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Friday, April 17, 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 rationing be required? That is the question rhetorically asked by IL Extension’s Darrel Good in his latest newsletter. “Prospects for small year-ending stocks of soybeans and declining inventories of corn during the 2009-10 marketing year means that a generally favorable 2009 growing season will be needed to avoid rationing of use next year.” Read it here.

Darrel Good says, “For both corn and soybeans, the timing and extent of US and world economic recovery will be important in determining the strength of demand and the level of consumption.” And he adds, “With so much riding on the size of the 2009 crops, prices could well trade in a wide range over the next few months.”

If you feel financially nervous, IL Extension’s Nick Paulson knows why. He says farmers have twice as much money at risk due to higher volatility in the market:
1) The ag economy faces a different set of challenges than the national economy.
2) The national economic challenge is the availability or lack of credit.
3) The ag economy is challenged by higher production costs and commodity prices.
4) Government programs that once were a safety net are undermined by market volatility.
5) Farm programs no longer guarantee breakeven prices, or anything close to breakeven.
6) It will become increasingly important to lock in input costs when they are favorable.
7) With price volatility, it is crucial to control any possible cost of production.

It may be too late for this year, but fertilizer prices have fallen says NE Extension’s Gary Hergert. His data is in the NE Cropwatch newsletter.
1) Natural gas is cheaper and Yara, Mosaic, and Agrium have restarted ammonia plants.
2) World market urea and f.o.b. Gulf prices are now down to $310 per ton.
3) Anhydrous ammonia prices f.o.b. Cornbelt are currently around $550 per ton.
4) International tenders for 32-0-0 (UAN) are under $200 per ton.
5) DAP and MAP has fallen from $1,000 highs to nearly $200 per ton f.o.b. Florida.

You are applying ammonia based on a return to nitrogen, how about basing your corn population on a return to seed? That is the suggestion of IL Extension’s Mike Roegge who says using a seed cost of $2 per thousand or $160 per 80,000 kernel unit, the economic advantage is at 35,000 population when the price of corn is $4 per bu. He says if the seed is $3 per thousand or $240 per bag, the advantage goes to 30,000 population.

If you did not apply P & K last fall because you ran out of time and weather, should you do it now? IL Extension’s Fabian Fernandez says a soil test will be a critical tool in making a decision. He says if the field needs it, but the budget is not there, apply at least a portion instead of none. As an alternative, apply nutrients as a form of starter fertilizer.

Storm fronts blow through, and they drop out of the sky. Not raindrops, but black cutworm moths, ready to lay eggs on winter annuals. IL Extension entomologists say the eggs will hatch when the growing degree days reach 300 with a base temperature of 50. That means mid-May is the primary scouting time for the central part of the Cornbelt.

Corn and soybeans are among the black cutworm’s least favorite foods, say Purdue entomologists, who add, “It just so happens that these are the only plants remaining by the time larvae have emerged and weeds have been killed. Research has shown that cutworm larvae starve if weeds are treated with tillage or herbicide 2-3 weeks before crop emergence – an example of a case when controlling weeds can help manage insect pests.”

Farmer minds are being changed about weed control, as the result of increased weed resistance to glyphosate. Aaron Hager’s IL Extension survey found only 28% of farmers were using only glyphosate for soybeans, compared to 80% during the early days of Roundup Ready beans. Additionally 91% of 877 farmers surveyed believe that weeds becoming glyphosate resistant will change weed management in the next 5 years.

“Mudding in” a crop early to avoid planting late will almost always end up being an unwise decision, says Purdue agronomist Bob Nielsen, and so he says don’t succumb to fear mongering of delayed planting. (He says you have the machinery to catch up.) Nielsen says planting date is one of many “yield influencing factors” (YIF), and he adds, “It is possible for early-planted corn in one year to yield more than, less than, or equal to later-planted corn in another year depending on the exact mix of YIFs for each year.”

Test question: Are compacted soils better resolved with deep tillage or no-till? Ohio Extension’s Randall Reeder says yields will recover better in compacted soils with continuous no-till than deep tillage. Compacted with a 600 bu. grain cart, Reeder said soils had a 15% corn yield reduction when sub-soiled annually for 6 years, versus only a 9% reduction with no-till. For soybeans, the declines were 24% and 13%, respectively.

If seed beans are still on your shopping list, consult the variety testing results conducted by Extension agronomists in your state. The IL specialists report the beans in maturity group 2 had a 33.3 bu. yield span and group 3 had a 27.7 bu. yield span. Agronomist Vince Davis says a few good hours selecting seed is time well spent.

To treat, or not to treat, that is the question about soybean fungicides, and Iowa State Extension’s X. B. Yang says only 3% of seed was treated 10 years ago, but 50% of it is today, and the driving forces may be the cost of soybean seed and early spring planting. He says treatments can be beneficial in fields where there is an increased risk of soybean seedling diseases, particularly for Ohio soybean growers preventing phytophthora.

To make a decision on soybean fungicide, Iowa State’s X. B. Yang says do it when:
1) Seed quality is poor like last year, but this year soybean seed quality is much better.
2) Fields have phythphthora or pythium, the spring is wet and cool, & planting is early.
3) Replanting is one case where fungicide treatments are recommended for a good stand.
4) Early planting is not a reason for treatment, unless planting conditions are poor.

In addition to those recommendations, MO Extension’s Laura Sweets, says use a fungicide treatment if you have a concern the seed is infested with a seed-borne disease, or if the variety being planted is a high yielding variety that is disease-susceptible.

Stewart’s Wilt is caused by a bacteria carried by flea beetles, and can cause havoc in sweet corn fields, while many commercial hybrids carry resistance. The determinant of whether it will be a problem is if temperatures and snow cover allowed the flea beetles to survive. In parts of the Midwest winter temperatures averaged less than 24 degrees, and that indicates reduced survival and fewer problems with Stewart’s Wilt. If your winter was warmer, Gaucho and Cruiser have reduced the problem 50% to 85% in sweetcorn.

Do lower rates of pelletized lime equal higher rates of ag lime? Ohio Extension specialists say the comparison is total neutralizing power, fineness, and moisture, and they add, “Just because you needed twice as much ag-lime as pelletized lime does not necessarily make pelletized lime the best choice based on cost, especially when pelletized lime can cost 5-7 times more per ton than ag lime. More.

Farmers across the northern Cornbelt should be close to planting oats, if they have not already. IL Extension’s Jim Morrison says his colleagues in Iowa report yield drops of 10% per week after April 15, and his colleagues in Wisconsin say yields drop nearly 20% by May 14. IL Extension specialists encourage a fungicide seed treatment for oats.

For oat drilling, seed 2-3 bu. per acre or 30 seeds per square foot. For broadcasting oats, increase the rate by 1/2 to 1 bu. per acre. If the oats are planted with alfalfa, seed only 1 to 1.5 bu. per acre. Your fertility program depends upon your yield, and Morrison says oats remove about .38 lbs. of phosphate per bu. and.20 lbs. of potash per bu.

If you farm in Ohio, there is a 55% chance you are using at least one piece of precision farming equipment. OSU economist Marvin Batte says adoption rates have increased 27% since 1999, but adoption depends on farm size, sales, and types of crops produced. Lime and phosphorous variable rate application netted the greatest benefits.

Pork producers: Are you really reducing the breeding herd? MO livestock economists Glenn Grimes and Ron Plain say gilt slaughter has been running high, but sow slaughter is 12% less than this time in 2008. They report that breeding stock from Canada is down 16.5% from last year, probably due to the Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) law. All in all, they do not believe the breeding herd is changing very much, if any.

Regarding the beef market, Grimes and Plain report, “…a slowdown in the reduction of the dairy herd, which is a result of milk prices substantially less than cost of production. Why the slowdown is occurring is not clear. The beef cow slaughter indicates beef producers have slowed the decline in the herd if not stopped it. Additional reductions in both the dairy and beef industries are required to get prices at profitable levels.”

Posted by Stu Ellis on 04/17 at 01:47 AM | Permalink

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