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Friday, March 27, 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.

Buckle your seatbelt for the March 31 Prospective Plantings report, to be issued that morning by USDA. Statisticians interviewed thousands of farmers earlier this month on their acreage plans. The market is expecting corn acreage at 84.548 mil. acres, the average of an 81.4 to 89 mil. acre range. That compares to 85.982 mil. acres last year.

How many soybean acres will you plant? The market thinks it will be in a range of 75.9 to 81.5 mil. acres, with the average at 79.251 mil. That would be substantially more than the 75.718 mil. acres planted last year. Many observers who are weighing in on the forecast believe soybean acres will rise because of the greater chance for profitability.

Speaking of soybeans, cash prices have swung more than $2 since last December, including a substantial spurt last week. IL Extension’s Darrel Good says that resulted from higher energy prices, a weaker dollar, and a rally in financial futures. Read more of his newsletter.

South America should be dominating the bean market says Good, but with a smaller crop in Brazil and angry farmers in Argentina, export buyers continue to gobble up US supplies. That points to a record level of soybean exports, thanks in major part to China, which has purchased 58% of them. Exports will be pushing toward 1.2 bil. bu. this year.

Darrel Good says the size of the new crop will have a major impact on soybean prices, but there will still be uncertainty about that even after the Prospective Plantings report. The current weather in the upper Plains may throw planting into question in the Dakotas.

The rebound in soybean futures and the stronger basis are providing an opportunity for pricing old crop beans, but Good says it is a harder decision for the new crop, “November futures are slightly above the spring price guarantee for crop revenue insurance so there is some downside risk for unpriced new crop soybeans. That risk is small for the insured portion of the crop, but greater for the uninsured portion,” favoring frequent, small sales.

Marketing recommendations come from Extension’s Mike Roberts at Virginia Tech:
1) Corn: The time to get your old crop corn sold is NOW as this sales window is not expected to last. It is a very good idea to get the ’09 crop priced to 45% if you haven’t done so already. Feed purchasers should wait at least another week or two to buy.
2) Soybeans: It is a good idea to sell all old crop soybeans in the bin and get up to 35% of the ’09 crop priced now. A consensus of sources over the last few days has agreed it is not unreasonable to see loan rate soybeans before this market is done.

In the Quarterly stocks report Tuesday the market expects 7 bil. bu. of corn compared to 6.859 bil. a year ago, and beans at 1.322 bil. bu. compared to 1.434 bil. in 2008.

The Cattle on Feed report indicated feedlot inventory is 5.3% under 2008 levels, with February placements down 2.6% and marketings down 5.3%. Shane Ellis at Iowa State says the numbers should have been bullish, but the weakness in beef demand has sapped the strength in the market and consumers still prefer lower cost protein sources. More.

Cattle price forecasts are more of a function of oil prices than numbers in feedlots, says MO livestock economist Scott Brown, “When oil prices surge, more corn is diverted into ethanol for fuel, raising the cost of corn for feed. In turn, higher feed costs lower feedlot demand for calves. That means less money for cow-calf producers.” Brown also says a lower dollar will spur overseas demand for US beef, and 8% of US beef is exported.

Some beef producers will not survive, says Brown, “Beef producers surviving the economic downturn will be in position to profit in 2010 and beyond.” He adds, "Beef supply is not that plentiful. In a recovery, there won't be enough beef to meet the demand. That applies locally and around the world. Consumers in foreign countries want our beef. It just depends on whether their economies will support buying U.S. beef.”

A valuable commodity produced on many livestock farms and highly desired by gardeners and landscape aficionados now has a central trading point. Not as complex as the Board of Trade, and futures and basis are not involved, a manure exchange has been established by IL Extension livestock management specialist Randy Fonner. You won’t have to pay a brokerage commission here.

Harvesting corn residue may become profitable, but requires nutrient restoration. More.
1) Target corn residue harvest in fields that will be planted to corn next year.
2) Rotate fields so that residue is not removed from the same field every year.
3) Reduce tillage following residue harvest.
4) To restore carbon, use manure instead of or in addition to commercial fertilizer
5) Consider a winter cover crop after residue removal. Roots from winter cover crops are extremely effective at scavenging residual soil nitrate and adding carbon to the soil.

What is your target corn population? MN Extension agronomist Jeff Coulter says IL researchers found, “As yield potential increased from 135 to 225 bushels per acre, the economically optimum plant population increased from about 25,000 to 32,000 plants per acre.” In MN Coulter found, “Yield was maximized at 36,000 plants per acre, and a final stand of 32,000 to 34,000 plants per acre was necessary to maximize economic return. Read more.

What is your soybean planting rate? NE researchers used 30” rows for 3 years and planting rates from 90,000 to 180,000 per acre. “The 120,000, 150,000, and 180,000 yields were statistically the same (only a 0.3-bu. difference between the 120,000 and 150,000 rates) and were significantly better than the 90,000 seed-per-acre plots; however, note that the 90,000 plot yielded only 1.7 bu/ac less than 150,000 plot.” They said it was the ability of soybeans to compensate for reduced population. More.

The final recommendation from the NE research is to reduce populations by 40,000 to 120,000 seeds per acre. “This results in a savings of $10.66 to $18.57 per acre based on seed costs of $40-65 a bag.” They report that a 90% stand has been achieved.

Insect management in your corn and soybeans requires a “Do I need this” answer. That is the position of Ohio State entomologists who share your concern. More.
1) For corn after corn, take preventative action against corn rootworm larvae.
2) Crop rotation is still the preferred action in areas without the rootworm variant.
3) Take preventative action against corn borers if you have a history of borer problems.
4) Transgenic hybrids are recommended against borers if corn is planted after late May.
5) The use of transgenic hybrids requires the planting of a 20% refuge to non-Bt corn.
6) Seed treatments are recommended if the crop is being planted into weeds or alfalfa.
7) Seed treatments will not control black cutworm and are not recommended.
8) Where cutworm damage is common, use a soil insecticide at planting or Herculex.
9) Seed treatments on soybeans will not have any impact on controlling soybean aphids.
10) Unless high populations, seed treatments will not be economical for bean leaf beetles.
11) Seed treatments are warranted on food grade beans to prevent bean pod mottle virus.

If you are growing non-GMO soybeans, weed control should not be a major problem if you follow a 4-step program recommended by Ohio St. agronomists. More.
1) Start weed free at planting with tillage or a preplant herbicide burndown application.
2) Include a broad spectrum residual herbicide in the preplant burndown.
3) Once the beans have emerged, apply a post herbicide to small weeds.
4) Make a second post herbicide application for survivors or late emerging weeds.

Beware of the potential for weed patches in some fields to have developed resistance to PPO inhibitors found in Flexstar and Cobra/Phoenix say the Ohio St. weed specialists. And they say the really bad news is that herbicides being recommended for non-GMO soybeans may be driving more weed populations to become resistant to PPO inhibitors. That is because of the prevalence of weed populations that are also ALS resistant. Their solution is to plant non-GMO beans in a field only once every 3-4 years in a rotation.

If you are considering a foliar fungicide for wheat, WI Extension agronomists want you to first consider what disease resistance is carried by the variety of wheat planted. They say, “Economically, the decision to make a foliar fungicide application is dependent on crop yield potential, commodity prices, pesticide cost including application, and crop yield loss caused by wheel track damage. An adequate yield potential for soft red winter wheat would be in the 55-65 bu/a range. The goal when considering yield and economics is that you want to cover the total cost of the fungicide application.”

Have you been nurturing a young herd, flock, or whatever of soybean cyst nematodes this winter? They may be out of sight and out of mind, but they are hungry and can’t wait for you to plant soybeans. They are temporarily parked in fields with host plants of purple deadnettle, henbit, pennycress, shepherd’s purse, bittercress, & chickweed.

Posted by Stu Ellis on 03/27 at 01:04 AM | Permalink

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