NOAA: Past 12 months were warmest Nation has experienced

Warmer and drier than average temperatures continued for much of the nation in April.

These temperatures, when combined with the first quarter and previous 11 months, calculate to the warmest year-to-date and 12-month periods on record for the contiguous United States.

The Complete NOAA Story

Illinois Had the Warmest Spring on Record

Spring in Illinois—March, April, and May—was the warmest on record dating back to 1895, according to the Illinois State Water Survey.

This year’s spring temperatures averaged 59.1 degrees. The second warmest was 1977 with an average of 57.3 degrees.

It was also the warmest January–May on record in Illinois with an average temperature of 48.8 degrees.

The top five warmest January–May periods, three have occurred in the past 15 years.

The statewide average temperature for May in Illinois was 68.1 degrees, which is 5.7 degrees above normal and the 5th warmest May on record, based on preliminary data.

Precipitation was below normal for the month of May and the entire spring season in Illinois. The statewide average precipitation for May was 2.4 inches. That is 1.8 inches below normal and 57 percent of normal.

The statewide average precipitation for spring in Illinois was 7.71 inches, which is 3.65 inches below normal and the 18th driest spring on record. The driest spring on record was 1934 with 5.16 inches of precipitation.

The Illinois State Water Survey

U.W. Madison seeking glyphosate survey participants

The University of Wisconsin-Madison Field Crops Weed Science Extension program is asking for participants for a research study relating to glyphosate-resistant weeds in Wisconsin corn and soybean fields.

The study will investigate weed species diversity in Wisconsin corn and soybean fields due to reduced atrazine use and subsequent increased use of glyphosate. The purpose of this research is to identify areas in the state where there may be a shift to weeds that are more difficult to control with glyphosate, or where weeds that are resistant to glyphosate may first appear.

Participation in the study involves completing a survey that asks questions about target weed species and limited management history information relating to crop production fields.

There are two levels of participation in this survey. The first level simply includes filling out an on-line survey with information from ONLY ONE CROP PRODUCTION FIELD. The survey can be found at If you are willing to provide information about more than one field, please repeat the survey.

The second level of participation, if you would like to participate further, is to allow weed science research staff from the UW-Madison to survey your crop fields for weed escapes in late-summer months.

The survey will take 5 to 10 minutes and participation is completely voluntary. By completing and electronically submitting this survey, you consent for participating in the first stage of the survey. If you would like to participate in the second stage, and allow UW weed science researchers to scout your production fields, please complete the last question of the survey by providing your contact information.

You may ask questions about the research at any time by contacting Vince M. Davis at (608) 262-1392 or Ross Recker at

EPA aerial surveillance questioned

The Region 7 EPA Administrator says conversations with lawmakers about aerial surveillance are good to have. Karl Brooks tells Brownfield that Senator Charles Grassley is among those who Brooks and other EPA officials have met with to discuss the flights.

Senator Grassley wants to know why the EPA is doing the surveillance flights over Iowa livestock operations. Brooks cites the high number of what he calls impaired water bodies in Iowa.

“Many of those same streams are along areas where you find quite a lot of [confined animal feeding operations], and so the choice was made to use our resources at EPA to go where the waters need the most help and where we see the most CAFOs there that have the potential to pollute water,” said Brooks, during an interview with Brownfield Ag News.

According to Senator Grassley, EPA officials told him that the aerial surveillance is a better use of government resources in checking discharge compliance.

“So maybe that’s unfair to Iowa farmers, not unfair to Iowa farmers who are violating the law, but it would be unfair to Iowa farmers that are maybe being harassed that shouldn’t be harassed, but being harassed because they get lumped in with a bad apple,” said Senator Grassley in a recent conference call with reporters.

In addition to efficiency, Brooks says the aerial observations are a way to educate concentrated animal feeding operators about remaining in compliance.

“Ninety percent of the time, what we see from the air shows us that a guy is in compliance with his permit,” said Brooks, “or if it’s a facility that doesn’t need a permit, it’s not discharging. That means we don’t need to spend any time on the ground talking to that guy. It saves him time and money and it saves the taxpayers money too.”

The Region 7 office will hold an informational meeting in Lexington, Nebraska, at 6:30 p.m., Monday to talk about the overflights, among other things.

AUDIO: Karl Brooks (9 min. MP3)

AUDIO: Senator Grassley (11 min. MP3)

A quiet day in the dairy markets

A rather quiet end to the week in the dairy markets, cash cheese barrels and blocks unchanged on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange on Friday, in fact there was no activity. Cash butter gained three-quarter-cent on two sales and one unfilled bid. For the week cash cheese barrels up 4 cents, blocks gained 2.5 cents and butter increased .75 cents.

The hot weather is really starting to make an impact on dairy production across the middle of the country. Production is lower as are components, with the July 4th holiday right in the middle of the week, handlers are not quite sure how the flow of milk will go this week. Some plants are planning to shut down for the week, some for just the holiday, and some for the latter part of the week. Meanwhile, Dairy Market News says Class II demand is pulling heavy volumes for ice cream and mix production.

The Ag Marketing Service says the weighted average advertised price for organic milk half-gallons is $3.27 compared to $2.13 for conventional half-gallons. That $1.14 spread is a dime below the average we have seen this year. Organic gallons are averaging $4.98.

Strong session for soybeans

Soybeans were sharply higher on speculative and commercial buying, along with spillover from the outside markets. Weather was the big factor with more hot, dry conditions around key growing areas. USDA did raise acreage and quarterly stocks were larger than expected but those weren’t big factors as most of the trade is focused on weather. Monday’s trade will depend on what happens over the weekend. Soybean meal and oil followed soybeans sharply higher. Dow Jones Newswires reports the cash soybean basis was steady following the USDA numbers.

Corn was higher on fund and commercial buying, in addition to outside market direction. Corn was also watching the weather closely with not really all that much change expected in the near term forecasts but gains in new crop were limited by rainfall in parts of the Eastern Cornbelt. Acreage did top the average pre-report guess but the quarterly stocks estimate was smaller than expected. Dow Jones Newswires adds the cash corn basis was steady Friday. Ethanol futures were mixed with July through November 2011 higher.

The wheat complex was higher on short covering, along with spillover from the dollar, corn, and soybeans. The wheat acreage guess was pretty close to the estimate and the quarterly stocks number looks bearish. Still, world weather’s a big factor with a couple new, lower projections out of the E.U.; Coceral has the soft wheat crop at 125.51 million tons and Copa-Cogeca pegs soft wheat at 125.65 million tons with USDA’s next estimate out July 11. European wheat was lower on harvest pressure and the higher Euro. USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation bought 10,400 tons of spring wheat for distribution in Bangladesh, while in sell-buy-sell activity, Japan purchased 49,460 tons of food wheat, 40,371 tons of food barley, and 5,000 tons of malting barley.

Cash cattle trade very slow to develop

The cash cattle trade was very slow to develop on Friday with both sides digging in their heels. Regional buyers bought a few pens in the North at $188.00, steady/ firm with last week’s weighted average. Most packers bid 116.00 live in Nebraska. USDA Mandatory reported cattle on a live basis in Kansas sold at 116.00, steady with a week ago. The weekly cattle kill was estimated at 653,000 head, 4,000 more than last week, but 17,000 less than last year.

Boxed beef cutout values were lower on light demand and moderate offerings. Choice boxed was down 1.46 at 194.66 and select was 2.24 lower at 178.09

Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle contracts settled 05 to 177 points higher on Friday after showing weakness across most of the nearby contracts early in the session. The surge in the market at midday came even with the weaker boxed beef values, but expectations that demand would be good over the Fourth of July supported the market.  The sharp rally in the outside markets helped to draw traders into the cattle futures market at the the end of the month and end of the second quarter. June expired at noon at 116.55 up .05, the new front month August was up 1.12 at 120.45, and October ended at 124.40 up 1.10.

[Read more...]

Congress passes transportation bill

Congress passed the transportation bill on Friday. With rare bipartisan support on back-to-back votes, the House approved the $120 billion package 373-52 and the Senate concurred 74-19. The measure funds transportation projects through 2014, extends the National Flood Insurance Program for five years and locks in the 3.4% interest rates on government-backed student loans.

The transportation bill includes a clarification of regulations critical to the agriculture industry’s ability to distribute farm supplies in a timely manner, especially during the busy planting and harvest seasons. The Ag Retailers Association says it will resolve questions regarding the applicability of the agricultural hours of service (HOS) exemption to all farm supplies, including movements from distribution point to retailers as well as across state lines where both states have adopted the exemption. The HOS exemption had come into question in 2009 when the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued an interpretation of the regulations that resulted in transportation restrictions for certain farm supplies.

“The passage of this important bill by Congress will help ensure that agricultural retailers are able to supply farmers with the products they need, in the most efficient manner, during busy times of the year,” said Daren Coppock, ARA president and chief executive officer. “We appreciate the leadership demonstrated by the conferees on this critical issue for the agriculture industry.”

The bill now goes to President Obama for his signature. The measure will prevent those student loan rates from doubling on July 1st.

Closing Grain and Livestock Futures: June 29, 2012

Jul. corn closed at $6.72 and 1/2, up 20 and 1/2 cents
Jul. soybeans closed at $15.12 and 3/4, up 46 and 3/4 cents
Jul. soybean meal closed at $436.00, up $9.40
Jul. soybean oil closed at 52.21, up 129 points
Jul. wheat closed at $7.39, up 13 cents
Aug. live cattle closed at $120.45, up $1.12
Jul. lean hogs closed at $96.62, down 10 cents
Aug. crude oil closed at $84.96, up $7.27
Oct. cotton closed at 71.57, up 206 points
Jul. Class III milk closed at $16.87, down 7 cents
Jul. gold closed at $1,603.50, up $53.80
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 12,880.09, up 277.83 points

Hog inventory up 1% on year

USDA’s quarterly hogs and pigs numbers were close to pre-report expectations.

The total U.S. herd on June 1, 2012 was 65.829 million head, up 1% on both the quarter and the year, and slightly below the average pre-report guess for a 1.3% to 2.2% increase. The breeding herd was 5.862 million head and the market hog inventory was 59.967 million head, with both of those also up 1% on the quarter and the year. Before the report, the average guess for kept for breeding was 0.7% and market hogs were expected to see a 1.4% rise.

By class, the under 50 pound category was 19.558 million head, up slightly from June 1, 2011, with the 50 to 119 pound herd at 17.531 million head, 1% above a year ago, the 120 to 179 pounders increased 1% to 12.348 million head, and the 180 pound and over inventory was slightly larger than last year at 10.530 million head.

The March through May pig crop was 29.441 million head, 1% above a year ago, with farrowings at 2.919 million head, up slightly, and average pigs per litter were a March/May record at 10.09, compared to 10.03 for March through May 2011.

June through August and September through November intentions are each projected to be down 1% from 2011.

The number of contract hogs on operations over 5,000 head was 47%, compared to 45% this time last year.