and 6 years of research shows only 1 bu. per acre additional yield.

It must be spring, if black cutworms are being found in traps. Two adult moths were found in Southern IL on Mar. 10. Temperatures are important for larvae hatch, and weather stations have already recorded 200 degree-days just east of St. Louis, MO.

If black cutworms are a concern, Ohio St. entomologists say they do not recommend seed treatments for black cutworm control. They recommend scouting, then application of a rescue treatment if larvae are found. They say if the field has a history of black cutworms or a high population of winter annuals, then a preventative tactic that works can be used, such as using an insecticide at planting or using Herculex XTRA seed.

Is Integrated Pest Management (IPM) a priority? IL entomologists surveyed farmers:
1) 83% believe economic thresholds are still viable for insect pest management.
2) 73% say insect control decisions are based on economic thresholds.
3) 24% say insect control decisions are based on potential yield benefit.
4) 97% planted a Bt hybrid in 2008 seeking a yield benefit.
5) 80% would still plant a Bt hybrid even if corn borer or rootworm levels were low.

Call it horseweed or marestail, it has become a significant headache for many farmers as tillage declines. Capable of both a summer and winter life cycles, patches that are resistant to several herbicide families are becoming more common. IL Extension weed specialist Aaron Hager says it should be controlled before planting with tillage help. Find complete advice here.
1) If tillage is not an option, existing plants should be controlled before 6 in. in height.
2) Use glyphosate burndown with tankmix of dicamba, paraquat, and 2,4-D.
3) Ester formulations of 2,4-D are preferable over amine formulations.
4) Glufosinate can be used, and improved with tankmix of atrazine or metribuzin.

What is your weed crop in the field to be planted to non-GMO soybeans? Ohio St. weed specialist Mark Loux expects your weed issues to be difficult to control, since many weeds are becoming ALS-resistant. He says your general weed program may be:
1) Use tillage or a burndown to begin planting from the point of being weed free.
2) Include broad-spectrum residual herbicides in the preplant burndown treatment.
3) Apply a post herbicide to small weeds, and a second post application to late arrivals.

Did your wheat survive the winter? Fields with no ground cover or where plants failed to root adequately before the December cold snap are the ones of most concern to IL Extension’s Emerson Nafziger. Fluctuating temperatures can cause the soil to heave the crown out of the soil and expose roots to sun and wind damage, as well as freezing.

Wheat diseases are also a cold weather issue, particularly wheat mosaic virus that lives with a fungal organism that enters wheat roots. Cold spells last fall could have benefited the virus that infected the wheat. Pythium root rot is also a potential fungus if wheat was planted into wheat chaff and straw and wet soils. While a systemic fungicide can help against Pythium, both problems can be helped with using resistant wheat varieties.

Wheat that is greening up deserves a shot of spring nitrogen. Ohio St. agronomists say yields can be improved if the timing of the application came when the first stem node was visible, compared to an application when the wheat was turning green. Yields dropped 10-15% if the nitrogen application was delayed to the early boot stage.

High-yielding, irrigated continuous corn may be short on phosphorus says NE nutrient management specialist Charles Wortmann. He says current recommendations are to not add phosphorus when your soil test indicates it is over 15 parts per million. However his new research recommends applying up to 20 ppm of phosphorus on continuous corn.

But with phosphorus costing $1,000 per ton, is that something you can get along with out? Purdue fertility specialist Jim Camberato says, “Contrary to popular belief, more often than not the corn crop responds to the nitrogen component and not the phosphorous component of starter fertilizer.” He says the crop only benefits from 5-10% of the P.

What is your “footprint” for emitting greenhouse gases? The EPA is contemplating a monitoring program of industrial sources of methane, carbon dioxide and other gases, say MO Extension specialists. Included on the list for monitoring are manure storage facilities, but left off the list are manure composting facilities, tillage, farm burning, and the controversial “cow tax.” The specialists say there is no tax included in the monitoring proposal, but consider it a first step toward limiting greenhouse gas emissions. Read more.

320 acres of energy grass are growing on the largest bio-fuels research farm in the US, located at Urbana, IL, where miscanthus, switchgrass, corn, and restored prairie are under research to compare insect and disease challenges, environmental benefits, economic opportunities and potential energy per acre of each. The biggest challenge is planting the potato-like roots of miscanthus, and researchers are inventing planters and harvesters.

Corn is one of those biomass crops, but is being cultivated for its stover value instead of grain. IL researchers have rearranged the genes to produce a high sugar content grain, sugar in the stalk, and bulky biomass in the stalk. The plant uses very little nitrogen, and researchers say yields, even with low nitrogen, top production records for switchgrass.

Posted by Stu Ellis on 03/20 at 02:52 AM | Permalink


I look forward to learning more about the UI work on miscanthus planting techniques. That appears daunting, but obviously vegetable crops have been put in the ground with transplanters for many years. Seems like the kind of machinery that it would make sense for customer operators or cooperatives to own and operate.

Posted by: BiomassBlog at March 20, 2009 11:11AM

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