U.S. hog inventory up 3 percent

As of Sept. 1, there were 75.5 million hogs and pigs on U.S. farms, up 3 percent from the same time last year, according to the Quarterly Hogs and Pigs report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).

Other key findings in the report were:
• Of the 75.5 million hogs and pigs, 69.2 million were market hogs, while 6.33 million were kept for breeding.
• Between June and August 2018, 34.2 million pigs were weaned on U.S. farms, up 3 percent from the same time period one year earlier.
• From June through August 2018, U.S. hog and pig producers weaned an average of 10.72 pigs per litter.
• U.S. hog producers intend to have 3.16 million sows farrow between September and November 2018, and 3.12 million sows farrow between December 2018 and February 2019.
• Iowa hog producers accounted for the largest inventory among the states, at 23.6 million head. North Carolina and Minnesota had the second and third largest inventories with 9.40 million and 8.60 million head, respectively.

To obtain an accurate measurement of the U.S. swine industry, NASS surveyed more than 6,500 operators across the nation during the first half of September. The data collected were received by electronic data recording, mail, telephone and through face-to-face interviews. All surveyed producers were asked to report their hog and pig inventories as of Sept. 1, 2018.

This report and all other NASS reports are available online at www.nass.usda.gov.

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Tech tour

Even in the midst of harvest, it’s important for farmers to take time to tell their story.

That’s exactly what Lynn Fahrmeier did on Sept. 24. The Wellington, Mo., farmer stopped his combine, staged equipment on the edge of one of his corn fields and hosted a group of 20 journalists as part of an agricultural learning conference organized by the National Press Foundation. The farm tour followed a morning of sessions at Bayer’s facility in Kansas City, where the journalists learned more about biotechnology and ag industry challenges.

“Purdue University would tell you I’m losing $500 an hour standing here instead of being in the field, but this story needs to be told,” Fahrmeier said. “As farmers, we’ve got a great story to tell, and there’s no way the media will hear it unless we tell it.”

His wife, Donna, and their children, Elizabeth and Samuel, were also on hand to show the media representatives what a true family farm is like. They raise corn, soybeans, wheat and sheep on 1,700 acres, some of which have been in the Fahrmeier family for more than a century.

During the tour, Fahrmeier took the National Press Foundation fellows through a typical Midwest crop production year, using a planter, sprayer and combine as illustrations of how technology has made his operation more efficient. MFA Precision Ag

Specialists Matt Stock and Scott Bergsieker were part of the program, too, explaining such practices as variable-rate seeding, fertilizing and crop protection applications. The Fahrmeiers work with MFA Agri Services in Lexington for precision services and farm inputs.

“Our goal was to blow these journalists away with technology,” Fahrmeier said. “Hopefully, they came away from here with some understanding of how farmers are shouldering the cost of technology to improve the environmental impact.”

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Gala upsets the apple cart

The Red Delicious will lose its reign as the most popular apple grown in the U.S. this year after more than half a century at No. 1.

The U.S. Apple Association, which advocates on behalf of 7,500 apple growers and 400 companies in the apple business, is projecting that the Gala apple will take over the top spot, as consumers prefer its “taste, texture and sweetness.” Gala already is the most popular variety sold in the U.S., followed by Red Delicious, according to the association.

In response to shifting preference, the U.S. will grow some 52 million bushels of Gala apples in 2018, up 5.9 percent from a year earlier. Gala originated in New Zealand in the 1930s.

Red Delicious production, meanwhile, is expected to tumble 10.7 percent to around 51 million bushels in 2018, the trade group predicts. Red Delicious will still account for about half of U.S. apple exports.

The Granny Smith, Fuji and Honeycrisp apples are expected to rank third, fourth and fifth, respectively, in U.S. production.

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