U.S. corn exports rebounded dramatically in 2012/13 from the previous market year, when sales hit levels not seen since 1970. The first six weeks of the current marketing year suggest further improvement.
Yield improvements will be the key to Chinese efforts to continue boosting corn production, according to Dr. Fred Gale, USDA Economic Research senior economist, but yield improvements will not be adequate to meet growing corn demand.
Farmers undertake various tasks to meet the challenge of flowing their crop efficiently from field to market. Though on a very different scale, railroads are confronted with a similar logistical challenge. In 2013, U.S. Class 1 railroads hauled 124.5 million tons of grain.
As corn and soybean prices drop below breakeven levels, we asked farmers: What are your grain storage and marketing plans? From using on-farm storage and carry to selling to ethanol plants and little forward selling, read what farmers in Missouri, Ohio and Minnesota are planning for their corn and soybeans after harvest this fall.
Sanctions and trade disruptions in the ongoing Ukraine-Russia dispute have yet to hamper Ukraine’s corn exports, which the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates at almost 800 million bushels for the 2013/14 marketing year.
While the recently passed Water Resources Reform and Development Act “moves the needle,” far more needs to be done, says Paul Rohde, Midwest area vice president for the Waterways Council, Inc. He warns that by the end of this decade, 78% of waterway locks will have surpassed the end of their design life.
Africa’s Guinea savannah is “one of the largest underused agricultural land reserves in the world,” according to a 2009 World Bank study that found 990 million acres suited for agriculture, of which less than 10% was in crops.
Next in our Q+A series, we asked farmers what practices they've used that improved return on investment. From split nitrogen applications to variable rate and grid sampling to implementing auto-steer, farmers in Minnesota, Ohio and Iowa talk about what practices have offered them a better ROI.
Soybeans fix their own nitrogen, but high-yielding beans need a lot of nitrogen – 4 to 5 pounds per bushel total with some 3 pounds per bushel in the harvested seed, according to Emerson Nafziger, University of Illinois Department of Crop Sciences. “That’s why some people try applying nitrogen to boost yields,” he says. “You would think if you put on 100 to 200 pounds per acre, there would be a response.”
We asked farmers which ag practices and ideas paid off for them in 2013. From narrow rows in corn to cover crops to nutrient management, growers sounded off about the new things they tried with success last year.
A consistent corn supplier in recent years, India has captured some 45% of the Southeast Asian corn export market. India’s ability to supply those exports reflects a long-term increase in harvested acreage, yield gains from increased hybrid seed use, and expanded production that, so far, has kept up with growing domestic demand.
“Ukraine is going to be bigger than Argentina in corn, when you look at projections,” says Chad Hart, associate professor of economics at Iowa State University. “Call them a regional powerhouse in the Black Sea region."
Kevin Rempp, Montezuma, Iowa, a grower who chairs the Iowa Corn Promotion Board, saw the inefficiencies of the traditional Chinese system on a U.S. Grains Council crop tour. “The plots were about three-fourths to two acres maximum per farmer, so a field of 80 to 100 acres could have many, many plots,” he recalls.