Farmers who’d hoped to cash in on high soybean prices at harvest may be reaping regret if they failed to lock in some lucrative preharvest sales, says Chad Hart, Iowa State University (ISU) agricultural economist. Market expectations were high less than two months ago when soybean prices were still in the teens, he points out.
The old adage, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” readily applies to U.S. agriculture – one of the few sectors in the U.S. economy that is currently doing well. Yet, agriculture is a primary target for extensive government funding cuts in President Obama’s “Plan for Economic Growth and Deficit Reduction,” which he made public last month.
The soil is a battle zone that will largely determine the fate of your corn crop, says George Bird, a Michigan State University (MSU) nematologist. Both soil type and soil health are keys to microscopic worm (or nematode) population levels that influence whether or not corn roots start out strong during the growing season, he says.
No one can predict the future, but the economic fundamentals are pointing towards a significant bump up in variable input costs for 2012, particularly for fertilizer, says Bruce Erickson, agronomic education manager, American Society of Agronomy.
Corn growers in the northern and eastern Corn Belt regions are currently struggling to decide whether to accept prevented planting payments, take a chance at planting corn in June or switch to another crop. Meanwhile, the corn market is trying to estimate just how much 2011 corn that U.S. farmers will both plant and harvest.
Coffee-shop talk suggests that a fair amount of farmers are reserving a portion of their corn crop for a chance that prices might surge past $8/bu. Last week, I heard talk about one farmer who is waiting for a $10/bu. corn price.
There’s a bumper sticker available on the internet that reads, “The Bigger the Government the Smaller the Citizen.” I thought about that bumper sticker shortly after I heard that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had decided to blast a hole through the Birds Point – New Madrid Floodway, in southeastern Missouri on May 2.
Even monumental flooding can’t keep a determined man down. Consider for example, Kevin Mainord and other southeastern Missouri farmers like him in the New Madrid Floodway area, who are keeping a positive attitude after the decision by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers earlier this month to destroy the Birds Point levee.
A Corn E-Digest reader recently wrote to me in response to my editorial, “Flood Now, Drought Later?” which appeared in the March 21, 2011, issue. On April 15, 2011, this reader – who lives and farms in central North Dakota – reports waking up to a 6–in. snowfall.
I first started reporting on agriculture in the late 1980s when corn prices varied little from the $2/bu. range. In addition to writing about agriculture, I also did a fair amount of farm photography. Often, I’d frame up a potential photograph of a corn grower beside his equipment, and decide not take the picture, because the farmer looked far too serious or uncomfortable.
Nearby corn futures prices are now comparable to the record-high prices that farmers saw briefly in mid-2008, and an $8 price could be just around the corner, depending on weather and outside market pressure, says Chad Hart, Iowa State University agricultural economist.
Nitrogen (N) loss in cornfields has been widespread across large swaths of the Midwest for three straight years, says Peter Scharf, University of Missouri (MU) Extension nutrient management specialist. Between 2008 and 2010, corn growers saw yield losses from too much early rainfall and/or soil-moisture levels that have robbed crops of N applied before or even shortly after planting.
So much for those “shovel-ready projects” that the stimulus bill was supposed to fund. According to a March 16, 2011, press release from the Great Lakes Maritime Task Force, the Obama administration is about to allow much of the Great Lakes navigation system to fill up with silt due to funding cuts.
March was a volatile month for corn futures prices, but even at the low point in the price fluctuation, farmers still had room to make a profit, says Chad Hart, Iowa State University agricultural economist.