Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Monday April 25 Crop Progress + Ag News


For the week ending April 24th, 2022, there were 5.8 days suitable for fieldwork, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 45% very short, 37% short, 18% adequate, and 0% surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 40% very short, 44% short, 16% adequate, and 0% surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Corn planted was 10%, ahead of 5% last year, but near 11% for the five-year average.

Soybeans planted was 3%, equal to both last year and average.

Winter wheat condition rated 14% very poor, 18% poor, 44% fair, 21% good, and 3% excellent.

Oats planted was 79%, behind 84% last year, but ahead of 66% average. Emerged was 32%, behind 39% last year, but near 28% average.


Rain, high winds, and cold conditions continued to stall spring planting, limiting Iowa farmers to 2.3 days suitable for fieldwork during the week ending April 24, 2022, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Fieldwork activities were primarily applying anhydrous and fertilizer. Reports were received of limited corn and soybean planting as well as planting oats. In addition to periodic precipitation, cool soil temperatures have some farmers waiting to plant row crops.

Topsoil moisture condition rated 4 percent very short, 18 percent short, 67 percent adequate and 11 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture condition rated 9 percent very short, 29 percent short, 58 percent adequate and 4 percent surplus.

Forty-seven percent of the expected oat crop has been planted, 10 days behind last year and 5 days behind the 5-year average.

Pastures were slowly turning green. Hay supplies were dwindling in some areas. Livestock conditions were generally good, with calving in full swing.

Crop Progress: 7% of Corn, 3% of Soybeans Planted

Cold and snow over much of the Northern Plains, wet conditions in the Eastern Corn Belt and drought in parts of the Midwest, West and Southern Plains continued to keep planters parked and hampered the development of winter wheat last week, USDA NASS reported in its weekly Crop Progress report on Monday.

-- Planting progress: 7% nationwide as of Sunday, April 24, up just 3 percentage points from the previous week. Current progress is 9 percentage points behind last year's 16% and 8 percentage points behind the five-year average of 15%.

-- Crop development: 2% of corn was emerged as of Sunday, 1 percentage point behind both last year's and the five-year average of 3%.

-- Planting progress: 3% nationwide as of Sunday, up just 2 percentage points from the previous week. That was 4 percentage points behind last year's 7% and 2 percentage points behind the five-year average of 5%.

-- Crop development progress: 11% of the winter wheat crop was headed nationwide as of Sunday. That's 5 percentage points behind last year's 16% and 8 percentage points behind the five-year average of 19%.

-- Crop condition: Nationwide, winter wheat was rated 27% good to excellent, falling 3 percentage points from 30% the previous week. The current rating is well below last year's good-to-excellent rating of 49%.



– Ben Beckman, NE Extension Educator

Stocking pastures with the right number of animals is one of the cornerstones of proper grazing management.  It’s tempting to take the easy route and keep using the same rate year after year.  After all, if it’s not broke, why fix it?  But over time, could this approach do more harm than good?

While we might be aware of the importance of proper stocking, we may fail to properly adjust rates to match the current reality of our operation.  Proper stocking depends on two factors, animal intake and pasture productivity.  Changes to either of these factors, even if they take place so slowly, we don’t notice, can throw the balance off.

Production can change for the worse or better.  Improving management practices like resting pastures, fertilization, or improving distribution may have improved production and led to understocking over time.

On the flip side, prolonged overgrazing, or encroachment of invasive species like leafy spurge or cedar trees can eat away production. It is estimated that a single cedar tree with an 8-foot diameter could reduce forage production by 3 pounds.  If you had a density of 200 trees per acre, that would translate into nearly a 1/3 loss in forage production because of the effects of area coverage, moisture use, and shading.

When we look at the demand side, animal size has a direct correlation with consumption.  So, a 1400 lb. cow will naturally need to consume more than a 1200 lb. animal.  While this difference may seem small (5.2 lb. of air-dried forage per day), this quickly adds up across the herd and over the grazing season.  Add on top of that increased demand from high milk and production genetics we’ve selected for over time and it’s safe to say the average cow today consumes more forage than its counterpart 20 years ago.

UNL webinar planned on implications of avian influenza

The impact of the current outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza will be discussed during a webinar hosted by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Center for Agricultural Profitability at noon on April 28.

The webinar will discuss the current state of the virus and its implications for markets, poultry wellbeing and biosecurity. It will cover lessons learned from similar outbreaks in 2002 and 2015 and also address protection and impacts related to backyard flocks.

Presenters will be Matthew MacLachlan, an economist with the USDA Economic Research Service; Don Reynolds, a professor and poultry veterinarian in the university’s School of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences; and Sheila Purdum, a professor of poultry nutrition at in the university’s Department of Animal Science.

Registration is free at https://cap.unl.edu/webinars.  

NeCGA Announces FLAGship Scholarship Recipients

The Nebraska Corn Growers Association (NeCGA) is pleased to announce the winners of the 2022 Future Leaders in Agriculture Scholarship Program (FLAGship Program). After reviewing the applications and much deliberation, the NeCGA Grower Services Committee chose five applicants to each receive a $2,000 scholarship. The awardees are listed below, along with their intended secondary school and degree program:
Noah Summers, Gibbon (UNL, Grazing Livestock Systems & Meat Science)
Austin Taylor, Ames (UNL, Mechanized Systems Management)
Emma Saathoff, Trumbull (UNL, Agricultural and Environmental Science Communications)
Jaden Koehler, York (UNL, Agribusiness)
Rachel Brown, St. Libory (Wayne State College, Pre-Dentistry)

To be eligible for this scholarship, students must be a member of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association or the son/daughter of an NeCGA member. They must be a senior in high school or college freshman who is continuing their education in Nebraska. Three of the five scholarships are set aside for students who are pursuing a degree in an agriculture-related field. Two scholarships are open to students pursuing a degree outside of agriculture.

“I want to congratulate each student who was chosen to receive a FLAGship scholarship. The applications this year were impressive and choosing only five was difficult. As NeCGA celebrates 50 years, we are proud to continue the tradition of supporting these students as they tackle their educational goals. We are excited to see how these young people advocate for agriculture in the future,” said Michael Dibbern, chairman of the Grower Services Committee.

For more information about the Nebraska Corn Growers Association and the Future Leaders in Agriculture Scholarship Program, please visit necga.org.

IDALS Celebrates Advancements in Water Quality and Conservation

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is committed to protecting the state’s soil and water while celebrating progress made with Soil and Water Conservation Week, April 24-May 1. The week’s  theme is "Healthy Soil, Healthy Life.”

“Iowans, rural and urban, have a responsibility to improve our land and water for future generations,” said Secretary Naig. “This week is a chance to celebrate that commitment and the progress we’ve made so far as Iowa is a national leader in the implementation of water quality and watershed projects, soil conservation practices and buffer programs. We invite Iowans to join us in this effort.”

Throughout the week, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig will be joining Iowans across the state in events highlighting the important conservation practices placed on Iowa’s landscape. Events will bring attention to the ongoing work by farmers, landowners and urban residents to protect the state’s soil and water resources.

On Wednesday, April 27, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds and Secretary Naig will participate in a field visit highlighting construction of a storm water wetland within the Fourmile Creek Greenway Restoration project. Governor Reynolds will also sign a proclamation recognizing April 24 – May 1 as Iowa Soil and Water Conservation Week during the event.

KC Fed: Farm Operating Loans Grow Alongside Input Costs

Farm lending activity at commercial banks accelerated in the first quarter of 2022 due to a significant increase in the size of operating loans. With some input costs surging in recent months, the volume of operating loans increased sharply from a year ago and non-real estate lending increased on a rolling four-quarter basis for the first time since mid-2019. The average size of operating notes increased notably alongside a record high share of credits that were greater than $1 million.

While the outlook for the U.S. agricultural economy in 2022 remained strong alongside elevated commodity prices, rising input costs have raised concerns about future profitability. The escalation of the Russia-Ukraine conflict and associated market disruptions pushed crop prices even higher.

However, the turmoil also led to rapid increases in the prices of major inputs such as fuel and some agricultural fertilizers that are sourced from those countries. While higher crop prices are likely to support farm revenues, concerns about the cost and availability of agricultural inputs intensified and higher feed prices could also pressure profit margins for livestock producers. Higher prices for key farm inputs and broad inflation could also put upward pressure on credit needs moving forward.

African Swine Fever Virus Vaccine Passes Tests Required for Regulatory Approval

Scientists with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agriculture Research Service (ARS) today announced that a vaccine candidate for African Swine Fever (ASF) passed an important safety test required for regulatory approval, moving the vaccine one step closer to commercial availability.

The test is an important milestone as part of a series of safety studies. These new results show that USDA's vaccine candidate does not revert to its normal virulence, after being injected into swine. This "reversion to virulence" test is required to ensure that the vaccine's weakened form of the ASF virus does not revert to its original state.

"This is a critical milestone for the ASF vaccine candidate. These safety studies bring this vaccine one step closer to being available on the market," said senior ARS scientist  Manuel Borca.

These safety studies are necessary to gain approval for use in Vietnam and eventually in other countries around the world. Future commercial use, however, will depend on approval from the department of animal health within each requesting country.

Although the virus is causing profound economic losses to the swine industry, there have not been any outbreaks in the United States. The highly contagious ASF virus spread from Africa to the Republic of Georgia in 2007, and has since swept through Central Europe and Asia, before reaching the Dominican Republic in 2021. The virus is unable to transmit from pigs to humans.    

"It is very hard to predict how selective pressure can cause a live attenuated vaccine to return to virulence," said senior ARS scientist Douglas Gladue. "In the case of this particular vaccine candidate, ASFV-G-DI177L, we deleted a gene, which makes it difficult for the virus to simply add the gene back.  So, we expected reversion to its original form to be unlikely, but the test still has to be performed."

An attenuated vaccine strain retains much of its genetic makeup and could genetically change when exposed to various external circumstances.  All live attenuated vaccines are weakened versions of a virus and can be used as a vaccine because the live vaccine virus will not cause illness and can still provide immunity.  

This research is highlighted in this month's issue of Viruses. The vaccine candidate was recently selected by NAVETCO for commercial development in Vietnam. NAVETCO has partnered with ARS on ASF vaccine research and development since 2020. Further development will continue once the vaccine candidate receives regulatory approval from Vietnam.

Cattle on Feed

Matthew Diersen, Risk & Business Management Specialist, South Dakota State University

The consensus for the April Cattle on Feed inventory level was for a slight increase, and the actual number came in at 102% of year ago levels at 12.1 million head. Both marketings and placements were expected to be lower with a typical wider disparity in the estimates for the placements. The higher overall total is due to lower actual marketings and higher actual placements. There were no indications that placements would be higher. As higher placements are the main surprise, the market response is likely to be somewhat muted, although still generally negative in the short run.

At the state level, not much stands out. Nebraska had relatively high levels of both placements and marketings compared to other states. There were not major patterns suggesting any type of response to dry conditions in the high plains states nor wheat grazing in the southern plains states. Across placement weights there were not major differences compared to a year ago. Going forward, the continued high grain prices would continue to reward trying to add weight to feeders prior to placement in the feedlot.

Another structural indicator from the April report is a quarterly measure of the heifer mix on feed. A high heifer mix would indicate few heifers being held back for expansion of the cow herd. The mix has been low in recent quarters, suggesting expansion has been held in check. In the latest report the heifer mix has shifted slightly lower. Because the total of-feed level remains high, this is not seen as a strong indication of expansion. However, it would help explain the short-run slaughter mix. As grain prices have continued to increase since harvest last fall, the expectation has been for finishing weights to decline. Seasonally, the slaughter weights for steers and heifers have declined, but the absolute level remains relatively high compared to recent years.

The likely effect on prices is mixed. Because the marketings were in line with expectations, the effect on nearby live cattle should be muted, say through the June contract month. There may be some pressure on the late-summer and early fall period. After that, say December onward, tighter supplies would be supportive of prices. For feeder cattle, the sharply higher placements is likely negative news for futures until the late fall. There is not an obvious backlog of market-ready cattle, nor is there an obvious source of pen space in feedlots in the short run. Perhaps some of the recent placements are from calves that would have gone onto grass this summer. Putting them on feed sooner suggests they may finish at slightly lighter weights. However, the evidence for this is weak. The coming weeks will bring some indications of how range and pasture conditions are starting out (next week) and how much old-crop hay is available to stretch any delays in green-up around the country (in the May Crop Production report).

Ranch Group Urges FTC, DOJ to Investigate Vertical Integration of Cattle Feedlots

In formal comments submitted last week to the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice, R-CALF USA told both agencies that while beef packer concentration has plateaued since 2009 at the four-firm level of between 83% and 86%, it is now evident that major concentration and vertical integration efforts are underway in the feedlot sector of the live cattle industry. The group stated the oligopolistic structure of the beef packing industry is now being pushed upstream into the live cattle supply chain.

The group explained that nearly 85,000 feedlots have exited the feeding industry during the past 25 years, with 1,000 smaller farmer/feeder feedlots exiting just last year. It states this represents a loss of over 75% of the nation’s cattle feeders, most all of them smaller, independent farmer/feeders.

But while small independent feedlots have been exiting fast, the group said the number of the nation’s largest feedlots increased from 45 to 77 in just 25 years, and those 77 largest feedlots controlled nearly 35% of all fed cattle marketed in 2021.

The group informed the agencies that the feedlot sector represents the marketing outlets for hundreds of thousands of cattle farmers and ranchers who sell backgrounded cattle and it is consolidating rapidly.

In its comments, the group urged the agencies to investigate to determine the degree of buyer power the concentrated beef packers exercise over those feedlots – in particular, the 77 largest feedlots.

The agencies had called for public comments to help them improve enforcement of U.S. antitrust laws regarding both horizontal and vertical mergers. The group offered several other improvements needed by the cattle industry and pointed out several unique characteristics of the U.S. cattle industry that make it uniquely susceptible to monopsony power. Just a few of those characteristics include:
    Fed cattle have the longest biological cycle of any farmed animal, making it difficult for the industry to react to changes in demand.
    Fed cattle are highly perishable and must be marketed within a narrow time window, otherwise the animals would degrade in quality and value.
    Fed cattle are expensive to transport. Research has found that the cost of transporting cattle long distances creates a limited procurement area for meat packing plants, resulting in higher packer concentration within certain states than nationally.
    Fed cattle are highly sensitive to very slight changes in cattle supplies, with each 1% increase in fed cattle numbers expecting to decrease fed cattle prices by 2%.
    As confirmed by a recent study, a 1% increase in the fraction of fed cattle purchased under alternative marketing arrangements (AMAs) is associated with a 5.9% reduction in the cash market price.
    Research has found that individual producers will agree to sign captive supply contracts such as AMAs even while knowing that the aggregate effect of AMAs is to depress the cash market price and make all producers, including him/herself, worse off. The research explains it is because individual producers cannot coordinate changes in the marketplace that enables packers to obtain their acceptance for exclusionary contracts.

Growth Energy Holds EPA to RVO Deadline of June 3rd

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia today approved a consent decree agreement between Growth Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that requires EPA to finalize its 2020-2022 Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) by no later than June 3rd. The consent decree follows Growth Energy’s multiple notices of intent to sue and a complaint in federal district court in response to the agency’s extended delay in issuing the RVOs – a direct violation of the deadlines established by Congress in the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

“We are encouraged by EPA’s commitment to this deadline, as it gives more credence to the agency’s stated intention to get the RFS back on track by providing regulated parties and the biofuels industry with timely guideposts to enhance market certainty and incentivize innovation for biofuels,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “This is particularly important as EPA moves to consider the blending obligations for the already-delayed RFS ‘Set’ in the year ahead.”

“This agreement is a significant milestone for the biofuels industry and reflects our persistent efforts to hold EPA accountable to issue timely RVOs and provide market certainty for biofuel producers.”


Each year through 2022, EPA is required to issue a rulemaking establishing the percentage of renewable fuel (the “renewable volume obligation” or “RVO”) that obligated refiners and importers must blend to ensure that annual renewable fuel volume requirements established by statute are met. Failure to issue RVOs on time undermines the RFS by eliminating prospective, market-forcing blending obligations, and by creating uncertainty in the market for obligated parties and renewable fuels producers alike. For more information on RVOs, click here for FAQ.

For 2023 and later, EPA, in coordination with the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Department of Agriculture (USDA), is required to set these renewable fuel volume requirements through one or more rulemakings, taking into consideration six statutory factors, including environmental, economic, and energy security factors. EPA is required to set volume requirements at least 14 months prior to the calendar year in which they are to take effect. In addition, EPA is constrained by statute to ensure that, for each year starting in 2023, the volume of advanced renewable fuel is at least the same percentage as the volume of the total renewable fuel requirement established in 2022.

In December 2021, Growth Energy submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) a notice of intent to sue (“NOI”) regarding its failure to timely fulfill the agency’s statutory obligation under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) to issue the 2022 Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO) and in turn, the potentially multi-year “set” rulemaking process for renewable fuel volumes for 2023 and beyond. The RVOs for 2022 were due by November 30th, 2021, an annual deadline set by Congress in the RFS. Additionally, the final “set” rulemaking was due on November 1, 2021. Growth also previously submitted a NOI for EPA’s failure to timely issue the 2021 RVO, which was due on November 30, 2020.

In response to the NOI, Growth Energy and EPA reached agreement to enter into a consent decree to finalize the delayed 2021 and 2022 RVOs by no later than June 3, 2022. EPA then issued a notice of the proposed consent decree for public review and comment. After the close of the comment period on March 25th, EPA and Growth then jointly filed a motion in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia seeking approval of the consent decree.

Tips for Battling Early Corn Seedling Diseases

Getting the corn crop off to a solid start includes managing early corn seedling diseases like Pythium, Rhizoctonia, Fusarium and Penicillium, says Justin Schneider, LG Seeds agronomist in Michigan. He offers tips for limiting the number of bad days to maximize yield potential.

#1: Scout fields early

The critical time to scout corn fields for seedling diseases is 10 days to two weeks after planting, says Schneider, adding, “If you need help with that, contact your local agronomist. We’re happy to run out there and do stand counts and identify early disease threats.”

“If you don’t spot a problem until you are side-dressing with nitrogen or spraying a herbicide, you’re too late,” he says.

Pythium thrives in cool, wet soil and can been fueled by reduced or no-till situations and increased use of cover crops. It causes more damage than Fusarium and Rhizoctonia combined. Schneider says in Michigan, poorly drained soil creates an optimal environment for early-seedling diseases like Pythium.

Schneider also encounters Rhizoctonia, particularly with warmer soils and in irrigated fields, as well as Fusarium, which can be triggered by stressors like herbicide damage or improper seedbed preparation.

Penicillium is more prevalent in areas like southern Illinois or Tennessee where temperatures are warmer in the spring.

These diseases hinder root development, which can impact nutrient and water uptake, reduce plant growth and, in severe cases, kill seedlings, says Schneider.

#2: Practice patience at planting

Farmers have increasingly been “pushing the envelope” when it comes to planting, with Schneider cautioning, “We need to be as close as we can to that 50-degree soil temperature mark at planting, especially if a field has a history of early seedling diseases.”

He also emphasizes the importance of patience when it comes to seedbed prep and ensuring good seed-to-soil contact. “The longer that seed sits in the ground, the more susceptible it’s going to be to a disease threat,” Schneider warns.

#3: Try a new mode of action to combat Pythium

A good fungicide seed treatment can provide an added layer of protection, and Schneider is excited that LG Seeds has added Vayantis® fungicide seed treatment to the arsenal. “It’s rare to have a new active ingredient come on the marketplace, so having that in our Pythium-fighting toolbox is going to be huge,” he says.

The powerful compound offers highly effective and overlapping modes of action for fighting Pythium. “I’m going to have fewer replant calls because of it,” he predicts, adding that LG Seeds agronomists are available to help farmers determine which tools get the most out of their crop.

No comments:

Post a Comment