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Nebraska Planting Progress

After a quick start, corn and soybean producers across Nebraska and the nation are barred out of the fields to complete their last acres of planting, courtesy of a rainy, cool weather pattern. The latest weekly USDA crop progress report, postponed by one day due to the Memorial Day holiday, reflected this slowdown, both for Nebraska farmers and those in the 18 other states reported on.

Despite the slowdown, the nation’s crop producers are still ahead of the previous average, and emergence for both corn and soybeans made great bounds in the last week, according to the report numbers.

Taking a closer look at the national corn numbers, as of the week ending Sunday, May 24th, 92 percent of the nation’s corn crop is in the ground, up 7 percent from the previous week, and still ahead of the normal pace by 5 percent. Corn emergence stands at 74 percent, up considerably from 56 percent a week ago. Emergence now sits 12 percent ahead of the normal pace for this week of the year.

For beans, 61 percent are planted, up from 45 percent a week ago, and 6 percent ahead of the previous average pace. Beans have made great gains over the last week, as well, with emergence for the crop at 32 percent, up nearly 20 percent from the previous week and 7 percent ahead of normal pace.

Looking specifically at Nebraska numbers, the report showed corn planted at 92 percent as well, compared with 96 percent last year and 96 percent for the five year average. Corn emergence stood at 73 percent, compared to 70 percent last year, and ahead of the 67 percent average.

For Nebraska beans, farmers have 59 percent in the ground, largely behind last year’s 85 percent, as well as the 73 percent five year average pace. Soybean emergence was at 22 percent, also behind last year’s 38 percent and the 31 percent average.

This should come as no surprise, as the state has face cool, wet weather that has prevented planters from entering the fields. According to the latest report:

“For the week ending May 24, 2015, cloudy, wet conditions hampered spring planting activities with an inch or more of rainfall common in the western half of the state. Temperatures were again cool, and averaged six to eight degrees below normal.”

While it’s not a problem to have adequate moisture for emerging crops, too much coupled with long durations of cloudy weather can cause problems. Many producers are reporting yellow corn in the state. A WCMO listener stated, “A lot of acres here [are] looking under the weather in south-central Nebraska. Way too much cloudy, drizzly weather. Starting to see chemical damage in corn from not being able to metabolize the chemicals. A lot of the corn has bad color. Some beans have been in the ground for almost 2 weeks and haven’t emerged yet.”

The weather forecast across the northeast, north central and south central parts of the state predict yet more rain chances in the coming days, coupled with cloudy weather. Farmers will be on the lookout for sun and a chance to get those last few acres in the ground.

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 today!

Sources consulted: Caldwell, Jeff. “Corn Planting at 92%, Soybeans at 61% as Midwest Weather Sours.” Agriculture.com. Meredith Agrimedia. 26 May 2015. Web. 27 May 2015.  USDA. “Crop Progress Report for the Week Ending 5/24/15.” USDA.com. United States Department of Agriculture. 26 May 2015. Web. 27 May 2015.

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 Planting ProgressFarmers across the nation are hard at work getting their crops into the ground as we head into the final two weeks of May. The latest USDA weekly crop progress estimates from Monday showed progress being made for both corn and soybeans over the last two weeks. In Nebraska, farmers have also moved forward and are slightly ahead of neighboring states despite various weather-related factors, chief among them being last week’s cold temperatures and some rainfall.

By the numbers, for corn, as of May 18 Nebraska producers had 91 percent of their corn in the ground, versus 78 percent for the same date last year. This is slightly ahead of the five year average of 89 percent for the state for this date. For the total 18 states that the USDA reports these statistics, as of May 18, the nation’s farmers had 73 percent of corn planted, versus 65 percent at this date in 2013. This is only 3 percent short of the overall five year average for this time of 76 percent. Overall, these numbers show that planting progress for corn is once again keeping pace, despite the previous week’s weather delays.

For soybeans, Nebraska farmers have 65 percent planted, versus only 29 percent as of May 18, 2013. This is 10 percent higher than the five year average of 55 percent for the state. Overall numbers show slightly less progress, however, with 33 percent of soybeans in the ground, versus 21 percent in 2013. The overall average is 38 percent by this time over the past five years.

Planting progress only shows half the story, however, and the USDA also reported the percentages of emergence for both corn and soybeans in this week’s numbers. For Nebraska corn, the report showed 43 percent emergence, up substantially from the previous week’s 18 percent, and only slightly behind the NE corn emergence average of 45 percent. Overall, corn emergence was at 34 percent. While this is a significant gain from the previous week’s 18 percent emergence, it is still lagging the five year average of 42 percent. Soybean emergence is close to the usual five year averages, with Nebraska reporting 13 percent emergence and overall numbers reporting 9 percent. The averages are 14 and 11 percent, respectively.

After last week’s low temperatures, where many parts of the state saw frost on three consecutive nights, farmers are concerned that their newly planted crops were affected, and are now in the process of assessing whether or not they will have to replant. Either way, crop growth and development was hampered by the cold temperatures. Farmers concerned with potential damage need to do some investigating. The University of Nebraska Lincoln CropWatch analysts advise the following:

To determine the need for replanting, first estimate stands. Then, estimate yield potential. The most important factor in deciding whether to replant is to calculate expected yield with the current stand versus what you could potentially have if you replanted. Lastly, estimate replanting costs.  Consider costs of tillage, seed, fuel, additional pesticides, and labor. Consider also that delayed planting certainly means higher grain moisture at harvest and the possibility of fall frosts before physiological maturity. You may want to consider planting a shorter season hybrid seed. Caution: Before replanting, contact your crop insurance agent, Farm Service Agency, and others with an interest in your crop.

The weather forecast for the coming week predicts near to above normal rainfall for a large portion of the Midwest, which could add more delays to the last stretch of planting. However, warmer temperatures will help alleviate potential delays to a certain extent. If you have planting concerns or questions about your farmland, feel free to contact us at United Farm and Ranch Management.

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.  Find out more at ufarm.com.

 

Sources:
“Time to Dig In and Assess Need for Replanting Corn.” Cropwatch. University of Nebraska-Lincoln. 09 May 2014. Web. 20 May 2014.
“Corn and Soybean Planting Maps.” Agweb. Farm Journal. 19 May 2014. Web. 20 May 2014.

Dry Winter Effects Nebraska farmlandIt’s planting season across the Midwest, and Nebraska farmers are eager to get their crops into the ground. A colder than normal winter with low levels of snowfall has left soil moisture at a premium, and while recent rainfall is a welcome remedy to lower than optimal soil moisture, the rain and cool temperatures are also doing their best to reign in planting across the area.

According to some, the rain that has fallen over Nebraska farmland the last week has been in areas which have needed it less, and as a result, the drought conditions in many parts of the Midwest remain. While this might allow planters to move, temperatures remain unseasonably cool, and many farmers are reluctant to plant when such low temperatures could affect the viability of the seed in the ground. This phenomenon, called “imbibitional chilling,” can occur when the seed takes in water that is too cold, and is damaged as a result.

Corn and soybeans are at greatest risk of being damaged due to cold soil temperatures within the first 24 to 48 hours of being planted, this according to University of Nebraska Lincoln CropWatch analysts. To reduce the risks of imbibitional chilling, they advise to plant when soil temperatures are in the high 40s, and the weather forecast for the subsequent 48 hours is higher.

CropWatch analysts also stress that while cooler soil temperatures are a threat to seed health, for soybeans, cold soil temperatures combined with high soil moisture content pose an even greater risk. “Cold soil delays the time between germination and emergence, but cold soil plus saturated soil conditions can substantively reduce soybean and corn emergence because soil-borne pathogens thrive in water-saturated soil.” Thus, they say, since the cold temperatures delay germination and emergence, the pathogens have more time to infect the seed, and as such, they highly advise the use of a fungicide seed treatment if planting in cold, wet conditions.

Area producers are also encouraged to assess the condition of their alfalfa fields after the cold, windy, and dry winter. Lack of snowfall left little protection for many alfalfa stands, and while some fields seem to have come through okay, other farmers are reported significant winter kill. Many may decide to turn these fields over to corn should the damage be too great.

After the late spring planting of 2013, farmers are anxious to be in the fields consistently, but it appears that the odds of having an “on time” corn crop across the area are shrinking. According to Agriculture.com’s Jeff Caldwell, the average date after which planting is considered late is May 20th. That leaves producers roughly three weeks to get approximately 80% of the corn crop into the ground. “Of the 21 days left, history teaches us your chances of having even half of that time under conditions favorable for planting corn aren’t the greatest,” says Caldwell.

As usual, Mother Nature will have the last word. If temperatures ever decide to move into the normal May averages, and should periods of moisture hold off, great gains can and will be made in planting progress. Do you have unanswered questions regarding your planting progress, or your land and crops? Feel free to contact UFARM at your convenience.

 

Sources:

“Factors Influencing Cold Stress in Corn and Soybeans.” CropWatch. University of Nebraska Lincoln Extension. 25 Apr 2014. Web. 01 May 2014.
Caldwell, Jeff. “The Shrinking Odds of An On-Time Corn Crop.” Agriculture.com. 30 Apr 2014. Web. 01 May 2014.

Alfalfa in NebraskaAfter the extreme drought conditions across the Midwest in 2012, it appears that alfalfa acres—both planted and harvested—rebounded in 2013. This is welcome news to many alfalfa growers, who would prefer a less volatile market that the availability of more alfalfa brings.

Traditionally, growers prefer alfalfa due to its low input costs. Nebraska’s climate is ideal for the growth of high-quality alfalfa, and the May through October growing season allows Nebraska alfalfa growers to harvest approximately 5 million tons on 1.5 million acres each year.

According to the USDA’s January crop report, the nation’s farmers produced 136 million tons of hay, which was 13% more than in drought-stricken 2012. 58 million acres of hay were harvested, up 4% from 2012. For alfalfa specifically, 57.6 million tons were harvested, a gain of 11% over 2012 yields. As for harvested acres, there were 17.8 million acres brought in nationwide, an increase of 3% above 2012 totals. Hay stored on farms in 2013 saw a 17% increase from 2012, at 89.3 million tons.

The January USDA report also indicated that growers seeded 2.52 million acres of new alfalfa, also a 5% increase from newly seeded alfalfa in 2012. Interestingly, although this marks the second consecutive year for new seeding, it is still the third smallest seeded area on record.

South Dakota State University agriculture economist Matt Dierson explains why this increase is welcome news to growers.

“Nationwide, we had 2.5 million new acres planted in 2013,” says Diersen. “That tells me we could be coming off the bottom for really low, harvested (alfalfa) acres. Any way you look at it, that’s a good thing.  Without some additional acres, we’re going to have continued swings in supplies and prices and more volatility in the market. This, at least, is a move in the right direction.”

Alfalfa prices in Nebraska hit up to triple times their normal price in 2012 due mostly to the drought, which significantly affected the alfalfa crop. High prices for corn in the years leading up to 2012 also had an effect on alfalfa prices, since many producers reduced their alfalfa production to put in more corn acres.

High dairy demand is also a major driver of alfalfa prices, and various economists believe that the uncertainty of feed sources facing many dairy farmers will contribute to increases in alfalfa hay prices. Economists also expect a high export demand for hay to similarly affect the price of alfalfa. Additionally, should the western growers continue to experience a prolonged drought, alfalfa prices for area growers could increase as a result.

Of course, Mother Nature always has the last word, and time will tell what growing and moisture conditions will greet Nebraska growers during the 2014 growing season. Although recent snowfall is welcome for its moisture, it is evident that the 2014 planting season will be later, and will possibly curb an earlier cutting for many alfalfa growers.

Taken in total, a projected increase in alfalfa acres combined with a healthy demand for the crop points toward a more stable market and a favorable price. UFARM can help you stay on top of the latest crop trends. Feel free to contact us for a free consultation.

Sources:
“Hay Production Makes a Comeback.” Hayandforage.com. Hay & Forage Grower. 14 Jan. 2014. Web. 04 Apr. 2014.
“Is An Acreage Comeback Looming For Alfalfa?” Hayandforage.com. Hay & Forage Grower. 31 Jan. 2014. Web. 04 Apr. 2014.

USDA ReportsFour major crop reports were released on January 10th by the USDA. More bullish-than-expected data in the corn market came as a surprise to many market analysts after largely bearish predictions prior to the release of the reports. On the whole, the USDA reflected higher than anticipated estimated corn stocks, neutral bean stocks, and bearish wheat stocks.

The four reports—the Annual Crop ProductionGrain StocksWinter Wheat Seedings, and World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE)—are highly anticipated, as these reports set the basis for harvested acres from the previous growing season and set the tone for the grain and crop market outlook for the next growing season. The USDA’s monthly and annual reports are considered the most significant factors affecting the grain markets, and even slight changes in the reports’ numbers can have drastic implications on commodity prices and market reactions.

After higher than expected yields for corn and soybeans across most of the Midwest this fall, most analysts were anticipating the USDA to revise its numbers upward in its January report, and were expecting the corn outlook to remain bearish. The USDA’s downward revision of estimated corn bushels per acre combined with a higher demand number resulted in the lower corn stock estimates.

Looking at the numbers, for corn, the USDA estimates the 2013 U.S. average yield at 158.8 bushels per acre, which is down 1.6 bushels from the November forecast, but 35.4 bushels above the 2012 average yield of 123.4. The USDA said 6.38 billion bushels are stored on farm, while 4.05 billion bushels are stored in off-farm locations like grain elevators.

Area harvested for grain is estimated at 87.7 million acres, up slightly from both the November forecast and 2012.

In soybeans, the USDA increased its production estimate, boosting production to 3.289 billion bushels from its previous projection of 3.258 billion bushels. To get there, USDA upped harvested acres to 75.87 million acres from its previous 75.7 million acres estimate and adjusted the national average yield to 43.3 bushels per acre from 43.0 bushels per acre. The USDA set soybean stocks as of December 1 at 2.148 billion bushels, which is slightly smaller than the average pre-report estimate. Additionally, it’s the second-smallest soybean stocks figure since the 2003-04 marketing year. The USDA said 955 million bushels are stored on-farm, while 1.192 billion bushels are in off-farm storage.

In wheat, farmers planted 41.89 million acres of winter wheat this fall, down 3% from 2013, the USDA reported. Winter wheat seedings came in below the range of pre-report expectations. The USDA also reported that hard red winter wheat was planted on 30.1 million acres, which is up 2% from 2013. Soft red winter wheat was planted on 8.44 million acres, down 16% from 2013. White winter wheat was planted on 3.39 million acres, down 3% from last year. The quarterly Grain Stocks report said the U.S. has 1.463 billion bushels of wheat stocks, 399 million bushels stored on farm and 1.064 billion bushels stored off farm. (Micik, Katie. “USDA Reports Summary: USDA Trims Corn Crop.” DTN/The Progressive Farmer, 06 Jan. 2014. Web. 07 Jan. 2014.)

The January USDA numbers often yield unexpected data, and this year’s reports didn’t disappoint. If you’re a landowner looking for assistance managing the complexities of land ownership, please contact UFARM for a free consultation with one of our experienced land managers.

Planting Cover CropsWhile corn and soybeans are the dominant crops grown in Nebraska, many farmers are also looking toward maximizing their land’s efficiency and productivity by adding cover crops like turnips and radishes to their usual crop rotations.

There are multiple benefits to planting a cover crop. Planting cover crops to fallow fields improves soil structure, reduces weeds, adds and retains moisture, prevents erosion and runoff, adds important nutrients to the soil, builds up organic matter, and prevents compaction. They are used to feed cattle, as well. Increasingly, Nebraska farmers are recognizing these advantages and incorporating them into their fields as much as possible.

After a field is harvested, there is less residue remaining to protect the soil from the elements. In a drier year, many farmers harvest the residue as forage for their livestock or cut silage, so the residue remaining is even less. Less surface residue leaves fields more vulnerable to erosion from rain and wind. Research has shown that fields left open to the elements lose much more moisture to evaporation than fields that have a cover crop.

There is a lot of research going into microorganisms in soil, and the importance of feeding them. Just as humans benefit from consuming a diverse diet, so too do soil microorganisms. Cover crops provide this added nutritional diversity. Farmers who have grown cover crops for several years have seen the organic matter of their soil drastically improve as a result. They find that there is less need to apply nitrogen to their fields, as the radishes mine the depths of the ground for the existing nitrogen deep in the soil and make it more readily available on the surface for future crops such as corn.

Cover crops help prevent soil compaction that can occur in particular types of soils. In particular, this is why the root vegetables like turnips and radishes are useful; they naturally dig in and create soil channels where moisture and nutrients can then penetrate. Fields where farmers have planted radishes are often less susceptible to soil compaction, since the radishes produce a very long tap root that breaks through the tough, deep soil. The plants break up the soil while they are in the ground, like a natural plow.

Turnips are an excellent cover for farmers who graze cattle on their fields after harvest. They are a high moisture plant, and cattle favor them due to their high sugar content. They are packed with protein, as well, and so make a great forage plant for cattle through the winter months.

Turnip and radish seed are relatively inexpensive, and producers that have utilized them as cover crops say that the positive results they see are worth the cost.

As farmers and landowners endeavor to maximize their land, as well as to increase their yields, they are using any means available to get the most out of their ground while keeping input costs down. They are learning that planting beneficial cover crops like turnips and radishes are a great way to do just that.

The land managers at UFARM can help you maximize your land’s potential.  Contact UFARM today.