You are paying $4 for 1,000 kernels of seed corn, and with great precision, bury them, kernel by kernel, bag after bag after bag. The late Paul Harvey would define that as optimism. But if you are burying that seed in dry soil, should you plant at a higher or lower population than usual? And what about maturity; should it be earlier or later than normal? Your seed corn bill will have at least five digits, and six digits for many larger farms, and by spending that much money, your decision has to reflect more science than optimism....More
Except for the Pacific Northwest and state of Louisiana, much of the area west of the Mississippi River is still experiencing severe to exceptional drought, causing real concern that last year's drought will extend into the 2013 growing season. Snow can certainly help return moisture to the soils in some of these areas, but a lot needs to fall to make an impact; 10 in. of snow only equals about an inch of rain....More
It came as no surprise to Tim Mundorf last fall that many post-harvest corn stalk test samples contained high levels of nitrogen (N). The field representative for Midwest Laboratories in Omaha, Neb., says dry weather and poor yields are reminders of how much N can go unused by corn plants in a drought. The lesson to be learned is that you should test under all conditions as part of a long-term, successful N management plan....More
The 2012 crop year and the major drought that affected much of the United States is now behind us; however, many areas of the western Corn Belt, including much of southern and western Minnesota continue to face drought concerns for the coming 2013 crop year. Anytime we have a major disaster, such as the 2012 drought, it is always good to review what happened or didn’t happen, and to use those findings to strategize for the future. Following are some key observations relative to the 2012 drought that can help farm operators and the agriculture industry plan for the coming years....More
A week of rain and unseasonable warmth in January replenished the ground with enough water to eliminate dry conditions across Indiana except for the far northern part of the state. The report by the State Climate Office, based at Purdue University, is good news for crop farmers, who rely on rain and snow over the winter to "recharge" soils with water needed for spring plantings....More
On Jan. 11, USDA issued a wealth of information in its reports on the final estimate of the 2012 crops, the grain stocks we have on hand, how it is being used and what will be left when the 2013 crop is ready for harvest. But developing a marketing plan for that, in the face of uncertain weather will be a challenge. What are those weather facts that will be so critical?...More
If you didn’t fertilize last fall, soil sampling can be one of the best fertilizer management tools this spring. “If you don’t soil sample every year and you didn’t sample last fall, this is the year to do it, says Gary Hergert, University of Nebraska soil and nutrient management specialist....More
Drought conditions have changed very little across the Plains and Midwest this winter and have increased concerns as to what this may mean for the upcoming summer growing season. In an effort to answer these concerns, meteorologists at MDA Weather Services analyzed the top 10 precipitation and temperature analog years for the heat and dryness of the 2012 summer....More
The drought that swept across wide areas of the United States in the past year was historically unusual in its speed, its intensity and its size, say climatologists at the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. And, they say, those dry conditions are expected to last at least through winter. Forecasts show little hope of quick improvement, deepening the negative effects on agriculture, water supplies, food prices and wildlife....More
Farmers can take steps to reduce the impact of drought, should we face another shortage of rainfall in 2013, says Rob Myers, a University of Missouri (MU) plant scientist. Strategies to mitigate drought include diversifying crops and varieties, he says....More
Soybean basis bids at St. Louis last week were reported up, with corn basis up on support from a slower-than-expected drop in water levels on the Mississippi River that have allowed grain shipments to U.S. Gulf export terminals to continue. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also said last week it is "cautiously optimistic" that there will be no significant disruptions to navigation on the Mississippi River this winter due to low water levels....More
The 2012 growing season has ended for most of the nation’s farmers, but the drought that dogged many of them appears here to stay. According to the Dec. 11, U.S. Drought Monitor, nearly 62% of the continental United States remains in some stage of drought. Forty-three percent of that area is considered to be in severe, extreme or exceptional drought....More
Careful analysis of the historical record indicates that recent precipitation levels and current soil moisture conditions provide little guidance in forming expectations for precipitation levels next summer. Historically, odds of favorable or unfavorable growing conditions have been independent of precipitation levels in the last half of the previous year. Beyond this particular analysis, we would expect to find general independence of year-to-year weather conditions.
As we reach the end of the year, it is a good time to reflect on what happened agriculturally in the region and across the United States in 2012. This will be a two-part article, with a review of 2012 crop production and weather conditions this week, and a review of livestock production, input costs and grain prices next week.
A very dry Indiana November and abnormally warm start to December have sparked some nervous chatter in the agriculture community on the heels of the worst drought in decades, but the Indiana State Climate Office says it isn't time for farmers to panic. A cold November brought only 28% of normal rainfall to the state, but a northward shift of the jet stream and storm track are bringing warm, wet weather back to Indiana....More
The drought of 2012 in the Midwest was a continuation of a weather anomaly that began in 2010. The historical indicator of El Niño and La Niña is the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI). The index is based on the 90-day standardized deviation of atmospheric pressure between Tahiti and Darwin, Australia. The standardized difference reached 0.8 on July 22, 2010, signifying the beginning of a La Niña event (Figure 1). By Oct. 23, 2010, the event was clearly the second strongest event in the 100+ years of record keeping. The young but potent La Niña resulted in an abrupt change in weather on a planetary basis that included record flooding in Montana, North Dakota and adjacent Canada, and enormous amounts of water to drain into the Missouri river during 2011.
A return to more normal U.S. corn yields in 2013 could send new-crop prices spiraling downward, but persistent drought in some of the nation's top corn-producing states could have the opposite effect, says Purdue Extension Agricultural Economist Chris Hurt.
The USDA predicts the midpoint of U.S. farm prices on 2012 corn will be $7.60/bu. If yields are more normal in 2013, Hurt says prices could fall by $2.10 down to $5.50/bu. – the largest ever year-to-year drop....More
In the wake of a series of regional drought conferences with farmers, ranchers, business owners and other stakeholders, USDA is entering into a memorandum of understanding with the Department of Commerce, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), to improve sharing of data and expertise, monitoring networks and drought forecasting efforts. The MOU is a direct outcome of the regional conferences....More
If corn breeders wanted to put their drought-tolerant hybrids to the acid test, 2012 was the year to do it. The record-breaking drought, coupled with extreme heat, presented a worst-case scenario for new drought-tolerant, water-optimized products from DuPont Pioneer, Monsanto and Syngenta. All three have more drought-tolerant hybrids available for 2013....More
Many farmers are making long range plans to manage crop production risk in 2013 in the wake of some of the latest weather forecasts for less than favorable crop growing conditions. With lower crop insurance premiums for much of the Corn Belt and lower soil moisture anticipated, your neighborly crop insurance agent may be doing land office business in early March....More
Mississippi River barge operators and shipping groups asked President Obama to declare a state of emergency on the drought-lowered river and direct the Army Corps of Engineers to keep it open to commercial traffic to avert an "economic catastrophe." Water levels on the Mississippi River along the busy stretch from St. Louis to Cairo, Ill., are expected to recede to record lows by mid-December, effectively halting barge traffic there....More
The prolonged extreme to exceptional drought across the Plains has had major impacts along the Missouri River. Falling water levels in the river and its reservoirs have forced the Army Corps of Engineers to reduce its flow, as levels have fallen below federal regulations....More
Farmers are sometimes surprised to find that the full amount of a year's loss from farming isn't the same loss amount that they can claim as a deduction on their tax return for the year. There are several sets of tax rules that must be met in order for a farm loss to be deductible. Farmers without crop insurance to cover losses should be aware of these rules that may limit the amount of deductible losses that can be claimed....More
The 2012 drought raised two issues related to crop insurance and rental arrangements. First, it appears that a significant number of share-rent landlords did not take crop insurance, resulting in much lower returns for these share-rent landlords. Second, variable cash rental arrangements typically have not included crop insurance proceeds in calculating rental payments, leading landlords to receive less of gross revenue than anticipated....More
After the worst drought in the U.S. since the Dust Bowl, it's time to look back and find some positives. Kent Thiesse, vice president, MinnStar Bank, Lake Crystal, Minn., and former Extension educator, acknowles that while there were many hard-hit areas, Thiesse also points out that yields may have been surprising in a good way thanks to biotechnology improvements, improved tillage management and soil conservation....More