Saturday, August 27, 2022

Friday August 26 Pro Farmer Crop Estimates + Ag News

Pro Farmer Releases 2022 National Corn and Soybean Crop Estimates

Pro Farmer shared its much-anticipated production estimates Friday for the 2022 U.S. corn and soybean crops after analyzing information from the 30th annual Pro Farmer Crop Tour and other sources. The estimates are informed by Crop Tour data and observations collected this past week by more than 100 crop scouts who sampled nearly 3,400 fields across Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota.

Pro Farmer is predicting a U.S. corn crop of 13.759 billion bushels and an average national yield of 168.1 bu/acre.  Pro Farmer's margin of error is +/- 1%, so that could put production between 13.62 billion bu. to 13.89 billion bu, and yield anywhere from 166.4 bu/acre up to 169.8 bu/acre.  On the soybean production estimates, Pro Farmer pegs this year's production at 4.535 billion bushels, with a national yield at 51.7 bu/acre.  Margin of error on the soybean estimate is +/-2%, which puts the production range from 4.444bbu to 4.625bbu, and the yield range from 50.7 bu/acre to 52.7 bu/acre.  

The national estimates above reflect Pro Farmer’s view on production and yields. They take into account data gathered during Crop Tour and other factors like crop maturity, historical differences in Tour data versus USDA’s final yields, areas outside those sampled on Tour, etc. That’s why the state yield numbers below differ from the Crop Tour figures. Based on August FSA certified acreage data, we increased soybean acreage by 500,000 acres. We made no adjustment to corn acreage.
Following are Pro Farmer’s state by state corn yield estimates:

Nebraska: 164 bu. per acre. Dryland corn in the state is baked. Even the irrigated corn was hurt by the heat and dryness. Plus, the state had damage from hail and wind. There was just too much stress on the crop.

Iowa: 198 bu. per acre. Of all the states we sampled on Crop Tour, Iowa had the most variability. The state has plenty of exceptional corn and some areas will produce the best yields ever. But there are also a fair amount of average and sub-par areas in the state.

South Dakota: 122 bu. per acre. We sample from the southeastern portion of the state, which is normally the sweet spot. That isn’t the case this year. Areas north of where we sample will be better, but the state as a whole has issues.

Minnesota: 191 bu. per acre. Central and southeastern areas of the state will carry the load this year. Other areas of the state have some issues.

Illinois: 198 bu. per acre. Corn in Illinois was relatively consistent, but it lacked the “wow” factor required to produce a superior yield. In the really big yield years, the southern third of Illinois where we don’t sample doesn’t pull the average down. The crop in southern Illinois isn’t poor, but it won’t pull up the state average.

Indiana: 177 bu. per acre. The Indiana corn crop had plenty of ears, but grain length was an issue. Many of the ears we pulled during Crop Tour had notable kernel abortion at the tip of ears.

Ohio: 175 bu. per acre. Ohio has a very good corn crop, but it won’t rival last year’s record yield. There’s far more variability in the state this year, especially on grain length, which will hold the crop back.

Following are Pro Farmer’s state by state soybean yield estimates:

Nebraska: 53 bu. per acre. Dryland soybeans are hanging on and a late-season rain could allow plants to maintain their pods. Nebraska farmers haven’t given up on irrigated soybeans and are actively pumping water.

Iowa: 60 bu. per acre. Iowa’s soybean crop is disease and weed-free. Recent rains came in time to help much of the western Iowa crop, though this area will need September rainfall to finish strong. Some eastern areas of the state have enough moisture to finish.

South Dakota: 41 bu. per acre. There’s not much to say other than the crop has been severely damaged by heat and dryness. The worst areas have already given up and others aren’t far from that level. Even a late-season rain wouldn’t do much to benefit some of the crop at this point.

Minnesota: 52 bu. per acre. Sudden Death Syndrome has reared its ugly head in some areas. The next one to two weeks will determine if disease pressure hurts yield potential. Moisture supplies are strong enough to finish the crop

Illinois: 64 bu. per acre. There is loads of potential with the Illinois soybean crop. And there is plenty of soil moisture to fill pods. Another rain would push much of the state’s soybean crop to the finish line.

Indiana: 59 bu. per acre. It rained ahead of and right after Crop Tour. The state has plentiful soybean moisture to finish strong. We found some fields that were still flowering, but there should be enough moisture to set and fill pods.

Ohio: 57 bu. per acre. Ohio has a slightly less mature crop than Indiana, but there’s plenty of moisture to get it to the finish line. Maturity of the crop is far enough along to finish given the typical extended season in the far eastern Belt.

Nebraska’s Agricultural Innovation

Governor Pete Ricketts

Nebraska is a land of pioneers.  Our state was settled by hardy homesteaders who ventured across windswept prairies in search of opportunity.  While we often celebrate the grit and determination of these early Nebraskans, they deserve equal credit for their ingenuity.  Their inventiveness helped transform the Great Plains into some of the most productive agricultural land in the world.

This spirit of innovation remains a driving force behind our state’s global leadership in agriculture.  Nebraskans are continuously coming up with new and improved ways of caring for their land and animals.  They’re designing machines, creating software, and applying technology to optimize the use of natural resources.  They’re pioneering new techniques to address labor shortages and safety issues.

State agencies are working to encourage this innovation in agriculture.  The Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED), in partnership with Invest Nebraska, launched the Combine incubator at Innovation Campus in October 2019.  The Combine supports high-growth entrepreneurs in food and agriculture.  The Combine received a $600,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce in September 2020 to help businesses test out and commercialize their ideas.  In May 2021, the Combine won a competitive $50,000 award from the U.S. Department of Energy for its demonstrated impact as an innovation center.

Startups at the Combine incubator have earned national recognition.  In January, the American Farm Bureau Federation announced the winners of its Ag Innovation Challenge, a competition open to entrepreneurs across the country.  Nebraska startups in the Combine incubator program took home three of the top four spots.

    Grain Weevil won the top prize.  The Aurora-based company is tackling the problem of grain bin safety.  It has developed an agile robot—resembling a weevil—that can walk across the surface of a grain bin to perform tasks that would otherwise require a farmer to physically crawl inside the bin.  This makes grain bin management more efficient and keeps farmers out of harm’s way.
    Birds Eye Robotics in Waterloo was named the runner-up.  The company has engineered a robotics system to provide upkeep and maintenance in chicken barns, performing time-consuming tasks that would otherwise require a farmer to walk through a broiler house.
    Marble Technologies also received recognition as a finalist of the Ag Innovation Challenge.  It has designed technologies to automate many of the labor-intensive, repetitive tasks in beef and pork processing facilities.  Its products are helping to address the labor shortages that sometimes serve as a bottleneck in meat processing.

Investors are looking to support more entrepreneurs in agriculture.  Last year, Nebraska attracted an all-time high of $317.6 million in venture capital.  That more than doubled the previous high of $153 million in 2018.  For example, Burlington Capital and Invest Nebraska announced a partnership in September 2021 to raise $11 million in seed funds for ag tech innovators.  This July, they helped Sentinel Fertigation raise $1.2 in seed funds for software development.  The company, founded by UNL graduate student Jackson Stansell, uses satellite imagery to assess the nitrogen needs of crops.  It then uses innovative software to analyze the imagery and provide farmers with data-driven recommendations on when to apply fertilizer and how much to use.  Given record-high nitrogen fertilizer costs, Sentinel Fertigation is saving growers money by helping them to avoid over-applying fertilizer, while still making sure crops get the nitrogen they need to grow.

The ongoing creation of new technologies in agriculture has helped our state wisely manage its natural resources.  For example, Nebraska has responsibly maintained its portion of the Ogallala Aquifer.  Water levels today remain within a foot of 1950s levels (in contrast, neighboring states like Colorado have depleted theirs).  The Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute estimates that crop water productivity for corn and soybeans in Nebraska increased 75% from 1990 to 2014.  In other words, our farmers are continuously growing more crops with less water.  Since the 1960s, our ranchers have contributed to a 66% increase in national beef production, while helping the U.S. beef industry reduce its carbon footprint by 40%.

Advancements in agriculture have also made it possible for farmers and ranchers to increase productivity.  Nebraska set records for both corn and soybean production in Nebraska for 2021 with 1.85 billion bushels of corn and 351 million bushels of soybeans.  Each crop had record-high yields in 2021 as well, with corn at 194 bushels/acre and soybeans at 63 bushels/acre.  Our ranchers, feeders, and processers have likewise harnessed new technologies to boost productivity.  Even with nearly 30% fewer cattle now than in 1975, the United States is producing more beef.

We’re committed to keeping Nebraska at the forefront of ag tech innovation.  In April, I signed legislation to invest $25 million into a $50 million public-private partnership to build an ag innovation facility at Nebraska Innovation Campus.  It will be located alongside a $140 million research center the United States Department of Agriculture is planning to construct.  The facilities will bring together researchers, engineers, and ag entrepreneurs to turn scientific discoveries into products our farmers and ranchers can use to enhance their operations.

While there are exciting technologies on the horizon, many recent innovations have already made their way into fields and pastures.  Next month, leaders in agriculture from around the world will gather in Wood River to see the latest technological advances in agriculture at Husker Harvest Days.  Visitors will be able to watch live field demonstrations, see autonomous farm machines in action, and take part in educational sessions to expand their knowledge.  To see what’s in store at our state’s biggest farm show, visit the Husker Harvest Days website at

You can explore the creative ag entrepreneurship happening at the Combine incubator on Nebraska Innovation Campus by going to   

USDA Allows More Packing Plants to Run Faster Line Speeds

USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) approved two more pork packing plants to run faster line speeds under a trial program. The Swift Pork plant in Beardstown, Illinois, and the Tyson plant in Madison, Nebraska, have been allowed to operate with increased harvesting line speeds.

The agency now has let six plants operate with faster lines, which could increase packing capacity and alleviate supply issues in the face of strong pork demand. FSIS established the line speeds program last November, after a provision in USDA’s 2019 New Swine Inspection System (NSIS) regulation was struck down by a U.S. District Court in March 2021. NPPC urged USDA to reinstate the faster line speeds.

Nine pork packing plants that had adopted the NSIS — six of which were operating with faster line speeds — were allowed to apply for the program, under which they need to collect data on the effects of the faster speeds on workers and share it with USDA and the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The information could be used to formulate a new regulation for allowing plants to run faster line speeds.

Scheduling the Last Few Irrigations of the Season

Bruno Lena - NE Extension Educator, Platte County

With pumping costs ranging from $6-15/acre-inch this year, any opportunity to save money by cutting back irrigation as early as possible sounds like a good strategy. Correctly timing the last few irrigations of the season offers an excellent opportunity to save some water and money.

Factors such as the amount of water a soil can hold, the amount of water a crop will use until it reaches maturity, and the maximum allowable soil water depletion should be considered when deciding the last few irrigations of the season. In addition to water and dollar savings, another benefit of leaving the fields as dry as possible without lowering yields is the potential to reduce issues with nutrient leaching and increase the amount of precipitation stored during the offseason.

The amount of water used by the plants during the tail end of the growing season changes from crop to crop. With different crops, it is important to know how weather conditions affect crop water use. For instance, weather conditions will affect the water use of the beans because they tend to mature based on daylength, as opposed to corn and sorghum that mature based on growing degree days. Thus, for corn and sorghum, hotter conditions will result in more water use per day but will also mature the crop sooner. On the other hand, beans may use more water during hotter weather conditions but won’t mature quicker, resulting in greater total water use.

We should always keep adequate soil moisture levels to maximize yield on irrigated fields if we have the water. During peak water use, UNL recommends maintaining soil water storage levels above 50% of plant available water in the top three feet of soil. As plants approach the end of the cropping season, the days are getting shorter and cooler and their leaves begin to lose the ability to transpire water, which opens an opportunity to let the soil dry to a lower water content without affecting yield. The UNL recommendation is to lower the soil water content to 40% of plant available water to a four-foot depth after the dough stage in corn and R4-end of pod elongation in soybean.

Another factor besides knowing how much water the crops will use between now and maturity is determining the amount of water stored in the soil. A fine sand soil, for example, holds about one inch per foot of soil or four inches on the top four feet of soil. A silt loam soil, on the other hand, holds two inches per foot of soil or eight inches on the top four feet of soil. Assuming both soils are at field capacity, the maximum amount of water that can be used is 2.4 inches (60% of four inches) for the fine sand soil and 4.8 inches (60% of eight inches) for the silt loam soil.

The last piece of information needed is the expected rainfall amounts between today and the date the crop matures.

The main objective with these calculations is to approach the end of the growing season using the stored soil water without affecting crop yields, while also creating room to store the offseason precipitation by lowering the soil water to 40% plant available water. These calculations will be improved if refigured weekly with updated irrigation and rainfall data.

For more information on this topic, see NebGuide G1871, “Predicting the Last Irrigation of the Season”.

New Leadership for the Nebraska Corn Board

Gov. Pete Ricketts recently appointed Dan Nerud as the District 1 Director of the Nebraska Corn Board (NCB), which represents Butler, Cass, Douglas, Gage, Jefferson, Johnson, Lancaster, Nemaha, Otoe, Pawnee, Richardson, Saline, Sarpy, Saunders, and Seward counties. Nerud, from Dorchester is replacing David Bruntz, from Friend, who served on the board since 2013 and chose not to seek reappointment.

“The Nebraska Corn Board has a reputation of excellence, but that’s not the only reason I desired to become involved,” said Nerud. “I’m 64; I’m not serving for me – it is for the next generations to come including my sons and grandchildren. Just an importantly, it’s our job to support and promote agriculture as no one knows what we do better than us.”

A fourth-generation farmer, Nerud farms with his two sons. The Nerud family grows irrigated and dryland corn, soybeans, wheat, hay, and have a cow-calf herd in the Dorchester, Crete, and Wilbur area.

In addition to his involvement with the Nebraska Corn Board, Nerud has served with the Nebraska Corn Growers Association (NeCGA) for over 10 years, on National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) Action Teams, and is currently serving as the vice-chair of the Membership and Engagement Action Team and on the Resolutions Committee. He is also a member of his local Southeast Corn Growers chapter.

“We look forward to welcoming Dan to the Nebraska Corn Board,” said Kelly Brunkhorst, executive director of NCB. “With his passion and leadership in agriculture and the Nebraska Corn Growers Association, he has a well-rounded understanding, benefiting our board with his knowledge. Dan will be a great addition, but I would also be remiss not to mention David Bruntz and thank him for his service to the industry.”

Nerud’s position is effective immediately following his appointment by Gov. Ricketts. Additionally, Debbie Borg of Allen, Nebraska, was reappointed to serve as the District 4 Director.
The Nebraska Corn Board (NCB) also elected three farmers to serve leadership roles at its recent board meeting on August 9. The leadership roles are effective immediately and are yearlong in duration, with the possibility to be reelected.

Jay Reiners, At Large Director, was reelected as chairman of the board. Reiners farms near Juniata, where he grows field corn, seed corn and soybeans. He has been farming for over 30 years and is the fourth generation managing the family farm. He graduated with an associate’s degree in general agriculture from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL). Reiners has been with NCB since 2017.

Brandon Hunnicutt, District 3 director, was reelected as vice chair of NCB. Hunnicutt farms near Giltner with his father and brother. On his farm, Hunnicutt grows corn, popcorn, seed corn and soybeans. He earned his bachelor’s degree in agricultural business from UNL and has served on the board since 2014.

Andy Groskopf, District 8 Director, was reelected secretary/treasurer of the board. Groskopf farms near Scottsbluff, where he farms irrigated corn and dry edible beans. He has been farming for over 20 years and is the fourth generation managing the family farm. He attended Western Nebraska Community College for automotive technologies. Groskopf has been with NCB since 2018.

“I congratulate our elected leadership team as they begin the work of the new year,” said Kelly Brunkhorst, executive director of NCB. “With the goal of advancing our state’s commodity, we’re well positioned to aggressively tackle our mission of promoting the value of corn by creating opportunities.”

Armstrong Research Farm Will Host Beef Field Day

Field peas and forages will headline a beef field day at Iowa State University's Armstrong Memorial Research and Demonstration Farm on Friday, Sept. 16. Erika Lundy-Woolfolk, beef specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, said the program is geared toward local beef producers with information on exploring alternative cropping systems, tips for managing calves, and insight into the 2023 beef market.

“This field day is an opportunity to learn about research happening right here in southwest Iowa,” she said. “Some of projects we’ll talk about are incorporating field peas into the cropping system, feeding field peas to feedlot cattle and utilizing annual forages to expand grazing rotations.”

Additional topics on the agenda are preparing calves for the feedyard and a beef cattle market outlook. Field day speakers are Lundy-Woolfolk; Dan Loy, beef specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach and director of the Iowa Beef Center; Dan Thomson, professor of animal science at Iowa State; Lee Schulz, associate professor in economics and livestock economist with ISU Extension and Outreach; and Sara Lira, research scientist with Corteva Agriscience.

Thanks to sponsor Corteva, the field day and noon meal are free. Serving begins at noon with the program from 12:30-3:30 p.m. Following the program, an optional farm tour to view the research feedyard and individual intake feeding system will be offered. The event flyer offers a quick look at the topics, speakers and schedule.

The event will take place in the Wallace Foundation Learning Center on the Armstrong Research Farm located at 53020 Hitchcock Ave, Lewis. Preregistration is requested by Wed., Sept. 14, to allow for adequate meal planning. To RSVP, contact Lundy-Woolfolk at or 641-745-5902.

Iowa Cash Rent - County Data Released

Non-irrigated cropland cash rent averaged $256.00 per acre in Iowa during 2022, $23.00 higher than 2021 according to the latest report released by USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Pasture rented for cash averaged $59.50 per acre, $1.50 above 2021.

Western Iowa Counties

2022 Cash Rental Rates ($$/acre)

Woodbury - 261
Manona - 258
Harrison - 245
Pottawattamie - 255
Crawford - 275
Shelby - 262

Grundy County had the highest cash rent for non-irrigated cropland at $304.00 per acre, followed by Sioux County at $295.00 per acre. Ida, Black Hawk, and Bremer rounded out the top five. Davis County, at $154.00 per acre, had the lowest average cash rent for non-irrigated cropland.

Sioux had the highest published pasture cash rent at $83.00 per acre, followed by Page and Shelby at $81.00 per acre. Louisa County had the lowest pasture cash rent at $28.00 per acre.

Dr. Carolyn Lawrence-Dill Joins FFAR’s Board of Directors

The Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) is thrilled to announce that Dr. Carolyn Lawrence-Dill, associate dean of research and discovery for the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences (CALS) at Iowa State University, is joining FFAR’s Board of Directors.

“Dr. Lawrence-Dill is a pioneering leader in the food and agriculture industry,” said FFAR Board Chairman Dr. Mark Keenum. “Her expertise in plant biology and research administration will be an essential addition to the board. We look forward to incorporating Dr. Lawrence-Dill’s unique insights on plant phenotyping into FFAR’s research goals.”

In her research role, Lawrence-Dill creates tools to automate data analysis and provide unique data storage solutions. These tools help other researchers to accomplish their research goals more efficiently. Lawrence-Dill and her team apply these computational tools to improve crop science. Specifically, the tools leverage plant genetics and genomics information to better understand basic biology and improve crops. These skills are the basis for her administrative efforts to transition the CALS research enterprise into a more data-driven paradigm.

Prior to her time at Iowa State University, Lawrence-Dill worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, where she directed the maize model organism database MaizeGDB. She also led the North American Plant Phenotyping Network, which coordinates the plant phenotyping community across North America. During her time as chair, Lawrence-Dill formally founded the organization as a 501(c)3 nonprofit entity as a signature activity.

Dr. Lawrence-Dill is enthusiastic to get started. “I’m excited to help to shape FFAR’s ongoing efforts to get research outcomes into the hands of producers and consumers. I’ve always said I want to help researchers go farther faster. For me, working with FFAR will be a new way to do just that.”

Lawrence-Dill holds a bachelor's degree in biology from Hendrix College. She earned a master's degree in biology from Texas Tech University and a doctorate degree in botany from the University of Georgia.

“Dr. Lawrence-Dill’s impressive research background, data expertise and her contributions to advancing agriculture will be an asset to FFAR,” said Interim Executive Director & Chief Operating Officer Julie Reynes. “We are excited to have Dr. Lawrence-Dill join FFAR’s prestigious Board of Directors.”

NGFA issues statement in response to final report on breaching the Lower Snake River Dams

A report commissioned by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., recommends replacing the benefits of the Lower Snake River Dams (LSRD) before breaching them to save endangered salmon runs. In the final report published Aug. 25, they acknowledged that some industries relying on the dams would no longer be viable if the dams are breached in the current environment. While they stated that “the replacement and mitigation of their benefits must be pursued before decommissioning and breaching,” NGFA maintains that any action to breach the dams is not a viable option.    

“Barge transportation moves about half of all grain exports to export elevators and is critical to NGFA members in the Pacific Northwest. The Columbia-Snake River System is the third-largest grain export corridor in the world, transporting nearly 30 percent of U.S. grain and oilseed exports,” NGFA President and CEO Mike Seyfert said. “Breaching the lower Snake River dams in the Pacific Northwest would create severe economic harm to the entire U.S. agricultural value chain. Removing the LSRD will hurt producers and negatively impact the operations and livelihoods of NGFA members who have made investment decisions based on the ability to utilize barge transportation. While we appreciate Gov. Inslee and Sen. Murray recognizing the crucial role the LSRD play in the agricultural value chain, we must remain opposed to any actions by federal or state governments that could result in breaching these dams. The benefits of barge transportation to the agricultural value chain and the overall U.S. supply chain cannot be replaced by rail or truck transportation. Importantly, barges are the most environmentally friendly mode of transportation for grains and oilseeds with one four-barge tow moving as much grain as 144 rail cars or 538 semi-trucks.”                

KC Fed: Ag Credit Conditions Remain Strong as Risks Grow

Agricultural credit conditions remained strong in the second quarter, but slower improvement was expected in the coming months.

Farm income increased further according to respondents of the Federal Reserve Surveys of Agricultural Credit Conditions, but the pace of increase slowed from recent quarters and further softening was expected going forward. Farm loan repayment rates continued to strengthen, but the pace of improvement also slowed. Following nearly two years of acceleration, farmland values also showed signs of moderating as interest rates increased more notably.

Strength in farm finances continued to support a positive outlook for agricultural credit conditions through the remainder of 2022, but risks to the farm economy have become more notable. Crop and livestock prices remained elevated, but have been volatile in recent months alongside ongoing uncertainty about the outlook for supply and demand of some major commodities.

With substantial increases in production costs over the past two years, profit margins for many producers could be pressured with a sizable decline in commodity prices. Despite growing risks, balance sheets for most producers remained strong and profit opportunities during 2022 remained well in reach.

Smithfield and Almirola Return to Stewart-Haas Racing with Multiyear Agreement Beginning in 2023

Smithfield Foods and NASCAR Cup Series driver Aric Almirola will continue their longstanding partnership as both return to Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) with a multiyear agreement that begins in 2023.

The 2023 season will be the 12th consecutive year that Smithfield has partnered with Almirola and its sixth together at SHR. The renewed pact comes with a significantly heightened presence as Smithfield will be the anchor partner of Almirola’s No. 10 Ford Mustang for the largest allotment of races since joining SHR in 2018.

The extension also marks a turnabout for Almirola. The 38-year-old from Tampa, Florida, came into 2022 ready to relish every moment, for his original plan was to retire at season’s end. In the course of this year, Almirola has discovered a new balance between his passion for racing and dedication to his family. His wife, Janice, and kids, Alex and Abby, join him on most race weekends, oftentimes enjoying once-in-a-lifetime experiences together as they travel the country. His rapport with crew chief Drew Blickensderfer has flourished, and the intense pressure he had put on himself was replaced with the joy of simply being present. Almirola was reinvigorated, and when Smithfield broached the subject of continuing together beyond 2022, Almirola accepted.

“I’ve learned a lot this year and perhaps the biggest learning was to never say never,” Almirola said. “I came into this year ready to soak everything up, and I have. I already knew I had the coolest job in the world, but being with my family and being there for Janice and Alex and Abby was really important. My desire to compete and win never wavered, but I didn’t want it to come at the expense of family. We found a way to accommodate both and I’ve never been happier.

“Smithfield is a big part of that. They’ve been a part of my life for 11 years and, really, my entire NASCAR Cup Series career. They’re family to me. And, of course, it’s always nice to be wanted. Smithfield wanted me to continue representing them. Stewart-Haas Racing wanted me to continue driving their racecars. Everything just aligned and it’s something we all embraced.

“The original decision to step away from fulltime racing at the end of the season was a family one, and so is this decision. Janice, Alex and Abby are just as excited as I am to continue racing the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang.”

The Smithfield/Almirola pairing is one of the most tenured in NASCAR. Almirola teamed up with Smithfield in 2012 while at Richard Petty Motorsports for his first full year in the NASCAR Cup Series. Almirola and Smithfield moved to SHR in 2018 where the two immediately found success, making the NASCAR Playoffs, winning in October at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway and finishing a career-high fifth in points. Almirola went on to score a career-best 18 top-10 finishes in 2020 before earning another victory in 2021 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon to put him into the playoffs for a fourth consecutive season.

“Aric has been a part of the Smithfield family for more than a decade and we’re very happy to have him back in the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang,” said Shane Smith, president and CEO, Smithfield Foods. “Just as Aric discovered new ways to enjoy this sport, Smithfield did too. I was at this year’s Daytona 500 with him and it was electric. NASCAR is exactly where we need to be. It’s where our customers are, and no one reaches them better than Aric Almirola. He’s an incredibly talented racer and devoted family man who embodies Smithfield’s values. From day one, Aric has embraced our commitment to do good for our customers, employees and communities. This is a reinvestment in Aric, in Stewart-Haas Racing and in NASCAR.”

Tony Stewart, co-owner of SHR with Haas Automation founder Gene Haas, was a driving force behind Almirola joining SHR in 2018. Stewart first met Almirola in 2004 when they were teammates at Joe Gibbs Racing. Stewart was already a NASCAR Cup Series champion with the first of his three titles in hand (2002, 2005 and 2011) while Almirola was just beginning his NASCAR career after being selected as one of the first two drivers for Gibbs’ diversity program.

“All of us at SHR are very happy to have Aric back in our Smithfield Ford Mustang,” Stewart said. “I’ve always admired Aric because he’s always working to better himself, to find a better way. This year is proof of that.

“We’re in a tough sport, in terms of the competition and in terms of the commitment it takes to compete at this level. Even with all that, Aric has found a way to compete and enjoy life. That sounds simple, but achieving it is hard, yet Aric makes it look simple. It’s one of his many attributes, and it’s one of the many reasons why he’s such a good fit for Smithfield and for us. I’m proud of him and proud to extend our partnership with Smithfield.”

AGCO’s Fendt Launches the New 700 Vario Series to North America to Provide Customers with Even More Capability

AGCO Corporation (NYSE: AGCO), a global leader in the design, manufacture and distribution of agricultural machinery and precision ag technology, is bringing the seventh generation of Fendt® 700 Vario® series tractors to North America. This version introduces a new design, engine, and technical innovations to its best-selling range, which will debut at the 2022 Farm Progress Show and be available for order through Fendt dealerships for delivery in 2023.

The Fendt 700 Vario tractors are available in five models ranging from 203 to 283 rated engine horsepower, all featuring the quality, comfort, and versatility that Fendt customers expect. For farmers needing more horsepower, the Fendt DynamicPerformance (DP) extra power concept releases up to 20 extra horsepower in the Fendt 728 Vario DP via a demand-dependent control system precisely when needed. The extra power concept is not tied to driving speed or special auxiliary functions such as hydraulic, PTO, or three-point applications and functions purely dynamically.

“AGCO has always focused on providing customer-first solutions, and the Fendt 700 Vario series delivers on that promise. With a combination of key upgrades and new features, these tractors are the perfect combination of strength, agility, functionality, and comfort, making them ideal for everything from haying and livestock work to heavy-duty field or fleet operations,” says David Soliday, senior tactical marketing manager for Fendt tractors.

Greater power with leading efficiency
With a new AGCO Power™ 7.5-liter engine that uses the Fendt iD™ concept, the Fendt 700 Vario tractors deliver a high-performance range without compromising on the efficiency for which the series is well-known. All components, such as the engine, transmission, hydraulics, and cooling system, are designed to achieve impressive torque even at low engine speeds to ensure high tractive power and acceleration strength with lower fuel consumption and extended service life.

The single-range Fendt VarioDrive™ transmission provides an entirely seamless operating experience from 65 feet per hour to 33 miles per hour. VarioDrive is Fendt’s latest evolution of the Vario CVT and provides intelligently controlled all-wheel drive management. The drive train eliminates the need for manual switching when changing between field and road operations, and it drives the front and rear axles as needed and distributes the power dynamically. In the field, full tractive force is available, and stresses are avoided when driving on roads or curves. The “pull-in-turn” effect pulls the machine into the curve during turns, resulting in a particularly small turning radius with full tractive power and less soil compaction.

The exclusive Concentric Air System (CAS) cooling concept has been purposefully designed for low engine speeds, compact construction, and fuel efficiency. Less drive power is needed compared to conventional fan and cooling systems, and this power is then available for traction in the field or on the road. The CAS concept is driven by its own hydraulic motor and is decoupled from the engine speed. The system is automated according to demand and is extremely quiet and smooth.

“Delivering impressive power through innovative engineering was a focal point when designing and developing the new Fendt 700 Vario series,” Soliday says. “By combining a new engine with innovative technology such as the Fendt iD and VarioDrive, operators can enjoy even greater versatility with this new generation.”

Customer-focused control and comfort
Delivering operator comfort, control, and convenience are foundational to Fendt cabs and workstations, and the Fendt 700 Vario series is no different. The new generation is operated simply and individually via the multifunction joystick and the 3L joystick in FendtONE™. The Fendt 700 Vario is equipped with a 10-inch digital dashboard and a 12-inch terminal on the armrest as standard. An additional retractable 12-inch terminal in the headliner is available as an option.

Smart functions such as the Fendt Guide™ guidance system, the automatic Fendt Section Control (SC), or Fendt Variable Rate Control (VRC) are displayed as required on the individually assignable tiles in the terminals.

Six different seat configurations are available, as well as a new optional premium leather seat that features massage, heating, and cooling with intuitive operation via the FendtONE terminal. The driver adjusts the seat height, position, and backrest angle electrically via a lever on the side of the seat. Operators can create personalized seat profiles and activate them with one click when changing drivers.

“Intuitive and innovative workstations have always been a part of the Fendt design and engineering language,” Soliday says. “By introducing FendtONE and the diverse seat configurations, operators can customize their Fendt 700 Series tractor to individual preferences for each task.”

Powerful hydraulics unlock efficiency
With an optional increased hydraulic pump capacity of up to 58 gpm, the Fendt 700 series allows you to accomplish tasks more efficiently. As with all other Fendt series, the hydraulic system is completely independent and self-contained from other tractor functions such as the transmission, steering valves, and cooling fan. These hydraulic capabilities improve efficiency and accuracy and eliminate the risk of cross-contamination. In addition, the series now allows for full use of up to five rear and two front hydraulic remotes even when equipped with a Cargo or CargoProfi loader.

Tire features add flexibility and convenience
The popular VarioGrip™ tire pressure regulation system already offered on larger Fendt series is now an optional feature on the new Fendt 700 series. VarioGrip allows operators to increase the contact area with the ground and boost tractive power by up to 8%. When driving on the road, the air pressure can be raised, providing a better ride and improving tire longevity. The driver can easily set and control the system’s tire pressure in the tractor display.

Numerous factory-installed tire options are available for the Fendt 700 tractors. All models in the range can be equipped with a vast array of commonly used row crop, single metric, or dual tire configurations. In addition to its tire offerings, the new series is entirely row crop capable at 60-inch gauge settings. The new 700 series now also features the ability to factory install certain front and rear dual tires.

Trusted customer care and warranty
The Fendt Gold Star Customer Care program comes standard with each Fendt tractor. This 36-month/3,000-hour warranty features no deductible, covers all scheduled maintenance, and includes the cost of oil, filters, belts, and maintenance items during the coverage period. Each new tractor also receives five years of Fendt Connect™ telematics that allows an operator or their dealer to monitor important machine data remotely. In the rare case of a breakdown, Fendt dealers will take care of the parts support while quickly diagnosing and repairing the problem to get the tractor back in the field, or they will provide a loaner guarantee if it takes more than 48 hours to complete a repair.

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