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Crop Prices Drop

Corn and soybean prices have been quite erratic this Spring, due to tight supplies of soybeans, increasing supplies of corn, stable demand, and changing weather conditions across the Country. Nearby corn futures prices on the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) dropped nearly $1.00 per bushel since early April, while nearby soybean futures prices dropped by over $1.00 per bushel since late April. Local cash prices and new crop prices at are grain elevators and grain processing plants have not dropped as significantly, due to strong basis local levels, which have been maintained by very tight grain supplies and continued strong short-term demand. [ read more ... ]


Crops Progress Rapidly

Overall, crop conditions across most of the Southern two-thirds of Minnesota have improved considerably in the past couple of weeks. In late May, many areas of Southwest, South Central, and Central Minnesota were impacted by excessive rainfall, severe storms, and some crop emergence problems; however, much of the crop has now recovered. There were some locations that had severe storms again in the past week with strong winds, hail, and heavy rainfalls, with portions of Southeastern Minnesota being impacted most significantly. [ read more ... ]


June --- Dairy Month

For decades in Minnesota, June has been known as “Dairy Month”. Following are some interesting facts and figures about the Dairy industry : [ read more ... ]

Farmers Face Replant Decisions

Growing conditions for corn and soybeans are quite variable across Minnesota. In South Central Minnesota most of the corn and soybeans were planted by mid-May and have emerged, with some of the early planted corn being 12-15 inches tall by the beginning of June, but most corn being somewhat smaller. Overall the warmer and wetter conditions that existed in May across the State have been quite favorable for crop development; however, many locations have been impacted by excessive heavy rainfall events and severe storms during the month. [ read more ... ]


Hugoson Wins Siehl Prize

On May 24, Gene Hugoson of Granada, MN was honored as one of three 2012 Laureates for the University of Minnesota Siehl Prize for Excellence in Agriculture, which is one of the most prestigious awards at the University. [ read more ... ]

Excess Rainfall In Some Areas

Some areas of Southern and Central Minnesota received excessive rainfall on May 23and 24, plus additional rainfall on May 26 and 27,  which caused some crop damage due to standing water in fields. Most of the region received 2-3 inches of rain, with several locations receiving 3-5 inches or more of rainfall in a 24-hour period. In addition to the heavy rainfall amounts, some areas also were impacted by hail damage to newly emerged crops, and by strong winds, which caused some property damage. Fortunately most of the property damage was fairly isolated in nature. [ read more ... ]


2012 Farm Program Sign-up

Eligible farm operators and land owners have until June 1, 2012, to enroll in the 2012 DCP farm program at County Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices, including the ACRE program for 2012. As of early May, only about half of the producers were enrolled in the 2012 DCP farm program in many counties. Producers must enroll in the 2012 DCP farm program in order to receive direct payments for 2012 on eligible crop base acres, as well as other program benefits. [ read more ... ]


Planting Nearly Complete

Across Southern Minnesota and Northern Iowa, nearly all the intended corn is planted, and over 90 percent of the soybeans were planted as of May 18. Most of the corn and many of the soybeans that are planted in this region have emerged, and stands look fairly good. However, strong winds on May 17 and 18 in Southern and Western Minnesota caused considerable blowing dirt, which did cause some crop damage to newly emerged corn and soybeans. In addition, the intense thunderstorms during the first week of May caused considerable soil crusting in some areas, which has lead to emergence problems for corn and soybeans that were just planted prior to the heavy rainfall events. In the most severe locations, portions of fields were replanted due to the soil crusting, as well as due to drown-out damage in low areas of fields resulting from excess rainfall. [ read more ... ]

May 10 USDA Reports

The USDA Crop Production and World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WADSE) Reports released on May 10 were regarded as “bearish” for the corn market and “bullish” for the soybean market in the coming months. Corn stocks are expected to double by the end of the 2012-13 crop marketing year, while the ending soybean stocks are expected to be at the tightest level on record by the end of the 2012-13 marketing year, which runs from September 1, 2012 to August 31, 2013. Following are some highlights of the latest USDA latest USDA WADSE and Crop Reports : [ read more ... ]


Too Much Rain

It’s hard to believe that in less than a ten day time period we can go from concerns over drought to excess rainfall, which is causing flooded fields in some areas. That is exactly what has happened dung the last few days of April and the first week of May in some parts of Southern Minnesota. Much of the rain came as part of intense thunderstorms with heavy downpours that caused some flash flooding, and featured strong winds and large hail in some areas. The wind and hail did cause some isolated building and property damage in rural areas, but had very minimal impact on the newly planted crops. [ read more ... ]


2012 ACRE Program

Producers that previously enrolled in the ACRE for the 2009, 2010 or 2011 crop year will be enrolled in ACRE for 2012, provided that they sign-up for the 2012 Farm Program at County FSA offices, and meet all other program criteria. Other producers can enroll in ACRE for 2012 when they sign-up for the 2012 Farm Program, or at anytime until June 1, 2012. ACRE enrollment does require a signature from landlords on cash rental farm units, and results in a 20 percent reduction in direct payments for 2012. Producers are encouraged to analyze situations and scenarios that are more favorable for ACRE enrollment for 2012, as compared to continuing with the traditional DCP farm program. [ read more ... ]


Corn Planting Progresses Rapidly

The corn crop in Southern Minnesota and Northern Iowa is being planted in very rapid fashion when soil conditions are fit for planting. During a 4-day period from April 24-27, nearly ideal planting weather resulted in a large amount of corn being planted in most portions of South Central Minnesota. Crop experts have estimated that as much as 15 percent of the corn raised in a given area can be planted in one day, when field and soil conditions are at optimal levels, such as they were during that 4-day period. As of April 27, it was estimated that 50-65 percent of the 2012 corn crop has been planted at many locations in Southern Minnesota. Some producers have finished their corn planting, and are now waiting a bit to begin planting soybeans, hoping for a bit warmer soil temperatures. Soybeans can be planted up until about May 20-25 in order to maintain optimum yield potential. In general, soybean yields are much less sensitive to planting dates than corn. [read more ... ]


Custom Farming Agreements

An alternative to leasing farmland is a “Custom Farming Agreement”. In a typical Custom Farming Agreement, the custom operator agrees to perform all the machine operations on the owner’s land in exchange for a set fee or rate. The landowner pays for all seed, fertilizer, chemicals, crop insurance, and other input costs; receives the all grain produced and all eligible farm program payments on the land; and is responsible to store and market the grain. [read more ... ]


2012 Earth Day

For the past four decades, an annual event called “EARTH DAY” has been held in late April across the United States, which has been a time for all U.S. citizens to reflect on our Country’s environmental resources, and what we can do individually and as communities to help enhance our environment for the next generation. In recent years, it has become fashionable to point the “finger of blame” at agriculture and farmers for many environmental issues. However, in reality farmers have been some of the best “environmental stewards” in the U.S. in the past couple of decades. This has been accomplished with a relatively small investment of Federal tax dollars. [ read more ... ]


Early Corn Planting

Like the start of a big race, or the beginning of a Championship game, farmers in Southern Minnesota and Iowa are likely to begin the initiation of full-scale field work on April 11, or shortly after. April 11 is the earliest corn planting date allowed by the USDA Risk management Agency (RMA), in order to maintain full crop insurance replant coverage on the 2012 crop. Corn planted prior to April 11 is not eligible for replant coverage, if the crop is damaged by frost, heavy rains, or hail damage; however, the crop is still insured with full crop insurance coverage, as long as the producer follows all other crop insurance requirements. The earliest planting date for soybeans in Southern Minnesota and Iowa is April 21. [ read more ... ]

Future Of The CRP Program

The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is likely to be a key focal point during the development of the next Farm Bill in the coming months. In an era when the Congress and the Administration are looking to reduce the Federal budget deficit, there will be pressure to reduce the current annual expenditure of just under $2.0 billion on the CRP program, including about $1.7 billion in annual rental payments. Most experts expect the size of the CRP program to be reduced from the current maximum level of 32 million acres to around a maximum of 25 million acres in the next Farm Bill. [ read more ...


Early Start To Spring

During March, several all-time record temperatures have been set in Minnesota and Iowa. At the University of Minnesota Research Center at Waseca, the 2012 high temperature hit 79 degrees four straight days from March 17-20, and set seven record March high temperatures by March 21. [ read more ... ]

March 30 USDA Reports

On March 30, 2011, USDA released its “Prospective Plantings Report” and its “Quarterly Grain Stocks Report”.  These were very highly anticipated USDA Reports, due to the uncertainty in grain prices in recent months, as well as with the tight USDA estimated grain stocks that existed on March 1. Typically, these late March USDA Reports are very critical to farm operators and grain traders because these reports tend to have a high impact on grain market prices in the Spring and early Summer. This is the time of the year when many farm operators try to sell remaining grain inventories from the previous growing season, as well as look for opportunities to forward price a portion of the anticipated crop for the current year. In a majority of years, corn and soybean prices usually reach their peak price in the Spring months, from April until June. [ read more... ]

CRP Sign-Up

USDA has announced a General Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) sign-up from March 12 through April 6, 2012, at County Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices throughout the Country. There are approximately 6.5 million acres of CRP land with expiring contracts on September 30, 2012. General CRP sign-ups were also held in 2011, when 3.75 million acres were accepted into CRP, and in 2010, when about 4.2 million acres were accepted into CRP. In 2011, the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) celebrated its 25th anniversary, and over two and a half decades of conservation success. CRP was originally established in the 1985 Farm Bill. Today, there are over 400,000 landowners participating in CRP, most of which are farmers and ranchers, and there are currently just under 29.7 million acres under some-type of CRP contracts. [read more...]

National Ag Weeek

National Ag Week is being celebrated March 4-10 all across the United States, and Thursday, March 8, has been designated as “National Ag Day”. It is a good time to reflect on all the traditions and advancements that help make the U.S. agriculture industry second to none ! [ read more ... ]

MF Global Bankruptcy

Farming is a business that involves a certain amount of risk, whether it be weather risk, disease risk, financial risk, marketing risk, etc., and most farm operators have developed strategies to manage those risks. One of the strategies that is used to manage grain and livestock marketing risk is to “lock-in” a profitable price for the grain or livestock that is being produced, using forward contracts or price “hedging” positions. One risk that farmers have never worried about is that the so-called “segregated funds” that they have in a grain or livestock hedging account would somehow be at risk. This all changed on October 31, 2011, when a company called MF Global Financial filed for bankruptcy. [ read more ... ]

Career Opportunities In Agriculture

Recently, an article posted on the Yahoo Education page on created quite a stir in agriculture circles. The article listed the “college majors that are useless”, based on a 2012 study. Interestingly, the article listed “Agriculture” as the number #1 “useless degree” in the U.S.. According to the study, there will be 5 percent less jobs available in “Agriculture” in the 10-year period from 2008-2018, as compared to the previous 10-year period. The article described “Agriculture” coursework as crops, plant diseases, animal husbandry, and basic veterinary science, which appears to be a quite limited perspective of agriculture-related career opportunities. [ read more ... ]

Does It Feel Like The 1970's?

During the past few years, many comparisons have been made with the agricultural economy that existed in the late 1970’s, with record grain prices, high farm profits, and rapid increases in land values. Here are some things to consider : [ read more... ]

Management Strategies For 2012

As we look ahead to 2012, crop revenues are likely to remain strong, though possibly not as high as 2011 revenue levels; however, rising crop input costs and land rental rates could reduce profit potential, and add more risk to 2012 crop production. The profit margins in the livestock sector look improved for 2012, but could also get quite tight if feed costs increase during the next twelve months. The short-term operating credit needs for agriculture are likely to increase in the coming year, given the increases in farm input expenses and land rental rates for 2012. Credit availability for agriculture should remain good for farm businesses that are on a solid financial base; however, credit could get tighter for farm businesses that are in a “higher-risk” financial position. [ read more ... ]

Looking Ahead To 2012

2012 is setting up to be another interesting year in the agriculture industry, following a fairly profitable year in 2011 for most crop and livestock producers in the upper Midwest., with the exception of some erratic weather problems in some areas during the year. Following are some items that are likely to be on the forefront in the agriculture industry for 2012 : [ read more ... ]