Winner Shares Top Tips For Success
After 12 years of trying, Mark Dempsey, Fowler, IL,
finally won first place in the National Corn Growers Association AA
non-irrigated corn yield contest, with a 348.3748-bu./acre yield.
The key to this year’s win was plentiful rainfall, says Dempsey, who
grows corn, soybeans and hay in the west-central portion of the state,
near Quincy. “I placed second nationally in 2004 with a 320-bu.
yield,” he points out. “Then in 2005, 2006 and 2007, we had three
drought years in a row. Basically, last year I had double the rainfall
that I’d had in 2005, 2006 and 2007, combined.”
In addition to receiving abundant rainfall, winning a yield contest
takes a lot of hard work, says Dempsey, who won the 2008 contest with a
Garst 8488IT corn hybrid. “I scout my contest plot about 30-40 times
during summer,” he says. “I’ve also been willing to change and to
try new things.”
Installing drainage tile on half the 63-acre farm that won the contest
plot in 2008 was especially helpful, he reports. “The difference
between the tiled and non-tiled ground was about 100 bu./acre last
year,” he says. “The tiled ground averaged more than 300 bu./acre
and the non-tiled ground averaged 208 bu./acre. So, I just finished
tiling the other half of that farm with a 3-in. tile on 40-ft. centers
Ample nutrient applications are also necessary to obtain high
yields, he points out. “I usually put on about 260 units of nitrogen
(N) on my contest plot,” says Dempsey. “Last year, I was only at 240
units, because it was too wet to put on a liquid N application after the
corn came up.”
Obviously, timing can also make a big difference, he adds. “I do 100%
spring N applications, mostly with pre-plant anhydrous,” says Dempsey.
“I think you lose too much N with a fall application. Even with spring
applications, I saw a little N deficiency on one hybrid this year due to
all the rain.”
Plant populations are another area where Dempsey refuses to cut back,
especially on his yield-winning contest plots, which are in continuous
corn. “I push my contest fields to about 44,000 plants/acre on 30-in.
rows,” he says. “My contest field is nine years into continuous
corn. You’ll take a yield reduction after your second year and maybe a
little after your third year. Then after that, the yields go back up.”
Deep tillage is another reason for his high yield. “On my darker,
prairie soils, I’ve gone to a mini-moldboard plow that runs 16-18 in.
deep,” says Dempsey. “This allows the roots to get down to the
moisture faster, especially in a dry year. The deep tillage also
promotes quicker, early growth.”
With the high plant populations and heavy crop residue from continuous
corn, Dempsey says he’s found that working the plant matter deeper
into the soil helps to keep yields up. Yet, even with the
mini-moldboard, he’s still able to leave 30-40% crop residue on the
soil surface for conservation compliance.
To read more about NCGA’s corn yield contest and its winners, click
By John Pocock
From 2008 Corn Nitrogen Loss
Corn nitrogen (N) loss in 2008 started with a wet
spring and late planting. The wet weather continued into early summer,
with more than 16 in. of rain from April to June over most of Missouri.
The wet weather was widespread over the Corn Belt states. In windshield
and aerial photo surveys over five states, I saw lots of N-deficient
corn. This was due to excess water causing N loss.
My estimate of yield loss due to N deficiency is 68 million bu. for
Missouri and 460 million bu. across the Midwest. Anhydrous ammonia was
probably the preplant N source least vulnerable to loss. Sidedress N
application out-yielded preplant N application by 44 bu. in our
experiment near Columbia, MO.
N-Serve, Agrotain, and ESN-coated urea were probably very profitable in
2008. Application of rescue N would have been very profitable in many
corn fields in Missouri. My impression is that only a small percentage
of stressed fields received in-season N fertilizer.
Obstacles to rescue N application include:
I think that every producer, retailer, and retail organization should
have a plan in place as to what equipment and fertilizer they will use
to make rescue N applications in years when they are needed. The most
practical options for rescue N are:
- difficulty in deciding how big the problem is
- equipment availability and setup
- fertilizer availability (if rescue applications are done on millions
To read more about corn N loss in 2008, click here: ppp.missouri.edu/newsletters/ipcm.
- UAN solution dribbled or injected between rows
- urea broadcast with an airplane or with a high-clearance spinner or
By Peter Scharf, University of Missouri
Extension Plant Scientist
Drainage Plus Subirrigation Boosts Corn
Rising commodity prices, persistent rainfall during
the 2008 planting season and greater availability and affordability of
specialized installation equipment, such as laser- and GPS-guided tile
plows, have many Missouri farmers and contractors taking a serious look
at drainage and subirrigation systems.
“Over the past seven years we've seen about a 20% increase in soybean
yield and about 15% in corn with drainage-only systems,” says
University of Missouri (MU) research agronomist Kelly Nelson.
On fields equipped for both drainage and subirrigation, soybean yield
averaged 30% higher, and corn 60% higher, than fields without any
subsurface water-management system, according to MU Greenley Research
Center data. Farmers who want in-depth training in the design and
installation of subsurface drainage systems to help boost yields can
attend a three-day workshop, Feb. 18-20, at the Ramada Conference Center
in St. Joseph, MO, where Nelson will be discussing his research.
Nelson's presentation will cover recent research on how water management
affects yields under different soybean and corn varieties and under
enhanced-efficiency fertilizers such as polymer-coated urea.
The workshop will take place at the Ramada Conference Center, 4016
Frederick Blvd., St. Joseph. Registration is $249 ($199 for MLICA
members) before Feb. 6. Registrations postmarked after Feb. 6 cost an
For more information, call MLICA executive director Deborah Dickens at
573-634-3001 or go to www.mlica.org/.
Source: University of Missouri
Fertilizer Prices Have Dropped Four Times
The financial meltdown, along with public perceptions
of economic problems, has led to concerns that a deep, world-wide
recession is occurring.
As a result, prices of many commodities have declined dramatically,
including wholesale fertilizers. Lower fertilizer prices then may lead
to an increase in corn profitability relative to soybean profitability.
To read more about fertilizer prices, click here: cornandsoybeandigest.com/inputs/fertilizer/fertilizer-prices-dropped-0120/.
Source: University of Illinois
2009 Could Still Be A Favorable Year For
Global efforts to increase stability and liquidity
within financial markets, in combination with recent production
cutbacks, are leading many to believe that 2009 could be a more
favorable year for commodities.
Andrew Karsh, co-lead portfolio manager for the Credit Suisse total
commodity return strategy, says, “Based on the expectation of ongoing
production decreases across core commodities in the energy and
industrial metals sectors, we believe that the current market may
present an attractive entry point for investors.” Karsh continues,
“2009 could prove to be a very promising year, as the confluence of
events across markets may produce a supply/demand imbalance which could
result in positive performance in many of the key commodities.”
Co-Lead Portfolio Manager Chris Burton, adds, “It will be interesting
to see if the recent liquidity injected into the global financial
markets results in higher inflation. Given the historical positive
correlation between unexpected inflation and commodities, this could be
another source of gains for commodities investors in 2009.”
Despite overall losses in December (the Dow Jones AIG Commodity Index
finished down 4.48%), several commodities posted healthy returns for the
month. Nickel was the month’s strongest performer, gaining 14.20%, as
improvements within the equity markets began generating optimism for
industrial consumption in 2009. Corn also experienced returns of 11.28%
due to dry growing weather in Brazil and Argentina.
To read more on the 2009 outlook for commodities, click on the following
PDF Web link: www.credit-suisse.com/upload/news-live/000000021680.pdf.
Source: Credit Suisse
Increase In 2009 Corn Acreage May Be
Corn acreage in 2009 needs to be maintained at least
at the level of 2008, says Darrel Good, a University of Illinois
Extension marketing specialist.
“A small increase may be warranted, depending on yield and consumption
expectations,” says Good. “There appears to be no need for increased
soybean acreage, and a small decline may be warranted, depending on
yield expectations. With winter wheat seedings down by 4.2 million
acres, there does not appear to be a looming battle for acreage of
spring-planted crops in 2009.”
Good's comments come as he reviews likely acreage decisions of U.S. corn
and soybean producers. “For a significant number of acres, the
planting decisions have not been finalized,” he notes. “Producers
continue to wait on additional information about the cost of
spring-applied fertilizer, crop revenue insurance prices, and the likely
prices of corn and soybeans during the 2009-10 marketing year.”
How many acres of corn and soybeans are needed in 2009?
To read more about the outlook for corn and soybean acreage in 2009,
click here: www.aces.uiuc.edu/news/stories/news4630.html.
Source: University of Illinois
StollerUSA Unleashing the Power of
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exploring the potential to boost corn farmer’s bottom line by
optimizing plant hormone balance. Products like Bio-Forge® X-Tra
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and maximize yield. To learn more go to StollerUSA.com
Take Part In Corn & Soybean Digest
Please cast your ballot in the latest Corn &
Soybean Digest (CSD) quick poll. The most recently posted
question is: What do you think of USDA's new “active-engagement
test” requiring farmers to make significant contributions of active
personal management in order to qualify for 2009 farm program payments?
Cast your vote on CSD's home page at: cornandsoybeandigest.com/.
(The poll question is just to the right of the “What’s New” top
section of the Web site.)
Market Signals for Corn Production
Is “bidding for acres” occurring in the corn and
Looking at March 2009 futures prices (corn $3.65 and soybeans $9.95 on
1-15-09) the soybean/corn price ratio is near 2.7/1. When compared with
the last two years, this appears to heavily favor soybeans. However,
nearby (March ‘09) corn futures are discounted when compared with new
crop (December ‘09) futures prices. This “carry in the market”
suggests weak nearby demand and a market that is willing to pay more for
corn next year.
In contrast, the soybean market is inverted with nearby futures prices
about thirty-five cents higher than new crop (November’09) futures
prices. This signals stronger nearby demand for soybeans with less
concern about next year’s crop supplies.
Comparing new crop corn futures price ($4.11) and soybean prices ($9.61)
on Jan. 15, 2009 the soybean/corn price ratio is about 2.3/1. For much
of the Corn Belt, this price ratio is probably a neutral signal, unless
corn production costs are especially high.
To read more about current corn and soybean market signals, click on the
following PDF Web link: www.fapri.missouri.edu.
By Melvin Brees, University of
Corn Provides Positive Economic
In the past few years, the expansion of corn
production nationwide, driven by higher yields, has seen a rise in the
commodity’s impact on local, state and national economies. Overall in
2008, the U.S. corn crop of 12.1 billion bushels is valued at
approximately $47.19 billion, according to data from the U.S. Department
While the average farm price for corn dropped from $4.20/bu. in 2007 to
$3.90 by year-end 2008, corn remains America’s top crop, says National
Corn Growers Association (NCGA) President Bob Dickey.
“Corn growers brought in the second-largest harvest ever in 2008 and
corn remains a commodity in demand,” Dickey, a grower in Laurel, NE,
says. “Our overall crop value continues to surpass soybeans and wheat,
and we’re bullish about expanding future uses for our product while
increasing our production.”
To read more about corn’s economic impact in 2008, click here www.ncga.com/corn-provides-positive-economic-impact-1-21-09.
Source: National Corn Growers
Need seeding-rate advice? Want to network with other
farmers? Wondering which precision tool is more accurate? Join Let’s
Talk Ag — a new, online forum dedicated to farmers and hosted in part
by Corn & Soybean Digest. You can post questions, answer
questions, network and get advice. Joining is simple and free, and only
takes a few minutes.
Go to www.letstalkag.com to get
started and join a growing network of farmers who
want to answer your questions and get answers from you. It's a great way
to learn new methods, get fresh advice and make new friends (just like
on Facebook and MySpace).
Source: Corn & Soybean Digest
Researchers Measure Compaction's Long-term
Impact On Crop Production
Farmers know that agricultural equipment can cause
compaction in no-till crop fields, but Ohio State University researchers
have found that, depending on soil type, compaction can be severe and
persist for years.
Based on 20 years of compaction studies at various locations in Ohio,
just one year of harvest traffic on clay soils can reduce corn yields by
as much as 40%, and the impacts from compaction can persist for as long
as eight years. The research, “Axle-Load Impacts on Hydraulic
Properties and Corn Yield in No-Till Clay and Silt Loam,” has been
published in the November/December issue of Agronomy Journal.
“This is one of the few long-term compaction studies in the nation,”
said Rattan Lal, Ohio State University soil scientist with the Ohio
Agricultural Research and Development Center. “We know that equipment
causes compaction, but we wanted to know how long that compaction lasts
and how severe it really is.
“What we've learned is that it's better to take steps to prevent
compaction rather than run into the difficulties associated with
compaction and struggle to try to eliminate it.”
For more, visit: www.agriculture.purdue.edu/aganswers/story.asp?storyID=5164.
Source: Ohio State University
Reached To Develop Dicamba-Based Weed Control
BASF and Monsanto Company announced this week a new
joint-licensing agreement to accelerate the development of the
next-generation of dicamba-based weed control chemistry products. Both
parties will participate in the development of innovative formulations
for dicamba for use with herbicide-resistant cropping systems. Further
details of the agreement were not disclosed.
Researchers are able to make herbicide-resistant crops using plant
biotechnology and advanced plant breeding to enable farmers to control
weeds more efficiently and save time, money and fuel. Crops that are
resistant to both Roundup agricultural herbicides and dicamba would
represent the next generation of herbicide-resistance technology.
Improved formulations of dicamba are being developed to complement this
new combination of herbicide-resistant crops.
To read more about the agreement, click here: blog.cornandsoybeandigest.com/briefingroom.
Source: Monsanto Company
New Corn & Soybean Field Guide
The 2009 edition of the “Corn & Soybean Field
Guide,” a pocket reference that covers corn and soybean production
issues, is now available for sale.
The guide, created and distributed by Purdue University's Crop
Diagnostic Training and Research Center, is a handy resource for
determining stages of plant development and identifying weeds, insects
and plant diseases, as well as plant injury and deficiency symptoms.
Center director Corey Gerber says pictures in the guide have been
especially helpful to its users.
“The photos help identify types of pests, plant deficiencies and
injuries, either related to herbicides or weather,” says Gerber.
“The guide is small enough that people can take it to the field and
use it as a source on the spot.”
The 2009 guide includes a few new items, including updated nitrogen
recommendations and photos of early stage lesions for plant diseases on
corn. Gerber says these photos would aid crop advisers, scouts and
farmers in diagnosing issues early, allowing ample time to manage
The guide is $6 and can be purchased online or by phone. To purchase
online, go to www.extension.purdue.edu/store
and search for product code ID-179. To order by phone, call 888-EXT-INFO
Source: Purdue University
Seed Treatment Nematicide Receives Registration
An Avicta brand seed treatment nematicide from
Syngenta Seed Care recently was approved by the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) for use on corn. Syngenta Seed Care will offer
the new Avicta brand seed treatment nematicide in combination with an
enhanced rate of Cruiser seed treatment insecticide and a robust seed
treatment fungicide package (Apron XL, Maxim XL and Dynasty) to provide
corn growers with early-season protection against nematodes, insects and
diseases. Avicta brand nematicide will be widely demonstrated in
cooperation with seed companies in the form of large plot, on-farm
plantings during the 2009 planting season, and will be launched
commercially in 2010.
“The new Avicta brand seed treatment is a breakthrough in early-season
pest protection and a leading advancement in the development of seed
treatment solutions for corn growers,” says Mark Jirak, crop manager,
Syngenta Seed Care. “The combination of an Avicta brand, Cruiser and
the Syngenta Seed Care corn fungicide package will be the only
seed-delivered technology that offers growers triple protection against
nematodes, insects and diseases.”
Corn nematode populations have escalated in recent years due to changes
in production practices. In the past, nematode damage was suppressed by
the widespread use of in-furrow organophosphate and carbamate
insecticides. Now, with the switch to pyrethroid insecticides and
transgenic rootworm-resistant corn, nematode pressure may become more
evident as these products lack the ability to suppress nematode
populations. The increased trend in no-till farming may have helped
provide an environment for nematodes to thrive because these pests are
sensitive to soil disturbance. Also, corn-on-corn cropping, which has
become more prevalent in the last few years, can also cause
corn-damaging nematode numbers to build.
To read more about the new nematicide seed treatment for corn, click
Source: Syngenta Crop Protection
Values, How High Can They Go?
After the crash in farmland values from record high
prices in the 1980s, farmland values continue to rise and are once again
reaching all-time record levels.
At the end of each year a survey is conducted for farm land sales in 14
southwestern Minnesota counties. The survey reports bare farm land sales
to non-related parties for the first six months each year. Data
collected from the counties of Chippewa, Cottonwood, Jackson, Lac qui
Parle, Lincoln, Lyon, Martin, Murray, Nobles, Pipestone, Redwood, Rock,
Watonwan and Yellow Medicine indicated prices increased from an average
of $2,262 in 2005 to $3,702 in 2008 – an increase of 64%. A large
portion of this increase (30 of 64%) happened in 2008. Farmland prices
increased, in these 14 counties, from an overall average of $2,849 per
acre in 2007 to an average of $3,702 in 2008.
To read more about farmland price increases, click here: cornandsoybeandigest.com/news/farmland-values-0120/.
By David Bau, University of Minnesota
2009 Ag Symposium: Don't Miss
Brock Associates is hosting the 2009 Agricultural
Economic Symposium on Feb. 23-25, just before Commodity Classic.
“This year’s Agricultural Economic Symposium will again be
immediately prior to the Commodity Classic, and this year we’re all
headed to Dallas, TX,” says Richard Brock of Brock Associates. “This
arrangement allows you to attend two great industry events in one
Sessions include Agriculture and The World in Transition, Farmland
Values, Farm Transition Planning, Managing in New Economic Times, The
Economics of Innovation, Weather–Long-Term Impact, The Impact on Grain
and Livestock Prices, Meeting Global Demands Through Innovation, Ethanol
–Will the Growth Continue and Grain Price Outlook–Where Are We
“The 2009 Agricultural Economic Symposium is jam-packed with dynamic,
high-profile speakers who are among the sharpest minds in the
industry,” says Brock. “We are once again fortunate to have Robb
Fraley from Monsanto on the program. Also on the program will be the
ever-popular Dr. David Kohl.”
Registration for the conference is $325, and includes all sessions,
handouts, breaks, meals and a reception on Monday evening. To register,
call 800-558-3431 or go to: www.brockreport.com/seminars.php.
Source: Brock Associates
Carbon Footprint Not As Big As Feared
Publications ranging from the journal Science
to Time magazine have blasted biofuels for significantly
contributing to greenhouse gas emissions, calling into question the
environmental benefits of making fuel from plant material. But a new
analysis by Michigan State University scientists says these dire
predictions are based on a set of assumptions that may not be correct.
“Greenhouse gas release from changes in land use – growing crops
that could be used for biofuels on previously unfarmed land – has been
identified as a negative contributor to the environmental profile of
biofuels,” says Bruce Dale, MSU University distinguished professor of
chemical engineering and materials science. “Other analyses have
estimated that it would take from 100 to 1,000 years before biofuels
could overcome this ‘carbon debt’ and start providing greenhouse gas
But as Dale and his co-authors point out in their research, published in
the January online edition of the journal Environmental Science &
Technology, earlier analyses didn't consider a number of variables
that might influence the greenhouse gas emissions associated with
“Our analysis shows that crop management is a key factor in estimating
greenhouse gas emissions associated with land use change associated with
biofuels,” says Dale. “Sustainable management practices, such as
no-till farming and planting cover crops, can reduce the time it takes
for biofuels to overcome the carbon debt to three years for grassland
conversion and 14 years for temperate zone forest conversion.”
To read more about biofuels and research on their carbon footprint,
click here: news.msu.edu/story/5836/#.
Source: Michigan State University
U of M Hosts Conservation Tillage Conference
University of Minnesota (U of M) Extension will host
the fifth annual Conservation Tillage Conference Jan. 28-29, 2009, at
Jackpot Junction, 39375 County Hwy. 24, Morton, MN.
A Systems Approach is the theme of this year’s conference. The program
is designed to help experienced producers improve their conservation
skills by learning about new technologies and management practices while
also reducing production costs.
The program is also designed for farmers who are looking to adopt
conservation tillage practices and for agriculture professionals who
work with producers practicing conservation tillage. Participants will
take home hands-on knowledge in nearly every aspect of conservation
To read more about the conference, click here: cornandsoybeandigest.com/corn.
Source: University of Minnesota
Feeding DDGS to Horses Not Yet
Distiller´s grains have become a staple in some
bovine diets, but a Kansas State University (K-State) researcher is not
yet recommending that they be used in horse rations.
“People have asked, ‘can I feed dried or wet distiller’s grains
with soluble (DDGS) to my horses?’” says Teresa Slough, equine
nutrition specialist with K-State Research and Extension.
Given the information researchers have so far, Slough says she would
hesitate to recommend feeding DDGS to horses.
There has been little research done in feeding DDGS, a byproduct of the
ethanol production process, to horses, she says. So far, the studies
that have been done examined feeding DDGS for only a short period of
“There is no information available so far on the long-term effects of
feeding DDGS to working horses, mares or foals,” she says.
To read more about the potential problems with feeding DDGS to horses,
click here: www.oznet.ksu.edu/news.
By Mary Lou Peter-Blecha, Kansas State
Poll Finds Ethanol Good For Agriculture
Reuters conducted a poll recently at the American Farm
Bureau Federation annual meeting in San Antonio, in which nearly 80% say
that ethanol is beneficial for agriculture. About 55% say they expect
some of their corn crop to go toward ethanol production this year.
The full article is available at this link: uk.reuters.com/article/usPoliticsNews
Source: American Coalition for Ethanol
A Note From
The Corn E-Digest Editor: Does Ethanol Deserve A
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) recently
announced that “corn and ethanol industries support more than 70,000
jobs and contribute $12 billion to the state’s economy.”
If you'd like to read more good news about ethanol’s positive
contribution to the Minnesota economy, click on the following PDF Web
Yet, not all is good news for ethanol production. Despite its many
positive contributions, the U.S. ethanol industry is currently
struggling, due to widely fluctuating world markets for food and energy.
You can read the latest on how bankruptcy of one ethanol producer is
impacting corn farmers by clicking on the following Web link: www.ncga.com/verasun-extension-option-deadline-looms-growers-1-23-09.
Which makes me wonder; wouldn’t it be good for the nation if taxpayers
helped bail out the U.S. ethanol industry, just like we’ve done for
the nation’s financial sector and automotive industry?
If you have an opinion on that issue, I’d like to hear from you. When
writing, please state why you agree or disagree with a financial bailout
for ethanol or what you think should be done to prevent problems with
the nation’s ethanol industry from spilling over into rural America.
Also, please let me know your name, where you farm or work and whether
or not I have permission to use your comment in a future Corn
E-Digest newsletter. You can contact me (John Pocock) at: email@example.com.
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. Stay safe, stay
profitable, thanks for your readership – and farm on!
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