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The rains have come to Wisconsin

What a difference a couple of weeks can make.  Two weeks ago, Wisconsin farmers were getting quite concerned about how dry it was getting in the Badger State.  And then it rained…and rained…and rained!  In the last week: Vernon County reporting 3 inches of rain, Portage County had over 4, Buffalo County with 5 and Chippewa County reports 5.5 inches fell.  Top soil moisture is now rated 78 percent adequate and 11 percent surplus.

As of August 31st: the Wisconsin corn crop is 70 percent at-or-beyond dough stage with 23 percent dented.  That is slightly behind the five-year-average of 75 percent dough and 36 percent dent by now.  The crop is rated 71 percent in good to excellent condition.

Soybeans are 72 percent good to excellent condition with 93 percent setting pods and 9 percent turning color.  Both numbers just slightly behind the five-year average.

Oats harvest is 73 percent completed, should be 95 percent by now.  Winter wheat harvest is 95 percent harvested.

Read the full NASS report here:

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Wheat, corn lower to start out month

Soybeans were higher on commercial and technical buying. There was no fresh news, so traders were assessing the weather and waiting for the crop progress numbers. USDA reports 95% of soybeans are at the pod setting stage, compared to 95% on average, while 5% are dropping leaves, compared to the five year average of 7%. 72% of beans are called good to excellent, up 2% from a week ago. Soybean meal was up and bean oil was down, adjusting product spreads. FC Stone now projects this year’s soybean crop at 4 billion bushels, with an average yield of 47.6 bushels per acre.

Corn was lower on fund and technical selling, along with spillover from wheat. The early yield numbers are good, but there are a few concerns about rain delaying harvest activity in some areas, and some of the crop is developing slower than average. According to USDA, 90% of corn is at the dough making stage, compared to 89% on average, with 53% dented, compared to 59% on average and 8% of the crop mature, compared to 16% on average. 74% of corn is in good to excellent shape, up 1% on the week. Ethanol futures were mixed. FC Stone estimates U.S. corn production at 14.595 billion bushels, with an average yield of 174.1 bushels per acre.

The wheat complex was lower on fund and technical selling. Really, the big factor overhanging the market continues to be the ample global supply. That said – there are concerns about quality in parts of Canada and the trade’s also watching Europe’s harvest and the situation in eastern Ukraine. USDA says that 38% of the spring crop is harvested, compared to 65% on average, with 63% of the crop called good to excellent, down 3% from last week.

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Indiana crops starting to mature

Scattered rainfall last week continued to cause flooding and crop damage in some areas, but overall helped to finish the state’s crops.  According to NASS’  latest crop and weather report, 77 percent of the Indiana’s corn crop is in good to excellent condition with 90 percent of the crop in the dough stage, 51 percent dented and 8 percent mature.

The soybean crop has also advancing with 70 percent of the crop still in good to excellent condition with 97 percent of the crop setting pods and 10 percent dropping leaves

In other crops around the state, tomato harvest continues and 13 percent of the tobacco crop is harvested.  Fifty-seven percent of ranges and pastures are in good to excellent condition, but the rainy weather has slowed hay cutting as fields remain damp.

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Novak moving from pork to corn

The CEO of the National Pork Board, Chris Novak will leave his job on October 3rd to become CEO of the National Corn Growers Association.  Prior his job with the Pork Board, Novak was executive director of the Indiana Corn Marketing Council, the Indiana Corn Growers Association and the Indiana Soybean Alliance.  He replaces the retiring Rick Tolman at NCGA.

Novak says he is grateful to the farmers who support the checkoff, the Pork Board members and staff for the honor to serve them over the last six years and “looks forward to continuing to work with the livestock industry from my new position.”

The National Pork Board will immediately engage an executive search firm to assist in a national search for Novak’s replacement. Details of the search process will be announced later this month. To ensure a seamless transition, the board has named John Johnson, chief operating officer, as interim CEO. Johnson will oversee the many initiatives currently underway, including finalization of a new strategic plan and development of the 2015 budget.

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Farmer looks at cover crops’ long range benefit

Iowa farmer Rick Juchems sees future benefits of planting cover crops, Farm Progress Show, Aug. 27, 2014.

Rick Juchems grows cover crops on his northeast Iowa farm to conserve soil and water, and also to feed what he refers to as the livestock that reside in the soil.

“There’s just so many organisms – night crawlers, bacteria, fungus – that all need something green to feed on, to multiply and produce nutrients for the cash crop that we want to grow the next year,” said Juchems, during an interview with Brownfield Ag News at the Farm Progress Show.

Even though it costs to maintain cover crops, Juchems tells Brownfield the return will come later.

“I’m doing a better job of keeping the soil and cleaning the water for the future,” he said.  “If we don’t do it now, there won’t be any soil here to grow the crops that we need for the population that’s going to explode.”

With five years’ experience, Juchems sows cereal rye in the fall into standing corn and plants oats and radishes in soybeans.

“There’s a long range benefit on it,” said Juchems.  “You have to look forward, going backward isn’t going to help.”

AUDIO: Rick Juchems (6 min. MP3)

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GDT average price drops again

Global Dairy Trade auction this morning saw the overall price decline another 6 percent from the August 18th sale.  The average price has declined 13 of the last 14 sales since February.  This is the lowest average price since August 1st, 2012.

Whole milk powder down 4.3 percent, cheddar cheese declined 4.9 percent, butter down 5.6 percent, anhydrous milkfat down 5.8 percent, skim milk powder down 9.5 percent, butter milk powder dropped 12.9 percent and rennet casein fell 14.3 percent.  No lactose or sweet whey powder offered.

The auction is quite disappointing after the last auction when the average price slipped less than 1 percent with some product prices increasing.  That had spurred hopes that the global dairy prices had bottomed-out.  The 6 percent drop on Tuesday dashed those hopes.  Radio New Zealand says Russian sanctions on European dairy products have raised questions about where that product will go.


New Zealand’s dairy giant Fonterra has had their credit rating downgraded by Standard & Poor’s.  The cooperative announced last week that it was going to spend $615 million to buy a 20 percent share of China’s infant formula maker; Beingmate plus spend another $555 million to increase their manufacturing capacity in New Zealand.  S & P says the moves indicate a financial risk that is more aggressive than what they had factored into Fonterra’s “A-Plus” rating.  The ratings agency reduced Fonterra’s long-term rating to “A”.

Fonterra’s chief financial officer, Lukas Paravicini says despite the downgrade: “The cooperative continued to enjoy a solid balance sheet position.”

The investment in Beingmate will give Fonterra a bigger distribution network for infant formula in China.  The planned expansion in New Zealand is to meet the anticipated growth in sales.

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Rain benefits Nebraska’s crops, pastures

Although they were a bit excessive in some areas of east central Nebraska, last week’s rains were generally beneficial to the state’s row crops and pastures.

The latest crop progress report puts the good to excellent rating on corn at 71 percent; soybeans at 72 percent; sorghum 60 percent; and dry beans at 81 percent.  Pasture and range conditions were rated 52 percent good to excellent and 33 percent fair.

The rains hindered the hay harvest in some areas, but the third and fourth cuttings of alfalfa hay are still running close to normal overall.

There were a few reports of winter wheat being seeded. The moisture will be positive for the early growth of winter wheat.

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The time is now for Indiana agriculture

The Indiana State Department of Agriculture is working on a strategic plan for the state’s agriculture industry.

ISDA director Ted McKinney says he’ll be working with stakeholders on a timeline for Indiana agriculture and how it can meet the growing demand for agricultural goods and services.  “Take a look at what is happening naturally,” he says.  “We know that we are going from 7 to 9 billion on the planet.  Most people do not know that the peak demand for protein will be in about 2025.  So the here is now.”

McKinney tells Brownfield now is when the industry needs to ramp up production to meet those needs.  “We’re doing so many things right here in Indiana,” he says.  “So help me – if I have anything to do with it – Indiana is going to take a lead in this.  It is rightfully our place and I think we are proving it with all the many different aspects of agriculture.  It is our time.”

He says they’re in the early stages of planning and will unveil their timeline in the near future.

AUDIO: Ted McKinney, ISDA (1:30mp3)

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Some corn, soybean development stages trail average

U.S. corn and soybean crops remain in great shape, but a couple of key development stages are still slower than average.

As of Sunday, 90% of corn is at the dough making stage, compared to the five year average of 89%, 53% has dented, compared to 59% on average, and 8% has reached maturity, compared to 16% on average. 74% of corn is in good to excellent shape, up 1% on the week.

95% of soybeans are at the pod setting stage, matching the five year average, and 5% of the crop is dropping leaves, compared to 7% on average. 72% of soybeans are rated good to excellent, 2% more than a week ago.

38% of spring wheat is harvested, compared to 65% on average, with 63% of the crop called good to excellent, down 3% from last week.

48% of U.S. pastures and rangelands are in good to excellent condition, unchanged.

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Goodyear farm tires by Titan

Scott Sloan, Goodyear Farm Tires by Titan, 2014 Farm Progress Show

Scott Sloan, Goodyear Farm Tires by Titan, 2014 Farm Progress Show

Goodyear Farm Tires displayed its LSW (Low Side Wall) technology tires at the 2014 Farm Progress Show in Boone, Iowa along with other key products. Scott Sloan, Ag Product Manager for Goodyear Farm Tires made by Titan, tells Brownfield the technology reduces “road lope” and “power hop”.

Goodyear Farm Tire Auction, 2014 Farm Progress Show

Goodyear Farm Tire Auction, 2014 Farm Progress Show

Located in a permanent building on the FPS grounds, Goodyear held its tire auction outside on Wednesday, raising money for FFA chapters in Iowa.

Interview with Scott Sloan with Farm Progress Show (5:00 mp3)

AUDIO: Scott Sloan talks about auction at FPS (1:30 mp3)

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FAPRI projects price weakness for 2015

The Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute projects that 2015 will see some moderation in livestock prices and continued low crop prices.

The institute’s director, Pat Westhoff, tells Brownfield Ag News that corn prices could hover near $4 a bushel through 2020, after dropping down to $3.89 in the coming year.

“It’s certainly in line with where markets appear to be now,” said Westhoff, from his office at the University of Missouri.  “Futures are actually a trifle lower than that right now for the 2014 crop; the market probably anticipates an even bigger crop than was projected by USDA this past month.”

During that same five years, soybean prices are projected to range from $10.30 to $10.69 a bushel.  Wheat prices are projected to drop to $5.97 a bushel by 2020.

Westhoff says the FAPRI projection will help farmers decide whether to take part in the government’s Price Loss Coverage program or the new Agricultural Risk Coverage program.

“If we’re talking about corn and soybean producers, it leaves some possibility that quite a few producers might be able to get significant payments for the 2014 crop; payments they would not receive until next fall,” said Westhoff.  “But those expected payments are very much contingent on where prices turn out to be.”

On the flip side, livestock producers are seeing higher prices resulting from strong demand and limited supplies. With lower feed costs, Westhoff expects producers to expand production, which will eventually lower prices.

If livestock prices moderate, Westhoff says it’s possible food price inflation could drop to less than 2 percent in 2015.

AUDIO: Pat Westhoff (8 min. MP3)

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Closing Grain and Livestock Futures: September 2, 2014

Sep. corn closed at $3.55 and 3/4, down 3 and 1/4 cents
Sep. soybeans closed at $10.97 and 1/4, up 7 and 3/4 cents
Sep. soybean meal closed at $450.10, up $10.60
Sep. soybean oil closed at 32.01, down 3 points
Sep. wheat closed at $5.43 and 1/2, down 6 and 3/4 cents
Oct. live cattle closed at $152.42, up $1.00
Oct. lean hogs closed at $99.87, up $1.75
Oct. crude oil closed at $92.88, down $3.08
Dec. cotton closed at 65.31, down 126 points
Sep. Class III milk closed at $24.25, up 30 cents
Sep. gold closed at $1,263.70, down $22.10
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 17,067.56, down 30.89 points

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South Korea lifts ban on feed additive

The ban on the use of the animal feed additive zilpaterol in beef has been lifted in South Korea.  Last October, the food ministry said it intended to ease its zero-tolerance policy on zilpaterol-based drugs after a risk assessment found it could be permitted at certain levels.  According to Reuters, the lifting of the ban opens the door to imports containing the growth enhancer as well as domestic sales of the product.

Last year South Korea suspended some US beef imports for more than two months after traces of the additive were found in two shipments.  A South Korean food ministry official told Reuters that imports of beef muscle with 1 part per billion of zilpaterol, 5 ppb in beef liver, and 10 ppb in beef kidney had been approved in late August.

The United States, Australia, and New Zealand are all major exporters of beef to South Korea.

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Iowa farmers hope warm temps continue

As they head into the home stretch, Iowa’s corn and soybean crops continue to look very good, although they could use a few more days of good, warm weather in September to help with the maturation process.

According to the latest crop progress report, 53 percent of Iowa’s corn crop is in the dent stage, four days behind normal.  The percentage of soybeans with leaves turning color reached eight percent, 10 points behind the normal pace.  Corn rated 76 percent good to excellent with soybeans at 73 percent.

Wet conditions have slowed hay harvest.  The third cutting of alfalfa was 53 percent complete, 23 points behind the five-year average.  But pasture condition improved to 62 percent good to excellent.

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Crop conditions hold steady in Ohio

According to the Ohio field office of the National Ag Statistics Service (NASS) condition ratings for corn and soybeans in Ohio held steady in the past week.

As of Sunday, 74 percent of the Ohio corn crop and 80 percent of Ohio soybeans were rated in fair-to-good condition.

87 percent of the corn is at the dough stage, one point behind the 5-year average, 41 percent of the crop is dented, eight points behind the average pace, three percent of the corn crop is mature.

97 percent of the Ohio soybeans are setting pods, five percent of the crop is dropping leaves, four points behind the 5-year average.

Other crops, corn silage harvest is two percent complete and eight percent of the tobacco crop has been cut.

Topsoil moisture in the state 73 percent adequate to surplus.

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Direct trade hogs and pork values close higher

Cattle country was quiet on Tuesday afternoon following the distribution of the new showlists. The offering appears to be smaller than last week with only Texas producers offering more ready cattle. A few showlists have been priced around 158.00 in the South and 248.00 to 250.00 in the North. Some packers appear to be very short bought, In fact DTN reports they have heard talk about cattle in Western Nebraska already trading as high as 157.00 to 158.00, however such talk remains unconfirmed. Tuesday’s cattle slaughter at 119,000 head is 3,000 more than last week but 7,000 less than last year.

Boxed beef cutout values were steady to weak on light to moderate demand and offerings. Choice beef was down .19 at 246.11, and select was .56 lower at 233.83.

Live cattle contracts on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange closed 100 to 157 points higher. Traders continued to refocus on tight supplies now that traders are past the phase of worrying about holiday weekend beef clearance. It is still too early to give the holiday weekend a grade as far as beef consumption is concerned, but from all early indications it was not expected to be very disappointing. October settled 1.00 higher at 152.42, and December was up 1.57 at 155.52.

Feeder cattle settled 160 to 265 points higher, The October through March feeder cattle futures led the market higher. The focus on tight supplies and potentially steady to strong demand growth through the next several months helped to draw additional buyers into all feeder cattle markets. September was up 1.60 at 220.25, and October was up 2.10 at 218.82.

Feeder cattle receipts at the Callaway Livestock Center, Kingdom City, Missouri totaled 2738 head. Compared to last week, the annual Labor Day yearling sale had steers and heifers under 500 pounds not well tested, over 500 pounds were steady to firm. The demand was good on a moderate to heavy supply. Feeder steers medium and large 1 averaging 840 pounds brought 221.44 per hundredweight. 563 pound heifers traded at 240.00.

Lean hogs settled 75 to 175 higher as aggressive buyer interest jumped back into the October and December contracts as traders concentrated on the potential for additional pork value support and firming cash hog prices. There was some additional caution seen in early 2015 contracts as traders remain unconvinced that strong demand will outpace expected supply increases over the next year. October settled 1.75 higher at 99.87, and December was up 1.40 at 93.40.

Barrows and gilts in the Iowa/Minnesota direct trade closed .72 higher at 93.31 weighted average on a carcass basis, the West was up 1.59 at 93.09 and the East was not reported due to confidentiality. The Missouri direct base carcass meat price is 2.00 lower from 85.00 to 86.00. Midwest barrows and gilts are steady to 3.00 lower from 59.00 to 70.00 live basis.

The pork carcass value closed .72 higher at 102.44 FOB plant. All cuts were higher with the exception of bellies.

Last week’s hog slaughter totaled no more than 1,979,000 head, 10.4% smaller than last year. With numbers still lagging so far behind last year’s pace, ideas that death loss connected to PED will be difficult to detect through the last third of 2014 may be entirely premature and unjustified.

Tuesday’s hog kill was estimated at 420,000 head, 10,000 more than last week but 23,000 less than last year.

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Rootworm pressure down in ’14

Corn rootworm populations were lower this summer across much of the Midwest.

Sean Evans, a corn technology development manager with Monsanto, attributes the decrease to a combination of factors. He says the harsh winter likely increased the mortality of overwintering eggs. And saturated soils this spring and summer affected the survival rate of rootworm larvae.

“When the larvae are very small, they are very susceptible to water,” Evans says. “If they don’t have oxygen, they don’t survive and don’t chew on the roots and cause the damage that we see.”

But Evans says farmers can’t let their guard down on rootworm. He says they should continue to follow best management practices, the most important of which is regular rotation from corn to soybeans.

“It resets that field and eliminates that population that could be a potential problem,” he says, “and really you’ve got a couple years, at that point, before you have beetles moving in after that soybean crop to reestablish themselves.”

Other best management practices include planting Bt hybrids pyramided with multiple traits targeting larval rootworm—and rotating between Bt hybrids without soil-applied insecticide and non-rootworm Bt hybrids with soil-applied insecticide.

Evans made those comments in an interview with Brownfield at last week’s Farm Progress Show.

AUDIO: Sean Evans (5:04 MP3)

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E-15 pumps coming to southern metros

The number of gas stations offering the E-15 ethanol blend in the U.S. could soon break 100.  According to ethanol production group Growth Energy, E-15 is being phased in at Protec stations in metro areas of the south and southeast. The new areas include Atlanta, Georgia; Houston, Dallas and San Antonio, Texas; and, stations in Virginia and Florida.

Protec Fuel, based in Boca Raton, Florida, already supplies more than 200 stations with E-85.  Growth Energy says E-15 is currently available at more than 90 stations in 14 states including:  Wisconsin, Ohio, South Dakota, Missouri, Nebraska, Illinois and Iowa – also – North Dakota, North Carolina, Michigan, Minnesota, Kansas, Arkansas and Alaska.

There will be even more availability of E-15, Growth Energy says, because “consumer demand for homegrown, high performance, low cost fuels cannot be ignored.”

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Vilsack says safety net is strong

Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says the USDA is on schedule with implementation of the crop-related commodity programs in the farm bill.

“We anticipate and expect very soon to be able to lay out some of the information on ARC and PLC,” Vilsack tells Brownfield.

ARC stands for Agricultural Risk Coverage and PLC means Price Loss Coverage.

Vilsack says he is confident that those programs will help provide a strong safety net for crop farmers as they move into what some economists predict could be an extended period of lower prices.

“I’m confident this is a good, solid farm bill that’s going to provide the protection needed to ensure that folks can stay in business regardless of the size of the operation,” he says, “and, hopefully, we’re going to see an expanded opportunity, particularly for young and beginning farmers.”

When discussing the “safety net”, Vilsack says it’s important to look at the farm bill in its totality, “not just simply focused on crop insurance or focused on the ARC or PLC program or the Dairy Margin Protection Program.  That is a component of the overall safety net which includes export assistance, additional market opportunities, diversification and support, and research—all of which is being implemented by the farm bill.”

Earlier this year, USDA awarded three million dollars to the University of Illinois, the University of Missouri and Texas A&M to develop online tools and outreach training that will help farmers and ranchers determine which new risk management options can best protect their businesses. USDA also awarded three million dollars to state Cooperative Extension services to provide in-person education to help producers make the most educated decisions regarding new Farm Bill programs.

AUDIO: Tom Vilsack (2:49 MP3)


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Ohio no-till field day

With the water quality issues around Lake Erie this summer, the Ohio no-till summer field day on September 9 will have an added emphasis on cover crops to help farmers address water quality and nutrient management issues.

“The field day is designed around all of it, everything about no-till, because there are a lot of guys who have been no-tilling for years, but haven’t been doing cover crops,” said John Buck who will host the no-till field day on his farm in western Marion County. “We’re finding nitrogen and other benefits that are there from putting cover crops out.”

Buck, who has been using 100% no-till for the past 15 years will also share his experiences and what it no-till has meant to his farm.

“I’ve got a farm, believe it or not, here in Marion County that’s considered highly erodible land, and that’s what got me started into no-till,” Buck said. “We’ve seen the practices really work, from soil erosion control having a cover crop out there.”

The registration form for the Ohio No-Till Summer Field Day is available here.

Audio: John Buck, farmer, Marion Co. Ohio (3:25 mp3)



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