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  January 26, 2009 A Penton Media Property Volume 4, Number 1  
Corn Yield Winner Shares Top Tips For Success

Lessons From 2008 Corn Nitrogen Loss

Drainage Plus Subirrigation Boosts Corn Yields 60%

Fertilizer Prices Have Dropped Four Times Since High

2009 Could Still Be A Favorable Year For Commodities

Increase In 2009 Corn Acreage May Be Warranted

Take Part In Corn & Soybean Digest Poll

Current Market Signals for Corn Production

Corn Provides Positive Economic Impact

Let's Talk Ag

Researchers Measure Compaction's Long-term Impact On Crop Production

Agreement Reached To Develop Dicamba-Based Weed Control

New Corn & Soybean Field Guide Available

First Corn Seed Treatment Nematicide Receives Registration

Farmland Values, How High Can They Go?

2009 Ag Symposium: Don't Miss It

Biofuel Carbon Footprint Not As Big As Feared

U of M Hosts Conservation Tillage Conference in Morton

Feeding DDGS to Horses Not Yet Recommended

Reuters Poll Finds Ethanol Good For Agriculture

A Note From The Corn E-Digest Editor: Does Ethanol Deserve A Bailout?

Key Kernel
Corn Yield 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 in December.”

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 here:

By John Pocock

Cob And Kernel
Lessons 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:
  • difficulty in deciding how big the problem is
  • equipment availability and setup
  • fertilizer availability (if rescue applications are done on millions of acres).
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:
  • UAN solution dribbled or injected between rows
  • urea broadcast with an airplane or with a high-clearance spinner or boom spreader.
To read more about corn N loss in 2008, click here:

By Peter Scharf, University of Missouri Extension Plant Scientist
Drainage Plus Subirrigation Boosts Corn Yields 60%
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 additional $50.

For more information, call MLICA executive director Deborah Dickens at 573-634-3001 or go to

Source: University of Missouri Extension
Fertilizer Prices Have Dropped Four Times Since High
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:

Source: University of Illinois
2009 Could Still Be A Favorable Year For Commodities
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:

Source: Credit Suisse
Increase In 2009 Corn Acreage May Be Warranted
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:

Source: University of Illinois Extension
StollerUSA Unleashing the Power of Plants

Leaders in Crop Health Management for over 40 years, StollerUSA has been exploring the potential to boost corn farmer’s bottom line by optimizing plant hormone balance. Products like Bio-Forge® X-Tra Power, Stimulate and PowerPlus™ help farmers minimize input costs and maximize yield. To learn more go to

Take Part In Corn & Soybean Digest Poll
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: (The poll question is just to the right of the “What’s New” top section of the Web site.)

Current Market Signals for Corn Production
Is “bidding for acres” occurring in the corn and soybean markets?

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:

By Melvin Brees, University of Missouri
Corn Provides Positive Economic Impact
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 of Agriculture.

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

Source: National Corn Growers Association
Let's Talk Ag
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 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:

Source: Ohio State University Extension
Agreement 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:

Source: Monsanto Company
New Corn & Soybean Field Guide Available
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 problems.

The guide is $6 and can be purchased online or by phone. To purchase online, go to and search for product code ID-179. To order by phone, call 888-EXT-INFO (398-4636).

Source: Purdue University
First Corn 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 here:

Source: Syngenta Crop Protection

Off The Cob
Farmland 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:

By David Bau, University of Minnesota Extension
2009 Ag Symposium: Don't Miss It
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 convenient location.”

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 Headed?

“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:

Source: Brock Associates
Biofuel 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 benefits.”

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 biofuels.

“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:

Source: Michigan State University
U of M Hosts Conservation Tillage Conference in Morton
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 tillage.

To read more about the conference, click here:

Source: University of Minnesota
Feeding DDGS to Horses Not Yet Recommended
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 time.

“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:

By Mary Lou Peter-Blecha, Kansas State University

The Ear-Tip Extra
Reuters 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:

Source: American Coalition for Ethanol
A Note From The Corn E-Digest Editor: Does Ethanol Deserve A Bailout?
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 link:

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:

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:

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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