Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Monday November 13 Ag News


For the week ending November 12, 2017, temperatures averaged four to ten degrees below normal, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Precipitation was limited across the State. Dry weather continued to allow good progress on corn harvest. There were 6.6 days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 3 percent very short, 21 short, 74 adequate, and 2 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 5 percent very short, 19 short, 75 adequate, and 1 surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Corn harvested was 86 percent, behind 92 last year, and near 90 for the five-year average.

Winter wheat condition rated 2 percent very poor, 6 poor, 29 fair, 54 good, and 9 excellent. Winter wheat emerged was 95 percent, near 98 both last year and average.

Sorghum harvested was 85 percent, behind 96 last year and 93 average.

Pasture and Range Report:

Pasture and range conditions rated 2 percent very poor, 11 poor, 43 fair, 38 good, and 6 excellent. Stock water supplies rated 1 percent very short, 4 short, 95 adequate, and 0 surplus.


Limited precipitation during the week ending November 12, 2017, allowed an average of 6.0 days suitable for fieldwork statewide, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Harvest has begun to wind down as many Iowa farmers were able to work in their fields throughout the week. Additional fieldwork activities this past week included baling corn stalks, tillage, applying fertilizers and manure, tiling, seeding CRP and hauling grain.

Topsoil moisture levels rated 3 percent very short, 10 percent short, 83 percent adequate and 4 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated 6 percent very short, 17 percent short, 74 percent adequate and 3 percent surplus.

Eighty-five percent of the corn for grain crop has been harvested, one week behind last year and the 5-year average. Moisture content of corn being harvested for grain averaged 17 percent. Only northwest and north central Iowa have 90 percent or more of their corn for grain crop harvested.

Ninety-seven percent of the soybean crop has been harvested, equal to last year but 5 days behind average.

Livestock conditions were reported as normal with no concerns. There were also reports of cattle grazing in recently harvested fields with little hay being fed.

USDA Weekly Crop Progress

Winter wheat conditions fell slightly from the previous week, according to USDA's latest Crop Progress report released on Monday.

USDA estimated that 54% of the winter wheat crop was rated good to excellent, down 1 percentage point from 55% the previous week. Winter wheat progress was running at a near-average pace with USDA estimating 95% of the crop planted as of Sunday, up from 94% a year ago and even with the five-year average of 95% planted. Eighty-four percent of winter wheat was emerged, up from 83% a year ago and up from the five-year average of 83%.

Corn harvest, on the other hand, continued to lag behind the average pace. USDA estimated that 83% of corn was harvested, down from 92% a year ago and also below the five-year average of 91% harvested. Indiana and Ohio, at 80% and 71% harvested respectively, were examples of wet conditions delaying harvest.

Soybean harvest was also slightly behind the average pace at 93% complete, down from 96% a year ago and down from a five-year average of 95% harvested.

Sorghum was 83% harvested, behind the five-year average of 87%.  Cotton was 64% harvested nationwide, equal to the average pace.


Nebraska Corn Board Supports Free Corn Nematode Testing

Tamra Jackson-Ziems - Extension Plant Pathologist

Are corn nematodes limiting your yields?  Find out through a free soil testing program made possible by the Nebraska Corn Board.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln Plant Pathology Professor Tom Powers’s lab is providing free nematode analyses for soil samples submitted from corn fields now through spring.  The objective of this project is to learn more about the root-lesion nematode species present in Nebraska fields. Unlike some nematodes, root-lesion nematodes are extremely common (in more than 93% of Nebraska fields).

If you're already planning to sample your soils for nutrient content, this would be a good time to take samples for corn nematodes.

Taking a Soil Sample for Corn Nematodes

Collect at least 2 cups of soil from down to about 8 inches deep in the plant root zone (from within the row).

Please package the samples in plastic bags and ship them with a completed Sample Submission form to the UNL Plant & Pest Diagnostic Clinic (P&PDC) at the following addess. (Be sure to clearly identify that the sample is for the Corn Nematode Survey.).

Corn Nematode Survey
448 Plant Sci Hall
Lincoln, NE  68583-0722

Note: Sandy fields may have some nematode species that travel deep in the soil and out of reach of traditional soil probes.  Sandy fields can best be sampled in the spring after planting by about the V5 corn leaf stage to capture all nematodes.

 Quality SCN Samples are Part Science, Part Art 

John Wilson - NE Extension Educator
Loren Giesler - NE Extension Plant Pathologist

Growers frequently ask about why we need to sample for soybean cyst nematodes or SCN, a pest causing more yield losses than all other soybean diseases combined. As harvest winds down, we are entering the time when the most samples are taken each year. This prompted a related question on sampling: What is the proper way to take a soil sample to test for SCN in your field?

There is both science and art in collecting good soil samples.

The science part of sampling for SCN is pretty easy:
-    Take your sample from an area no larger than 40 acres. Less is better.
-    Clean your soil probe and the bucket used to collect the soil cores between fields to avoid contaminating other samples from one SCN-positive field.
-    Take a minimum of 20 to 25 soil cores randomly across the area being tested.
-    If sampling a field with standing soybean stubble, take soil cores 6 to 8 inches deep, just a couple inches to the side of the old soybean row so you’ll be probing through the root system and more likely to detect SCN if it is there.
-    If sampling a field that wasn’t in soybeans this year, randomly collect samples across the area to be tested. Consider these results, from fields that will be planted to soybeans next year, when ordering varieties with or without SCN resistance for the next year.
-    If a co-op, crop consultant, or field scout will be soil sampling your fields for fertilizer recommendations, ask them to take a few more cores, mix them together, then split the sample, half for fertilizer recommendations and half for SCN analysis.
-    Thoroughly mix the cores you collect and submit the soil sample in special bags available at your local Nebraska Extension office for a free SCN analysis. The cost of the analysis (normally $20/sample) is being paid by the Nebraska Soybean Board from your Soybean Checkoff dollars. Submit your sample(s) to the Plant and Pest Diagnostic Clinic, whose address is on the bag.

The Art: Selecting Areas to Provide Accurate Field Samples

When selecting field areas to sample, it’s important to remember anything that will move soil will also move SCN, including wind, water, wildlife and humans, as well as equipment.

Now here comes the “art” part of collecting your soil samples for SCN. Knowing that SCN moves with soil, determine areas where soil may have moved and SCN may have become established.

Following are areas where you will want to take a couple cores:
-    Along a stream that periodically floods. Someone upstream might have had SCN in a field and it washed down to your field.
-    Low areas where water drains after a heavy rain. Light infestations throughout the field may be concentrated in these low areas where water stands.
-    Along fence lines. In the past when fall tillage was more common, fences would act like a trip for the blowing soil and SCN could be deposited along old fencerows.
-    By field entryways or driveways. This is the most likely place for soil from another SCN-infested field to be shaken loose from equipment moving in the new field.

Two other areas should be sampled:

+    Field areas with a higher incidence of sudden death syndrome (SDS) or brown stem rot (BSR). You can have either of these diseases without having SCN... or you can have SCN without having either of these diseases, but if you have SCN in a field or even part of a field, you are more likely to have SDS or BSR.
+    Areas where your observations or yield maps indicate soybean yields are not meeting expectations. This might be a whole field, but more commonly it is an area in the field. A statement such as “The west end of my field isn’t yielding like the rest of the field and there is not a difference in soil type, compaction, herbicide injury, weed or insect pressure... or other explanation for lower soybean yields. Also, when I plant corn, yields are good across the whole field!” can be the perfect indicator of where to sample for SCN.

In both of these cases — areas with higher SDS/BSR or where yields didn’t meet expectations — take a soil sample where these conditions existed and another sample close by where disease pressure was lower or yields met expectations. The results can help you confirm or eliminate SCN as the culprit causing the disease pressure or lower yields.

If both samples come back high for SCN, you know you have SCN and need to manage it, plus you know you have some other condition contributing to these problems. If the SDS/BSR or low-yielding areas come back high for SCN and the adjacent area comes back low, SCN is the problem. You can now start your management plan to lower the level of SCN in your field.


As the 2017 growing season comes to an end, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) will contact producers nationwide to gather final year-end crop production numbers and the amount of grain and oilseeds stored on their farms. At the same time, NASS will survey grain facility operators to determine year-end off-farm grain and oilseed stocks.

“These surveys are the largest and most important year-end surveys conducted by NASS,” explained NASS’s Northern Plains Director Dean Groskurth. “They are the basis for the official USDA estimates of production and harvested acres of all major agricultural commodities in the United States and grain and oilseed supplies. Data from the survey will benefit farmers and processors by providing timely and accurate information to help them make crucial year-end business decisions and begin planning for the next growing and marketing season.”

“Responses to the survey will be used in calculating county-level yields which have a direct impact on farmers around the State. USDA’s Farm Service Agency uses the data in administering producer programs such as the Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) included in the 2014 Farm Bill, and in determining disaster assistance program calculations,” said Groskurth. “NASS cannot publish a county yield unless it receives enough reports from producers in that county to make a statistically defensible estimate. So, it is very important that producers respond to this survey. In 2016, NASS was unable to publish several large producing counties due to an insufficient number of responses.”

“As required by Federal law, all responses are completely confidential,” Groskurth continued. “We safeguard the privacy of all respondents, ensuring that no individual operation or producer can be identified. Individual responses are also exempt from the Freedom of Information Act.”

Survey results will be published in several reports, including the annual Crop Production Annual Summary and the quarterly Grain Stocks report, both to be released on January 12. These and all NASS reports are available online at www.nass.usda.gov. For more information call the NASS Nebraska Field Office at 800-582-6443.

Why Grain Test Weights Matter

Todd Whitney - NE Extension Educator

Grain test weight, often used as a grain quality indicator, is a volumetric measurement based on an official bushel being 1.244 cubic feet. For U.S. No. 1 yellow corn, the official minimum test weight is 56 pounds per bushel. If test weights drop below this standard, the grain price is discounted. Usually, test weights are determined by weighing grain samples filled in a standard dry one-quart measure.

Lower test weights are more common when crops have endured stress at some point during the grain-filling period or when frost ends the growing season prior to physiological maturity. Any disease, insect, or environmental condition that reduces the movement of nutrients to the kernel during grain fill (once it is filled) will likely lower grain test weights.

Test weights can be misunderstood and attributing strong correlation between test weight and grain yields may be incorrect. High-test weights are not automatically associated with high yields, and lower test weights do not always mean lower yields. Many factors influence test weight.

Factors Influencing Test Weight

Grain wetting between maturity and harvest can lower test weights. Research indicates that the number of times grain experiences wetting and drying cycles impacts test weights more than the total amount of precipitation. Prior to wetting at maturity, normal mature kernels are smooth, well-shaped, and fit well into a volume. If a wetting event penetrates the outer husks on mature corn ears, the kernels may swell. Upon drying, the kernels may not shrink back to their original volume, shape, and smoothness. This results in more space between kernels; thus, the kernels will not pack into a bushel volume as well as before the grain-wetting event. Even though the total dry weight harvested from the field will be the same regardless of the moisture events, it may require extra trucking trips to haul the same field production when test weights drop.

Higher test weight grains have more nutrient density, since the grain has a greater proportion of starch-rich endosperm and less bran and hull. As a result, livestock producers may prefer buying higher test weight grains due to higher energy values. Lower test weight grains can also be good energy sources, but their value per bushel will likely be lower than higher test weight grains.

Hauling High Test-Weight Grain

During harvest, farmers may appreciate higher test weight grain, since theoretically more pounds can be hauled using the same grain trucks (full capacity). This translates into fewer trips hauling grain to the elevator or storage facility to move the same total grain weight.

Farmers, though, must be cautious when moving high test-weight grain on highways so they don’t exceed “truck hauling weight limits.” Higher test weight grains take up less storage “volume” for equivalent “bushel weights” than lower test weight grains. Therefore, combine operators may easily overfill trucks when filling them to the usual volumes. Further, harvesters may need to recalibrate their truck “full” lines (based on volume) if grain test weights are higher.

Department of Transportation fines for overweight grain trucks on the highway may exceed the value of the extra grain being hauled. So, especially when grain prices are lower and test weights are higher, it makes sense to check truck load weights prior to the loaded vehicles travelling on the highway. Also, truck drivers may need to communicate to combine operators if trucks are being overloaded.

Nebraska Soybean Board to Hold November Meeting

The Nebraska Soybean Board (NSB) will hold its quarterly board of directors meeting Nov. 20–21 at the Lincoln Marriott Cornhusker Hotel. Board members will elect officers for the coming year and conduct other organizational business. The annual meeting with the Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska (A-FAN) will be conducted during the Nov. 20 session.

Also on Nov. 20, board members will hear reports on biodiesel and clean fuels, climate/weather and herbicide and Soybean Management Field Days. Researchers from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln will provide updates on current research projects.

Day 2 will feature updates from UNL, the United Soybean Board, the American Soybean Association and the Nebraska Soybean Association.

Checkoff helps bring innovative soy-based tire to market

This fall when Goodyear introduces its Assurance WeatherReady tires for passenger vehicles, soybean farmers may want to pay attention to their newest customer. That’s because this all-season, innovative line of tires was made possible in part by the soy checkoff. The tires feature a soy-based rubber compound, bringing forward yet another market opportunity for soybean oil and, in return, a profit opportunity for soybean farmers.

“Goodyear and the soy checkoff share something special: a commitment to innovation,” says John Motter, United Soybean Board chair and farmer from Jenera, Ohio. “When we started working with them more than six years ago, it was just an idea, a way to build demand for soybean oil. Now, we have a tire that shows what soy can do on the road.”

Goodyear’s interest in soybean oil included a look at sustainability, a priority for many corporations throughout the United States; however, what they found was a competitive advantage – rubber compounds made with soybean oil remained soft at lower temperatures, leading to enhanced traction in dry, wet and winter conditions. Thus the name, WeatherReady.

“As we develop great products that anticipate and respond to the needs of consumers, soybean oil was one of the technologies enabling us to meet a challenging performance goal,” said Eric Mizner, Goodyear’s director of global material science.

A product advantage is something that is news to soybean farmers’ ears, as this market is just beginning.

“Businesses looking to use soy, even if for sustainable purposes, want to see not only a price-competitive product, but one that functions the same or better than their original product,” says Motter. “That’s why the checkoff works with companies such as Goodyear to test soybean oil and confirm its characteristics, so we can increase demand for our product and ultimately increase our profit opportunities.”

Goodyear’s Assurance WeatherReady tire will be widely available in September 2017, offered in a wide range of sizes, covering 77 percent of cars, minivans and SUVs on the road today.

Hub Int'l to Acquire Wells Fargo Insurance's Crop Business

Hub International Limited, a leading global insurance brokerage, announced that it has signed a purchase agreement to acquire the assets of Wells Fargo Insurance, Inc.'s crop insurance broker business (Wells Fargo Crop). Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

With offices in South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska and Indiana, Wells Fargo Crop Insurance Agency offers insurance solutions to protect agriculture-related operations. Representing the top crop insurance providers, Wells Fargo Crop provides insurance brokerage services for more than 130 types of crops, plus standard federal multi-peril and crop hail policies. It also helps farmers protect their operations with programs such as revenue protection and state-specific offerings.

Rene LeVeaux, President of Hub International Mountain States Limited (Hub Mountain), said, "Hub Mountain is aggressively investing in its crop and agriculture business. This acquisition will position Hub Mountain as one of the largest crop brokers in the Midwest and Northwest. As such, we will continue to provide additional resources to ensure our crop and agriculture clients receive the best products and service to protect their operations."

Following the acquisition, the Wells Fargo Crop team members will join Hub Mountain, continuing to service and support clients. Jeff Kemink, National Crop Insurance Manager of Wells Fargo Crop, and Jean Hinsverk, Assistant VP and Operations Manager, will join Hub Mountain in leadership roles. Kemink will report to LeVeaux and Hinsverk directly to Kemink with a close partnership with Wayne Dauwen, COO of Hub Mountain.

CHS reports fiscal year-end results and announces FY 2018 priorities

CHS today reported net income of $127.9 million for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2017, compared to net income of $424.2 million for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2016. Consolidated revenues totaled $31.9 billion for fiscal 2017, approximately a five percent increase over consolidated revenues of $30.3 billion for fiscal 2016.

“It’s been a challenging year, but we’re committed to meeting the long-term needs of our cooperative owners and customers. We will continue to take prudent actions to ensure the company is well positioned for future opportunities,” said CHS President and Chief Executive Officer Jay Debertin.

For fiscal 2017, CHS experienced a loss before income taxes of $54.8 million, down from income before income taxes of $419.9 million in fiscal 2016, reflecting significant charges that relate to a Brazilian trading partner entering into bankruptcy-like proceedings under Brazilian law, intangible and fixed asset impairments, and bad debt and loan loss reserve charges, of which a significant portion relate to a single large producer borrower.

“As fiscal 2018 unfolds, CHS is focusing on three key priorities: strengthen relationships with owners and customers, sharpen focus on operational excellence, and restore financial flexibility,” Debertin said. “I’m happy to report that we’ve seen progress on these priorities already. We are making significant headway towards managing credit risk consistently across the organization and are leveraging our ongoing asset review to drive decisions that will further strengthen our balance sheet.”

For fiscal year 2017 ending on Aug. 31, 2017, reporting segments results are:
• Energy: Year-over-year income before income taxes declined 72 percent to $76.9 million, primarily due to significantly reduced refining margins and a charge incurred for the write-off of assets associated with a cancelled project. These decreases were partially offset by higher demand for energy products, most significantly in refined fuels.

• Ag: The CHS Ag segment includes domestic and global grain marketing, wholesale crop nutrients, renewable fuels, local retail operations, and processing and food ingredients.  CHS Ag experienced a loss before income taxes of $230.8 million for fiscal 2017, compared to income before income taxes of $30.9 million for fiscal 2016. Grain marketing earnings decreased primarily due to charges associated with a trading partner in our Brazilian operations entering bankruptcy-like proceedings under Brazilian law. Country operations experienced a decrease in pretax income due to changes in reserves related to a single producer borrower and asset impairments, which were significantly offset by higher grain margins and volumes. A decrease in processing and food ingredients pretax income was primarily caused by long-lived asset impairment charges. Pretax income for crop nutrients and renewable fuels increased due to higher volumes and higher margins, respectively.

• Nitrogen Production: The Nitrogen Production segment is comprised of the company’s investment in CF Industries Nitrogen, LLC (“CF Nitrogen”), and generated income before income taxes of $29.7 million during fiscal 2017, compared to $34.1 million in fiscal 2016. The decrease is primarily due to downward pressures on the pricing of urea and urea ammonium nitrate, which are produced and sold by CF Nitrogen. The decrease was partially offset by a $30.5 million gain from an embedded derivative associated with CF Nitrogen.

• Food: The Foods segment is comprised of the company’s investment in Ventura Foods, LLC (“Ventura Foods”), and generated income before income taxes of $26.0 million during fiscal 2017, compared to $64.8 million the previous year. The decreases were primarily due to reduced margins at Ventura Foods.

• Corporate and Other: The Corporate and Other category is primarily comprised of the company’s wheat milling joint venture and Business Solutions operations. Year over year income before taxes increased to $43.4 million, compared to $14.7 million during fiscal 2016.

CWT Assists with 1.9 million Pounds of Cheese Export Sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 16 requests for export assistance from members Dairy Farmers of America, Northwest Dairy Association (Darigold) and Tillamook County Creamery Association that have contracts to sell 1.942 million pounds (881 metric tons) of Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese to customers in the Asia, Central America the Middle East and North Africa. The product has been contracted for delivery in the period from November 2017 through February 2018.

So far this year, CWT has assisted member cooperatives who have contracts to sell 59.878 million pounds of American-type cheeses, and 4.701 million pounds of butter (82% milkfat) to 21 countries on five continents. The sales are the equivalent of 659.519 million pounds of milk on a milkfat basis.

Assisting CWT members through the Export Assistance program in the long term helps member cooperatives gain and maintain market share, thus expanding the demand for U.S. dairy products and the U.S. farm milk that produces them. This, in turn, positively affects all U.S. dairy farmers by strengthening and maintaining the value of dairy products that directly impact their milk price.

Video series featuring real world E15 and flex fuel retailers debuts on FlexFuelForward.com

The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) announced the first two in a series of fuel marketer-focused videos on the flexfuelforward.com website today, part of a campaign to feature real world E15 and flex fuel retailer success stories. The series will address common marketer questions about E15 and flex fuels with straightforward answers from retailers who have already implemented E15 and flex fuels successfully.

In large cities like Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and small towns like Gothenburg, Nebraska, single-store and small chain retailers, along with some of the largest independent convenience store chains, are proving E15 and flex fuels are easy to implement, profitable, and helping marketers stand out from their competition. One video released today introduces the series and some of the people who will be featured in future campaign videos. All episodes are hosted by ACE Senior Vice President Ron Lamberty, a veteran of nearly 40 years of owning and operating c-stores.

The second video features Bob O’Connor, who became the first E15 and flex fuel retailer in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, last November when he added the fuels at one of his Jetz Convenience Centers. “Not only did we sell higher blends of ethanol and create a new profit center for ourselves, but what’s kind of an unexpected consequence of that — all our gasoline sales went up in volume, so it was an across-the-board lift,” O’Connor said. “And store volume increased at the same time.” Those results convinced Jetz to add E15 and flex fuels to a second location this spring.

O’Connor accompanied a “sneak preview” of the videos at ACE’s booth at the National Association of Convenience Stores’ (NACS) trade show in Chicago last month and provided “live and in person” answers to other retailers’ E15 and flex fuel questions.

“The Flex Fuel Forward campaign recognizes marketers trust the experience and opinions of other marketers. They want to hear from station owners who have already ‘been there and done that,’” Lamberty said. “Thousands of stations across the country are now selling E15 and flex fuels, and they aren’t doing it as a favor to anybody, they’re doing it because they make more money.”

The video series and flexfuelforward.com will be promoted through paid advertising in print and online c-store industry publications and websites.

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