June 29, 2016

National GMO Labeling Bill in Motion

The U.S. Senate’s agricultural committee has reached a food labeling bill agreement that could set aside the state of Vermont’s GMO law. Ranking members Pat Roberts of Kansas, a Republican, and Debbie Stabenaw, a Michigan Democrat, announced a digital codes compromise. If the full Senate and the House pass the legislation food packages containing a narrowly defined set of genetically engineered ingredients would include a digital disclosure code or an on package symbol or language that the Agriculture Department would approve. The code, which could be scanned by a smartphone, would be accompanied by the sentence, “Scan here for more food information”.

The compromise narrowly defines genetically modified for the purposes of food labels. Only ingredients derived from GMO’s made by transferring genes from one organism to another would require labeling. Foods made with ingredients where the genetic code is edited - a deleted or duplicated gene for example - would not require the GMO notifications.


June 29, 2016

South Farms Agronomy Day - Aug. 18, 2016

URBANA, Ill. – Have questions about pest resistance or curious about the use of drones in agriculture? Plan to hear more on these and other topics related to crop sciences at the 59th annual Agronomy Day at the University of Illinois on August 18.

Field tour topics and speakers for Agronomy Day 2016 were recently announced. Topics include:

TOUR A
Cataloging the weapons arsenal of the Fusarium head blight pathogen
Genetic resistance for northern leaf blight and Goss’ wilt in corn
Stripe rust and scab resistance in wheat
Bt resistance in corn rootworm beetles Nematodes: How does the worm turn?

TOUR B
Nitrogen management: Balancing profitability with sustainability
Economics of nutrient management
Land values
Six weed management predictions to keep you up at night Investigating low crop emergence in edamame

TOUR C
The show must go on: Balancing water use under continuously changing environmental conditions
Cover crops for soybean and corn rotation
Soybean planting date and variety maturity Managing soybeans for high yields
Drone information and demonstration

TOUR D
*Offered at 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. (tentative) with limited availability, as attendees will be transported offsite to SoyFACE. Attendees will need to sign up in advance at the registration table. Tours will last one hour.

What is SoyFACE?
Improving maize tolerance in air pollution CO2
Improving drought tolerance and water use efficiency in C4 crops

For a full list of this year’s speakers and topics, visit http://agronomyday.cropsci.illinois.edu/.

Agronomy Day attracts more than 1,000 people each year seeking the latest information on technology and techniques to improve food and fuel production. This year, agronomy day will be held in a new location at 4202 South 1st Street in Savoy, Illinois. For more information on speakers, displays, and location, join Agronomy Day 2016 on Facebook or visit the Agronomy Day website.


June 20, 2016

Soybean Stocks, Acreage, and Weather

The price of soybeans has rallied so much this season that one agricultural economist is doubtful there is much additional upside potential.

New crop soybeans are worth about two-and-half dollars more today than back in February when farmers purchased insurance to cover the price risk inherent in farming. The rise has to do with a short crop from South America, above average temperatures in the United States, and only scattered rainfall in the mid-section of the nation. Farmers can now sell beans for about $11 a bushel for fall delivery, and that doesn’t seem too bad to University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good.

Quote Summary - While there is a potential for prices to move even higher with stressful summer weather, that potential may be less than the potential for corn, depending on the magnitude of planted acres, since soybean prices have already experienced a sharp rally and soybean yields are less sensitive to summer weather than are corn yields.

The path soybeans have taken to higher prices is pretty clear. The July contract at the CME Group in Chicago is up 25% since April 1, 2016. The rally came as the market came to grips with a 200 million bushel reduction in the estimated size of the combined Argentine and Brazilian soybean crops and the resulting surge in export demand for U.S. soybeans. The next stop on this price train forward is the end of month reports from the United States Department of Agriculture. USDA will release the Acreage and Grain Stocks reports June 30th. Darrel Good calculates the expected June 1 Grain Stocks for soybeans near 842 million bushels.


Soybean Inventory Estimate
(in billion bushels)

1.531 March 1, 2016 Inventory
+ .006 Imports
- .173 Exports
- .487 Crush
- .035 Feed & Residual

0.842 June 1, 2016 Inventory


He believes there is room for a surprise in the Acreage Report. USDA’s survey of farmers in March put expectations at 82.236 million acres. This number could be higher for a couple of reasons. The consensus seems to be that the June Acreage report will reveal that acreage exceeded intentions due to some switching of intended corn acreage to soybeans as the result of the increase in soybean prices relative to corn prices since March and the delayed corn planting in parts of the eastern Corn Belt.

Soybean acreage may also exceed intentions, writes Darrel Good on the FarmDocDaily website, as a result of total acreage of spring planted crops exceeding intentions reported in March.


June 13, 2016

State of Illinois Open Meetings Act Webinar June 16

University of Illinois Extension is hosting a webinar June 16, 2016 from noon to 1pm on the State of Illinois Open Meetings Act. It is sponsored in part by the State of Illinois Attorney General's office and aimed at helping elected local government officials (and staff) understand the Opening Meetings Act and its requirements.



REGISTER ONLINE


June 02, 2016

Fungicide Applications Improve Corn Silage Feed Efficiency

June is National Dairy Month

Spraying a fungicide on corn in the Midwest has always been a 50/50 proposition related to cost. Half of the time it bumps yield by a couple of bushels and this can sometimes be enough to cover the cost. However, if that corn is going into silage, some new work from the University of Illinois says the improvement in feed efficiency for dairy cattle can pay for the fungicide not just once, but maybe twice.


June 02, 2016

Purdue University CME Group Ag Barometer



Purdue University’s Center for Commercial Agriculture and the derivatives marketplace CME Group are partnering to produce the Purdue/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer, a monthly nationwide measure of the health of the U.S. agricultural economy.

The introduction of this new economic indicator underscores the importance of the agricultural economy and its participants - food producers and agribusinesses - to the overall U.S. and global economies, Purdue and CME Group said Tuesday (May 3) in announcing the partnership.

“Agriculture is a critical component of the global economy and has been the cornerstone of CME Group’s business for nearly 170 years,” said CME Group Executive Chairman and President Terry Duffy. “By providing financial tools to help producers and agribusiness participants manage the risks they face, they are better able to focus on what they do best - feeding the world. We believe this collaboration with Purdue University to create the Purdue/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer will provide an essential resource for monitoring the health of the food industry and vital insight into the global economy.”

Purdue President Mitch Daniels said, “Purdue’s College of Agriculture has a long tradition of pushing us toward better food security, safety and sustainability with its cutting-edge research. We can imagine no better partner than CME Group to help us analyze and report the real-time economic health of U.S. agriculture, on which literally every citizen and the rest of the economy depends.”

Each month, the Ag Economy Barometer will provide a sense of the agricultural economy’s health with an index value. Results to calculate the index are obtained through a survey of 400 large agricultural producers on economic sentiment. In addition, Purdue will bring its research and agricultural economics expertise to measure producers’ expectations of key farm economy drivers such as farm profitability; farmland prices; capital expenditures; row crop, livestock and dairy prices; and seasonal drivers such as seed, fertilizer and feed ingredient prices.

The barometer provides a value for each month that is relative to the base period, which is the winter and spring months of 2015 and 2016, explained Jim Mintert, director of the Center for Commercial Agriculture, professor of agricultural economics and the barometer’s principal investigator. A score of 100 would mean that the sentiment is unchanged from the base period values. Higher than 100 means sentiment improved from that period, whereas lower values would indicate sentiment declined.

Quarterly, the index will be accompanied by a webinar and in-depth thought leader survey. The 100 agricultural thought leaders surveyed include agricultural lenders, business professionals, academics, consultants and commodity association representatives. This survey is separate from the results of the producer survey but serves as a supplement to the barometer.

“The barometer is the only ongoing monthly measure of the health of the agricultural economy,” Mintert said. “Also unique is that the index is calculated based on producer sentiments about both current conditions and future expectations.”
April survey results

The agricultural sentiment of U.S. producers increased to 106 in April 2016, which was an improvement in producer sentiment compared to the base period of October 2015 through March 2016. The increase was driven in part by strengthening corn, soybean and wheat prices. After months of trending lower and a sharp drop in corn prices following the USDA’s March Prospective Plantings report, crop prices moved up during April. In addition, general weather conditions across the Plains and Midwest were favorable for crop development and planting and likely contributed to the improved sentiment.

“While the most recent data show an uptick in producers’ sentiment, it is important to keep the situation in perspective,” said David Widmar, senior research associate for the Center for Commercial Agriculture and lead researcher on the Ag Economy Barometer. “Overall, the general agricultural outlook is still difficult. A strong majority of respondents, from both the producer and quarterly Agricultural Thought Leaders survey, reported expectations of the next 12 months being ‘bad times’ financially across the agricultural sector.”

A website with more information on the Ag Economy Barometer is at www.purdue.edu/agbarometer.


May 31, 2016

Corn Prices to Reflect Summer Wx & Demand Strength

Summer has arrived and so has the critical three month period in which the nation’s food supply will be established. The commodity markets will follow weather conditions, crop ratings, and weather forecasts in order to form yield expectations. Todd Gleason reports the starting place is typically to assume a normal growing season.


May 26, 2016

University of Illinois Weed Science Field Research Tour

The Extension weed scientists on the University of Illinois campus in Urbana-Champaign have scheduled their annual field day. The Weed Science tour is set for Wednesday June 29th says Aaron Hager.



It’ll be at the South Farms and will begin roughly between 7:30 and 8:00 o’clock in the morning. It will be very similar in terms of format to what we’ve done before. We’ll all gather around the South Farms at the Seed House for a few introductory remarks and comments, and then everybody will get back into their vehicles and we’ll car pool across Windsor Road and look at some of the research plots on the Animal Sciences tracts.

Again, the 2016 University of Illinois Weed Science Field Day is Wednesday, June 29th at the University of Illinois Crop Sciences Research and Education Center, the South Farms, located just to the east of the State Farm Center (Assembly Hall). Coffee and refreshments will be available under the shade trees near the Seed House beginning at 8:00 a.m. Cost for the Urbana weed science field tour is $10. The event will conclude around noon with a catered lunch.

The tour will provide ample opportunity to look at research plots and interact with weed science faculty, staff, and graduate students. Participants can compare their favorite corn and soybean herbicide programs to other commercial programs and get an early look at a few new products that soon will be on the market.


May 23, 2016

Will Summer Pricing Opportunities Materialize for Corn & Soybeans

The very low price of corn and soybeans, and predictions for even lower prices later in the year, has farmers worried. They’re wondering, even hopeful, if a summer weather rally could offer up a pricing opportunity. Darrel Good tries to answer this question in the May 23rd Weekly Outlook on the FarmDocDaily website.

Quote Summary - If a summer price rally does occur, producers will likely want to aggressively price the 2016 crop. In addition, history suggests that a weather market would also result in opportunities for pricing 2017 crops and beyond. A weather market would likely result in smaller price increases for those crops than for the 2015 and 2106 crops, similar to the recent price pattern. From the close on March 31 to the close on May 20, July 2016 corn futures gained almost $0.39, while December 2016 and December 2017 futures gained $0.31 and $0.24, respectively. From the close on March 1, July 2016 soybean futures gained $2.10, while November 2016 and November 2017 futures gained $1.79 and $0.88, respectively. Still, prices for those deferred crops could move to levels reflecting positive returns for most producers. How aggressively to price multiple crops depends on the magnitude of the price rally, should it occur.



Reasons to Price Soybeans Now …first, soybean acreage is likely to exceed intentions so that production could still be large even with a modest shortfall in yields. Second, soybean yields may be less vulnerable to stressful summer weather than corn yields. Third, soybean prices have increased more than corn prices in recent weeks and are now at a relatively high level compared to corn prices. Fourth, November 2016 soybean futures are now trading near $10.40, above the spring price guarantee of $9.73 for crop revenue insurance. Fifth, with trend yields, current new crop soybean prices are high enough to generate positive returns to owner -operators, those with crop share rents, and those with modest cash rents.

Reasons to Wait on Corn …acreage may be less than intentions, yields are more vulnerable to adverse summer weather, recent price strength has been modest, and December 2016 futures are currently trading only modestly above the spring price guarantee of $3.86 for crop revenue insurance. While waiting for a price that offers a positive return has some risk, the risk for corn seems limited over the next several weeks


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