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Friday, May 08, 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.

Soybean prices have climbed about $3.50 in the cash market reaching fall 2008 levels, while Chinese purchases of US soybeans outpace those of last year. China has bought more than 600 mil. bu. of US beans, which IL Extension’s Darrel Good says surpasses 2008 purchases by 189 mil. bu. Currently, China has purchased 60% of US bean exports. Read more.

Soybean exports are outpacing the domestic use says Good. USDA had projected 1.21 bil. bu. in soybean exports this year, and the current total is near 1.05 bil. bu. Good says the pace of the crush remains slow, but with the brisk export business, soybean ending stocks could drop below the current estimate of 165 mil. bu. He says that is helping push old crop bean prices above $11 and new crop bean prices toward $10.

On the other hand, the corn market is “anemic” in comparison to beans, says Good. Corn exports have been healthy, and only minimal amounts need to be sold for the balance of the year to reach USDA’s 1.7 bil bu. projection. However, the slower use of corn for livestock feed and ethanol production may keep ending stocks near 1.7 bil. bu. Good says planting delays have not had a substantial impact on corn prices.

If you are pricing grain, Good says use the spring revenue insurance guarantees as your base, which means new crop soybean prices have a $1 premium and new crop corn prices are offering a 25¢ premium over the crop insurance spring guarantees.

Volatility in grain markets is expected by marketing specialist Chad Hart at Iowa State. He says weather conditions, biofuels policies, and the H1N1 flu outbreak will contribute to continued market volatility. Regarding biofuels, he says watch ethanol news:
1) CA’s new fuel standard is unfriendly to ethanol due to criticism of corn production.
2) US EPA has proposed a new fuel standard with specific greenhouse gas limits.
3) EPA has accepted input on the proposal to increase ethanol from 10% to 15% blend.

When the lean hog contract caught the H1N1 flu, May contracts fell from over $70 on April 24 to $58 on May 1, and down to $55 when a human infected some Canadian hogs. IA Extension’s Shane Ellis says the basis tightened from $6 to $1 in that time. He expects markets to recover, but the summer rally will be delayed for a few weeks.

If you sign up for ACRE, FSA offices will require historical farm yield information. At this time, USDA has not released the rules on what documents are required, and what happens if you don’t have them, says IL Extension economist Nick Paulson. Those rules may come soon, since the announced sign-up period for ACRE begins on June 1.

Planting delays may shift your preference to soybeans says IL Extension’s Emerson Nafziger. Using a $4 corn price and $11 soybean price, he says, “By May 10, gross income from corn is being lost at the rate of $4.93/A for each day of delay, while beans are losing only $1.80 (northern IL) and 16¢/A (southern IL) per day of delay. By May 30, corn is losing about $9.15 per day of planting delay while soybeans lose $4.78 and $3.92 in northern and southern IL, respectively. As expected, the loss in gross income as soybean planting is delayed stays well behind that of corn throughout May, and this difference widens in June.” Read more.

Nafziger says, “While planting delays mean faster loss of yield and gross income from corn compared to soybean, the date at which planting soybeans will be more profitable than planting corn depends on expected net incomes for the two crops.”

If looking for shorter season seed corn, OH Extension agronomists urge you to move slowly on that concept. “Don't worry about switching hybrid maturities unless planting is delayed to late May. If planting is possible before May 20, plant full season hybrids first to allow them to exploit the growing season more fully. Research in Ohio and other Cornbelt states generally indicates that earlier maturity hybrids lose less yield potential with late plantings than the later maturing, full season hybrids.”

If higher soybean seed costs have caused you to consider reducing your seeding rate, keep in mid that soybean plants compensate well to low stands by adjusting pod and seed number per plant and expanding their growth to make a canopy that suppresses weeds, says IL Extension’s Vince Davis. Read more.

Seed beans with many biotech traits will cost between 15¢ and 45¢ per 1,000 seeds for most farmers, says Davis. “Economically optimum seeding rates fluctuated by 26,000 seeds per acre in that seed price range. From this research trial, optimum rates in the range of 25¢ to 45¢ per 1,000 seeds would have been between 100,000 and 129,000 seeds per acre. This is much lower than current recommendations for 30-inch rows in Illinois, and a little lower than I would be comfortable recommending.”

If planting soybeans late, consider your equipment, says OSU agronomist Jim Beuerline. He says the later planting is accomplished, the greater the response to narrow rows and increased seeding rates. And he adds, “If you are tempted to use the corn planter to punch in a lot of acres fast, keep in mind that thirty-inch row beans planted May 10 will produce less yield than drilled beans planted two weeks later. The goal is to attain rapid canopy closure and maximize sunlight collection.”

With corn coming up (in some states), the accumulation of heat units, and the collection of black cutworm moths being recorded, Purdue entomologists are predicting black cutworm larvae will begin cutting seedlings on May 10, if corn is present where they hatch. They say cutworms can be managed effectively with scouting and insecticides.

Young corn looks tasty to black cutworm larvae, so scouting should include looking for pinholes in corn seedlings. IL Extension’s Jim Morrison says, “Cut, missing, or wilted corn plants are typical symptoms of black cutworm larvae damage. Feeding mainly at night, larvae will move up the row as they feed. On average, one larva may cut 3-4 plants in its lifetime.” He says treat when 3-5% of the plants are cut and larvae are present.

Iowa may have escaped a bean leaf beetle problem this year because of winter weather conditions, says entomologist Erin Hodgson. The predicted mortality is due to “an exceptionally harsh winter” and models indicated 99% of the bean leaf beetles bit the dust across the northern third of Iowa and 75% across the southern third of Iowa.

Both bad and good bugs may be in your wheat, and it is your assignment to know the predators from the bad bugs. A good balance could prevent the cost of an insecticide treatment, which would kill both the friends and the foes. Check the economic thresholds before spraying. Read more.

The bugs are not winning, but two noted Extension entomologists have departed from their university research positions to take similar positions in the corporate world. Marlin Edwards at Iowa State University shifted his focus earlier this year to Pioneer and now Kevin Steffey at the University of Illinois will be headed to Dow AgroSciences.

Unplanted fields that are “wooly” with weeds will need pre-plant attention before seeding, and depending on your weed crop, different tactics may be necessary. IL Extension’s Aaron Hager says tillage may not be sufficient to clear the field, if weeds ball up in a cultivator, or some weeds escape being cut off and re-grow. Consider:
1) Glyphosate and other translocation herbicides need time to work before tillage.
2) Don’t till soon after spraying growth regulators or it will impact your seedlings.
3) Contact herbicides may begin impacting weeds quicker than translocators.
4) Burndown herbicides can be mixed with soil-residual herbicides, but any subsequent tillage may not provide the most desirable distribution of the chemical in the soil.

If you do tank mix a burndown and residual herbicide, OH Extension’s Mark Loux says, “Where weeds are large, the inclusion of residual herbicides (or application in 28%) can reduce the activity of glyphosate and the weed control. This can be compensated for somewhat by increasing the glyphosate rate.” Read more.

Planting corn without an herbicide application is possible according to Ohio State agronomists. Instead of delaying the required time after applying the herbicide, Mark Loux says forge ahead and plant. “Reconsider applying pre-emergence herbicides where it’s unlikely to rain before the weeds emerge (you can check by digging down to see what the weeds are doing), and consider switching to an early post-emergence approach. The good news here is that most pre-emergence corn herbicides can be applied to emerged corn, and some of them have enough foliar activity to control small, emerged weeds without the need to include post-emergence herbicides.” Read more.

Weeds of every specie are coming up in many Cornbelt fields where soils have been perfect for weeds, but unwelcoming for tillage, sprayers, and certainly planters. Purdue weed specialists suggest a two-fold approach to clearing fields that are quite weedy.
1) Use glyphosate + 2,4-D or 2,4-D + paraquat + Sencor (beans) or atrazine (corn) if you desire more rapid desiccation of weed biomass. In the glyphosate-based program, use the 1.5 lb ae/A rate with 1 pt/A of 2,4-D. Most labels require you to wait 7 days before planting corn or soybean with this rate of 2,4-D.
2) In the paraquat-based program, use the upper end of the rate range for more effective control of large weeds. But be prepared for re-growth if weather remains wet and cool.

Control thistles in the first of their 2-year life cycle, which can be achieved with a herbicide application. Once the thistles sends up a spike in its second year, it will produce viable seeds, surviving your weed-killing spray. IL Extension’s Robert Bellm says a combination of low ground mowing followed by an herbicide works best.

If you applied nitrogen last fall, is it still there? IL Extension’s Fabian Fernandez says it depends on the time of application, soil temperature, and whether the soil has been saturated, which would reduce bacterial activity. So there is no quick answer. But check his calculations to estimate your loss. Read more.

If you need to apply more nitrogen, Fernandez says, “If the field is already planted, the best way to apply the additional N would be, 1) injected anhydrous ammonia or UAN solutions, 2) broadcast ammoniated products (ammonium nitrate or ammonium sulfate), 3) broadcast urea, 4) UAN solution dribbled between rows, and 5) broadcast UAN solution. If you have not planted your field yet, plant now and apply additional N later.

But what about P & K? Crop requirements for P and K can often be met with starter applications placed in bands two inches to the side and two inches below the seed, say OH agronomists. “Application of P and K is only necessary with the starter if they are deficient in the soil, and the greatest probability of yield response from P and K starter is in a no-till situation.” They say the longer planting is delayed the less benefit received from a P & K starter, because at later planting dates soil temperatures are higher (this is not necessarily true for no-till soils and that is why they are more likely to be responsive).

Diesel prices will continue to be under 2008 prices through November 2009. KS State economist Kevin Dhuyvetter calculates that diesel prices will be about 54% less than they were last year for much of the summer, then the price difference narrows, because of falling prices late in 2008, not because of price increases he expects in 2009.

Four stomachs and at least 22,000 genes. That is what makes a cow a cow, and now researchers have mapped the bovine genome. “"Having the genome sequence is now the window to understanding how (a cow works), how ruminants ended up with four stomachs instead of one, how the cow's immune system operates and how it is able to secrete large amounts of protein in its milk," says IL researcher Harris Lewin.

It is not your 120’ Deere planter, and it is not your great-grandfather’s wooden single seed corn planter he pushed in the ground with his foot. But a new invention by Univ. of IL ag engineering students will allow farmers in Africa and other developing countries to plant corn with a device that jabs into the ground and deposits a seed where farming equipment is completely absent. The hand held corn planters have been tested and will be manufactured and distributed with funds from the Howard Buffet Foundation.

Posted by Stu Ellis on 05/08 at 02:18 AM | Permalink


Excellent material. I look forward to each email and especially this one that covers a whole spectrum of areas in ag. Thanks, Jerry Lester

Posted by: Jerry Lester at May 8, 2009 8:08AM

ACRE procedures are available on the FSA website. And some county offices have a summary in their newsletter--search for "ACRE production evidence" on the site. ( Thanks for the contribution! ~Stu

Posted by: Bill Harshaw at May 8, 2009 11:11AM

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