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UFARM associate Chris Scow recently assisted Brian Poppe, of Poppe Realty & Management in Falls City, Nebraska, with a land auction involving 80 acres of prime non-irrigated farmland in Richardson County, NE. The sale was well attended with multiple parties placing bids. At the end of the day, the parcel sold for $10,000/acre. Chris Scow, Operations Manager/Managing Broker stated, “This was as nice an “80” as you will find in Richardson County. Demand appears to have remained strong for high quality land in this part of our state.” If you have questions about land values in around the region, please contact us.


Continued rain events have hampered efforts’ in the fields for many farmers in the major planting states so far, although significant gains were made in the last week.

Monday’s USDA Crop Progress Report for the week ending May 8 saw 64 percent of the nation’s corn planted, in comparison with 45 percent last week. This measures up as slightly behind last year’s corn planting at 69 percent, though well ahead of the 5 year average of 50 percent.

In Nebraska, rain delays were especially felt, though Cornhusker State farmers made incredible strides in the last week: As of Sunday, 53 percent of the state’s corn was in the ground, compared to only 26 percent last week at the same time. This is still behind last year’s 71 percent benchmark, and slightly behind the 5 year average of 59 percent.

It’s a similar story both nationally and statewide for soybeans. Overall, 23 percent of soybeans are planted, slightly behind last year’s 26 percent, though well ahead of last week’s 8 percent, and the 5 year average of 16 percent of beans planted.

Nebraska soybeans are 13 percent planted, behind last year’s 21 percent, and the 21 percent 5 year average. In comparison with last week’s 2 percent, however, Nebraska farmers were evidently  able to get into the fields to plant beans at some point.

Overall corn emergence stood at 27 percent, ahead of last year’s 23 percent and ahead of the 17 percent 5 year average. In Nebraska, corn emergence was at 15 percent, in line with the 5 year average, though behind last year’s 24 percent.

Of the 18 states that make up the report, Minnesota, Iowa, and Illinois made the most progress, and while Indiana leads in the slowest progress category due to continued rain delays. The report found that 6 other states remain behind 5 year averages: Colorado, Michigan, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, and South Dakota.

The Tuesday, May 10th WASDE Report was expected to be bearish on the grain markets, with estimated corn stocks increasing to 2.3 billion bushels, due to  higher corn acres and trending yields of 168 bushels per acre. New crop soybeans were expected by analysts to be similar to last year’s figure of 440 million bushels. However, that analysis was way off and traders were surprised. The carryover for new-crop bean was 305 million bushels, which caused soybean futures to take off and increase 60 cents a bushel at one time. In addition to the lower carryover,  heavy rainfall in South America and its negative effects on production there continues to be one of the main factors for the more favorable grain markets.

Amid the fluctuating markets, farm economists continue to urge those marketing crops to manage their risk.

“It’s going to be extremely difficult to try to outguess these markets,” according to Mike Mock of The Andersons Grain Group.  


Sources consulted: “Analysts: USDA Report Could Bring Out Bears.” Farm Journal. 09 May 2016. Web. 10 May 2016. “Crop Progress.” NASS/USDA. USDA. 09 May 2016. Web. 10 May 2016.


Drones in Nebraska Agriculture

Technology continues to advance in many industries, and this is also true in agriculture, where farmers and landowners continually endeavor to make the most of their land and resources. Advances in precision agriculture, with the latest innovations in GPS mapping and all its applications in the field, are helping farmers tighten their profit margins, operate more efficiently, and with greater ease than ever before.

Perhaps the latest technological application is the use of drones, or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, in the agricultural industry. Drone use among farmers is surging in record amounts. Farmers and companies who manufacture and design systems by which to collect data are eager to incorporate them into their business models.

It’s no surprise that the largest application of domestic drone use will likely come in the agriculture industry. Many ag operations span vast numbers of acres in lowly populated areas, virtually eliminating the privacy and safety concerns that the UAVs cause in more densely populated areas. According to a recent story in USA Today, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, the trade group that represents producers and users of drones and other robotic equipment, predicts that 80% of the commercial market for drones will eventually be for agricultural uses.

It’s no wonder farmers are showing an interest. Until now, farmers have had to rely on walking their fields or monitoring them via manned aerial flights or satellite in order to gather data and valuable information about their land. With drones, farmers are able to gather types of data that were previously unreachable, and in turn make needed changes during the same growing season. Using the data gathered from drones, farmers can improve their yields, apply fertilizer, water, or chemicals only where they are needed, map their fields, monitor crop health, check for signs of disease, and save time in the process.

The drones themselves come in a range of prices and capabilities. Farmers can use simpler quadricopters that cost around $500, with digital cameras to quickly monitor a field—a quarter can be covered in 10 to 15 minutes. Other drone systems can range anywhere from $2-30,000. These advanced systems are mounted with infrared sensors that are able to gather all sorts of information, such as moisture content. Such systems then download the information into software that guides tractors through fields. While the initial investment may appear steep, the ROI is quick—often within one year.

As farmers and drone companies press ahead with the technology, they are waiting for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to put forth rules for drones under 55 pounds—which would cover most farm-use drones. These rules are expected to come about yet this year. Until then, there is a degree of uncertainty among farmers and drone makers about how much flexibility the federal government has given agriculture to employ the aircraft.

Kevin Price, a former Kansas State professor who now works for the drone company Roboflight, insists that: “It’s going to blow your socks off. There is no question this technology is moving forward and it’s going to move fast,” said Price.”

If you would like to find out more about the latest ways you can incorporate technology on your farm, contact a UFARM representative. United Farm and Ranch Management (UFARM) is a Nebraska-based company devoted to meeting landowners’ needs. UFARM offers a full range of Nebraska land management services, including real estate sales, rural property appraisals, consultations and crop insurance. UFARM has operated in Nebraska since the early 1930’s. Contact Us.


Sources consulted: Doering, Christopher. “Growing Use of Drones Poised to Transform Agriculture.” USA Today. 23 Mar. 2014. Web. 27 Oct. 2014.  Ramstad, Evan. “FarmFest is Abuzz About Drones.” 09 Aug. 2014. Web. 27 Oct. 2014.

Nebraska crops pricesAfter the USDA’s August WASDE report emerged with record corn and soybean yield volumes for the 2014 harvest, farmers braced themselves for the bearish trend in corn and soybeans prices to continue. The market didn’t disappoint; corn and soybean prices have continued their downward trend.

While farmers prepare to head into their fields for harvest very soon, market analysts are busy putting together their market forecasts, both for the short and longer term. While there are many variables that could change the commodity prices and the market outlook as a whole, the numbers put forth do aid farmers, ag lenders, and ag policy makers in their long-term decision making.

One such projection is the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), which periodically puts out baseline price projections for the next decade. They released their latest ten-year projection last August, for 2013-2022. Despite grain prices at lower levels, the NASS based their latest set of projections upon the following assumptions: One, that the continued strong global demand for US grain would continue, with steady growth in the world economy. Two, that domestic ethanol production would rebound from 2012, although new ethanol production industries expansion will be slow. And, lastly, that corn and soybean prices not fall below 2007 levels.

So, what exactly did the NASS forecast? Based upon corn and soybean production, usage, ending stocks, farm level prices for the next decade, it appears that corn and soybean producers can expect much tighter profit margins over the coming decade than they’ve enjoyed in recent years. Accompanying these tighter profit margins are lower and moderating crop input costs, lower cash rental rates, as well as increased pressure on land values. While this isn’t good news for grain producers, it should be noted that the projected strong global demand for US grain could mean price spikes, should a weather related event impact yield volumes, as has happened in the past.

In addition to the NASS projections, the University of Missouri’s Food and Agricultural Policy Institute (FAPRI) issued its own report, stating that corn and soybean prices are going to drop even more than expected, due to larger than expected yields. These large-volume yield expectations prompted FAPRI to lower average farm corn prices to $3.50 for 2014/15, soybean prices to $9.92/bu. and all wheat prices to $5.91. All are lower than FAPRI’s August update of its annual March long-term baseline.

While this is by no means good news for grain farmers, Top Producer Business and Issues Editor, Ed Clark, writes, “Keep in mind these are annual estimates and prices during the year might offer producers marketing options above breakeven, cautions Pat Westhoff, director, FAPRI. Corn prices, for instance, could be $1/bu. above or below these averages depending on how key variables play out, he notes. By 2015/16, corn prices are forecast to rise 30 cents to $3.80/bu. Prices average $4.10 from 2016 to 2018.”

It should also be noted that under the new 2014 Farm Bill, producers must make a one-time decision to participate in either the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) or the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program for the life of the five-year bill, and how much they might get in payments is very reliant to expected crop prices.

Are you concerned about how the latest grain prices could affect your farm’s tenant? Bring your concerns to a UFARM expert, and they’ll help you make important decisions that will ensure the long-term viability of your land.

United Farm and Ranch Management (UFARM) is a Nebraska-based company devoted to meeting landowners’ needs. UFARM offers a full range of Nebraska land management services, including real estate sales, rural property appraisals, consultations and crop insurance. UFARM has operated in Nebraska since the early 1930’s. Contact Us.

Sources consulted:
Clark, Ed. “Corn Price Outlook Falls to $3.50 for 2014-2015.” Farm Journal. 19 Sep. 2014. Web. 22 Sep. 2014.
Davis, John. “FAPRI: Crop Prices Dropping Even More.” 18 Sep. 2014. Web. 22 Sep. 2014.
Thiesse, Kent. “USDA Projections for the Next Decade.” Corn and Soybean Digest. 06 Aut. 2013. Web. 22 Sep. 2014.