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What farmers are reading this week, March 20-27

Byline:

COVID-19 concerns persisted this week with almost every area of agriculture affected by the virus.

Outside of COVID-19 coverage, the Successful Farming staff wrote articles about women in agriculture, a country singer, and more.

If you missed anything from last week, follow the link below.

Read more: What farmers are reading this week, March 13-20

The COVID-19 virus and U.S. agriculture’s supply chain concerns

DES MOINES, Iowa --If they said it once, they said it 20 times during a one-hour webinar, “The U.S. food supply chain is the biggest concern, right now, in this fight against the COVID-19 virus.”

Agricultural economists at the University of Illinois repeated that phrase Friday, during a webinar outlining the COVID-19 virus and its impacts on agriculture.

Read more here.

Get ready, get set: Estimate U.S. 2020 soybean acreage

The planting season begins another year under considerable uncertainty. While trade issues remain, the continued spread of COVID-19 and the ensuing market collapse complicates an already difficult decision. 

Projections from many market observers indicate increases in corn and soybean acreage in 2020. The March 31 Prospective Plantings report provides the initial indication of potential acreage allotments for spring crops and sets the tone for corn and soybean production potential in 2020.

Read more here.

What COVID-19 means down on the farm

Katherine Marcano-Bell, who goes by “LatinxFarmer” on Twitter, has just finished cleaning up after loading hogs with her husband, BJ, on their farm in southeast Iowa. They are contract growers with two finishing sites holding about 11,000 pigs total at a time.

Bell grew up as part of a large Hispanic family in the New York City area and came to Iowa for college, where she met her husband, whose family has farmed for six generations near Keota. They have two young children. 

Read more here.

While you’re at it, disinfect the garden, too

Disease organisms can be moved from one place to another very easily on garden containers and tools.

Brian Hudelson is the director of the Plant Disease Diagnostics Clinic at the University of Wisconsin. He says fungi, water molds, bacteria, and nematodes can survive on a surface for years, even in adverse conditions.

Read more here.

How COVID-19 affects the farmland market

In the 2014 book, The Death of Money, author James Rickards writes there are five assets people invest in over time to preserve their wealth. In order of importance, they include gold, undeveloped land (including farmland), fine art, hedge funds, and cash. 

By Rickards’ account, farmland is a good bet in today’s tumultuous economy, says Mark Dozour, former chief economist of the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M.

Read more here.

Q&A: Tenille Townes, Singer/Songwriter of In My Blood

When singer/songwriter Tenille Townes attended the National FFA Convention in October, she never imagined a song would be born. After performing at the convention concert and visiting with FFA students at the RAM trucks’ booth, Townes felt inspired to write In My Blood, a song illuminating women in agriculture. We caught up with Townes while her tours were postponed due to COVID-19.

Read more here.

How COVID-19 will impact 2020 planting decisions

The new coronavirus (COVID-19) is having a wide-ranging impact, even on 2020 planting decisions that farmers will make this year. COVID-19 is also raising concerns about farm workforce health and pricing considerations. The following article – written by Gary Schnitkey, Krista Swanson, Jonathan Coppess, and Nick Paulson of the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at the University of Illinois (U of I) and Carl Zulauf with the Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics at Ohio State University – spells out these considerations. This story can also be referenced here. 

Trade conflicts, prevented and late planting, and policy innovations have presented a difficult decision-making environment to farmers over the past several years. The decisions for this spring are now drastically complicated given the rapidly changing situation with the spread of COVID-19 and its attendant health threats and control measures.

Read more here.

Celebrating women in agriculture

Of the 3,399,834 farmers in the U.S., 1,227,461 are women.

Of all farms, 56% have at least one female decision-maker involved.

Read more here.

Ag machinery parts and service a national priority

Kim Rominger put it bluntly. “In order for crops to be planted, harvested, and brought to market, our members and their employees are critical. No crops means no food, no meats, no fruits, no vegetables . . . nothing to eat. Machinery needs to be maintained, repaired, and key parts must be on hand and accessible,” says the head of the Equipment Dealers Association (EDA).

The EDA along with the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) and Associated Equipment Distributors (AED) sent letters to all of the 50 state governors asking them to designate machinery manufacturers, suppliers, dealers, and service technicians as essential in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read more here.

COVID-19 will create a lot of Monday morning quarterbacks

Black swan. Unchartered territory. Unprecedented. While these terms have been used to describe COVID-19 over the last few weeks and months, they aren’t helpful to decision-makers trying to the navigate weeks and months ahead of them.

To consider what lies ahead for COVID-19 and U.S. agriculture, we’ve outlined four key sources of uncertainty and a few thoughts.

Read more here.

Meat prices spike, cattle prices fall, and ranchers and lawmakers see market manipulation

Wholesale beef prices have jumped to record levels, as shoppers stockpile meat in response to the global coronavirus pandemic. Yet, this run on beef isn’t helping cattle ranchers. On the contrary, cattle prices have plummeted since January, putting many ranchers on the brink of collapse. “It’s never been worse. The futures market is crashing … and box beef prices are skyrocketing. It’s nuts,” says rancher Mike Callicrate of St. Francis, Kansas.

Callicrate and other ranchers say this illogical price collapse reflects meatpackers’ monopoly power to set cattle prices. Before this shock, the top four beef packers already faced litigation and a Department of Agriculture investigation for alleged collusion and price-fixing.

Read more here.

Top Listen of the Week

Manure and cover crops

For centuries, livestock manure has been a cost-effective fertilizer source for crops and increasing soil quality. Cover crops do the same thing and prevent nutrients from leaching. Pairing the two combines their benefits.

Dan Anderson is an assistant professor in the Ag and Biosystems Engineering department at Iowa State University. He says there are variables that can affect how well this works.

Read more and listen here.

Top Watch of the Week

Massive Farm Shop Office Addition | Top Shops

How one young farmer changed his nutrient management

Byline:

Located near Montello, Wisconsin, Eric Coddington returned to the family farm after college to work alongside his father.

Coddington took a hiatus to gain his degree from Iowa State University in agronomy, graduating in 2017. Two years after graduation, Coddington reunited full-time with the farm he grew up on.

While his dad possesses decades of experience, Coddington bounces new ideas and potential improvements off his dad. As a young, passionate farmer, Coddington spoke with Successful Farming to break down his family’s farm and agriculture in general.

Q: How did your passion for agriculture start?

A: My dad told me farming has been in my blood since the day I was born. It seemed like from a young age I loved being outside and being on the farm, so my dad took a lot of opportunities to teach me about the farm and how things work from a pretty young age. I’d always had a passion for it, so that’s why I went to school at Iowa State University – to study agronomy to get a better understanding of it.

I would say as I’ve gotten older now, I still really enjoy farming and definitely have a passion for doing it. I’ve also realized farming doesn’t have to control my life, so that’s why two years ago my wife and I took some time to do ministry. That was kind of a nice break. It gave us an opportunity to see what life is like outside of agriculture and learn some really valuable people skills. 

Being able to do that was a great opportunity. After we did that, it was like ‘I still really love farming and want to be involved in the farm operation,’ so in May 2019 my wife and I moved from Ames, Iowa, back to the home farm. Since then, I’ve been farming full time with my dad, and that’s what I plan on doing for the foreseeable future. 

Read more: Q&A: Travis Lichtensteiger, Iowa State agronomy student

Q: Since you’ve returned to the farm, what changes have you made to it?

A: I would say a lot of what we’ve been looking more closely at is our nutrient management program, how we’re applying fertilizer to the crops. In this area of Wisconsin, the soil can be highly variable – anywhere from sand to clay to muck, and a lot of that can all be in the same field in some cases. We have a lot of variability in soil type, which means that one fertilizer program might not work on every single acre. 

What we’ve been looking at, and what Iowa State helped me with, was kind of an understanding of how crops need fertilizer requirements at different times of the year, and how the soil contributes to that, and how different soil processes provide nutrients to the plant throughout the year, and how weather affects all that.

A lot of what we’ve been looking at is how to do split applications of nitrogen. How we may do split applications of potassium in some cases because it’s possible we’re losing potassium to rainfall loss. Do we need to put in nitrogen stabilizers to help protect the nitrogen that we’re putting out on the field? I’ve done a lot of trials in regard to some of those areas.

Also, another thing I really learned a lot about at Iowa State was weed management principles – the importance of putting down herbicides and rotating modes of action under chemical usage. Also, just the farm financial analysis portion of how you manage a farm from a business standpoint in conjunction with cropping/agronomics.

We might be able to do this, and it’ll increase yield, but is the increased yield actually going to pay for itself if we put on another product?

Q: When you have new ideas or are looking for new ideas, where or who do you go to as a resource?

A: One of the things I learned at Iowa State and what they taught us was how do you problem solve? Looking at the available resources, well, first thing I like to do is try to evaluate. For instance, we’re seeing a problem with our corn plants showing a nitrogen loss, so we’ve got to figure out how can we get more nitrogen to that plant. 

First, it’s a matter of figuring out what the problem is. Is it because the nitrogen being put on is being lost? Is it not enough? Is it the plant not taking it up from compaction? So, evaluating the problem first, figuring that out. Once we’ve determined here’s where the problem probably lies, then it’s a matter of finding out the possible solutions. 

I like to do a lot of personal research on the internet and come up with a few possible solutions, seeing what other universities are recommending or what companies are recommending for products that might help us.

Also, I’ve learned the importance of talking to other people with experience, looking around for other farmers in the area experiencing this problem. What are they doing to help with that? Talking with retailers and folks we work with to see what they suggest. 

A lot of it is talking with my dad, too. What has he seen in the past and done in the past? It’s funny because I think a lot of farmers my age, and I definitely have a tendency to do this too, but they think ‘man, my dad’s been doing things all wrong for so long and we just have to change everything and do it differently now.’ 

I think a lot of what I’ve learned in humbleness and humility is the fact that my dad’s been farming for a long time. He’s got a lot of experience and he’s been farming for 40 years, so he’s got a lot of good suggestions and ideas, too. I try to take carefully into consideration what he says.

Q: Has your operation been affected by COVID-19, and are you concerned about the virus?

A: So far it hasn’t really affected us too much personally on our farm other than just some of our activities have been canceled. We’re still able to do the day-to-day operations of our farm, it’s just me and my dad as the two employees who work on the farm. 

We haven’t really faced any problems there other than the way the coronavirus has affected the markets. Obviously, that has an impact on farming. In the long run, it plays a part in how it affects us.

Read more: What farmers need to know about COVID-19

Q: What concerns do you have for the next 20 or so years?

A: I think there are some concerns with environmental quality. As farmers are continuing to produce crops, we need to be sure what we’re doing is done in a sustainable manner. In Iowa, groundwater quality is a really big concern as far as nutrients getting into ditches and waterways. In Wisconsin it’s been a growing concern as well about nitrates in the drinking water. I’d say that’s a big thing that farmers need to try to figure out: how to be a part of the solution rather than ignoring it.

Another problem I look at – mostly because we’ve been having this problem the last two years – but weed resistance is something that can be challenging. How are we going to continue to use chemicals to control weeds in a way that is sustainable, and not in a way in which the weeds are developing resistance and rendering the chemical ineffective. I think that’s on my mind because we’ve been having trouble with Roundup-resistant water hemp.

Q: How do you view data for farmers?

A: I think obviously farmers have collected a lot of data over the years – there’s yield data, soil data, planting data, basically everything a machine is doing is collecting data. Then you’ve got the imagery and all that stuff, too.

It’s definitely a valuable thing, I think, as long as we are using it make decisions. Sometimes it can be overwhelming to take a look at all your data and say ‘Wow, where do I even start?’

I’ve tried to focus on how can I use this data to analyze where our farm is, so looking at the yield data is a valuable tool to see which fields are performing the best here. Once we can start to compare yields, then I can dig deeper into the problem and find why one field is yielding lower or higher than the other. Is it differences in the soil, or the seed we planted?

Q: Is there anything you want to add? 

A: I’m thankful for the opportunities I have to farm, and especially being able to farm with my dad in a family operation is something that I don’t want to take for granted because I know there are a lot of young farmers who want to do the same but don’t have that opportunity. 

I’m just thankful for what the Lord has blessed us with. Farming is a challenging business. There’s weather and markets and all kinds of things that are constantly changing, but that’s OK – God has given us an opportunity to do it, and I’m thankful for that. We just try to do the best we can. 

What farmers are reading this week, March 13-20

Byline:

On a national level and a local level, COVID-19 continues to impact the U.S. and the agricultural industry.

The Successful Farming staff broke down how the virus could affect different areas of agriculture. Outside of that coverage, farmers read stories over Brazil's crop, trends on farms, and 2020 crop projections.

If you missed anything from the previous week, follow the link below.

Read more: What farmers are reading this week, March 6-13

Six possible impacts of COVID-19 on farming

The rapidly evolving situation with COVID-19 is raising questions throughout the U.S. As concerns continue to grow about the virus, it is not only wreaking havoc on the stock market, it is causing a significant downturn in the general economy.

But, what about agriculture?

Mark Stephenson and John Shutske with the University of Wisconsin-Madison say there are six specific things farmers, farm families, ag employers, and employees need to be aware of and plan for.

Read more here.

Brazil's soybean crop is getting smaller due to drought

PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil -- Farmers in Brazil are watching a drought cut yield prospects, mainly in the southern states of the country.

Brazilian consultancy AgRural, which is based in Curitiba, has adjusted its soybean production forecast for the country to 124.3 million metric tons this week. That is over 1 million metric tons less than what was projected one week before.

The reduction is blamed on the drought in the state of Rio Grande do Sul. Some government institutions even project larger reductions for the state, but the AgRural estimate considers that bigger yields in other states would compensate significant losses.

Read more here.

10 trends to watch on farms right now

I had a sit-down discussion recently with Aaron Johnson, president and CEO of Farm Credit Illinois, based in Mahomet. He was joined by a 3,500-acre farmer from central Illinois who wanted to remain anonymous (I will call him Farmer T). Here are 10 bullet points from the discussion:

1. Balance sheets for most Illinois grain farmers are OK, but if you pull Market Facilitation Program (MFP) payments out, many would not be able to meet their cash flow needs in 2020.

Read more here.

5 steps to better soybean profits

These days, soybeans are the punch-drunk boxers of the crop world. Tariffs and a multitude of growing season maladies like waterhemp are taking their toll.

Still, soybeans have lots of perks in their corner. They aren’t called the miracle crop for nothing.

Read more here.

Ethanol prices hit all-time low, unconfirmed reports of plant shutdowns

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Corn demand by the U.S. ethanol oil industry could drop by 120 to 170 million bushels during the next two months if gasoline consumption – and the ethanol blended with it – continues to decrease as expected.

That’s according to Todd Hubbs of the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at the University of Illinois. In an analysis posted March 16 on the farmdocdaily website, Hubbs wrote that an estimated 15% to 20% reduction in gasoline consumption that is expected by many industry analysts in the next couple of months will lead to a decrease in demand for corn to make ethanol.

Read more here.

Local farmers need federal support, Pingree says

As the spread of the novel coronavirus shutters businesses, schools, and restaurants, farmers who sell locally and regionally need support from the federal government, said Representative Chellie Pingree in a letter sent Monday to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

As FERN reported on Monday, the pandemic has already begun to reduce attendance at some farmers markets, causing some farmers to worry about whether they can stay in business. Representative Pingree urged Pelosi to consider federal supports for those farmers as the government works to pass an emergency coronavirus bill.

Read more here.

95.0 million U.S. corn acres in 2020?

As attention shifts to the 2020 planting season, questions about U.S. acreage – and the potential for the more than 95 million acres of corn – will come into focus.

On the one hand, 95 million would be a substantial increase over the 90 million acres planted in recent years. On the other hand, 95 million is a significant step back from the 100 million acres pondered and rumored last summer.

Read more here.

As coronavirus spreads, farmers fear market closures and lost income

Communities across the country are attempting to delay the spread of the novel coronavirus by canceling large events, closing schools, and banning large gatherings. But farmers who sell directly to consumers, through farmers markets or other channels, are concerned about how their farms will survive if those outlets temporarily shutter.

While the spring and summer farmers market season is not yet in full swing, places that have year-round markets, or where markets are about to open, are deciding whether to shut them down in the wake of the rapid spread of COVID-19, as the disease caused by the novel coronavirus is called.

Read more here.

How the coronavirus could impact dairy producers

With the coronavirus influencing all sectors of the U.S. economy, its ripple effects will have an impact on a dairy industry already battered by years of depressed prices.

“The handwriting is there that we will probably see a downturn in commodity prices, including dairy,” says Mike Hutjens, professor emeritus of animal sciences at the University of Illinois. “We finally saw a few good months of prices that were on the rebound, and now they are likely headed back down.”

Read more here.

Preparing the farm for the novel coronavirus

The warnings are dire – the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) now poses a significant risk here in the United States. On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization officially characterized COVID-19 as a pandemic. What can a farm or agricultural business do to prepare? Here are five ideas.

1. Wash. Your. Hands. Obviously, make plenty of hand washing stations and/or containers of sanitizer available to your employees. This includes in barns, offices, trucks, sheds, etc. Hand washing is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of the virus.

Read more here.

Top Listen of the Week

Wet spring cover crop strategy

Let your cover crops grow a little longer in the spring – especially if it’s been raining a lot. This can help no-till farmers avoid a delay in planting corn and soybeans because of soggy field conditions. 

Heidi Reed is an extension educator at Penn State University.. She says over three-years, they tested five sites where they planted into green cereal rye cover crops and compared it to cereal rye that was terminated before planting They wanted to see how this affected soil moisture levels.

Read more and listen here.

Top Watch of the Week

Antique farm equipment museum tour – part 3

Dave Mowitz finishes the tour of the Eastern Washington Agricultural Museum in Pomeroy, Washington. In Part 3, we take a look at recreated grain tram, John Deere 45 Hillside combine, and a Russell steam engine.

Watch here.

What farmers are reading this week, February 28- March 6

Byline:

Lots of national and international news emerged as March began, including coverage over Brazil's soybean harvest, the impact on supply chains from coronavirus, and U.S. spring and summer weather outlooks.

Also, the 2020 Commodity Classic took place in San Antonio, Texas, to wrap up February, providing new updates for farmers.

If you missed anything from the previous week, follow the link below.

Read more: What farmers are reading this week, February 21-28

Introducing a combine with no steering wheel

In May 2020, farmers will be able to order AGCO’s Fendt Ideal combine without a steering wheel. Instead, the machine will be equipped with the new Fendt IdealDrive introduced at the 2020 Commodity Classic. IdealDrive is a joystick steering system option that gives the combine operator a clear view of the whole header.

An unobstructed view gives farmers a clear line of sight to the center of the header where the crop enters the feeder house. This helps ensure crop is flowing smoothly into the machine for high productivity and grain quality. With nothing but foot pegs and pedals in front of them, operators can also more easily see and avoid obstacles in the field or road.

Read more here.

Corn kernels on a $100 bill.
iStock: larryhw

Red farm states end up in the black with tariff payments

A handful of farm states, mostly in the Midwest and the Plains, emerge as net winners when the impact of retaliatory Chinese tariffs are weighed against the Trump administration’s trade war payments to farmers, say three university economists. “It also is interesting to note that while most of the ‘winner’ states are red states that voted for President Trump in the 2016 election, the net welfare effect for key battleground purple states, such as Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, remains negative.”

In the winter issue of Agricultural Policy Review, the Iowa State University economists say eight states – Iowa, North Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, South Dakota, Arkansas, Minnesota, and Montana – received more in payments from the stopgap Market Facilitation Program (MFP) in 2019 than they lost due to tariffs. Agriculture was the only sector of the economy to receive trade-war aid, so states where agriculture dominates fared the best.

Read more here.

A peek at the new Case IH AFS Connect Steiger

The AFS Connect technology from Case IH is now available on the company’s largest line of tractors, the Steiger series. This high-tech, high-horsepower family of tractors was introduced at the 2020 Commodity Classic in San Antonio, Texas.

“This tractor sets a new standard for what connectivity and productivity can mean to a farming operation without sacrificing the power, durability, and efficiency that Steiger tractors are known for,” says marketing manager Mitch Kaiser. Here’s a look at the new machine on the inside and out.

Read more here.

FDA: Coronavirus disrupts supply chain for U.S. animal drugs

Six firms are seeing disruptions in the supply chain because of COVID-19 that could lead to shortages of animal drugs for the U.S. market, said the FDA in an update. Some 32 animal drug companies make finished drugs or buy active pharmaceutical ingredients in China for use in the U.S., said FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn late last week. “The FDA has contacted all 32 firms and no shortages have been reported at this time. However, six of those firms have indicated that they are seeing disruptions in the supply chain that soon could lead to shortages. The FDA is working with these firms to help identify interventions to mitigate potential shortages.” There were no details on how large a share of the animal drug market was held by the firms.

Hahn reiterated there are no reports of coronavirus illnesses transmitted by food or food packaging. “Every federal agency will be involved” in the government’s response to the coronavirus, said Perdue at the Commodity Classic last week, according to USDA’s radio news service. “Our scientists that deal with viruses in animals all the time are helping in research, looking for any kind of possibility, even vaccines, that may help.”

Read more here.

John Deere expands compatibility of AutoTrac Controller 300

The benefits of automated steering are widely known. Yet, not all farmers operate machines that come factory-equipped with this technology. In order to provide more farmers with the opportunity to take advantage of automated steering, John Deere is expanding its AutoTrac Controller 300 to a variety of nonguidance-ready machine platforms.

“This solution is compatible with many newer Deere vehicles not already equipped with AutoTrac, as well as older machines and other equipment brands,” says John Mishler, precision ag marketing manager for John Deere. “It integrates with a John Deere precision ag display and StarFire receiver for a complete guidance system and a consistent John Deere precision ag experience across the entire fleet.”

Read more here.

Shift corn seeding rate based on field potential

One of the oldest debates in corn production is this: How many corn seeds per acre should I plant?

Golden Harvest, in its 2020 Agronomy in Action Research Review, attempts to shed some light on the subject. As you might suspect, the answer is: It depends.

Read more here.

A map of South America

Dry weather slows Brazil's soybean harvest

PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil -- The dry weather has generated a significant soybean harvest delay in at least four Brazilian states.

According to Safras & Mercado, a market advisory firm located in Porto Alegre, the country has harvested 39.6% of a total of 91.4 million acres. In 2019, the harvest progress was at 45% of the surface by the first week of March.

Read more here.

Commodity Classic 2020 in review

A record 4,678 farmers registered for the 2020 Commodity Classic February 27-29 in San Antonio, Texas. In total, 9,350 people registered for the annual event.

Farmers who made the trip enjoyed the sunshine while learning about new products, seizing educational opportunities, and mingling with high-yield growers.

Read more here.

New herbicide premixes announced at Commodity Classic

There’s activity in the corn and soybean herbicide market at this year’s Commodity Classic in San Antonio, Texas. Here are some of the product announcements and other developments that have occurred so far.

Read more here.

A flooded corn field.

Expect to see more floods and droughts this spring and summer

Angie Pendergrass is a climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. She studies precipitation, evaporation, thermal energy emissions, and more. One focus of her studies is global warming and the effect of greenhouse gasses on precipitation.

Read more here.

Chance of trade war payments ‘less than 10%’

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said the odds of a multibillion-dollar round of trade war payments to farmers this year are “less than 10%,” although a senior lawmaker said the payments may be “absolutely vital” for survival in the Farm Belt. China will turn to the U.S. market for soybeans “late this spring, this summer,” Perdue predicted during a House Agriculture Committee hearing on Wednesday.

The Trump administration disbursed $23 billion in cash to farmers and ranchers to mitigate the impact of the trade war on U.S. agriculture in 2018 and 2019. Nearly half of farmers believe payments will be made this year, according to a Purdue University poll released this week.

Read more here.

Cash in on unused iron and ill-fitting farmland

When the balance sheet begins to look bleak, selling excess farm equipment or parting with outlying tracts of farmland are two good ways to right the ship. 

Make no mistake, bankers are looking closely at balance sheets during loan renewal season, says Brett Esau, financial officer at Farm Credit Services of America in Beatrice, Nebraska.

Read more here.

Bayer's top seed faces U.S. soybean challenge from Corteva

CHICAGO/WINNIPEG, Manitoba, March 4 (Reuters) - Bayer AG's takeover of Monsanto has been beset by problems, and now a decades-long dominance of the $4 billion U.S. soybean seed market is under threat from rival Corteva Inc.

Bayer told Reuters it expects plantings of its genetically modified Xtend soybean seeds to flatline this year for the first time, after three years of strong growth since its launch with an accompanying weed-killer. It projects plantings in 2020 will stay at about 50 million acres, which was 66% of the American crop last year.

Read more here.

Top Listen of the Week

Lead in the soil

Leaded paint and leaded gasoline aren’t used anymore, but the once lead is in the soil it stays there. Exposure to lead can have serious health effects in children who might ingest that soil, or fruits and vegetables grown in it.

Andrew Margenot is an assistant professor of soil science at the University of Illinois. He says all soils naturally have some lead, which is measured in parts per million (ppm) from zero up to about 2,000. Most are 15-25 ppm. The health risks depend on the lead concentration.

Read more and listen here.

Top Watch of the Week

Q&A: Travis Lichtensteiger, Iowa State agronomy student

Byline:

As agriculture continues to evolve and new challenges pop up, the next generation of farmers represent an important demographic for the outlook of the industry.

The average U.S. farmer is in their late 50s, according to USDA census information, meaning farms could be transitioning now or will be transitioning to the younger generation soon.

Successful Farming spoke with one of those young farmers, Travis Lichtensteiger, a senior in agronomy at Iowa State University, who plans on graduating in May.

Lichtensteiger is a northwest Ohio native and grew up farming full-time alongside his dad, uncle, and brother where they primarily grow corn and soybeans with a little wheat, too.

Read more: How to start the next generation

Q: Do you plan to return to the farm after college?

A: Yep. I graduate in May, and the first thing I’m looking forward to doing after that is running a planter and going from there.

Q: Have you always been interested in agriculture?

A: Basically, I’ve grown up around it my whole life, and it’s something I’ve always been passionate about. I knew I’d take whatever steps necessary to pursue it.

Q: Why’d you go out of state with Iowa State University?

A: Pretty much my whole family goes to the Ohio State University. I have an older brother who graduated there in agronomy, and I decided I needed to one-up him, so that’s why I came out to Iowa State University with their really solid agronomy program.

Q: Since you started college, what suggestions have you or will you pass on to the family farm that you learned from the classroom?

A: The importance of data. I’ve really learned that over the last couple years at Iowa State, and I [started] making those steps on the home farm. Whether it be soil sampling, and then using that soiling sampling data or using variable rate – I’d say that’s a big one. Also, how to efficiently crop scout and to document that.

Read more: Tapping into data

Q: How open were the other members of the farm to some of those ideas – specifically data usage?

A: In the precision ag world, they kind of had a first push, and a lot of farmers I think were disappointed with it. Now, they’ve kind of had a second push. Now, I think they’ve got it figured out. 

With that and my brother and I – I’m about to be a college graduate and he’s a recent college graduate — they’ve taken the steps. It takes a little bit of an investment to get a bigger return, and they’ve been open to that and basically let us take the reins on that, too, because technology can be frustrating at times. 

Q: What areas have you studied abroad in?

A: With Iowa State, I’ve been to New Zealand and Costa Rica. Next week, I’m leaving for Australia.

Q: What’s the impact of your studying abroad experiences?

A: I can’t encourage people enough to go and do those things. It all starts by saying yes, by taking the initiative and saying yes to opportunities. I’ve learned so much from seeing people go about things differently to achieve maybe the same goal that we’re trying to achieve, and maybe they’re doing that more efficiently – constantly asking questions of farmers in other countries and taking notes and researching. 

I think a big part of being an innovative and efficient operation is being open to new ideas, and I’ve had some great opportunities to do that.

Q: Where do you see major developments in the ag industry for the next 10 years – whether it’s data, hemp, or something else?

A: I’ve looked into hemp a little bit, and the biggest advice I have with hemp is don’t grow it. 

In the next 10 years, I think as far as being a young guy, communication is really important – not only with the generation above me in the operation with my brother and other family members, who are involved in the farming operation, but communication with people in the industry that I’m around. My neighbors, my community, and being involved in that, I think that’s a really crucial factor that plays into the next 10 years.

Also, with data and being smart with your data, knowing what your data’s worth. Right now, data’s a theme, and I’m sure companies want to get their hands on your data. Know what your data’s worth. Be smart with that, but still use it efficiently.

Read more: How to thrive on the edge of choas: a guide for farmers

Q: Why are you cautious toward hemp?

A: In order to be effective in a business, you never want to be No. 1 in innovation. I don’t want to be No. 5 either, but maybe I’m No. 2 or 3. I’ve also heard horror stories from going around to farm shows and asking experts in it.

I’ve had multiple people give me that advice – especially being in Ohio, not Wisconsin or Minnesota where it might be more doable. I think the commodities of corn, beans, wheat, and other things a farming operation can do is profitable. There are also other ways you can go with a farming operation to diversify to be profitable.

Q: What are your biggest concerns for the next 10 to 20 years?

A: Running out of money! No, my biggest concern is the world [production] – whether it’s Ukraine, who’s getting really good at growing corn, but the world in general is [improving]. 

I was in India this past summer, and even they’re starting to take steps. Everybody’s taking monster steps in producing, so I’m worried about [that]. The overproduction factor, I think it’s a good thing [because] we have a growing population, but I’m worried about distribution. Trade agreements are obviously a hot topic. 

I’ve seen the future graphs, and it looks like we have a promising next couple years if we can get there. The main thing I’m worried about is overproduction issues and being able to distribute that to the people who need food.

Listen here: Banker-speak for beginning farmers

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

A: I think it’s important as a young farmer when you go back to a community to share your voice and to have a voice and be strong in communicating what you need to put in line to make sure that you can be a young farmer because it’s not necessarily the easiest thing in the world to do.

I think it’s smart even if you are a seventh-generation farmer to come back with the mind-set of a first-generation farmer and to be making networking connections and trying to grow. Especially for a young farmer, but no matter your age, in my opinion, if you’re not growing, you’re dying, per se.

USDA to acquire alternative fueled vehicles

Byline:

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue issued a memo today directing the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to acquire alternative fueled vehicles (AFV) when replacing conventionally fueled vehicles. USDA owns and operates one of the largest civilian fleets in the federal government, and this move to a fleet that can use E85 or biodiesel will increase efficiencies and performance.

Additionally, as part of the President Donald J. Trump’s October agreement to seek opportunities to facilitate the availability of higher biofuel blends across the country, USDA will make $100 million in grants available this year for the newly created Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP). Through this program, transportation fueling and biodiesel distribution facilities will be able to apply for grants to help install, retrofit, and/or upgrade fuel storage, dispenser pumps, related equipment, and infrastructure to be able to sell ethanol and biodiesel.

The department plans to publish application deadlines and other program information in the Federal Register this spring. 

“Both of these actions underscore USDA is putting our money where our mouth is when it comes to increased biofuels usage. Expanding nationwide infrastructure that offers biofuels and increasing the number of biofuel-capable vehicles in our fleet will increase the use of environmentally friendly fuel with decreased emissions, driving demand for our farmers and improving the air we breathe,” Secretary Perdue said. “President Trump is fighting for our corn and soybean growers and biofuel producers by finalizing year-round E15, ensuring that more than 15 billion gallons of ethanol and 2.43 billion gallons of biodiesel enters the market in 2020, and opening up new markets abroad. USDA will continue to do its part to encourage the use of homegrown energy.”

What farmers are reading this week, February 21-28

Byline:

Recent news brought an update on USDA projections, weed management, and grain bin safety.

Successful Farming magazine also talked with an Iowa cattleman and farmers who tested out UTVs. News coverage also extended to different regions of the country with updates on the Texas planting season and North Carolina nuisance suits.

And if you missed any news from the previous week, follow last week's recap below.

Read more: What farmers are reading this week, February 14-21

The largest corn crop ever is coming, USDA says

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. farmers will harvest their largest corn crop ever this year, fueled by the largest plantings in seven years, growing so much corn that carry-over stocks will be the biggest since 1988, projected the USDA on Friday.

The soybean crop would be the fourth largest on record, with exports recovering to pre trade war levels due to “increasing global import demand, particularly for China.”

Read more here.

grain bins behind a soybean field
iStock: scalatore1959

Why grain bin safety is extra important in 2020

For Gary Woodruff, grain bin safety is personal. When he was in college, his dad’s best friend was killed in a grain accident. Two more people Woodruff knew personally have died in similar tragedies over his career.

“They’ve all been great, intelligent farmers. Good, wonderful people, but they didn’t listen to what they’ve been told,” he says.

Read more here.

What farmers can learn from the hog nuisance suits in North Carolina

What can farmers learn from the nuisance suits against Smithfield Foods? Andy Curliss, CEO of the North Carolina Pork Council, spoke to two Iowa pork groups recently about the lawsuits in his state and what farmers should know and watch out for. He gives several tips.

Read more here.

Farmers should consider owning two years of production, analyst says

It’s late February, the time when crops are being harvested in northern Brazil and getting ready to be harvested in southern Brazil. Argentina’s harvest follows quickly after. 

So-called experts are forecasting another record SAM crop. But if you look at rainfall patterns in Brazil the past 60 days, the odds of a record crop are quickly diminishing.

Read more here.

The U.S. corn-planting season has kicked off in Texas

While snow blankets the eastern Corn Belt, farmers in the South have their corn planters out.

“We have close-to-ideal conditions for corn planting,” a central Texas farmer told Agriculture.com Wednesday.

Read more here.

Q & A: Bill Couser, Iowa cattleman

In 1977, Bill Couser started farming with his father in central Iowa. Their crop and livestock operation has grown “tenfold, at least” from the 320 acres Couser grew up on. 

Read more here.

A John Deere planter.

Trump intrudes on spring planting for second year in a row

Besides weighing potential market prices against the cost of fuel, fertilizer, and seeds, farmers have a new factor for their planting decisions: Will it assure them of a trade war payment? President Trump’s suggestion that if his trade deals with China and other nations are slow to bear, “aid will be paid by the federal government,” could encourage farmers to plant more land this spring than would otherwise be justified.

Payments were tied to crop and livestock production in the two previous versions of the Market Facilitation Program so growers could assume they would be this time, too. USDA provided no details following Trump’s announcement on Twitter on Friday. A day earlier, the USDA projected ag exports to China this fiscal year would be one third of the target set for food, agricultural, and seafood products in the Phase One agreement that took effect 10 days ago.

Read more here.

It's a new era in weed management

These days, soybeans sizzle with great genetics, chemistry, and traits galore. 

Somehow, though, maladies like weeds always keep one step ahead of the curve. Remember Pursuit? This Group 2 herbicide was the darling of the weed-management dance in the early 1990s, as it obliterated numerous weeds. When weeds started resisting it, the Roundup Ready system that featured glyphosate-tolerant soybeans stepped up. Seemingly bulletproof in its early years, weeds like glyphosate-resistant marestail and waterhemp began ravaging glyphosate-tolerant soybeans.

Read more here.

Farmer tested, farmer approved UTVs

If you’re in the market for a new side-by-side, we have good news: Our team of farmer evaluators tested three machines that all stand up to the daily demands of farming. They had about six months to put the UTVs to work on their operations, and, at the end, each machine received a perfect or near-perfect rating.

Successful Farming magazine has a long legacy of testing ATVs and UTVs. Our team has completed three extensive evaluations: in 2007, 2013, and 2017. At each evaluation, we had a crew of riders evaluating multiple machines, taking each through a series of tests. In 2018, we decided to expand our coverage and bring our testing to the farm, using the Successful Farming Product Test Team. Beyond UTVs, these farm evaluators also test a variety of shop advances and tools less commonly found on farms.

Read more here.

Shortstop corn

“See this?” asks Calvin Treat as he compares two corn plants that initially seem identical – with two exceptions.

One is a conventional hybrid, most of which range in height from 9 to 11 feet. The other is what Bayer Crop Science scientists term a short-stature hybrid that’s 6 to 8 feet tall.

Read more here.

To meet goals, China will be 'ramping up' U.S. ag purchases, says Perdue

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said he believes China will meet the goals of the Phase One trade agreement, although the USDA’s new estimate of sales — $14 billion this fiscal year — is only one third of the target. “We believe those numbers will be surpassed,” Perdue said Thursday at the USDA’s annual Ag Outlook Forum.

Phase One obliges China to buy $40 billion worth of U.S. food, agricultural, and seafood products this year and in 2021.

Read more here.

Oats find a fit

Back in 2018,Wayne Koehler’s golden-hue oats just north of his house were rapidly nearing harvest.  

“It was along the highway, so they were very visible,” says the Charles City, Iowa, farmer. “I had some people stop and ask if I wanted to sell my oats to them. I’ve never had anyone stop and ask about buying corn and soybeans. It was clear that there was a demand that was not being met.”

Read more here.

Top Listen of the Week

Restoring Farm Wildlife Habitat

Years ago, farmland around the country was teaming with wildlife including birds, butterflies, and mammals because diversified crops and production practices allowed for healthy habitats. Today, the wildlife is disappearing due to factors such as intensive farming practices and homogenization. However, coupling habitat conservation with efforts to improve water and soil health shows promise in restoring farmland wildlife.

Adam Janke is an Extension wildlife specialist at Iowa State University. He says there is a lot of potential in native plants and natural features.

Read more and listen here.

Top Watch of the Week

3 Big Things Today, February 28, 2020

Byline:

1. Soybeans Drop Overnight on Coronavirus Fears, Slack Demand

Soybeans plunged overnight amid concerns about demand due to the coronavirus, or COVID-19, after a weak export sales report.

China’s National Health Commission said it now has 78,824 confirmed cases of the disease and 2,788 deaths, up from 78,497 cases and 2,744 deaths a day earlier.

In Japan, the island of Hokkaido declared a state emergency as 10 deaths have been reported in the country. South Korea announced another 571 cases, pushing the number to about 2,300. In the U.S., 15 confirmed cases have been reported.

Global markets and economies are taking a hit from the coronavirus as consumers have stopped spending due to quarantines and fears of travel.

The export sales report from the USDA showed export sales of soybeans were down week to week and badly missed expectations.

Soybean futures for March delivery dropped 9¼¢ to $8.85¾ a bushel overnight on the Chicago Board of Trade. Soymeal fell $1.20 to $302.40 a short ton, and soy oil lost 0.51¢ to 28.68¢ a pound.

Corn futures fell ¼¢ to $3.67¾ a bushel overnight.

Wheat futures for lower after the International Grains Council said it now expects global output at 769 million metric tons in the 2020-2021 marketing year, up from its outlook for 763 metric tons this year. It projects wheat harvested area next year up 2%.  

Wheat futures for May delivery dropped 5½¢ to $5.22 a bushel, while Kansas City futures declined 2½¢ to $4.49¼ a bushel.

**

2. Export Sales of Beans, Corn Drop Week to Week; Wheat Sales Rise

Export sales of soybeans were down week to week and badly missed expectations, according to the USDA.

Corn sales also fell, while wheat sales jumped.

Sales of soybeans to overseas buyers totaled 339,300 metric tons in the seven days that ended on February 20, down 31% from the previous week and 38% from the prior four-week average, the government said in a report.

Analysts had forecast sales from 600,000 to 900,000 metric tons, according to researcher Allendale.

Japan was the big buyer last week at 108,200 metric tons. China bought only 71,700 tons, Costa Rica was in for 69,500 tons, Germany purchased 66,000 tons, and South Korea took 58,400 tons, the USDA said.

The total would’ve been higher but an unknown buyer canceled shipments for 176,400 metric tons.

Corn export sale also declined, falling to 864,600 metric tons, down 31% week to week and 26% from the average, the agency said. The total is still within the expected range of 800,000 to 1.3 million metric tons.

Japan was also the biggest buyer of corn for the week at 316,700 metric tons. Mexico took 162,300 tons, Costa Rica was in for 146,600 tons, Colombia bought 104,500 tons, and South Korea purchased 67,100 tons of U.S. corn.

An unknown buyer canceled shipments for 111,500 metric tons, the USDA said.

Wheat sales, meanwhile, rose 10% week to  week to 381,800 metric tons. That, however, was down 23% from the prior four-week average, the agency said, and missed expectations.

Analysts had pegged sales from 425,000 to 700,000 metric tons.

Japan was again the big buyer at 116,800 metric tons, the Philippines bought 76,000 tons, Indonesia was in for 55,000 tons, Thailand purchased 45,200 tons, and Peru took 43,400 tons, the USDA said.

**

3. Flooding Continues Along Mississippi River in Several States; Lake-Effect Snow in Michigan

Flooding is still a major issue along the Mississippi River and its tributaries along the Missouri borders with Illinois and Tennessee and Arkansas’ border with Mississippi.

At Osceola, Arkansas, the river was at 34.5 feet as of late Thursday night, well above the flood state of 28 feet, according to the National Weather Service.

In New Madrid, Missouri, the river is at 37.3 feet, above flood stage of 34 feet, the agency said. At 38 feet, “heavy agricultural damage begins,” the NWS said in a report.

Strong thunderstorms are possible today in northeastern Arkansas and in the bootheel of Missouri this afternoon, the government said. Heavy rain also may persist starting Sunday and lasting through Wednesday.

Farther north, lake-effect snow showers are expected in much of western Michigan today and tonight, which will be accompanied by cold and windy conditions. As much as 2 inches of snow are possible, the NWS said.

3 Big Things Today, February 27, 2020

Byline:

1. Soybeans, Grains Down Slightly on Coronavirus Fears

Soybeans and grains were down slightly in overnight trading amid ongoing concerns about the coronavirus, or COVID-19, and what it means for global demand for agricultural products.

Another person in the U.S. has contracted the disease, bringing the number of domestic cases to 15.

The person confirmed with the virus hadn’t traveled to any countries outside the U.S. and wasn’t exposed to anybody with the coronavirus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

At this point, it’s unclear how the person contracted the virus, the CDC said.

European stock markets are down overnight, and U.S. stock futures are lower heading into the open Thursday morning amid uncertainty about how the continued spread of the disease will affect global markets.

China now has 78,497 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus and 2,744 deaths, according to the country’s National Health Commission. That’s up from 78,064 cases and 2,715 deaths a day earlier.

Iran reported 245 confirmed cases and 26 deaths, and South Korea now has almost 1,800 cases, according to media reports.

Soybean futures for March delivery fell 2¾¢ to $8.89¼ a bushel overnight on the Chicago Board of Trade. Soy meal dropped $1.60 to $296.70 a short ton and soy oil rose 0.21¢ to 29.66¢ a pound.

Corn futures fell 1¾¢ to $3.72¾ a bushel overnight.

Wheat futures for May delivery dropped 3¢ to $5.32¾ a bushel, while Kansas City futures declined 2½¢ to $4.56¾ a bushel.

**

2. Ethanol Production Rises to Three-Week High, While Stockpiles Fall Modestly

Ethanol production in the seven days through February 21 rose to the highest level in three weeks, while stockpiles of the biofuel declined slightly.

Output last week rose to an average of 1.054 million barrels a day, up from 1.04 million barrels the previous week, according to the Energy Information Administration. That’s the highest level since the week that ended on January 31.

In the Midwest, by far the biggest-producing region, ethanol production was reported at an average of 977,000 barrels a day, up from 961,000 barrels the previous week. That’s also a three-week high.

On the East Coast, output rose to 26,000 barrels a day, on average, from 24,000 barrels a day, the EIA said in a report. Rocky Mountain production was reported at 14,000 barrels a day, up from 13,000 seven days earlier.

Gulf Coast production, meanwhile, declined to 22,000 barrels a day from 25,000 barrels a week earlier, and West Coast output fell to an average of 15,000 barrels a day from 16,000 barrels, the agency said.

Stockpiles were reported at 24.718 million barrels last week, down narrowly from 24.781 million barrels seven days earlier, the EIA said.

In other news, the USDA is expected to release its weekly Export Sales Report this morning.

Analysts are forecasting corn sales from 800,000 to 1.3 million metric tons, soybean sales from 600,000 to 900,000 metric tons, and wheat sales from 425,000 to 700,000 metric tons, according to researcher Allendale.

**

3. Light Snow Possible in Central Nebraska; Flood Warnings in Effect in Missouri Bootheel

Light snow is possible for much of central Nebraska today, though only about an inch is expected, according to the National Weather Service.

Where Nebraska, Kansas, and Colorado meet, strong winds are expected to develop today with sustained speeds of 30 to 40 mph and gusts of up to 50 mph, the NWS said in report earlier this morning.

Conditions will be prime for wildfires, mostly in eastern Colorado, the agency said.

Farther east, flood warnings are in effect along the Mississippi River and several of its tributaries along the Missouri borders with Illinois and Kentucky, into the Missouri bootheel NWS maps show.

The Mississippi River was at 38 feet in New Madrid, Missouri, late last night, topping flood stage of 34 feet, the agency said. The river is expected to be above flood stage until at least Sunday.

More wet weather is on the way for the region, though it’s a few days out, the NWS said.

“There are indicators that we can expect prolonged and saturating rains (from) Sunday night through Wednesday,” the agency said in a report.

Rainfall totals are expected from a low of 2 inches to a high of 6 inches next week, the NWS said.

3 Big Things Today, February 26, 2020

Byline:

1. Soybeans, Grains Little Changed in Overnight Trading

Soybeans and grains were little changed in overnight trading as investors weight reports that the coronavirus, or COVID-19, is spreading outside of China against optimism about demand for U.S. agricultural products.

France reported its first death from the disease, and Spain said it now has eight new cases. Confirmations have come in from Austria, Switzerland, and Croatia, according to media reports.

READ MORE: Virus panic in the markets

The South Korean government said the country now has more than 1,200 confirmed cases, up by about 200 from Tuesday.

China’s National Health Commission said in its daily briefing today that it now has 78,064 confirmed cases and 2,715 deaths. That’s up from 77,658 cases and 2,663 deaths yesterday.

As of Monday, the U.S. still had 14 cases, unchanged from the previous reporting day’s total, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency will update its information today.

European and Asian stocks are down in overnight trading, while U.S. equity futures are slightly higher, indicating a stronger open.

Soybean futures for March delivery fell ¼¢ to $8.88 a bushel overnight on the Chicago Board of Trade. Soy meal rose 20¢ to $293.20 a short ton, and soy oil lost 0.08¢ to 29.54¢ a pound.

Corn futures fell ½¢ to $3.76 a bushel overnight.

Wheat futures for May delivery dropped 1¾¢ to $5.35¼ a bushel, while Kansas City futures declined ¾4¢ to $4.61¼ a bushel.

**

2. Kansas Wheat Conditions Improved Year Over Year in February, USDA Says

Winter wheat in Kansas, the country’s largest grower of the grain, looked better in February than it did last year, according to the USDA.

The state’s crop, the bulk of which is hard red winter wheat, was rated 2% excellent, 33% good, 45% fair, 14% poor, and 6% very poor, the USDA said in a report.

That compares with 1% excellent, 11% good, 39% fair, 36% poor, and 13% very poor in February 2019, government data show.

Topsoil moisture was rated 78% adequate or surplus, up from only 26% at this point last year. Subsoil moisture this year was 76% adequate or surplus, compared with 29% a year earlier, the agency said.

A nice blanket of snow is covering the winter wheat crop in much of the state after about 2 inches fell on Monday in several areas including Parsons, which saw 2.2 inches, La Crosse, where 2.1 inches fell, and Cherokee, which had almost 2 inches of snow, according to Kansas Mesonet.

Hutchinson had 1.6 inches of snowfall Monday, and McPherson saw 1.4 inches, the group said.

**

3. Winter Weather Advisories in Effect From Missouri Into Northeastern Michigan

Winter weather will continue today as a winter weather advisory is in effect for a stretch of land from central Missouri northeast into eastern Michigan, according to the National Weather Service.

In parts of central Missouri, another 2 inches of snow are possible today, which likely will make roads slippery, the NWS said in a report early this morning. The advisory remains in effect until 6 p.m. tonight in the region.

Another 2 to 5 inches of snow are expected in parts of northern Illinois, Indiana, and southern Michigan as the storm advisory is in effect until 1 a.m., the agency said.

“After a lull during the overnight hours, a steadier snow will overspread the region through the morning,” the NWS said on its website this morning. “The heaviest bands of snow across Illinois are expected to affect the area from midmorning through the afternoon.”

North winds are expected to accelerate to 15 to 25 mph, which will cause blowing snow, especially across rural and open areas.

3 Big Things Today, February 25, 2020

Byline:

1. Soybean, Grain Futures Mixed in Overnight Trading

Soybeans and grains were mixed in overnight trading after yesterday’s initial shock about the spread of the coronavirus, or COVID-19, outside of China.

China’s National Health Commission said in its daily briefing that it now has 77,658 confirmed cases and 2,663 deaths from the disease.

South Korea said it now has almost 1,000 confirmed cases, rising by almost 150 day to day, while Iran reported 15 deaths, according to media reports.

The U.S. still had 14 cases as of yesterday, unchanged from the previous day’s total, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The spread of the disease spooked not only commodity markets yesterday but also equity markets. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost more than 1,000 points. Soybeans lost more than 16¢ and corn fell almost a nickel.

Traders seem less pessimistic this morning. Dow futures were up 0.3% in premarket trading while the S&P 500 gained 0.3% and the tech-heavy Nasdaq rose 0.5%.

Soybean futures for March delivery gained 2¢ to $8.84½ a bushel overnight on the Chicago Board of Trade. Soy meal added 0.80¢ to $292.80 a short ton, and soy oil lost 0.28¢ to 29.58¢ a pound.

Corn futures rose ¼¢ to $3.67½ a bushel overnight.

Wheat futures for May delivery dropped 3¢ to $5.31¾ a bushel while Kansas City futures declined ¾¢ to $4.58½ a bushel.

**

2. Export Inspections of Corn Rise Week to Week, While Soybeans Drop

Inspections of corn for overseas export rose week to week, while soybeans plunged, according to the USDA.

Wheat assessments declined.

Corn inspections for offshore delivery rose to 912,922 metric tons in the seven days that ended on February 20, the agency said in a report. That’s up from 795,399 tons the previous week and 761,656 tons at the same time a year earlier.

Weekly examinations of soybeans, however, plunged to 594,536 metric tons from 1 million tons a week earlier. The total last week was less than half the 1.31 million tons assessed during the same week in 2019, government data show.

Wheat inspections also declined, falling to 411,523 metric tons from 503,082 tons the previous week, the USDA said. That’s also down from the 767,570 tons inspected a year earlier.

Since the start of the marketing year on September 1, the government has inspected 13.2 million metric tons of corn for overseas delivery, down from about 25 million tons at the same point the previous year.

Soybean inspections since the start of September are up to 28.9 million metric tons from 25.1 million at the same point last year, according to the government.

Inspections of wheat, since the start of the grain’s marketing year on June 1, are up to 18.1 million metric tons from 16.5 million a year earlier, the USDA said.

**

3. Winter Weather Continues in Northern Plains, Spreads to Kansas; System Aiming For Illinois

The winter storm affecting parts of the Dakotas yesterday is spreading south and is now reaching into central Kansas, while a separate system is bringing cold, snowy weather from Missouri to eastern Michigan, according to the National Weather Service.

In southern Nebraska and north-central Kansas, another inch of snow on top of what’s already fallen is expected, the NWS said in a report early this morning.

Wind gusts of up to 55 mph are forecast for the area, which will “significantly” reduce visibility to about ½ mile in some areas.

A winter storm warning is in effect for several counties in southeastern Montana, northeastern Wyoming, and western South Dakota this morning.

Another 3 to 6 inches of snow are expected in the Rapid City, South Dakota, and central Black Hills areas, the NWS said.

In northern Illinois, meanwhile, snowfall totals of 3 to 5 inches are expected along with wind gusts of up to 35 mph as a storm moves into the region this evening, the agency said. Roads are expected to turn slippery.

2020 FFA week is under way

Byline:

More than 700,000 FFA members in chapters around the country are celebrating National FFA Week February 22-29. Chapters are promoting agricultural education this week with community service projects and fun events at their schools.

On Tuesday, February 25, the National FFA Foundation will hold a 24-hour campaign called Give FFA Day, encouraging supporters to share on social media and donate to the foundation. FFA alumni and supporters are encouraged to wear blue on National Wear Blue Day on Friday, February 28. Throughout the week, FFA members and alumni are encouraged to share their experiences on social media using the hashtag #FFAweek.

The weeklong celebration originated in 1948 and is held the week of George Washington’s birthday to honor his legacy as an agriculturalist.

Learn more about celebrating FFA Week and how you can support FFA.

3 Big Things Today, February 24, 2020

Byline:

1. Soybeans, Grains Plunge on Coronavirus Spread Concerns

Soybeans and grains plunged in overnight trading amid increased concerns about the coronavirus, or COVID-19, as the disease spreads outside of China.

The number of cases in China topped 77,000, and almost 2,600 people have died from the disease, according to the country’s government.

It’s the spread of the virus outside of the Asian nation that has some worried. South Korea said it now has 833 cases and that seven people have died.

Italy has reported 130 cases and three deaths. Iran said at least 12 people have died, according to the New York Times, which cited state news agencies.

The U.S. now has 14 confirmed cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Additionally, three people who’d tested positive for the coronavirus were repatriated from Wuhan, China, and 18 were aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship that had been quarantined in Yokohama, Japan.

Global equity and commodity markets dropped on concerns about how the disease’s spread would affect trade.

Soybean futures for March delivery dropped 9¼¢ to $8.81¼ a bushel overnight on the Chicago Board of Trade. Soy meal fell $1.90 to $292.90 a short ton, and soy oil lost 0.71¢ to 30.30¢ a pound.

Corn futures fell 3¢ to $3.74 a bushel overnight.

Wheat futures for May delivery dropped 9¾¢ to $5.42¼ a bushel, while Kansas City futures lost 8¢ to $4.67½ a bushel.

**

2. Money Managers Curb Net-Short Positions in Corn, Beans Slightly

Money managers lowered their net-short positions, or bets on lower prices, in both corn and soybeans in the seven days that ended on February 18, according to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Investors held a net-short position of 56,855 corn futures contracts last week, down from 69,101 contracts a week earlier, the CFTC said in a report. That broke a streak of three straight increases.

Speculators also reduced their bearish positions in soybeans, holding 95,975 net-short positions as of last Tuesday. That’s down from 97,412 contracts the previous week, government data show.

While the number of net-shorts in corn and beans were lower, they were down only slightly amid ongoing concerns about the spread of the coronavirus and its impact on demand globally.

In wheat, meanwhile, speculative investors raised their net-long positions, or bets on higher prices, in soft-red winter wheat to 59,262 contracts, up from 39,482 contracts a week earlier.

Investors raise their bullish bets on hard red winter wheat to a net-long position of 13,687 contracts, up from 9,983 seven days earlier, the CFTC said.

The weekly Commitment of Traders Report from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission shows trader positions in futures markets.

The report provides positions held by commercial traders, or those using futures to hedge their physical assets; noncommercial traders, or money managers (also called large speculators); and nonreportables, or small speculators.

A net-long position indicates more traders are betting on higher prices, while a net-short position means more are betting futures will decline.

**

3. Winter Storms Set to Slam Parts of Montana, Dakotas Starting Today; Snow Forecast in Iowa

Winter weather is set to hit parts of Montana, eastern North Dakota, eastern South Dakota, and northern Nebraska this morning.

A winter storm warning is in effect for the Rapid City area where as much as 20 inches of snow are expected in some areas, according to the National Weather Service.

Wind gusts of up to 45 mph are expected. The warning is in effect from 8 a.m. local time this morning until 2 p.m. tomorrow.

A winter weather advisory is in effect for the surrounding areas where up to 5 inches of snow are expected and blowing snow will reduce visibility, the NWS said in a report early this morning. Travel is expected to be difficult.

Farther east, a winter storm watch is in effect in parts of eastern Iowa and northern Illinois.

The watch is in effect starting late tonight and will last through Wednesday morning. Accumulations of as much as 8 inches are forecast for the region, the NWS said.

What farmers are reading this week, February 14-21

Byline:

This week brought stories surrounding a dicamba lawsuit, USDA projections, and app options for around the farm.

Along with the updates, Successful Farming magazine also caught up with Susanne Kinzenbaw Veatch, the president of Kinze Manufacturing.

If you missed anything from the previous week, follow last week's recap below.

Read more: What farmers are reading this week, February 7-14

Bader Farms wins $265 million judgment in dicamba lawsuit against Bayer, BASF

A federal jury in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, has ruled in favor of Bader Farms, a Campbell, Missouri, peach farm, in its dicamba lawsuit against Bayer and BASF. The jury awarded Bader Farms $265 million in damages. 

Of that amount, $15 million is in the form of compensatory damages for what the jury ruled was the actual amount of damage caused to the peach trees grown by Bader Farms. The $250 million remainder was in the form of punitive damages.

Read more here.

A corn field with an ethanol plant in the background.
iStock: photosbyjim

Major ethanol company undergoes huge transformation

Green Plains, Inc., one of the largest ethanol producers in the U.S., is rolling out a new, high-protein animal and fish feed product.

Todd Becker, president and chief executive officer for Green Plains, told Successful Farming magazine on Wednesday that the move into the high-protein animal feed market is part of an effort to move the company toward a more predictable cash-flow pattern and away from the volatile ups and downs of the ethanol market.

Read more here.

USDA’s long-term projections keep corn, soybean prices low

DES MOINES, Iowa -- The next 10 years could bring very little in the way of increased net return on corn and soybeans, according to the USDA’s long-term projections released Friday.

In its report, USDA made projections that go out to 2029.

Read more here.

Farmer using a smartphone in a field.
iStock: Brightrock

9 apps you shouldn’t farm without

When it comes to apps offering farmers assistance around the farm, it’s a downloader’s market. There are countless services launching apps, offering everything from assistance with figuring out the acreage in a particular area to forage identification or record keeping.

Knowing which ones are worth space on your home screen can be overwhelming, however. As particular types of apps become more popular, a number of copycat services are hitting the market, which makes it even more challenging to pinpoint the offerings that work best for each farmer. While you can always download and ditch an app later when its value comes up short, saving precious minutes experimenting with something that ends up as an empty promise can get frustrating.

Read more here.

National Farm Machinery Show recap: Day 2

Thursday was the second day of National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville, Kentucky. Several companies exhibited new and coming machinery to the thousands of farmers in attendance.

Read more here.

Larger soybean and cotton plantings due to trade deal?

The Phase One trade agreement with Beijing will bring larger U.S. plantings of soybeans and cotton this spring than now projected by USDA, as growers aim for revived exports to China, analysts said over the weekend. China is the world’s largest importer of the commodities, but U.S. ag exports to China were halved by the tit-for-tat tariffs of the Sino-U.S. trade war.

Although the USDA says China will import more cotton from suppliers around the world in coming years, it points to smaller domestic stockpiles as the reason. In its 10-year agricultural baseline, the USDA repeatedly says its projections are based on conditions last fall. “Recent trade deals or discussions such as the Phase One deal with China, the USMCA agreement, and a Japan-U.S. free trade agreement were not considered for these projections,” it says on Page 1 of the baseline, released on Friday.

Read more here.

A corn field with irrigation as a storm moves in.
Gil Gullickson

Climate FieldView terminates platform partnership agreement with Tillable

After taking a beating on social media, Climate FieldView has terminated its platform partnership with Tillable. 

Tillable is a digital platform that uses data to connect farmers with landowners

Last October, Climate FieldView—part of The Climate Corporation, Bayer’s digital farming division—formed a partnership with Tillable to enable FieldView’s customers using Tillable to more easily share farm operation details, such as planting and yield data, already collected under the FieldView platform.

Read more here.

Q & A: Susanne Kinzenbaw Veatch, president of Kinze Manufacturing

Susanne Kinzenbaw Veatch is the president of Kinze Manufacturing headquartered in Williamsburg, Iowa. As the daughter of founder, CEO, and chairman of the board Jon Kinzenbaw, she has fond memories growing up in the company.

Prior to joining the family business in 2005, Veatch earned a degree in business from Iowa State University and worked for Caterpillar as a Systems Analyst. Now, in addition to her role in the company, she and her husband farm and are raising their two young daughters in the business.

Read more here.

New herbicide site of action, gene-edited short-stature corn, XtendFlex coming from Bayer

Bayer Crop Science has a new herbicide site of action molecule in the works for crops including corn and soybeans. It’s also using gene editing in conjunction with conventional breeding and transgenic technology to develop short-stature corn. Meanwhile, it also plans to launch its three-way herbicide stack—XtendFlex—this spring.

Those are just some of the research updates that Bayer Crop Science executives and scientists discussed as part of an update to investors and the agricultural media on February 13. Here are some highlights.

Read more here.

USDA raises export forecast for China by $4 billion

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- China will buy $14 billion of U.S. ag products this year, $3 billion more than forecast before the Phase One agreement was signed, said USDA Chief Economist Rob Johansson on Thursday.

Johansson provided few details of the forecast, the first by USDA about the effects of the agreement, which obliges China to buy $40 billion a year of U.S. food, agricultural, and seafood products this year and in 2021.

Read more here.

Top Listen of the Week

Importance of micronutrients

Environmental conditions and in-season stress can make nutrient availability a struggle for crops. Most farmers test for nutrients with a soil sample in the fall and apply fertilizers to correct deficiencies. But that doesn’t always indicate how much of those will make it into next year’s plants.

Eric Hanson is a regional agronomist with Winfield United. He says they want producers to look beyond the macronutrients like N, P, and K and start understanding more about the micronutrients.

Read more and listen here.

Top Watch of the Week

Farm Lessons with Farm Cats | Ag Influencers

3 Big Things Today, February 21, 2020

Byline:

1. Soybeans, Grains Little Changed in Overnight Trading

Soybeans and grains were little changed in overnight trading as investors continue to worry about the spread of the coronavirus, or COVID-19, while being optimistic about long-term demand prospects.

More than 76,000 cases have been confirmed and the death toll has topped 2,200, most of which have been in China.

The number of cases in South Korea jumped to more than 200, which has led the government to implement strategies to control the disease, according to media reports.

All of this could curb demand for U.S. agricultural products and continues to weigh on prices.

Still, some investors are holding out hope that the coronavirus outbreak will eventually be controlled and China will honor promises it made during a so-called Phase One agreement signed last month with the U.S.

Soybean futures for March delivery lost ½¢ to $8.92¼ a bushel overnight on the Chicago Board of Trade. Soy meal fell $1 to $297.30 a short ton, and soy oil gained 0.06¢ to 30.53¢ a pound.

Corn futures were unchanged at $3.78½ a bushel overnight.

Wheat futures for May delivery fell 1¾¢ to $5.57½ a bushel, while Kansas City futures dropped 2¼¢ to $4.78¾ a bushel.

**

2. Ethanol Stockpiles Surge to Record High, Production Increases Week to Week

Ethanol stockpiles jumped to a record high, and production also increased in the seven days that ended on February 14, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Inventories last week surged to 24.781 million barrels, up from 24.358 million the previous week and the largest amount on record, the EIA said in a report.

Production also increased week to week, rising to 1.04 million barrels a day, on average, from 1.033 million, the agency said.

Output in the Midwest, by far the biggest-producing region, rose to an average of 961,000 barrels a day from 955,000 barrels seven days earlier.

Gulf Coast production increased to 25,000 barrels a day from 24,000 the previous week. East Coast output was unchanged at an average of 24,000 barrels a day.

West Coast production fell by 1,000 to 16,000 barrels a day, and Rocky Mountain output declined by 1,000 to 13,000 barrels a day, the EIA said in its report.

In other news, the weekly Export Sales Report from the USDA is due out this morning, a day late due to Presidents’ Day on Monday.

Analysts are expected corn sales from 700,000 to 1.2 million metric tons, soybean sales from 600,000 to 1.2 million metric tons, and wheat sales from 400,000 to 700,000 metric tons, according to researcher Allendale.

**

3. Cold Weather With Windchills of -5˚F. Expected in Northern Illinois, Indiana

Weather maps look mostly quiet going into the weekend, though it’s expected to be cold in parts of northern Illinois and northern Indiana, according to the National Weather Service.

Windchills are expected to drop as low as -5˚F. this morning, mostly across northern and central Illinois, the NWS said in a report early this morning. Strong winds will contribute to the low windchill factors.

Later this weekend, “heavy precipitation and strong northerly winds” are forecast for parts of western Kansas and eastern Colorado, the agency said in its report.

Precipitation in the area will alternate between rain and snow, the NWS said.

3 Big Things Today, February 20, 2020

Byline:

1. Soybeans, Grains Lower Overnight on Trade Uncertainty

Soybeans and grains were lower in overnight trading on concerns about Chinese demand for U.S. products.

It’s still unclear how the spread of the coronavirus, or COVID-19, will affect demand in the Asian nation.

China now has almost 75,000 confirmed cases and more than 2,100 deaths, according to media reports. Most of the deaths have been in the Hubei province where the disease was first reported.

South Korea said one of its citizens has died from the disease. The country now has reported 104 cases of the coronavirus. Two people who were on the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Yokohama, Japan, died, the first deaths from the vessel.

So far China hasn’t started buying the U.S. agricultural products that were promised when the countries signed a partial trade agreement last month, and it’s unclear when purchases will begin.

Soybean futures for March delivery lost 4½¢ to $8.92¾ a bushel overnight on the Chicago Board of Trade. Soy meal fell $1.60 to $296.90 a short ton, and soy oil declined 0.01¢ to 30.33¢ a pound.

Corn futures fell 1¼¢ to $3.79¼ a bushel overnight.

Wheat futures for May delivery fell 4¢ to $5.58½ a bushel, while Kansas City futures dropped 4½¢ to $4.82¼ a bushel.

**

2. Brazil Begins Exporting DDGs Made From Corn Ethanol

Brazilian corn-ethanol producers have started exporting dried distillers grain, or DDGs, another product for which U.S. companies will battle the South American country for market share.

The Port of Paranagua said in a report that a second shipment of DDGs was launched from the port on January 18. The first cargo was sent in December, the report said.

The port said it’s adjusting to the new product, so there’s going to be a bit of a learning period for workers and ship captains.

After the first cargo was sent at the end of last year, the Combessul Terminal that was responsible for the cargoes “made some operational changes” by processing the shipment through two terminals instead of just one.

Only about 5% of Brazilian ethanol is made from corn; the rest is made mostly from sugar. The South American country produced about 1.5 billion liters – roughly 396 million gallons – of corn-based ethanol in the 2019-2020 marketing year, according to state trader Conab.

While that doesn’t seem like much, the U.S. has the capacity to produce 15 billion gallons of ethanol and more than 44 million metric tons of DDGs, according to the U.S. Grains Council, keep in mind that Brazil just a few years ago didn’t produce any corn-based ethanol and, therefore, no DDGs.

Also keep in mind that Brazilian soybean production has grown from 39.5 million metric tons 20 years ago to about 125 million metric tons today. It’s also now the world’s largest exporter of the oilseeds.

**

3. Windchill Advisories in Effect For Much of Northern Midwest

It’s going to be cold in the northern Midwest as windchill advisories are in effect, according to the National Weather Service.

 In parts of eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota, windchills are expected to fall as low as -40˚F., the NWS said in a report early this morning. Such cold wind can cause frostbite in as little as 10 minutes.

The windchill warnings stretch from northern Iowa northwest into South Dakota and north to Minnesota’s border with Canada.

In southern Wisconsin and northeastern Iowa, meanwhile, windchills are expected to hit -30˚F. through midmorning, the agency said in its report.

Meanwhile in the Southern Plains, as much as 3 inches of snow are expected to fall in the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles today, the NWS said.

Grower advocacy groups found ‘Farmers for a Sustainable Future’

Byline:

Representing millions of U.S. farmers, 21 farm groups are publicly launching Farmers for a Sustainable Future (FSF), a coalition committed to environmental and economic sustainability. This coalition will serve as a primary resource for policymakers as they consider sustainability and climate policies important to agriculture.

ASA CEO Ryan Findlay, CEO of the American Soybean Association, says “Soybean farmers have an awesome story to tell, including their sustainability initiatives, so it’s great to be able to collaborate with like-minded organizations to facilitate sound policy and program decisions and have a platform to share our efforts.” 

The American Soybean Association (ASA) has been involved with FSF since its inception to play an active role in the direction of the new D.C.-based group. Other members include: American Farm Bureau Federation, American Pulse Association, American Sugar Alliance, American Soybean Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Barley Growers Association, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Cotton Council of America, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, National Farmers Union, National Sorghum Producers, National Milk Producers Federation, National Pork Producers Council, National Sunflower Association, Southern Peanut Farmers Association, United Egg Producers, U.S. Canola Association, U.S. Dry Bean Council, USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council, and USA Rice.

The coalition will share with elected officials, media, and the public U.S. agriculture’s commitment to sustainability and the incredible strides already made to reduce agriculture’s environmental footprint. As policy proposals are developed and considered, the goal is for the coalition and its guiding principles to serve as a foundation to ensure the adoption of meaningful and constructive policies and programs affecting agriculture.

Farmers are committed stewards of the land, leading the way on climate-smart farming by promoting soil health, conserving water, enhancing wildlife, using nutrients efficiently and caring for their animals. For decades, they have pushed past the boundaries of innovation thanks to investments in agricultural research and the adoption of practices that improve productivity, provide clean and renewable energy, enhance sustainability, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and sequester carbon.

FSF’s guiding principles call for policies that support science-based research, voluntary incentive-based conservation programs, investment in infrastructure, and solutions that ensure vibrant rural communities and a healthy planet. More about the coalition members, guiding principles, and sustainability achievements can be found at sustainablefarming.us.

3 Big Things Today, February 19, 2020

Byline:

1. Wheat Drops on Profit-Taking; Corn, Beans Little Changed

Wheat dropped in overnight trading on profit-taking after jumping yesterday.

Futures closed up 23¢ on Tuesday, the first day trading after the long weekend for President’s Day, as the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) said production in the country would fall to a 12-year low. 

The single-day jump in prices led some investors who were long the market, or had bet on higher prices, to sell the contracts and book profits.

Wheat futures for March delivery dropped 5¾¢ to $5.61 a bushel overnight on the Chicago Board of Trade, while Kansas City futures fell 5¼¢ to $4.80½ a bushel.

Corn and soybeans were both little changed overnight.

The National Oilseed Processors Association said in a report Tuesday that about 177 million bushels of soybeans were crushed in January, up 1.2% month to month and exceeding expectations for about 174 million bushels.

Investors are keeping an eye on developments with the coronavirus, or COVID-19. The good news is, the spread of the disease seems to be slowing as the number of new cases reported has declined.

The bad news is, the number of confirmed cases has risen to more than 74,000 and deaths have now topped 2,000, according to the Chinese government.

Corn futures fell 1¢ to $3.81¾ a bushel overnight.

Soybean futures for March delivery lost ¾¢ to $8.91½ a bushel. Soy meal rose 60¢ to $292.80 a short ton, and soy oil dropped 0.36¢ to 30.12¢ a pound.

**

2. Export Inspections of Soybeans, Corn Rise; Wheat Assessments Decline

Inspections of soybeans and corn for overseas delivery rose week to week, while wheat assessments declined, according to the USDA.

About 992,294 metric tons of soybeans were inspected for offshore delivery in the seven days that ended on February 13, the USDA said in a report. That’s up from the 640,620 tons assessed the previous week but down from the 1.08 million tons inspected during the same time frame in 2019.

Corn assessments last week totaled 795,228 metric tons, up from 788,549 the previous week. The total, however, is down from the 941,811 tons examined at the same time last year, the agency said.

Wheat inspections were reported at 501,990 metric tons, down from 567,349 tons inspected the previous week, according to the government. That’s up from the 363,523 tons assessed at the same point a year earlier.

Since the start of the marketing year on September 1, USDA officials have inspected 12.3 million metric tons of corn for offshore delivery. That’s almost half the previous year’s 24.2 million tons examined at the same time a year earlier.

Soybean assessments, meanwhile, now stand at 28.3 million metric tons, up from the 23.8 million tons that were inspected at the same time a year earlier.

Wheat inspections since the start of the grain’s marketing year on June 1 are now at 17.7 million metric tons, up from the 15.8 million tons examined at this point in 2019, according to the USDA.

**

3. Winter Weather Advisories Issued in Parts of Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas

Winter weather advisories are in effect for much of Nebraska and a few counties in northwestern Nebraska and separately in eastern Colorado and western Kansas, according to the National Weather Service.

In central Nebraska, an Arctic air mass will slide into the region this morning and bring snow in addition to what’s already on the ground, the NWS said in a report early this morning.

Up to an additional 5 inches of snow are expected in much of the area, the agency said. The winter weather advisory is in effect until midnight central time.

In southwestern Kansas, meanwhile, as much as 3 inches of snow are expected, the NWS said.

That will continue to add a blanket of snow under which hard red winter wheat can overwinter.

3 Big Things Today, February 18, 2020

Byline:

1. Wheat Jumps Overnight on Australian Production Woes

Wheat surged in overnight trading after the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) said production in the country would fall to a 12-year low.  

ABARES said it now forecasts production of about 15.2 million metric tons, the lowest since 2008. The USDA last week pegged output at 15.6 million tons.

Wheat futures for March delivery jumped 12¢ to $5.54¾ a bushel overnight on the Chicago Board of Trade, while Kansas City futures surged 9½¢ to $4.75 a bushel.

Soybeans and corn rose overnight after markets were closed Monday in observance of President’s Day in the U.S. as the coronavirus’s rate of growth slowed in much of China.

In mainland China, more than 72,000 cases have been confirmed and almost 1,900 people have died, according to health officials. The director of a hospital in Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus, has died from the disease, also known as COVID-19.

The rate of growth in the number of cases, however, has slowed.

Fourteen Americans who were evacuated from a cruise ship that had been quarantined in the bay off Yokohama, Japan, were confirmed to have the coronavirus. More than 300 U.S. citizens from the ship were flown back to the U.S. where they’ll be quarantined at Air Force bases in California and Texas.

Outside of China, 794 cases had been confirmed as of Monday in 25 countries, according to the World Health Organization. Three people have died, WHO said in a report.

Prices also rose in overnight trading on concerns that a truckers’ strike in Brazil will slow exports from the South American country.

Soybean futures for March delivery rose 3¢ to $8.96¾ a bushel overnight on the Chicago Board of Trade. Soy meal added $1.50 to $298.10 a short ton, and soy oil gained 0.04¢ to 30.61¢ a pound.

Corn futures rose 3½¢ to $3.81¼ a bushel overnight.

**

2. Brazil Truckers Protest Likely to Underpin Markets Despite No Reported Disruptions

Brazilian truckers began protesting early Monday in Santos, the largest port in the South American country, in a move that underpinned soybean prices.

The truck drivers were protesting a state tax on gas and diesel, according to various media reports. About two weeks ago, the government proposed a bill that would in effect lower prices at the pump.

President Jair Bolsonaro said in a tweet on February 2 that gas and diesel prices haven’t come down despite falling at refineries because of a 30% state tax that’s adjusted only once every two weeks. That harms consumers, he said.

While there have been no reports of delays to shipments of goods including soybeans from Santos, the market is cautious as Brazil is now the world’s largest exporter of the oilseeds.

Brazil is expected to export 77 million metric tons of soybeans in the 2019-2020 marketing year, according to the USDA.

That’s roughly half the global total of exports and far outpaces U.S. shipments that are pegged at about 50 million metric tons.

In other news, the January NOPA crush report will be released today.

Analysts are expecting crush at 173.8 million bushels, down from 174.8 million last month and 171.6 million during the same month last year, while oil stockpiles are forecast at 1.782 billion pounds, up 25 million pounds from December and 1.549 billion pounds in January 2019, according to research Allendale.

**

3. Snow Accumulations of 5 Inches Expected in Parts of Central Nebraska Tonight

Weather maps are relatively quiet in terms of watches and warnings this morning, though there’s a winter weather advisory for several counties in central Nebraska.

Accumulations of up to 5 inches of snow are expected in the region starting tonight and lasting for about 24 hours, according to the National Weather Service.  

Road conditions are expected to be slippery in the affected region.

“The threat for accumulating snow will accompany the arrival of an Arctic airmass moving into the region beginning early Wednesday morning and lasting through the day,” the NWS said in a report early this morning. “Travel impacts from slick roads are likely for the morning and evening drives on Wednesday.”

Farther east in southern Wisconsin, temperatures will begin to fall below freezing this morning and remain cold throughout much of the day. Windchills starting tomorrow are forecast to drop as low as -20˚F.