Monday, February 29, 2016

Benchmarking Soybean Production Systems

Benchmarking Soybean Production Systems
Emerson Nafziger, Extension Agronomist - University of Illinois
source: North Central Soybean Research Program

Soybean farmers in ten states across the Midwest are being asked twenty questions. Todd Gleason has more on a Soybean Checkoff funded project to benchmark the yield impact of different production practices.

The primary goal of the Soybean Checkoff…
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The primary goal of the Soybean Checkoff funded project is to “benchmark” current yield and management practices in producer fields. This will happen across the north-central region of the United States. Think the Midwest. The “benchmark data” will help identify key management factors in each state and across the region. The hope is producers will use the information to increase soybean yield on their farms, and do that with an input-use efficiency that would improve profits. Essentially University of Illinois Extension Agronomist Emerson Nafziger says the project is a survey that aggregates data so that each farm becomes a plot.

Nafziger :20 …made a difference in terms of yield.

Quote Summary - It does not replace our replicated research. However, every field becomes a plot in a system like this. It says for these thousands of fields here’s what we did and here’s what we harvested, and here’s what made a difference in terms of yield.

The collaborative project is directed through the North Central Research Program. Farmers in NE, WI, OH, MI, IA, IN, MN, KS, IL, and ND will be asked to self-report field yield and associated crop management practice data to (1) evaluate current on-farm management relative to recommended optimal practices, and (2) discern the yield impact of individual factors, and their relative importance. The project involves farmers filling out a form with about twenty questions on it says Emerson Nafziger.

Nafziger :35 …to soybean fields in the future.

Quote Summary - It does. And we are being very careful to make sure there are never any names attached to any of this. It’s using survey data to produce predictions about how we manage in a particular soil in the future. This is how applied research works. We want to predict what will happen when we narrow the rows or increase the seeding rate or add fungicide or do something like this to soybean fields in the future.

Data collected from the surveys will be aggregated and analyzed for patterns and implications. Project coordinators in each state, Nafziger for instance in Illinois, will manage the data collection and privacy issues. The survey will cover several growing seasons. The data is now being gathered on the 2014 and 2015 crops years.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

A New Way to Look at Soybean Management

A New Way to Look at Soybean Management
Emerson Nafziger, Extension Agronomist - University of Illinois

Up next Todd Gleason talks with University of Illinois Extension Agronomist Emerson Nafziger (nahf-zig-er). Nafziger says ILLINOIS is cooperating with other Land Grants across the Midwest to gather field level data to find best management practices for the soybean.

I’ve had this idea…
…really doesn’t have much power when you are done.

University of Illinois Extension Agronomist Emerson Nafziger talking with Todd Gleason about a new initiative to gather data from soybean fields across the state. The effort is part of a larger multi-state North Central Soybean Research Program funded by state checkoff dollars to look at the effects of weather, soils, and management on soybean yields.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Consumption Pace of Corn & Soybeans

Consumption Pace of Corn & Soybeans
FarmDocDaily Article

The price for corn has traded in a 25 cent range over the last two months. The price of soybeans has mostly traded within a 40 cent range. Todd Gleason explores this sideways pattern and how the pace of consumption has contributed the stable, if low, price structure.

The sideways price pattern reflects on-going…
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The sideways price pattern reflects on-going expectations of adequate supplies of both crops writes Darrel Good on the FarmDocDaily website. He says there is plenty to meet consumption needs during the current marketing year, but that the pace of consumption is continually monitored by the market to determine if those expectations should be altered.

For corn, the pace of consumption can be monitored on a weekly basis for exports and ethanol production. The pace of feed and residual use is revealed on a quarterly basis with the release of the USDA Grain Stocks reports. For soybeans, the pace of consumption can be monitored on a weekly basis for exports and on a monthly basis for the domestic crush.

The USDA now projects 2015–16 marketing year corn exports at 1.65 billion bushels. With about 28 weeks left in the marketing year exports need to run at roughly 38 million a week to make that goal. Of that 38 average, about 20 million bushels will need to be new sales, or those not already on the books. By way of example, new sales for the five weeks ended February 11 averaged 35.9 million bushels or corn per week. So, the recent pace of new sales is encouraging. And then, says Good at it relates to corn usage, there is ethanol.

Corn used for production of ethanol and co-products during the current year is projected at 5.225 billion bushels, 16 million more than consumed last year. In addition, sorghum use for ethanol production is expected to be up about 75 million bushels year-over-year. Total feedstock use, then, is expected to be up about 1.7 percent. Ethanol production during the first 5.5 months of the marketing year was about 2.4 percent larger than during the same period last year, but that margin has narrowed in recent weeks. Corn used for ethanol production during the last half of the year will be influenced by the magnitude of domestic gasoline consumption, ethanol exports, and sorghum use. Corn use for the year will likely be reasonably close to the USDA projection.

Corn consumption, then, is on target at this point with the next big piece of the puzzle to be delivered at the end of March. The quarterly Grain Stocks report will outline how much corn has been fed to livestock.

Soybean consumption is a bit easier to follow. USDA projects soybean exports of 1.69 billion bushels of which about 1.4 billion have probably shipped. It leaves around 300 bushels to ship or about 11 million bushels a week and only 2.2 million of those need to be new sales each week. While export sales can be cancelled or carried to the following year, it appears that soybean exports will reach or slightly exceed the current USDA projection thinks Darrel Good. That’s the good news side of soybean consumption. The not so friendly news comes on the domestic front. The pace of soybean consumption in the U.S. has slowed, based on numbers from the National Oilseed Processors Association. It may fall a bit short.

However, taken together, Darrel Good says the current pace of corn and soybean exports and domestic processing do not alter expectations for ample year ending stocks of both crops, supporting the continuation of a sideways price pattern.

Friday, February 19, 2016

A Weather Market for Corn in 2016

A Weather Market for Corn in 2016
Darrel Good, Agricultural Economist - University of Illinois

Nearby corn futures remain above the early January lows, but continue to struggle under the weight of a number of negative market fundamental factors. Todd Gleason has more on the prospects for higher corn prices later this year.

Those negative factors include both supply…
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Those negative factors include both supply and demand considerations.

On the supply side, domestic corn production has been large for three consecutive years and the USDA now projects 2015–16 marketing year ending stocks of U.S. corn at a 10 year high of 1.837 billion bushels. While those stocks represent a modest 13.6 percent of projected marketing year consumption, they are considered ample in light of prospects for another large South American harvest and projected foreign year-ending stocks of coarse grains that are nearly 40 percent larger than stocks of three years ago writes University of Illinois Agricultural Economist Darrel Good on the FarmDocDaily website.

Good says demand for U.S. corn has been weakened by sluggish domestic and global economic growth among other factors.

Good :11 …and weak livestock prices.

Quote Summary - Demand has been further weakened by the relatively strong dollar. U.S. corn exports during the current marketing year are now projected at only 1.65 billion bushels, 200 million bushels less than projected last fall. In addition, growth in domestic corn consumption is limited by plateauing ethanol production, slow growth in livestock and poultry production, and weak livestock prices.

With corn demand prospects not expected to markedly improve in the near term, price strength will likely have to come from the supply side says Good. The primary focus will be on the prospective size of the 2016 U.S. corn crop. The first indication of the potential size of that crop will come with the USDA’s Prospective Plantings report to be released March 31. While the final estimate of planted acreage of corn has often deviated from the estimate of planting intentions, he says that report will provide some very useful information. However, ultimately says Good, the size of the 2016 corn crop will be largely determined by summer weather and the resulting U.S. average corn yield.

Good :51 …early season risk premium was unnecessary.

Quote Summary - Historically, the corn market was inclined to build some production risk into the price structure as the planting and growing season began. The “risk premium” would then either increase or disappear as the growing season progressed through the reproductive and grain filling stages. The tendency for the corn market to reflect a risk premium was associated with the wide swings in yields experienced from the mid–1970s through the mid–1990s. Those swings can be illustrated using the linear trend yield of corn from 1960 through 2015. For the 22 years from 1974 through 1995, the U.S. average corn yield was above the calculated trend yield in 9 years, about equal to the trend yield in 3 years and below trend yield in 10 years. In the 10 years of below trend yields, the actual yield was seven bushels or more below trend in seven years and the average shortfall for those seven years was 17 bushels. The unusually high incidence of below trend yields justified an early season risk premium in the corn price structure. The pattern of corn yields over the past 20 years differed dramatically from the pattern of the previous 22 years. For the period from 1996 through 2015, the U.S. average yield was above trend in eight years, about equal to trend in eight years, and below trend in only four years. For the six years from 1996 through 2001, the U.S. average yield was equal to or above trend each year, except for a small shortfall in 1997. That extended period of good corn yields seemed to convince the corn market that an early season risk premium was unnecessary.

In retrospect, however, the long period of favorable yields reflected a period of benign weather conditions rather than "bullet proof’ genetics thinks Darrel Good, and he says that point was solidly made during the drought of 2012 and he says there are two developments that may point to an elevated risk for the U.S. average corn yield to fall below trend value this season.

Good :30 …incidence of corn yields below trend value.

Quote Summary - First, and most widely cited, is the weakening of the current El Nino event. Historically, El Nino events that existed in January and ended by July, as is expected this year, have been associated with a higher than average incidence of corn yields below trend value. Second, as reported by the private agricultural weather forecasting service T-storm Weather, is the historical record for extremely wet conditions in the Midwest during November and December to be followed by a higher than average incidence of corn yields below trend value.

In fact, total November/December precipitation in the Midwest in 2015 was record high.

So, the price of new crop corn futures are currently above the price of old crop futures, but are at relatively low levels and likely reflect little premium for production risk in 2016. Some additional risk premium may be justified says Darrel Good. And… depending on the magnitude of acreage, a 2016 corn yield eight to ten bushels below trend could alter the balance sheet from one of surplus to one requiring rationing.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Illinois State Budget Crisis & the Impact on Local Government.

Local Government Information and Education Network Webinar


Thursday, February 18 from Noon - 1 PM

Professor J. Fred Giertz with the Institute of Government & Public Affairs will share his analysis of the current state budget crisis looking both at current and future impacts on local government budgets.  

J. Fred Giertz is a professor emeritus in the Department of Economics (where he served as head from 2007-2010) and a member of the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  He has been at the University of Illinois since 1980.  He received his Ph. D. in economics from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois in 1970.  

Professor Giertz's major research interests are in the areas of public finance, public choice, and regional economic development.  He specializes in state and local taxation and expenditure analysis and in regional economic development issues. He has consulted with a variety of different governments, firms, and other organizations on tax and economic development issues. 

Professor Giertz follows general macroeconomic issues, especially as they impact Illinois. He also writes frequently on the Illinois budget and general economic issues in publications such as State Tax Notes and the Central Illinois Business Magazine and compiles the U of I Flash Index, a monthly indicator of the Illinois economy.  Several recent articles have appeared in the National Tax Journal.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

About NCSA's Blue Waters Super Computer

About NCSA’s Blue Waters Super Computer
Scott Wilkin, NCSA Director Economic & Societal Impact - Univeristy of Illinois
Blue Waters Website
view Todd Gleason’s photos

Todd Gleason tours the National Center for Supercomputing Applications Blue Waters facility on the University of Illinois campus.

The Meaning of Flowers

The Meaning of Flowers
Source Article

Up next… have you been wondering what flowers to give to your sweetheart, and just exactly what your choice is supposed to say to them? Todd Gleason has and he found an answer online from University of Illinois Extension’s Rhonda Ferree.

Annie's Project Interview with Ruth Hambleton

Annie’s Project Interview with Ruth Hambleton
Ruth Hambleton, President Annie’s Project - Ashley, Illinois

Up next Todd Gleason from University of Illinois Extension explores Annie’s Project. It is a series of classes targeted to women wanting to learn more about record keeping and the farm.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Bull Buyers Guide

Bull Buyers Guide
Travis Meteer, Extension Beef Cattle Educator - University of Illinois
blog post source


It’s that time of year when farmers and ranchers buy bulls for their herds. They’re likely sifting through stacks of bull sale catalogs. Todd Gleason has some advice on evaluating a sire’s potential.

The first item on University of Illinois Extension Beef Cattle… 3:11 radio
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The first item on University of Illinois Extension Beef Cattle Educator Travis Meteer’s list for buying a bull doesn’t have anything to do with the bull. He says the farmer, the rancher, first needs to know their market. They must understand what traits are value added-traits for the market they’re selling into, local freezer beef, retained ownership, alliances, branded beef programs, video sales, or fitting the production environment to a consumer demanded practice are all ways farmers are adding value to their calves. Meteer says bull selection should be based on traits that are profitable in the market, with the caveat that the traits don’t sacrifice function for form.

Meteer :43 …and have some kind of longevity to them.

Quote Summary - That’s right. Cattle still have to go out and breed and eat and live. The traits that are associated with those cattle that have to function every day, to travel long distances, perform natural mating, maintain weight on adequate feed resources, and grass and forage. Those things are first and foremost even though we may be selecting for cattle that do fit a certain market, or have a certain we are trying emphasize in the end product. We still must have cattle that can reproduce, make more cattle, and have some kind of longevity to them.

Meteer says a BSE (Breeding Soundness Exam) should be required for any bull purchased. And that it is important to quarantine the new animal for a minimum of two weeks. This should allow time for potential pathagens to break without exposing the rest of the herd. Lots of times cattle coming from a sale have experienced elevated stress. He says it is important to keep them on good feed, in a clean pen, and allow the quarantine period to run its course. Meteer also thinks it is important to use EPD’s, Expected Progeny Differences, to evaluate bulls.

Meteer :30 …move a herd forward in those profitable trait areas.

Quote Summary - That’s a collection of data that back’s up the bull. It states how the bull should produce in terms of numbers and data. A lot of times producers can get caught up in this data and forget the first two or three things we’ve talked about, but it is still important to make genetic progress. You must look at the data to find the numbers supporting the bull and how he can move a herd forward in those profitable trait areas.

To that end, Meteer says a producer should identify and understand Expected Progeny Differences (EPDs) and phenotypes that signify the value added traits they’re seeking. For instance, Calving ease (CE) is an important and valuable trait. Sometimes producers stress CE and birth weight (BW). BW is an indicator trait for CE, but Meteer says you don’t get paid for light birth weight calves. You do get paid by not having to invest time and labor in pulling calves.

Those wanting to learn more from Travis Meteer’s Bull Buyers Guide can find it online. Search Google for “Bull Buyers Guide” comma University of Illinois Extension".