Cornbelt Update

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Cornbelt Update is a weekly summary of news from Extension, government, and other attributable sources, focused on marketing, farm management, and other issues that are of interest to Midwestern farm owners and operators.

While the market may trade expectations, it should trade stocks and consumption, says IL marketing specialist Darrel Good, who says that relationship is more important than trader guesses. He says the soybean “expectations for March 1 stocks were misguided.” While the inventory was 70 mil. bu. more than the market expected, Good says soybean disappearance was well within the range experienced over the past 15 years. Read more in his newsletter.

Darrel Good also noted that the pace of soybean exports is larger than projected by USDA, and he suggests year ending stocks could be smaller than the current USDA estimate of 190 mil. bu. Good says the market’s predictions would have that number move higher, based on traders’ estimates of March 1 soybean stocks. He calls it “irony.”

On the other hand, Darrel Good believes the rate of use of corn in the first half of the marketing year “implies that USDA will have to lower the projection for the year and substantially increase the projection of year ending stocks.” Good says seasonal corn usage patterns have shifted for unknown reasons, but may be cleared up in June.

The market believes that producers will eventually plant more area than stated in their intentions when the USDA was collecting that data in early March, so says IA St. economist Chad Hart. And he says that is leading the downward price pressure. Read his newsletter.

Hart’s observations following USDA’s recent Stocks and Intentions report include:
1) Both on-farm and off-farm corn storage are up by double digits over 2009.
2) On-farm bean storage is down 7% from last year and off-farm storage is 2% higher.
3) Farmers in MN, MO, & OH are carrying soybeans deeper into the marketing year.
4) The Cornbelt corn and soybean acreage is holding steady from 2009.
5) Most of the soybean acreage decline is in the SE, and being replaced by cotton.
6) US farmers plan will plant 319.5 mil. acres of principal crops, up 2.4 from 2009.
7) Corn acres will be up, but sorghum, barley, and oat acreage will decline.

Hart says the weather premium has been minimized in the market for now, but that could change. He suggests, “The soggy planting problems of 2008 and 2009 were brought on by springtime rainfall, not a large snowpack like we had this year. And with subsoil moisture being more than adequate across most of the major corn and soybean lands, it would not take much additional moisture to have an impact on planting.”

Where will 2010 harvest prices be? That question was asked at the USDA’s Outlook Conference recently. At the time Chad Hart at IA St. said, “USDA put out unofficial season-average price estimates for 2010, $3.60 for corn and $8.80 for soybeans. At the time, futures prices pointed to 2010 season-average prices around $3.80 for corn and $8.95 for soybeans. Following the March reports, futures prices are pointing to 2010 season-average prices around $3.61 for corn and $8.85 for soybeans.”

While GRIP crop insurance used to be an automatic indemnity check, IL economist Gary Schnitkey says farmers in only 7 IL counties will be paid for 2009 county crop yields. Examining yields throughout IL he said some southern counties had corn yields more than 20 bu. above the trend line, while northern IL counties frequently had yields below the trend line, 6 of those earning GRIP indemnity payments. Read more.

But don’t look at NASS yields
to determine whether you might get a GRIP indemnity payment, says Schnitkey. He says NASS yields are different from RMA yields.
1) NASS defines yield as the total production in a county divided by harvested acres.
2) RMA defines yield as total production divided by planted acres.
3) Planted acres can never be less than harvested acres in a given county,
4) Therefore, yields used to calculate GRIP payments will be less than NASS yields.

Should you apply fungicide on soybeans? Bradley says seed treatments can be used to help ensure good emergence and stand uniformity, but will not guarantee higher yields. He says use soybean seed fungicides if your seed is poor quality due to infection by a fungal seed borne pathogen. But he says it will not help mechanically-damaged seed.

If you are buying a soybean seed treatment, Bradley suggests that you obtain a product that has broad-spectrum protection against many diseases. He says the active ingredient should either be mefenoxam or metalaxyl, which protect against phytophthora and pythium, and he says it should contain another fungicide that controls fusarium and rhizoctonia. Read more.

Are you buying soybean inoculants? IL soybean production specialist Vince Davis says inoculants are relatively cheap, but they rarely provide large increases of yield on higher quality soils. He says the payback may only be an extra bushel or less, and after testing several last year, he found no statistically significant yield differences using it.

The old standby soybean genetics from PI88788 that are resistant to soybean cyst nematode are losing resistance because SCN is adapting. IL soybean breeder Brian Diers says it still has an advantage, but with 90% of SCN resistant soybean varieties depending on the PI88788 traits, Diers and others say an alternative must be found. He says some wild soybeans are good at controlling SCN and their genes are being tested.

Soybean aphids just jumped ahead in the race with researchers to develop soybeans that are resistant to aphids. Those soybean varieties are still in the experimental stage, but a new soybean aphid specie has been found that is not affected by the supposedly resistant soybeans. IL soybean researcher Glen Hartman advises farmers to still plant the resistant varieties when available, if they have had past problems with soybean aphids.

Nearly half of US cornfields
were planted with stacked genes in 2009 to provide insect resistance, and well over that level in some states. IL entomologist Mike Gray says despite the heavy use of Bt resistant corn hybrids, he says we have been fortunate that field-level resistance has not developed for either European corn borer or corn rootworms. Read more.

Gray’s concern about resistance is shown in the results of a survey that indicate at least 20% of farmers using Bt technology do not plant the required refuges within or adjacent to the Bt cornfield. Gray’s survey found that 90% of IL farmers would be willing to use a seed blend that contained 2-5% non Bt seeds, but if the non-Bt blends were increased to a 6-10% range, then willingness to plant it to ensure resistance falls below 60%.

Nationally, compliance with refuge requirements for Bt corn toxic to European corn borer is falling, from over 90% between 2003 and 2005, to only 78% in 2008. For Bt corn toxic to corn rootworm, the compliance with refuge requirements was 89% in 2006 and fell to 74% in 2008. Stacked hybrid refuge compliance dropped from 78% in 2006 to 72% in 2008. Collectively, 1 US farmer out of 4 is ignoring Bt refuge requirements.

If refuge requirements are not met, IA St. specialists say the regulatory process may be changed and groups like the Center for Science in the Public Interest will become involved in pushing for penalties on farmers. They say beyond insects developing resistance to the Bt genetics, there is also a social role and responsibility. Read more.

Bt corn hybrids
experienced severe corn rootworm damage in 2009 in the corner of MN, IA, and WI. Rootworm larvae damage may not be seen unless the corn begins to lodge, and is undetectable prior to harvest. Mike Gray at IL suggests that farmers planting large acreages of Bt hybrid dig up some roots in mid-July and check for potential damage. He says that will be a chance to check the value of your investment in Bt corn this year.

2010 bug check: what insects will/won’t be a problem in Cornbelt fields this year? Plan your IPM program with this advice.
1) The spring flight of soybean aphids from buckthorn to soybeans will be small.
2) The spring flight of European corn borers may be hardly noticeable.
3) The infestation of western corn rootworms should be light to moderate.
4) Japanese beetles will continue to be a problem this year.
5) The jury is still out on black cutworms, corn leaf aphids, armyworms, & earworms.

Chemistry caution is being offered by IL weed specialist Aaron Hager, because of herbicide and insecticide conflicts. He says if you have planted a multi-stacked hybrid, and are planning to use an organophosphate insecticide to control other insects, your corn may be hurt if your follow it with an ALS or HPPD inhibiting herbicide. Hager’s chart depicts problem chemistry.

If you have horseweed or marestail that is resistant to glyphosate, grit your teeth suggests IL weed scientist Aaron Hager. He says, “No novel herbicide active ingredients for postemergence control of broadleaf weeds in soybean are likely to be commercialized in the next few years, so managing herbicide-resistant weed populations will become increasingly challenging into the foreseeable future.” If you have glyphosate-resistant weeds, download a management brochure.

Are your fields getting wooly?
If the moisture has kept cultivators and sprayers out of the field, take the opportunity to identify the weed crop you are growing and ensure your herbicide will control them.

Wheat was planted late last fall and had little chance to establish a stand and accomplish any tillering before dormancy. Your wheat crop may look puny and IL crop production specialist Emerson Nafziger says there are some legitimate questions of whether it is worth keeping. Call your crop insurance agent before taking action. Your wheat has delayed development and harvest could be later than normal. Nafziger says wheat yields will be reduced if rainfall is normal or above and temperatures are high.

Minor planter adjustments make a major difference in the quality of your stand of corn, say IA St. specialists, who suggest those settings may not have carried over from 2009. Read more.
1) Varying field conditions require adjustments to closing wheel downward pressure.
2) Poor adjustments and faster planting speed makes for seed depth variability.
3) Sufficient weight is needed so depth gauge wheels are firmly on the soil surface.
4) Higher pressure on press wheels helps bring capillary water to seed in dry soil.
5) Wet soils should have either light or no downward spring pressure on press wheels.
6) In wet soils reduce the pressure on disc seed openers to avoid soil compaction.

Rutted fields from the 2009 harvest can be problems for 2010 no-till planters. Many producers may need to consider some spring tillage to level the soil. That is allowed in no-tilling, but consult your NRCS staff first and document what problems you needed to correct. IA St. specialists say first, ensure your soil is dry enough to work.
1) Tillage ahead of the planter is not needed if ruts are less than planting depth.
2) Deeper irregularities can be addressed with a field cultivator or light tandem disk.
3) Tilling only the surface will avoid pushing, smearing, and compacting wet soil below.

Whether grandpa was a pioneering county agent, had the first tractor in the county, or was the first in the region to use rock phosphate on his wheat you’ll be able to read stories about him from your home computer if they were printed in one of the leading farm newspapers of his time. Numerous farm publications from the late 1800’s to the early 1900’s are available online with more on the way.

Cornbelt Update will soon cease to be part of the farm gate blog; however it will become a subscription newsletter beginning with Vol. 12 on April 23. While the days may also numbered for the farm gate, because of technical personnel rules at the University of Illinois, Cornbelt Update will be available weekly to subscribers as an e-mail newsletter. Request subscription details by e-mailing StuAgNews@aol.com .

Source: Stu Ellis, University of Illinois



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