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Friday, May 01, 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.

Like pork, grain markets have caught swine flu, says IL Extension’s Darrel Good, who blames sharp declines in corn, bean, and wheat markets on false perceptions. He says, “The extent of reported cases of swine flu will be important in determining the depth of demand worries.” Read more.

In his weekly newsletter, Good cites other fundamentals influencing crop prices:
1) The domestic soybean crush is 10% less than last year, right at USDA forecasts.
2) Robust Chinese soybean purchases may push exports beyond USDA forecasts.
3) Corn exports have surpassed 1 bil. bu., and USDA projections may be reachable.
4) California fuel policies are changing, which would restrict ethanol consumption.
5) Despite slow planting and more forecasts for rain, there is little market concern.

Your marketing plan should accommodate another year of price volatility says Darrel Good. He says pricing the new crop “can still be anchored to the spring price guarantees of crop revenue insurance.” And spikes above that level may trigger small sales.

The market is anticipating a switch from corn to soybeans, says Mike Woolverton at Kansas St. He says low ending stocks, poor South American yields, and Chinese demand has pushed old crop futures above $10, but the new crops remains a dollar less. He says recent higher prices for corn and wheat has encouraged those to be planted if possible.

If switching crops is in your plans IL Extension’s Emerson Nafziger says the decision is complicated because of recent price moves of both corn and beans. He suggests reading his April 10 newsletter, and basing any decision to switch from corn to beans on costs and expected yields for a given date. If considering staying with corn, but switching to an earlier hybrid, Nafziger discourages that because most hybrids have a Growing Degree Day cushion and can be planted later.

If you tend to mope about planting delayed by the weather, crop specialist Emerson Nafziger says just hope 2009 turns out like 2008. He says IL ag economists say April rains, even slightly above average, have a positive impact on yield. He says it is not the case for dry Aprils to have good yields and wet Aprils to have poor yields from delays. But Nafziger says, “A wet April that turns into a wet May could well be another story.”

Nafziger offers some quick guidance to consider if your planting is delayed by weather:
1) Planting should take priority over operations like N application.
2) Apply N, only if planting is not delayed, and soils are not compacted while doing that.
3) Planting into warm soils means that crops emerge faster and more uniformly.
4) Growing Degree Days are only average, so early planted crops have emerged slowly.

Watch Monday’s crop condition report from USDA for any improvement on the 2009 wheat crop. KS Extension’s Mike Woolverton says 73% of TX wheat is poor to very poor, and only 11% good to excellent. In OK, 64% of the wheat is poor to very poor, 9% was good and 0% excellent. Central KS wheat has been hurt by freezing temperatures.

No-till fields are pretty, but the last thing you want is a flower garden. Effective control depends on identification of the weeds you are cultivating, and these pictures can help.
1) Pest Management Bulletin
2) Early Spring Weeds

Weeds #1. Wet soils in the Cornbelt have hampered planting, but benefited weed growth. While priorities are on planting, IL Extension’s Aaron Hager says, “Existing weed vegetation should be controlled before planting by utilizing tillage, herbicides, or a combination of tactics so the corn can become established under weed-free conditions.”

Weeds #2. Some winter annual weed species are beginning to flower, but others are setting seed. While applying herbicides to species already making seed may not appreciably reduce seed production, species in the early stages of flowering should be controlled soon to prevent seed production and addition to the soil seed bank.

Weeds #3. If using 2,4-D for a burndown application, several ester formulations allow pre-plant applications without a specified interval, but others require 7 days. Some also indicate that tillage should not be performed for at least 7 days after application. Beware.

Weeds #4. Cool temperatures can slow the activity of many herbicides, both contact and translocation varieties. Contact herbicides may not be affected as much by coolness. When the forecast calls for several nights of cool air, symptoms of herbicide activity on weeds may develop sooner with a contact herbicide than with a translocated herbicide.

Rewind back to 2008 to address black cutworm issues. 2009 is a carbon copy with late planting, a heavy infestation, and timing that is perfect for the cutworms. IL Extension’s Kevin Steffey says seed treatments such as Cruiser and Poncho and transgenic traits to control caterpillars will prevent black cutworm injury, but not if infestations are heavy. For late planting advice on insects, read this.

Black cutworm moths arrive at your farm by chance. Purdue entomologists say the moths use their minute energy to fly straight up. “Once in the jetstream, they are often caught up in wind currents in southern regions of the United States and carried to the Midwest. They are then deposited back to ground level by spring storms. Predicting the location and intensity of a spring thunderstorm is difficult,” (and infestations, as well.)

The Purdue bug gurus say, “In predicting insect infestations, timing is everything. There are other variables to consider, but timing of when and how all these factors (migration, food availability, development temps) “collide” ultimately determines the infestation.” They say Mother Nature usually wins out over preventative treatments.

When should cutworm treatment be applied? Iowa State’s Jon Tollefson says, “The economic threshold for black cutworms is: 1) When larvae average less than ¾ inch in length, an insecticide should be considered if 2-3% of the plants are wilted or cut; 2) If cutworms are longer, treatment should be applied if 5% of the plants are cut, and 3) If the field has a poor plant population, (20,000 or less) these thresholds should be lowered.”

Do you apply insecticide for cutworms, while applying herbicide? IA Extension’s Jon Tollefson says no, “If you are planting 1,000 acres of corn and, based on past experience, it is probable that you will have 10% infested with cutworms. If you purchase insecticide at $4 per acre and treat all of the fields, the cost would be $4000. If you scouted the fields and treated the 10% infested, assuming there is a treatment cost for the insecticide and its application of $12 per acre, the cost to you would be only $1200.”

Should seed beans be inoculated? IA Agronomist Palle Pederson says not unless:
1) The field has not been seeded with beans in the last 3-5 years, the soil pH is below 6.0, there is low organic matter in the soil, or the field has been flooded for more than a week.
2) The field was flooded for an extended period in 2008 and soybeans were injured or died. A field with such anaerobic conditions last year may have reduced soil bacteria.

Avoid continuous soybeans, but IA Extension’s Palle Pederson says it is OK to plant them in 2 successive years, if just returning to a normal crop rotation. But ask yourself:
1) What would a soil test say about the K level, since beans remove more than corn?
2) Were there any soybean diseases in 2008 that would require resistant seed in 2009?

Corkscrew corn seedlings indicate an emergence problem. While it usually ends in death of the seedling, Purdue’s Bob Nielsen says it is a rare occurrence, but can be attributed to dense soil, and even from compaction during planting. Read more.

Crusted soils after a heavy rain can be an impediment to corn and bean seedlings trying to emerge. Iowa State soil specialists recommend judicious use of a rotary hoe:
1) Soil surface moisture should allow the soil to crumple in your hand with moisture left.
2) Hoe at speeds 8 to 10 miles per hour unless safety is a concern.
3) Ensure both cotyledons of the soybean seedling are not being broken off by the hoe.
4) A 1-2% stand loss in corn is acceptable, since a crusted soil would have been worse.
5) If the loss rises to 3-5%, then slow the tractor speed to become less aggressive.

Although the public wants protection from hogs they believe created swine flu, pork producers should take precautions to protect their stock from flu spread by the public. MO Extension veterinarian Beth Young provided suggestions for on-farm protection:
1) Use NPPC standards to reduce transmission of virus between pigs and people.
2) Ensure ventilation systems in hog barns are in good working order or upgrade them.
3) Seal facilities to prevent any type of birds from entering which can introduce a virus.
4) Store feed in closed containers to prevent contamination from any bird feces.
5) Vaccinate pigs for swine influenza to reduce animal and human exposure.
6) Vaccinate swine farm workers and their families to protect them and your herd.
7) Provide workers with clothing and boots worn only while working around animals.

Posted by Stu Ellis on 05/01 at 01:45 AM | Permalink


Is the pork industrially globalized? That is, if you slaughter pigs in New Zealand, adjusting for transportation costs would this have the same effect on pork supplies in Thailand as if you slaughtered pigs in Brazil? Can the pork industry regenerate easily? If you slaughter a given % of piggies, assuming farm supports can farm capacity be restored easily within say, two years by making imports from unslaughtered capacity? I guess I'm asking the adult pig population doubling time assuming unlimited $$.

Posted by: Phillip Huggan at May 2, 2009 11:11PM

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