March 31, 2015

Expected Corn and Soybean Returns and Shifts in Acres

Today at 11am central the United States Department of Agriculture will release the Prospective Plantings report. It is an estimate of how many acres of each crop U.S. farmers expect to sow for harvest this season. USDA sent out more than 80,000 surveys, aiming for an 80 percent response rate. Todd Gleason has more on how one University of Illinois ag economist sees the acreage laying out.

...read more from Gary Schnitkey on the FarmDocDaily website.


March 18, 2015

Cold Weather Maintenance Diets for Dairy Calves

Feeding a heifer dairy calf properly during cold weather can mean up to 1500 extra pounds of milk during her first lactation period. Todd Gleason has more on the increased cold weather maintenance diet that results in such a gain.


March 04, 2015

Pork’s Boom & Bust Price Cycle

Markets can take your breath away and the hog market over the past year has left many breathless says one Purdue University ag economist



February 10, 2015

Blown Away by the Soybean Export Number

The price of soybeans has been dropping and many in the trade are very worried about the potential for futures to continue to move lower. However, the February WASDE numbers may suggest some strength remains.


February 09, 2015

Finer Ground Corn More Digestible

An animal nutritionist at the University of Illinois has quantified the importance of particle size in ground feed for hogs.


February 06, 2015

Crude Oil Jumps Off Lows

The cost of a barrel of crude oil has dropped dramatically since last June. Back then the price was more the $100 per barrel. It dropped to nearly $44 a barrel earlier this year and has now begun to make a sharp turn higher. There are series of reasons for the rally says Bloomington based energies specialist for Growmark Harry Cooney. 

There has been a steelworkers strike at some of the refineries. This has caused some concerned. The rig counts have also declined. This number indicates how many oil wells are operational and the trade, which focuses on future supply, thinks the supply may peak out and then start to decline. 

However, it is important to remember says Harry Cooney crude oil started its price decline at around $107.00 a barrel. It is very unlikely the oil rig count contraction taking place now will greatly constrain supply. Still Cooney has been advising end users, like farmers that purchase gasoline and diesel in bulk, to lock in the price of their 2015 needs. 

The end users see these values, values they haven’t seen for four or five years, as an opportunity to lock in the price of fuel even though they’re above the recent lows. The price of fuel, unlike other inputs on the farm, has decreased more rapidly in percentage terms. 

Nitrogen fertilizer, for instance, has yet to drop in price.


February 05, 2015

Beef Expansion Is Underway

The nation's cattle producers are expanding the herd and they're doing it at a somewhat faster rate than had been anticipated.


January 30, 2015

Reviewing the Pace of Corn & Soybean Exports

Following the January 12 USDA Crop Production and Grain Stocks reports it has becoming increasingly clear that the story in the corn and soybean markets for the foreseeable future will be the ongoing pace of consumption.


Consumption of corn produced in the United States can be tallied as corn for used for ethanol, fed to livestock, or exported. The soybean consumption numbers are derived from an item called the crush… that’s when a soybean facility crushes the bean to extract the oil and meal from it. There is also the feed and residual number, and again exports. University of Illinois Ag Economist John Newton has explored the export numbers.

He says, holding all else constant, a lower rate of corn and soybean exports relative to current USDA projections would increase carryover stocks, and could produce downward pressure on prices. USDA, as of the January reports, expects corn exports will be 1.75 billion or 1750 million bushels for the current marketing year. Newton also says right now the actual numbers suggest corn exports will need to pick up to make it to seventeen-fifty.

With nearly 40 percent of the marketing year in the books, corn exports need to accelerate in order to reach the 1,750 million bushel WASDE projection. Based on the implied GATS estimate of 602 million bushels, 1,148 million bushels need to be exported during the remainder of the marketing year to reach the WASDE projection. On a weekly basis this total represents approximately 37 million bushels per week, and would require an increase of 57 percent over the current 10-week average export volume.

Again, in order to meet the USDA projected yearly exports total of 1.750 billion bushels the pace of corn exports needs to average 37 million bushels per week from mid-January forward. Using a similar set of calculations John Newton reports cumulative soybean exports for the 2014/15 marketing year total 1.312 billion bushels, up 18 percent from last year.

Based on the FGIS totals, then, to reach the 1,770 million bushel WASDE projection it’s implied that 458 million bushels of soybeans need to be exported during the remainder of the marketing year. On a weekly basis this total represents approximately 15 million bushels per week.

While corn exports are accelerating, the pace of soybean exports from U.S. ports is slowing down. Combining the outstanding sales with the remaining balance needed, Newton expects sales could come up 42 million bushels short of the WASDE projection. He thinks soybean exports will struggle to meet the lofty 1.77 billion bushel USDA estimate, but that it is entirely possible.


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