Showing posts from April, 2015

Black Cutworm Early Season Threat to Corn

Corn farmers should pay attention to the spring migration of the black cutworm. The moths wing their way into the Midwest every year. The black cutworm rides the southerlies north into the Corn Belt. The female moths look for farm fields lush and green mostly with weeds. Winter annuals are the favored nesting ground says University of Illinois Extension Entomologist Mike Gray. Quote Summary - They go into those fields and lay eggs. They lay eggs on those weeds. Eventually, once the fields are planted with corn, many of the surviving black cutworm larvae will move off the weed hosts onto corn seedlings. Corn fields in the one-to-four-leaf stage are very susceptible to cutting. If those cuts are made below the growing point of the corn plant, then it dies. Most of the cutting, says Mike Gray, takes place over night or occasionally on a very overcast dark cloudy day. Quote Summary - Growers are encouraged to look for early signs of black cutworm activity. This would be small pin hole are…

2015 Gross Revenues for Corn Using RP85% + ARC Co

A University of Illinois Ag Economist has back figured how the new farm program would have performed over the last 40 growing seasons when coupled to crop insurance. The calculations can be used as a guidepost to 2015 farm incomes.

The exercise coupled RP crop insurance at the 85% level to the ARC County farm program to see how it would have supplemented farm income on a highly productive central Illinois farm located in Logan County. The numbers were run for crop years starting in 1975 all the way through 2014 says Gary Schnitkey. He’s an ag economist at the University of Illinois and explains, to begin with, how this combination would have handled the years farmer are most likely to remember; 1980, 83, 88, and 2012.
Quote Summary - So those are the drought years, and while in 1988 we didn’t have the crop insurance products we do now, we can figure what income would have looked like if a producer had purchased RP at the 85% level and took ARC County. Those years would not be bad fro…

Corn Market Expects Large Supply & Weak Demand

The price of corn is as low as it has been since last fall. It reflects the large size of last year’s crop, and surprisingly little concern about this year’s crop. December corn futures in Chicago, at the time of this writing, were priced in the low $3.80’s. That’s about twenty cents better than the contract low set last fall, but still not nearly strong enough to reflect the $4.25 season’s average cash price the University of Illinois ag economists are using in their supply and demand table for the coming year. Darrel Good sums it up this way. Quote Summary - Current prices appear to reflect minimum production risk and surprisingly weak demand prospects.Let’s take that statement apart. We’ll start with price. The price of old crop corn, while at the lowest level since last October at the futures exchange in Chicago, isn’t nearly so cheap in the country. Last fall corn for July delivery in central Illinois was priced 70 cents under the July contract. It is 14 under now. Here’s what th…

Protect Backyard Chickens from Avian Flu

More people than you might think are keeping chickens in their backyards. These birds, just as those grown commercially, are at risk to the H5N2 Avian Influenza virus. Todd Gleason has more on why and what keepers of backyard flocks can do to protect their birds.

Turkeys and chickens along the Mississippi River flyway in the Midwest are at risk to catching the flu every year. This year a new highly contagious version of the virus called H5N2 has developed. It’s nasty and a bird killer. This is why the U.S. government is taking so much care to control its spread. The farm manager of the University of Illinois’ poultry research facilities, Chet Utterback, says commercial flocks aren’t the only birds at risk.
Quote Summary - I would encourage everyone, whether you have two chickens or twenty chickens or two-hundred chickens, or two-hundred-thousand chickens or two-million chickens to be very, very diligent in staying away from areas where there are Canadian geese nesting, where there ar…

Will Soybean Consumption Reach USDA Projection

Last year U.S. farmers harvested a record sized soybean crop. The price of soybeans plummeted, but not yet as far as the most negative nellies expected. There is a glimmer in some of the USDA numbers that might explain why.

This glimmer won’t raise the current cash price of soybeans. There are plenty of them around, and that’s not going to change writes University of Illinois Ag Economist Darrel Good in his April 20th Weekly Outlook. You can find it online at the Farm Doc Daily website.

It could lend a supportive hand, however, to the price of new crop soybeans. Frankly this isn’t very clear, but here is the short version. If USDA has consumption of soybeans for this year right, and the uncertainty in the March 1 stocks on hand for soybeans has correctly hinted at a smaller harvested crop last fall, then a correction would be due in the September 30th release of the Grain Stocks report. This happened last year says Darrel Good.
Quote Summary - September 1, 2014 stocks were 38 million…

RFS Matters for Biodiesel

Soon the United States Environmental Protection Agency should release its annual update to the Renewable Fuel Standard mandates. This year’s RFS is really important to the biodiesel industry.More often than not when the federal government’s Renewable Fuel Standard is discussed people are thinking about corn based ethanol or other feedstocks that can produce ethanol. However, when U.S. EPA finally releases the RFS mandates - supposedly sometime this month - it may be the biodiesel industry that pays the most attention. Quote - The industry for which the RFS is really a life or death matter is biodiesel.That’s University of Illinois Ag Economist Scott Irwin. Biodiesel, by-the-way, is mostly produced from soybean oil. Quote Summary - Because if the EPA would choose to go back to the RFS statutory level mandates, at least for a few years in the short run, it would launch - likely - the biggest boom in biodiesel’s history. But, if they choose to stay on the path of the proposals from 2013 …

2014 Loss Experience for Revenue Protection Products

by Gary Schnitkey

Most of the 2014 insurance payments on COMBO products have been entered into Risk Management Agency’s Summary of Business, allowing us to calculate loss performance for individual products accurately. This article describes loss performance for Revenue Protection (RP), a revenue insurance plan used to insure most acres in the United States.

Corn, soybeans, and wheat had loss ratios of 1.04, .54, and 1.12, respectively. Loss ratios were above 1.0 in many counties of Iowa and Minnesota for corn and soybeans. Counties in the southern Great Plains had loss ratios above 1.0 for wheat. In Illinois, RP loss ratios were .40 for corn and .24 for soybeans.


In 2014, RP was used to insure 69.9 million acres of corn in the United States, representing 88% of total acres insured with crop insurance. Total premium on RP products was $3,350 million and total crop insurance payments were $3,484 million, giving a loss ratio of 1.04 ($3,484 in losses divided by $3,350 in total premi…

More Hogs than Expected

The USDA March Hogs and Pigs report did little to help explain why numbers were high, other than to simply admit that hog inventory counts from previous surveys were too low.

Pork supplies in the first quarter of 2015 were expected to rise one percent. In reality, first quarter pork production was up five percent. This is because they were 4.5 percent more hogs that weighed about a half percent more than their year earlier counterparts. More hogs at heavier weights has pushed prices down says Chris Hurt, and that’s not the end of it.
Quote Summary - There is an even more price depressing force coming to the market as the number of hogs coming to market in the most recent four weeks has remarkably been ten percent higher than year-ago levels. Higher than expected current numbers may mean that the breeding herd expansion is larger than USDA surveys have indicated and/or that PED death losses were smaller than producers reported to USDA. If there has been an undercount of animals, the …

April WASDE Big for Corn

The March 31 USDA reports resolved some questions for the corn market, but left a couple of items hanging. The April 9 supply and demand tables will give the report some true balance.

Most traders saw last week’s USDA reports as a bad sign for the price of corn. The acreage figure was on the high end of trade expectations and the grain stocks number appears to show a slower than estimated pace of consumption. University of Illinois Ag Economist Darrel Good has a different take.
Quote Summary - Taken at face value the corn stocks number implies less feed and residual usage during the first half of the marketing year than the trade expected. It is about 69 percent of USDA’s projection for the year, 5.3 billion bushels. Over the last four years the first half feed use has been 74 percent and if the market assumes the actual uses is factually 74 percent then the 5.3 billion is not reachable. However, Darrel Good goes on, if you look at the history prior to the past four years, which he …

The Footprint of Chinese Demand for U.S. Soybeans

One out of every four bushels of soybeans harvested by U.S. farmers last fall, if the trend continues, will be shipped to China.

Two University of Illinois agricultural economists have measured the footprint of Chinese demand for soybeans. John Newton, along with Todd Kuethe (keeth-ee), say this one nation takes 13 bushels from every acre of soybeans produced in the United States.
Quote Summary - The Chinese are bringing in more than a billion bushels of soybeans a year from the United States. That’s more than the states of Illinois and Iowa produced combined. Their total needs from around the world amount to more than 60 million acres. Twenty-one million of those come from the U.S. This is more soybean acres than can be found in Illinois, Iowa, and Michigan. The Chinese have a very large footprint in the U.S. soybean market. Large today, but twenty years ago China imported just 18 million bushels of soybeans from the United States, or 2 percent of U.S. soybean exports. Demand fro…