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  • Markets see a lump coming at harvest.

    • Corn Production Up 11 Percent from 2015
    • Soybean Production Up 3 Percent from 2015
    • Cotton Production Up 23 Percent from 2015
    • Winter Wheat Production Up 2 Percent from July Forecast

    Straight from USDA's release: 

    Both U.S. corn and soybean growers are expected to harvest record-high crops this year, according to the Crop Production report issued today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). U.S. corn production is forecast at 15.2 billion bushels, while soybean growers are expected to harvest 4.06 billion bushels in 2016.

    Aided by excellent field conditions, corn growers are expected to increase their production by 11 percent from the 2015 harvest. Average corn yield is forecast at 175.1 bushels per acre, setting a new record-high. NASS forecasts record-high yields in 10 of the largest corn-producing states, including Iowa, Illinois, and Nebraska. Acres planted to corn, at 94.1 million, remain unchanged from the NASS’ previous estimate. As of July 31, crop progress report showed 76 percent of this year’s corn crop was rated in good or excellent condition.

    U.S. soybean growers also took advantage of the favorable weather conditions and are forecast to increase their production by 3 percent from 2015. Soybean yields are expected to average 48.9 bushels per acre, reaching another record-high mark. Just as with corn, the acres planted to soybeans remain unchanged from the June estimate. Record soybean yields are expected in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, and Wisconsin. Growers are forecast to harvest 83.0 million acres of soybeans this year.

    Wheat production is forecast at 2.32 billion bushels, up 13 percent from 2015. The increase is especially due primarily to winter wheat. Growers are expected to harvest 1.66 billion bushels of winter wheat this year, up 21 percent from 2015. Durum wheat production is forecast at 91.7 million bushels, up 11 percent from last year. All other spring wheat production is forecast at 571 million bushels, down 5 percent from 2015. Based on August 1 conditions, the U.S. all wheat yield is forecast at 52.6 bushels per acre, up 9 bushels from last year. Yields for winter wheat, Durum, and other spring wheat, are all forecast to set record-high yields at 54.9 bushels per acre, 44.1 bushels per acre, and 48.3 bushels per acre, respectively.

    Today’s report also included the first production forecast for U.S. cotton. NASS forecasts all cotton production at 15.9 million 480-pound bales, up 23 percent from last year. Yield is expected to average 800 pounds per harvested acre, up 34 pounds from last year.

    NASS interviewed more than 22,000 producers across the country in preparation for this report. The agency also conducted field and lab measurements on corn, soybeans, wheat and cotton in the major producing states, which usually account for about 75 percent of the U.S. production. NASS is also gearing up to conduct its September Agricultural Survey, which will focus on wheat, barley, oats and rye growers. That survey will take place during the first two weeks of September.

    The Crop Production report is published monthly and is available online at www.nass.usda.gov.

     

  • MFA’s Crop-Trak consultants have been finding an alarming number of northern corn rootworm beetles in northwest Missouri and southwest Iowa. Kevin Moore with MFA’s Crop-Trak first noticed high numbers of adult northern corn rootworm in a cornfield rotated from soybean near Fairfax July 18. Since then large populations of NCRW beetles have been discovered in multiple fields in Atchison, Nodaway, Holt, and Worth counties in Missouri as well as Page County, Iowa. The presence of a small amount of rootworm beetles moving from corn-on-corn fields into later planted rotated cornfields is not uncommon because rootworm beetles feed on corn pollen and will seek out a food source. The alarm comes from the fact that so many beetles are being found in areas where acres are dominated by corn/soybean rotations.

    Rootworm species of economic importance include the northern corn rootworm first discovered in 1824 in the north central US and the western corn rootworm first discovered in Kansas in 1868. In North America, corn rootworms are the most devastating insect pest to corn. Agronomists estimate that before the development and release of Bt corn traits to control corn rootworm larvae in 2003, 50 million acres were infested accounting for over $1 billion in lost revenue. Before the adoption of Bt corn traits, the USDA estimated growers spent an estimated $200 million in control measures and suffered $800 million in lost yield. Yield loss and standability issues are a result of diminished root systems when rootworm larvae feeding is severe enough. Missouri growers have seen a much less significant loss from rootworm. While Missouri has populations of both northern and western corn rootworm, both species, typically lay eggs in cornfields with the eggs hatching the following season. This makes corn-on-corn fields vulnerable to larvae feeding on corn roots. However, when fields are rotated to soybean, the hatched larvae starve without a host such as corn. Most of Missouri’s corn is grown in a corn/soybean or corn/soybean/wheat rotation.

    In other areas of the Midwest, rootworm populations have adapted to crop rotation control measures. A soybean variant of western corn rootworm was discovered in Illinois in 1995. The western soybean variant seeks out soybean fields to lay its eggs, which makes crop rotation an ineffective method of control. Northern corn rootworm populations have also adapted to crop rotation by developing populations with an extended diapause. Extended-diapause rootworm beetles still lay eggs in cornfields, but the eggs can wait two seasons or more to hatch—allowing the larval pest to find corn roots to feed upon.

    With high levels of northern corn rootworm beetles being documented in areas of northwest Missouri and southwest Iowa where corn on corn rotations are somewhat rare, the likelihood of extended diapause northern corn rootworm finally reaching Missouri is high. To confirm that beetles are emerging from rotated cornfields and not migrating into the fields, Crop-Trak consultants have searched for and found evidence of larval root feeding in rotated corn. Larvae and adults were also discovered by the float method in which corn roots are submerged in water causing underground larvae, pupae, or adults to float to the surface. Further confirmation of extended-diapause rootworm in Missouri is still needed. MFA’s Crop-Trak is working with the USDA, Kansas State University and the University of Minnesota for the necessary laboratory and field-testing needed to verify the cause of increased northern corn rootworm populations.

    The possibility of extended-diapause northern corn rootworms in Missouri will greatly impact growers in Missouri. The two most effective methods of rootworm control, if crop rotation is not effective, is the use of Bt-rootworm hybrid traits such as SmartStax from Monsanto or Syngenta’s Duracade; or soil applied granular insecticides such as Aztec or Force. MFA highly encourages growers to engage with their MFA location or Crop-Trak consultant to assess their rootworm threat level and to discuss Integrated Pest Management strategies.

     

  •  

    You may be familiar with Farm Safety For Just Kids, the Iowa-based outreach program dedicated to making children and their farming parents more aware of the dangers both obvious and hidden on modern farms. As the organization approached its 30th year, its board of directors took a look at the landscape for farm safety and decided to make a strategic move. Farm Safety For Just Kids will dissolve at the end of 2016. The organization’s education, research and outreach efforts will continue through the Progressive Agriculture Foundation (PAF), an organization with a similar mission.

    Farm Safety For Just Kids’ library of educational materials and other assets will be donated to the Birmingham, Alabama-based PAF. Management of the 2016 Outreach program will be transferred to PAF, and Farm Safety For Just Kids, also known as FS4JK, will no longer accept monetary donations from individuals or organizations. As part of the transition, FS4JK will donate $5,000 to both the National 4-H Council and National FFA Organization to recognize their advocacy work for youth safety in agriculture. The balance of the organization’s assets will be donated to the Progressive Agriculture Foundation.

     “We are proud of the work we have done to promote farm safety for the youngest members of farm families,” says Farm Safety For Just Kids founder and president Marilyn Adams. “We believe this move will further the mission of keeping farms safe for youth. That was the goal 30 years ago, and that remains the goal today. We feel the organization has accomplished what we set out to do almost 30 years ago: To support farm safety education in the U.S. and around the world. I believe that this move will further the mission we all have worked hard to accomplish.”

     Motivated by her own family’s tragic circumstances surrounding a farm accident, Adams started Farm Safety For Just Kids in 1987 during a time when there were few resources for promoting safety on farms and educating young people on farm safety. Though the transition to the Progressive Ag Foundation marks the end of Farm Safety For Just Kids as it is known today, Adams says she is excited about PAF’s plans to continue the legacy of agricultural health and safety education for youth on farms in the U.S. and around the world.

  •  

    It wasn't enough to miss a year of crops in some fields, this spring brought on another complication: corn fallow syndrome. 

    Cornfields in northeastern Missouri this spring were more uneven following prevented planting acres. Typically, they were phosphorus-deficient and had slower early growth than fields following soybean. These are symptoms associated with corn fallow syndrome, which is known to stunt corn and cause purple, phosphorus-deficient leaves and poorly developed roots.

    It's rare occurrence caught producers off-guard, says University of Missouri Extension corn specialist Greg Luce. The syndrome sometimes happens in the year after extremely wet conditions and no crops, or weeds, are grown on the field the previous year. He last remembers it after the 1993 floods.

    Fallow syndrome happens when a beneficial fungus, vesicular arbuscular mycorrhizae (VAM), is reduced in the soil. The fungus is associated with the roots of many plants and it benefits corn by helping it take up phosphorus and zinc.

    Last year’s unplanted soybean acres were often planted to corn this year as part of a soybean-corn rotation.

    Luce says the fallow syndrome was common in Audrain County. Last year, it led Missouri in prevented-planting acres. More than a million Missouri soybean acres went unplanted last year because of the unusually wet conditions through much of May, June and early July of 2015.

    In May, farmers in Audrain County and other areas with prevented planting began telling Luce and others that corn was stunted and purple. One corn grower used an unmanned aerial vehicle to photograph adjacent fields. One field appeared normal, the other stunted with a purple cast.

    Luce asked about practices and learned that the field with stunted plants went barren of vegetation last year.

    Many farmers and farm consultants initially blamed herbicide injury for problem fields. MU Extension weed scientist Kevin Bradley investigated a number of these cases and found no evidence of herbicide injury. Because so little is known about fallow syndrome, Bradley had an analysis conducted on several problem fields and found many of them had reduced levels of microbial populations compared to similar unaffected fields.

    Manjula Nathan, director of the MU Soil and Plant Testing Laboratory, published a two-year study in South Dakota that showed a connection between fallow syndrome and low phosphorus.

    Luce says little can be done to correct fallow syndrome. To prevent it, he recommends continuing to plant soybeans late into a season. Planting cover crops in early fall helps if soybean cannot be planted. You can apply phosphorus in the spring. Banding on with the planter would be most beneficial. Some 1960s research showed yield improvement by adding phosphorus close to the row and cultivating it in. Rescue attempts are not well-documented. Knifing in additional nitrogen could possibly help also.

    Prevention is the best option, Luce says. It is unlikely fallow syndrome will occur two years after the initial fallow period.

    Luce recommends the following:

    • Plant soybean as late as possible. Soybean has the potential to yield well even late in the season.
    • Plant a cover crop. Grasses such as cereal rye, wheat, oats or legumes would be good choices. Turnips and radishes are not hosts to mycorrhizae.
    • Consider planting soybean after fallow syndrome. They are not as susceptible to fallow syndrome.

     University of Missouri extension has more information available. Check out:  “Stunted Corn Following Prevented Planting - Fallow Syndrome” at http://ipm.missouri.edu/IPCM/?ID=637.

  • More than 100 Nobel Laureates from diverse disciplines are voicing their support for GMO precision agriculture and calling on leaders of Greenpeace, the United Nations and governments around the world to join them. The Laureates -- winners in fields including Medicine, Economics, Physics, Chemistry, Literature and Peace -- have all signed an open letter asking Greenpeace and others who have been blocking progress and access to beneficial plant biotechnology products, like Golden Rice, to abandon their campaigns against GMOs.

    The campaign was announced on Thursday June 30th at a Washington, DC press conference by representative signers Sir Richard Roberts (1993 Nobel Laureate for Physiology or Medicine), Professor Martin Chalfie (2008 Nobel Laureate for Chemistry) and Professor Randy Schekman (2013 Nobel Laureate for Physiology or Medicine).  A website http://supportprecisionagriculture.org/ offers details on the Nobel Laureates’ statement, list of signers and background on the benefits and safety of GMOs.

    At the Washington press conference, Laureate Sir Richard Roberts stated, “In our letter we call upon Greenpeace and like organizations to end their shameful campaign of propaganda and criminal destruction of crops improved by modern genetic technologies, such as GMOs.” Roberts, added, “We call on governments and world organizations to do everything in their power to oppose anti-GMO obstruction and to accelerate farmer access to the life-saving tools provided by modern biotechnology.”

    The Laureates urged policy makers, the public and others to come together and add their names to the list of signers and asked how many poor people in the world must die before we consider this a "crime against humanity."

  • On June 18th the Saint Louis Science Center will open an interactive exhibit highlighting Missouri and Illinois agriculture. With more than an acre of land featuring 40 indoor and outdoor exhibits, "GROW: Explore the Journey of Food" lets visitors get their hands dirty while following the journey food takes from the farm to the dinner plate.

    At GROW, kids can make treats for the resident chickens, race mini tractors and much more. On Saturday's the Fermentation Station will host local beer and wine tastings to teach visitors about the fermentation process. You can also enjoy pairings from their locally sourced seasonal menu. With a greenhouse, garden, and orchard GROW will change with the seasons and educate about agriculture year round.

    Want to help tell the story of agriculture? The Saint Louis Science Center is looking for volunteers to help educate visitors with hands-on programs or tend to the plants and animals at GROW. For more information visit slsc.org/volunteer-opportunities.

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