UFARM associates, Ethan Sorensen and 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.

Cornfield-with-puddle

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.” AgWeb.com. 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.” Fredericksburg.com. 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.” Agweb.com. Farm Journal. 19 Sep. 2014. Web. 22 Sep. 2014.
Davis, John. “FAPRI: Crop Prices Dropping Even More.” Agwired.com. 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.

As usual, farmers and traders alike braced for the USDA’s latest World Agriculture Supply and Demand Estimate (WASDE) numbers. Market corrections based on the monthly report’s numbers vary in intensity based upon how well they match up with pre-report, private estimates. While many question the impact of the USDA’s numbers for the longer term, the reports undoubtedly affect the grain markets for the short term, and whether the outlook is bullish or bearish.

The August report was released at 11 am on Tuesday, and the numbers reflect record production for both corn and beans. Farmers across the nation are estimated to grow 14 billion bushels of corn and 3.8 billion bushels of beans.

For corn, the record national average estiUSDA Reportsmate of 167.4 bushels per acre is still below the pre-report estimates. This brought ending stocks for 2013-14 corn to 1.181 billion bushels, and ending stocks for 2014-15 at 1.808 billion bushels, both below the range of pre-report estimate. Despite the record numbers, they were still slightly below trade expectations, and analysts are calling it slightly bullish for corn.

As far as corn yields are concerned, 11 states are expected to post new yield marks. The USDA also reported that ten key corn producing states have the highest number of ears on record so far. The estimated average cash price expectation for corn was lowered to 3.90 from 4.00. For soybeans, the WASDE report spelled bearish futures for soybeans and record-breaking production. Farmers will harvest 3.816 billion bushels of soybeans with a national average yield of 45.4 bushels per acre, the USDA said. This is 16 percent higher than last year.

As such, shortly after the report numbers were released, soybean trade numbers dipped double digits on news of the potential record crop. The report also indicated that the U.S. season-average soybean price for 2014/15 is forecast at $9.35 to $11.35 per bushel, down 15 cents on both ends.

The ending stocks estimate for 2013-14 soybeans was unchanged overall at 140 million bushels, although some numbers were changed in regard to supply and demand. As a result of the increased production estimates, the USDA increased ending soybean stocks for 2014-15 by 15 million bushels.

The report also indicated that Arkansas, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania could see record state soybean yields, and as of the end of last week, 71 percent of soybeans were rated in good to excellent condition, with development moving forward at a normal pace.

While these numbers are not good for beans, Al Kluis of Kluis Commodities cautions against making any rash decisions based upon quick market reactions after the report numbers are released. He reasons that the report’s estimates are not that far off of last month’s estimates, and the lower price trend has been underway for some time. Kluis notes, “If you’ve got hedges or crop insurance in place, there’s no reason to be panicking here. If we don’ t have an early frost, prices could bounce back in October.”

Do you have concerns regarding your land and the effects of the current report on the land rental rates? Let the experts at UFARM help.

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: Caldwell, Jeff. “Soybean Crop Size Flirting with a Record—USDA.” Agriculture.com. 12 Aug. 2014. Web. 12 Aug. 2014. Micik, Katie. “USDA Sees Record Corn, Soybean Crop.” DTN/The Progressive Farmer. DTN/Progressivefarmer.com. 12 Aug. 2014. Web. 12 Aug. 2014. “USDA reports record US corn, soybean production.” Reuters. CNBC.com. 12 Aug. 2014. Web. 12 Aug. 2014.

Nebraska Soybean ProgressLast week’s hot and dry conditions had Nebraska farmers out in force irrigating their thirsty crops. According to the USDA’s National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS), for the week ending July 27, above normal temperatures and low precipitation across the state had the irrigation motors roaring. While the dry conditions helped hay harvesting and aided the wheat harvest in progress in the Panhandle, it also significantly drew on the soil moisture of corn and soybeans.
Despite the hot and dry weather last week, as far as crop conditions are concerned, Nebraska’s corn and soybeans are doing well. Corn conditions rated at 19 percent fair, 52 percent good, and 22 percent excellent, with 85 percent of corn silking complete—ahead of last year’s 77 percent.

Bean conditions rated, 21 percent fair, 55 percent good, 17 percent excellent, with blooming at 83 percent. This is slightly ahead of last year’s 80 percent and the 79 percent average. Pod setting is at 53 percent, well ahead of last year’s 22 percent at this time and the 30 percent average.

For alfalfa growers, the conditions across the state rate at 31 percent fair, 53 percent good, and 8 percent excellent. The second cutting was at 86 percent complete, near the 87 percent average, while the third cutting is 36 percent complete, well ahead of last year’s 5 percent and the 17 percent average.

As for crop conditions nationally, the lack of moisture saw conditions in both crops dip slightly, with a 2 percent dip in soybeans, although 71 percent of the crop was rated good or excellent. Pod setting was at 38 percent as of July 27, ahead of the normal 7 percent.

Corn across the region rates at 75 percent good or excellent, one percentage point lower than the previous week. It is important to note that the 75 percent good or excellent rating is a full 12 percent higher than the normal amount in the top two USDA categories.

While the crops in Nebraska and across the country are doing well, weather reports showing a lack of moisture possible in the early weeks of August—a critical growing point for soybeans—has many wondering if that might change. The effects of little to no moisture could be allayed if temperatures stay lower. With Nebraska forecast highs for the coming week to be in the low 80’s, few raindrops will not be as much as a factor.
According to the Commodity Weather Group, “The dryness has developed too late for major impacts to pollinating corn, but some minor soy losses are possible to pod-setting soy in drier sections of the southwest 1/4 of the belt in the next 10 days. Cool air will limit losses though, and an expected return of 11- to 15-day showers to the western Midwest would be in time to avert serious impacts. The 16- to 30-day is also similar to wetter across most of the Midwest, although confidence is still low. Regardless, heat risks remain low through August.”

Do you have concerns about the state of your crops as we head into the home-stretch of the growing season? UFARM Land Managers are on the ground and know firsthand what growing conditions are like in all parts of the state. Let the experts at UFARM help keep you informed about 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:
Caldwell, Jeff. “Corn, Soybean Conditions Slip Slightly; Light Market Reaction Expected.” Agriculture.com. 28 Jul. 2014. Web. 29 Jul. 2014.
Nebraska Crop Progress and Condition. NASS. USDA.gov. 28 Jul. 2014. Web. 29 Jul. 2014.

Finding a new land tenantThe relationship between a landowner and a tenant—the farmer who farms the land—is similar to any relationship. There can be ups and downs, but hopefully, with good communication between the two parties, the business relationship flourishes and each partner feels that their goals are being met.

At a time with more volatility in both grain and land markets, these arrangements have been even more strained than normal, as landowners and tenants strive to come to agreements that are fair. While switching to flexible cash rent agreements have alleviated many of these issues, there are times when the business relationship no longer works. Often, issues have been slowly surfacing for years, especially in long term agreements, and these relationships can be especially difficult to maneuver.

What factors give rise to making this decision? First, the foundation of a good partnership is effective, frequent communication. If you continually feel out of the loop, despite making your wishes to remain informed known to your tenant, then it’s a good sign that a change is in order.

While it’s a two way street, Kansas State University ag economist Kevin Dhuyetter, who runs farm workshops on landowner/tenant ethics, finds that landowners are often less privy to information than the tenant, and are easy to take advantage of as a result. “Based on my experiences, the typical landowner in Kansas is a landowner by inheritance. If you are a landowner by inheritance, as opposed to buying the land as an investment, you can be relatively easy to take advantage of, depending on the situation,” he says.

While this isn’t always the case, many landowners are generations and geographically removed from their land, and their access to the information necessary to make informed decisions in lease agreements is compromised. Having a tenant who is willing to be above board and communicate the necessary information with the landowner is necessary for a healthy business relationship. If this is not occurring, then you may need to consider a change.

Another situation Dhuyvetter encounters is when the cash rental rate in a long-time landowner/tenant relationship hasn’t changed in years. The landowner desires to raise the rate, but is uncomfortable asking the tenant, and decides to sell the land, rather than face the confrontation. This situation should be avoided at all costs. Retaining the land if desired and working out a cash rental agreement based on current market value is best for everyone.

These situations can be uncomfortable for many landowners, and that is why so many turn to land managers to act on their behalf. A good land manager can serve as an impartial liaison between landowner and tenant, ensure healthy communication between the two parties, and assist with working out lease agreements that serve the interests of everyone. If the situation necessitates, they can also help landowners change tenants.

Are you a landowner wondering if your land rental agreement is healthy? Are you in need of expert advice in working out rental agreements or in negotiating with your tenant? Let the land managers at UFARM offer you a hand.

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.

 

Sources:

Arens, Curt. “Landlords and Tenants: Building Trust.” Dakota Farmer. FarmProgress.com. 17 Dec. 2013. Web. 21 Jul. 2014.

Fee, Rich. “Land Rental Ethics.” Agriculture.com. 20 Mar. 2012. Web. 21 Jul. 2014.

 

input costsAs farmers reach their last rounds in the combine harvesting 2013’s crop, most are already thinking ahead to 2014. One of their top concerns is input costs and how best to manage them to maximize their bottom line.

The drought of 2012 and its resultant high-demand and low supply of crops led to high commodity prices, but with some drought-relief in major corn and soybean areas of the country in 2013, it is expected that commodity prices will adjust to reflect a better grain supply. With grain prices on the general decline, farmers expect to contend with potentially tight profit margins in the coming harvest year. As a result, analysts expect changes in the money they pay for 2014 input costs such as fertilizer, fuel, chemicals, and seed.

On the whole, fertilizer costs have declined. In particular, potash and phosphate are down 15-17% since last spring, and nitrogen has declined 22% this fall. Depending on how much the weather will allow farmers to get their fertilizers applied this fall will further determine the price of fertilizers next spring. The decrease in the price of nitrogen reflects potential lower corn acres in 2014, as well as an increase in domestic production of nitrogen.

Likewise, fuel costs are expected to be down slightly in 2014. The price of the diesel fuel that runs most farm machinery is expected to be down by 4%. Similarly, the price of natural gas, which is commonly used to dry corn, is projected to be down by 4% as well.

The price of chemicals—in the form of herbicides, insecticides and fungicides—will be mixed. Purdue University farm business management specialist Alan Miller contends that chemical prices will be up slightly, with a 1% increase, with the exception of herbicides, which will remain flat. Experts urge farmers to try to buy chemicals in bulk when possible in order to cut costs. Another way to cut input costs is to consider purchasing seed and chemical package deals when making seed-buying decisions.

Seed prices are predicted to be up in 2014, perhaps as much as 2-3% for the 2014 planting season. However, while producers always attempt to watch their pricing inputs, they will not cut corners when it comes to selecting the type of seed they choose to grow. With the technology that goes into seed genetics and the beneficial ways these hybrids can maximize yields and overall profits, farmers realize that it is in their best interest to choose the right type of seed for their ground, regardless of cost.

Finally, experts predict land and rent prices to remain where they are in 2014. Machinery costs, which have increased an average of 7% per year from 2002-2012, could fall as a result of lower commodity prices, especially if these lower prices are sustained for a longer period of time.

While it is impossible to predict yields and prices for the 2014 growing season, it is necessary for farmers to make input decisions now in order to maximize profit and lower risk where possible.

If you have questions about how input costs will affect the profitability of your land or operation, please contact one of the professional farm managers at UFARM for a free consultation.