Corn and soybean prices are higher today than they were in early October. However, despite an impressive “dead cat” bounce, prices remain below production costs. Marketing plans are difficult to write when prices are below costs, but write one we must. Here are my pre-harvest marketing plans for 2015....More
As a producer, I continue to hold out for slightly higher corn prices before pulling the trigger on additional sales. From a spec perspective, I prefer being a longer-term buyer on a deeper break. And I am sticking with the thought that higher soybean prices might be in our near-term future....More
2015 is setting up to be another interesting year in the agriculture industry, following a fairly profitable year in 2014 for many livestock producers, but a far less profitable year for most crop producers in the upper Midwest. 2015 will bring farm program sign up, as well as continued uncertainty about renewable fuels. There are also crop production costs to consider, and the hope that land values continue to moderate....More
Ask about the qualities of Chris Novak, the National Corn Growers Association’s (NCGA) new chief executive officer, and common themes quickly become apparent. Members of the NCGA selection committee, which picked Novak to succeed retiring CEO Rick Tolman, call Novak “strategic.” John Johnson, National Pork Board acting CEO, who worked under Novak there, calls him “a strategic thinker par excellence.”...More
The year 2014 has truly been a time of transition for the agricultural industry and rural areas. While challenging, there will be more opportunities to succeed in agriculture in the next decade than the last 30 years, but there will also be more opportunities to fail. A game plan including resiliency and agility will be the themes for 2015 and beyond for those moving to a higher level of management in the industry of agriculture....More
This is the second of a two-part article highlighting what happened agriculturally in 2014. Last week’s article provided a review of 2014 crop production and weather conditions. This week we will focus on some highlights regarding input costs, grain prices and the overall farm economy for 2014....More
With corn futures prices seeing a nice little rally above $4 per bushel, it may be time to look for early 2015 crop pricing opportunities in a market that will likely see continued volatility next year, says Scott Irwin, University of Illinois ag economist....More
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....More
Five agriculture stories to read this week offer 2015 crop budgets and insight into falling gas prices. Read about lower land values, and see what's on Xpert Ed Usset's corn and soybean marketing wish list this Christmas. For some fun, check out amazing RC tractors at work.
In this third installment of our best stories from 2014, farmers learned the best ways to seed cover crops and how high-moisture corn can offer a yield boost. There were also stories about tillage: spring vs. fall strip till, and using tillage to control herbicide resistant weeds. Of course there were data insights, from soil maps to farming smarter with big data. Nitrogen application tips were offered, as well as a strategy for lean years on the farm. All of these stories helped readers and farmers Think Different about their operations.
2014 will be remembered as the second crop year in a row with weather extremes and highly variable crop conditions in many areas of Minnesota and Iowa. A mid-September frost across a wide area of south-central Minnesota and north-central Iowa resulted in an early end to a growing season, which already featured later than normal maturing crops. The end result was some very disappointing corn and soybean yields in many areas of Minnesota and northern Iowa....More
The reality has set in that grain prices, cash flow and profit margins will be modest at best. Whether this part of the cycle correction will be one, two, or even five years or more in duration, farmers and their lenders will have to manage through these economic white waters....More
A big challenge – nitrogen management – could have a small solution. Rowbot Systems, a Minneapolis startup company, has developed an multi-platform robot that, among other things, can side-dress nitrogen in tall corn....More
Five agriculture stories to read this week includes cover crop benefits and maintenance tips for your combine before it's put away for the winter. Read about and watch a recent debate over GMOs, where the pro-GMO side takes a win. Hear a corn and soybean price outlook from Iowa State ag economist Chad Hart. And, for a little fun, check out some funny farming memes on Facebook!
Santa has been very generous over the past few years. Last year I looked under the tree and found $13 soybeans and $4 corn; not quite as big as the gifts in 2012 (or 2011, or 2010), but they fit well and I was grateful. Rumor has it that Santa will not be as generous this year. Here is my corn and soybean marketing wish list for 2015....More
In this second installment of our best stories from 2014, farmers showcase drainage systems that also irrigate, along with high-yield corn production tips. Read how tillage increases compaction, and plan for a micronutrient strategy. There are conservation ideas to help farmers be competitive, as well as thoughts on soil lime. All of these stories offered farmers an approach to help them Think Different about their farm operations.
If your working capital burn rate is less than one year, it would be considered high risk. Above 3.5 years is indicative of a strong second line of defense and of course, between one and 3.5 years would be considered acceptable, but not stellar. To say the least, this winter and next year will be a balancing act as farmers juggle quickly converting liquid assets to cash to keep their businesses in operation....More
The combination of lower projected corn prices and soybean prices in 2015, together with nearly steady input costs for seed, fertilizer, and chemicals, will limit estimated potential returns over direct expenses and land costs, at average crop yields. Another major variable in breakeven levels in crop production are loan payments on capital investments such as farm machinery, facilities and land purchases....More
Farmers, from an agronomic perspective, are doing great keeping phosphorus loss as low as 1% to 2%. The challenge, according to University of Arkansas phosphorus expert Andrew Sharpley, “isn’t so much the magnitude of the losses, or even the tile system itself; it’s the extent to which tile drainage has been implemented by farmers.”...More
Chad Hart, Iowa State University Extension economist, expects to see corn prices in the $4 range, and soybeans in the single digits for 2015. Good demand but larger supplies will hold prices down over the next couple of years, he says....More
As we look back on 2014, we remember some of our best stories, tips and ideas from farmers. Included in this first Best Of installment are ideas about data management and using and sharing that data to farm smarter, better. There are conservation ideas and soil health tips. Read about biotic fertilizers, and tips for telling your farm story. All of these stories offer farmers the chance to Think Different about their operations.
Rabobank published a global outlook for ag commodities, including corn and soybeans, in 2015, focusing on demand, supply and prices. Lower prices levels should encourage consumption growth, say market researchers. According to the report, key variables to watch include: U.S. dollar strength, uncertain Chinese demand growth, slowing biofuel demand and oil price weakness....More
An analysis of some of the more common custom rates in the 2014 Iowa Custom Rate Survey showed that the listed “average” custom rates for some farming practices may be a bit low, given the higher ownership costs of larger farm machinery, higher fuel expenses that have existed in 2014, and the difficult field conditions that existed in some areas....More
Soil tilth saves you money. After six years of continuous no-till, a field can produce more yield per unit of nitrogen than a conventionally tilled field. Think of it as better fuel mileage, smarter nitrogen use and better nutrient recycling....More