Month High Low Last Chg
Dec '16 338'0 332'6 337'4 5'6
Mar '17 347'6 343'0 347'2 4'6
May '17 354'6 350'2 354'2 4'2
Jul '17 362'0 358'2 361'6 4'0
Sep '17 369'2 365'6 369'0 3'4
Dec '17 378'2 375'2 377'6 2'6
Month High Low Last Chg
Jan '17 1037'6 1026'4 1027'4 -2'2
Mar '17 1047'0 1036'0 1037'2 -1'6
May '17 1053'4 1043'4 1044'4 -1'0
Jul '17 1058'4 1047'6 1049'2 -1'0
Aug '17 1050'6 1045'2 1045'6 -0'6
Sep '17 1033'4 1028'0 1029'0 0'4
Nov '17 1020'6 1012'0 1015'0 1'4
Month High Low Last Chg
Dec '16 390'2 385'6 390'0 6'0
Mar '17 410'0 404'0 408'6 5'6
May '17 421'4 416'0 420'4 5'4
Jul '17 433'4 428'0 432'4 6'0
Month High Low Last Chg
Dec '16 110.325 107.925 108.225 -2.350
Feb '17 111.225 108.500 108.875 -2.500
Month High Low Last Chg
Dec '16 72.50 71.29 71.98 0.18
Mar '17 71.85 70.05 71.04 0.14
May '17 72.19 70.55 71.53 0.19
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Meat group says cancer labels not warranted
The North American Meat Institute (NAMI) swiftly responded to an activist petition Thursday calling for cancer warning labels on all processed meat and poultry products. The Meat Institute issued a response to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) saying its petition has ignored numerous studies showing ?no correlation between meat and cancer? and many more that list the health benefits of balanced diets that include meat. The CSPI activist group cited the findings of the World Health Organization?s International Agency for Research on Cancer (I-ARC) which concluded last year that processed meat is ?carcinogenic to humans.? That study has been widely criticized by science-based groups since its release. Continue reading Meat group says cancer labels not warranted at Brownfield Ag News.      
Come join us for Dinner, December 9th in Bertrand as we Thank You for ...
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Sneak peak at your Aurora Service Center Black Friday Specials!
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Many of our southern grain elevators are now delivery points for NK ...
Many of our southern grain elevators are now delivery points for NK Ethanol Grower Advantage Commercial Corn! This includes Harvard, Clay Center, Geneva, Sedan, Ong, Byron, Hubbell, Superior, Republic, and Hardy. Contact your local Aurora Cooperative Grain or Agronomy location to learn how you can earn a $0.10 premium on your Bushels next fall!>
Do you know whats going on below the surface of your soils? At Aurora ...
Do you know whats going on below the surface of your soils? At Aurora Cooperative we are responsible to helping our Owners be more knowledgeable about their soils fertility along with the recommendations that will have the greatest ROI? Find out how You can Take Control of your Yields Through our Yield and Data Advantage Technology.>
Do you know whats going on below the surface of your soils? At Aurora ...
Do you know whats going on below the surface of your soils? At Aurora Cooperative we are responsible to helping our Owners be more knowledgeable about their soils fertility along with the recommendations that will have the greatest ROI? Find out how You can Take Control of your Yields Through our Yield and Data Advantage Technology.>
We are in booth #207 at the Gateway Farm Expo! Stop and see us to ...
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Are you up to date on the Governor's Trade Mission to China? Check ...
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Follow the link below to check out our November Specials! ...
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Thank you to all Veterans!
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It's Fall Harvest of Savings at the Aurora Cooperative Service Center!
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Nebraska Ag Update - December 2, 2016
Nebraska Ag Updates
Oklahoma Wheat: Hessian Fly Management Options
Occurrences of Hessian fly have been found in southwestern Oklahoma winter wheat this fall, making it important for producers to identify field infestations and strategies that can assist in managing the pest next year. “Even though there is not a 100 percent effective solution in terms of managing Hessian fly, producers have several options available to minimize the problems caused by this pest,” said Tom Royer, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension integrated pest management coordinator. “It starts with awareness about the pest and detecting its presence.” Hessian fly infestations are often overlooked in wheat until damage becomes visible. The fly is tiny only an eighth of an inch in size, and resembles a gnat. The damaging stage to wheat is the larva, which starts out as an orange, headless and legless maggot that quickly crawls to a hidden feeding site in the plant. “Once it attaches to the plant, it turns into a shiny, green-white maggot that doesn’t move until it emerges as a fly,” said Kristopher Giles, a research entomologist and professor with OSU’s Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. The mature larva forms a dark brown, one-eighth-inch-long puparium, which is a hard barrel-shaped case enclosing the pupae and is commonly referred to as a flaxseed. The flaxseed serves as the over-wintering and over-summering stage. “We normally see two main generations in Oklahoma – in the fall and spring – plus several other pulses or minor infestations that can occur anytime during the winter when temperatures exceed 55 degrees Fahrenheit coupled with a rainfall event of a half inch or more,” Giles said. Larvae injure the wheat as they feed, in the fall by feeding on stem tissue at the crown of young plants or, in the spring, by feeding just above the nodes of jointed wheat. In the fall, young infested plants become dark-green to bluish-green in color and are stunted with thickened leaves. The infested tiller eventually dies. Some wheat varieties may compensate by producing more secondary tillers. Others have some level of genetic resistance. “OSU’s Wheat Improvement Team screens most of the newly released varieties for Hessian fly resistance, so producers now have access to high-yielding forage or grain varieties that are resistant or partially resistant,” Royer said. To confirm a fall infestation, remove the plant and roots from the soil and inspect the crowns for maggots or flaxseeds by gently pulling the leaf sheath away from the stem. In spring, inspect the first or second joint of the stem inside the leaf sheath. “You can estimate damage by counting fallen tillers per foot of row in several locations, and dividing that by the number of heads in a foot of row,” Royer said. “If you suspect that you have an infestation, bring the suspect samples in to your OSU Cooperative Extension county office for confirmation.” Hessian fly outbreaks can be managed using several methods that work best when employed as part of a long-term management strategy. Grow resistant varieties Resistant varieties can be a very effective tool for managing Hessian fly. Entomologists with the OSU Wheat Improvement Team have been evaluating varieties for resistance and tolerance to Hessian fly for more than eight years. Royer said resistant or partially resistant varieties include Duster, Gallagher, Everest, CJ, Centerfield, Ruby Lee (nearly resistant), Chisholm, Hatcher and 2174 (partially resistant). “Producers who grow continuous wheat under no- or low-till management systems and who plan to plant in late September or early October, as well as producers planting clean-till in fields located near no-till fields, should strongly consider a resistant variety,” he said. Plant late Fields planted later, in mid to late October, are at less risk of a fall infestation. A specific “fly-free planting date” does not exist for Oklahoma growers, with the exception of the northern tier of counties in Oklahoma, which includes the panhandle. “A graduate student, Nathan Bradford, recently completed a survey of Hessian fly emergence using pheromone traps, and found that Oklahoma experiences extended emergence well past any alleged fly-free date for planting,” Giles said. “Still, a late planting should escape early emerging fly infestations and can be expected to improve the effectiveness of an insecticide seed treatment.” Control volunteer wheat Volunteer wheat serves as an early source for Hessian fly. OSU entomologists recommend growers destroy any volunteer wheat by Aug. 15 to reduce that reservoir. Rotate wheat with a non-host crop Crop rotation can be effective at reducing Hessian fly infestations. However, it is important to remember that Hessian fly adults can fly up to a mile from their over-summering/over-wintering site. Fields located next to continuous, no-till wheat fields are at greater risk from spillover infestations. Bury wheat residue and control volunteer wheat Hessian fly infestations are reduced when residue is buried 2 to 4 inches beneath the soil surface because the flaxseed is buried deep enough to prevent the fly from reaching the surface. “This option is not available if the producer is committed to no-till,” Royer said. “No-till producers should use resistant varieties, multi-crop rotations, delayed planting and volunteer wheat control; also, seriously consider using an insecticide seed treatment.” Speaking of which… Consider using an insecticide seed treatment As a last resort, seed can be treated with clothianidin, imidacloprid or thiamethoxam insecticide. They will reduce fall infestations if the rate is adequate and the wheat is not planted too early. “Wheat planted in early September may suffer higher infestations even with treated seed because the insecticide becomes diluted within the plant as the wheat matures,” Royer said. “A late flush of Hessian flies in the fall will survive on treated wheat if planted much earlier.” Royer and Giles stress it is important to remember insecticide seed treatments do not reduce spring infestations and will not eliminate an infestation, only suppress it. Additional information about Hessian fly management is available online by consulting fact sheet EPP-7086, “Hessian Fly Management in Oklahoma Winter Wheat.” Source: Donald Stotts, Oklahoma State University Extension
Use the Right Hybrid, Right Rate to Improve Your Bottom Line
According to Iowa State University research, selecting seed that best matches the soil is a management decision that can make a 40- to 50-bushel-per-acre difference in yield without increasing input costs. et, for some, selecting the hybrid that will perform best in a field is about as easy as predicting what color of gumball will drop out of a vending machine. “It can be very difficult for you to make a hybrid decision, because there are a lot of options out there,” says Joe Lauer, a professor and corn agronomist at the University of Wisconsin Extension. “There are a number of ways to grow corn, but you have to remember that the hybrid decision you make is also going to dictate your management style.” Each year the Extension tests approximately 550 different corn hybrids from 50 companies – a number that has grown significantly since it began corn trials in the early 1970s. “We get only about 30% of the hybrids commercially sold in Wisconsin,” he says. Jim Rouse, who is with Iowa State University’s agronomy department, says they routinely test 250 to 300 hybrids each year. “That’s a subset of what’s available,” he notes. Besides the myriad choices, varieties are cycling through much faster than they have in the past. “A hybrid that was long-lived used to be about three to five years,” says Lauer. “Now, it’s more like one to three years.” Deepening a Partnership Taking the lead in planting for his family’s Monticello, Iowa, farm, Ben Hogan wanted not only to make better seed choices but also to use variable-rate on that seed to optimize the investment. “Prescriptions seemed like a good fit to maximize the potential of that seed in our varying soils,” he says. Blending data with the power of analysis and insight to achieve those goals meant deepening his more than 10-year relationship with Mycogen Seeds commercial agronomist Jeff Housman. “I’m not comfortable enough with the information to know what to look for. However, I do know that if I don’t utilize the data, it’s just a guess,” Hogan says. Housman says he is “able to take the data on Ben’s fields, analyze it, and dig down deep to get a better understanding of hybrid performance. Through that analysis, we’re putting the seed in the right spot,” he says. “We’re pushing areas that can take it and lightening up on the areas that can’t. It’s all about bringing value to Ben and the farm.” Strengthening that relationship between the grower and the Mycogen Seeds agronomist is at the center of the precision agronomy program, which is enabled by John Deere’s integrated solutions and is available to customers across the Dow AgroSciences seed brands. “During trying economic times, it’s important to focus on the farmer and make the right recommendations for genetics and planting rates to match return on investment,” says Housman. The two men are also taking advantage of a feature unique to the program. “It has a place where we can scout and take pictures if we see something unique in a field,” says Housman. “It’s a great tool to document issues right away in a central location.” With the capabilities of Deere’s Wireless Data Transfer, Hogan is now able to better manage his data. “I always did a good job of getting the data off of the combine and into the computer, but there were years it didn’t get transferred from the planter,” he says. “Transferring data wirelessly has made that process seamless.” Yet, both men admit there was a bit of angst in turning that task over to the technology. “Jeff lives 90 minutes away, so I worried about how I was going to get the prescriptions,” says Hogan. “I needed to trust that the technology would deliver the information when I needed it. Luckily, I have never had an issue.” Back To Basics The piece of iron delivering that seed to the soil is a key component in implementing Hogan’s goals. In 2015, he added a John Deere MaxEmerge planter to his machinery lineup, which included the ability to variable-rate seed. “We started with ensuring that Ben was correctly setting up the planter and following through with proper execution. Precision was a natural progression as we moved forward for efficiency and better selection and placement of hybrids,” Housman says. “I purposely bought a planter with the ability to variable-rate knowing that was the direction I eventually wanted to take my planting,” says Hogan. “Anywhere I can drop my population yet raise my yield, I’ll do it. A low-population strategy means using only flex-ear hybrids that provide consistent yields at those lower populations.” Closely evaluating soil types across the 2,600 acres that would be planted to corn was also a critical step in the process. “Some of my fields are pure sand; others go from pure sand to really heavy clay,” says Hogan. “That change can happen in one pass over a field.” Based on past data and the way varieties performed on Hogan’s soils, Housman created three productivity zones – low, medium, and high. He adjusted populations according to those zones. “Ben’s fields were segmented based on soil type, environment, and management practices,” he says. Housman also reviews results from various data trials, specifically analyzing planting conditions, soil textures, and agronomic practices to draw insights. “I pay close attention to how varieties have performed within specific soil environments, as well as how the seed performed at different populations,” he notes, emphasizing that it’s not all about what works best in the test plots. “It’s what works best in each farmer’s situation,” he says. Hogan once used a flat seeding rate of 35,000 seeds per acre for corn. When rates were adjusted to match zones, populations ranged from 23,000 on lighter, sandier ground to 34,000 on better soils. Ten different hybrids were planted with an average cost of $100 per acre for seed. While the main benefit of variable-rate seed technology comes in precisely matching seed to soil, the potential is also there to trim seed costs. “For me, it’s a savings tool,” says Hogan. “I know I’m saving money on seed costs.” For example, if Hogan can cut his populations back by 2,000 seeds per acre, he’d save about $6 per acre. Trial blocks of variable populations were placed in fields to understand yield potential in each field with the various seeding rates. Now that the zones are set, they are starting to dig deeper into the genetics and understand how they perform in different areas of a field, in different environments, and in different farm practices, such as a corn-and-soybean rotation or corn-on-corn rotation. “It lets us get down to a more micro level on how a product performs in a field rather than a macro level. It helps us develop a baseline of how products should be planted,” says Housman. “Not everything can be harvested at the same time. You have to put a balance in there between hybrids with top end yield and some that need late-season intactness and defensiveness. I help create genetic diversity for a balance of products to spread that risk.” Evaluate Your Planting Plan While Hogan is seeing a positive result from the precision ag practices he and Housman are putting in place, convincing other farmers to use the technology still faces barriers. “The reality is, only the progressive farmers with soil variability are, in fact, using variable-rate seeding,” says Jason Webster, field agronomist and central Illinois farmer. “I think it’s low mainly because it has been difficult to define management zones and then create prescriptions easily and quickly. We are also behind in defining spatial variability. In order for variable-rate seeding to be successful, this is a must-know.” As more growers realize the value of variable-rate seeding, Housman believes the agronomist’s role will continue to evolve. “In order to bring that return on investment, it will push the agronomist’s role closer to the grower,” he says. “It’s that closeness that will help the grower make better decisions in the field and improve efficiencies.” A Contrary View When it comes to varying seeding rates, Joe Lauer has a different perspective. “If you can tell me what the weather is going to be next year, I can tell you exactly what the optimal rate is,” says the professor and corn agronomist at University of Wisconsin Extension. “It takes somewhere between 10 and 20 years to predict how different parts of a field are going to perform.” However, he believes there is an opportunity to manage plant populations based on soil types, but he says it’s contingent on the elevation of those fields. “For example, we know that on sandy soil, the optimal population will be different than what it would be on silt loam,” he says. “Keep in mind, with all of this, the plant population response in corn is what we call very broad-shouldered. You can probably be within 95% of the optimum. What I mean by optimum is economic optimum in a range of about 8,000 to 10,000 plants.” The plant population that gives the maximum yield at the Extension’s major research facility in Arlington is 38,000 plants per acre. “The optimal population (or the economic optimum where you take into account cost of seed and density) is 34,000 plants per acre,” Lauer says. “The point where we are within 95% of the maximum yield is 30,000 plants per acre. That’s an 8,000-plant swing from maximum yield to the economic optimum and still within 95% of our yield down around 30,000 plants per acre.” Because no two years are alike, those numbers change each year. “I think people are making much ado about a relatively small thing. There are certainly optimums,” he says. “Each hybrid is different and has an optimal population. There is a variety of things that affect what that optimal population is going to be.” Because he believes it’s a real challenge to variable-rate seed, he advises that you pick what you think is going to be the optimal population rate for that field. “Plant the whole field at that optimal rate. Except down the center of the field, make one round and increase the population about 10%,” says Lauer. For example, he says if you think the field will do well at 32,000 plants per acre, use that rate for the entire field. “Then take one pass up and back and plant at 35,000,” Lauer says. “See if you can pick that up on a yield map. If you do, then next year adjust and maybe go up to 34,000. We know that the optimum population is going up over time, but it probably varies by field and soil type. That’s one way to quickly test in your field in any particular year.” Seed Selection Principles As long as you stick to the five principles below, says Joe Lauer, University of Wisconsin professor and corn agronomist, you can make a good decision in selecting hybrids. 1. Use multilocation data. “Use information from multiple areas to evaluate grain yield, grain moisture, and standability,” he says. “Begin with trials that are closest to you. Compare hybrids with similar maturities (usually within about a 2% range) in grain moisture.” Many growers, he says, don’t necessarily do that. “They look at their own on-farm trials and make decisions from there. The trouble is, they are losing out on a lot of good information from other parts of the country.” 2. Look for consistency. “If a hybrid falls down somewhere and doesn’t do very well, try to find out why,” Lauer says. “Was there a disease problem? Was there a tillage issue or a soil type that made it go down?” 3. Pay attention to cost. “It’s difficult to find a hybrid that is going to do better than 10 to 12 bushels above the average next year,” he says. “The best you can really expect to gain is about 8 to 10 bushels above the average. Those extra bushels have to be used to pay for that more expensive seed. Sometimes it just doesn’t pencil out.” He tells growers who are comparing two hybrids with a $50 to $100 difference in price per bag that they must be cautious when choosing the more expensive hybrid. “That’s a big change from what we used to say at Extension, but price differences weren’t as great then,” says Lauer. 4. Be sure the hybrid stands on its own for performance. “Just because a hybrid is a high performer doesn’t mean it’s going to shine year after year,” he says. 5. Buy traits you need. “Companies are forcing farmers to buy things like a hybrid with a rootworm trait when, in many management situations, it’s really not needed. That trait can cost an extra $75 a bag,” says Lauer. “The cost is hard to make up when you won’t see a yield response. Remember, too, that transgenic traits don’t add to yield; rather, they protect yield. Yet, for many farmers, being able to sleep at night is important, and these traits work very effectively in protecting yield.” Source: Laurie Bedford, Agriculture.com
Drought Outlook-Some Improvements Expected Across the South
A shift in the upper-air pattern in late November brought welcome precipitation to the lower Mississippi, Tennessee, and Ohio Valleys, portions of the parched Southeast, and most of the Northeast, with additional moderate to heavy precipitation predicted during the next 2 weeks. Although not every location in the Southeast and Northeast may receive surplus precipitation, it is expected that most of these 2 regions will record enough precipitation to ease drought by at least one category at the end of December as this is a favorable time of the year for soil moisture recharge where the ground is not frozen (currently nearly all areas). In the central High Plains, a dry climatology, a dry QPF, and only a slight tilt toward above-median precipitation in both ERFs and the updated 1-month precipitation outlook does not favor any improvement. The drought in western South Dakota would be difficult to improve given the dry December climatology and its long-term nature, but the smaller areas of short-term D1 in the eastern Dakotas are more likely for removal with favorable odds for above-median precipitation at all time periods. Similarly in the Northwest, recent wetness plus a forecast for unsettled and cold weather should aid improvement in the few small remaining drought areas. In California and the Southwest, recent precipitation was welcome but not enough to warrant any improvement. With conflicting short (QPF) and medium-term (ERFs) forecasts of dryness followed by wet weather (and EC for updated Dec precipitation outlook) during normally one of the wettest months of the year for California, too many uncertainties made it best to leave the area as is (persistence). Temperatures during the first half of December should average well below normal in the West. Although recent dryness has expanded D0 across portions of Hawaii, improvement is still favored for the small areas of D1 and D2 on leeward sides of Kauai, Maui, and the Big Island by the end of the year. There is currently no drought on Puerto Rico and Alaska (only some D0), and no D1 development is expected by Dec. 31. Forecast confidence for the Tennessee and lower Ohio Valleys is moderate to high. The lower Ohio Valley received under an inch of precipitation (25-50% of normal, 2-3 inch deficits) during the past 30-days while the Tennessee Valley received 0.5-1.5 inches, or about 15-50% of normal precipitation. The 30-day shortages, however, were a bit greater in the Tennessee Valley (2-4 inches) as November normals increase to the south of the Ohio Valley. This is consistent with below to much-below normal 7-, 14-, and 28-day average USGS stream flows, very poor topsoil moisture and range/pasture conditions, numerous wild fires, low stock ponds, and a 2-3 USDM drought category decline over the past 4 weeks. In addition, temperatures averaging 3-6 degF above normal since Oct. 29 exacerbated the short-term drought. In sharp contrast, recent rainfall from a change in the upper-air pattern, and somewhat favorable (wet) December climatology and CPC soil moisture changes, along with all precipitation outlooks out to a month tilted toward above-median totals, indicate relief from short-term drought across the lower Ohio and Tennessee Valleys. Improvement confidence is a bit greater here than in the Northeast and Southeast (longer-term drought) due to the short-term length of this drought. View the United States Monthly Drought Outlook here. Forecast confidence for the Southeast is moderate to high. The ongoing drought, which started in the late Spring, has greatly increased in coverage and intensity during the past 4-weeks due to little or no rains since late October, especially in Alabama, Georgia, the Florida Panhandle, eastern half of Tennessee, and the southern Appalachians. And with recent dryness extending westward, the Southeast drought has pushed into the lower Mississippi Valley and southern Great Plains. During the past 90-days, minimal rainfall (<2 inches) has fallen on the interior Southeast (central Mississippi northeastward into the western Carolinas), creating deficits of 8-12 inches. Temperatures averaging 4-6 degF above normal during the past 60-days have made conditions worse. Numerous large wildfires, very poor agricultural conditions (soil moisture, pastures, winter crops, ponds), and many record low 7-, 14-, and 28-day average USGS stream flows have resulted. In the Nov. 22 US Drought Monitor, D3 was widespread from northeastern Louisiana northeastward into western North Carolina, with D4 entrenched in northern Alabama and Georgia, southeastern Tennessee, and the western Carolinas. Fortunately, all bad things must eventually end as a change to the upper-air pattern in late November brought numerous storm systems and ample moisture to the Southeast, first in western and northern sections, and gradually spreading to eastern areas. With moderate to heavy rains the past few days, 7-day QPF totals of 2-6 inches, favorable chances of above-median precipitation in the 6-10 and 8-14 day ERFs and the updated December precipitation outlook, low temperatures, evaporation, and water demand, and favorable (wet) December climatology and CPC soil moisture changes, some improvement is bound to occur in most of the Southeast during December. With less certainty of wet weather in far southeastern (southern Georgia and northern Florida) and western (eastern Oklahoma) areas, persistence or some development of existing D0 (northern Florida) was made. Forecast confidence for the lower Mississippi Valley (Delta) and southern Plains is moderate to high in southern and eastern areas, and moderate in western and northern sections. During the past 30-, 60-, and 90-days, less than half of normal precipitation had fallen on the lower Mississippi Valley and south-central Great Plains, resulting in 60-day deficits of 4-6 inches, a 1-2 category decline in the 4-week USDM change map, and D2 throughout much of the region. Additionally, the short-term drought (D2-D3) in the Delta and south-central Great Plains recently merged with the Southeast drought, forming a rather expansive Southern drought area. However, recent rains (1-2 inches) in this region have halted further deterioration. And with favorable (wet) QPF, ERF, and updated 1-month precipitation outlooks, a slightly wet December climatology, positive CPC soil moisture changes observed during December (since 1932), and a shorter period of drought than the Southeast, the odds for improvement during December are quite good, especially in southern and eastern sections. The exception is eastern Oklahoma where recent rainfall was less, and all forecasts suggest near or below-normal precipitation, thus persistence was left there. Forecast confidence for the central and northern Plains is moderate. Although 30- and 60-day precipitation was well below normal in parts of eastern Montana, most of the Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas, and eastern Colorado, a rather dry late fall precipitation climatology created 60-day deficiencies of only 0.5-2 inches. Despite these deficits, USGS stream flows in this region were predominantly near-normal. Another factor leading to some D0, D1, and D2 expansion, especially in the central High Plains during the past 4-weeks, was 60-day temperatures averaging 6-9 degF above normal. Although recent precipitation (including 5-15 inches of snow blanketing the Dakotas), QPF totals of 0.3-0.5 inches, subnormal temperatures (finally), and tilted odds for above-median precipitation in both ERF periods and the updated 1-month December outlook (mainly northern areas) are favorable, the dry climatology and long-term duration of the drought in western South Dakota is probably not enough for any improvement in December. Likewise, a less favorable precipitation forecast for the central and south-central Plains left persistence as the best option. The two small short-term D1 areas in the eastern Dakotas, however, may receive enough moisture from Nov. 22-Dec. 31 for improvement. Forecast confidence for California and the Southwest is moderate. During the past 30-days, precipitation was mixed across California, with portions of the coast and the Sierra Nevada above-normal while the interior valleys and the southeast were below normal. At 14-days, however, much of the state was above normal, while at 60-days the northern half was well above normal (thanks to a wet October). The Southwest has also seen above-normal precipitation in the short-term (14- and 30-days), but drier conditions at 60-days. The recent precipitation and colder weather has provided a good start to this year’s snowpack in the Southwest and Sierra Nevada, although it is still early in the Water Year. Not surprisingly, with generally near-normal conditions in most areas, no changes were made to the 4-week DM change map except for some D0 development in southeastern Utah, southwestern Colorado, and northern New Mexico. The climatology for December is a wet one for most of California, and somewhat wet for Arizona and Nevada, while the CPC soil moisture history during December depicts a strong positive (wet) change in California, and smaller changes in areas to the east. In the short-term (QPF and 6-10 day ERF), odds favor little or no precipitation but much colder conditions. The 8-14 day ERF is a bit wetter in California, but still favors sub-median rainfall and temperatures in the Southwest. The updated 1-month precipitation outlook is EC across southern sections, and slight odds for above-median precipitation in northern locations. Based upon the multi-year drought in central and southern California, a less severe and shorter drought in the Southwest, and no obvious forecasts that lean toward improvement or deterioration during December, persistence is the forecast for this region. Forecast confidence for the northern Rockies and Intermountain West is moderate. AHPS and ACIS precipitation anomalies during the past 30-days indicated variable conditions (above and below normal precipitation) for the northern Rockies, and subnormal precipitation for the northern and central Intermountain West. Some slight improvements were made in the 4-week USDM change map (northwestern Wyoming, central Oregon, northwestern Nevada), but these occurred early in the period (late October) and reflected the unusually wet October across the northwestern quarter of the lower 48 States. During the past 14-days, much drier conditions have prevailed. But with a wet December climatology, a normal gain in the historic CPC soil moisture during December, 60-day surpluses, and wet and cold forecasts for the QPF, ERFs, and updated 1-month outlook, improvement is expected for the small drought area in western Montana and in northeastern Oregon. Southeastern Oregon missed the surplus October precipitation, so it is less primed for improvement, thus persistence was left there. Similarly in the Great Basin (Nevada and Utah), the past 60-days were near or below normal, and with lower odds for above-median precipitation, these areas were left unchanged. Source: Agfax
Secretary Vilsack Issues Statement on 2017 Export Forecast
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today issued the following statement on the forecast for U.S. agricultural exports in fiscal year 2017. "U.S. farmers and ranchers continue to rise to the challenge of supplying the world with high-quality, American-grown products. At a projected $134 billion in 2017, U.S. farm exports continue to rally and remain on the record-setting pace of the past eight years. Since 2009, the United States has exported more than $1 trillion in agricultural products, far more than any other period in our history, thanks to the productivity and ingenuity of American farmers and ranchers, aided in part by the work of USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service to arrange and support trade missions and of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to break down trade barriers. "The $134-billion forecast represents an increase of $4.3 billion from 2016 and would be the sixth-highest total on record. U.S. agriculture is once again expected to post a trade surplus, totaling $21.5 billion, up nearly 30 percent from the $16.6 billion surplus in 2016. "The expected volume of 2017 exports is noteworthy, with bulk commodity exports expected to surpass last year's record levels - led by soybeans at a record 55.8 million metric tons, and corn, up 11 percent from last year, to 56.5 million metric tons. The volume of cotton exports is expected to begin recovering and most livestock and poultry products should see moderate increases in export volume as well. "Exports are responsible for 20 percent of U.S. farm income, also driving rural economic activity and supporting more than one million American jobs both on and off the farm. Earlier today, USDA's Economic Research Service (ERS) released the Farm Income and Financial Forecasts for 2016, demonstrating the strength and resilience of the farm economy in the face of challenging markets, in large part due to the contribution of exports. Over the past eight years, USDA has worked to boost export opportunities for U.S. agricultural products by opening new markets, pursuing new trade agreements, enforcing existing agreements, and breaking down barriers to trade. "USDA has made support for exports and production agriculture one of the Four Pillars of a 21st century rural economy, along with local and regional food systems, the biobased economy, and conservation and natural resources, and has made significant, targeted investments in these areas. Today's reports showing growing exports and stable farm incomes reflect the strategic, consistent work of the Obama Administration since 2009 to help rural America thrive. We must continue promoting a favorable trade environment for American exports and making targeted investments that drive the rural economy forward to ensure this progress continues." Full forecast: https://www.fas.usda.gov/data/quarterly-agricultural-export-forecast Source: AgriMarketing
Nebraska Students Head to Taiwan as Part of Ag Student Exchange Program
LINCOLN - Three Nebraska high school seniors are heading to Taiwan next week to represent the Nebraska Agricultural Youth Institute (NAYI) as part of a long-standing student exchange program. Selected by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA), the students will learn about Taiwan?s agricultural industry and how Nebraska ag exports benefit both Nebraska and Taiwan.
Dicamba and Soybean: What to Expect in 2017
One barrier to weed control on soybean farms has just been lifted. In early November, the Environmental Protection Agency approved a label allowing use of the herbicide dicamba in dicamba-resistant soybean, although only one commercial product received that label. Many Illinois farmers anticipate this technology will provide a much-needed method to control weeds that are resistant to multiple herbicides, as well as other difficult-to-control species. “Without question, there are instances and scenarios in which dicamba will improve control of certain weed species, but dicamba will not bring back the ‘good ol’ days’ of POST-only weed control programs in soybean. Current expectations of what this technology can accomplish tend to be a bit more optimistic than what the technology actually will be able to deliver,” says University of Illinois weed scientist Aaron Hager. Hager expects the technology will work well in a handful of scenarios. For example, dicamba should be effective for glyphosate-resistant horseweed (i.e., marestail) that does not respond to the traditional burndown tankmix of glyphosate and 2,4-D. “The new dicamba label allows up to 1 lb dicamba acid-equivalent to be applied prior to planting dicamba-resistant soybean. This can provide better and more consistent control of glyphosate-resistant horseweed compared with 0.5 lb acid-equivalent 2,4-D,” Hager says. It is important to note that although the new label allows soybean to be planted immediately after dicamba application, Hager advises farmers to wait a few days following application before injuring the weeds with the planting operation. Hager also predicts that dicamba will provide good control of tall and ivy-leaf morning glory, as well as common and giant ragweed. “Dicamba certainly can provide better control of herbicide-resistant ragweeds than can glyphosate or ALS inhibitors,” he says. For farmers battling waterhemp, the solution may not be as simple. Most university weed control guides list dicamba as good or very good on waterhemp, but not excellent. “Dicamba can improve control of pigweed species, but it will never be as effective as glyphosate once was,” Hager notes. “Illinois farmers have made great strides toward utilizing more diverse herbicide programs for waterhemp control than they were using a decade ago. We suggest that dicamba should be used in a way that does not reduce this diversity. It is imperative to maintain a diverse weed management approach to prolong the effective utility of dicamba.” Illinois waterhemp populations have evolved resistance to herbicides from six site-of-action groups. According to Hager, resistance to dicamba is not a question of “if”, but “when.” Hager points out some of the restrictions that come with the new dicamba label. “The current label contains several mandates related to the actual spray application procedure that are somewhat unique,” he says. “For instance, there are limitations on boom height, sprayer speed, and nozzle type that applicators must follow.” One of the most significant limitations is the inability to tankmix dicamba with other herbicides. There is an avenue by which other herbicides can be approved for application with dicamba, but if the current label remains unchanged during the 2017 growing season, applicators will be required to apply dicamba alone. “In other words, farmers will make a separate application of dicamba and another application of other needed herbicides,” Hager says. Additional concerns about the new product relate to yield potential of dicamba-resistant soybean and the possibility of particle drift and volatilization. For more information on these issues, please visit The Bulletin. More information will be shared about dicamba use in dicamba-resistant soybean as the product is rolled out. Hager suggests that dicamba will provide a solution to unique weed management challenges, but notes that not all weed management challenges can be met with dicamba. “Other herbicide-resistant crop technologies, such as Liberty Link and Enlist, also can provide solutions and remain viable options for soybean producers. Proper stewardship of all technologies is essential to prolong their effective utilization,” Hager says. Source: Aaron Hager, University of Illinois Extension
Vilsack Issues Statement on 2016 Farm Income Forecast
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack issued the following statement today on the Farm Income and Financial Forecasts for 2016, released by USDA's Economic Research Service. "Today's forecast continues to show that the health of the overall farm economy is strong in the face of challenging markets. After reaching record highs in 2012-2014, net farm income declined in 2015 and is forecast to decline in 2016, but the bigger picture shows that farm income over the last five-year period reflects the highest average five-year period on record. The comprehensive farm safety net provided by the 2014 Farm Bill will continue to help America's farmers and ranchers respond to market conditions and provide financial stability for producers. Farm Bill program payments are forecast to increase over 19 percent to $12.9 billion in 2016, primarily through Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) payments. "As we saw in the August forecast, the estimates again show that debt to asset and debt to equity ratios -- two key indicators of the farm economy's health -- continue to be near all-time lows, and more than 90% of farm businesses are not highly leveraged. Median household income for farming families remains near historic highs and is expected to remain stable relative to 2015. In 2016, higher off-farm earnings are expected to help stabilize losses due to low commodity prices. "The trend in strong household income reflects work of the Obama Administration since 2009 to make significant and targeted investments to help rural America thrive, including farming and non-farming families alike. At the beginning of the Obama Administration, rural areas were reeling from the Great Recession. Rural counties were losing 200,000 jobs per year, rural unemployment reached nearly 10 percent, and poverty rates reached heights unseen in decades. Over the past eight years, USDA has invested in building a more robust system of production agriculture, expanding foreign markets for U.S. farm goods, bolstering local and regional food systems across the country, and creating a new biobased economy in rural communities that today supports more than 4.2 million American jobs. Rural counties added over 250,000 jobs in both 2014 and 2015, and the rural unemployment rate has dropped below 6 percent for the first time since 2007. Rural populations have stabilized and are beginning to grow. Median household income in rural areas increased by 3.4 percent in 2015, poverty rates have fallen, and child food insecurity is at an all-time low. "The future of rural America looks much brighter today, but we must continue to focus on the targeted investments to help the rural economy retool itself for the 21st century." Full Forecast: https://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/farm-economy/farm-sector-income-finances/2016-farm-sector-income-forecast/ Source: USDA
Fat in Pig Diets May Affect Nutrient Digestibility
Added fat increases the energy content of swine diets, but it may also affect the digestibility of nutrients. Dr. Hans H. Stein, professor of animal sciences at Illinois, and a team of researchers have studied the effects of fat sources with different concentrations of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids on mineral digestibility. "In pigs, addition of soybean oil to the diets has been shown not to reduce calcium digestibility. However, some studies in pigs and humans have observed the formation of indigestible calcium-fat complexes," says Stein. "These studies used fats that were more saturated than soybean oil." Therefore, Stein and his team set out to determine the effect of the relative concentrations of saturated (SFA), monounsaturated (MUFA), and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) on the apparent total tract digestibility (ATTD) of minerals in diets fed to pigs. Five sources of supplemental fat were tested. Soybean oil and corn oil contained about 15 percent SFA, 26 percent MUFA, and 57 percent PUFA. Palm oil and beef tallow contained about 46 percent SFA, 42 percent MUFA, and 6 percent PUFA. The final fat source, choice white grease, contained 39 percent SFA, 43 percent MUFA, and 13 percent PUFA. The apparent total tract digestibility of calcium, phosphorus, and sulfur was increased in pigs fed diets containing soybean oil, corn oil, palm oil, or tallow compared with pigs fed diets containing no added fat or choice white grease. Added fat did not affect the ATTD of potassium, manganese, sodium, or zinc, although there was a tendency for magnesium digestibility to be greater in pigs fed diets containing soybean oil or corn oil, compared with pigs fed diets containing tallow or choice white grease. "The implication of this experiment is that producers can include added fat, whether saturated or unsaturated, in diets for pigs without creating a reduction in digestibility of calcium or other minerals," says Stein. "However, in the case of choice white grease, there was some indication that it had been oxidized, and oxidation may reduce mineral digestibility." Stein says this observation warrants further investigation. Funding for this research was provided by AB Vista Feed Ingredients, Marlborough, UK. The paper, "Effects of tallow, choice white grease, palm oil, corn oil, or soybean oil on apparent total tract digestibility of minerals in diets fed to growing pigs," was published in a recent issue of the Journal of Animal Science. It was co-authored by Laura Merriman and Carl Parsons of the University of Illinois, and Carrie Walk of AB Vista. The full text can be found online at https://www.animalsciencepublications.org/publications/jas/articles/94/10/4231. Source: University of Illinois Extension
Cotton Grower Says Sensor-based Nutrient Plan Saved Nitrogen, Money
Florence County, SC, farmer Al Cribb was among trial participants and admittedly was surprised that the use of sensors and mathematical calculations could outperform farmers’ time-tested rules of thumb. After successfully demonstrating savings of up to $60 an acre in on-farm trials, Clemson University has made available to cotton growers a new sensor-based nutrient management plan that can reduce expenses and environment impact. “I could look at the plants and tell that (Clemson’s) were just as good as mine without as much nitrogen,” Cribb said. “I was surprised. I found out I could cut back.” As part of the on-farm trial conducted by doctoral student Phillip Williams, Cribb agreed to cut his nitrogen applications in half on about eight acres of cotton based on a sensor reading of nitrogen content in the plants and an algorithm created by a team of scientists led by Ahmad Khalilian, a precision agriculture engineer at Clemson’s Edisto Research and Education Center. While Williams applied around 45 pounds per acre of nitrogen in his test plot, Cribb stuck with 90 pounds per acre, a common practice he has use for years. Based on the 2015 trial, Cribb cut nitrogen applications throughout his cotton field this year as well. Per their sensor-based nitrogen management plan, Khalilian and Williams plant one “nitrogen-rich” strip of cotton to find the maximum, or target, yield. That determines the amount of nitrogen needed to reach desired yields. They then use handheld, optical sensors to measure nutrient content within the plants. That information, along with planting date and historical yield data, is plugged into an algorithm to tell how much fertilizer should be added during side dressing, the application of nutrients in shallow bands next to growing plants. Cotton growers can take advantage of the product by visiting http://www.clemsonnitrogencalculator.com/ or by contacting their local Clemson Cooperative Extension Office. Williams has supplied several Extension agents throughout the state with the handheld optical devices that will allow them to assist growers with the program. Williams also is working on a smartphone app that could be used in place of the website and is testing a similar sensor-based nutrient management plan for corn growers. Once available, the app will be available for download at both the Apple and Google stores, he said. Approximately nine million tons of nitrogen is applied in cotton, corn and wheat fields annually in the United States. Just a 20 percent reduction in nitrogen usage would save U.S. cotton, corn and wheat growers more than $1.8 billion annually, Khalilian estimates. There are substantial environmental benefits to reducing fertilizer usage as well. The nitrate form of nitrogen moves freely into surface and groundwater and is a significant source of water contamination. In three years of testing, the Clemson sensor-based nutrient management method applied 48 percent less nitrogen than farmers’ rule-of-thumb methods without affecting crop yields. Williams has conducted on-farm trials with six cotton growers in South Carolina and has shown savings of $27 to $60 an acre. The sensor costs around $500. That is the only investment needed to participate. Williams said he worked with one grower who was shocked the sensor reading and algorithm informed him not to apply any fertilizer at all. The grower had planted a winter cover crop and applied poultry litter before planting. That supplied all the nutrient his cotton needed to produce, Williams said. “I put out nothing. He put out 90 pounds an acre,” Williams said. “At the end of the year, our yields were within a pound of each other, so he started becoming a believer.” Source: Scott Miller, Southeast Farm Press
Nebraska Ag Update - November 30, 2016
Nebraska Ag Updates
Choke Point of a Nation: The High Cost of an Aging River Lock
Luther Helland stood on a platform in the middle of the river and surveyed his dam. It was in bad shape. Several of the panels that kept the water back were missing, while others were out of true. Weeks of work stretched before him, compounded by the vagaries of the river. Mr. Helland, 37, is master of Lock and Dam No. 52 on the Ohio River. That makes him responsible for billions of dollars’ worth of cargo and the operation of countless factories, power plants, farms and refineries east of the mighty Mississippi. By extension, then, he is responsible for the livelihoods of millions of Americans. Built in 1929, Lock No. 52 sits in a quiet corner of southern Illinois that happens to be the busiest spot on America’s inland waterways, where traffic from the eastern United States meets and passes traffic from the Gulf Coast and the Mississippi River. More than 80 million tons of grain, coal, fuel and other goods — worth over $22 billion — move through here each year. “It wouldn’t seem like it, but this is more stressful than when I was in the military,” said Mr. Helland, a farm boy from Wisconsin who worked as an Army welder and machinist in South Korea before he took this job. Bottlenecks on the River More traffic passes Locks and Dams 52 and 53, located near the mouth of the Ohio River, than any other spot on the inland waterways. Built in the 1920s and now showing their age, both locks will be replaced by the Olmsted Locks and Dam, which is decades behind schedule and billions over budget. Lock No. 52 is a serious bottleneck in innumerable supply chains nationwide. It is emblematic of the nation’s crumbling transportation infrastructure coast to coast — including locks, ports, highways and railroads. President-elect Donald J. Trump has said he will spend $1 trillion on infrastructure, but how the money will be raised remains unclear. To avoid raising taxes or increasing debt, his plan calls for much of the money to come from the private sector, with a proposed tax credit offered in return. Funding might also come from taxes on repatriated money, as companies receive incentives to return cash that they have been accumulating overseas. Even with a tax credit, though, companies building roads or locks would want a return on their investment — most likely in the form of toll collection, said Mike Toohey, president of the Waterways Council, an advocacy group for the river shipping industry. His industry is “not in favor of a toll,” he said. Still, he is optimistic that spending on inland waterways will increase under a new administration. The average delay at No. 52 in October and November was 15 to 20 hours. At the moment, No. 52’s sister dam downriver, No. 53, is adding 48 more hours to the wait. Dealing with both dams, it can take five days to travel just 100 miles on this stretch of the Ohio River. And if something goes wrong at either one — which does happen — the delay can build to a week or more. On Sept. 14, for instance, all river traffic stopped for an additional 15 hours while emergency repairs were made to No. 52’s dam. No. 52 and No. 53 have been waiting to be blown up since 1998, when a new mega-dam near Olmsted, Ill., was supposed to be finished. Authorized in 1988, the project is now wildly over budget and decades behind schedule. What was supposed to cost $775 million and be finished in 1998 will now most likely cost $2.9 billion and be operational in October 2018 at the earliest. Gridlock at the Dam Capt. David Stansbury was in the pilot house of the towboat William Hank, which was tied to a fleet of barges near Metropolis, Ill., waiting for its turn to pass through 52’s lock. “What would happen if both lanes of Interstate 95 were completely shut down for three or four days?” he asked. “You’re talking total gridlock in a major metropolitan area — this is the equivalent of that.” Right now, the inland waterways are out of most Americans’ sights and minds. “If 52 does fail, or one of the other locks fails, and you cut off half the United States from their barge traffic, then you’ll see a public outcry,” Mr. Stansbury said. He explained: If corn cannot get to the factories, the price of any grain-based product will go up, and people will say, “What do you mean I’ve got to pay $10 for a box of cornflakes? Are you out of your mind?” A towboat and its barges need at least nine feet of water to stay afloat. To guarantee this depth from, say, Pittsburgh to Cairo, Ill., a distance of 980 miles, the United States Army Corps of Engineers built dams. The dams make pools. Each pool is like a step, climbing from sea level to the Appalachians, say, or St. Paul. To get from one step to another, boats use water elevators, called locks, that raise anything that floats from one pool to another. Before the locks and dams, many rivers in the United States were low enough to walk across during dry months. On an overcast September morning, the William Hank was pushing 13 barges — two tankers of soybean oil, one barge of dry cement, one barge of aluminum ingots, three barges of scrap steel, four barges of iron ingots, one barge of wheat and one of grain — a total of 19,200 tons of cargo, worth around $6.5 million. Most towboats push a 15-barge tow, which holds the equivalent of 225 train cars or 1,050 truckloads. There is a lot at stake when this much stuff is late. In a low orange-trimmed building on the outskirts of Paducah, Ky., are the offices of Tennessee Valley Towing, which owns the William Hank. Gordon Southern, the company’s senior vice president, calculated that the 15-hour river closure on Sept. 14 cost him around $80,000. His company is just one of dozens. “We call that bleeding,” said Harley Hall, Tennessee Valley Towing’s vice president for operations. “If 52 failed, all that tonnage that passes through here each way, it would have to move on rail and road, and the rail cars aren’t there and there’s no room on the highways. There’s no way to bypass this.” Domestically, trucks moved five times as many goods, by weight, as ships or barges did in 2013. Trains moved twice as much as was moved via water, and planes moved far less. But 72 percent of all international trade moved via water in 2014, compared with 10 percent by truck, 5 percent by rail, and less than 1 percent by air. Many supply chains rely on multiple modes of transportation, and no single mode has enough redundancy to accommodate the goods of another. “The corps does so much with so little,” Mr. Hall said. “This is the hub, holding all the spokes together,” he said of No. 52, but “until Olmsted is completed we have a ticking time bomb,” referring to the dam under construction in Illinois. Bubble Gum and Duct Tape The corps, an agency within the federal government, decided to build Olmsted with an experimental “in the wet” construction method: Hollow sections of the dam are built on the bank, skidded down to the river, towed into position and lowered into the water, where they are filled with concrete. Traditionally, a project like this would have used a coffer dam — a small temporary dam that keeps water out of the site while construction goes on in the dry. The “in the wet” method was supposed to save time and money and minimize delays, but it did the opposite. By the time the corps realized its folly, it was too late to alter course. The novel construction process and inadequate congressional funding, among other things, have dragged the project past the quarter-century mark. Olmsted has been under construction for so long that the company contracted to build it has been bought and renamed three times, the new locks at the Panama Canal — Olmsted’s global equivalent — have been begun and finished, and grandchildren of the early workers have been hired. Meanwhile, the old locks and dams are costing the country $640 million a year in delays and closures, according to the Army corps. Little has changed at No. 52 and No. 53 since 1929. Each dam is made of over 400 steel or oak panels, called wickets, that sit in the river and hold back water. When the river is high — about 40 percent of the year for No. 52, more for No. 53 — the wickets can be lowered to the river bottom to let boats pass above them. When the water goes down, a steam-powered crane from 1937, with a boiler the size of a car, is towed out into the river. A worker reaches into the seething current with a 20-foot steel hook and feels around for an 18-inch bar. When he has hooked it, the crane grabs the end of the hook, pulls the wicket up, and the force of the current sets it in place. This is repeated until all the wickets are up, which might take 24 hours. “This is all farmer work,” said Mr. Helland, the lockmaster. “If you grew up on a farm, what’s in your back pockets? Either a pair of pliers or a hammer — that one tool you always use to fix everything with.” He sat on the steps of the old white frame house, on a hill above the lock, that serves as his office. “The lock is kept going with all the bubble gum and duct tape we’ve got left,” he said, but “we’re running out. She’s deteriorating so fast it makes it hard to keep up.” The corps has identified 25 failure points at No. 52 and No. 53 — things that are on the verge of breaking, and shutting the locks down. Both are built on wood pilings driven into the river bottom sand. The lock walls are cracking and sagging, the hydraulic pipes are paper thin, concrete is crumbling, metal is rusted through, railings are gone, and seals are leaking. Mr. Helland worries about his dam every day. Last year, a family of six drove their pleasure boat down the spillway and four people died. Recently a contractor hit the dam and broke another wicket (cost: $20,000), adding a two-wicket hole to many one-wicket holes and a four-wicket hole. Each hole makes it harder for the dam to hold back water. After the contractor crash, the smaller lock chamber was shut for a few days because pipes carrying hydraulic fluid to the gate were leaking and about to burst. “These are old backbreaking places,” said Randy Robertson, the 51-year-old master of Lock and Dam No. 53. “Trying to keep these things going, it’s a struggle every day. We work a lot of overtime just to try and maintain junk — and that’s what it is. There are things we can’t get parts for anymore. You can’t just go to a boat store or a hardware store and get a drum for a 1937 steam engine. You have to go to a machine shop and have it machined.” ‘You Cost Everybody’ On a recent Friday, Mr. Robertson’s lock resembled ancient ruins, mud-colored, emerging from the river. It is still in working order, but it looked abandoned. Paint peeled, concrete cracked, and there was no reason to fix it. Each piece of Olmsted that is placed in the river is “one step closer to 53 being obsolete,” he said. “I’m getting phased out and I’m O.K. with that,” Mr. Robertson said. Earlier, Mr. Robertson was driving past Mound City, Ill., just downstream from Olmsted. The grain harvest was coming in, filling the huge elevators and making two-story piles on the ground. Trucks carrying grain drove by every few minutes. All the farmers in the surrounding countryside depend on him, he said. If the locks fail, their corn doesn’t get to market. “You know that everybody pinpoints down to you. You see it firsthand, they’ve got a wife, kids, a paycheck,” he said. “If you mess up, you cost everybody.” Mr. Robertson was lockmaster of No. 52 for five years. Because of the stress, he said, his doctor told him he needed to do something else if he wanted to live. When the job opened up, he was relieved to be transferred to No. 53, where the dam is down more and stress is lower. Even drinking water is at the mercy of the locks. When the corps lowered No. 52’s pool to work on the dam on Sept. 14, Paducah’s intake pipes — which suck water directly out of the river — could have risen above water. If the closing had persisted for 96 hours, as was predicted, the town of 25,000 people would have had to find another source of water. A few days later, Mr. Helland stood above the dam on a steel box that would protect his divers from the fierce current when they dived into the river to fix the wickets. The steam-powered maneuver boat lay against the dam, boiler hissing. The crane operator jiggled his foot on the pedals. Warm vapor rose from the roiling rapids below. On top of the dam, a milk crate, a dead fish, a bowling ball and hundreds of logs had come to rest. “Did you know bowling balls float?” asked Scott Davis, a lock operator. Waiting on Progress Earlier that week, it was starting to rain, and Mr. Davis and Sadie, his black dog, were leaving for the night. They walked past three retired wickets on the ground above the lock. The wood was gray, pockmarked and scoured from the river. “This is the best-made thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” said Mr. Davis, 52. “The wood is spectacular — it’s the heartwood of white oak trees.” He has been taking old wickets home, milling the wood, and making picture frames and coffee tables. “When somebody retires from here, I’m going to give them a picture of a sunset over the lock and a coffee table to put their feet on,” he said. By the time the William Hank was cleared to enter No. 52’s lock, the captain had gone to bed, and the pilot, Jackson Walker (universally called Bubba), was in the pilot house. “I have actually sat on both sides of this lock for a week to a week and a half before,” he said. “That’s money these companies are having to pay these guys just to sit.” Slowly, the boat chugged toward the lock wall. One thousand feet in front of him, on the head of the tow, a deckhand called over the radio telling him how close he was: “All right, Bubba, four more feet you be looking at daylight on that long wall … about a foot or two to the good.” Mr. Walker maneuvered the William Hank into the 1,200-foot chamber, a temporary addition from 1969 that has long outlived its design life. Instead of a smooth wall, the chamber is made of poured concrete cylinders that almost seem designed to catch the front of a barge. “You can easily get quartered just enough that you can jam up in here and do a bunch of damage,” Mr. Walker said. His tow, like most, was 105 feet wide. The lock chamber is 110 feet wide. To park his 1,130-foot, 19,200-ton craft, he had as much space as a car does in a crowded parking lot. Gently tapping the stainless steel levers that control the rudders and pulling back and forth on the two throttles, Mr. Walker steered, came ahead, and stopped in the center of the chamber. To his right, the bedraggled condition of the wickets was apparent. “It’s just like holding your fingers up against the water and letting it flow through,” he said. The William Hank had waited eight hours to get here. “This is one of the fastest I’ve seen it,” Mr. Walker said. A man in a neon green vest rode a little yellow scooter to the end of the lock wall. He got out and leaned back on a long metal lever. The lock gate began to creak and groan. A big red gear turned, a black steel arm stretched out, and the gate slowly closed. No. 52 is operated entirely by hydraulics, and Mr. Helland said he could tell by the sound if something was wrong. The lock operator can move a tow through the chamber in an hour by himself, using the levers and a set of buttons inside two sheet metal shacks a little bigger than portable toilets. At Olmsted, this will all be done with clicks of a mouse, but no matter how much money is invested in infrastructure by the Trump administration, Mr. Helland’s shoulders will feel the weight of 80 million tons for at least two more years. Source: Tyler J. Kelley, The New York Times
Vomitoxin Prompts Dakota Corn Movement Eastward
Some parts of the Eastern Corn Belt (ECB) turned to the Northwest “Corn Belt” recently to purchase corn that was not infected with vomitoxin. They needed the corn to blend with its own corn to make it safe for feed use and also to comply with contract specifications for corn they shipped out. Exporting corn out of North Dakota is not a new concept. In 2012 when the severe drought in the U.S. caused high levels of aflatoxin in the heart of the Corn Belt, North Dakota corn moved to many parts of the affected areas. That year, North Dakota was unaffected by the drought and produced a clean corn crop that was useful to ethanol plants and corn processors in Illinois for blending. Normally, the FDA does not allow aflatoxin-infected corn to be blended. However, in 2012 they allowed waivers for corn containing more than 20 parts per billion (ppb) to no greater than 500 ppb of aflatoxin to be blended with clean corn pursuant to strict guidelines set by the FDA for use as animal feed. At least six states, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Oklahoma and Nebraska, were granted waivers for blending to safely feed certain livestock. Clean corn was shipped out of North Dakota with temporary rates from the railroads to help the infected states. This year, aflatoxin is not the problem, but rather a member of its family, vomitoxin, which was found in some of the corn in parts of east-central Indiana and western Ohio. Vomitoxin occurs when there is too much rain at certain critical growth stages of the corn ear. Ethanol plants in the areas of the infected corn are unable to buy vomitoxin-tainted corn containing over 5 to 7 parts per million (ppm) because the toxin could contaminate the ethanol byproduct, dried distillers’ grains, that is sold for animal feed. Vomitoxin-tainted corn can be blended with zero-vomitoxin corn and does not need a special waiver granted by the FDA to do so. A BNSF shuttle loader in North Dakota told DTN that he knew of at least two North Dakota corn shuttles that were arbitraged in early November from the original delivery point of the Pacific Northwest (PNW) to Indiana. He wasn’t sure what freight costs were because the full rate was not published, but he did hear that an ethanol plant in Indiana was paying at least a 10-cent premium for zero-vomitoxin corn, something that North Dakota has plenty of. According to another BNSF shuttle loader, another reason that the arbitrage worked was because corn basis to the PNW was bid at extremely cheap levels this fall. Besides the fact that there was not much of a corn export program on the PNW, most of the focus was on soybeans for export. Since most of the corn in North Dakota moves to the PNW, elevator basis is set by the price the PNW is willing to pay. However, since the first of November, the BNSF shuttle basis delivered to the PNW moved from +50Z to as high as +72Z last week, which has made the arbitrage to the ECB less profitable. Shuttle loaders on the CP railroad in North Dakota were in the same position as far as weak PNW basis in early November. The CP shuttle basis was posted at +46Z in early November, but did recover and moved to +60Z last week. A North Dakota CP shuttle loader told me he received calls from a few eastern Indiana and Ohio plants about selling them zero-vomitoxin corn. While the railroad added a tariff rate to Decatur, Illinois, out of North Dakota to move corn to the ECB, he said it is no longer competitive now that PNW basis has strengthened. Source: Mary Kennedy, Agfax
2017 Outlook: Can 'King Corn' Keep its Crown?
The king of the crop world might lose ground in 2017. Weak prices combined with more appealing profits on alternative crops means corn acres could be down next year. “In August, we put out projections that indicate we expect to see a drop in corn acreage and a jump in soybean acres in 2017,” says Pat Westhoff, director of the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) at the University of Missouri. “If you look at prices today it says plant beans, don’t plant corn.” Read the entire story here.
10 Tips for Achieving 100 Bushel Beans
We all know now that 100-bushel soybeans are in the realm of possibility. Kip Culler did it first and repeated it three times, topping off at 160 bushels. Dan Arkels and the Lakey family have done it in Illinois. Matt Miles has repeated it five times over five consecutive years in Arkansas. And Randy Dowdy broke 100 bushels in 2014 and 2015 and hit 171.8 bu in 2016. There have been other growers who have broken through this ceiling unofficially, so it possible. The key to producing 100-bushel soybeans is to have the right luck with the weather (rainfall or irrigation, moderate temperatures, no hail, late frost), early planting and good soil, and then to follow the best agronomic practices. Below I present 10 tips; take them and put your own spin on them, coming up with a systems approach that will move you up the yield curve. First, and most importantly, is variety selection. Select the right variety for the right fields and yield potential. Study yield performance reports and look at your own yield data. Select varieties with resistance to SCN, SDS and other diseases. Second is rotation. A two-year corn followed by one-year soybean rotation will spike yield. Soybean plants face many disease organisms from planting to harvest and with a two-year continuous corn rotation, fewer disease organisms will remain in the soil, plus that extra year of corn adds more organic matter back to the soil. Third is tillage. Too much tillage doesn’t benefit soybeans. Only in wet, heavy soils do soybeans benefit from tillage by drying out the soil and allowing earlier planting. Fourth is planting date. Plant early at the end of April and at the same time as corn. Run two plants. Beyond May 1, for every day that planting is delayed up to June 5 there is some yield loss. Plant early and treat your seed to protect it against soil borne diseases. Fifth is plant population. Growers can push it down when planting in rows to 140,000 to 160,000 or under and save on seed costs and achieve the same yield potential. Sixth is row spacing. Narrow 15-inch or 20-inch rows outperform 30-inch rows and yield equal to drilling in 7½ inch rows (which wastes seed). Growers save on seed by getting better seed singulation and depth placement and get more even germination and emergence. Seventh is controlling pests from emergence to pod fill. Know your pest risks, treat your seed and scout regularly. Treat for insects like soybean aphid, bean leaf beetle and Japanese beetle whenever they exceed the threshold. Most high yield producers apply an insecticide and fungicide at R3. Eighth is weed management. Over 90% of the soybeans planted are glyphosate tolerant, but a number of weeds are now resistant to glyphosate. Use a weed control program that includes a spring burndown or tillage, overlapping residual, and post program that will control herbicide-resistant weeds and spray when weeds are smaller than 4 inches. Early weed competition robs yield. Ninth is fertility. Fertilize not just for corn, but for soybeans as well and have your soil tests in the medium range. Consider foliar feeding once or twice to stimulate the crop. Tenth is harvest. Harvest when the crop is ready at 13 to 15% moisture, properly adjust the combine and go slow. Reckless harvesting can lose several bushels per acre. Source: Daniel Davidson, Illinois Soybean Association
Meat group says cancer labels not warranted
The North American Meat Institute (NAMI) swiftly responded to an activist petition Thursday calling for cancer warning labels on all processed meat and poultry products. The Meat Institute issued a response to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) saying its petition has ignored numerous studies showing ?no correlation between meat and cancer? and many more that list the health benefits of balanced diets that include meat. The CSPI activist group cited the findings of the World Health Organization?s International Agency for Research on Cancer (I-ARC) which concluded last year that processed meat is ?carcinogenic to humans.? That study has been widely criticized by science-based groups since its release. Continue reading Meat group says cancer labels not warranted at Brownfield Ag News.      
IL company buys former Abengoa cellulosic plant
The final ethanol plant that was owned by the now-bankrupt Abengoa?company has been sold. According to DTN, a newly formed energy company in Warrenville,?Illinois ? Synata Bio, Incorporated ? outbid Shell Oil company for the cellulosic ethanol plant in Hugoton, Kansas.? Synata was previously owned by Coskata Incorporated. Continue reading IL company buys former Abengoa cellulosic plant at Brownfield Ag News.      
Milk futures higher, cash dairy mixed
In Class III trade at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, milk futures were higher on continued technical momentum and expectations for strong demand. December was up $.17 at $17.16, January was $.14 higher at $16.96, February was up $.18 at $16.98, and March was $.16 higher at $16.89. Cash cheese was mixed. Blocks were up $.03 at $1.81. The last unfilled bid was on one load at $1.81. Barrels were down $.005 at $1.615. Continue reading Milk futures higher, cash dairy mixed at Brownfield Ag News.      
How will agriculture fare under Trump?
The rural vote was a big factor in the election of Donald Trump as the next President.? But there are still some questions about how rural America, and specifically agriculture, will fare under a President Trump. Jenny Hopkinson, Washington, D.C.-based agricultural reporter for the news service Politico, says no one is quite sure what to expect. ?We have indications from him on things like immigration and trade that may not be what ag groups are hoping for. Continue reading How will agriculture fare under Trump? at Brownfield Ag News.      
ODA issues health alert for raw milk
The Ohio Department of Agriculture has issued an alert for unpasteurized raw milk and raw milk products after food borne illnesses were reported in Franklin County. The Ag Department and the Ohio Health department conducted an joint investigation following reports of four illnesses from campylobacter bacteria. Later tests confirmed a connection to raw milk from a herd share with the Sweet Grass Dairy in central Ohio?s Knox County. Campylobacter ?bacteria can cause many symptoms such as diarrhea, fever and nausea within two to five days after exposure. Continue reading ODA issues health alert for raw milk at Brownfield Ag News.      
Corn up on an oversold bounce
Soybeans were mixed on commercial spread adjustments.?Crop conditions in South America generally look favorable and the trade expects the USDA to report a record U.S. crop this year. Demand is solid and contracts were oversold after a couple of days of losses, supporting contracts at points. Soybean meal was mixed, following beans, and bean oil was down on profit taking. Brazil?s Ag Ministry says soybean exports for November were 316,094 tons, compared to 1 million tons in October. Continue reading Corn up on an oversold bounce at Brownfield Ag News.      
A Farm Bill of a different nature
The president of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives says Rural America could have a similar impact on the next Farm Bill as it did on the 2016 election. Chuck Conner told attendees of the Farm Foundation?s recent Farm Bill Forum that if Rural America unifies its message ? the impact of activist lobbying groups will be minimized. ?If agricultural groups are successful in unifying themselves, and tapping into this rural advocacy,? he says.? Continue reading A Farm Bill of a different nature at Brownfield Ag News.      
Minnesota lawmakers considering health insurance rebate
Minnesota lawmakers are considering a proposal intended to help offset escalating health insurance costs. Minnesota Lt. Governor Tina Smith says a special session to address dramatic increases in premiums for nearly 200,000 Minnesotans on the individual market-including many farmers-could happen later this month. “If we can get agreement on this with the Legislature, we could have a special session in a week or two, and make sure that when people start paying those increased premiums in the beginning of the next year that they’ll have that relief.” That relief would be in the form of a 25 percent rebate. Continue reading Minnesota lawmakers considering health insurance rebate at Brownfield Ag News.      
Nebraska farm sale brings $37.5-million
One of Nebraska?s largest farms brought more than $37-million at auction on Thursday.? The Thomas Land Company, a more than 28,000 acre operation, is situated on the edge of the Sand Hills ranching country between the North Platte and South Platte Rivers. The land was offered in 50 parcels and bidders were allowed to bundle tracts of land. The sale featured 3,647 acres of irrigated land; 11,705 dryland acres; and 13,293 acres of ranchland. Continue reading Nebraska farm sale brings $37.5-million at Brownfield Ag News.      
Delegates set Ohio Farm Bureau policy for 2017
The Ohio Farm Bureau has concluded its annual meeting and delegates have set policy for the organization in 2017. Leah Curtis with the Ohio Farm Bureau policy council says water quality and a commitment to clean water remains a top issue among Ohio farmers. “Over the last two days we’ve discussed how we can continue that commitment including if any sort of certification program might be created, how can we make that program work for all parties involved,” says Curtis. Continue reading Delegates set Ohio Farm Bureau policy for 2017 at Brownfield Ag News.      
Colorado county to phase out GMO crops
Boulder County, Colorado commissioners have voted to ban raising genetically modified corn and sugar beets on county-own farmland.? The commissioners voted 2-1 to proceed with its plan to phase out raising GM crops earlier this week. Farmers growing GMO corn on the property leased from the county can plant the crop next year, but will have to be phase it out by 2019.? GMO sugar beets can be planted for the next five years, but will have to be phased out by the end of 2021. Continue reading Colorado county to phase out GMO crops at Brownfield Ag News.      
Midday cash livestock markets
The feedlot cattle trade is slow to start on Friday, following light to moderate trade on Wednesday and a light scattered trade in the North on Thursday at mostly 114.00 to 115.00 live and 175.00 dressed. While it looks like business in Kansas and Texas is essentially done for the week, it is possible that Nebraska and Iowa will need to trade more cattle today. Asking prices on cattle left on the showlists are around 118.00 in the South and 178.00 plus in the North. Continue reading Midday cash livestock markets at Brownfield Ag News.      
Cattlemen concerns about transparency
The director of the Minnesota State Cattlemen?s Association says producers have concerns about the amount of transparency some consumers are asking for. Ashley Kohls says there?s ongoing discussion about identifying appropriate access to individual cattle farms and ranches. “How much information is too much information?? And it is a very scary thing to open up your farm and have people come in and basically look at all of your records and all of your practices and tell you to maybe change a practice or update a practice.” She tells Brownfield the topic will garner a lot of attention moving into 2017. Continue reading Cattlemen concerns about transparency at Brownfield Ag News.      
A big change in weather next week
A developing storm system over northwestern Mexico and the southwestern U.S. will drift eastward, sparking a multi-day rainfall event across the southern U.S. In addition, some wet snow can be expected across southern sections of the Rockies and High Plains. Five-day rainfall amounts should reach at least 2 to 4 inches from central Texas to Georgia and the Carolinas, with some 8-inch totals possible in eastern Texas and environs. The storm will lift northward from the Mississippi Delta into the Great Lakes region during the first half of next week. Continue reading A big change in weather next week at Brownfield Ag News.      
WANTED: Veterans to work in agriculture
The agricultural industry wants to hire veterans. There?s a shortage of labor in the agricultural industry across the country and Lori Culler, founder of the Michigan-based ag talent company Ag Hires, tells Brownfield at the same time there?s a growing interest of veterans who want to work in agriculture.? ?We are seeing a huge trend for farms and agribusinesses wanting and looking for military, wanting and looking for veterans that have the skills and abilities that they?re looking for, and so there?s a big match here.? She says veterans who are looking to work in agriculture need to value what they learned during their service which most of the time is the skill set that employers are asking for.? Continue reading WANTED: Veterans to work in agriculture at Brownfield Ag News.      
Trump May Pick Longest Serving U.S. Governor as China Ambassador
People say meetings likely with Trump’s transition team.
Gulke: Post-Thanksgiving Rally Gets Sidetracked
The post-Thanksgiving rally came to a halt by the first week of December. Jerry Gulke, president of the Gulke Group, says that's not good with a USDA report only a week away.
Be Prepared To Make a Profit in 2017
No matter what happens to the markets next year, having a marketing plan in place will help farmers take advantage of profitable opportunities.
Record Prices on Northwest Iowa Farm Auction Today
Machinery Pete reports strong sale prices on a very nice farm machinery auction today (December 2, 2016) in northwest Iowa, including (2) new record high sale prices
Wheat Bottom on the Horizon
Brazil Soybean Plantings 90 Percent Complete
Brazil’s soybean plantings are 90% complete, according to Brazilian consultancy AgRural, of Curitiba. However, a lack of rainfall in the south of Mato Grosso do Sul and northern Parana states has caused crop damage, Globo Rural m agazine reported.
Lots of Red But No Santa Claus
We are staring at a lot of red ink on that weekly change table. Only soybean oil and Minneapolis HRS wheat were able to stay in the black as the calendar rolled to December. Soy oil was driven by increased use estimates following the EPA 2017 blend requirement announcement. Spring wheat continues to see good export interest due to quality problems with the Canadian crop, and MPLS was also a popular long leg against short KC or CHI futures in spreads. Everything else looked a little red.
Pete's Pick of the Week: 2013 Gleaner S67 Combine
This combine sold at a northwest Illinois farm auction yesterday, Dec. 1, 2016. 
Corn and Wheat Firmed Amid Short-Covering Today
LimelightPlayerUtil.initEmbed('limelight_player_666112'); Pro Farmer Editor Brian Grete provides closing market commentary.
FJCTV: Setting Up Your Seeder for Maximum Impact
Farm Journal wheat agronomist Phil Needham discusses the best way to set up your seeder.
U.S. Farm Incomes to Fall for Third Straight Year
U.S. net cash farm income is forecast at $90.1 billion and net farm income at $66.9 billion for 2016. Both measures are forecast to decline for the third consecutive year after reaching record highs in 2013 for net farm income and 2012 for net cash income, U.S. Department of Agriculture said. Net cash farm income is expected to fall by 14.6% in 2016, while net farm income is forecast to decline by 17.2%. These declines follow the 19.8% and 12.7% percent reductions in net cash income and net farm income, respectively, that occurred in 2015. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said, “Today’s forecast continues to show that the health of the overall farm economy is strong in the face of challenging markets. After reaching record highs in 2012-2014, net farm income declined in 2015 and is forecast to decline in 2016, but the bigger picture shows that farm income over the last five-year period reflects the highest average five-year period on record. The comprehensive farm safety net provided by the 2014 Farm Bill will continue to help America’s farmers and ranchers respond to market conditions and provide financial stability for producers. Farm Bill program payments are forecast to increase over 19% to $12.9 billion in 2016, primarily through Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) payments. “As we saw in the August forecast, the estimates again show that debt to asset and debt to equity ratios — two key indicators of the farm economy’s health — continue to be near all-time lows, and more than 90% of farm businesses are not highly leveraged. Median household income for farming families remains near historic highs and is expected to remain stable relative to 2015. In 2016, higher off-farm earnings are expected to help stabilize losses due to low commodity prices,” Vilsack said. Full Forecast:?https://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/farm-economy/farm-sector-income-finances/2016-farm-sector-income-forecast/
$12,000 per acre in Western Illinois
Thursday, Dec. 1, saw 80 acres...
CRP Focus Continues High at USDA
The acreage cap remains a key factor as agency works to keep acreage below 24 million.
Dow, DuPont Merger Set to Close in Q1 2017
The merger between Dow AgroSciences and DuPont is set to close in the first quarter of 2017, according to a report by Hoosier Ag Today on Thursday. The report quoted DuPont Pioneer Vice President Steve Reno as saying the process of bringing the two U.S. ag giants together should be completed by early next year, ?We are working with regulators worldwide and should see the deal close during the first quarter of 2017.? Although new products and brands will not likely be in the marketplace for the 2017 growing season, according to the article, Reno said that once the company is restructured, new products and technology will flow quickly.