Ag Notes


WILL - Ag Notes - June 11, 2014

USDA June 2014 WASDE

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WILL - Ag Notes - June 01, 2014

J.H. Hawes Grain Elevator & Museum Open Sundays 1-3pm

by Todd E. Gleason

Some Sunday this summer you should make the drive to Atlanta, Illinois and tour the old grain elevator. It stopped taking in corn long ago and sat unused for years. Then the townsfolk decided, in the mid 1990’s, to refurbish the J. H. Hawes Grain elevator. Today it is a museum on the registry of historical places in the United States. You can learn more on the museum website.
 

The J. H. Hawes Grain Elevator and Musuem is open to visitors from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. every Sunday afternoon in June, July, and August. Here a few facts and figures about the machinery in the elevator.
 

  • the old gas engine that operates the elevator runs at 400 r-p-m and puts out 10 horsepower
  • the pulley system inside the building is driven by a single rope 280 feet long
  • the total capacity of the elevator is twenty-nine thousand bushels
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WILL - Ag Notes - May 28, 2014

Skype Capable of Realtime Conversation Translation

by Todd E. Gleason

Skype, now owned by Microsoft, may soon be able to translate speech in real time. The company demoed this new kind of magic on stage. It would allow people to converse in their native (but different) languages. Skype is one of Todd's favorite broadcast tools. He uses it every day and cannot wait to see how it might handle a conversation translation about on farm conditions in China, Ukraine, Argentina, and Brazil.



WILL - Ag Notes - May 25, 2014

Flying Old Glory

by Todd E. Gleason

Memorial Day we honor and remember those that gave their lives for freedom. Please remember to fly the U.S. flag at half staff until noon. Thee United States Flag Code lays out in detail when and how the flag is to be displayed along with other information. What follows is a short excerpt from the code.


The Flag Code — History and Text

On June 22, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt approved House Joint Resolution 303 codifying the existing customs and rules governing the display and use of the flag of the United States by civilians. Amendents were approved on December 22nd of that year. The law included provisions of the code adopted by the National Flag Conference, held in Washington, D.C. on June 14, 1923, with certain amendments and additions. The Code was reenacted, with minor amendments, as part of the Bicentennial celebration. In the 105th Congress, the Flag Code was removed from title 36 of the United States Code and recodified as part of title 4.


Title 4 United States Code (excerpt)

6. Time and Occasions for Display.

  (a) It is the universal custom to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flagstaffs in the open. However, when a patriotic effect is desired, the flag may be displayed 24 hours a day if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness.

  (b) The flag should be hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously.

  (c) The flag should not be displayed on days when the weather is inclement, except when an all-weather flag is displayed.

  (d) The flag should be displayed on all days, especially on...

  • New Year’s Day,  January 1 
  • Inauguration Day, January 20 
  • Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, the third Monday in January 
  • Lincoln’ s Birthday, February 12
  • Washington’ s Birthday, third Monday in February
  • Easter Sunday (variable)
  • Mother’s Day, second Sunday in May
  • Armed Forces Day, third Saturday in May
  • Memorial Day (half-staff until noon), the last Monday in May
  • Flag Day, June 14; Independence Day, July 4
  • Labor Day, first Monday in September
  • Constitution Day, September 17
  • Columbus Day, second Monday in October
  • Navy Day, October 27
  • Veterans Day, November 11
  • Thanksgiving Day, fourth Thursday in November
  • Christmas Day, December 25
  • and such other days as may be proclaimed by the President of the United States
  • the birthdays of States (date of admission)
  • and on State holidays

  (e) The flag should be displayed daily on or near the main administration building of every public institution.

  (f) The flag should be displayed in or near every polling place on election days.

  (g) The flag should be displayed during school days in or near every schoolhouse.


WILL - Ag Notes - May 23, 2014

Accuracy of USDA Forecasts of Corn Ending Stocks

by Todd E. Gleason

Two University of Illinois ag economist have looked at the accuracy of USDA forecasts of corn ending stocks. You may read the full report on the accuracy of USDA ending stocks for corn on the Farm Doc Daily website. The post is written by Darrel Good and Scott Irwin.

In it the two summarize the accuracy of WASDE forecasts of marketing year ending stocks of U.S. corn from 1990 to last year’s harvest by marketing year. They also discuss the implications for the May 2014 WASDE ending stocks estimates that was just released by USDA.   Three main implications emerge.  First they report, WASDE ending stocks projections for U.S. corn across the forecasting cycle are basically unbiased, if having a slight tendency towards under-estimation of the final number. Second, the first WASDE estimate of ending stocks for U.S. corn, always released in May before harvest, has a large potential range of errors.  This is sensible since the ending stocks forecast at this early point in the forecasting cycle reflects both production and usage errors.  Third, there is a clear tendency for the USDA to "smooth" the changes in projections of year ending stocks later in the forecast cycle.

Here’s the bottom  line part for the price of old crop corn.

This tendency suggests the WASDE ending stocks forecast for the 2013-14 marketing year released earlier this month (1.146 billion bushels to be left in the bin this fall) may be over-estimated.  Intriguingly, this is the reverse of current market expectations that year ending stocks for 2013-14 will exceed the current USDA forecast. It is a price positive change.

Now let’s delve further into the report. Again the 2013-14 marketing year ending stocks are now forecast at 1.146 billion bushels.  Historical forecast errors suggest there is a 50 percent probability actual year ending stocks will be between 1.121 billion and 1.267 billion bushels.  There has been a slight bias towards under-estimating year ending stocks in this report in the past, with an average error of 49 million bushels.  This bias seems to support the market's expectation that USDA has over-estimated marketing year exports, and therefore, under-estimated year-ending stocks.

This last segment supports trade sentiment of a higher ending stocks number for corn and this would put pressure on price to go lower.

However, some previous University of Illinois analysis suggests errors in forecasting year ending stocks late in the marketing year are more highly correlated with errors in forecasts of feed and residual use. There is a positive relationship between the change in the ending stocks forecast in May and the error in the May forecast. If the May ending stocks number goes up, it is more likely to be an associated with an even larger final ending stocks figure. The same is true if it goes down. If the April to May WASDE ending stocks figure falls, then it is associated with an even smaller final ending stocks figure.

While the fit is not great, the relationship is interesting write Darrel Good and Scott Irwin. You may read their work on the Farm Doc Daily website.

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WILL - Ag Notes - May 16, 2014

Not Convinced Corn Should Go Lower

by Todd E. Gleason



USDA’s latest projections raised corn exports by one-hundred-fifty million bushels. It means shippers will need to load-out a lot of corn over the next three months says University of Illinois Ag Economist Darrel Good.

The ILLINOIS number cruncher wrote about corn consumption in his May 12, 2014 Weekly Outlook, "Although other factors may have contributed, corn prices declined following the release of the new WASDE ending stocks projections. Given the surprisingly large level of consumption of U.S corn that has unfolded this year and planting season weather that may pose a threat to both planted acreage and yield in some areas, the price weakness appears to be premature".

 Read more from Darrel Good's article on the FarmDocDaily website.

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