Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Monday July 15 Ag News

Frontier Coop & Midwest Farmers Cooperative Announce Name, Headquarters

After careful consideration, the boards of directors at two of Nebraska’s leading farmer-owned cooperatives have decided the name of the unified company and located a headquarters for the staff. The unification, which was announced in April, will take effect on September 1, 2019.

Following a long search for a new name and a lot of input from employees and patrons, the Frontier Cooperative name has been chosen for the new entity. The Frontier name is a nod to the company’s heritage but also an expression of its brand and purpose—to always be visionaries, tirelessly looking for new ways to support its farmer-centric communities.

While the Frontier name will remain, the company leadership felt it was important to rebrand the new company. Beginning September 1, 2019, patrons and communities will find the new logo on trucks, offices and uniforms. Patrons will notice the brand sends a bold statement. They will also likely be drawn to the underlined O and asking why? The underlined O emphasizes a visual limitless horizon line. It also gives the word Frontier a distinctive visual treatment and helps set the brand apart from others, similar to its philosophy of giving customers a unique experience that is better than anyone else.

The board of directors has also located a new headquarters for the combined company. The new headquarters is located at 3333 Landmark Circle in north Lincoln, Nebr. The staff plans to be operating in the new headquarters office by September 1. The unified company will operate approximately 50 grain, agronomy, energy and feed locations across 14 counties in east-central Nebraska.

Potential Heat Stress the week of July 17-20, 2019.

Rob Eirich, NE Extension Educator & Director of Beef Quality Assurance

The July weather pattern is posing to offer challenges this week for feedlot operators and cattle producers. Above average rain fall across the state has created greater humidity and has deteriorated pen conditions.  The seven-day forecast is calling for above average temperatures creating heat indexes that will reach critical heat stress emergency.  Thursday and Friday July 18 and 19 will be critical days across the state as little cloud cover is expected and wind speeds will be at or below 10 mph across the region.

With the uncertainty of wind, take precautions.  Utilize empty pen space to allow cattle greater room and access to water. Supplemental water tanks may be needed to insure ample water intake to those animals exhibiting signs of stress. Consider placing cattle in pens where cattle can be away from windbreaks to catch what little wind we may have. The following link outlines steps to take during heat episodes - https://BQA.unl.edu/heat-stress-resources.  Dr. Terry Mader, UNL Professor Emerti provided great insight on heat stress and steps to take in the following webinar ot-cattle .

Additional steps maybe considered. Work by Dr. Robbi Prichard has shown manipulating the amount of feed delivered the day before the highest heat index will help cattle keep their internal temperatures lower. Prichard said “By cutting the morning feeding by 25% we were able to keep cattle cooler in the hottest part of the day.  The cattle recovered sooner and ate their feeding in the afternoon and had less heat load throughout the night.”

Why is this? The contributions of the heat of fermentation, digestion, and metabolism of the feed consumed in the morning become critical on the day that cattle hit the heat stress limit. If we take that feed away before cattle back away from feed we greatly improve the survival of the cattle. To do this, we watch the heat index forecasts closely. For example, cattle may seem fine today but if there is not enough night cooling (hours below 70 F with wind) and the heat index will remain high the next day, one should consider taking away some of the morning feed delivery. This lowers the heat load midafternoon, which reduces the amount of heat that must be shed overnight.  Prichard said "We typically reduce the morning feed delivery by 25% today, and that may increase to a 50% reduction the morning of high heat index, depending on conditions and cattle status. If we wait for cattle to refuse feed it is too late."  Afternoon deliveries are not adjusted. If the cattle can and do eat afternoon deliveries, that feed generates heat during the night when there are lower temperatures and less solar gain, lowering the total heat load accumulating in the body. "It may seem like we are reducing DMI too much, but if we don't make these adjustments the feed refusals that will be coming in the days ahead will actually represent more pounds of feed than we are taking away with the feed call."

When asked about increasing the roughage in the diets Pritchard commented, "A move to higher roughage diets is not recommended. Under normal conditions cattle will react to a diet change by increasing meal size and forage has proportionally higher heat of fermentation than concentrates. Both of these factors will exacerbate the heat load problem. Staying with the current diet and controlling intake works best for us."

The Nebraska State Climate Office’s Nebraska Mesonet site calculates a cattle comfort index score.  Stonie Cooper, Manager of the Nebraska Mesonet reported that cattle comfort indexes will reach close to a 120 in parts of the state.  “Precautions should be taken to provide additional care to not only cattle on feed but to all animals across the state”.

Additional information on heat stress can be found at https://Beef.UNL.edu .

Soybean Gall Midge: New Counties Infested and Second Generation Adults Emerging

Justin McMechan - NE Extension Crop Protection and Cropping Systems Specialist

Since June 30, low levels of adult emergence have been observed from east-central and northeast Nebraska counties from last year’s soybean fields. On July 2 and July 4 single adult soybean gall midges were collected from two fields in east-central Nebraska planted to soybeans this year, signaling the start of the second generation of soybean gall midge.

Many of you might be wondering about the potential injury that second generation might cause to this year’s soybean fields. As of now, the potential injury that second generation can cause to soybean is unclear, but we assume it would be less than that from the first generation. Given the longer-than-anticipated emergence of adults of the first generation, it is unlikely that insecticides would significantly impact gall midges, resulting in little economic return from the pesticide application.

Application of insecticides may be warranted for late-planted soybeans (after June 1) in fields adjacent to areas with significant gall midge issues in 2018. As indicated in a previous CropWatch article, soybean plants at the V2 stage or less appear to be free of soybean gall midge infestation.

Nebraska Counties with Soybean Gall Midge Infestation

Nebraska Extension Educators Aaron Nygren and Megan Taylor identified soybean gall midge infestation in two new counties this past week: Nance and Butler. Ag professionals should continue to scout fields for soybean gall midge infestations over the coming weeks. Contact your local extension educator or these extension and research specialists, Justin McMechan (justin.mcmechan@unl.edu), Tom Hunt (thunt2@unl.edu) or Robert Wright (rwright2@unl.edu) if you find soybean gall midge in a new county. Signs of soybean gall midge infestation will become more apparent in the coming weeks as plants begin to shows signs of wilting from larvae feeding within the base of the stem. These plants will eventually die with the greatest concentration of plant injury occurring at the field edge. To scout for soybean gall midge, focus on plants that are close to the field edge and adjacent to fields that were planted to soybean in 2018.

Western Corn Rootworm Beetles Emerging, Time to Scout

Robert Wright - NE Extension Entomologist

Western corn rootworm beetles began emerging in southeast and south central Nebraska this week. Beetles typically emerge somewhat later in northeastern and western Nebraska.

Beetles emerging before silk emergence may feed on corn leaves. They feed by scraping the surface tissue, leaving a white parchment-like appearance. Once silks emerge, they become the favored food. The earliest silking fields in an area often are most heavily damaged because beetles will move to them in search of green silks.

There are no thresholds for silk-clipping damage based on beetle numbers because damage levels are not correlated well with beetle densities. Usually an average of 5-10 beetles per ear is required to seriously affect pollination. Severe silk feeding (silks clipped to less than ½ inch from the ear) at 25%-50% pollen shed may indicate a need to apply insecticide. Silk feeding after pollination is complete does not affect yield potential.

See the 2019 Guide for Weed, Disease, and Insect Management in Nebraska (EC 130) for insecticides labeled for adult rootworm control.

Painted Lady Butterflies Are Abundant In Many Areas—What Now?

Thomas Hunt - NE Extension Entomologist

Many people are commenting on the high number of painted lady butterflies in Nebraska. The recent increase is the result of the many thistle caterpillars (the immature stage of these butterflies) seen in soybean fields across Nebraska earlier in the summer.

Painted lady butterflies move north during the summer, but may stay in Nebraska for a while longer and continue to lay eggs in soybeans. The best recommendation is to continue to scout soybeans for thistle caterpillars and other defoliating insects, such as Japanese beetles, grasshoppers or other caterpillars, and only treat if threshold levels are reached.

Spraying now to kill butterflies is not recommended. Adults are less susceptible to insecticides than larvae, and the butterflies in your field today may move on before they lay eggs. Base insecticide applications on the presence of insects feeding in your field and defoliation levels expected to exceed 30% on vegetative stage soybeans, and 20% on reproductive stage soybeans.

Spraying insecticides before threshold levels are reached can have negative effects. You may not get an economic return from increased yield if insects are not present at threshold levels. Also, spraying now can greatly reduce the many beneficial predatory and parasitic insects that help control many soybean insects. Spraying before thresholds are reached may allow increased survival of later season pests, such as soybean aphids, caterpillars, and spider mites.

Storing Wet and Modified Distillers Grains 

Steve Niemeyer –  NE Extension Educator 

One of the primary challenges for livestock producers in the coming months could very well be feedstuff cost and availability due to the fact that the corn planted acreage and crop progress are both well behind normal benchmarks. 

One opportunity that might help cattle feeders proactively secure feed supplies would be storing wet or modified distiller’s grains now to be fed at a later date. The following table shows the USDA reported average prices in South Dakota for corn as well as modified and wet distillers for the last week in June in 2019 compared to 2018. Corn prices in 2019 are more than $1 per bushel greater than a year ago. However, reported prices for both modified and wet distillers are nearly identical for both time periods.

Securing and storing a supply of distillers now for feeding later would be one way to take advantage of what could be relatively less expensive distillers compared to waiting until fall. Of course, predicting commodity markets is an inexact science at best, but one could easily make the case for much higher feed costs next fall. If nothing else, purchasing distillers now takes advantage of a more favorable corn:DGS price ratio and locks in at least a portion of feed costs for the upcoming year. 

Storage Options 

South Dakota State University has been one of the leaders in distiller’s grains utilization. A portion of that work has identified several different storage options available that have been successfully utilized to store wet and modified distiller’s grains in either bunkers for bags.
Storing WDGS can be challenging because the product by itself does not readily stack or pack in a bunker or pile. One approach to solve that problem has been to mix about 70 to 80% WDGS and 20 to 30% roughage on an as-fed basis. That mixture can then be stored in either a bunker silo or pile and covered with plastic. Another possibility is storing WDGS in a silage bag; in this case care needs to be taken to avoid excess pressure on the bag to prevent rupture.
Because MDGS contain less moisture, they lend themselves better to being stored in a bunker or pile without being mixed with other roughage compared to WDGS. In some cases mixing 10% roughage would make packing a bunker silo easier. Using either a silage bag or covering a pile or bunker with plastic will help prevent spoilage and dry matter losses until the start of the feeding period. 

The Bottom Line 

When considering whether or not to store distiller’s grains, producers do need to consider labor costs, costs of cover or bags, and in the case of WDGS the availability of low-quality roughage for mixing. Availability of modified or wet distillers could be an issue, depending upon local plant production schedules and product demand. There is also the impact on cash position and working capital to consider when pre-paying for a large quantity of feedstuff.

Applications for NRCS Ephemeral Gully Repair Pilot Program Due July 19th

Nebraska farmers have until July 19th to apply for funding via a new pilot program to help repair ephemeral gullies on their fields. Ephemeral gullies are those areas in fields where small gullies appear after heavy rains. Nebraska is one of five states selected by the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to take part in the pilot project which will provide $2 million to producers. Funds can be used by farmers to implement conservation practices such as cover crops, crop rotation, no-till, contour farming, buffer strips, terraces, waterways and others.

In 2017, USDA announced enforcement changes for Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri and Kansas related to highly-erodible land. This change targeted repair of ephemeral gully erosion. Since the passage of the 1985 Farm Bill, farmers have been required to control erosion on fields that are classified as highly erodible. Each spring, NRCS conducts compliance reviews on a random selection of highly erodible fields to determine if erosion has been adequately controlled. A non-compliance ruling can affect eligibility for farm program payments and federal crop insurance. If erosion control issues are identified during compliance reviews, farmers may be given variances, which provide time for farmers to make adjustments and install needed conservation practices.

To sign up for the pilot program, or if you have questions, please contact your local NRCS office. https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/ne/contact/local/

Ricketts Announces “Sorghum Cares” Initiative with Sorghum Producers Association and Dept. of Veterans’ Affairs

This morning, Governor Pete Ricketts announced a new volunteer initiative, “Sorghum Cares: Preserving Our Heritage. Building Our Future,” to collect and preserve the stories of Nebraska veterans.  The Nebraska Sorghum Producers Association (NeSPA) and Nebraska Department of Veterans’ Affairs (NDVA) have partnered to launch the initiative, with key support from Humanities Nebraska.

“Our veterans have made great sacrifices so that we can live in a land of liberty,” said Governor Ricketts.  “This project documents their stories of sacrifice, and preserves them for future generations of Nebraskans.”

NeSPA routinely conducts outreach across the state to strengthen relationships with consumers, producers, and industry and educational partners and to develop value-added markets.  The “Sorghum Cares” initiative will be incorporated into NeSPA’s regular monthly outreach across the state.  Following these outreach events, members of the NeSPA staff, serving in a volunteer capacity, will meet with members of the veteran community to record their experiences.  The veteran interviews will be archived at the Library of Congress as part of the Veterans History Project.  No checkoff funds will be utilized as part of this initiative.

“Recording the experiences of Nebraska veterans is important to our heritage, and it ensures that future generations can glean lessons from their leadership and sacrifices,” said Nate Blum, Executive Director of NeSPA.  “Sorghum is also an important part of Nebraska’s rich heritage, having been grown in the state from nearly the moment pioneers homesteaded the plains.  Modern sorghum offers 21st-century producers opportunities to diversify their operations and gives them greater access to value-added markets.”

“NeSPA feels a great sense of responsibility to preserve our history while keeping an eye to opportunities on the horizon,” Blum remarked.  “Our partnership with the Nebraska Department of Veterans’ Affairs adds incredible value to these efforts.  Their support of the brave men and women who have served our nation is inspiring.  We are humbled to assist their mission in this capacity.”

“This is an exciting partnership for our agency and the members of our four state veterans’ homes,” said NDVA Director John Hilgert.  “Memorializing Nebraska’s veterans and their stories is an important aspect of honoring them and celebrating everything they’ve done for our country.  I look forward to seeing these interviews in the Veterans History Project and encourage my fellow Nebraskans to watch them.”

The interviews will be conducted monthly at Nebraska’s veterans’ homes as well as by appointment.

To schedule an interview, or to volunteer, please contact the Nebraska Sorghum Producers Association at 402-471-3552 or email: sorghum.board@nebraska.gov.

Mexican fuel marketers confident they can offer ethanol following tour of Iowa ethanol supply chain

The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) and Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) hosted a tour in conjunction with the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) in Iowa last week to show nine decision-makers from key Mexican retail and supplier groups how ethanol blends have been successfully and profitably incorporated across Iowa.

Tour leaders Ron Lamberty, ACE Senior Vice President, and Lucy Norton, IRFA Managing Director, said tour participants were engaged and clearly enthusiastic about the prospect of adding ethanol blends to their businesses.

“The week’s events exceeded our expectations,” Lamberty said. “We wanted this tour to end any lingering doubt these marketers might have about implementing ethanol blends in Mexico. After seeing stations and equipment just like theirs being used to sell E10, and hearing station operators say they’ve sold ethanol profitably for decades without any issues, some who attended plan to do tests in the next several months, and when those tests go well, we’ll encourage those marketers to share their success stories with peers in Mexico, as ACE has done to develop markets in the U.S.”

“We see this trip as just the beginning of a long relationship that leads to a new ethanol market in Mexico,” Norton said. “We were fortunate to have such an influential group participate that represented about 500 million gallons of fuel sales and distribution. IRFA was proud to showcase Iowa’s 40 years of success in marketing ethanol-blended fuels.”

Several tour attendees said they are ready for the many benefits ethanol can bring to Mexico, including lower-fuel costs, improved air quality, and quality fuel. Read testimonies from participants below.

“The entire tour has been a fabulous learning experience, even better than I expected,” said Agustín Tristán Aldave with Lexington Midstream, a midstream investor and provider. “What I was looking forward to the most was learning about the entire process from front to back, and it was incredible to see the innovation here in the U.S. I don’t see any reason why not to do [ethanol] it. Ethanol is cheaper and better for the environment, and these are important points to help differentiate yourself if you’re a retailer.”

“We need all the information we can to make a change in Mexico,” said Gerardo Cantú, Director of Petrorack, a fuel provider to the industrial market. “From the beginning of the first visit, the tour impressed me. I believe this is a good product for the customer and our country. We are short on gasoline and ethanol, so we need the supply from the U.S.”

“We understand the nature of the product and we see the benefits that it brings to the environment and to the consumer because of the lower price of the fuel,” said Fernando José Pereira Flick with Lodemo, one of the main retail service groups in Mexico, which operates the first private (non-PEMEX) marine terminal for fuels in Mexico on the Yucatan Peninsula. Lodemo is evaluating adding infrastructure to import ethanol.  “It’s something that we don’t need to test because it’s been proven by the U.S. fuel industry to be a quality product as we’ve seen on this tour. With the changes to the Mexican energy legislation, it has created an opportunity for the private sector.”

“We’ve seen the successful case for ethanol in Iowa and I’d like to see that in my country, helping the people in the field and having a very good gasoline like the one you have here that’s helpful to the environment,” said Blanca Estela Coeto Mateo with SIMSA, the largest supplier of fuel to PEMEX. “I’d like to see the Mexican government working together with all the people with one goal, and I will express that with the people in Mexico about the successful case you have in this country.”

Daniel Beltrán García, who works with Comborsa, an importer and distributor of fuels near the U.S./Mexico border said, “As a private company, we recognize the Mexican consumer needs a better, cleaner product, and why not at a more competitive price? So, that is what we have learned in Iowa in the sense that ethanol provides exactly that.” Another fuel marketer, Roberto Spinola De Leo with Hidrosina, which operates 30 service stations in Mexico City, where E10 is currently banned said, “We’re ready for ethanol depending on the regulation being authorized for that to happen. Our companies need to do our part in supporting [changes to] ethanol regulations because it’s good for us, the consumers, and the country.”

CHS Reports $54.6 million of net income for third quarter of fiscal 2019

CHS Inc., the nation's leading agribusiness cooperative, today announced its financial results for the third quarter and the first nine months of fiscal year 2019.

CHS reported:

-    Net income of $54.6 million for the third quarter of fiscal 2019 compared to $181.8 million for the restated third quarter of fiscal 2018. One-time pre-tax gains of $124.1 million in the restated third quarter of fiscal year 2018 were not realized in the same time period in fiscal 2019. One-time pre-tax gains of $19.2 million related to the purchase of the remaining 75 percent share of West Central Distribution, LLC were realized in the third quarter of fiscal 2019.
-    Consolidated revenues of $8.5 billion for the third quarter of fiscal 2019 compared to $9.1 billion for the restated third quarter of fiscal 2018.
-    Net income of $650.9 million for the first nine months of fiscal 2019 compared to $535.5 million for the restated first nine months of fiscal 2018, an increase of 21.5 percent.

"Our cooperative continues to perform well through the first nine months of the fiscal year. Though our net income was down compared to the prior year third quarter of fiscal 2018, the first nine months of fiscal year 2019 have been strong," said Jay Debertin, CHS president and CEO. "During the third quarter, we completed the acquisition of the remaining 75 percent ownership interest in West Central Distribution, LLC, a full-service wholesale distributor of agronomy products headquartered in Willmar, Minnesota. The acquisition demonstrates our commitment to provide more of the products, services and technology our owners need to compete. Scheduled maintenance at our refinery in McPherson, Kansas, slowed production of refined fuels; but that maintenance investment will enable CHS to better serve our owners and rural America in the long term. We are committed and working hard to maximize earnings for our owners by creating connections to empower agriculture.

Third Quarter Fiscal 2019 Business Segment Results

The following business segment results were reported for the third quarter of fiscal 2019 as compared to the restated third quarter of fiscal 2018.

The $92.7 million decrease in Energy pretax earnings reflects:
-    The impact associated with the turnaround – scheduled maintenance to repair and improve operations – at our McPherson, Kansas, refinery.
-    The return of Canadian crude oil prices to more normalized levels, where they are expected to remain for the rest of fiscal year 2019.
-    The gains realized in fiscal year 2018 of sales of 34 Zip Trip stores and the Council Bluffs pipeline that did not recur in fiscal year 2019.

The $39 million decrease in Ag pretax earnings was driven by:
-    Decreased margins and volumes for grain and oilseed, poor weather conditions including heavy snow and rainfall, historic flooding on waterways and continuing global trade tensions.
-    Increased loan loss reserves associated with the challenging agricultural environment.

Nitrogen Production
The $1.4 million increase in Nitrogen Production pretax earnings reflects:
-    Increased market pricing of urea and urea ammonium nitrate, which are produced and sold by CF Nitrogen, of which CHS is a part owner.

Corporate and other
The $44.9 million decrease in Corporate and Other pretax earnings reflects:
-    A gain in the third quarter of fiscal 2018 from the sale of CHS Insurance that did not recur in the third quarter of fiscal 2019.

"The uncertainty of the international trade markets continues to create difficult circumstances for all who work in agribusiness. Weather challenges led to late planting that has hurt our owners – America's farmers and cooperatives that help grow the food to feed the world," Debertin said. "We traveled throughout our trade territory this spring to meet with our owners, and every location we visited was impacted by heavy spring rains and late planting. At CHS, we are working to navigate external challenges, and we are committed to leveraging the strength of our supply chain to help our owners and customers navigate as the year progresses."

Secretary Perdue Statement on the Department of Labor’s Proposed H2A Modernized Rule

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue issued the following statement on the Department of Labor’s proposed rule to modernize the H-2A program to reflect stakeholder concerns and improve access to a legal source of agricultural labor:

“President Trump once again shows his commitment to helping America’s farmers, ranchers, and producers continue to be the most productive in the world by increasing their access to a stable and legal workforce. The proposed rule will increase access to a reliable legal agricultural workforce, easing unnecessary burdens on farmers, increase enforcement against fraud and abuse, all while maintaining protections for America’s workers. When this rule goes into effect, our farmers will be released from unnecessary and burdensome regulations allowing them to do what they do best.”

Statement of National Council of Farmer Cooperatives CEO Chuck Conner on H-2A Visa Program Proposed Rule Making

“In issuing a proposed rule today on changes to the H-2A visa program for agricultural guest workers, the Department of Labor (DoL) is taking a significant step to improve a system in need of a dramatic overhaul. While we are still reviewing the details of the rule, we understand that it contains provisions that will help streamline the program and simplify the process for the farmers and growers who use it. We would like to recognize the efforts of Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, who has worked closely with the DoL through the interagency process to secure these important changes.

“While this new rule is welcome, a permanent solution to the labor crisis faced by agriculture is congressional action to address both current and future needs of the sector.  NCFC will continue to work with policy makers and other stakeholders to find a path forward for such a solution.”

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