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  May 12, 2008 A Penton Media Property Volume 3, Number 13  
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Corn Belt May Turn Dry Next Week

Little Cushion Left In Corn Supply

Groups Lobby For Farm-Bill Override Votes

Plan B For Nitrogen: Sidedress

Assess Early Planted Corn Stands For Cold Injury

2007 Corn Yields In Perspective

Shape Up Your Financial Game Plan

Expert Gives 10 Strategies To Reduce Diesel Fuel Costs

Facts Show Ethanol Support Equals Good Public Policy

Suspending Renewable Fuels Standard Benefits No One But Big Oil

May 31: Last Chance To Play Free Grain-Marketing Game

Corn & Soybean Digest Publisher Launches Agribizjobs.com

Not Just A Farmer Anymore

A Note From The Corn E-Digest Editor: Corn-Ethanol's Bad Rap



Key Kernel
Corn Belt May Turn Dry Next Week
Corn-Belt farmers will likely experience cold rains again this week before a warmer, drier weather pattern develops that may allow planting progress to improve in the region, says Drew Lerner, World Weather, Inc., meteorologist. However, this dry period may be short-lived for farmers in the western and northern Corn Belt, he adds.

“The current, wet-weather bias will probably last for about another six or seven days,” predicts Lerner. “Then there will be a brief period of drier and warmer weather before the wet-weather bias returns to the northern Plains and Upper Midwest. So, farmers in these areas will likely have very little time to plant before it turns wet again -- it could all come down to the timing of the rains.”

The silver lining from this year’s chilly, soggy spring is that a debilitating drought is much less likely to occur this summer, says Lerner. “It’s hard for a serious drought to develop when you start out with such a wet weather pattern,” he points out. “All that moisture in the soil eventually evaporates into the atmosphere and turns into rain.”

Still, a wet spring is no guarantee that the Corn Belt will completely avoid summer dryness. “The 1983 crop year is just one example of a wet spring that turned into a summer drought,” says Lerner. “However, this year’s current, cool-weather bias provides less support for persistent hot weather in the heart of the Midwest. I’m totally awestruck by the amount of cold air that continues to be in the North American atmosphere this late into spring.”

A weakening La Niña weather pattern is another sign that the Corn Belt is less likely to experience an extensive yield-reducing drought this summer, he adds. “If La Niña goes away, it will likely reduce, but not eliminate, the potential for summer dryness,” says Lerner. “Any dryness that does develop this year is more likely to affect the western Corn Belt than the eastern Corn Belt.”

On the other hand, this spring’s cold, wet weather may have delayed Corn-Belt planting enough that even normal summer dryness may be a threat to achieving average or better yields, says Lerner. Late-planted crops are more vulnerable to yield loss from drought, because their reproduction phase occurs during a normally drier time period, he explains.

“So, we’re not nearly out of the woods yet -- it might still get interesting,” adds Lerner. “Yes, we may have a little trouble with yields this year, but we don’t have a weather pattern that is supportive of persistent, hot, dry weather.”

To learn more about World Weather Inc., click here: www.worldweather.cc/. To see the latest precipitation and temperature predictions from the National Weather Service, click here: www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/.

By John Pocock

Cob And Kernel
Little Cushion Left In Corn Supply
Time is running out on corn. Although some industry people are showing signs of anxiety, no one seems to be panicking yet. There are two dangers:
  1. not enough corn acres will get planted, and
  2. corn will be planted too late to produce trend-line yields.
In its March 31st Planting Intentions Report, based on a farmer survey, the USDA estimated that 86 million acres of corn would be planted this spring. Traders and industry experts ran the numbers on projected corn demand and agree that farmers needed to plant at least 89 million acres of corn. Corn prices moved up in an attempt to bid more acres into corn. But the weather has not been cooperating.

An analysis conducted during the week of April 28 showed that with projected usage, 89 million acres of corn producing at a trend-line yield of about 155 bu./acre would give a barely adequate corn supply. Price would likely remain in the $6 range. If 90 million acres are planted and harvested at this trend-line yield, corn stocks would build enough to bring corn prices down into the $5 range. For both models, below trend-line yields resulted in higher corn prices. If corn acres planted fall below 89 million acres, even with a trend-line yield, corn prices would move up to a level that would ration the available supply. No attempt was made to analyze the effect of unfavorable weather during the growing season.

The conclusions here in early May are 89-90 million acres of corn need to be planted, and soon, to optimize the crop’s yield potential. Then, we will need good weather conditions throughout the growing season to produce trend-line yields. With the 2007/08 carryover supply tightening, there is no cushion to fall back on.

To continue reading this article on corn planting delays and their potential impact on prices, click here: www.agmanager.info/marketing.

By Mike Woolverton, Kansas State University
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Groups Lobby For Farm-Bill Override Votes
Farm bill negotiators and major farm organizations have begun an intense effort to muster the 290 House votes needed to override a promised veto of the 2008 Food, Conservation and Energy Act conference report.

Shortly after House and Senate Agriculture, Ways and Means and Finance Committee leaders outlined the major features of the compromise legislation at a news conference last Thursday afternoon, they and farm groups began lobbying members of Congress to support it.

Any lingering doubts President Bush would veto the long-awaited 2008 Farm Bill were swept away when Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer issued a statement saying the president intended to do just that.

To continue reading this article about the 2008 Farm Bill, click here: deltafarmpress.com/topstory/farm-legislation-0509/. To read Schafer’s statement in opposition to the bill, click here: www.usda.gov/wps.

To read comments from the National Corn Growers Association in support of the bill, click here: www.ncga.com/news. To read comments from the American Farm Bureau in support of the bill, click here: www.fb.org.

By Forrest Laws, Farm Press
Plan B For Nitrogen: Sidedress
The cold, wet April has many Minnesota farmers justifiably worried. They don’t want to do anything that might reduce yield. So, getting corn planted as soon as the soil is fit is a major concern. I suspect that there are farmers who must yet apply nitrogen (N) and plant. These same individuals are probably wondering what to do first. There are a couple of options that might be used to get around the time jam. Both involve a switch from preplant to sidedress N. That switch is really not all that bad.

Several research projects have focused on the time of N application over the years. Perhaps, the most comprehensive project was conducted at the Lamberton, MN, Experiment Station from the mid-1990’s through 2006. Looking at all the numbers collected where preplant was compared to sidedress N, both had an equal effect on yield. In other words, there is no yield penalty for sidedress N.

Studies conducted in other states have also shown that there is no yield penalty if sidedress N is applied early. The sidedress N probably works best for rotations where corn follows a crop other than corn. Sidedress N in combination with a banded fertilizer would be a good plan. For corn following corn, it would be a good idea to combine sidedress N with N in a weed and feed program. If use of a pre-emergence herbicide is planned, that herbicide can be applied with fluid N.

To continue reading this article on sidedressing N in corn, click here: minnesotafarmguide.com/blog/?p=127.

By George Rehm, University of Minnesota
Assess Early Planted Corn Stands For Cold Injury
Some early planted Indiana corn may have experienced injury from cold soils and might need to be replanted, says Bob Nielsen, Purdue University Extension corn specialist.

“During germination, corn seedlings risk injury from soil temperatures in the low 40s or high 30s,” says Nielsen. “So, growers may want to look at early planted fields to check seedling germination, emergence and chilling injury.”

Farmers should try to assess stand establishment within the first few weeks after planting, and then make evaluations on replants, notes Nielsen. However, “if you still have corn and soybean acres to plant, it’s more important to get those done before you start to replant corn,” he adds.

Iowa farmers have yet to report any cold injury to corn, says Roger Elmore, Iowa State University (ISU) Extension corn specialist. Still, “given the conditions for April-planted corn, and highly fluctuating soil temperatures, you would expect some cold injury and emergence problems to occur,” adds Elmore. “Even a 5-10° soil temperature change can cause a lot of seedling injury issues, and there are several cold-injury problems that could occur. For example, with cold injury, you may see corkscrewing and leaves unfurling under the soil surface.”

Replanting may make sense for farmers who have already completed corn and soybean planting, confirms Elmore. However, stand counts should still be made now to assess the need for replanting later, he adds.

“If fields look questionable, actually do stand counts,” he advises. “Don’t just drive by the field to assess poorly emerging stands.”

To read more information from ISU on early season cold stress to corn, click here: www.agronext.iastate.edu/corn/production. For help with corn replanting decisions in Iowa, click on this PDF Web link to ISU’s Corn Planting Guide: www.extension.iastate.edu/Publications.

To read more information from Purdue about cold temperature injury to early planted and early emerging corn, click here: www.agry.purdue.edu/ext/corn/news. To estimate the potential returns from replanting corn in Indiana and Ohio, click on this PDF link to Purdue’s Agronomy Guide worksheet: www.agry.purdue.edu/ext/pubs.

By John Pocock
2007 Corn Yields In Perspective
Overall, 2007 was a good-yielding year for corn in northern and central Illinois. Farms with corn yields averaging over 200 bu./acre were common in 2007. Yields were more variable in southern Illinois.

While 2007 was a good production year on average, there were areas of the Corn Belt that experienced below-trend yields. Each year areas of low yields tend to exist. If a state is to have a record-setting high yield, few areas in a state can experience low yields. Similarly, few areas in the Corn Belt can be below average if the national average yields are to set a record high yield.

To continue reading this article about Corn Belt corn yields in 2007 and to see yield data from several key Corn-Belt states, click here: www.farmdoc.uiuc.edu/manage.

By: Gary Schnitkey, University of Illinois Extension
Shape Up Your Financial Game Plan
Now is the time to start getting your financial game plan in shape if you are an agricultural producer.

First, regulators will require agri-lenders to provide more financial documentation, information and data. This is a result of the sub-prime housing crisis, and a proactive measure to prevent the agriculture industry from following the same path.

Next, expect your lender to demand larger down payments and equity when financing capital assets.

To continue reading this article about how to prepare your farm for a more stringent agri-lending atmosphere, click here: cornandsoybeandigest.com/ag-issues/news/0506-financial-game-plan/.

By Dave Kohl, Corn & Soybean Digest trends editor
Expert Gives 10 Strategies To Reduce Diesel Fuel Costs
Diesel prices are up roughly 50% from this time last year and farmers need to look at different methods to maximize fuel efficiency, says Alan Miller, Purdue University Extension farm business management specialist.

“At Purdue, we’ve estimated it will cost farmers $10 more this year to produce an acre of corn just due to fuel for machinery operation,” he says. “To plant an acre of soybeans, it will cost farmers $4 more per acre than last year and for wheat $6 more per acre.”

Miller recommends 10 strategies to maximize efficiency and reduce fuels costs:
  1. Switch to a no-till or reduced tillage operation for corn where it makes sense.
  2. Combine more operations into each pass over the field.
  3. Think like a marketer and keep in mind the annual cycle of fuel prices due to seasonality.
  4. Shop around to get the best fuel price and try and buy in bulk semi-tankers plus.
  5. Check out technologies such as auto-steer to reduce overlap and get out of the fields more quickly.
  6. Organize to reduce costs and minimize the amount of time spent getting to and from different fields.
  7. Operate at the optimal speed.
  8. Match the tractor’s horsepower with the equipment being pulled behind it.
  9. Inspect and maintain the right combination of tire slippage, tire air pressure and axle weight to get optimum traction rates.
  10. Follow appropriate maintenance schedules for all field equipment.
“It’s often the little things you do that add up more than changing any one big thing,” adds Miller.

Editor’s note, to read a related article from the Corn & Soybean Digest on this topic, click here: cornandsoybeandigest.com/corn.

Source: Purdue University Extension
Facts Show Ethanol Support Equals Good Public Policy
The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) provides the following statement in response to calls from some U.S. Senators that the EPA waive the Renewable Fuels Standard ethanol requirement.

Brian Jennings, Executive Vice President of ACE:
“The U.S. ethanol industry welcomes an examination of the facts regarding higher food prices, as opposed to the vast amounts of misinformation that have led these Senators to question their own carefully planned energy legislation. While we may not be able to top ethanol opponents’ well-funded public relations campaign, we are absolutely certain that an examination of the facts will confirm ethanol’s role in reducing gas prices and its minimal impact on food prices.

“It is a fact that ethanol has little or no impact on the price of food, and it is a fact that ethanol is bringing down the price of gasoline. Abandoning ethanol would not only provide zero relief in the grocery aisle, it would immediately drive up the price of gasoline for American motorists who are already suffering from oil at $120/barrel.”

To continue reading this article about why abandoning ethanol would be poor public policy, click here: cornandsoybeandigest.com/biofuels/news/0506-ethanol-food-gas-prices/. To read a related article on why recent state biofuel waiver requests are the wrong path towards fixing food and fuel increases, click here: www.ethanol.org/news/index.php?newsid=33.

Source: American Coalition for Ethanol
Suspending Renewable Fuels Standard Benefits No One But Big Oil
Discussions in Washington, DC related to waiving the nation’s Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) are ill-advised and would have serious unintended consequences that would result in higher fuel and food prices, according to the Illinois Corn Growers Association (ICGA).

“This is bad policy and tantamount to waiving the white flag in the battle to make our nation less dependent on unstable and unfriendly governments. The primary influence on higher food prices right now is $120/barrel oil. The oil industry made $123 billion in profits last year. That’s enough to buy the world corn crop or 70% of the world wheat crop. What do you think is driving food prices? Ethanol is the only competitor in the marketplace, and the RFS is giving us the foothold needed to expand this domestic industry,” said Art Bunting, ICGA president.

Expanded ethanol production is curtailing gas prices by 29-40¢/gal, according to the Center for Agricultural Development at Iowa State University, and it is doing so while having a marginal impact on the cost of food.

To continue reading this article on the reasons for continuing the nation’s current RFS policies, click here: www.ilcorn.org/news/html/5-5-08.html. To read a related article from the National Corn Growers Association, click here: www.ncga.com/news/notd/2008/May/050608.asp.

Source: Illinois Corn Growers Association
May 31: Last Chance To Play Free Grain-Marketing Game
The sign-up deadline for MarketMaxx, the free grain-marketing game from Corn & Soybean Digest, is May 31. Don’t miss your chance to compete against other virtual grain marketers and an opportunity to win valuable prizes by signing up now at: www.marketmaxx.net.

As a MarketMaxx player, you'll have a simulated 100,000 bu. of corn and 50,000 bu. of soybeans to trade using Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) futures, options or cash-forward contracts. The eligible farmer with the highest average selling price of his or her corn and soybeans when the contest ends Oct. 31, 2008, will take home a grand prize.

Grand prize for the corn contest is a Gleaner R5 or A5 series combine (up to 100 combine separator hours). (A complete list of MarketMaxx rules, regulations and potential prizes can be viewed at www.marketmaxx.net.)

Source: MarketMaxx
Corn & Soybean Digest Publisher Launches Agribizjobs.com
Penton Media, Inc., the publisher of Corn & Soybean Digest (CSD), has launched a new agri-business online career center -- Agribizjobs.com (www.agribizjobs.com).

The Agribizjobs.com Web site offers industry employers a growing, qualified audience of ag professionals and industry job-seekers with agribusiness-specific, categorized job listings. It's a joint effort by CSD and its sister publications, BEEF, Farm Industry News, Farm Press, Hay and Forage Grower and National Hog Farmer.

Employers can view complete but anonymous resumes for free, and pay only to connect with a job-seeker. Job-seekers can anonymously post resumes and sign up to receive e-mail alerts when new positions are posted that match their search criteria.

For more information on Penton Media, Inc. and its businesses, visit www.penton.com.

Source: Penton Media, Inc.

Off The Cob
Not Just A Farmer Anymore
You sell yourself -- and your farm -- to the public every day, whether you realize it or not. And, the perception you create may affect how you farm in the future.

“Whether you like it or not, public perception is reality. Everybody does some form of public relations, they just don't label it as such,” says Bloomington, IL, farmer Jason Lay. “When you go to the coffee shop, farm supply store or the bank and have a discussion, you leave an impression. You need to be concerned about what kind of an impression you leave.”

Your public image is more important than it used to be. “The days are gone where farmers were self-sufficient. In today's world, our role has changed. A lot more people have a vested interest in what we're doing -- people like landlords, vendors and employees,” says Lay, who farms 2,600 acres of family-owned and rented ground with his father Loren.

So Lay, like a growing number of farmers, has a public relations (PR) plan in place. “When I came back to the farm four years ago, I wrote down how I wanted to be perceived in the community, and how I would accomplish that,” says Lay. “I review the plan once a year and it's amazing how fast it's changed in four years.”

To continue reading this article on how to create your own farm PR plan, click here: cornandsoybeandigest.com/ag-issues/0401-farm-public-relations/.

By John Russnogle, Corn & Soybean Digest

The Ear-Tip Extra
A Note From The Corn E-Digest Editor: Corn-Ethanol's Bad Rap
With help from elected officials, environmentalists and investors, the ethanol industry has created a more prosperous environment for much of rural America and a cheaper, more environmentally friendly alternative to petroleum products.

However, the public (or at least the non-farm media) now perceives corn farmers as cashing in on current high prices. So, the tide has turned, and environmental groups, elected officials and investors are quickly abandoning their support for ethanol, and for you, America’s corn farmer.

This public perception against corn farmers may be the reason that the latest version of the farm bill includes a 6¢/gal. cut in the corn-ethanol blending-fuel tax credit, from 51¢ to 45¢.

If you have a comment about this sudden change in public perception over ethanol and the corresponding cut in support of corn-based ethanol, please write to me (John Pocock) at: jpocock@csdigest.com. Just let me know your name, where you farm, what your comment is and whether or not I have permission to use your comment in a future Corn E-Digest newsletter.

As always, you’re welcome to write to me if you have a comment on any topic related to corn production or if you have concerns or questions about this issue.

I look forward to hearing from you. Keep on planting, and thanks for your readership!


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