Blogging by the Bushel
With numerous challenges over the past several years for producers, we at Mercer Landmark understand the need for a comprehensive risk management solution. We seek to provide our customers with unparalleled service to ensure maximum results.

Archive for March, 2015

By: Amy  Battles – High Yield Specialist

According to the calendar spring has officially arrived, and as soon as things get fit we will be spraying! I wanted to take a brief moment to touch on proper mixing sequence of herbicides before things get too crazy. Mixing sequence is critical for proper herbicide application, efficacy and avoiding potential problems. Below I have listed two different acronyms to keep in the back of your mind when adding products to your spray tank.
A = Agitate Water – tank needs to be 1/3 to ½ full
P = Powders (Soluble) – aka water soluble packets (such as Beacon® or FirstRate®)
P = Powders Dry Flowables/Extruded Granulars (Northstar® or Dimetric®)
L = Liquids – Flowables/Suspensions (Aatrex® or LexarEZ®)
E = Emulsifiable Concentrates and Solutions (Dual II Magnum® or AimEC®)
S = Surfactants – COC, HSOC, MSO, and Liquid Adjuvants (SuperB® or Interlock®)

W = Water or fluid fertilizer, fill tank at least 1/3 to ½ full and begin rolling agitation
W = WSP (water soluble packets)
W = WP (wettable powders)
W = WDG (water dispersible granule/dry flowable)
A = Maintain agitation during mixing/spraying process, and allow EACH product to mix before adding new materials.
L = Add Flowable, suspension concentrates, suspoemulsions, or soluble liquids
E = Add Emulsifiable Concentrates
Finish filling the tank with water, and lastly add any surfactants.

A few things to always remember:
Read the label!
Always jar test every tank mix – especially when using a new product
Make sure your mixing and spray equipment is clean
Check spray water pH, add acidifying agent if necessary  – I often carry pH strips with me to do a quick test on the farm. It isn’t as good as sending a sample in, however it gives you a good starting point. When compatibility agents must be used (such as AMS), put them into the tank before any chemicals.
Pre-dissolve (slurry) products if indicated to do so on the label
Add foliar mixes such as Max-IN for Beans and Max-IN ZMB last with your surfactants and/or COC
Proactively adding an anti-foaming agent can prevent time AND product loss due to foam.

Here is an example of a common soybean burndown mixing order:
AMS, Valor XLT, Dimetric, 2,4-D, Roundup, Interlock

Lastly – There’s an App for that! Check out Mix Tank by Precision Laboratories. It offers over 700 CP products from over 15 manufacturers. Along with giving you a proper mixing order you can also create a spray log, calculate how much product to add per tank load, how much product will be used per field, and has the option to add current weather conditions while you’re in the field.

Always remember to read and follow the label directions and think through APPLES or WWW-WALE even if you are using Mix Tank. If you have any questions regarding tank mixing please contact your local Mercer Landmark Agronomist.

Need to catch up? Here are some food, agriculture and farm stories you might have missed this week.

1. Extra time. USDA on Friday said it would allow farmers to sign up for farm programs authorized by the farm bill until April 7. Farm Futures

2. Grain sorghum boom. There’s been talk of expanding sorghum acres in the U.S. to meet export demand – and it’s happening in Arkansas. Farm Press

3. Tech potential. What big data, drones, and the cloud can do for the future of food security. Tech Republic

4. Cuba concerns. Many ag groups have been supportive of trade with Cuba, but Sen. Marco Rubio explains his position on the other side. Farm Progress

5. Rural internet and backup systems. Internet in rural and underserved areas – often funded by the Commerce Department and USDA – is the first priority. But the second may be creating backup systems across the U.S. New York Times

6. FFAer goes to Washington. An Iowa FFA member participated in the White House Science Fair this week with his ‘Gas to Grass’ project on ethanol. National FFA Blog

7. Section 179 too little too late. Texas think tank says legislators should move discussions on tax extenders and Section 179 to the start of the year.

And your bonus:

Palace of Fermentation. Cleveland residents may soon be treated to craft beer, sauerkraut, pickles, charcuterie and aged cheeses in new eatery. Ohio Farm Bureau

Yeah, there was snow hanging around in the Midwest this week. Not cool.

By: Ben Stoller – Mercer Landmark Agronomist

“When should we apply” and “how much” nitrogen should we apply are questions many ask themselves as wheat awakes from its winter sleep.

A recent article by Ohio State University scientists suggests that nitrogen not be applied prior to spring green up, and that the majority of the nitrogen application be delayed until stem elongation, or Feekes Growth Stage 6 (C.O.R.N. Newsletter 2014-04), as the crop does not require large amounts of nitrogen until this time.

Purdue University, in its Managing Wheat by Growth Stage guide (Purdue Extension, ID-422, page 2), recommends the following practices for winter wheat nitrogen applications.

  1. Fall: 20-30 lbs./acre: develop fall tillers
  2. Dormancy break: 30-50 lbs./ac: encourage spring tillering
  3. Feekes 5: balance of nitrogen application

According to both Purdue and Ohio State, anytime between Feekes 5 and 6 (also known as ‘jointing’) would be the optimal time to apply most of the nitrogen.

Contact your Mercer Landmark agronomy specialist to help you maximize your wheat crop, and be sure to ask about Mercer Landmark’s Wheat Health program.

Agriculture truly is amazing! Just how amazing is it? Check out these fun facts below and see.

Fun Farm Facts

Here are some fun facts straight from America’s farms for you to absorb and share:

  • Like snowflakes, no two cows have exactly the same pattern of spots.
  • There are 47 different breeds of sheep in the U.S.
  • Pork is the most widely eaten meat in the world.
  • Elevators in the Statue of Liberty use a soybean-based hydraulic fluid.
  • The longest recorded flight of a chicken is 13 seconds.
  • The average dairy cow produces seven gallons of milk a day, 2,100 pounds of milk a month, and 46,000 glasses of milk a year.
  • Raising beef cattle is the single largest segment of American agriculture.
  • One pound of wool can make 10 miles of yarn. There are 150 yards (450 feet) of wool yarn in a baseball.
  • Soybeans are an important ingredient for the production of crayons. In fact, one acre of soybeans can produce 82,368 crayons.
  • The heaviest turkey ever raised weighed 86 pounds, about the size of an average third-grader.
  • Cows are herbivores, so they only have teeth on the bottom.
  • To keep up with projected population growth, more food will have to be produced in the next 50 years as the past 10,000 years combined. Find out more about the efforts of today’s United States farmers:
  • Today, the average U.S. farmer feeds 155 people. In 1960, a farmer fed just 26 people.
  • Today’s farmer grows twice as much food as his parents did – using less land, energy, water and fewer emissions.
  • U.S. farmers produce about 40 percent of the world’s corn, using only 20 percent of the total area harvested in the world.
  • American farmers ship more than $100 billion of their crops and products to many nations.
  • Agriculture provides more than 24 million U.S. jobs in all kinds of industries.

In honor of National Agriculture Day, here are some fun facts about it.

What Is Ag Day?

It’s a day to recognize and celebrate the abundance provided by agriculture. Every year, producers, agricultural associations, corporations, universities, government agencies and countless others across America join together to recognize the contributions of agriculture.

When Is Ag Day?

Ag Day is celebrated on March 18, 2015. National Ag Day falls during National Ag Week, March 15-21, 2015.

Who Hosts Ag Day?

The Agriculture Council of America hosts the campaign on a national level. However, the awareness efforts in communities across America are as influential – if not more – than the broad-scale effort. Again this year, the Ag Day Planning Guide has been created to help communities and organizations more effectively host Ag Day events.

What Is Ag Day All About?

Ag Day is about recognizing – and celebrating – the contribution of agriculture in our everyday lives. The National Ag Day program encourages every American to:

Understand how food and fiber products are produced.

Value the essential role of agriculture in maintaining a strong economy.

Appreciate the role agriculture plays in providing safe, abundant and affordable products.

Why Celebrate Agriculture?

Agriculture provides almost everything we eat, use and wear on a daily basis. But too few people truly understand this contribution. This is particularly the case in our schools, where students may only be exposed to agriculture if they enroll in related vocational training.

By building awareness, the Agriculture Council of America is encouraging young people to consider career opportunities in agriculture.

Each American farmer feeds more than 144 people … a dramatic increase from 25 people in the 1960s. Quite simply, American agriculture is doing more – and doing it better. As the world population soars, there is an even greater demand for the food and fiber produced in the United States.

By: Brad Miller

As wheat is now starting to emerge from dormancy, it is time to check the stand count and evaluate for winter kill. A stand count of 20-24 plants/square foot with 3-5 tillers is optimal.  If your stand count is 10-12 plants/square foot or less then you should consider replanting to a different crop.   An old rule of thumb is 1.3 to 1.6 bu/ac for each head/square foot.  So how much nitrogen should be applied once we determine the wheat has survived the winter?    Wheat uses 1.1 Lbs. of nitrogen for each bushel of expected yield and utilizes 70-75% of its total nitrogen needs between Feeks scale 4 (beginning of erect growth) and Feeks scale 8 (visible flag leaf).   Usually between 70-100lbs of nitrogen is recommended. The chart below shows nitrogen recommendations.

For more information or to have your wheat field scouted contact your local Mercer Landmark representative.

Last week soybeans took a bit hit. Fundamentally the value of the dollar was the major culprit for the down turn as it affects US exports.  But the brazilian real also has been in the shadows. This article by The Andersons risk management team talks about why the Brazil’s currency matters

By: The Andersons Risk Management Team

Soybean farmers know Brazil is our main competition for bean exports, and this time of year is when Brazil’s harvest starts and our export business comes to a standstill. We’ve accepted that the world is flat even in the Ag space. We know a strong US dollar makes the US export market less competitive globally. However, there is something we want to call out that has been in the shadows until recently, the Brazilian Real. Specifically we want to look at its effect on the Brazilian farmer’s decision making.

Since last June we have seen the soybean market deteriorate. The world has a glut of soybeans and domestically we are at one of our highest ending stocks numbers. The CBOT has reacted and lowered prices to discourage new bean acres. May futures have fallen from a price of $12.57 last June to $9.84, approximately a 20% loss of value. If the US farmer did not forward contract of take protection, their margins have been squeezed to the breaking point. On top of that, without a weather issue, there is little optimism that the market will return to more profitable levels in the near term.

During the same time period we have seen the Brazilian Real lose ground to the US Dollar. It now takes nearly 3.06 reals to equal 1 US dollar. This is roughly a 30% loss in value since last June. The Real is at its worst position again the US dollar since 2004. However, this benefits the  Brazilian farmers because they price their crop off Chicago’s board.

The Brazilian farmer has been shielded from the decline in the soybean market by the currency exchange rate; the price for soybeans in Brazil is more than it was last June. The chart below shows the price the Brazilian farmer is receiving for soybeans.

The consequence that comes from this currency relationship is a miscommunication to the Brazilian farmer. Like we said previously, the market is looking to discourage new bean acres. The US farmer is getting that message but the Brazilian farmer is not. Brazilians see prices better than last year and will be looking to capitalize on that. The market is already loaded with beans; if everything continues as it has thus far, the Brazilian farmer is going to further overload the market.

Increases in farmland valuations will be reduced following the Ohio Department of Taxation’s decision to enact administrative changes to the Current Agricultural Use Value (CAUV) formula recently proposed by the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF).

Farm Bureau initiated an extensive review of the program as tax bills for many farmers recently doubled or even tripled at a time when farm income has fallen dramatically.

The formula will now more closely tie tax values to current economic conditions in agriculture and will also more accurately value woodlands. This will lower valuations in counties being reassessed in 2015, for taxes payable beginning in 2016.

As an example, Farm Bureau projects cropland valuations will be 26 percent lower and woodland valuations will be 54 percent lower than previously projected for Ohio’s most prominent soil type (Miami silt loam). Part of the CAUV formula is based on soil type, which reflects the land’s productive capacity. There are more than 3,500 soil types in Ohio.

These projected reductions apply only to the valuation and not to the overall tax amount, which is also affected by local millage rates and other factors. While tax bills will likely be higher, this formula change will moderate the amount of increase.

Farm Bureau has already begun discussions on further adjustments to the CAUV formula with the tax department and its Agricultural Advisory Committee.

Among those options are making the formula better reflect the value of land for farming and be less affected by non-farm factors. Farm Bureau is also raising concerns with tax officials about minimum values, treatment of conservation lands and woodlands and the current method of factoring an average millage rate into values, which negatively affects the most vulnerable farmland in areas threatened by development.

OFBF thanked Tax Commissioner Joe Testa and his staff for being responsive to the needs of Ohio’s farm community. The recommendations forwarded by Farm Bureau came following thousands of hours of work by members and staff who conducted research and held meetings with tax experts, state and local tax officials, accountants, attorneys, appraisers, farmers, landowners and other stakeholders. Farm Bureau’s goal was to identify adjustments to the formula that provide relief to landowners and protect the integrity of the program.

Ohio Farm Bureau members will receive more detailed information through the organization’s publications and e-letters.

Last week was a bearish week in the grain complex as corn, beans and wheat all closed lower. Beans led the way, down 45 cents since Monday. They felt hedge pressure in Brazil as the truck strike came to an end.  In addition the weak Real continued to give the Brazilian farmer a good price despite the break in futures.


In Brz real, SK is up about 18% up from the Jan low compared to the board up about 2%.

The story of the week remained the strong jobs report which showed a gain of 295,000 (well above expectations), pushing the unemployment rate down to 5.5%. After the report, the dollar rose to an 11 year high against the world’s major currencies and U.S. bond yields jumped. This also caused U.S. stocks to trade lower as it may force the Fed to raise interest rates sooner than expected. This, combined with the continued strength of the U.S. dollar, put pressure on the commodities and gave a strong fundamental reason why commodities were on the defensive last week.

Dollar climbs to 11-year high after U.S. jobs data

60 minute chart

Daily Dollar Chart

Corn is a little higher today, but still continues its range-bound trade with a lack of any significant fundamental developments. Wheat is higher today after trading to new contract lows which have held since September. The strong U.S. dollar against the Euro will continue to keep wheat exports down while giving Europe a bigger advantage in global markets.