November 15, 2017

Nov 21 | Farm Assets Conference Ticket Sales

Doors open at 9:30am. The noon meal is included. Parking is free in the deck next to the Marriott. There are a large number of vendors available for you to talk with prior to and during the breaks. Come and check out the whole of the event.

call 1-800-898-1065 or online at BUY TICKETS NOW  | $35 each


Farm Assets Conference
Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Marriott Hotel & Conference Center
201 Broadway Avenue Normal, Illinois 61761

see the full agenda or visit www.farmassetsconference.com.


FARM BILL, CROP INSURANCE,  TRADE, AND OTHER AG LEGISLATION
  * exploring the legislative landscape in Washington, D.C.
We'll explore the farm bill, agricultural trade and regulation with hill staffers, lobbyists, and a University xof Illinois academic. Your questions are encouraged and this will be a great way to talk with those working behind the scenes in Washington, D.C. Our guest panelists will include Trevor Reuschel Legislative Director for Congresswoman Cheri Bustos, Tara Smith VP of Federal Affairs, at Michael Torrey & Associates, and Craig Gundersen University of Illinois Agricultural Economist.

WEATHER
  with Eric Snodgrass, Agrible
Eric Snodgrass is a co-founder of Agrible and a professor at the University of Illinois. His research and ability to translate it into usable information for farmers and agricultural interest will highlight South American weather conditions, the potential for its first and second crop harvest, and a peek into the 2018 Midwest growing season.

MARRYING CONSERVATION AND ECONOMICS
  * reviewing two years of data on real-world conservation practices
The U of I's Gary Schnitkey and Dale Lattz have been studying about 50,000 acres in Illinois and how the real-life things farmers do on them pay. The two put economic values on things like cover crops, no-till, an extra tillage pass on soybean acres, and benchmarked them to productions practices. They'll be joined by Laura Gentry, ICGA and Randy Stauffer, Precision Conservation Management Coordinator to discuss the current findings and how to enroll in the study.

COMMODITY PRICE OUTLOOK
  * WILLAg Market Outlook Panels on Corn and Soybeans
The markets always offer opportunities. It is just a matter off finding them. We'll explore how producers should consider marketing this year's crop in a low value market with seven commodity analysts including Matt Bennett - Bennett Consulting Channel Seeds, Bill Gentry - Risk Management Commodities, Jim McCormick - Allendale, Curt Kimmel - Bates Commodities, Joe Vaclavik - Standard Grain, Chip Nellinger - Blue Reef Agri-Marketing,  and Todd Hubbs, Commodity Markets Specialist - University of Illinois.

FARMLAND STILL HOLDING VALUE
  * with Bruce Sherrick, TIAA | Center for Farmland Research
Farm sales this fall have varied across the state, but remain surprisingly strong. This is in part because buyers didn't actually build in all of the potential market value during the height of commodity prices. Bruce Sherrick from the University of Illinois will explore the stabilization this has allowed, and how much more pressure the land market might be able to withstand.


November 18, 2017

Nitrogen Fertilizer Prices and Costs Lower for 2018

Nitrogen fertilizer prices are averaging lower now than in any time since September 2008. These lower prices could translate into roughly a $10 per acre saving in nitrogen fertilizer for the coming 2018 production year. Further savings may be possible for those farms who are applying above recommended nitrogen rates and are willing to cut fertilizer application rates. University recommendations suggest nitrogen application rates well below 200 pounds in northern and central Illinois.

Todd Gleason talked with University of Illinois agricultural economist Gary Schnitkey about his farmdocDaily article.

Average anhydrous ammonia prices in Illinois are reported approximately twice a month in the Illinois Production Cost Report, a publication of the Agricultural Marketing Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In the November 10th report, the anhydrous ammonia price was reported at an average of $405 per ton, with an offer range from $343 per ton up to $440 per ton. Anhydrous ammonia prices have averaged $404 per ton during the months of September, October, and November of 2017.



The $404 per ton average in 2017 is considerably lower than fall prices in recent years. AMS has been reporting anhydrous ammonia prices since 2008 (see Figure 1). This year’s $404 per ton price is the lowest fall price since reporting began in 2008.



Farmers can leverage this lower price even more by using the MRTN to optimize yield. The online N-Rate Calculator is the work of seven corn state Land Grant universities. The calculator uses the prices of nitrogen and corn to optimize yield for the highest revenue. This is different than maximizing yield. It seeks to maximize dollars.

Through the lower cost of nitrogen and use of the N-Rate Calculator northern and central Illinois farmers may save approximately $10 per acre writes Gary Schnitkey on farmdocDaily.


November 18, 2017

EWG Claims Farmers Double Dipping

The Environmental Working Group is pushing Congress to eliminate the ARC-County farm program. Todd Gleason asks EWG's Anne Weir Schechinger why this is the case.



NOTE: EWG is the organization that publishes USDA's farm bill payments database online.


November 18, 2017

Using the Productivity Index to Figure Cash Rents

Right now farmers are in the middle of negotiating 2018 cash rents. This while their incomes have been depressed for four years. Agricultural economist Gary Schnitkey has been working up a way for landowners and their tenants to feel better about bringing cash rents down.



The University of Illinois number cruncher has developed a formula to derive cash rent from a fields P.I.. That's the Productivity Index. It is benchmarked, in a fashion, to USDA's Cash Rents Survey and uses a geographic adjustment tied to the CRD, that's USDA's Crop Reporting District. This allows for demand patterns in an area to show up in the formula. Schnitkey, in a farmdocDaily article says the P.I. and CRD adjustment explains 91% of the variability in the average cash rents as reported by USDA. Here's how the formula, he says, works in the state of Illinois, "Just to give you an example, if you are in east-central Illinois, in the eastern CRD, the CRD index is 26. This means you take your P.I. multiplied by 2.79, then subtract 147 and add 26 to it that will give you an average cash rent for that parcel.

Again, the formula is... Cash Rent = (2.79 x PI) - 147 + the CRD Adjustment... ...in this case 26.

If you fill all those numbers in for a farm in Champaign County with a P.I. of 134 the expected average cash rent for that farm with a 134 P.I. would be $253 per acre. This...benchmark...says Schnitkey provides a jumping off point from which farmers and landowners can discuss adjustments based on current economic conditions. By the way, the P.I. of farmland in Illinois, many farms around the nation, can be found in a free online tool called Acre Value. Look for it at www.acrevalue.com.


November 18, 2017

Corn Supply A Burden To Prices

The USDA’s Crop Production report released on November 9 reported an unexpectedly large corn yield increase for the 2017 crop. Corn prices suffered a moderate decline following the report release considering the magnitude of the yield increase. However, University of Illinois Commodity Markets Specialist Todd Hubbs says corn prices will struggle to find support due to the ample supply available during the 2017-18 marketing year
.


November 09, 2017

Howard G. Buffett Discusses the Future of Agricutlure



Howard Buffett discusses his view of agriculture with National Association of Farm Broadcasting 2016/2017 President Max Armstrong at a November 8 forum during the 2017 NAFB Convention in Kansas City, Missouri. Buffett is a Philanthropist, Farmer, & Macon County Sherriff from Decatur, Illinois.


November 06, 2017

IL Governor Rauner Declares Harvest Emergency

Weather-related decision permits trucks hauling ag commodities to exceed gross vehicle weight limits, speed crop transportation

YORKVILLE (Nov. 5, 2017) — Gov. Bruce Rauner today declared a statewide harvest emergency to assist farmers and grain handlers who are grappling with the fallout of rain-related delays.

“Illinois is home to 72,000 farms on 26.7 million acres. We are among the top three corn producers in the nation,” Rauner said while visiting Stewart Farms in Yorkville Sunday afternoon. “Moving corn and other crops in a timely and efficient manner affects the bottom line of hard-working farmers. This declaration is an appropriate response to an urgent need.”

Under a new law Rauner signed Aug. 11, the declaration permits drivers of trucks carrying agricultural commodities over state highways to obtain a free permit to exceed gross vehicle weight limits by 10 percent. Further, local authorities may waive the permit requirement at their discretion. The emergency declaration is in effect for 45 days beginning today, Nov. 5.

The Illinois Department of Transportation already is mobilizing the permitting process and notifying law enforcement agencies throughout the state. More information is available at https://truckpermits.dot.illinois.gov/.

“I would like to thank the governor for making this declaration today,” said Richard Guebert Jr., president of the Illinois Farm Bureau. “This harvest season emergency declaration will improve the transportation of our crops.”

According to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Illinois corn harvest at the end of October was 17 percentage points behind the prior year and 11 percentage points behind the five-year average. The corn harvests in the Northwest, Northeast and East regions are especially hard hit. Harvesters of a variety of crops made up ground toward the end of October, but early delays still are causing backups in the transportation chain.

Jeff Adkisson, executive vice president of the Grain and Feed Association of Illinois, also praised the governor’s action, noting that a bumper crop combined with the harvest delays to compound the situation.

“In years when harvest is better than anticipated, crops like corn and soybeans may need to be stored in piles outside of the traditional concrete or steel bins or tanks,” he said. “This declaration will allow grain elevators to transport commodities out of their facilities quicker, thus making room for grain stored on the ground to be moved to more suitable storage structures.”

Illinois Department of Agriculture Director Raymond Poe said the action will encourage the farming community.

“Illinois farmers work tirelessly year-round, even more so around harvest,” he said. “The Department of Agriculture would like to thank Gov. Rauner for making this declaration and for his support of Illinois farmers.”

And state legislators also welcomed the harvest emergency declaration.
State Rep. Toni McCombie, R-Savanna, co-sponsored HB 2580, which amended the state vehicle code to allow for exceeding trucks’ gross weight limits when a governor declares a harvest emergency.

“Mother Nature has presented Illinois farmers with a rainy spring and fall, making this year’s harvest challenging,” she said. “The State of Illinois was proactive when we foresaw an emergency this year.”

“Farmers form the backbone of our state’s economy,” said state Sen. Neil Anderson, a Republican from Andalusia who sponsored the legislation in the Senate. “Declaring a harvest emergency will reduce red tape and allow those farmers who are still in the field to focus on getting their crops in before winter really takes hold.

“The sooner farmers can get their commodities to market, the more stable the market will be for the consumer.”

State Rep. Dan Swanson, R-Alpha, a member of the House Agriculture and Conservation Committee, said the rainy planting season caused corn and beans to mature later this fall.

“As a result, many farmers are behind in getting their crops harvested,” he said. “With this declaration of a harvest emergency, we will allow farmers the ability to get more grain to the storage sites quicker.”


November 02, 2017

More Money Raising Soybeans

For four years in a row farmers in Illinois, other parts of the nation too, have made more money on soybeans than corn.



The numbers are pretty clear and University of Illinois Agricultural Economist Gary Schnitkey lays them out in an online farmdocDaily article. He says, on average, soybeans have been more profitable than corn since 2013, “One of the things we’ve seen is that soybean prices, when compared to corn, have been relatively strong since 2013. The ration of soybean to corn prices has been 2.74 since 2013, and it was 2.42 before that. So, we’ve seen soybean prices increase relative to corn prices.”

Farmers have responded to the higher soybean price.

When you look at historic price ratio changes, it is relatively easy to see when demand has pushed one crop over the other. The corn-based ethanol build up, for instance, from 2006 to 2013 has a soybean-to-corn price ratio of 2.42… that means the price of soybeans is 2.42 times greater than the price of corn.



Ethanol plants were being built around the United States at this time, and there was a big need for more bushels of corn. Farmers responded and planted more corn. That need has now leveled off at the same time China has been continually increasing its need for soybeans. Today the soybean-to-corn ratio is 2.72.

This ratio continually changes says Schnitkey, “We’ve seen soybean and corn have roughly the same revenue. That happened in the late 1980’s. So, it has happened in the past, and I think we are going to see the soybeans to be at least as profitable as corn for the foreseeable future. This is driven by strong demand for soybean exports. We have this growing demand for exports of soybeans. As long as that demand is there, we will continue to try and pull acres into soybeans.”

Just as an FYI, the long-term soybean-to-corn ratio, 1972 to present, is 2.55.


October 26, 2017

How Many U.S. Soybean Acres Needed in 2018


Listen to Todd Gleason’s full interview with U of I’s Todd Hubbs

read farmdocDaily post

Farmers in the United States have been planting more and more acres to soybeans. There is a simple reason behind this increase. Soybeans have been more profitable than other crops over the last several years. The question now is how many acres will they plant next year. University of Illinois Commodity Markets Specialist Todd Hubbs has been thinking about that one and he decided to determine how many acres are needed if the stocks-to-use ratio was to stay at about 7%.

Hubbs says that number should provide a $9.50 season’s average cash price, “If we assume seven-percent stocks-to-use in 2018/2019 would give us $9.50, which would cover the cost of production in Illinois based on current projections, how many acres of soybeans national under those assumptions would we need given a trend yield? Based on a trend yield of about 46.8 bushels to the acre, and it may be higher than that in 2018, we would need about 88.4 million harvested acres to get $9.50 based on a seven-percent stocks-to-use.”

If you use USDA’s long-term trend line yield for next year, 48.4 bushels to the acre, then the harvested acreage number must drop to about 85.4 million in order to get to the $9.50 season’s average cash price. That’s 86.2 million acres planted to soybeans in the United States next spring.


October 21, 2017

Calculating N-Rates for Corn | with Emerson Nafziger

University of Illinois Agronomist Emerson Nafziger says deep prairie soils can provide up to one-hundred-pounds of N annually. This makes nitrogen fertilizer applications less limiting than once thought. Todd Gleason talks with Nafziger about how farmers should calculate anhydrous ammonia rates this fall.



Timing Fall Nitrogen
by Emerson Nafziger, Extension Agronomist - University of Illinois
original blog post

The substantial rain that fell over central and northern Illinois between October 5 and 15 mostly soaked into the soil that was dried out by crop water use, and harvest has moved back to full speed in most areas. With harvest, thoughts turn to application of fall ammonia in central and northern Illinois. Almost everyone is on board with waiting until soil temperatures are at or below 50 degrees before applying ammonia. Cool soil (along with use of nitrification inhibitor) lowers the rate of nitrification, so helps preserve N in the ammonium form. Nitrogen present in the soil as ammonium is safe from loss.

Once air and soil temperatures start to decline in October, it’s natural to anticipate that soil temperatures will reach 50 soon, so some are inclined to start to apply before soil temperatures reach 50 degrees. But if we apply when soil is at 60 degrees and soil temperatures fail to drop quickly, or if they rise again after application, nitrification will continue and will persist as long as soils stay warmer. In fact, nitrification does not stop dead at 50 degrees; as a biological process, its rate drops off as temperature falls, but temperatures need to near freezing for nitrification to stop completely.

So we need to wait to apply fall ammonia not only until soil temperatures are 50 or less, but until we have reasonable confidence that they’ll stay there. In Illinois, we normally consider November 1 to be the date at which we can be reasonably sure that soil temperatures won’t rise again until the next spring. That’s not a sure thing, however – in both of the past two years, soil temperatures have gone above 50 at least once between November and February. But most years it’s a reasonable starting date to balance keeping N safe with getting fall application done.

Minimum air temperatures have fallen into the 40s this past week, which has people wondering if it might be OK to go ahead and start applying now. Minimum soil temperatures 4 inches deep under bare soil (from the Illinois Water Survey http://www.isws.illinois.edu/warm/soil) have dropped to the upper 40s to low 50s over much of the state each day between October 16 and 18 this week. The problem with using only the minimum soil temperature is that it doesn’t represent the actual soil temperature in the ammonia application zone. As Figure 1 shows, minimum soil temperatures (on clear days) are typically five degrees or so less than average soil temperatures for the day. So even though we may need a jacket on cool mornings this week, ammonia applied now is not going to be in soils with temperatures less than 50 degrees for some days or weeks.

Figure 1. Soil temperature at 4 inches under bare soil at three Illinois Climate Network sites on October 17, 2017. Source: Illinois State Water Survey.
Figure 1. Soil temperature at 4 inches under bare soil at three Illinois Climate Network sites on October 17, 2017. Source: Illinois State Water Survey.

Air temperatures are forecast to stay in the 70s the rest of this week, to fall into the 50s (with lows in the mid to upper 30s) next week, then to rise again (with dry weather) for some period after that. We’re already past the average first frost date for central and northern Illinois, and even with more seasonal temperatures coming the last week of October, it doesn’t look like ammonia applied now will be as safe from nitrification and possible loss as will ammonia applied in November.

If the soil is in condition to apply ammonia, soil temperatures are in the upper 40s, and the 10-day forecast doesn’t show above-normal temperatures settling in, the last few days of October might offer an opportunity to start applying ammonia. But what if early November is warmer than normal, and soil temperatures remain above 50? Delaying application, of course, moves us closer to having safer soil temperatures.

Average Illinois fall temperatures have been trending slowly upward for some decades now, and as we have seen the last few years, waiting until November 1 does not assure low soil temperatures as consistently as it did in the past. So if a stretch of warm weather is still in the forecast at the end of October, it might make sense to wait a little longer. Otherwise, patience in waiting another 10 days will likely be rewarded, even if – as is often be the case when doing the right thing – the reward isn’t very visible.


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