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 November, 2015

By: Ben Stoller

As I reviewed many soil test results this fall, I noticed one thing common among the vast majority of fields: an alarming number of fields with low to (many very low) sulfur levels.

Since 1996, Sulfur soil test levels in A&L Great Lakes Laboratories (Ft. Wayne, IN) trade area have dropped in half, due to increased grain yields and reduction in sulfur in rainfall (acid rain).

In the mid-nineties, with lower average yields and higher sulfur arriving with rainfall, there was a minimal need for supplemental sulfur.   With today’s higher yields and limited ‘free’ sulfur sources, an average corn crop requires nearly 13 pounds/acre of sulfur, most of which needs to be supplemented by growers.  See graphs below for differences in sulfur levels.

Northwest Ohio 1996 Soil Test Data Summary (A&L Great Lakes Labs)    2014 Soil Test Data Summary

Sulfur-along with nitrogen-is crucial in forming amino acids (building blocks of proteins) and chlorophyll in plants.  This relationship can actually make nitrogen more plant efficient when sulfur is found in adequate soil supply.  Recent research shows nitrogen levels can be reduced 20-40 lbs. /acre with no corn yield compromise when sulfur requirements are met.

Please contact your Mercer Landmark agronomy representative for assistance in creating a solid fertility program to ensure your crops are receiving ample sulfur for maximum yields.

Sources: A&L Great Lakes Laboratories October 2015 Newsletter & soil test summaries from 1996-2014

By: Brad Miller

Weed Resistance continues to become a bigger problem in the United States.   According to www.weedscience.org as of November1, 2015 there were 153 resistant weed biotypes reported in the United States.  All chemical modes of action have at least 1 reported case of resistance and there are 19 unique resistant weeds in Ohio and some have multiple sites of action resistance.    When you meet with your Mercer Landmark representative to discuss your chemical program, plan on using multiple modes of action.  The following are some techniques that are effective in reducing problems with herbicide-tolerant/herbicide – resistant weeds.

1. Rotate Crops

2. Know your weeds, know your fields

3. Start with clean fields

4. Use residual herbicides

5. Apply herbicides correctly (by applying proper rates at the right time)

6. Control weed escapes and clean your equipment.

For more information or questions please contact your local Mercer Landmark representative.

By:Ryan Stucke

Hybrid selection is crucial in establishing productive stands and achieving high yields.  Hybrids have specific strengths that could make it a top performer in a certain environment but lower in a different one.  Selecting a diverse lineup will help you lower the risk of a crop disaster.  The key traits you should look for are: maturity, yield potential, drought tolerance, standability, pest resistance along with disease package, and drydown.

  • Yield Potential- You know your farm better than anybody else, so when choosing a hybrid for yield you have to know if you can handle a “defensive corn” or a “race horse”, properly placing one of these on your farm will help you have the best result possible
  • Drought Tolerance- This year we didn’t have to worry about having a high drought tolerance trait.  But more often than not we run into a dry spell in July and having a high drought tolerant rating will help your corn get through that period, especially if you have higher ground or clay soils.
  • Standability- Let’s face it, you want something with good late season standability, nobody likes to shell down corn.
  • Pest/Disease Resistance- After having as much moisture as we did this year, disease is on a lot of guys’ minds. Choosing a corn that has a good disease package will help that plant be healthier throughout the year and allow it to add more bushels to that acre.  We also have seen quite a bit of corn borer this year. So by selecting a corn with at least the Herculex I (corn borer) gene in it will help you fight those pests.

By following a these major guidelines you will be able to talk to your local Mercer Landmark sales professional and choose the best hybrids for your farm for the 2016 season.

With the markets entering into a dull, choppy, sideways trade the past couple of months, it gives us time to explore some of the sayings that have been passed around for years. One of these trading adages is that markets on Tuesday will trade the opposite direction of the one that they traded on Monday (hence, the name “Turnaround Tuesday”). Is this really the case?

As of November 22nd, 2015 there had been 44 weeks of trading. The corn market had traded the opposite direction on 31 of those Tuesdays as it did on Monday, which is 70%. Sounds promising, right? But in 2014, Turnaround Tuesday only worked in the corn market on 20 of the 52 weeks, or 38% of the time. Combining 2014 with 2015 results in a 2-year success ratio of 53% for Turnaround Tuesday for corn.

For soybeans, the Turnaround Tuesday has worked 27 out of 44 times as of November 22nd or 61% of the time. However, in 2014, it worked only 25 out of 52 times (48%). So, the combined 2-year success ratio is 54%, not much better than flipping a coin.

On many of the Mondays, the market moved ever so slightly, so you might not expect Turnaround Tuesday to work then. But when we had significant moves on Monday, there are expectations that the market overdid itself, and there would be a greater chance of Turnaround Tuesday after big moves on Mondays. Was this actually the case?

There have been 18 Mondays this year where the market had “big” moves (corn settled 5 cents higher or lower, and beans settled 10 cents higher or lower). In 2014, there were 28 Mondays where corn had “big” moves of 5 cents or more, while there were 31 Mondays in 2014 where beans experienced “big” moves of 10 cents or more. The 2-year success ratio of Turnaround Tuesday for corn following the big Monday moves for corn is 56% (26 out of 46 times). For soybeans, the 2-year success rate of Turnaround Tuesday is 47% (23 out of 49 times).

So, the bottom line is that while Turnaround Tuesday has done a little bit better thus far in 2015, the 2-year returns are not much different than flipping a coin. Even on Mondays when there are big moves in the market, Turnaround Tuesday only works about half of the time. Maybe a more important observation is that we had a lot more Mondays in 2014 than in 2015 when the market made “big” moves (31 big Monday moves in 2014, vs. only 18 big Monday moves in 2015). This could be an indication that the market is comfortable with the supply of corn and beans, which could lead to more of the sideways, trading-range markets that we have been experiencing as of late.

As published on Farm Futures.com

1. Cash rent standoff. In a four-part series, Farm Futures looks at cash rents – where they’re going, what farmers are doing, and how lenders will respond. Farm Futures

2. Worth the extra dollar. Girl Scouts are adding a dollar to the price of their cookies this year, and it has nothing to do with GMOs. Forbes

3. Tough ’16 expected. Fed surveys reveal more details about farm financial projections for 2016. Reuters

4. Chesapeake Bay TMDL case. What will the Supreme Court have to say about EPA water regs? Farm Progress

5. Agritechnica recap. If you’re an AgNerd, this monster farm show should be on your bucket list. Farm Industry News

6. Farmland education. USFRA is partnering on a new set of educational tools based on the Farmland film. Farm Progress

7. Another Syngenta bid. This time, a buyer from China has an offer for Syngenta. Bloomberg

Don’t believe it all. Even spending just a few minutes on Facebook, you’re bound to run across misinformation about something. Unfortunately, it’s often food. Washington Post

And your bonus:

Whew, we can all rest easy now about the use of the term ”backyard brat” or the like to describe sausages. Fox 11

By: Jeff Keller

The wheat crop has been off to a good start with the recent drink of water it had. The beans came off timely and allowed wheat to get in the ground soon after the fly free date. However, some of these fields have had almost too much fall tillering, which could cause some competition going into next year.

Having this warmer than normal fall season has allowed the fall growth of wheat to be out there longer before dormancy and more exposure to insects and disease. The excessive tillers can compete for moisture and nutrients and create lower yields.

Some of the conventionally planted fields were off to a very dry start in the dust and the needed rain a few weeks ago will bring the rest of the crop up. The predicted warmer than normal November will help the fall tillers in these fields. It is not all bad to have too many tillers than not enough. In the spring it takes two spring tillers to equal what one fall tiller would do for yield.

As we go into spring there is a good time near green up to scout your fields with your Mercer Landmark agronomist to assess the crop to determine stand count and nitrogen application.

Bigger corn and soybean yields are likely in store for USDA’s November reports, which will be released Tuesday.

“Big crops usually get bigger, and I think what you have to anticipate in this report with the yields that we’ve had that the yield in soybeans goes up three-tenths to six-tenths a bushel,” said Don Roose, president of U.S. Commodities in West Des Moines, Iowa. “Same thing on corn. I think you probably also have to expect that goes up by half-a-bushel to two bushels an acre.”

In its October report, USDA raised soybean yield to 47.2 bu. per acre, up slightly from the prior month’s estimate of 47.1 bu. per acre. Corn yield, meanwhile, was raised to 168.0 bu. per acre, versus their previous estimate 167.5 bu. per acre.

Bloomberg, meanwhile, reported last week that industry analysts on average predicted corn yield to increase to 168.2 in Tuesday’s report, while soybean yield would rise to 47.5 bu. per acre. The size of the U.S. corn crop was also expected to increase by 9 million bushels to 13.564 billion bushels, according to the survey. Soybean production is project to rise by 26 million bushels to a total of 3.914 billion bushels.

On the demand side of the ledger for corn and soybeans, Roose said that given the anemic shipment pace for corn this year, USDA will likely lower their export figure for corn while holding the soybean export estimate unchanged. “Our export pace on corn is slow,” he said. “We’re down 34% versus a year ago on corn exports, so that number could actually go down 50 million in this report. It could go down a hundred million over time.”

USDA pegged corn exports in the October report at 1.85 billion bushels, which was unchanged from the previous estimate. Meanwhile, soybean exports were lowered to 1.725 billion bushels, down from the prior estimate of 1.675 billion.

For wheat, most of the attention still remains on world production, said Jerry Gidel, chief feed grain analyst at Rice Dairy in Chicago.

Production issues in key wheat-exporting regions like Russia and Australia could lead USDA to further tighten the world wheat balance sheet. “I think we might find some stuff in the world numbers to tighten things up,” Gidel said. “The Black Sea is not in the best shape, now we’re getting too much wet weather in Australia, and the quality’s not going to be there.”

Roose, meanwhile, anticipates corn world ending stocks to rise by 2 million metric tons, and soybean world ending stocks to rise by 1 million metric tons.

USDA raised the world wheat crop last month to a record 732.79 million metric tons, up by 1.18 million metric tons from their previous estimate. World corn production was lowered to 972.6 million metric tons, down 5.5 million, while the world soybean crop was raised by 0.88 million tons to 320.49 million tons.

“There’s no shortage of grain in the world markets,” Roose said.  “So, what’s it mean for the farmer? I think we need some kind of weather problem in South America to really propel the market into new level and create selling opportunities.”

Corn Falls as Harvest Continues, Soybeans Gain

Corn futures are dropping today as U.S. growers harvest the last bit of their crops, which could put pressure on some to sell, while soybeans gained early on solid export sales.

Corn was 75% harvested as of October 25, according to the USDA. The government likely will say in the report today that about 90% of corn was harvested as of yesterday. With grain already being stacked on the ground and bins busting out West, it’s likely some producers will have to sell at least a little of their crops, which in turn could increase pressure on prices.

Soybeans were higher out of the gates this morning on strong export demand, which has seen a surge in recent weeks. Exporters sold 2.08 million metric tons of soybeans in the week that ended October 22, the USDA said last week. That was up 8% from the prior week and 19% from the average of the prior four weeks, the government said.

All Eyes Set to Focus on Demand

With the harvest almost wrapped up, it’s likely traders will start looking at the demand picture for U.S. grain and oilseeds.

What they’ll find is a mixed bag. On one hand, export sales as of late have been very good. Shippers in the week that ended October 22 sold a whopping 2.08 million metric tons of soybeans – mostly to China. They also sold 708,800 tons of corn, up 34% from the prior four-week average. Good news, indeed.

Total commitments to purchase, however, lag year-ago numbers. Corn commitments are down a third, soybeans are off by 20%, and promises to buy U.S. wheat trail last year by 16%. That could be an indication of a couple things – either buyers are sitting on their hands waiting to see how production shapes up in other countries, or they’re not enamored with the cost of U.S. goods.

Which one it is could be a coin flip, but it’s probably a little of both. Soybean buyers are waiting to see if Brazil’s massive production estimates come to fruition, while wheat users likely are watching the weather in the Black Sea region, which includes parts of Ukraine and Russia.

Thus far, U.S. prices haven’t been screaming “Buy me!” And the relatively strong dollar isn’t helping matters. Next Tuesday’s World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report will be closely watched, mostly for revisions to U.S. yield and production. After that, all eyes will be on demand.

Corn Belt Looks Dry as Farmers Begin Final Harvest Push

It looks like a dry couple of days await farmers hoping to wrap up the corn and soybean harvest for the year in the U.S. Midwest. No rain is likely in the next 48 hours in the Corn Belt, according to the National Weather Service, which should allow producers who still have crops in field to polish off the harvest.

Not much is left. As of last Sunday, corn was 75% harvested, while soybeans were 87% finished. That’s expected to rise to about 90% of corn and almost 95% all of beans in a report set to be released today. Rain and snow is possible in parts of western Colorado, but that’s the only precipitation forecast by the NWS in the next two days.