June 22, 2017

What Makes a Top Third Farm

There are just two items that make the difference between a top third farm and an average farm. This University of Illinois study was on a small set in McLean County. This was done to limit the influences of weather and a few other factors. Gary Schnitkey says he wanted to know why some farms made more than others. Turns out, the answer is pretty simple say the ag economist, “What we found were distinct cost differences between the two groups. This was a $45 per acre difference between the average group and the high return group. The $45 came primarily in two items; machinery depreciation and interest cost.”

The more profitable farms tended to have lower machinery and non-land interest cost. The two are related.

If you buy more machinery, you have more depreciation and likely more interest costs. Other differences included storage costs, with high profit farms storing less at elevators and their cost of hired labor was lower, too. Over all, these farms usually had lower costs, but these are the cost groups that stood out.

A couple of notes. The most profitable farms expanded acreage at a faster pace than those in the average group. They also had higher average yields for soybeans and did a better job of marketing soybean.


June 22, 2017

Feeding Wheat Co-Products to Pigs

Research from the University of Illinois is helping to determine the quality of protein in wheat middlings and red dog. Both are co-products of the wheat milling process. Each can be fed to pigs and other livestock.

There is information about the digestibility of crude protein in some wheat co-products produced in Canada and China, says University of Illinois Animal Scientist Hans Stein, but only very limited information about the nutritional value of wheat middlings and red dog produced in the United States.

Stein and U of I researcher Gloria Casas fed wheat middlings from 8 different states and red dog from Iowa to growing pigs. Despite the variety in the wheat middlings sources the concentration of crude protein were generally consistent. However, they did find some variation in the digestibility of the amino acids.

The red dog contained slightly less crude protein than wheat middlings. 

Stein says the results of this study provide guidance to producers who hope to incorporate wheat co-products into diets fed to pigs. The paper appears in the June 2017 issue of the Journal of Animal Science. The National Pork Board provided funding for the study.


June 05, 2017

Crop Progress Reports & End of Season Yields

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Last week USDA released its first national corn condition rating of the season. The crop, as you’ll hear, wasn’t in great shape. While it doesn’t mean much at this time of year, there is a relationship between the first crop condition rating and the end of the season yield.

The weekly Crop Progress report is mostly the work of Extension and FSA employees, at the least the data collection part. They report local crop conditions to state USDA offices, mostly on Monday morning, who in-turn tally those numbers and pass them along to Washington, D.C. for compilation and release on Monday afternoon. Work at the University of Illinois shows a strong relationship between the end-of-season crop condition ratings and crop yield, however, agricultural economist Scott Irwin says that doesn’t hold so well for the rest of the season, “but, of course, what you really want to know is how soon do they become really predictive of final yields. Our analysis says they become pretty useful about mid-July for corn and not until about mid-August in soybeans”.

The first corn rating of the season, released just after Memorial Day, wasn’t good. the crop had been cold and wet. It showed up, or in this case didn’t show up, in the good and excellent categories USDA NASS uses. Those are the two grades the U of I economist say correlate. The math works like this; the first corn condition rating was 65% good or excellent, minus 8 points for the average drop to the end of the season rating, which brings you to 57% and then you plug that into the relationship the U of I presented in the article says Irwin, “and you end up with 164.3, basically on that set of calculations. It is an intriguing and pretty low number. Clearly that is not where the market is at and it is just one model, one exercise. Certainly, it is something to keep your eye on”.

“and you end up with 164.3”

If you do, in about mid-July you can use the math in the farmdocDaily article to forward calculate the national average yield for corn; mid-August for soybean.


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