Outlook for ag improving

The outlook for grain farmers has changed significantly in recent months.  Purdue ag economist Chris Hurt says new crop prices for both corn and soybeans have moved closer to the cost of production. “I think it’s an overall improvement from where we were, but we were at pretty low levels,” he says.  “I think if we compare that to 2013 – we’re certainly looking for tighter margins, reduced incomes, which will likely pull the total US farm income down somewhat.”

Hurt tells Brownfield there is not a lot farmers can do at this point to reduce their costs to help their bottom line, but there are some changes that can be made.  “Maybe some of the applications we have looked at in the past, where producers were trying to protect the bushels that are out there from any kind of pests will be evaluated a little closer this spring and summer,” he says.

With the high prices in recent years, he says producers were more inclined to spend those extra dollars on inputs to increase yield potential.

But, with lower prices and tighter margins, Hurt anticipates farmers will evaluate those expenditures more closely.

AUDIO: Chris Hurt, Ag Outlook (3:30mp3)

Fieldwork beginning to pick up

Spring fieldwork is beginning to pick up south of Columbus, Ohio.

“Here in western Ross County, southern Fayette and eastern Highland county we’ve got some work going on, we’ve got a few guys that have planted a little corn in the sandy bottoms,” said Greg Garman with Garman Feed and Supply at South Salem, Ohio. “Not real anxious, but I think pretty much everybody’s ready to go, waiting on Mother Nature to give us that window to warm up just a bit.”

Greg says soil conditions are good, with adequate moisture and soil temperatures on Sunday, April 20, were still in the low 50s.

Audio: Greg Garman, Garman Feed and Supply (3:05 mp3)

Managing winter annuals

For farmers wanting to make spring burndown herbicide applications, now is the time to start scouting fields.

Purdue Extension weed scientist Travis Legleiter says the warm weather this month gave those winter annuals a chance to green-up.  “Even though we’re not quite to planting yet, the winter annuals are definitely growing,” he says. “Certainly those fields that did not receive a fall burndown, that’s when the winter annuals will more than likely grow the most in those no-till acres.”

When it comes to spring burndown, Legleiter says you have to consider both the weather AND weed size.  “You want to get the weeds the smaller the better,” he says.  “But, we need to make sure the weeds are actively growing.  The rule of thumb we use for that is if we’ve had several nights above 45 degrees, plus a forecast of several nights above those temperatures – that can assure us those weeds are actively growing.”

Which, he says, means the herbicide will work.

Little or no corn planted in Ohio

Other than some nitrogen being applied and oats being planted not much fieldwork was being done in Ohio last week.

The Ohio field office of the National Ag Statistics Service (NASS) says while there are a few reports of corn being planted, the weekly crop and weather report for the week ending Sunday, April 20, indicated no corn planted, that compares to the 5-year average of 10 percent.

Oats planting is 19 percent complete, well behind the 47 percent 5-year average.

13 percent of the Ohio wheat crop is jointing and 83 percent of the crop is in fair-to-good condition.

Topsoil moisture in the state remains at 100 percent adequate to surplus.

Indiana corn planting off to sluggish start

Warmer temperatures and drier weather helped jumpstart field work last week.  According to the National Ag Statistics Service just 1 percent of the state’s corn crop has been planted, well behind last year’s 14 percent.  The majority of the planting has occurred in the southern counties.

Twenty-three percent of the winter wheat crop is jointed, 10 percent behind last year.  Sixty percent of the crop is rated good to excellent.

Last week’s weather allowed for application of anhydrous fertilizer and burndown herbicides and tillage has begun in areas with drier soils.

Both Topsoil and Subsoil moisture are called 98 percent adequate to surplus.


Rainfall still needed in Nebraska

A limited amount of corn has been planted in Nebraska and there’s been some much needed rainfall recently, but the western half of the state remains locked in drought.

According to the state Agricultural Statistics Service, 4% of the crop is planted as of Sunday, compared to the five year average of 6%.

54% of topsoil and 61% of subsoil are short to very short of moisture.

Livestock are in most good to excellent condition, and 86% of both stock water and hay and forage supplies are called adequate.

59% of the winter wheat crop is called good to excellent.

Rain delays planting in parts of Missouri

The weather and planting progress have changed this week.  Missouri was blanketed last week by cooler weather along with frost and freeze warnings, limiting fieldwork to fertilizer applications.  But toward the Bootheel, Stoddard County farmer Charlie Kruse says some of his neighbors have planted corn, and he’s catching up.

“We started this [Monday] morning then got a shower and got rained out for a while and we started back planting again just a little while ago,” said Kruse, from the seat of the tractor while doing field work.  “The first day.  It feels pretty good to get out in the field after this winter.”

Last week, the northwestern and southern parts of the state got most of the rain.  Statewide, Missouri’s topsoil moisture is 90 percent short to adequate, but Kruse would just as soon make more progress on getting his corn in.

“Well, you know farmers are never happy, that’s what my dad always told me, and right now we wouldn’t mind seeing the rain hold off for a few days,” said Kruse, “but I’m sure by the end of the week we’ll be maybe hoping we get a shower.”

Looking at the entire state, Missouri’s corn planting is 26 percent done.  Just 9 percent of the rice is in.  Winter wheat is 84 percent fair to good.  It’s 6 percent excellent.

AUDIO: Charlie Kruse (3 min. MP3)

Illinois corn planting progress quickens


Illinois farmers have been busy applying anhydrous as fields continue to dry out and temperatures warm up. Corn planting is just 5 percent complete as of Sunday. That’s well behind the 5 year average of 22 percent. Scott County farmer Jeff Schone is in his west central Illinois fields and tells Brownfield that the harsh winter was good for something.

“I’ve heard it said that if you have a cold winter where it freezes pretty deep and everything and it seems like once it does thaw out in the spring of the year it seems like the ground is kind of mellow and it seems like it does work a little better and it’s not the first year I’ve seen that happen,” said Schone, from his sprayer preparing soybean ground with pre-plant burndown herbicide. “There must be something to that.”

Oat planting in Illinois is about half done and 3 percent of the sorghum is in.

Topsoil moisture is 89 percent adequate to surplus. And although cold, wet ground has kept many Illinois growers out of the field until now, Schone is pleased with his progress.

“I know a few years back we were done by the 10th of April and of course last year it was the end of May before we got corn planted, maybe the first part of June, so most years if they could tell me what time frame would you like to plant in, I would say from the 20th of April to the first week or two in May would be ideal,” he said.

Illinois winter wheat 77 percent fair to good. It’s 14 percent excellent.

AUDIO: Jeff Schone (4 min. MP3)

It was a return to winter in Wisconsin

Freezing temperatures and up to 20 inches of snow in the middle of the week kept Wisconsin farmers out of the fields last week. One county reporter said it looked more like mid-March than mid-April.

The National Ag Statistics Service Wisconsin Field Office reports that as of Sunday, 3 percent of the spring tillage is done and 2 percent of the state’s oats crop was planted compared to the five-year average of 35 percent for this date. Some potatoes were planted in Portage County.

Reporters in Dane and Waukesha Counties say the alfalfa and winter wheat is greening-up but it is too early to tell if there is any winter damage. A number of counties still reporting frost in the ground.

Read the latest NASS report here

Wet week around Iowa

Corn planting has yet to really get underway in Iowa.

Temperatures around the state last week were generally below normal and the statewide average precipitation was almost double the normal weekly total. In fact, last week was the wettest week around Iowa since late June 2013.

65% of topsoil and 44% of subsoil have adequate moisture levels. 18% of pasture and rangelands are in good condition, with another 48% called fair.