Farm Futures drought survey, sobering numbers

Written by stevefairchild on .

I used to work with Knorr and Suderman and know that they put a lot of work into getting these numbers. And what they've gotten from survey and research is a perdiction of 117.6 bushels per acre for corn this year. Anecdotally speaking, I think their point about abandonment acreage increasing seems on target. After a jaunt across half the corn belt a week ago, there looked to be plenty of acres that didn’t make ears.

“Knee high by the time it dies,” is a variation of an old saying no one relishes.

Meanwhile, near my home town in Audrain County, Mo., my first sighting of a combine in corn was on Aug. 1. And it was moving fast.


Here is the release straight from Farm Futures:

This year’s corn output could fall below 10 billion bushels, more than 30% less than original estimates this spring from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Based on current crop conditions and a survey of more than 1,800 farmers nationwide, Farm Futures estimates the crop at just 9.86 billion bushels, with an average yield of 117.6 bushels per acre.

“While farmers told us they planted a little more corn than shown in USDA’s June 30 acreage report, abandonment will be much higher than the government predicted due to effects of the drought,” said Bryce Knorr, senior editor for Farm Futures, who conducted the research.

“With fields already being plowed under or cut for silage, it appears harvested acres could fall to just 84 million, almost 5 million less than USDA forecast in June.”? ?Yields could decline further too, Knorr said.

The average yield from the survey came in at just 114 bpa, while crop ratings currently project yields between 116 and 121 bpa. “Our estimate is based on both survey results and current conditions,” Knorr said.

Farm Futures forecasts soybean production at just under 2.7 billion bushels, based on yields of 35.8 bpa nationwide. Survey results are close to estimates for soybeans based on crop ratings. Farmers reported planting more soybeans than USDA found in June, but also expected greater abandonment, leaving harvested acres close to the 75.3 million forecast by the government. USDA cut its forecast of soybean production in July to 3.06 billion bushels.

Farm Futures Market Analyst Arlan Suderman said he wasn’t surprised the survey data confirmed a sub-10 billion bushel corn crop. “The scope of this year’s drought is difficult to comprehend, both in its intensity and coverage,” Suderman said. “The market clearly has more work to do as it attempts to bring demand into balance with the shorter supply.”

“The soybean data may be the most sobering, considering that lower ethanol production is actually increasing demand for soymeal, even as the supply of soybeans shrinks. There’s still time for the soybean crop to recover a portion of its lost production, but it could also see significant additional losses if the current weather pattern holds through August.

”Farm Futures also asked growers how they plan to cope with effects of the drought. Many see high prices as an opportunity to price 2013 and even 2014 crops for a profit. “Crop insurance is also providing a good safety net for farmers, keeping them optimistic about the future,” Knorr said.

Rotate for the longterm

Written by stevefairchild on .


Dry weather considerations for dairy

Written by stevefairchild on .

Adverse weather conditions like drought present dairy producers with major challenges. The largest problem is having enough forage available to feed all animal groups. The second significant problem is forage quality. The obvious questions to ask during drought situations are 1) should hay or other forage be purchased;  2) should forage intakes be kept at the minimum level recommended; 3) should more high-fiber feeds be used?

The economics of the situation, including effects on cash flow and interest charges, should receive top priority. The palatability of the items being evaluated and their suitability for use in the feeding system should also be considered. In addition to the aforementioned items, there are other risk factors that occur during a drought that can have a substantial impact on animal performance. Nitrates, prussic acid and other poisons can jeopardize both production and health of animals. Poisonous plants and weeds can be an issue and should not be overlooked.

Drought-stricken corn can make nutritious silage. Absence of ears does not imply that corn silage lacks fermentable energy. Forage portions should contain reasonably high levels of soluble sugars. As corn approaches maturity, the energy level and dry matter yield increase. It is recommended to allow corn to develop as fully as possible, even if ears and grain are lacking. There are wide variations in the nutritive content of drought-stressed corn silage. It may have an energy value 85 to 100 percent of normal corn silage, or it may be quite different. Very young corn prior to tasseling may contain as much as 14 to 16 percent crude protein. A standard forage analysis is highly recommended, along with testing for levels of nitrates.

If it becomes necessary to harvest very short immature corn, it is not prudent to add a non-protein nitrogen source like ammonia or urea at the time of ensiling. Preferably, the dry matter content of droughty silage should be in the range of 30 to 40 percent to make satisfactory silage. If the corn did not set ears and is green, or if the ears are all brown, the moisture content may be too high, but hot, dry weather can cause rapid moisture drops—careful observations of moisture changes are needed to determine the best time to harvest.

Immature plants that are killed will likely contain too much moisture for immediate ensiling. These plants will dry slowly and dry matter losses will increase as the dead plants drop their leaves. The best option is to leave the crop in the field until it reaches the appropriate dry matter level, unless losses appear too high or harvesting losses will increase dramatically.

Drought or immature soybean plants can be used as a forage crop. Plants should be allowed to mature as much as possible before harvesting. Some pod or bean development enhances feeding value of plants harvested either as hay or silage. Soybean forage is high in calcium and should be avoided as the major forage source for dry cows.

If the plants are going to be ensiled, it is recommended to do so before plant moisture drops below 60 to 65 percent. If possible, mix soybeans with other forages, preferably during ensiling to enhance palatability. If plants are high in moisture and lack pod or bean development, it is suggested to add 100 to 200 pounds of a ground grain per ton when direct-cutting rather than wilting to 60 to 65 percent moisture. The stems of soybean plants are not very palatable, and animals will sort them out if given the opportunity. Chopping soybean hay and feeding if in a total mixed ration will help prevent sorting.

If soybean forage contains substantial amounts of developed beans, you may need to reduce the amount of other fats and oils in the ration for lactating cows based on the analyzed fat content of the soybeans. It may be difficult to dry down pods for hay if beans are too well-developed. As with any forage, soybeans should be analyzed for their nutrient content. It is also advisable to check the label of any herbicide used for possible restrictions on feeding soybean forage to livestock.

Drought conditions may increase nitrate levels in forages to the point of possible toxicity. Drought-stricken fields of corn, sorghum and Sudan grass are most apt to contain harmful levels of nitrate, particularly those that have been heavily fertilized with manure or nitrogen. Numerous weeds such as pigweed and lambsquarter are nitrate accumulators. Any forage that is suspected of containing high levels of nitrates should not be fed as green chop.

Although nitrate levels in drought-stricken corn may be high, ensiling usually reduces more than half the nitrates. For this reason, nitrate toxicity rarely occurs when feeding ensiled drought corn. However, if drought damage was extreme and high levels of nitrogen were applied to the soil, a nitrate test on the silage should be conducted. Rate of nitrate intake is the most critical factor influencing possible toxicity. This is affected by rate of forage dry matter intake in a given period of time and its nitrate content. Forages containing under 1,000 parts per million nitrate-nitrogen (NO3-N) on a dry matter basis may be fed free-choice or with no restriction on meal size. That's provided the total level of NO3-N in the total ration, including water, is kept at a safe or low-risk level.              

International 1/4 Scale Tractor Student Design Competition

Written by stevefairchild on .

If you’re looking for a quick getaway for the top of summer, check out the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers quarter-scale design competition in Peoria, Ill., next week.  The event features  26 teams from universities across North America will vie for prizes and global recognition for their design innovations in ASABE's 15th Annual International ¼-Scale Tractor Student Design Competition. Competition is May 31  to June 3, at the Expo Gardens in Peoria. It is free and open to the public.

The teams have spent the 2011-2012 academic year designing and building utility or recreational pulling tractors that they will present and demonstrate at the competition. Each team is supplied one 31-hp Briggs & Stratton Vanguard Big Block Engine and a set of Titan tires; they are responsible for acquiring all other components of their machines. All tractors run on a 10% ethanol fuel blend.

The ¼-Scale Competition is unique among student engineering design contests in that it provides a realistic "360-degree" workplace experience. A panel of industry experts judge each design for innovation, manufacturability, serviceability, maneuverability, safety, sound level and ergonomics. Teams also submit a written design report in advance of the competition, and onsite they must "sell" their design, in a formal presentation to industry experts playing the role of a corporate management team. Finally, machines are put to the test in a performance demonstration comprising a series of tractor pulls. The pulls take place Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, and spectators are welcome.

“Each year, the organizing committee continues to be amazed with the students and the tractors they build with the challenges we present them,” said 2012 competition co-chair Mike Ciolino. “In 2011 we introduced a new design configuration change with the optional 31-hp engines and front-wheel assist. The configuration has not changed much this year, but we plan to see many new and innovative ideas as teams strive for the best overall design,” he added.

Last year, Kansas State University took home the championship trophy for an unprecedented eighth time. Rounding out the top five spots were, in order: the University of Kentucky, Purdue University, University of Saskatchewan, and the University of Manitoba.

The ¼-Scale Competition is a popular recruiting event for many sponsors. Most of the sponsor companies have hired engineers from among the teams, finding practiced, high-achieving candidates. Top teams will be honored Sunday, June 3, at an awards banquet held at The Grand Hotel in Peoria.

Corporate sponsors for the ASABE 15th Annual International ¼-Scale Tractor Student Design Competition are AGCO, Briggs & Stratton, Case IH, Caterpillar, Deere & Company, New Holland, SolidWorks, and Titan International. Additional support is provided by Campbell Scientific, Inc., GSI Grain Systems, Katie McDonald Photography, Precision Planting, Claas, RCI Engineering, Central City Scale, igus Inc., Miller Electric Manufacturing, and Star Equipment.

Students participating come from these schools:

California Polytechnic State University  
Iowa State University   
Kansas State University
Lamar University          
McGill University         
North Carolina State University 
North Dakota State University  
The Ohio State University
Oklahoma State University
Penn State University  
Purdue University        
South Dakota State University  
Southern Illinois University       
Texas A & M University
Université Laval
University of Florida    
University of Illinois     
University of Kentucky 
University of Manitoba 
University of Missouri  
University of Nebraska  
University of Saskatchewan     
University of Tennessee - Knoxville      
University of Tennessee - Martin
University of Wisconsin - Madison       
University of Wisconsin - Platteville      
University of Wisconsin - River Falls    





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