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Beware of beans after beans

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A soybean specialist says if growers don’t have to, they should NOT plant soybeans after soybeans.  Bill Weibold with the University of Missouri Extension says the temptation to do that is real because of the projected higher prices for beans and the lower prices for corn. But, he tells Brownfield, there will be a price to pay, “They can make the decision to do soybean after soybean but realize that the yield potential is going to be less. So that ought to be calculated into the economics.”

Weibold says not just yield – but disease pressure and soil erosion – are other risks of planting second-year beans, “It may not be noticeable the first year but surely if we do this too often, both diseases and erosion will increase.”

He says Missouri is unlike other Midwestern states because soybeans outnumber corn acres – mainly because of some less-corn-friendly soils, “And, those soils, in the northeast part of the state, in fact, do have a clay pan under them and they struggle with corn and that’s where you see your highest ratio of soybean to corn acres.”

If growers have thinner soils – planting beans after beans, he says, will require better management, “Make sure you have the right variety. You may want to think about having cover crops in that field. And, make sure that you monitor the field so that erosion doesn’t get to be a problem, diseases don’t get to be a problem. And, so, you know, careful stewardship of that field will be important.”

He suggests scouting often for Soybean Cyst Nemotode (SCN) and other diseases and avoid doing second-year soybeans on sloped land.



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Discussion spotlights reasons for, against labeling GMOs

IMG_2463A proponent of labeling genetically modified food ingredients says state-by-state initiatives are the result of fears that U.S. lawmakers will not create the labeling system that food activists want.  Food movement leader Michael Dimock tells Brownfield Ag News the state-sponsored efforts may be a preview of what will eventually be nationwide labeling.

“I think in the United States, you see a lot of times that change comes state-by-state first.  It actually begins in communities, moves up to states and then it goes to the federal level,” said Dimock, during an interview with Brownfield Ag News in Phoenix, Arizona.  “This may be one of those battles too, I don’t know.”

Dimock, president of an organization called Roots of Change, says labeling is necessary to build food system transparency.

“We are big proponents of labeling,” said Dimock.  “We think labeling is part of the principle that we think should exist in the food system, which is complete transparency, so that we can build trust among consumers, farmers, governments [and] science, and therefore we are for labeling.”

IMG_2467Meanwhile, Dr. Charles Arntzen, founder of Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute, says it’s more than just a product label that will add expense to labeled foods.

“Everything that’s talked about, that’s layering something additional on top, where you need to have some identification from [the] field to [the] bag of chips, somebody’s got to pay for it,” said Arntzen, “and it will the consumer.”

The two spoke at the United Soybean Board-sponsored Biotech University Friday at Arizona State University.  The event gave college students from around the nation insights into news coverage of biotechnology issues.

AUDIO: Charles Arntzen and Michael Dimock (1 hr., 31 min. MP3)

AUDIO: Michael Dimock (7 min. MP3)

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Winter tough on Indiana’s peach crop


Indiana may only grow around 500 acres of peach trees throughout the state, but Peter Hirst, Purdue Extension fruit tree specialist says the crop is valuable.

He says the harsh weather in February took a toll on the peach buds in the southern part of the state.  “For many of our fruit crops they were able to handle some of those cold winter temperatures,” he says.  “But sensitive crops, such as peaches, can’t handle so much cold.  In the northern part of the state I expect them to be fine and in the southern part I expect to see some crop loss because of those cold conditions.”

As for the state’s other fruit crops – Hirst says the apples look great.  “Apples are much more tolerant to the cold than sensitive crops like peaches,” he says.  “Right now apple crops are looking good.  But we’re early in the spring and a lot can still happen.”

He says fruit growers are hoping the weather stays cooler for the next couple of weeks to delay crop development.

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A little more profitable on the farm in February

The Index of Prices Paid to Farmers increased 3.1 percent in February from January.  Producers received higher prices for eggs, tomatoes, oranges and hay, lower prices for cattle, hogs, broilers and lettuce.

The overall Crop Index increased 2.4 percent from January.  Corn slipped 2 cents to average $3.79 per bushel, soybeans decreased 38 cents to $9.92, all-wheat was 35 cents lower at $5.89 per bushel while all-hay was up $3 at $155 per ton.  Sorghum grain was up 46 cents at $7.86 per ton.

The Livestock Index declined 4.2 percent in February.  Beef cattle were down $5 at $159 per hundredweight.  Hogs were down $7 at $50.40 per hundredweight.  Broilers slipped 6 cents to 54 cents per pound, turkeys increased 0.7 cents to average 66.9 cents per pound and eggs increased 34 cents to $1.41 per dozen.

The February all-milk price fell 80 cents to average $16.80 per hundredweight.  That is $8.10 below February of last year.  The February all-milk price ranged from $21.20 in Florida to $14.72 in California.  Florida also tied Virginia for the biggest price drop from January down $1.40.  The February milk-to-feed ratio is 2.02 compared to 2.09 in January and 2.59 a year ago.  The milk-to-feed ratio is the number of pounds of 16% mixed dairy feed equal to the price of a pound of milk.

Compared to February of 2014: the prices received by farmers are up 6.5 percent while prices paid are unchanged.

Read the full NASS report here:

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Wheat support by weather, commercial buying


Futures Markets copy

Soybeans were firm on spillover from corn and wheat, along with technical buying. Traders were getting ready for Tuesday’s USDA prospective planting and quarterly stocks numbers. Acreage should be up on the year, while stocks are expected to show strong demand. Even if supplies are above a year ago, it was a function of harvest size, not slow demand. Soybean meal was higher and bean oil was lower.

Corn was modestly higher on short covering and technical buying, in addition to the strength in wheat. Corn was also getting ready for the reports, which could show lower acreage and solid demand. Past that – unknown destinations picked up 131,172 tons of old crop U.S. corn. Corn’s also keeping an eye on fieldwork delays around the Southeastern Cornbelt. Ethanol futures were higher.

The wheat complex was higher on short covering and commercial buying. There are continued development concerns for the U.S. winter wheat crop. Parts of the soft red winter growing region are too wet and large portions of the hard red winter area are too dry. In any event, Tuesday’s USDA numbers should be neutral to bearish, with neutral acreage and a large supply. Israel is tendering for 45,000 tons of U.S. feed wheat and Jordan is in the market for 100,000 tons of optional origin milling wheat.


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Solid start to the week for cheese

Cash cheese nudged a little higher on Monday with both barrels and blocks closing at $1.565 per pound.  Class III futures with some solid gains as indications are we are at the low for milk prices for this year.  The March Class III contract is at $15.52, April is at $15.58, July is over $16 and September through January ’16 contracts are over $17.


There is a lot of speculation as to how European producers will respond when the EU quotas expire tomorrow night.  Some think countries like Ireland are ready to increase milk production significantly while others say the economics are just not there for expansion right now.  One transition all seem to agree on is the number of farmers will decline as the average herd size increases across Europe.


Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 18 requests for export assistance from Dairy Farmers of America, Northwest Dairy Association (Darigold), and Tillamook County Creamery Association who have contracts to sell 3.976 million pounds of Cheddar, Gouda, and Monterey Jack cheese and 121,254 pounds of butter to customers in Asia, the Middle East, and Central America. The product has been contracted for delivery in the period from March through September 2015.

Year-to-date, CWT has assisted member cooperatives who have contracts to sell 23.437 million pounds of cheese and 24.333 million pounds of butter to 22 countries on five continents.


The February all-milk price fell 80 cents to average $16.80 per hundredweight.  That is $8.10 below February of last year.  The February all-milk price ranged from $21.20 in Florida to $14.72 in California.  Florida also tied Virginia for the biggest price drop from January down $1.40.

Brownfield states (compared to January)

  •             Illinois $17.70 (-$1.00)
  •             Indiana $17.10 (-$1.00)
  •             Iowa $17.10 (-.30)
  •             Michigan $16.60 (-$1.00)
  •             Minnesota $17.70 (-.60)
  •             Ohio $17.80 (-.90)
  •             South Dakota $18.50 (-.40)
  •             Wisconsin $17.70 (-.70)

The February milk-to-feed ratio is 2.02 compared to 2.09 in January and 2.59 a year ago.  The milk-to-feed ratio is the number of pounds of 16% mixed dairy feed equal to the price of a pound of milk.


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Cattle showlists are generally steady

The cattle market was not established on Monday afternoon with bids and asking prices poorly defined. New showlists appear to be mixed but generally steady with last week. A few showlists have been priced around 167.00 to 168.00 in the South and 266.00 to 268.00 in the North. The kill totaled 109,000 head, 5,000 more than last week, but 7,000 below last year.

Boxed beef cutout values were higher on moderate demand and light offerings. Choice beef was up .90 at 251.70 and select was .91 higher at 247.62.

Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle contracts settled unchanged to 37 points higher. The initial buyer support in the live cattle complex turned into a moderate selloff due to pressure in the feeder cattle complex. Support came from significantly higher boxed beef values at midday. April was down .12 at 162.50 and June was unchanged at 152.97.

Feeder cattle ended the session mostly lower. The initial buyer interest was quickly offset by aggressive selling pressure however futures did rebound off the day’s lows. April settled .65 lower at 218.60, and May was down .67 at 217.45.

Feeder cattle receipts at the Joplin Regional Stockyards totaled 5,000 head on Monday. Compared to last week, steer and heifer calves were steady to 5.00 higher. Yearling steers were 2.00 to 3.00 higher, yearling heifers trended steady on a limited test. The demand was good on a moderate supply. 500 to 600 pound feeder steers averaged 266.50 to 295.00. 5 to 6 weight heifers averaged 229.00 to 259.00.

Lean hogs settled 2 to 182 points higher. There was moderate buyer support across the complex. There was moderate pressure in the nearby contracts while deferred issues remained solidly rooted. Traders continued to adjust positions following Friday’s hogs and pigs report, while the focus in nearby contracts once again moved back to abundant supplies of hogs near term. April up .17 at 61.30, and May was up .02 at 68.20.

Barrows and gilts in the Iowa/Minnesota direct trade closed .74 higher at 56.62 weighted average on a carcass basis, the West was up .61 at 56.44, and the East was not reported due to confidentiality. Missouri direct base carcass meat price was steady to 1.00 lower from 50.00 to 53.00. Midwest hogs on a live basis were steady to 1.00 to 2.00 lower 33.00 to 42.00.

The pork carcass cutout value FOB plant was .04 higher at 65.39.

The March 1 hogs and pigs report released late last week confirmed smaller than expected herd expansion with the kept for breeding total only 2% greater than last year versus an average trade guess of up 3.5%. Furthermore, the winter pig crop turned out to be slightly smaller than expected. Finally, spring and summer farrowing intentions were all officially estimated below average trade ideas especially relative to June through August.

The Monday hog kill was estimated at 435,000 head, 1,000 more than last week, and 38,000 greater than last year.

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Closing Grain and Livestock Futures: March 30, 2015

Futures Markets copy
May corn closed at $3.94 and 1/2, up 3 and 1/2 cents
May soybeans closed at $9.67 and 3/4, up 1/2 cent
May soybean meal closed at $323.20, up $1.80
May soybean oil closed at 30.49, down 11 points
May wheat closed at $5.30 and 1/4, up 22 and 1/2 cents
Apr. live cattle closed at $162.50, down 12 cents
Apr. lean hogs closed at $61.30, up 17 cents
Apr. crude oil closed at $48.68, down 19 cents
May cotton closed at 62.52, down 103 points
May rice closed at $11.12, up 13 cents
Apr. Class III milk closed at $15.58, up 5 cents
Apr. gold closed at $1,184.80, down $15.00
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 17,976.31, up 263.65 points

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Food prices adjusted for 2015

Programs ICONFood price forecasts for 2015 have been adjusted by the USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS)– in the event crop weather and the feed grain outlook change.

The ERS predicts that grocery store prices (food-at-home) will see normal to slightly-lower-than-average food price inflation, increasing 2-to-3 percent this year. It says beef and veal prices “will likely continue to experience the effects of the Texas/Oklahoma drought, as farmers’ decisions on calving and herd sizes are felt down the line due to the 6- to 18-month production process.”

Also, it says, the effects of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv) on the hog industry will be transmitted to meat prices in the immediate future. That forecast is based on an assumption of normal weather conditions.

And the ongoing drought in California, the report says, “could have large and lasting effects on fruit, vegetable, dairy, and egg prices.”

But, if oil prices keep falling or remain low in 2015, resulting decreases in production and transportation costs “may be passed on to the retail level” which could help offset some of those increases.




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