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Friday, July 24, 2009

Cornbelt Update


Cornbelt 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.

USDA is rechecking its corn and sorghum acres in IL, IN, KY, MO, ND, OH, & PA to ensure the Aug 1 crop report is as accurate as possible. NASS will be asking farmers to update acreage to reflect any changes in planted acreage since the June Acreage report. Any changes the USDA makes will be factored into the report released on Aug. 12.

The recent $1.30 loss in corn and $2.20 loss in beans are due to large acreage, but also weakness in financial and energy markets, all of which outweighed prospects for larger exports and tight soybean stocks. That is the opinion of IL marketing specialist Darrel Good who says price and yield prospects will soon show if a low has been established.

Good says the market expects relatively large crops, but there is still room for yield and price uncertainty. Nov bean futures are 20¢ above revenue insurance guarantees, which allows some additional pricing, but Dec corn futures are well below those guarantees. Read more.

Darrel Good says if crop conditions remain as they are and there is no early frost or freeze, then IL weather models point to a nearly 162 bu. corn crop and a 44.7 bu. bean yield. Those weather models are based on the weekly crop condition report that has 71% of the corn crop and 65% of the bean crop in good to excellent condition.

The August crop report will replace USDA’s statistical models with actual field counts, says Mike Woolverton at KS State, and he says early trade guesses would put the crop at record high levels. The records are 160.4 bu. for 2004 corn and 43 bu. for 2005 beans.

But Woolverton is concerned about the weather. He says crops typically maturing in Sept. will not be ready until Oct., and currently the record low day and night temperatures in the Cornbelt are complicating the situation. He says it may take 125 days for 110 day corn to mature. Woolverton thinks the cold summer means frost will come early. Read his newsletter.

At Purdue, marketing specialist Chris Hurt believes the 25 mil. acres of beans planted after May will pull the national average yield down to 41.8 bu. compared to the 42.6 bu. yield projected so far by USDA. Hurt suggests the tight stocks will push August futures toward $11.50, and cash toward $12.00, but he’s quick to say it is risky to expect that.

Storage returns for beans will be positive into January, says Hurt, but not much beyond that because of the anticipation of the South American crop. So for farmers with limited storage, that suggests storing corn over soybeans, and he says an improving economy will help provide a more positive market after the fall harvest. Read more of his newsletter.

Store corn? That’s also the recommendation of MN specialist Ed Usset, who calculates the Dec ‘09 to Jul ‘10 carrying charge at 32¢ or 4.57¢ per month, which is the largest going back to 1990. He says that is four times larger than the interest costs incurred on storing corn, and the market is sending early signals to get ready to store corn at harvest. Read more of Ed’s July 16th blog.

What about ACRE payments? At this point, Purdue’s Chris Hurt says the national soybean price of $9.30 would not allow an IN payment to be triggered, but the futures market average price of $8.70 would trigger a soybean payment about $15 higher than conventional payments. Hurt says if your yields are above average that would tell you to stay out of ACRE. If they are below average, sign up by the August 14 deadline.

2009 could be a high payment year for ACRE say IL ag economists Gary Schnitkey and Nick Paulson, because projections of commodity prices are below benchmark prices. Based on history, an ACRE payment for corn would have been triggered in IL in 32% of years since 1977, but, “Because of higher price variability, it is likely that the payment percentage will be higher in the future than in the past,” say the economists. Read more.

An analysis of IL yields since 1977 found that ACRE payments would have been made:
1) For corn in 1977, 1983, 1984, 1986, 1988, 1991, 1997, 1998, 1999, & 2005.
2) For beans in 1982, 1984, 1998, 1999, & 2000.
3) For wheat in 1977, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1990, 1991, 1996, & 1998.

IA meteorologist Elwyn Taylor believes this season has a lot in common with 1992 and 2004. “Both summers were warm on the West Coast and cold in the Corn Belt. Both had record high corn yields in the Midwest. 2009, even with the shaky start, is set up to have a record high yield. Too early to call this a forecast, but it is worth watching,” he says.

July will be one of the coolest on record believes MO climatologist Pat Guinan. He says the first 22 days averaged 72.2ºF, tying the record with 1924 as the coolest in 121 years of weather records. Guinan says the northwesterly airflow brings cool and dry air intrusions into the Cornbelt. But he says, “July's below-normal temperatures in the region are not an indicator one way or another on trends in average global temperatures.”

Are cool temperatures good or bad for corn? Purdue’s Bob Nielsen says cooler temperatures are preferable to heat when it comes to pollination and grain fill, and GLS development will slow down. On the other hand, fewer heat units means slower corn development, which will further delay the crop that is already behind schedule. He also says cooler temperatures will cause silks to halt the elongation process and result in a mass of scrambled silks at the end of the husk interfering with kernel set. Read more.

“Short corn” is more a psychological issue for you than a production issue, since OH agronomist Peter Thomison says yields will not be adversely affected, unless the canopy allows more sun to reach the ground than the leaves which enhances weed presssure. He says short plants of one hybrid will produce the same as tall plants of the same hybrid.

SmartStaxCorn is the latest headline, following EPA and Canadian approval for the Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences product for next spring. Hybrids with that name will have four different toxins against rootworms, corn borers, and other winged insects as well as tolerance to glyphosate and glufosinate. However, the biggest change for anyone planting SmartStaxCorn will be the ability to reduce the 20% refuge to only 5%. The companies report they will have enough seed for 3-4 million acres for 2010.

Evaluate your corn crop before deciding whether to spend money on a fungicide, says IL specialist Carl Bradley, who says applications have increased in the past two years:
1) Fungal risk is increased if there is substantial corn residue left from the prior year.
2) Late planted corn is more at risk for some foliar diseases.
3) Hybrids with a “fair to poor” rating for GLS have a 6 bu. response to fungicides.
4) Hybrids with a “good to excellent” rating for GLS have a 4 bu. fungicide response.
5) Corn leaves that are wet longer in the day are more susceptible to foliar diseases.
6) Diseases that begin to appear before tassel development are not a good sign.

Scout corn for the appearance of disease on the third leaf below the ear and higher on the plant, says Bradley, then check the seed tags if the hybrid is susceptible to disease.
1) If moderately susceptible, consider a fungicide application if the disease is present.
2) If intermediately susceptible, consider a fungicide if conditions are favorable.
3) If resistant to disease, a fungicide is not recommended, but scout anyway.

High fungicide prices and low corn prices complicate the decision whether to apply a fungicide. IA State specialists say $26-$28 fungicide and $3.25 corn make a tough choice, but researchers “reported a mean yield response of 7.5 bu/acre when gray leaf spot disease severity on the ear leaf was greater than 5% at R5 to R6” growth stages. Read more.

Beware of other issues when you are making a decision on corn fungicide application:
1) Foliar disease pressure can result in stalk quality and standability issues at harvest.
2) If the weather dries up, foliar disease progression will slow or stop without rain.
3) Bacterial diseases are present and will not be controlled with a fungicide spray.
4) Corn with a fungicide will be wetter and more costly to dry at harvestime.

Shabby soybeans and potentially diminished yields can result from a zoo-full of defoliators. Consider a rescue treatment when 30% defoliation has occurred before blooming or when 20% defoliation occurs between bloom and pod filling, if you have:
1) Bean leaf beetles are hitting a second time over large areas of a field.
2) Blister beetles will strip foliage between veins in isolated areas of a field.
3) Grasshoppers focus their attention on areas near sod waterways and fence rows.
4) Green cloverworms may be decimated by diseases before they are problems.
5) Thistle caterpillars feed along roadsides and field edges.
6) Woolyworms come in two generations, primarily in drier years
7) Japanese beetles defoliate beans, but may not reduce yields.

The red alert flag is being hoisted by MN entomologists who are warning soybean growers about the potential for an explosion of soybean aphids in northwestern MN and northeastern ND. They expect population expansion with warmer temperatures and urge producers to begin scouting and only when threshold levels are reached.

Any soybean fungicide should be applied at the right time, and IA State specialist X.B. Yang says the critical time is the R3 growth stage, which is when soybeans begin to set pods. He says if you’ve had good results the past 4 years, chances are positive for this year also. In similar rainy years, over 50% of sprays yielded an economic return and over 70% of sprays resulted in a positive yield. But Yang also says fungicides will not control bacterial leaf blight, and R3 is too late to control white mold with fungicides.

With temperatures below 85ºF, your chances increase for white mold about the time soybeans begin blooming. Scout for wilting leaves, bleached stems, and a fuzzy mold on the plant. The soil-borne fungus can survive for years and appears when environmental conditions are perfect. IL specialist Carl Bradley says there are management options:
1) Some varieties have partial resistance, and those can be on your priority list.
2) Fields with perennial problems can be planted in wider rows and lower population.
3) Domark and Topsin M fungicides are available, but apply it at the flowering stage.
4) Since the fungus can be seed-borne also, avoid bin-run seed from other fields.
5) Contans WG is a commercially available parasite of the mold, which has had limited evaluation. Bradley says it is applied to the soil after harvest or before planting.

If your soybeans look sick, they may have a nutrient deficiency suggests IL specialist Fabian Fernandez in his newsletter. He says soil conditions this year may be magnifying nutrient deficiencies, such as:
1) N deficiency makes older leaves turn pale or yellowish-green.
2) K deficiency is observed as necrosis (death) of the edge of older leaves.
3) Fe deficiency is observed as yellow coloration between leaf veins.

Beans are growing slow because of cool temperatures, but weeds are growing fast because of lots of moisture; and IA weed specialist Bob Hartzler warns you that:
1) Label restrictions are based on growth stage, crop rotation, & harvest interval.
2) Only 2.2 lb. acid equivalent of glyphosate can be applied postemergence yearly.
3) There is a reduced ability of late season treatments to control the weeds.

Check the calendar and count backward from potential harvest to help determine what herbicide you can use on your soybeans. IL weed specialist Aaron Hager provides a list of herbicides with the minimum number of days from spray to harvest, and some have as many as 90 days minimum. Read the list.

IA is catching up with the rest of the Cornbelt. Weed specialist Mike Owen says his research has found, “that Iowa has populations of common waterhemp that are resistant to PPO inhibitor herbicides. We have also identified populations of giant ragweed that appear to have evolved resistance to glyphosate. At this time, we have not documented how widely spread these problems have become or the specific details about the alleged resistance. Research to better describe the weed resistance is underway.”

Posted by Stu Ellis on 07/24 at 01:10 AM | Permalink

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