- Other Apps
May corn futures’ prices tumbled to the lowest price level since December during the week ending March 24. Large crop estimates from around the world placed downward pressure on the corn market despite some positive domestic consumption numbers in exports and corn used for ethanol. Still, Todd Hubbs from the University of Illinois is hopeful there could be some support left in the corn market over time.
- Other Apps
After an exceptionally mild winter, I noted my first robin sighting about three weeks ago. During that initial observation, scores of robins had arrived in my yard. Spring is a time of year when the migratory American robin can be found scouring the earth in search of protein. Sipping on my coffee, wave after wave of robins hopped through the yard, stopping to cock their head, as if listening for worms in the soil below. Scratching and digging through my leaf mulch, these red-breasted thrushes, found quite a feast.
Our American Robin suffers from an unfortunate Latin/scientific name coincidence- Turdus migratorius. Thumbing through various literature, ornithologists with an impeccably matter-of-fact tone describe the origin of Turdus as Latin for “thrush.”
Though my first sighting of a robin was in late February, most likely they’ve been here all winter. According to Douglas Stotz with the Chicago Field Museum, robins are migratory birds. In fact, fifteen years ago most American robins were flying south for the winter. With increasingly warmer winters, robins are now year-round Illinois residents. Cornell’s Journey North map reveals that robins were sighted in Southern Canada on January 24.
American robins are one of the first songbirds to nest in the spring. The male’s song is what we often hear on these crisp mornings warding off competing males while drawing in female mates. The female builds her nest and lays her beautiful blue eggs, while the male watches over and provides food during the incubation (fourteen days) and fledgling stage (about two weeks).
American robin chicks are born completely featherless, blind and totally dependent on their mother and father to regulate their body temperature, food, and protection. Only about one-quarter of baby robins survive the summer. Predators abound seeking eggs or newly hatched nestlings. Housecats have become a problematic non-native predator of songbirds. Nest predators slither, walk, and fly and range from snakes to raccoons to jays and many others.
With such a high mortality rate, it is remarkable how the American Robin has succeeded in establishing across the entire North American continent. Robins can rear two to three broods per season and adults live an average lifespan of two years.
At this point, my son joined me at the breakfast table, watching the late-winter spectacle unfold of birds digging up various invertebrates from our yard and carrying them around in their beaks (including the signature earthworm). Upon pointing out the birds picking their way through our yard were robins, his eye lit up. “Like Robin from the movie?” (Referencing his growing Batman knowledge) “Yes,” I explain, “they could be considered protectors in the bird world.”
Being so large in comparison to other songbirds, the American Robin can produce one of the loudest songs. Not only do robins use their songs to attract mates, but they also have songs to sound the alarm of an approaching predator.
Biologists have found that robin songs are so pronounced, that other species of birds, squirrels, and deer respond to their alarm call. In a way, robins act as a scout. Foraging on the open ground leaves these birds open to many predators, so they must be vigilant. Often when trouble arrives, robins are the first to sound the alarm. Signaling to other wildlife to be on the lookout, run/fly away, or a call to action to thwart a stalking housecat or sneaky snake.
While the song of the American Robin is music to our winter ears, these birds carry far more than a cheery tune. Their warnings protect and rally those being preyed upon by cunning predators. The American Robin, our backyard superhero.
- Other Apps
Friday, March 31, 2017, USDA will release the Prospective Plantings report. The survey of U.S. farmers will estimate how many acres of corn and soybeans will be sown this spring. University of Illinois Agricultural Economist Gary Schnitkey talks with Todd Gleason about the historical changes in planted acres.
by Gary Schnitkey
see farmdocDaily post
At its annual Agricultural Outlook Conference in February, USDA projected that planted acres of corn would decrease from 94.0 million acres in 2016 to 90.0 million in 2017, a decrease of 4 million planted acres. At the same time, soybean acres are projected to increase from 83.4 million acres in 2016 to 88.0 million in 2017, an increase of by 4.6 million acres. Herein, we evaluate historical changes in acres across counties, thereby providing perspective on where likely 2017 acreage changes may occur.
U.S. Planted Acres
In 2016, planted acres to corn in the United States was 94.0 million acres (see Figure 1). This acreage level was the third highest number of planted acres since 2000, only being exceeded by 2012 (97.3 million acres) and 2013 (95.4 million acres). The 2017 projection of 90 million acres would be a 4.0 million acre decrease from the 2016 level. Plantings of 90.0 million acres would be about the same level as occurred in 2014 (90.5 million acres) and would be below the average planting for the last ten years.
In 2016, planted acres to soybeans was 83.4 million acres, the highest amount ever planted in the United States. Before 2014, planted acres to soybeans never exceeded 80 million acres (see Figure 1). Planted acres exceeded 80 million acres in each year since 2014: 83.2 million acres in 2014, 82.6 million in 2015, and 83.4 million in 2016.
In the following maps, acreage changes from 2011 to 2016 will be shown. In 2011, U.S. corn acres were 91.9 million, 1.9 million acres higher than in 2016. Reversing the corn acre increases during this five year period would go part way to reaching the decreases projected for 2017. The soybean acreage increase from 2011 to 2016 of 8.4 million represents twice the change projected from 2016 to 2017.
Corn Acre Changes
Figure 2 shows a map color coded to give changes in acres from 2011 to 2016. Counties colored blue had increases in acres, counties coded in orange had decreases in acres. Those counties that are yellow had essentially the same acres in 2016 as they did in 2011.
Several areas had pronounced increases. In particular, the northern Great Plains had sizeable increases. Between 2011 and 2016, North Dakota increased acres by 1.2 million, South Dakota by .4 million, and Minnesota by .4 million. Another area of sizable increase was Texas, with the planting .9 million more acres in 2016 than in 2011. Counties along the Mississippi River, especially in Arkansas, increased acres as well.
There were areas of notable decreases as well. Sizable decreases in corn acres occurred in Illinois. Between 2011 and 2016, planted acres in decreased by 1.0 million in Illinois. Indiana and Iowa had modest decreases as well.
Soybean Acre Changes
Figure 3 shows a map with planted acre changes for soybeans. Similar to corn, soybean acres increased in the upper Great Plans. Planted acres increased by 2.0 million acres in North Dakota, 1.1 million acres in South Dakota, and .5 million acres in Minnesota.
Other areas of significant increase were Illinois with a 1.1 million acres increase in planted soybeans. Planted acres also increased along the Mississippi River, parts of Kentucky and Tennessee, as well as areas in North and South Carolina.
Perspective on Changes for 2017
Areas with large acreage changes in the past likely will contribute in a significant way to acre changes from 2016 to 2017. These areas include the upper Great Plans, Texas, and the corn belt.
It seems conceivable that total corn and soybean acres could continue to increase in the upper Great Plains in 2017. Much of the acreage increases of corn and soybeans between 2011 and 2016 came from acres previously planted to wheat. In 2017, wheat acres could continue to decrease, leading to increases in corn and soybean acres. Whether corn acres will decrease while soybean acres increase in this region is an open question. One event that could lead to acre decreases is higher incidence of prevented planting. Prevented plantings were low in 2016, leaving open the possibility of increases in prevented planting acres in 2017.
Texas could see acreage shifts away from corn. Cotton prices look favorable, and an increase in cotton acres could contribute to fewer acres in corn.
Illinois and the corn belt in general could see shifts from corn to soybeans. Returns from crop budget suggest soybeans will be more profitable than corn (farmdoc daily, December 6, 2016), suggesting a shift is possible.
While budgets suggest the possibility, acre shifts have been slow in coming. Perhaps the most likely area where a shift will occur is where corn acres exceed soybean acres by a considerable margin. Corn acres divided by soybean acres exceed 1.0 in many counties in southern Minnesota, Iowa, northern and central Illinois, and western Indiana (see Figure 4). Bringing these areas back closer to a 50% corn - 5% soybean rotation, indicated by 1.0 corn divided soybean value, could increase profits suggesting that switches are possible.
Areas that experienced large acre changes in the past likely will be the ones where acres changes occur in 2017. This suggests focus on the upper Great Plains, Texas, and Illinois and the corn belt more generally. Continued corn and soybean acreage increases in the upper Great Plains seem reasonable to expect, except if prevented planting acres increase significantly. Texas could experience reduced corn acres. Budgets suggest switches to more soybeans from corn in the Midwest, although this is the case in previous years. Further indications of planting attentions will be received with the release of NASS’s Prospective Plantings report on March 31.
- Other Apps
Kim Kidwell, Dean of the College of ACES - University of Illinois
Extension personnel facilitate the translation of many of the fantastic discoveries made at land-grant universities to people around the world. Oftentimes, this is the only way that this valuable information reaches people so they can make good decisions that improve the qualities of their lives. Kim Kidwell, Dean of the University of Illinois College of ACES, believes Extension embodies the essence of the land-grant mission because this is where transformation happens. She discusses, with Todd Gleason, how the future of Extension in the state of Illinois can provide the basis through which the discovery process can continue to help change people’s lives.
- Other Apps
USDA, at the end of this month, will let us know how much of the nation’s soybean crop there is left in the bin. It “should” be a fairly uneventful number.
by Todd Hubbs
read full farmdocDaily article
On March 31, the USDA will release the quarterly Grain Stocks report, with estimates of crop inventories as of March 1, and the annual Prospective Plantings report. For soybeans, the stocks estimate is typically overshadowed by the estimate of planting intentions. Usually, the quarterly stocks estimates for corn garners more interest because these reports reveal the pace of feed and residual use which is a large component of total corn consumption. The March 1 soybean stocks estimate this year may not provide much new information despite recent growth in marketing year ending stocks and concerns about the size of the South American crop… continue reading the full article by clicking here.
Generally, Todd Hubbs says it is pretty easy to figure out how many soybeans have been consumed. There is a regular reporting system for how many bushels are exported and one for how many are crushed. That second report, the crush, calculates how many soybeans are crushed in the United States into its two components. These are soybean meal and soybean oil. Hubbs, an agricultural economist at the University of Illinois, says the reports make it easy enough to calculate disappearance, consumption, usage, whatever you want to call, and consequently come up with a number that approximates how many bushels are left to use. Hubbs’ March 1 grain stocks figure for soybeans is 1.68 billion bushels. Here’s the math he used to get there.
Quote Summary - Exports for the first quarter were 932 million bushels. For the second quarter, I have them pegged at about 721 million bushels. I have the second quarter crush at 491 million bushels. This brings the total crush for the first half of the marketing year to 976 million bushels. We’ve been crushing a really good rate, but we have a lot of soybeans. So, with USDA raising ending stocks to 435 million, if that number holds and we don’t drive those numbers down, and if the March 1 stocks number is 1.68 billion, it means the last half of the marketing year we are going to have to consume about 1.23 billion bushels.
Hubbs thinks that is a reasonable number. It depends, though, he says mostly on what happens in the export market through August.
- Other Apps
There has been much debate and much written about the likely costs and benefits of including ethanol in the domestic gasoline supply. Costs and benefits fall into two major categories–environmental and economic (e.g., Stock, 2015). One economic consideration is the potential impact on domestic gasoline prices from augmenting the gasoline supply with biofuels. A second economic consideration, and one that has received the most attention, is the cost of ethanol relative to petroleum-based fuel. What has been missing from the analysis of the value of ethanol in the gasoline blend is an estimate of the net value of ethanol based on: i) an energy penalty relative to gasoline; and ii) an octane premium based on the lower price of ethanol relative to petroleum sources of octane.
This farmdocDaily article provides an analysis of that net value since January 2007.
- Other Apps
read the full article
The National Agricultural Statistical Service (NASS) recently released 2016 county yields for both corn and soybeans. In this article, maps are produced showing actual 2016 yields minus 2016 trend yields. Examination of these maps shows areas of above trend and below trend yields for 2016. Areas of above trend yields will have higher 2016 incomes relative to those areas with below trend yields.
Individual county trend yields are calculated using data from 1972 through 2016. A linear line is fit through these yields using ordinary least squares. The 2016 trend yields were based on these linearly fit relationships.
The following maps report actual minus trend yields. By calculating trend yields, the inherent productivity of the farmland is taken into consideration, and actual yields are stated relative to that productivity.
Schnitkey reports those areas with above trend yields will have relatively higher incomes than those areas with below trend yields. In 2016, lower grain farm incomes will be more pronounced in the eastern corn belt and particularly in Indiana and Ohio.
- Other Apps
by Todd Hubbs
read the full article
Corn and soybean harvest future prices moved sharply lower after the release of the USDA March World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report on March 9. December corn futures closed on March 10 at $3.87 per bushel, while November soybean futures moved down to close at $10.00 per bushel. Both prices closed at the lowest levels since late January. When combining the production forecasts for South America with projected changes in domestic use, the competition in export markets looks to be particularly tough for the next few months.
- Other Apps
Your high schooler can go to college this summer for a few days. Not only that, but they can go to the University of Illinois. Todd Gleason has more on the Illini Summer Academies.
Illinois 4-H is proud to offer this hi-fidelity college exploratory experience on the University of Illinois campus. Participants attend academy sessions led by university professors and enjoy a variety of engaging activities that provide a taste of just how cool college life can be. Imagine getting to work alongside university professors while you’re still in HIGH SCHOOL! Imagine getting to hang out on a college campus. Imagine spending five days with kids your age from all across Illinois. That’s what happens at Illini Summer Academies, so stop imagining it and just do it! This program offers teens the opportunity to explore the University of Illinois campus and many degree programs and careers.
All academies feature project-based learning where youth are either conducting experiements, making something, or discovering some aspect of the world few people ever get to see. Learm more about each Academies by clicking the boxes below. It wouldn’t be college without lots of time for socializing, meeting new friends, and exploring campus. There are 15 different subjects to explore.
- Aerospace Engineering $440
- Animal Science $345
- Anthropology $245
- Chemistry $240
- Digital Manufacturing & Rapid Prototyping $350
- Electrical & Computer Engineering $445
- Honeybees & Beekeeping $295
- Human Development & Family Studies $255
- Molecular & Cellular Biology $345
- Vet Medicine $335
- Ag Communications NEW $250
- Journalism: Activating Your Voice of Inclusion in the Media NEW $220
- The Science of Family Experiences NEW $255
- Theatre & Fashion for Stage NEW $285
- Theatre & Hip Hop NEW $285
Dates Dates are 4 PM Sunday June 25 through 11 AM Thursday June 29.
Eligibility The conference is open to youth who have completed 8th grade by June 2017 and and will be at least 14 by Sept. 1, 2017.
Location You’ll stay in the newer living quarters on campus, Bousfield Hall, 1214 South First Street, Champaign
- Other Apps
Sign up is open to everyone for 4-H summer camp in Monticello. As you’ll hear it is a great place to send your kids aged 8–16.
- Other Apps
There’s some good news for a change in the pork industry. Todd Gleason has more on the better prices with Purdue Extension Economist Chris Hurt.
Pork producers are pleased to see prices higher than earlier expectations.
This comes after a really tough year, says Purdue’s Chris Hurt, that bottomed out in November with prices dropping to about $32 for a hundredweight. That’s like paying 32 cents a pound for your pork chop and your bacon - at least at the wholesale price. Now things are way better says the ag economist. Recently live prices have reached the mid-$50 and have pulled the industry out of deep losses into profitability.
The leading reason for the better on farm price is actually lower pork prices at the grocery store. The “law of demand” says people will buy more when prices are lower, and retail pork prices… have been lower say Chris Hurt, “Retail pork prices peaked in 2014 because of reduced supplies due to the PED virus and have generally been falling since 2015. In the final quarter of 2016, retail pork prices dropped 26 cents per pound from the same period one year earlier. The downward movement continued in January of this year with retail pork prices down 22 cents per pound from one year earlier.”
An additional issue contributing to the extremely low prices for pork producers last fall was the small portion of the retail dollar getting back to producers. Another way of saying this is that the margins for the processors and retailers remained substantially higher than normal. As a result, the portion of the retail pork dollar that got back to the producer dropped to 17.5 percent. This was lower than the previous record low of 18.4 percent in the financially tragic final quarter of 1998. As for the rest of 2017, Hurt thinks there is room for even lower retail prices and a higher percentage of that price getting back to the hog producer.
Probably the biggest opportunity for hog producers is the advent of new processing capacity coming on line in the last half of 2017. The added competition for hogs will likely reduce the farm-to-wholesale margins with much of that reduction bid into higher hog prices. In 2016, for example, USDA reported the farm-to-wholesale margin as 70 cents per retail pound compared to 58 cents in 2015. Export demand remains a positive for the 2017 hog price outlook as well. USDA expects a four percent increase in exports with little change in imports.
Pork supplies are not the reason for higher hog prices in 2017. So far this year, pork production has been about three percent higher than for the same period last year.
Live hog prices are now expected to average near $51 for 2017, up from $46 in 2016. Live prices are expected to average in the very high $40s in the first quarter, then move to the low-to-mid $50s in the second and third quarters, and then finish the final quarter in the mid $40s.
Total costs of production for 2017 are expected to be near $50 per live hundredweight, similar to the annual forecast price of hogs. If so, this means pork producers will recover full costs of production in 2017. Losses in the first and fourth quarter would be offset by profits in the second and third quarter.
There has been an overall improvement in prospects for animal and animal product prices since last fall. That is true for beef, pork, and milk markets. The source of that improvement may well be related to the general improvement in the anticipated economic growth rates for the U.S.-think of the stock market increases since the election. These increases are largely based on anticipated policy that will stimulate the economy, including tax cuts, infrastructure spending, and reduced regulations.
Markets for animal products remain vulnerable to at least three outcomes that could differ from current optimism: 1) The anticipated economic stimulus is not implemented, 2) The strength of the U.S. dollar slows agricultural export sales from anticipated levels, and 3) The U.S. moves in a direction of more protectionism that increases trade barriers and reduces our agricultural export sales potential.
Each industry is trying to figure out what the new administration means for them. Agriculture incomes are importantly influenced by the domestic economy, by the global economy, by exchange rates, and by trade. Agriculture, like other industries, must take a “wait and see” attitude.
- Other Apps
University of Illinois Agricultural Economist Scott Irwin discusses rumors driving the commodity markets Tuesday, February 28, 2017 related to biofuels and the Trump administration with U of I Extension Farm Broadcaster Todd Gleason.