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 DTN Market News


DTN Feeder Pig Index


DTN Early Word Opening Livestock 04/19 05:54

DTN Early Word Opening Livestock 04/19 05:54 Hog Paper Set for Firm Opening Thanks to Follow-Through Buying and Cash Strength Lean hog futures should open at least moderately higher Thursday, supported by residual buying and impressive evidence of accelerating cash strength. On the other hand, the cattle complex seems staged to open mixed, linked to a combination of follow-through buying and pre-cash/cattle-on-feed profit-taking. By John Harrington DTN Analyst Cattle: Steady-$2 HR Futures: Mixed Live Equiv: $139.80 - .37* Hogs: $1-2 HR Futures: Mixed Lean Equiv $ 73.34 + .25 ** * based on formula estimating live cattle equivalent of gross packer revenue ** based on formula estimating lean hog equivalent of gross packer revenue GENERAL COMMENTS: Cattle buyers and sellers could do more positioning today, but unless feedlot managers soften asking prices of $122 plus in the South and $192 plus in the North, significant trade volume may not develop until sometime Friday. Live and feeder futures are likely to open on a mixed basis with both follow-through buying and pre-cash profit-taking.

DTN Early Word Grains 04/19 05:54

DTN Early Word Grains 04/19 05:54 Meanwhile, Down on the Farm... July corn was fractionally lower, July soybeans were fractionally higher, and July Kansas City (HRW) wheat was 5 cents higher. By Darin Newsom DTN Senior Analyst 6:00 a.m. CME Globex: July corn was fractionally lower, July soybeans were fractionally higher, and July Kansas City (HRW) wheat was 5 cents higher. CME Globex Recap: Early Thursday morning shows the grain and oilseed complex quiet, with most contracts near unchanged. Meanwhile, Kansas City HRW wheat was able to gain back another nickel of the recent sell-off. The energy complex was mostly higher while metals were lower. The U.S. dollar index was showing a small gain while DJIA futures saw light selling interest. OUTSIDE MARKETS: The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 38.56 points (0.2%) lower at 24,748.07, the NASDAQ Composite gained 14.14 points (0.2%) to 7,295.24, and the S&P 500 rallied 2.25 points (0.1%) to 2,708.64 Wednesday. DJIA futures were 24 points lower early Thursday morning. Asian markets closed higher with Japan's Nikkei 225 up 32.98 points (0.2%), Hong Kong's Hang Seng gaining 424.19 points (1.4%), and China's Shanghai Composite adding 25.98 points (0.8%). European markets were trading mostly higher with London's FTSE 100 up 16.04 points (0.2%), Germany's DAX down 6.44 points, and France's CAC 40 up 11.20 points (0.2%). The euro was 0.0005 lower at 1.2370 while the U.S. dollar index gained 0.07 to 89.67. June 30-year T-Bonds were 24/32 lower at 144'06 while June gold lost $3.90 to $1,349.50. Crude oil was $0.35 higher at $68.82 as Brent crude rallied another $0.43 to $73.91. China's Dalian soybean futures were lower and Malaysian palm oil futures near unchanged overnight.

DTN Midday Grain Comments 04/19 11:31

DTN Midday Grain Comments 04/19 11:31 Mixed Trade in Grains at Midday Wheat is the midday leader in mostly lower action. By David Fiala DTN Contributing Analyst General Comments The U.S. stock market indices are weaker with the Dow futures down 55 points. The interest rate products are higher. The dollar index is 8 points higher. Energies are higher with crude up 0.55. Livestock trade is lower. Precious metals are weaker with gold down 5.00. CORN Corn trade is flat to 1 cent lower with trade remaining mired in the lower end of the range. Fieldwork should expand in some areas this week with drier pockets to the east with warmer temps expected to wait until next week, with delays are expected to persist in Iowa/Minnesota area. Ethanol futures have edged back over the 1.50 mark. The weekly export sales were decent at 1.09 million metric tons. On the May chart, we are right around the 20-day at $3.82 3/8 with the 100-day at 3.71 becoming support if we fade. SOYBEANS Soybean trade has faded during the day session down, 4 to 6 cents with bull spreads continuing to unwind today. Meal is $2 to $3.00 lower and oil is flat to 10 points higher, with meal values softening, and oil at the low end of the recent range, while crush margins remain positive overall, they have narrowed. The recent pattern in South America should remain intact near term, allowing for greater progress in Brazil harvesting, with values remaining elevated for Brazilian producers to encourage harvest selling in the near term, and the U.S. export wire has quieted down the last few days with no announced sales in a week. Trade will be looking for signs of additional acres, especially with a slow start to planting in the Dakotas on spring wheat and the slow start to corn, along with double-crop potential depending on rains on the plains. Weekly export sales were strong at 1.04 million metric tons of old crop, 1.09 million of new, meal was 164,900, and oil was 28,000 metric tons. On the May contract, trade has slipped below the 50-day at $10.38, with the 100-day at $10.15 as the next level of support. WHEAT Wheat trade is mixed at midday with Kansas City wheat leading as the moisture potential has continued to be scaled back on recent runs. Warmer conditions coming should help to boost maturity with rain needed to shake off freeze damage along with salvaging diminished potential. Spring wheat-growing areas look more open but will need to thaw for better progress to be made. Spring wheat seeding is behind in Russia for the moment, but should see better catching up coming forward, with the slide in the ruble helping their export advantage. The weekly export sales were softer at -66,900 of old, and 240,400 of new. On the May Kansas City contract, support is at the 20-day at $4.88 with resistance the 50-day at 4.97. David Fiala is a DTN contributing analyst and the President of FuturesOne and a registered adviser. He can be reached at dfiala@futuresone.com Follow him on Twitter @davidfiala (BAS) Copyright 2018 DTN/The Progressive Farmer. All rights reserved.

DTN Midday Livestock Comments 04/19 11:55

DTN Midday Livestock Comments 04/19 11:55 Strong Losses Develop in Cattle Futures Despite the development of higher cash cattle trade through the southern regions of cattle country, aggressive midday losses have developed in futures markets. This push lower is causing some additional widespread market pressure in all cattle contracts. By Rick Kment DTN Analyst GENERAL COMMENTS: Pressure has quickly developed across livestock trade Thursday morning. Cattle markets posted the most aggressive losses with triple digit pressure not only developing but holding at midday. This could add some additional weakness to the complex if selling activity redevelops late in the week. Corn prices are lower in light trade. May corn futures are 1 cent higher. Stock markets are lower in light trade. The Dow Jones is 127 points lower while Nasdaq is down 65 points. LIVE CATTLE: Sharp losses have swept through live cattle futures Thursday morning. This overall lack of support in the complex does not completely erode previous market support. But traders are closely watching the moves Thursday in order to determine if this latest shift is just a short lived market correction, or if follow through pressure will continue to develop through the end of the week. June and August futures are leading the complex lower with losses of $1.70 and $1.82 per cwt respectively. Cash cattle trade became more evident through the morning Thursday. Moderate trade has started to develop in Kansas and Texas with prices seen at $121 to $122 per cwt live basis. This is a $4 per cwt rally from last week's levels, and likely will spark additional trade volume over the next several hours. Activity in the North remains quiet with bids developing once again at $190 per cwt, although feeders have not been willing to bite at this point. Asking prices for dressed trade remain at $195 and higher. Boxed Beef cut-outs at midday are mixed, $0.61 higher (select) and down $0.04 per cwt (choice) with active movement of 111 total loads reported (60 loads of choice cuts, 22 loads of select cuts, 7 loads of trimmings, 21 loads of ground beef). FEEDER CATTLE: Triple-digit losses are seen at midday as traders have allowed for market shifts to develop through most of the morning. There is growing uncertainty as to just how much additional weakness will develop Thursday due to traders seemingly taking a firming tone over the past week. It is expected that this market pullback is more focused on position-squaring activity, but it may limit additional support later in the week. May contracts continue to lead the market lower with a $1.35 per cwt loss. LEAN HOGS: Pressure has continued to develop across the lean hog futures complex with increased overall selling activity seen during the morning. The strong triple digit rally Wednesday has been tempered significantly by 40 to 70 cent losses in most contracts. The tone of the market still remains extremely firm with buyers focusing on longer term buyer interest and the recent surge in cash prices and pork values. Cash prices are higher on the National Direct morning cash hog report. The weighted average price is up $2.05 at $56.22 per cwt with the range from $48.00 to $59.00 on 5,787 head reported sold. Cash prices are higher on the Iowa/Minnesota Direct morning cash hog report. The weighted average price is up $2.87 at $57.64 per cwt with the range from $48.00 to $59.00 on 3,491 head reported sold. The National Pork Plant Report posted 148 loads selling with carcass values gaining $0.40 per cwt. Lean hog index for 4/17 is at $55.05 up 1.03 with a projected two-day index of $55.97, up 0.92. Rick Kment can be reached at rick.kment@dtn.com (SK) Copyright 2018 DTN/The Progressive Farmer. All rights reserved.

DTN Closing Grain Comments 04/19 13:53

DTN Closing Grain Comments 04/19 13:53 K.C. Wheat Higher, Soybeans and Spring Wheat Lower July K.C. wheat was up 6 3/4 cents Thursday, still finding support from drought conditions in the southwestern Plains that are not getting any better. July soybeans dropped 4 1/4 cents after last week's soybean shipments hit a new low for the marketing year, fallout from the U.S. trade dispute with China.

DTN Cattle Close/Trends 04/19 15:25

USDA MARKET NEWS--AFTERNOON CATTLE REPORT 04/19/18 VOLUME USDA TOTAL RANGE DTN PRACTICAL RANGE WT AVG KANSAS CONFIRMED CASH SALES - TODAY: 15,159 WEEK T0 DATE: 15,271 STEERS 6,865 120.00-122.00 121.00-122.00 121.86 HEIFERS 6,066 119.00-122.00 121.00-122.00 121.62 NEBRASKA CONFIRMED CASH SALES - TODAY: 1,544 WEEK TO DATE: 15,762 STEERS 215 192.00-192.00 192.00-192.00 192.00 HEIFERS 319 188.00-192.00 191.00-192.00 190.58 TEXAS CONFIRMED CASH SALES - TODAY: 9,310 WEEK TO DATE: 9,310 STEERS 4,042 120.00-122.00 121.00-122.00 121.04 HEIFERS 2,815 119.00-122.00 121.00-122.00 120.94 COLORADO CONFIRMED CASH SALES - TODAY: 1,445 WEEK TO DATE: 1,445 STEERS 633 119.00-122.00 120.00-121.00 119.57 HEIFERS 586 118.00-119.00 118.00-119.00 118.75 IOWA CONFIRMED CASH SALES - TODAY: 267 WEEK TO DATE: 580 STEERS 160 190.00-192.00 190.00-192.00 191.00 HEIFERS 87 190.00-190.00 190.00-190.00 190.00 COMMENTS: A light to moderate trade developed in the South today with Business generally $4 higher than last week's weighted averages. Just a little Light trade was reported in the North, but certainly not enough to establish Any kind of accurate trend. 5-AREA LV STR AVE PR&WT: $120.95(1470) HIDE&OFFAL: $ 9.77 -0.01 CARCASS EQV INDEX CHOICE (600-900#) SELECT (600-900#) #OF HD LIVE BASED 180.22 168.08 66,677 BOX BASED 199.34 186.48 52,860 AVE INDEX 189.78 +0.02 177.28 +0.12 119,537 BEEF CUTOUTS CHOICE (600-900#) SELECT (600-900#) 211.34 -0.30 198.48 -0.09 100.00 LDS CH CUTS / 48.76 LDS SEL CUTS / 7.82 LDS TRIM / 27.54 LDS GROUND BOXED BEEF TREND: Wk on Ch & stdy on Sel on lt-mod dem & mod-hvy offers COMPREHENSIVE WEEKLY CUTOUT VALUE: Week ending 04/13 $211.97 -2.62 CUTTER 90% 350# UP C/O: $172.51 -0.49 NAT'L BONELESS BF TRIM: 58.31 lds / Gen stdy on mod dem & offers 90% TRIM: 15 lds: Wtd Avg $218.20 / Firm to slightly higher FI KILL(WTD) THU 115(470) WK AGO 119(475) YR AGO 118(457) MIX: WED SH93/CB26 WEEKLY CANADIAN CATTLE IMPORTS. FEEDERS SLAUGHTER S&H Week Ending: 04/07/18 4,916 5,954 Week Ending: 03/31/18 10,620 7,180 Change from prev week: -5,704 -1,226

DTN Chart Technical Points 04/19 16:30

DTN Chart Technical Points 04/19 16:30 DTN FUTURES 10 4/19/18 SLOW STOCHASTIC PRICES ARE DECIMAL MOVING AVERAGES RSI'S 5 Day 20 Day CONTRACT CLOSE 4-Day 9-Day 18-Day 45-Day 9Day 14Day 30Day %K %D %K %D CBTWT MAY 476.75 470.13 478.22 466.68 473.66 55.19 53.61 52.47 45 25 55 64 CBTWT JUL 490.75 485.13 494.08 483.13 489.52 53.49 52.57 52.17 39 23 52 63 KC WT MAY 495.25 485.63 500.78 489.50 498.47 51.25 50.87 51.66 31 17 43 56 KC WT JUL 514.50 504.69 519.75 508.42 516.43 51.61 51.22 51.98 32 17 43 57 MN WT MAY 613.25 612.63 619.17 603.40 609.93 53.01 52.34 50.28 46 34 67 75 MN WT JUL 619.25 620.38 628.03 612.43 618.52 50.69 50.93 49.69 35 28 65 74 CORN MAY 382.00 381.94 385.53 384.10 382.47 45.23 48.24 51.95 20 13 58 68 CORN JUL 391.00 390.75 394.14 392.71 390.55 46.04 49.02 52.57 22 15 59 69 CORN SEP 398.50 398.19 401.33 399.71 396.89 47.13 50.04 53.32 26 18 61 71 OATS MAY 234.50 232.44 234.75 231.79 247.62 49.17 45.18 43.21 50 39 50 42 OATS JUL 238.50 237.44 240.58 238.82 251.70 42.74 41.05 41.91 37 32 43 40 BEANS MAY1037.251041.751047.421038.241042.64 46.51 48.84 51.40 14 18 72 79 BEANS JUL1049.001053.191058.441049.211052.81 47.08 49.32 51.76 15 18 73 80 BEANS AUG1050.501054.381059.031050.561053.55 47.41 49.53 51.91 16 19 74 80 S MEAL MAY 373.30 377.20 380.97 380.02 378.87 40.58 45.84 51.98 13 16 56 64 S MEAL JUL 377.80 381.60 385.18 383.62 380.26 41.88 47.15 53.10 14 17 59 67 B OIL MAY 31.41 31.30 31.47 31.62 31.90 44.57 44.68 44.97 28 19 10 14 B OIL JUL 31.68 31.57 31.74 31.89 32.13 44.70 44.89 45.20 27 18 10 14 CATTLE APR 117.80 117.99 115.84 114.83 119.63 58.93 52.92 47.69 83 85 71 49 CATTLE JUN 103.00 104.34 103.43 103.32 109.76 42.19 40.32 39.65 58 66 52 42 FEEDER APR 137.23 138.48 137.41 135.97 141.24 48.94 47.10 45.10 43 60 79 68 FEEDER MAY 138.43 139.93 138.49 136.83 142.17 49.87 47.92 45.76 53 66 81 70 HOGS MAY 70.15 69.02 68.64 66.83 70.81 59.97 54.21 47.99 66 56 80 71 HOGS JUN 78.07 77.54 76.86 75.48 77.76 60.16 55.30 49.80 71 71 84 74 COTTON MAY 82.97 83.02 83.27 82.40 82.06 52.59 52.97 54.06 37 40 76 83 COTTON JUL 82.82 82.90 83.03 82.35 82.21 52.23 52.41 53.67 41 49 82 84 RICE MAY 13.08 13.12 12.98 12.70 12.47 70.21 68.13 60.79 80 82 91 90 RICE JUL 13.15 13.11 13.02 12.79 12.62 73.49 69.25 60.44 87 80 91 89

DTN Closing Livestock Comment 04/19 16:08

DTN Closing Livestock Comment 04/19 16:08 Beef Futures Reverse to Bearish Tune of Triple Digits After opening higher on signs of greater packer spending in the country, live cattle futures turned over near midsession and closed with triple-digit losses. Lean hog contracts settled moderately lower for the most part, checked by profit-taking and spillover selling from the cattle board. By John Harrington DTN Livestock Analyst GENERAL COMMENTS Moderate-to-active cash trade developed early Thursday morning in the South with feedlot sales generally $4 higher than last week ($121-$122). On the other hand, country business never got off the ground in the North, especially once cattle futures fell out of bed. According to the closing report, the national hog base is $3.16 ($48-$60, weighted average $57.33). Corn futures closed fractionally lower at the conclusion of a lackluster session. Planting conditions are expected to warm over the week ahead. The stock market closed lower with the Dow off 83 points and the Nasdaq down by 57.


 DTN Headline News


DTN Retail Fertilizer Trends

By Russ Quinn
DTN Staff Reporter

OMAHA (DTN) -- Most average retail fertilizer prices continued their slow but steady trek higher the second week of April 2018, according to retailers surveyed by DTN.

Snapping a string of four straight weeks where prices for all eight major fertilizers were higher, prices for seven of the eight fertilizers were up while the price of one fertilizer was down last week compared to the previous month. However, for the fourth consecutive week, none of the fertilizers that saw price increases were up by a significant amount.

DAP had an average price of $482 per ton, MAP $504/ton, potash $353/ton, urea $369/ton, anhydrous $510/ton, UAN28 $241/ton and UAN32 $275/ton.

The one fertilizer that was slightly lower in price compared to the previous month was 10-34-0. The starter fertilizer had an average price of $427 per ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.40/lb.N, anhydrous $0.31/lb.N, UAN28 $0.43/lb.N and UAN32 $0.43/lb.N.

The seemingly never-ending wintery weather so far this spring is delaying fieldwork in many regions of the Corn Belt. While some areas have seen some work completed, including some corn planting, other locations have seen farmers do only a limited amount of fieldwork.

Jamin Ringger, a corn, soybean and hog producer from Gridley, Illinois, told DTN that "warm weather can't come fast enough" for Midwest farmers who want to plant their spring crops but also do other fieldwork such as apply fertilizer and complete tillage operations.

As a livestock producer, Ringger also has to apply manure to his fields before planting can occur. A decent stretch of weather around March 15 allowed him to get manure applied to his central Illinois fields, he said.

While he utilizes hog manure on his fields for some nutrient needs, he also needs to use commercial fertilizer. With an open window after harvest, Ringger said he was able to apply most of his fertilizer needs last fall.

"I hope it warms up soon for everyone and we can enjoy spring a little," he said.

Five of the eight major fertilizers are now higher compared to last year with prices pushing higher in recent months. Anhydrous is now 1% higher, potash is 4% more expensive, urea is 5% higher, MAP is 8% more expensive and DAP is 10% higher compared to last year.

The remaining three fertilizers are lower in price compared to a year ago. UAN32 is 2% less expensive while both 10-34-0 and UAN28 are 3% less expensive than a year ago.

DTN collects roughly 1,700 retail fertilizer bids from 310 retailer locations weekly. Not all fertilizer prices change each week. Prices are subject to change at any time.

DTN Pro Grains subscribers can find current retail fertilizer prices in the DTN Fertilizer Index on the Fertilizer page under Farm Business.

Retail fertilizer charts dating back to 2010 are available in the DTN fertilizer segment. The charts included cost of N/lb., DAP, MAP, potash, urea, 10-34-0, anhydrous, UAN28 and UAN32.

DTN's average of retail fertilizer prices from a month earlier ($ per ton):

Apr 10-13 2017 437 466 338 353
May 8-12 2017 437 466 340 351
Jun 5-9 2017 438 469 339 338
Jul 3-7 2017 436 467 339 325
Jul 31-Aug 4 2017 434 463 339 311
Aug 28-Sept 1 2017 433 457 338 303
Sep 15-29 2017 432 453 348 321
Oct 23-27 2017 431 453 347 325
Nov 20-24 2017 435 460 342 338
Dec 18-22 2017 445 485 344 348
Jan 15-19 2018 456 491 345 355
Feb 12-16 2018 457 495 345 357
Mar 12-16 2018 466 503 350 368
Apr 9-13 2018 482 504 353 369
Date Range 10-34-0 ANHYD UAN28 UAN32
Apr 10-13 2017 441 505 247 280
May 8-12 2017 437 508 247 280
Jun 5-9 2017 435 503 246 278
Jul 3-7 2017 432 462 236 268
Jul 31-Aug 4 2017 426 418 227 262
Aug 28-Sept 1 2017 418 417 215 248
Sep 15-29 2017 413 396 208 243
Oct 23-27 2017 407 393 205 262
Nov 20-24 2017 403 410 216 272
Dec 18-22 2017 405 461 218 254
Jan 15-19 2018 407 485 226 260
Feb 12-16 2018 415 492 230 264
Mar 12-16 2018 421 503 237 282
Apr 9-13 2018 427 510 241 275

Good to Great

By Karl Wolfshohl
Progressive Farmer Contributing Editor


-- Update planters with precision ag technology

-- Consider soil electrical conductivity mapping to check fertility

-- Use yield-mapping programs to understand limiting factors.


Farming in a great environment has put big corn yields in the bins for Vern Frederickson and his family for years. But, for the Fredericksons, aided by their agronomist and seed suppliers, they've pushed yields to exceptional levels in the past decade.

Vern explains why his daughter, Kristen Corpus, placed third in the A No-Till/Strip-Till Irrigated class of the National Corn Growers Association National Corn Yield Contest in 2016 with grain harvested from a family field while he came up empty-handed. "My wife, Suzi, and I screwed up our paperwork, so Kristen was our only entry," he said with a laugh. But, regardless of whose name went on the winning entry, superior management is evident in the results.

Corn is only part of the large Frederickson family farm, which totals 6,000 acres near Hermiston, bordering the Columbia River in northeastern Oregon. There's also a hay export business managed by Vern's brother that ships alfalfa bales to dairies in the Pacific Rim and Middle East.

Besides corn and alfalfa, irrigated cropland produces wheat, potatoes, onions, and occasionally other crops in an arid environment that averages only 8 inches of rain per year. All crops are irrigated through center-pivot units fed by either wells or the Columbia River.

If there's a drawback to farming here, it's the stringent regulations governing how much of certain inputs may be applied to crops for protection of groundwater. Frederickson and his agronomist, Tim Tallman, have learned to function effectively within these rules.


"In 2014, our contest yield was 280 bushels per acre," Frederickson said. The next year, it was 314 bpa. Last year, Kristen won with 339 bpa. The family has been the Oregon state winner the last three years.

"The year before we won the first time, Suzi and I went to the annual [NCGA] meeting in San Antonio on our own, and the Oregon winner had about 180 bushels. Suzi said we should enter."

Commercial yields have climbed right along with contest yields. In fact, Frederickson and Tallman don't pamper certain plots for the contest; instead, they carve likely spots out of commercial fields.

"Ten years ago, our good yields were in the 200-bushel range," Frederickson said. "In 2016, the farmwide average was about 300 bushels per acre."

Frederickson and Tallman grew more serious about advancing their corn production with more precise seed placement eight to 10 years ago. They saw a graphic demonstration of how irregularly spaced plants could hurt yields.

"It was a field of small grain we worked up and planted to corn," Vern said. "We were shocked at the poor stand, because we didn't get the bed prepped right. That was a real eye-opener."


The first step was replacing meter units and other parts in Vern's John Deere planter. They added PrecisionMeter units and related parts sold by Precision Planting, Tremont, Illinois.

"We get a better, more consistent stand with better seed placement with these meters," Tallman said. "The distance between seed is much more precise. If you get seeds too close together, you end up with very small ears." The Fredericksons plant 38,500 seeds per acre 5 1/2 inches between each seed.

Better seed placement was just the beginning. "This is a holistic process," Frederickson said. "As soon as you start paying attention to one piece of it, you pay attention to the other stuff, as well."

The planter modifications alone produced 20 to 25 more bushels per acre. "Then, we worked on our tillage and fertilizer programs, which were just more pieces of the pie. Altogether, they've helped us produce 40 to 50 more bushels per acre," Tallman said.

The Fredericksons strip-till work is done with an Orthman 1tRIPr ahead of each of their two planters. The result is a clean, level seedbed created in a single pass.

"The 1tRIPr has a set of coulters that throw dirt out, then a ripper point goes 10 to 12 inches deep," Tallman said. "We have two planters. One of our 1tRIPr's is pulled just ahead of the planting pass, and the other is done in the same pull as the planter."


The two men order preplant soil tests, and they have EC (soil electrical conductivity) mapping done on some fields to better understand a field's fertility environment.

"Based on those, we put together a preplant fertilizer and planter band fertilizer plan prior to planting," Tallman said.

Frederickson and Tallman apply a total of about 350 pounds of nitrogen per acre on most of their corn land. Most is added in multiple in-season applications through irrigation.

An independent service provides irrigation scheduling, guided by neutron probes to measure soil moisture in every field. Real-time moisture probes are moved over to corn once they're done in potato and onion fields, as well.

Frederickson and Tallman consider a post-harvest consultation with a seed company agronomist a critical step in producing 300-bushel yields. DeKalb seed salesman Kevin Zander brings an agronomist for the post-harvest visit.

They spend a half day reviewing yield maps.

"We look at curves to see downtrends or uptrends, and may adjust nitrogen applications where needed," Tallman added. "There are points in time when we didn't make the application soon enough or did it too soon."


"We have microclimates out here, and we have to manage those the best that we can," Zander noted. "But, at the end of the day, this is a wonderful climate with almost zero thunderstorms. Almost every day is sunny, and there's not a lot of disease pressure because of the Fredericksons' diverse rotations."

"They're regulated on how much nitrogen they can put on, so they have to be very aware of all the little details," noted Dave Heimkes, the Monsanto agronomist who visits the Frederickson farm post-harvest. "It gets down to timing applications for environmental impact but also to get the most bang for the buck. We have to make sure that we have what we need at certain stages of plant growth. There are no extras in that program."

Heimkes uses the analytical program Climate FieldView to understand yield-limiting factors.

"FieldView turns every acre into a test plot," Heimkes said. "When you have a yield map spanning your farm, you can see what's happening. It gives you a whole different dimension. I'm a corn nerd. I'm always looking for another layer of information."


Vote Clears House Farm Bill

By Chris Clayton
DTN Ag Policy Editor

WASHINGTON (DTN) -- After hours of criticism by Democrats on changes to food programs, the House Agriculture Committee passed a farm bill out of committee Wednesday on a strictly partisan 26-20 vote as every Republican voted for the bill and every Democrat opposed it.

Chairman Michael Conaway, R-Texas, told reporters afterward he hopes the bill can get to a full House vote during the first week of May. Conaway said in opening remarks he was determined to get the bill done on time, as the current farm bill expires Sept. 30, the end of the federal fiscal year.

"My view on this has not changed," Conaway said. "The current farm bill is set to expire at the end of the year, so we have a duty to act."

The words "farm bill" were stated more times than can be counted, but little time was taken by the committee on programs and policies directly related to farmers. Most of the debate and complaints from Democrats focused on proposed changes to job training and eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Countering Conaway, Ranking Member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., called the legislation "a flawed bill that is the result of a bad and nontransparent process." Peterson said Republicans are on an "ideological crusade" regarding SNAP changes that would turn urban lawmakers against farm programs on the House floor.

"Mr. Chairman, what's going on here is we are turning friends into enemies," Peterson said.

SNAP is used by 42.2 million people and nutrition programs overall would take up 77% of the projected $867 billion in farm-bill costs over the next 10 years. SNAP also was the driver for the lion's share of $100 billion in projected savings over the current farm bill.

Republicans want people defined as able-bodied adults without dependents to be required to perform 20 hours of work or job training weekly to get SNAP benefits. The bill also changes income eligibility standards by states, limiting income eligibility nationally for SNAP benefits to people who earn 130% of the federal poverty line or less, or about $26,000 a year for a three-person household. Currently, some states go as high as 200%.

Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., chairman of the nutrition subcommittee, said changes in nutrition programs aren't about saving money, but getting good policy.

"We want to look at good policy to help our neighbors in need who find themselves in a tough circumstance," Thompson said. He added, "No one is kicking them off of SNAP because of mandatory work requirements," though if people do not participate in job training or get a job, then they do not participate in SNAP.

Democrats said roughly 1.6 million people would end up removed from SNAP, while states would be required to greatly expand job-training programs that would end up underfunded. Democrats said the cuts were attacks on poor people.

"We sometimes look at poor people as if they are not taxpayers," said Rep Al Lawson, D-Fla. "They pay a higher cost of food than most of us here."

Lawson noted the drive on job training goes against the mission of the committee. "I ask you to really look at the poor, and this committee should be more concerned about feeding America than anything else," he said.

The bill does what most farm and commodity groups wanted over the past two years of hearings and forums by protecting crop insurance from cuts. The bill doesn't change eligibility for premium subsidies or place any restrictions on revenue policies.

With trade being an emphasis right now, farm groups had called for doubling funding for the Market Access Program and the Foreign Market Development program -- known as MAP and FMD. The bill doesn't add funding, but does restore full funding for the programs, which are considered key tools to help sell U.S. agricultural products overseas.

The markup and amendments did not change the commodity programs from the initial language released last week. Among the details in the commodity programs are changes to the Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) that would use crop insurance data to calculate yields. The House also would eliminate the individual farm coverage under ARC and stick solely with the county program.

The bill maintains the same reference prices for nearly every commodity in the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program. There was talk by Peterson to increase reference prices up to 10%, but no amendment was offered to make that change.

However, Democrats on the House Agriculture Committee wrote President Donald Trump on Tuesday, asking him not to create ad-hoc assistance programs for farmers affected by trade disputes, but instead work for long-term programs and safety nets such as shoring up commodity programs. The letter noted that, despite income declines among farmers, the draft farm bill "provides no new policy to address these challenges. This presents you with an opportunity to mitigate the damages already inflicted on American farmers, and to protect them from future harm."

Peterson said he was more concerned about commodity prices since the trade disputes fired up between the U.S. and China. He pointed to the 178.6% tariff slapped on sorghum this week to make his point. Peterson said if the Trump administration has more money for safety-net payments for farmers, then more funding should just go to boost the commodity programs.

"The only reason some of my producers have survived the last three years of low prices is because extraordinary yields have saved us," Peterson said.


The House bill would eliminate new signups under USDA's largest conservation program, the Conservation Stewardship Program. The contracts for the current 72 million acres in CSP would continue until they expire, but no new enrollment would be allowed. Instead, the bill would invest more in the Environmental Quality Incentives Program.

The Conservation Reserve Program would increase by 5 million acres to 29 million acres, but would reduce rental rates to 80% of the current average county rental rate for ground. USDA would be required to more frequently update rental rates under CRP as well.


Democrats offered no amendments to the bill. Two amendments had some extended debate. One was by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, who has pushed for nearly eight years for his "Protect Interstate Commerce Act," which is meant to target states that require agricultural standards beyond federal law.

Specifically, King criticized California's law that requires eggs imported into the state to meet the same cage-space requirements and standards California imposes on eggs produced in the state. King said the Founding Fathers expected the states to have a free-trade zone amongst each other that is blocked by such laws.

"Restore free trade between the states and pre-empt some really bad things coming down the pike," he said.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., former chairman of the committee and now Judiciary Committee chairman, agreed with King that state laws could restrict agriculture and food shipments in several ways. "The impact of leaving this unchecked is very devastating to our economy," Goodlatte said.

King's amendment was again added to the bill in a voice vote after an attempt by Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., to undercut King's amendment failed.

Denham and King then had another back-and-forth over Denham's amendment to make it a felony to knowingly slaughter a dog or cat for human consumption, or import a dog or cat for human consumption.

"Just one question after seeing this thing passed around: Are people really eating dogs?" Lawson asked, leading to laughter in the committee room.

Denham said that, yes, indeed, people are eating dogs. King and others said that could be a cultural issue where they come from and questioned whether there should be a felony law against it. Still, Denham's provision was added to the bill on a voice vote.

Chris Clayton can be reached at Chris.Clayton@dtn.com

Follow him on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN


More Syngenta Corn Settlement Details

By Todd Neeley
DTN Staff Reporter

OMAHA (DTN) -- It may be at least a year before farmers and others start to receive payments from a $1.51 billion settlement from a lawsuit filed following Syngenta's release of Agrisure Viptera and Agrisure Duracade MIR162 corn traits.

A federal court recently approved three additional subclasses of parties allegedly hurt by Syngenta's actions, according to an April 10, 2018, court order from the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas in Kansas City.

The settlement now will include three additional subclasses. That includes any producer who owned any interest in corn in the U.S. priced for sale, purchased Agrisure Viptera and/or Agrisure Duracade corn seed, and produced corn grown from those traits. The settlement also will include any grain-handling facility and ethanol plant that owned interest in corn priced for sale during the period.

Court documents show Syngenta was required to make about $400 million in initial payments to the escrow account by the end of March. The final $1.1 billion is due either by April 1, 2019, or 30 days after the court's final approval order, whichever comes later. Payouts will not begin until the total funds are deposited and the court approves the final settlement.

Paul Minehart, Syngenta's head of corporate communications for North America, said in a statement the company supports the settlement.

"Syngenta is pleased that the court granted preliminary approval to the settlement, which allows Syngenta to avoid the burden, distraction and uncertainty of ongoing litigation and to continue its focus on agricultural innovation," he said in a statement to DTN. "Agrisure Viptera and Agrisure Duracade demonstrate significant, scientifically validated benefits for growers in combatting a wide spectrum of pests. Syngenta launched these products to help ensure that American farmers could access the latest seed technology approved in the U.S. and to help farmers increase their productivity and crop yield."

According to the court order last week, corn producers involved in the settlement number in the "thousands," while there are more than 1,500 grain handlers and more than 180 ethanol producers affected.

So far, it's unclear how much farmers and other parties will receive.

The court acknowledged in last week's order that the $1.51 billion settlement may not account for all damages in the case. Original lawsuits estimated the damages at near $5 billion.

"The amount of the settlement ($1.51 billion) is very large in an absolute sense, and it represents a significant percentage of the actual nationwide damages alleged by the MDL plaintiffs' experts," the court said in its order.

"Although the plaintiffs prevailed in the first trial (Kansas), that verdict is subject to post-trial review and appeal, and given the disputed nature of the factual and legal issues, other plaintiffs face a significant risk of little or no recovery in future trials. Therefore, it is reasonable to believe that the immediate recovery of such a substantial sum is more valuable than the mere possibility of a more favorable outcome after protracted and expensive litigation over many years in the future."

In June 2017, a jury awarded farmers $217.7 million in compensatory damages in what was the first lawsuit filed against Syngenta on the shipment of Viptera corn to China. The trial was one of several on tap in the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas in Kansas City.

The lawsuit was filed by four Kansas farmers who represent more than 7,000 farmers in the state. It is the first of multiple lawsuits claiming Syngenta should have inspected and prevented harvested Viptera (MIR 162) corn from being shipped to China in 2013 and 2014.

Plaintiffs in the case allege Syngenta sold corn with Agrisure Viptera and Duracade traits prior to the traits receiving import approvals in several countries, including China. China claims it found and rejected corn shipments containing the traits, which plaintiffs say led to lower corn prices.

The official lawsuits filed on behalf of corn producers include cases in Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin.

Todd Neeley can be reached at todd.neeley@dtn.com

Follow him on Twitter @toddneeleyDTN


Dicamba Drama Continues

By Emily Unglesbee
DTN Staff Reporter

ROCKVILLE, Md. (DTN) -- On Monday, Arkansas' in-season ban on dicamba went into effect, but not without some confusion and drama.

Two judges in Phillips and Mississippi counties filed temporary restraining orders of the ban late last week, in response to two separate but mostly identical complaints filed by about 155 farmers. The office of Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has filed motions to dissolve these bans and requested hearings on the matter this week.

That leaves the state's dicamba ban for Xtend soybeans and cotton in limbo for those farmers.

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture released a statement on April 13 stating that: "At a minimum we will be enforcing the federal label for pesticide applications until there is more certainty from the court system in interpreting recent decisions. As a reminder, state law provides for the use of civil penalties up to $25,000 for dicamba applications that result in significant off-target damage."

The Arkansas State Plant Board decided to restrict dicamba use in the state after receiving 997 complaints of dicamba injury to soybeans and other crops and plants in 2017. BASF's dicamba herbicide Engenia is registered for use on Xtend soybeans and cotton in Arkansas, but the plant board's rule bans its use from April 16 through Oct. 31.

While Monsanto contends XtendiMax is labeled in the state, the Arkansas State Plant Board refused to confirm to DTN whether XtendiMax could be legally used in Arkansas at any time.

Here's a summary of the current state of the three legal cases brought by farmers against the Arkansas State Plant Board regarding dicamba use:


Eighty-five farmers filed a last-minute complaint against the plant board on April 12 in Mississippi County, Arkansas, demanding that the dicamba ban be voided immediately. Their lawyer, David Burnett, argued that the plant board itself was an unconstitutional entity that does not deserve legislative capabilities, because it contains unelected members appointed by private individuals.

Just one day later, Second Judicial Circuit Court Judge Tonya Alexander viewed the complaint and issued a temporary restraining order of the ban, stating that, "the Plaintiffs face the immediate, irreparable harm to their crops."

A nearly identical complaint was filed by about 70 farmers in Phillips County, Arkansas, represented by Kyle Stoner, on April 14. In response, First Judicial Circuit Judge Christopher Morledge also issued a temporary restraining order of the ban that afternoon.

The Arkansas Attorney General's office has issued motions to dissolve both these restraining orders, arguing that no immediate damage is posed to the farmers' crops. Separate hearings on both motions are expected this week, Nicole Ryan, communications director for the Attorney General's office, told DTN.

"The Plant Board rule was approved by both the Governor and the General Assembly and, as such, Attorney General Rutledge has a duty to defend against the challenges that have been brought against it," she said.


Last week, the state's Supreme Court ruled that the six Arkansas farmers who filed a lawsuit against the Arkansas State Plant Board will not have access to dicamba for now.

Previously, Judge Tim Fox had dismissed the farmers' lawsuit on March 30 based on an earlier Supreme Court ruling that state agencies like the Plant Board have sovereign immunity -- that, is they can't be sued.

But Fox also ruled that, because the dismissal violated their due process rights, the ban did not apply to these six farmers. The state immediately appealed that ruling to the state Supreme Court, which granted a stay of the judge's order. That means the farmers will not be able to use dicamba on Xtend crops until the appeal is decided, which can take up to eight months.

"The Arkansas Supreme Court's stay of Judge Fox's ruling means that the Court believes the Plant Board is likely to win on appeal, which is another reason why the other two circuit courts need to vacate their temporary restraining orders," Ryan told DTN.

The farmers and their attorney, Grant Ballard, have indicated that they will continue to file appeals.

See DTN's previous coverage of this case here and here

Emily Unglesbee can be reached at Emily.unglesbee@dtn.com

Follow her on Twitter @Emily_Unglesbee


Senators Turning Up RFS Heat


By Todd Neeley
DTN Staff Reporter

OMAHA (DTN) -- Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, didn't mince words on Tuesday when talking about EPA granting waivers to the Renewable Fuel Standard while at the same time apparently slow-walking the approval of year-round E15 sales. He said he puts the blame squarely on EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.

Grassley told agriculture journalists he believes President Donald Trump is firmly behind the RFS but has an EPA administrator acting to the contrary.

"I believe that Pruitt is a loose cannon who is not carrying out the president's wishes," Grassley said.

The president last week indicated his support for allowing year-round E15 sales. Yet the EPA told DTN it had not made a decision on whether to move forward on rulemaking to allow unfettered sales of the 15% ethanol-85% gasoline blend.

EPA's approach has drawn concern from U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and biofuel and agriculture interests who fear what they say is ethanol demand destruction.

On Tuesday, Grassley and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., led a bipartisan group of senators in writing a letter to Pruitt, calling on the EPA to stop issuing waivers and to provide more transparency on those waivers. Also signing the letter were Sens. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa; Debbie Stabenow, R-Mich.; Deb Fischer, R-Neb.; Dick Durbin, D-Ill.; John Thune, R-S.D.; Tina Smith, D-Minn.; Roy Blunt, R-Mo.; Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.; Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill.; Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.; and Joe Donnelly, D-Ind.

The 13 senators asked Pruitt to provide a full list of refiners receiving the waivers dating back to 2016, as well as a detailed report to Congress describing the justification for the waivers. In addition, the senators asked Pruitt to provide information about EPA's plan on how it will approach future requests.

The EPA has drawn fire for a seeming lack of transparency on waivers dating back to 2016 as well as details about the companies receiving waivers and the amount of biofuel blending excluded.

The agency granted nearly 40 RFS waivers to so-called small refiners since 2016, including about 25 in 2017 alone. Included in last year's total is a request by Andeavor, which posted a $1.5 billion profit last year. Also, the New York Times reported last week that oil giants Exxon and Chevron have requested waivers for 2018.

Estimates are that, to date, the waivers issued could have resulted in more than 1 billion gallons of ethanol not being blended.

In the letter to Pruitt, the senators said waivers were not meant to be for larger refiners.

"Such action would represent a clear violation of your commitments and clearly undermine the president's long-standing support of the RFS," they wrote. "These waivers fall well outside the bounds of the letter or spirit of this provision in the law, which sought to provide flexibility for the smallest of U.S. refiners, and only in cases of genuine hardship. Worse, EPA's actions are already hurting biofuel producers and farmers across the United States at a time when farm income is at the lowest levels since 2006 and retaliatory trade measures from China threaten to deepen the crisis."

The waivers have effectively pushed more 2016 renewable identification numbers, or RINs, biofuel credits back onto the market. The senators argued that has cut demand for actual biofuel gallons to be blended.

"This further reduces incentives for blending, slashing demand for biofuels and feedstocks, and hurting farmers and biofuels companies," they said in the letter. "These waivers could cripple the market for years to come, holding back homegrown biofuels while creating windfall profits for large oil refiners -- the exact opposite of this administration's promise to voters."

They continued, "Perhaps most concerning, these lucrative waivers have reportedly been issued behind closed doors, outside of the public process, while the EPA has simultaneously been working with refineries to pressure President Trump to sign off on a RIN cap that would wreak further havoc on the RFS."

The senators reminded Pruitt of what he said during his confirmation hearing regarding the RFS, "Any steps that the EPA administrator takes need to be done in such a way as to further the objectives of Congress in that statute, not undermine the objectives of Congress in that statute."

Biofuel interests have said the agency should be considering waivers at the time it updates renewable volume obligations (RVO) each year.

The senators asked Pruitt to respond in writing, "describing your commitment and plan to consider future small-refinery waivers only during the annual RVO rulemaking process and commitment to provide full notice and opportunity for comment on any future small-refinery waiver requests."

Todd Neeley can be reached at todd.neeley@dtn.com

Follow him on Twitter @toddneeleyDTN


Bill Loosens Payment Rules

By Chris Clayton
DTN Ag Policy Editor

OMAHA (DTN) -- While most of the focus on the House farm bill is on changes to nutrition programs, a new kerfuffle has cropped up over changes to farm programs that would benefit LLCs, S corporations and farmers who want to enroll cousins, nieces and nephews for commodity payments.

The changes, if they become law, would expand the eligibility of pass-through entities for farm-program payments to include limited-liability corporations and S-corps, as a way to avoid adjusted gross income caps for commodity payments. Currently, joint ventures and general partnerships are not subject to payment limits or income means testing. New language would expand those provisions for LLCs and S-corps.

In a response to DTN, House Agriculture Committee GOP staff stated there have been several examples of farmers forming LLCs based on advice of attorneys who did not understand the impact of limiting the entire farm to a single $125,000 payment limit. In at least some instances, that failed decision on which entity to form has led to bankruptcies, committee staff wrote in an email.

The House Agriculture Committee convenes Wednesday in Washington, D.C., with Chairman Michael Conaway, R-Texas, seeking to advance the farm bill over objections from Democrats who are especially critical of the bill's language tightening job and training requirements for people on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, as well as capping eligibility nationally to families earning up to 133% of the federal poverty line -- $32,319 for a family of four.

The House bill also broadens the definition of family farms eligible for commodity payments to include first cousins, nieces and nephews. They'd be eligible for farm-program payments as long as they can show they contribute to farm management decisions.

This was done because of scenarios in which brothers and their children farm, but if a brother passes away, then "the lineal connection would be broken between the surviving brother and the offspring of the deceased, therefore the operation would no longer qualify as a family farm" and that would limit the farm with listing the cousin, nephew or niece as a farm manager to qualify for payments.

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition came out aggressively Monday against the new language in the farm bill, stating the changes would "pave the way for further farm consolidation."

Ferd Hoefner, a policy analyst for NSAC, said some of the language in the House bill would go "back to the days of the full-on Mississippi Christmas Tree."

Hoefner said in an interview, "It's just a complete evisceration of means testing and payment limits."

The "Mississippi Christmas Tree" was a farm payment strategy dreamed up after the 1985 farm bill came out. Farmers created multiple partnerships and corporations to increase the payments. As a 1987 Washington Post article noted, planted acres declined in 1986, but an additional 100,000 wheat farms and 160,000 corn farms had sprung up to collect farm program payments. A 1987 federal spending bill then reined in farm payments.

The Congressional Budget Office shows a small bump in commodity spending from 2019-23 of about $149 million. Overall, the House Ag Committee draft would increase spending $3 billion over the next five years. Conaway said last week that everyone knew he was working to come in with a farm bill that was basically budget neutral, so he did not have funding to make major changes to commodity programs.

"Everybody wanted more money in their particular aspect of the farm bill, and I didn't have any new money there at all," Conaway said. "That reality is there. Our producers know it. They've been pretty blunt in understanding where the perimeters were for a new farm bill."

Dale Moore, vice president of public affairs for the American Farm Bureau Federation, said AFBF's policy is that there should not be payment limits on farm programs and the group does not have a policy on adjusted gross income caps. Moore said some of the changes being made by the committee are to ensure all farmers are treated fairly regardless of how their businesses are structured.

"If there's going to be payment limits they need to be fair and balanced," Moore said, adding that payments also need to be flexible. He added that there is still direct attribution tying payments back to the individual. "You can have as many entities as you want, but you still have direct attribution."

Opening up the entities and family eligibility for the farm safety net could draw criticism when the push in the nutrition title is to wean people off the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Still, Moore notes there is no savings in nutrition going to other parts of the farm bill.

"From our standpoint, it simply makes it easier for farmers to pick whatever legal structure works best for them, and I think the committees are not commenting on it one way or the other," Moore said.

Joshua Sewell, senior policy analyst at Taxpayers for Common Sense, said the farm bill tweaks around the edges, but basically creates "loopholes" for more people to collect commodity payments. Sewell said there isn't enough conversation over whether the farm bill improves the rural economy or simply increases farmer and rancher dependency on Washington, D.C.

"Let's have that debate on whether you need six partners to run a rice farm," Sewell said. "Let's have the debate about what the ag sector and these ag businesses need."

The 2014 farm bill placed a $125,000 individual payment cap ($250,000 for married couples) on all combined commodity programs, whether that was ARC or PLC. Payments were also limited to those farmers with adjusted gross income below $900,000. Commodity certificates then eliminated any cap on marketing-loan gains, and the House version of the new farm bill sticks with the premise that no cap is needed on marketing loans.

USDA tightened the rules defining "actively engaged" in 2015 and limited corporations to up to three farm managers after a Government Accountability Office found a few farm entities had listed more than a dozen people, in some instances, collecting commodity payments. When the rules were changed in 2015, USDA estimated about 3,200 general partnerships would lose out on roughly $106 million in commodity payments over a three-year span.

The House bill also would expand eligibility for disaster programs by exempting farmers and ranchers in pass-through businesses from the $900,000 limit on adjusted gross income (AGI) -- if the business receives at least 75% of its income from farming, ranching or forestry. This was done because recent disasters have shown the AGI limit "fails to recognize the significant differences in the level of investment needed for annual row crops vs. 10-year investments in herds, or up to 30-year-plus investments in tree stands and vines," House Ag Committee staffers stated.

Pointing to an example, House Ag staffers stated that the AGI limit on disasters means that only an estimated 10% of citrus farmers affected by hurricanes in Florida would have even been eligible at all for Tree Assistance Program payments in 2017.

Chris Clayton can be reached at Chris.Clayton@dtn.com

Follow him on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN


Cash Market Moves

By Mary Kennedy
DTN Cash Grains Analyst

Spring has yet to arrive in Minnesota. This past weekend, Minnesota broke a snowfall record for April, with over 13 to 25 inches falling from the Twin Cities to the southern part of the state. Minnesota farmers have yet to get in their fields, meaning they have planted zero crops. The Minnesota Twins canceled four of their first 10 home games because of snow, Minnesota High Schools have shortened their spring sports seasons and not a single one of Minnesota's 10,000 Lakes have yet to declare "ice out."

Finally, on April 11, after cutting through ice on Lake Pepin, the Motor Vessel Michael Poindexter, pushing 12 barges, locked through Lock and Dam 2, near Hastings, Minnesota, on its way to St. Paul. The St. Paul District maintains a 9-foot navigation channel and operates 12 locks and dams to support navigation from Minneapolis to Guttenberg, Iowa.

This was the latest start to the shipping season in the UMR not related to flooding. The USACE noted that the earliest date for an up-bound tow to reach Lock and Dam 2 was March 4 in 1983, 1984 and 2000. The average start date of the navigation season is March 22. The latest arrival date unrelated to flooding was April 8, 2013. Historic flooding in 2001 delayed the arrival of the first tow until May 11.

Farther north, up in Duluth, the first saltie (oceangoing ship) of the 2018 commercial navigation season, the Federal Weser, arrived in the Port of Duluth-Superior late on on April 12. Here is a video of the ship arriving in the dark, heading under the Duluth aerial lift bridge: https://www.youtube.com/….

According to a press release by the Duluth Port Authority, the Federal Weser was expected to start loading 21,400 metric tons of durum wheat bound for Algeria April 16 in the morning at the CHS terminal on the Superior side of the harbor. If all goes according to plan, departure could be late April 17 or April 18.

"Some of the world's highest-quality grains move from farmers' fields in Minnesota and North Dakota through the Port of Duluth-Superior to customers in countries across Europe, North Africa and points beyond," said Kate Ferguson, director of business development for the Duluth Seaway Port Authority. "When it comes to shipping everything from agricultural products and iron ore to heavy equipment and project cargoes, the Port of Duluth-Superior literally links the heartland of North America to the world."

The Federal Weser is the first of a half-dozen salties that will make their way to the Twin Ports via the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System during the next couple of weeks.

Meanwhile, as Minnesota digs out of another weekend snowstorm, those of us who live here have concluded that our official seasons of 2018 are: winter, summer, fall, winter. Spring will not make an appearance this year.

Mary Kennedy can be reached at mary.kennedy@dtn.com

Follow Mary Kennedy on Twitter @MaryCKenn


Baby, It's Cold Outside

By Emily Unglesbee
DTN Staff Reporter


-- Check your soil temperature and wait for 50 degrees Fahrenheit with a mild forecast ahead.
-- Your small-grains planting window closes soon.
-- Don't switch maturity groups for corn and soybeans until planting pushes deeper into May and June.
-- Don't drive on wet soils and if you must, keep axle loads below 10 tons.


ROCKVILLE, Md. (DTN) -- No, you didn't mix up the calendar pages. It's mid-April, and some Midwest farmers are watching snow pile up on their fields this week.

As the pace of planting slips further behind schedule, the temptation to plant seeds into frigid, wet soils grows.

"I know the calendar says plant now, but the soil does not," cautioned University of Missouri plant pathologist Kaitlyn Bissonnette.

With the exception of the dry Southern Plains and mild Southeast, most of the country should not expect much relief soon, added DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist Bryce Anderson.

"The pattern that we're in is going to continue through the rest of this month and well into May, with the Northern Plains and Midwest having below-normal temperatures and above-normal precipitation," he explained. "Combine the lingering influence of La Nina with the effect on the pattern of persistent far northern latitude high pressure re-routing the prevailing winds from the polar regions, and you get the kind of features that we have going on."

Here's quick review of the many pitfalls that await farmers who succumb to planting in cold, wet soils, courtesy of Extension scientists across the country:


Seeds, meet your worst enemy: frigid water.

Fifty degrees Fahrenheit is the goal for soil temperatures at planting -- but that's only half the equation. Warm weather for at least a few days is critical to keep soil temperatures up, particularly in the face of moisture. If corn seed takes in cold water in the first 48 hours, a phenomenon known as imbibitional chilling occurs, and can damage and kill a seedling, University of Nebraska crop scientists explained in a CropWatch article. Link here: https://bit.ly/…

After that, corn seeds can wait out cold conditions fairly well, but a good fungicide seed treatment is critical, Bissonnette said. "A lot of seedling diseases require cool and prolonged soil temperatures," she noted. "Pythium is the biggest risk right now."

For soybean seeds, the risk of imbibitional chilling drops after just 24 hours, but they are actually more sensitive to cold and may not tolerate sitting in cold soils as well as corn seed, a CropWatch article from last spring reminds us. Link here: https://bit.ly/…

Some farmers are starting to push soybean planting dates, based on solid research connections between early planting and higher yield potential. Link here: https://bit.ly/…

"But from a pathology perspective, you have to balance the yield return of early planting and disease risk," Bissonnette cautions. Sudden death syndrome is a growing problem for Midwest soybean growers. It infects fields early in the growing season and favors cool, moist soils.

If you're curious how your corn and soybean seed will handle cold, wet soil conditions, consider this cold germination test from the University of Nebraska. Link here: https://bit.ly/…


From the University of Minnesota, Extension Agronomist Jochum Wiersma warns that the window for small-grains planting is shrinking as April wears on. Link here: https://bit.ly/…. Wheat, barley, and oats need cool weather early in the season to maximize yield potential. As planting is pushed deeper into April and May, small grains will be forced to do their early season growing in warmer conditions.

"This forces development along faster and causes the plant to have less time to grow. Plants end up with fewer tillers, smaller heads, and fewer and smaller kernels per head, cutting into our yields," Wiersma explained.

Growers can "partially offset" this growing yield loss by increasing seeding rates, but some growers may have to rethink their planting plans if the weather continues to keep growers out of the field into the month of May.

Some soybean growers might start to rethink their maturity group selection as spring wears on. But research from University of Wisconsin Extension Soybean and Small Grains Specialist Shawn Conley suggests that dropping to an earlier-maturing soybean variety is only necessary when planting dips into June. Before that, longer maturity group beans can actually help maximize your yield, Conley said. Link here: https://bit.ly/…

Similar research exists for corn seeds, from Purdue's corn agronomist, Bob Nielsen. He found that, for Indiana and Ohio farmers, the most common hybrid maturities will adjust to a planting date throughout the month of May. Only after that does he recommend considering a faster-maturing hybrid. Link here: https://bit.ly/…

However, for more Northern Midwest growers, an earlier switch to shorter maturities can be necessary, depending on your grain-drying costs, this Michigan State University article notes. Link here: https://bit.ly/…

For more thoughts on how to handle late planting in corn and soybeans, see this trove of research aggregated by Nielsen. Link here: https://bit.ly/…


Wet soils and farm machinery don't mix well, cautions this Penn State article. Driving on soaked fields causes rutting and soil compaction. Link here: https://bit.ly/…

High axle loads (10 tons or higher) can cause compaction so deep in the subsoil profile that even thawing-freezing cycles and cover crops cannot repair it easily, Ohio State warns. Link here: https://bit.ly/…

Emily Unglesbee can be reached at Emily.unglesbee@dtn.com

Follow her on Twitter @Emily_unglesbee


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