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Good Yields! Yes but a Warning | an interview with Gary Schnitkey

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by Gary Schnitkey, University of Illinois
read farmdocDaily article

On a national basis, corn and soybean yields were near record-breaking levels in 2018, with exceptional yields in central Illinois and the eastern United States contributing heavily to those near-record U.S. yields. Other areas had below-trend yields. The county yields for corn and soybeans presented in this article illustrate these facts. Much higher U.S. yields are possible if all areas have exceptional yields. However, all areas including Illinois should not expect above-trend yields in every year.

Corn Yields

The 2018 corn yield for the United States was 176.4 bushels per acre, just .2 bushels below the record yield of 176.6 bushels per acre set in 2017 (all yields in this article are from QuickStats, a website maintained by the National Agricultural Statistical Service). From a national standpoint, corn yields were excellent in 2018.

Contributing to these high yields were counties having average yields above 220 …

Apr 10 | CONAB Updates Corn S&D Table

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@Conab_Oficial reports Brazil's second-crop corn acreage is expected to be up 6.1% from last year. An early soybean harvest and good weather are the contributing factors. The 2nd crop corn harvest is expected to be 26.4% larger than last season's climate hampered crop.



Brazil's 2018/19 ending stocks are expected to rise to 15.3mt or approximately a 2-month supply with total yearly demand at 93.5mt. @Conab_Oficial notes new crop corn supply may yet grow as production conditions are "very positive". Exports are set at 31mt.



On price - @Conab_Oficial is concerned domestic usage will not increase because the 62.5mt already includes livestock feed usage that has levelled off and it is not known if domestic corn ethanol increases will materialize as new plants have yet to come online.

...a good part of the 1st crop corn writes @Conab_Oficial has not been marketed. When taken with a big second crop corn harvest it cautions a low price scenario.

Brazil's counterpart …

USDA Reports Provide Surprises for Corn

Friday’s USDA reports surprised the corn market. Todd Gleason has more on how more corn acreage than expected this year coupled with more corn leftover from last year than expected will influence prices.

by Todd Hubbs, University of Illinois
read farmdocdaily article
watch post-USDA report webinar with Todd Hubbs and Scott Irwin

The USDA’s quarterly Grain Stocks report and annual Prospective Planting report delivered surprises to the corn market. A greater than expected corn stocks number combined with higher than expected planted acreage of corn gave very bearish news to corn prices. Soybean stocks and acreage came in neutral to slightly positive for soybean prices.

March 1 corn stocks came in at 8.605 billion bushels compared to an average trade guess of 8.335 billion bushels. The stocks estimate suggested feed and residual use of corn during the first half of the 2018–19 marketing year came in eight percent lower than last marketing year. Lower feed and residual use materialized desp…

Managing Nitrogen for Corn in 2019

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by Emerson Nafziger, University of Illinois

The fall of 2018 and so far in 2019, there have been limited opportunities to apply nitrogen fertilizer. Average rainfall through the first 25 days of March ranged from a little less than normal in the northern half of Illinois to an inch or more above normal in south-central Illinois. But temperatures have averaged 3 to 4 degrees below normal, which slowed drying. There were several days in the first week of March when it was frozen on the surface and a considerable amount of P and K went on. This was followed by an inch or more of rain (which had been forecast) in many areas, and it’s likely that some of the nutrients—those in MAP/DAP and potash are soluble—moved from higher to lower parts of fields, or off of fields altogether. While it’s good to get P and K applied before spring work starts, we really should consider holding off the next time soils are frozen and substantial rainfall is forecast before a thaw.

N rate

Results from the on-…

Mar 29 | USDA Stocks & Acreage

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- Dale Durchholz, AgriVisor LLC
- Greg Ginder, FCStone
- Mike Zuzolo, GlobalAnalytics.net
- Lance Honig, USDA NASS












Pre-Season Tar Spot Checklist for Corn

Corn farmers in northern Illinois and across the corn belt have been dealing with a new disease. Todd Gleason has more on Tar Spot and what producers can do to mitigate its impact.

Tar spot is a relatively new disease of corn in the Midwest. It has been showing up on field corn in Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, and Florida says University of Illinois Extension Plant Pathologist Nathan Kleczewski, "That's where it is found right now. But in terms of severity, where we have seen it the most and the pressure is the highest, if you would take the lower portion of Lake Michigan and draw a section around there, that is where we've had the greatest severity right now. That is where we've had the most pressure."

Kleczewski says this is because tar spot likes nighttime lows in the 70's and a lot of humidity. Here's a pre-season checklist for farmers in these areas concerned about the disease, "We do know that hybrids have different toler…

The Economic Advisability of Lowering 2019 N Rates on Corn

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by Gary Schnitkey, Agricultural Economist - University of Illinois
read farmdocDaily article

Spring field operations will soon begin, and nitrogen applications on corn will commence. More nitrogen will be applied this spring than is typical because wet weather limited fall applications. University-recommended nitrogen application rates in Illinois are between 140 and 180 pounds of actual nitrogen per acre for corn-following-soybeans. For farmers applying above those rates, application reductions seem prudent this year. If a farmer is uncomfortable lowering to the University-recommended rates, experimenting by leaving strips in fields seems prudent.

Why Consider Lowering Nitrogen Application Rates in 2019?

Two economic factors suggest urgency in lowering nitrogen rates this year. First, net incomes on Illinois farms could be extremely low in 2019. Projections indicate average income on grain farms enrolled in Illinois Farm Business Farm Management (FBFM) could be -$55,000 per farm if p…

Farmers Unlikely to Make Big Acreage Switch to Corn

The scuttlebutt in the trade, even in the numbers released by USDA at its February Agricultural Outlook Forum, is that the economics will push farmers to plant a lot more corn acres this year.Ag Economist Gary Schnitkey has updated budgets for corn and soybeans across the state. He knows USDA increased its expectation for corn acres around the nation by about 3 million acres but says he does not expect a big shift to corn in Illinois, “What we find is that corn is projected to be more profitable than soybeans. This is the first year in a while that has happened. However, our budgets do not suggest shifting to more corn production. Particularly corn-after-corn is less profitable than soybeans. So, it is status quo for the central Illinois area with a 50/50 corn/soybean rotation being more profitable for 2019.”This holds for northern and central Illinois. Southern Illinois still has a regionalized economic bias to plant soybeans. Soybeans make more money there says Schnitkey, “However, …

Feb 23 | WILLAg Newsletter

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Changes are coming!

The agricultural sector is caught up in a storm of change. Political and economic forces have been squeezing trade on the global front and U.S. farmers have been leaning into the winds. We take up a few of these topics in this edition of the WILLAg Newsletter.
Trade with ChinaProfile of USTR LighthizerUSDA Ag Outlook ForumCorn Acreage in 2019Expected Corn vs Soybean Returns2018 Ethanol Plant Losses We’ll also explore these topics, marketing prospects, the price of farmland, and the weather during our March 5 All Day Ag Outlook. Hopefully, you can join us at the Beef House in Covington, Indiana. The cost is just $30 and includes Beef House coffee and rolls in the morning and Beef House lunch at the noon hour.

Tickets are available online or by calling 800–898–1065.

Hope to See You There!
Todd E. Gleason, Farm Broadcaster
University of Illinois Extension | WILLAg.org




Trade with China

Friday the Chinese trade delegation gathered in the Oval Office with President Trump. …

President Trump's Oval Office Remarks on Trade with China

Trump | Oval Office Remarks February 19, 2019Q How confident are you that it will be finished by March 1? Or are you considering extending that deadline?THE PRESIDENT: Well, they are very complex talks. They’re going very well. We’re asking for everything that anybody has ever even suggested. These are not just, you know, “let’s sell corn or let’s do this.” It’s going to be selling corn but a lot of it – a lot more than anyone thought possible. And I think the talks are going very well – with China, you’re referring to?Q Yes.THE PRESIDENT: And the talks are going very well.Our group just came back and now they’re coming here. I can’t tell you exactly about timing, but the date is not a magical date. A lot of things can happen.The real question will be: Will we raise the tariffs? Because they automatically kick in to 25 percent as of – on $200 billion worth of goods that they send. So I know that China would like not for that to happen. So I think they’re trying to move fast so that do…

Corn Acreage in 2019

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read farmdocDaily article

The number of acres of corn planted this spring will be a key factor in determining where the price of corn goes. University of Illinois Agricultural Economist Todd Hubbs took up the issue in this week’s farmdocDaily article.




He starts with a historical graph. It shows the principal crop acres in the United States and how those have changed since 1997. Both corn and soybean acreage have increased. Combined they’re up about 10 percent over the past two decades.



Illinois’ Todd Hubbs uses that history to help put the number or corn and soybeans acres into perspective, “When we look at the harvest month corn to soybean futures price ratio this year it has been about 2.37. There is a definite signal in this graph from about 2006 to 2018 that if you are above 2.4 in that ratio, there will be less corn acreage. If you are below 2.3 there will be more corn acreage. We are today sitting right in between those. We’ve seen problems with fieldwork in large parts of the c…

RIVIAN | All Electric Pickup Truck

Rivian Automotive LLC expects to build an electric plug-in pickup truck and SUV starting in 2020. Todd Gleason talks with Michael McHale about the startup company and its plans to produce the vehicles in Normal, Illinois. They also take up the impact electric vehicles are having on the automotive industry and potentially ethanol made from corn.

SCO: An Insurance Option Available to More Farmers

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Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO) was introduced in the 2014 Farm Bill but was limited to acres where Price Loss Coverage (PLC) was the commodity title program choice. More farmers likely will be choosing PLC for the 2019 and 2020 marketing years, leading to more acres being eligible for SCO. SCO may be attractive to those farmers who find the costs of Revenue Protection (RP) at an 85% coverage level too high. Farmers interested in SCO should discuss eligibility options with crop insurance agents.

by Gary Schnitkey

SCO Background
SCO is available to farmers who choose PLC for receiving commodity title payments. SCO is not available when Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) is chosen (farmdoc daily, June 16, 2015). ARC was selected on over 90% of the base acres in corn and soybeans under the 2014 Farm Bill. As a result, SCO was not an option for most Midwest farmers. Similar to the 2014 Farm Bill, the 2018 Farm Bill again gives a choice between PLC and ARC. More farmers likely will choose …

USDA Reports Provide Little Support for Corn and Soybeans

by Todd Hubbs, University of Illinois

The USDA finally released a set of highly anticipated reports on Friday. The results projected lower ending stocks for corn and soybeans during this marketing year. Despite lower ending stock forecasts, the results disappointed and produced a somewhat bearish outlook. The following discussion recaps developments in corn and soybean crop fundamentals coming out of the reports and price implications moving forward.



Corn ending stock projections for the 2018–19 marketing year came in at 1.735 billion bushels, down 46 million bushels from the December forecast. Reduced corn production in 2018 drove ending stocks lower despite a 165 million bushel reduction in total use during the marketing year. Corn production is down 1.4 percent from the November forecast at 14.4 billion bushels. The harvested acreage estimate of 81.7 million acres is down from the November forecast of 81.8 million acres. Average corn yield of 176.4 bushels per acre is 2.5 bushels l…

Backyard Maple Syrup Production Workshop Feb 2

register by January 30thThe fourth annual backyard maple syrup production workshop will be held on Saturday, February 2, 2019 from 10am–3pm at the Dixon Springs Agricultural Center, located at 354 State Highway 145 N, Simpson, IL 62985. This program is free and open to the public. We are offering an expanded program this year! From 10-noon come learn the basics and see firsthand the entire process of backyard maple syrup production. Following a free lunch at noon, we will have maple syrup experts on hand to discuss scaling up production and advanced techniques and demonstrating equipment from 1pm to 3pm. During the morning session, the University of Illinois Extension will provide some activities for kids, including taste testing of real maple syrup!Program Schedule
* 10:00am to Noon - Maple syrup basics, kids activities, field tour
* Noon to 1:00pm - Lunch (provided)
* 1:00pm to 3:00 pm - Advanced techniques and equipment demo You can choose to come to the morning session, the aftern…

January Crop Report Yield Expectations

The January USDA reports have been delayed until further notice because of the government shutdown. It is expected once these numbers are released the changes in the national yields for corn and soybeans could be positive for price.The last time USDA updated corn and soybean yields was in the month of November. Both crops saw a drop in predicted yield for the 2018 harvest. This drop has been since complicated by harvest problems. Todd Hubbs from the University of Illinois says history can sometimes be a guide to how the January Crop Production report might change. More often than not when the yields from October to November go down, the U of I commodities specialist says they drop again in January, “And what you see is when you see a yield change from November to October that is negative, we tend to see a similar change from January to November. Now it doesn’t always hold, but if that were to materialize we probably see a corn number around 177.2 bushels to the acre. I think it might …