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DTN Midday Grain Comments 05/26 11:07

DTN Midday Grain Comments 05/26 11:07 Grains Mixed at Midday Trade is higher for corn and wheat, soybeans making new lows. By David Fiala DTN Contributing Analyst General Comments The U.S. stock market indices are lower with the Dow futures down 15. The interest rate products are mostly higher. The dollar index is 20 points higher. Energies are mixed with crude up 0.30. Livestock trade is mixed. Precious metals are mixed with gold $9.80 higher. CORN Corn trade is 3 to 5 cents higher at midday with corn trying to close out another positive week going into the Holiday weekend. Crop weather will be the main market driver moving forward as trade goes into the long weekend with near term conditions remaining soggy in the east, and drier conditions building on the northern planins. Ethanol margins futures have bounced this morning but firmer corn and middling unleaded values are limiting margin gains. On the July chart support is at the $3.69- $3.70 area where we find the major moving averages clustered. Resistance is at the May $3.79 high. SOYBEANS Soybean trade is 5 to 9 cents lower at midday with continued liquidation after new lows were made. Meal is $1 to $2 lower and oil is 20 to 30 points lower. Continued long liquidation may stick around into the weekend in the absence of a major weather driver in the near term. Basis is steady to firm with the weaker futures of recent days. Chinese crush margins have turned negative, and there has been talk of canceled US Cargos weighing on the market. July beans have new support at $9.32, with resistance at 10-day moving average of $9.54. WHEAT Wheat trade is 4 to 7 cents higher at midday with firmer action developing during the day session ahead of the long weekend and broader harvest expansion. Early yields remain on the light side with poor protein. World weather will continue to gain importance with concerns about wet weather in western Canada and dry pockets elsewhere with the Dakota's now moving into drought conditions. The dollar continues to drift at the lower end of the range. On the July KC contract support is the recent low at $4.21, with the 10-day at $4.30 just below the market with the 50-day at $4.37 which we are testing at midday. David Fiala is a DTN contributing analyst and the President of FuturesOne and a registered Advisor. David Fiala can be reached at dfiala@futuresone.com Follow him on Twitter @davidfiala (BAS) Copyright 2017 DTN/The Progressive Farmer. All rights reserved.

DTN Midday Livestock Comments 05/26 11:50

DTN Midday Livestock Comments 05/26 11:50 Firm gains quickly moved into the market late Thursday morning as June live cattle posted triple-digit gains. The renewed buyer support is based on sluggish market activity, more than changing fundamentals developing across the complex. By Rick Kment DTN Analyst GENERAL COMMENTS: Trade volume remains light to moderate across livestock futures as gains have quickly moved back into the complex. This has created a shift from the early trade direction, which pushed markets lower on fundamental market weakness in the cattle complex. Traders in the hog complex have moved away from the narrow pressure based on firming cash hog support, with gains developing in most nearby contracts. Corn prices are lower in light trade. July corn futures are 1 cent lower. Stock markets are higher in light trade. The Dow Jones is 76 points higher while Nasdaq is up 45 points. LIVE CATTLE: Moderate-to-strong buyer support has quickly moved back into the cattle complex with front-month June futures posting firm triple-digit gains. This significant midday adjustment in livestock markets has little to do with market fundamentals, which still remain weak due to lower cash markets and mixed beef values but lack of overall market activity before the long holiday weekend. The shift from moderate pressure early through the session continues to create adjustments as the day continues. Cash cattle are untraded Thursday morning following light-to-moderate activity in both areas midweek. It is expected that movement in the South will be adequate for the week, but additional trade will be needed to be done through the North. Bids are developing in the North with prices seen at $130 to $132 live and $208 to $210 dressed basis. Asking prices on cattle left on show lists are $134 and higher live basis and $210 and higher. Cash business done earlier in the week are generally $2 per cwt lower in the South and $5 per cwt lower in the North. Beef cut-outs at midday are mixed, $0.43 lower (select) and up $0.07 per cwt (choice) with light movement of 59 total loads reported (22 loads of choice cuts, 25 loads of select cuts, 8 loads of trimmings, 5 loads of ground beef). FEEDER CATTLE: Despite firm selling pressure early in the session, strong triple-digit gains quickly moved into the feeder cattle market, changing the course of market direction at midday. August futures have moved above $150 per cwt with prices seeing more than $1.50-per-cwt gains as traders are quickly adjusting to previous market losses and trying to adjust to market losses seen early in the week. An attempt to make an end-of-the-week rally and shift prices higher would not only help to sustain weekly chart prices, but would also mean adjusting monthly charts heading into the summer months. LEAN HOGS: Following the lackluster interest seen through the morning, buyer support has moved into the lean hog complex as cash support has developed during the morning reports. This has moved all nearby futures contracts higher and sparked increased underlying commercial support through the complex. A fundamental move higher through the end of the month could bring increased technical and fundamental interest back into the market, which may bring even more upward market potential during the summer months. June futures are leading the complex higher, testing the market with prices reaching at $80.50 per cwt at midday. Cash prices are higher on the National Direct morning cash hog report. The weighted average price added $0.15 at $70.46 per cwt with the range from $65.00 to $72.00 on 5,416 head reported sold. Cash prices are higher on the Iowa Minnesota Direct morning cash hog report. The weighted average price added $0.46 at $71.37 per cwt with the range from $65.00 to $72.00 on 1,206 head reported sold. The National Pork Plant Report reported 100 loads selling with prices adding $0.92 per cwt. Lean hog index for 5/23 is at $76.07 up $0.13 with a projected two-day index of $76.25 up $0.18. Rick Kment can be reached at rick.kment@dtn.com (ES) Copyright 2017 DTN/The Progressive Farmer. All rights reserved.

DTN Closing Grain Comments 05/26 13:48

DTN Closing Grain Comments 05/26 13:48 Soybeans Sag to New Lows as Corn, Wheat Hold Firm July soybeans fell another 13 cents Friday, extending Thursday's new one-year low as buying evaporated ahead of Memorial Day weekend. July corn was up a nickel and July Chicago wheat was up 7 1/2 cents, helped by commercial buying and more unwanted rain in this weekend's forecast.

DTN Cattle Close/Trends 05/26 15:45

USDA MARKET NEWS--AFTERNOON CATTLE REPORT 05/26/17 VOLUME USDA TOTAL RANGE DTN PRACTICAL RANGE WT AVG KANSAS CONFIRMED CASH SALES - TODAY: 1,452 WEEK T0 DATE: 18,984 STEERS 1,391 128.00-128.00 128.00-128.00 128.00 HEIFERS 61 128.00-128.00 128.00-128.00 128.00 NEBRASKA CONFIRMED CASH SALES - TODAY: 7,973 WEEK TO DATE: 28,147 STEERS 396 210.00-210.00 210.00-210.00 210.00 HEIFERS 298 208.00-208.00 208.00-208.00 208.00 TEXAS CONFIRMED CASH SALES - TODAY: 998 WEEK TO DATE: 9,903 STEERS 998 132.00-132.00 132.00-132.00 132.00 HEIFERS No reportable trade COLORADO CONFIRMED CASH SALES - TODAY: 1,813 WEEK TO DATE: 2,382 STEERS 1,277 132.00-132.50 132.00-132.50 132.47 HEIFERS 473 132.50-132.50 132.50-132.50 132.50 IOWA CONFIRMED CASH SALES - TODAY: 4,526 WEEK TO DATE: 13,499 STEERS 1,358 208.00-210.00 208.00-210.00 208.25 HEIFERS 1,164 206.00-208.00 206.00-208.00 207.35 COMMENTS: A light trade today in the North and a little cleanup trade in the South all at generally steady money with the rest of the weeks business. 5-AREA LV STR AVE PR&WT: $132.88(1367) HIDE&OFFAL: $11.35 -0.11 CARCASS EQV INDEX CHOICE (600-900#) SELECT (600-900#) #OF HD LIVE BASED 201.80 180.36 49,914 BOX BASED 233.60 206.45 45,478 AVE INDEX 217.70 -1.20 193.40 -1.21 95,392 BEEF CUTOUTS CHOICE (600-900#) SELECT (600-900#) 245.60 -0.51 218.45 -0.53 46.61 LDS CH CUTS / 38.74 LDS SEL CUTS / 2.64 LDS TRIM / 15.28 LDS GROUND BOXED BEEF TREND: Wk on lt-mod dem & offers COMPREHENSIVE WEEKLY CUTOUT VALUE: Week ending 05/19 $234.70 +3.78 CUTTER 90% 350# UP C/O: $176.60 -0.15 NAT'L BONELESS BF TRIM: 16.86 lds / Unevenly stdy on lt dem & offers 90% TRIM: 07 lds: Wtd Avg $227.24 / Unevenly steady *ABCDE AFTER QUOTE REPRESENTS DAYS SINCE LAST REPORTED MARKET TEST*. FI KILL(WTD) FRI 114(575) WK AGO 110(561) YR AGO 112(558) MIX: THU SH93/CB22 SAT 38(613) WK AGO 41(602) YR AGO 28(586) WEEKLY CANADIAN CATTLE IMPORTS. FEEDERS SLAUGHTER S&H Week Ending: 05/13/17 2,991 8,934 Week Ending: 05/06/17 2,032 5,507 Change from prev week: +959 +3,427

DTN Closing Livestock Comment 05/26 16:26

DTN Closing Livestock Comment 05/26 16:26 Cattle Futures Break Hard Given Bearish On-Feed News The cattle complex closed sharply lower right before the holiday recess, pressured by long-liquidation and the negative implications of the May 1 on-feed report. On the other hand, summer lean hog contracts closed the week with solid gains, supported by bull-spreading and ideas of strengthening seasonal fundaments. By John Harrington DTN Livestock Analyst GENERAL COMMENTS The cash cattle trade was limited to scattered sales in parts of the North at $132.50 live and $208.00-$210.00 dressed. The national hog base closed off $0.75 compared with the Prior Day settlement ($67.00-$73.00, weighted average $71.01). From Friday to Friday, livestock futures scored the following changes: Jun LC Off $0.75; Aug LC Off $2.10; Aug FC Off $3.50; Sep FC Off $3.47; Jun LH Up $2.32; Jul LH Up $1.73. Corn futures closed a nickel higher, supported in part by reports of wide spread replanting activity. The stock market closed narrowly mixed with the Dow off 2 and the NASDAQ up 4.

DTN Feeder Pig Index


DTN Chart Technical Points 05/29 16:30

DTN Chart Technical Points 05/29 16:30 DTN FUTURES 10 5/29/17 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 JUL 438.25 432.75 430.83 433.11 435.31 57.78 53.63 49.75 51 48 32 31 CBTWT SEP 451.25 446.38 444.47 447.15 449.37 57.45 53.13 49.25 49 48 31 30 KC WT JUL 437.50 433.00 431.44 437.31 435.78 53.25 50.73 48.41 44 45 25 28 KC WT SEP 455.25 450.75 448.86 454.44 452.02 54.21 51.51 48.96 48 48 28 31 MN WT JUL 568.75 561.56 554.08 550.85 545.26 70.11 64.35 57.72 91 86 71 57 MN WT SEP 573.25 567.00 560.22 557.31 552.05 68.71 63.36 57.33 89 85 73 60 CORN JUL 374.25 371.06 370.78 370.18 369.83 55.98 53.80 51.46 47 48 54 52 CORN SEP 381.75 378.69 378.42 377.89 377.31 55.86 53.81 51.60 49 50 56 54 CORN DEC 392.50 389.38 388.78 388.13 387.27 56.74 54.60 52.35 52 53 60 56 OATS JUL 244.25 241.50 239.53 241.26 230.12 58.66 57.66 54.62 56 61 69 67 OATS SEP 237.00 233.69 230.06 228.75 223.33 65.43 61.64 55.65 83 82 86 72 BEANS JUL 926.50 940.63 952.08 960.82 961.92 26.49 31.45 36.93 9 15 10 20 BEANS AUG 929.50 942.88 953.56 962.07 963.58 26.44 31.37 36.88 9 16 11 20 BEANS SEP 927.75 940.56 950.81 958.63 960.04 25.90 31.00 36.88 8 15 10 20 S MEAL JUL 301.80 304.80 308.20 312.14 314.28 26.42 32.13 38.35 7 6 2 5 S MEAL AUG 302.90 305.95 309.23 313.01 315.11 26.08 31.88 38.29 6 6 2 5 B OIL JUL 31.60 32.06 32.54 32.63 32.23 32.89 38.96 43.57 4 11 34 55 B OIL AUG 31.71 32.17 32.64 32.72 32.33 33.04 39.07 43.65 4 11 35 56 CATTLE JUN 122.70 122.96 122.94 124.70 118.82 48.16 52.61 57.96 48 50 30 38 CATTLE AUG 118.95 120.40 120.16 120.84 114.83 46.63 51.85 57.79 38 53 49 55 FEEDER AUG 146.95 149.56 149.58 151.33 144.56 43.12 47.88 53.98 31 49 34 40 FEEDER SEP 146.75 149.56 149.54 151.04 144.41 42.70 47.74 54.21 30 50 34 41 HOGS JUN 81.82 80.78 79.86 78.41 74.80 83.44 74.91 62.81 89 86 96 95 HOGS JUL 81.90 80.59 80.04 78.72 75.42 80.17 73.22 62.82 82 78 93 94 COTTON JUL 77.09 77.25 78.62 78.93 78.31 40.26 43.86 47.71 6 5 11 20 COTTON OCT 75.18 74.47 75.28 75.45 75.01 49.33 49.57 50.70 43 25 18 26 RICE JUL 10.98 10.97 10.91 10.54 10.27 65.23 64.31 60.61 65 70 93 93 RICE SEP 11.23 11.22 11.16 10.79 10.51 65.48 64.71 61.15 63 69 93 93

DTN Early Word Grains 05/30 05:55

DTN Early Word Grains 05/30 05:55 Short Week Off to a Lower Start July corn was 3 cents lower, July soybeans were 2 cents lower, and July Kansas City (HRW) wheat was 4 cents lower. By Todd Hultman DTN Analyst 6:00 a.m. CME Globex: July corn was 3 cents lower, July soybeans were 2 cents lower, and July Kansas City (HRW) wheat was 4 cents lower. CME Globex Recap: Grains were met with renewed selling interest coming out of three-day holiday weekend. Despite having the most bearish charts, soybean held together better than corn and wheat through early Tuesday morning. Outside markets were also lower despite a sell-off by the U.S. dollar index. DJIA futures were also under light pressure. OUTSIDE MARKETS: The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 2.67 points lower at 21,080.28, the NASDAQ Composite rallied 4.94 points to 6,210.19, and the S&P 500 gained 0.75 point to 2,415.82 Friday. DJIA futures were 15 points lower early Tuesday morning. Asian markets closed mixed with Japan's Nikkei down 4.72 points, Hong Kong's Hang Seng gaining 62.36 points (0.2%), and China's Shanghai Composite adding 2.23 points. European markets were trading mostly lower with London's FTSE 100 off 28.05 points (0.4%), Germany's DAX down 3.64 points, and France's CAC 40 losing 29.69 points (0.6%). The euro was 0.0004 higher at 1.1168 while the U.S. dollar index lost 0.15 to 97.44. June 30-year T-Bonds were 7/32 higher at 154'04 while August gold slipped $4.50 to $1,266.90. Crude oil was $0.23 lower at $49.57 while Brent crude lost $0.45 to $51.84. Malaysian palm oil futures were lower overnight.

DTN Early Word Opening Livestock 05/30 06:18

DTN Early Word Opening Livestock 05/30 06:18 Meat Futures Staged For Mixed Opening, Higher Hogs and Lower Cattle Look for the cattle complex to open moderately lower, pressured by follow-through selling and bearish on feed report implications. On the other hand, lean hog futures should launch the week on a firm basis, supported by short-covering and ideas of seasonally improving fundamentals. By John Harrington DTN Livestock Analyst Cattle: Steady-$2 LR Futures: 50-100 LR Live Equiv $159.25 - .45* Hogs: Steady-$1 HR Futures: 50-100 HR Lean Equiv $ 95.58 - .06** * 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 will naturally have ears cupped Monday morning for reports on the success of meat clearance over the long holiday weekend. Beyond such efforts, feedlot activity will be limited to the distribution of new showlists. Our guess is that the post-holiday offering will be somewhat larger than last week. Initial asking prices could be around $134 plus in the South and $212 plus in the North. Live and feeder futures seem likely to open moderately lower, checked by follow-through selling and further worry linked to the larger-than-expected April placement confirmed by Friday's May 1 Cattle on Feed report.


 DTN Headline News


A Farmer's Water Legal Battle


By Chris Clayton
DTN Ag Policy Editor

OMAHA (DTN) -- Two congressional committee chairmen want to know why the U.S. Department of Justice is still pursuing a Clean Water Act case against a California farmer who potentially faces millions in fines and penalties from the U.S. Corps of Engineers.

John Duarte, who runs a farm and nursery in Hughson, California, has been at the center of a federal prosecution and multiple federal lawsuits against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers because Duarte tilled vernal pools on farm ground he owns in northern California.

Duarte is facing a fine as high as $2.8 million and millions more in mitigation costs as a federal judge's summary ruling against him will lead to a penalty trial now scheduled for August. Duarte had thought federal attorneys and regulators would have dropped the case against him, especially after President Donald Trump's push to dial back the controversial waters of the U.S. rule, followed later by the president's executive order in April calling on regulatory agencies to essentially back off farmers.

"We believed after the election that when the Trump Justice Department looked at this case, they would dispose of it," Duarte said. "It's just a gross abuse of the Clean Water Act. It should be apparent to anybody with objective reasoning on this that it is just government bullying."

On Thursday, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway, R-Texas, and Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., wrote U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions about the case. The chairmen informed Sessions that the case appears to violate congressional intent to exempt traditional farming practices from specific Clean Water Act permit requirements.

Conaway and Goodlatte want the Justice Department to justify its prosecution to the committees, which includes explaining the "novel or strained interpretation of the underlying statutory authority" used in the case.

"I have to say I'm very pleased that Congress is standing up for a faithful interpretation of the Clean Water Act," Duarte said. "It was passed with limitations on government and protections for farmers, and it's a great day when Congress will stand up and defend congressional intent against the agencies."

Duarte's case began after he bought 450 acres of wheat and grazing land in 2012 and went ahead and planted wheat that fall. He got a call from the Corps warning him that he was illegally "deep ripping" wetlands on the farm. The Corps later sent him a letter declaring he was violating the Clean Water Act. The vernal pools defined as wetlands hold water three or four times a year when it rains heavily, mainly due to clay soils.

"This happened even though the pools had been farmed through before with probably even deeper tillage than we did, Duarte said.

The case helped make Duarte a farmers' spokesman in the campaign against an expanded waters of the U.S. rule and the battle with federal agencies over property rights.

Beyond the $2.8 million fine, Duarte could be on the hook for anywhere from $16 million to $33 million in mitigation costs because the Corps wants Duarte to create up to 132 acres of vernal pool mitigation banks.

"This is for vernal pools that are still there in as good or better condition than when we got the property," Duarte said.

In legal filings, the Corps of Engineers argues Duarte is required to get a dredging and fill permit, but did not file one. The Corps pushed an enforcement action against Duarte and his farm, but he also filed his own countersuit against the Corps. A federal judge issued a summary ruling last summer finding Duarte guilty of violating the Clean Water Act. The suit and countersuit are caught up in court motions over appeals even as the courts move to the penalty hearing against Duarte based on the summary judgment against him.

To make things worse, once the Corps and Department of Justice got a summary ruling last summer against Duarte, the Department of Justice filed a similar case against the farmer who sold the land to Duarte.

Yet, as the congressmen noted in their letter to Sessions, the Clean Water Act states that plowing is considered an exempt farming practice that does not require any kind of discharge permit.

A Department of Justice spokesman declined to comment to DTN about the congressmen's letter or the Duarte case.

Tony Francois, an attorney for the Pacific Legal Foundation, notes the position taken by the federal government and the judge who ruled against Duarte is that plowing requires a dredging and fill permit because plowing moves soil from side to side.

"So you have this just bizarre, counterintuitive view of the law over what is allowed by farmers," Francois said. "The letter from the two congressmen is a very important one asking for clarity on it."

If the court decision against Duarte eventually stands, Francois said, it could lead other Corps regional offices to bring similar cases against farmers. Further, citizen suits could be filed to demand farmers get permits.

Farmers could be required to get such permits when they bring the land out of the Conservation Reserve Program, which is how at least part of Duarte's land had been idled during the 1990s. The Corps argued that the land was idled too long for plowing to be considered a normal farming practice on the property.

"Everybody in the Conservation Reserve Program needs to know that the emerging view of the Corps of Engineers is that you are going to need a 404 permit to continue farming that property," Francois said.

Francois noted a 404 permit to dredge and fill can take close to two years to be granted and can often cost businesses $200,000 to $300,000 for engineering and consulting fees.

In addition to the fine, the Department of Justice has asked Duarte for a conservation easement on the property that would prevent it from ever being farmed again, Francois said.

A favorable outcome right now, Duarte said, would be for his nursery to accept a small penalty and then go to an appeals court to rule on all of the various legal arguments in the case. Duarte would like to see an appeal that would define what jurisdictional wetland is under the Clean Water Act, as well as ruling on what is a defined agricultural practice. Duarte also thinks due process should be spelled out when agencies declare a violation has occurred.

"Can you imagine if they get away with this, what can they do to every farmer in America?" Duarte said.

The letter to the Attorney General can be viewed here: https://agriculture.house.gov/…

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

Follow him on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN


Cash Market Moves

By Mary Kennedy
DTN Basis Analyst

Substantial rains last week in the central Plains and central Midwest have caused rivers throughout the central U.S. to the Gulf of Mexico to swell, resulting in more barge traffic delays, according to Tom Russell, Russell Marine Group.

"The Illinois River is at or near flood stage and traffic is moving slowly, and tow sizes have been reduced," Russell said.

In addition to the Illinois River, sections of the Mid to Lower Mississippi River (LMR) are also dealing with high water levels. The Mississippi River in Baton Rouge is expected to crest at its highest level in six years on Tuesday, May 30, hitting 41 feet. The last time the river crested at 41 feet or higher there was in 2011 when it crested at 45 feet. Major flood stage is 40 feet.

The National Weather Service issued this flood warning for Baton Rouge as of Thursday, May 25: "Major flooding is occurring and major flooding is forecast. At 36.0 feet... river traffic and industrial activity on the river side of the levees will be greatly affected. Navigational safety regulations will be strictly enforced."

Barge lines report that extremely high-water operating conditions exist on the Lower Mississippi River and that daylight-only transits exist in certain areas.

Basis levels at river terminals are mixed, depending on the severity of the flooding. Barge freight has risen in the Mid-Mississippi River (MMR) as shippers scramble to find station barges -- barges for their specific facilities -- to beat possible high-water closures. Freight shippers, mainly on the MMR and Illinois River are having trouble finding barges at certain locations because several of the bigger suppliers are running behind due to slowdowns over the past few weeks because of high water, according to freight brokers.

Russell told me, "Upper Mississippi from St. Louis to Cairo is above flood stage, and traffic is moving with safety protocols in place. Tow sizes have been reduced by five to 10 barges and restricted to daylight transit only. The Lower Mississippi River from Cairo to New Orleans is at or near flood stage, and tow sizes are reduced and in some areas, are restricted to daylight transit only."

"Baton Rouge and New Orleans Harbors are in high water and rising," said Russell. "Baton Rouge will crest above flood stage, and New Orleans will crest near flood stage by month end. Both barge and ocean vessel traffic is moving, but safety protocols will be in place at least into June. Safety protocols include daylight-only berthing operations for midstream locations. Extra tug power is required in barge fleets and mooring vessels."

"The high and fast river flow is causing silting at some harbor crossings and Southwest Pass (SWP). The Bar Pilots have implemented a daylight-only transit for inbound vessels drawing a draft of 38 feet or more. Dredges will be working in SWP to clear silting. Extra time will be needed to execute cargo operations during the high-water period," added Russell.


While the Arkansas River reopened after the disastrous flooding a few weeks ago, it is still at flood stage. Several locks were closed earlier this week, and only limited barge movement had been allowed. Arkansas has still been getting inundated by rain, and farmers told me that replanting rice and other crops has been a challenge. The Black River was at 17.6 feet on Thursday morning -- flood stage is 14 feet. The Cache River was at 10.2 feet on Thursday morning -- flood stage is 9 feet. The White River was at 26.53 feet -- flood stage is 24 feet.

Joe Christian, secretary and treasurer of the Arkansas Farm Bureau, farms 3,500 acres, about half of it rice and the rest soybeans and corn. He told me, "The water is finally off my crops. I may be able to save some of my rice but haven't done any field work in a month. It has rained every other day this week, but 40 miles from me, they have been working and getting crops in. I don't have a bean planted or replanted; it's tough right now."

Andy Jett who farms 2,500 acres of rice and soybeans in Clay County, Arkansas, and Ripley County, Missouri, near Success, Arkansas, had this to say: "We finally got all our rice replanted middle of last week and our levees redone towards end of last week. It's been too wet here this week to do anything, so we've been servicing our irrigation motors that got under water and trying to find the fuel tanks that floated off. We will start planting beans when it dries up."

Relief may be slow in coming along the U.S. river system. "The weather pattern of rains/storms across the central Plains, south, and center Midwest are forecast to continue," Russell said early in the week. "That pattern will likely keep most of the rivers in the system fully charged in to the first week of June. Expect and plan for delays."

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

Follow Mary Kennedy on Twitter @MaryCKenn


Seed Demand High


By Emily Unglesbee
DTN Staff Reporter

ROCKVILLE, Md. (DTN) -- How bad has this spring been for corn planting?

Bad enough that some seed companies are now getting calls requesting a second round of replant corn, and the planting season is far from over.

"As far as I know, this will be an historic replant year, particularly for corn," said Ryan Parkin, director of sales and marketing for Beck's Hybrids.

That word "historic" surfaced frequently in DTN interviews with multiple seed companies. Most said this year already ranks first or second in company history for replant demand.


For Burrus Seed, this year is still nowhere near 1993, when one of the worst floods in U.S. history wrecked fields along the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers from April to October.

Replant demand that year was three times greater than this spring so far, said Burrus agronomist Stephanie Porter.

AgriGold agronomy manager Mike Kavanaugh said the record-setting wet spring of 2008 might top this year, but nothing else does. "This ranks right up there as number one or two for the worst years," he said.


The snow and rain system that swept across the Great Plains and Midwest the last weekend of April targeted a swatch of the Eastern Corn Belt that had seen excellent planting conditions in April. Freshly planted fields were flooded, chilled or struggled to emerge from crusted soils.

"So we had record planting in an area where we now have record replanting," Parkin said. He said Beck's is seeing three times their normal replant rate, which usually hovers just under 3%.

The areas with the most replant demand so far are Arkansas, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Missouri and parts of the Great Lakes states, Iowa and Kentucky, seed companies said. Kavanaugh said his agronomy team in the Eastern Corn Belt is reporting overall replant rates ranging from 10% up to 30% and 40% of planted fields, across all seed companies.

"The farther east you go, the worse it is," he said.

Another ill-timed mid-May storm system then hit parts of Illinois and Indiana, right after many growers had finally gotten into the field to replant chilled and flooded fields, Parkin said.

That has led to calls for a second corn replant, mostly from Illinois and Indiana growers, Parkin and Kavanaugh said.


Representatives from AgriGold, Channel, Beck's and Burrus all agreed that the seed supply is holding up so far.

AgriGold went into the year with good seed stock surpluses, thanks to binbuster production in the past two years and a slight reduction in corn acreage this year, Kavanaugh said.

"Of course the very best hybrids, the latest genetics -- those are tough to get," he added, an observation echoed by all the seed companies.

"The closer we get to June 1, the tougher switching to earlier hybrids may get as far as availability, as well as the trait package that you want," said Channel agronomist Jim Erwin. "You may have to plant a SmartStax on soybean ground that had Double Pro before, for example."

Sometime in the first to second week of June, seed companies expect the corn replant demand to switch gears to soybeans. Crop insurance and herbicide decisions earlier in the spring will play a major factor in this, however.

"The practical date to switch from corn to soybeans (also dependent on preventive planting dates/crop insurance dates) is mid-June," Porter said in an email. With corn planting at that point, most growers should budget for 50% of the maximum yield, although ideal growing conditions could improve that, she added.

"After mid-June, you may consider planting soybeans (depending on the herbicide program applied to the field)," Porter said. "By late June, you could expect 50% of maximum soybean yield or more with rain/good weather."


Parkin has one rule of thumb for farmers agonizing over replant decisions.

"I always recommend that when things aren't fit to plant again, the best thing a farmer can do is go and plant any unplanted acres first, whether it be corn or soybeans and then come back and evaluate replant stands," he said.

By then, that raggedy corn stand planted in early May and sporting 22,000 plants per acre may be in much better condition and hold higher yield potential than a fuller stand planted in late May, he explained.

"The later stand might look better, and it might make you feel better, but looks don't pay the bills," he said. "Economically you lost money doing it."

Growers who do decide to replant should keep in mind the herbicide program and fertility of a previous field when considering switching to soybeans. While nitrogen is a big investment for corn growers, much of it may already be gone after this wet spring, Erwin noted.

As for hybrid maturities, do your homework before asking for earlier ones.

Some earlier-maturing hybrids move well between growing geographies, but not all, Erwin said. Picking a short-season hybrid developed for the northern Corn Belt could prove disastrous for disease control in more southern regions, added Parkin.

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

Follow Emily Unglesbee on Twitter @Emily_Unglesbee


Moisture Aids Rangeland Recovery

By Russ Quinn
DTN Staff Reporter

ASHLAND, Kan. (DTN) -- Ranchers whose rangeland was affected by wildfires this spring in southwestern Kansas and northwest Oklahoma are seeing the recovery process progress faster than many expected. Since March, moisture has increased. While the destructive fires burnt structures, animals and fences, there could be some long-term positives for the health of the range after the fires.

In a meeting May 18 put on by Oklahoma State University (OSU) Extension and Kansas State University (KSU) at the Snake Creek Ranch south of Ashland, Kansas, Extension personal from both states discussed how wildfires affect range ecology. They also covered how the fires affected livestock and possible grazing practices ranchers could employ after fires. In addition, a panel comprised of Extension educators from counties affected by previous wildfires and local ranchers discussed how the recovery process went in their areas.


Justin Barr, OSU Extension educator in Ellis County, Oklahoma, said moisture after the fire will dictate how quickly the recovery process goes. The entire region has seen plentiful moisture since the fires and this has allowed grass to grow and pastures to turn green.

Barr, who is a volunteer firefighter and runs his own cattle, has seen several wildfires over the last 10 years. Moisture after wildfires will heal the range considerably faster than one would expect, he said.

"Moisture, more so than the duration or intensity of the fire, is the one factor that will dictate how fast or slow the grass recovers," Barr said.

Tim Marshall, KSU Extension educator for Barber County, Kansas, agreed with Barr. After the Anderson Creek wildfires hit part of his county in March of 2016, most producers feared range recovery could take months, if not years.

The range actually recovered much quicker.

"As with this fire, we had timely rains after and the effects to the grass itself was minimal," said Marshall.

For rangeland that was in good shape before the fires, and then got the timely moisture, ranchers did not need to reduce cattle numbers on the affected land by much. However, Barr said, land in poorer shape before the fires or with more sandy soils could see stocking rates reduced to half the number of animals in a normal grazing setting.


Barr said he is a big proponent of prescribed fires to eliminate unwanted plant species, as well as limit the spread of the eastern red cedar, a pest that can take over rangeland if not controlled. He tries to burn rangeland at least every six to eight years to control red cedar and wishes others would also use controlled burns to do the same against those cedars if they were missed by wildfires.

Another good strategy, in addition to lower stock rates, is to delay when cattle start to graze on rangeland.

Greg Highfill, OSU Extension educator for Woods County, Oklahoma, said allowing the grass a period of rest before grazing will be important for rangeland burnt by fires. Again, the condition of the range before the fires could decree how much delay in grazing is needed, he said.

All three Extension educators stated that a year after the fires in their respective counties there were not many long-term issues with affected rangeland.


In addition to how wildfire affected rangeland, there was some discussion on how livestock emerged from the fires.

Cattle that survived the fires face a list of health issues that affect their ability to breed and support a calf down the road. Burnt hooves, hides, udders and teats can all have long-term effects, Highfill said.

Cows that suffered scorched udders or teats need to be examined closely to see if the damage is permanent or if recovery is possible, he said.

Highfill said he has his own cow-calf herd and in previous fires he had cattle with mildly scorched udders. These cattle recovered and were able to support a calf in future years.

However, ranchers who keep cattle with damaged udders and teats could see short-term issues with the cows kicking the calves off when they attempt to suck, he said. Longer-term issues with udders and teats could result in problems with mastitis when the cows have calves a year from now.

Marshall said if there is any doubt about the effects of scorched udders, it is probably better to err on the side of caution; move these possibly affected cows to town now for sale, rather than face issues down the road.

Cattle can also be affected by the amount of smoke inhaled. Smoke in the lungs can lead to several health issues such as bronchitis, congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema and asthma.

"My vet recommended we treat the calves (for possible lung issues) so we ran them through the chute," Highfill said. "We didn't treat the cows and we never really had any issues with them."


Another topic raised at the meeting was possible weed introduction from donated hay from other areas, including other states.

The rancher who asked the question said he was only feeding the donated hay in one spot in his lots for fear it could have weed seeds in it. He was very concerned he could be introducing a new weed to his area, he said.

All three Extension educators agreed this is a valid concern.

Marshall said he "has no doubt" these donated bales of hay have weeds in them not found in southwestern Kansas and northwest Oklahoma. He recommended producers feed this hay in one spot and then spray herbicides on any weeds that grow later. This will prevent the spread of new weeds.

Barr said when he worked in Roger Mills County, Oklahoma, in the 1990s as the Extension educator, there was a weed found in the county and no one knew what it was. He sent it to the OSU weed scientist and found out it was Scotch Thistle, a weed not found in their county.

"In the 1970s, they air dropped (donated) hay to the dairies in the county during severe winter storms and we speculated that is where this weed came from," Barr said.

Highfill said during the time after the fires this March, an Extension educator in a county in southern Oklahoma stopped hay donations coming up from Texas from crossing his county for concerns about fire ants being in the transported bales, and thus exposing his county to the pest.

"We need to really think about things like this to keep these unwanted visitors out," Highfill said.

Russ Quinn can be reached at russ.quinn@dtn.com

Follow Russ Quinn on Twitter @RussQuinnDTN


Editor's Note:

DTN staff reporters Russ Quinn and Todd Neeley recently traveled to some of the areas in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas that saw wildfires race through earlier this year. DTN's special coverage coming up includes a closer look at how some of the ranchers and communities were affected by the wildfires, how they responded and recovered, and lessons learned for the future.


Corn Decisions

By Emily Unglesbee
DTN Staff Reporter

ROCKVILLE, Md. (DTN) -- Central Indiana grower Mike Starkey has watched rainfall soak, saturate and flood soils across his state with great alarm this spring.

"For everyone who applied nitrogen pre-plant, a lot of it has got to be going right down the tile lines and down to the Mississippi," he said.

Nitrogen loss -- and its crop and environmental consequences -- seem more possible than ever during this wet spring.

Take heart and try to be patient, said University of Illinois crop scientist Emerson Nafziger. He maintains that nitrogen loss is likely far lower than many growers think.

"The biggest danger here is our imagination gets active and tells us there's nothing left out there," he cautioned. "Nitrogen loss is not the biggest factor facing our corn crop right now."


Nitrogen is often lost by leaching -- the physical movement of nitrates out of the soil by water -- or denitrification, where bacteria convert nitrates to gas.

The common denominator for both loss mechanisms is that nitrogen must be in nitrate form.

In order for nitrogen to convert from ammonium to nitrates (nitrification), it needs three key ingredients: heat, moisture and aerated soils. Although the winter and early spring supplied some warm temperatures, much of the Midwest has seen cool conditions throughout May.

As a result, some nitrogen has converted to nitrates by now, especially if it has been in soils for many months. Recent University of Illinois soil samples show that about 70% of fall-applied nitrogen and at least half of March- or April-applied nitrogen was in nitrate form by early May, when the wet weather struck.

But cooler temperatures in May have likely slowed nitrification recently, Nafziger said. "Our soil temperatures have risen slowly in Illinois," he said.

Medium- and heavy-textured soils may also have slowed losses from leaching, he added.

"Soil samples taken from the same fields before and after the heaviest rainfall period do not show large decreases in N in the top 2 feet of soil," he wrote in a university newsletter.

Water moves fairly slowly through silt loam soils, silty clay loam and heavier soils, which are found in many parts of Illinois and the Corn Belt. University of Minnesota Extension educator Brad Carlson estimated that nitrogen moves only about 5 to 6 inches for every inch of water that enters soil beyond its holding capacity in silt or clay loam soils. In sandier soils, that movement is closer to 12 inches, however.

So heavy rainfalls will move nitrogen out of already saturated soils, but don't overestimate the rate, Nafziger said.

"An inch of water per acre coming out of tile lines carrying 10 parts per million nitrate-N takes with it less than 3 pounds of nitrogen per acre," he said. "So even in the wettest areas, we would guess loss to be less than 10 pounds of nitrogen per acre," he said of Illinois fields.

Denitrification is also common with saturated or flooded soils, but like nitrification, it requires warm soil temperatures.

"With soil temperatures in the 60s over most of the past month, we don't believe that denitrification has been a very large loss mechanism this spring," Nafziger said.


Don't rush to dump more nitrogen on your fields, Nafziger urged. "It's still premature to make a decision to put more nitrogen on right now, especially if you already put your full intended amount on," he said.

Keep in mind that just because nitrogen isn't in the top 2 feet of soil right now doesn't mean it's lost forever to your crop.

"As long as the excessive rainfall stops, water movement will slow down," he said. "Crops bringing up water later in the season might bring some of that nitrogen back to the roots and take it up."

If you farm sandy soils, or your fields stay pale well into June under improved soil conditions, that could be a sign that you need to address nitrogen loss, Nafziger said.

But provided better growing conditions develop, most growers won't see nitrogen loss symptoms before tasseling and will need to make decisions long before then.

"If someone is going out to do a pre-planned sidedress and puts 20 more pounds on, I think that's within the realm of reason if they've been very wet earlier," Nafziger explained. "But people deciding to put on another 50 pounds in a new trip after they've already applied 200 pounds -- that's a decision that should be made only after waiting to see what the crop looks like in mid-June, after plant growth has accelerated and roots are able to get to the nitrogen that's there."

For more help assessing your nitrogen situation, see this tool from Iowa State University: http://bit.ly/….


If nothing else, Starkey thinks the shrinking planting window and the intense rain events he's seen recently are a strong argument to rethink nitrogen management.

He's moved all his nitrogen to planting and in-season applications.

"We need to manage nitrogen differently than in the past," Starkey said. "We don't put a drop of nitrogen down until we plant." Between in-furrow applications and a side-band mix, he puts down about 65 pounds alongside his corn seed.

He also comes back in with a sidedress trip of 65 pounds at V6. Sometimes he will add more at pre-tassel with Y-drops, but only if the fields look like they need it.

"It is scary to see so much nitrogen being applied pre-plant and then have these intense rain events that we can't control, where we lose a lot of nitrogen," he said.

He sees much more than lost money at stake.

"I'm concerned for the environment, the Gulf of Mexico and water quality," he said. "I don't want it to, but I worried it's going to come down to this [nitrogen use] being mandated."

See Nafziger's article on nitrogen loss here: http://bulletin.ipm.illinois.edu/….

See the University of Minnesota video by Carlson here: http://bit.ly/….

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

Follow Emily Unglesbee on Twitter @Emily_Unglesbee


Senators: No Farm Bill Cuts

By Jerry Hagstrom
DTN Political Correspondent

WASHINGTON (DTN) -- As they heard testimony from economists on the problems in farm country, leaders of the Senate Agriculture said Thursday there should no more cuts to farm bill programs.

Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and ranking member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., made the statements two days after President Donald Trump's budget called for massive cuts in money and personnel over the next 10 years.

At what he described as the first farm-bill hearing in Washington, Roberts acknowledged that the national debt is approaching $20 trillion, but he said that, between the savings from the last farm bill and a USDA crop insurance contract negotiation, "Everyone on this committee agrees that ag has already given at the store."

Whoever negotiated the contract cut to crop insurance on top of the farm bill cut had "some relationship with Lizzie Borden," Roberts said, departing from his prepared remarks. "Farmers, ranchers, and rural families understand fiscal responsibility. But, now is not the time for additional cuts. We need to review what is working and what is not working."

"We need to ensure that producers have risk management tools at their disposal. Let me emphasize that crop insurance is the most valuable tool in the risk management toolbox," Roberts said twice -- and then repeated the statement a third time at the request of Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., and Sen. Luther Strange, R-Ala., the newest member of the committee.

In a statement apparently intended for farm lobbyists as well as committee members, Roberts also said, "We need a farm bill that meets the needs of producers across all regions and all crops. The challenges are so great, given the critical times we live in, it is essential that small differences do not get in the way of the larger goal -- to pass a farm bill."

Stabenow focused more directly on the Trump budget. Through the 2014 farm bill, "the Agriculture Department has made historic, targeted investments in rural communities to spur jobs and opportunity over the last several years. As a result, we're beginning to see small towns across our country on the road to recovery," she said.

But, Stabenow continued, "There is much more to do for these communities -- which is why it's deeply troubling that this administration has proposed sharp budget cuts that would roll back a lot of the progress we've seen." The Trump budget, she said, "cuts $231 billion from farm bill programs, which would make a five-year farm bill virtually impossible to pass.

"It cuts crop insurance by $29 billion, which would take away a crucial part of the farm safety net at a time when it's needed most," Stabenow continued. "The budget also calls for sharp cuts to the family safety net, gutting SNAP by nearly 30%. Proposed closings of USDA offices would reduce customer service for our agricultural producers, and make their tough jobs even harder. Elimination of specialty crop and market access programs weaken our farmers' ability to recover from price slumps or pest and disease issues."

Stabenow said she was pleased that Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue intends to create an undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs, but is not pleased that the reorganization proposal includes elimination of the undersecretary for rural development.

"The combination of devastating budget cuts to critical services and the planned elimination of the undersecretary for rural development sends a powerful message that this White House is not concerned with the needs of America's small towns and rural communities," she said.

USDA Chief Economist Robert Johansson and Nathan Kauffman, assistant vice president, economist and Omaha branch executive of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, testified that conditions among farmers and ranchers continue to worsen, but that conditions are not as bad as in the 1980s.

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, asked if farm land values have stayed high because outside investors are buying land. Johansson said that values have held steady first because about 50% of farm land is rented, and land rental contracts are multiyear and therefore not subject to immediate renegotiation.

Farm and ranch land rents are "sticky," Johansson said.

There is some "institutional investment" in land, Johansson added, but not much farmland comes on the market, and when it does, there are producers who want to buy it.

Kauffman added that it is important "to recognize the scale of wealth generated" when commodity prices were high and that farmers and ranchers have "limited alternative investments." Little land has come on the market, he noted, because there have been very few "forced liquidations."

Heitkamp said it would be helpful to lawmakers to know how much farmland is owned by operators and that she believes in North Dakota it is only 25%. Local owners realize that farm land rents should "fluctuate" with commodity prices, but if the owners live far away, they may have the attitude of a New York apartment owner who would not expect rents to go down at any time.

Alec Sheffer, director of retail sales for Agri-AFC in Montgomery, Alabama, who testified on behalf of the Agricultural Retailers Association, said farm retail suppliers have been hit hard by the downturn in the agricultural economy over the past decade. But he said retailers "are confident these winds are beginning to shift. We believe Congress will make changes in the upcoming farm bill to help strengthen the safety net provided by crop insurance programs and assist in improving conservation efforts."

Sheffer also said Congress should be careful to help agriculture in tax reform and that he expects the Trump administration to address regulations.


Taxes and Export Competition

By Chris Clayton
DTN Ag Policy Editor

OMAHA (DTN) -- A border adjustment tax would help make American farmers and exporters more competitive globally, the top executive for Archer Daniels Midland told lawmakers Tuesday.

Juan Luciano, president and CEO for agribusiness giant ADM, told members of the House Ways and Means Committee that current tax policies favor foreign competitors, which is one reason U.S. export market share for crops such as corn, soybeans and wheat has declined over time.

Congress is debating the idea of a border adjustment tax on imported goods as an offset for lowering corporate tax rates. Proposals have suggested implementing a tax on imported goods as high as 20%. Industries have different takes on the possibilities of a BAT, depending on whether the companies rely more on exports or imports.

Congress is trying to decide if a border adjustment tax would reduce the trade deficit and increase U.S. jobs and exports.

Brian Cornell, CEO for the retailer Target, told lawmakers that an import tax could increase the costs of everyday items for all consumers. Target opposes the border adjustment tax, as Cornell said families would pay more so multinational corporations could pay less.

Luciano said ADM competes with a group of well-capitalized competitors globally that gain an advantage by being reimbursed on domestic consumption taxes when those companies export crops such as corn or wheat. Companies exporting out of Ukraine get those consumption taxes -- known as value-added taxes -- reimbursed when they export.

"A competitive tax code will help us continue providing American-made food and feed to our customers in the United States and abroad in the face of robust, and from a tax perspective, ever-strengthening competition from abroad," Luciano said.

He added, "We must have a globally competitive U.S. tax code" and encourage capital to come back to the U.S.

Luciano pointed out that the U.S. used to be the dominate grain exporter globally, but now Russia is the top wheat exporter, and Brazil is the leading exporter of soybeans. At least part of that is due to taxes. Tax reform would give American farmers and ranchers a chance to compete, he said.

"America's antiquated tax system may not be the only reason for this decline, but it clearly contributes," Luciano said.

The U.S. remains competitive because it has better infrastructure, Luciano said. He added, "We have lost in wheat to Russia, we have lost it in soybeans to Brazil."

ADM just this week announced it had completed a major upgrade to its export terminals in Brazil, expanding the facility's storage facilities and unloading docks.

William Simon, former president and CEO of Walmart, told House members he has concerns about a border adjustment tax, but if the tax were phased in over a long adjustment, it could stimulate more manufacturing in the U.S. "With the change, American sourcing will become increasingly viable," Simon said.

Simon also suggested the tax could be set up so a rawer product could be exported from the U.S., then reimported at a lower border tax, because it was produced with a U.S. raw material. Simon specifically pointed to American cotton on the international market as a possible example.

The hearing also included dueling economists, one of whom had worked on a border adjustment tax for decades. Lawrence Lindsey, who served as an economic adviser under former President George W. Bush, praised the tax, indicating it would bring back more manufacturing and further increase wages for people because of the tight labor market in the country.

Competing economist Kimberly Clausing of Reed College, said most trade-law lawyers think the U.S. would lose a World Trade Organization case over a border adjustment tax on imports. "This has given a lot of exporting firms pause in thinking about this proposal," Clausing said.

Lindsey countered that European countries are built around value-added taxes and the WTO would be hard-pressed to rule against such a similar tax plan. "Not even the WTO would be so boldfaced to say a border-adjustment tax is OK for Europeans, but not the U.S.," he said.

Luciano noted crop production is concentrated between the U.S., South America and Eastern Europe. More jobs could come back to rural towns if the U.S. became more competitive. He later said he worries about losing market share and competitiveness for U.S. products.

"The issue is a race between South America, eastern Europe and the U.S.," Luciano said.

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

Follow him on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN


Kub's Den


By Elaine Kub
DTN Contributing Analyst

Farmers, tell me if this scenario seems familiar:

You're standing in one of your fields, noting how the plants have popped out of the ground in beautiful green rows, and it occurs to you that, yes, there actually will be a lot of grain to sell this year. More grain than you already have hedged on the books. Decades of experience have convinced you that prices will tend to dwindle lower and lower toward harvest, so you know you'd like to make some sales here this month or maybe next month, or sometime, you guess, but anyway, you know you ought to do it soon. Or sometime. Maybe. You guess.

So you look at the new-crop cash prices on offer at your local elevator one day -- $3.38 for corn and $8.89 for soybeans -- and you think, "Hmm. That ain't so great. I'll wait and see if it goes up a couple cents tomorrow. I'd like to get $3.40, at least. Maybe $9 for the beans."

You put off the sales until the next day, when you go to look at the prices again. Now they're $3.37 and $8.86. "Hmm," you think, "Well, at least they're not going down too fast. I'll wait."

And you wait another day, and another day, and so on and so on in this universal pattern of procrastination, until it's nearly October and the idea of selling cash corn anywhere near a $3.40 price tag seems like something from a dimly remembered sweet dream.

If only there had been some clear signal from the heavens! Something to convince you, once and for all, that THIS is the hour. TODAY is the day. Many occupations have such clear guidelines. Airline pilots must try to get their flights into their scheduled gates at a specific minute of the hour. College professors must assign each student a final grade and report that grade at the end of each semester. CEOs of publicly traded companies have quarterly earnings reports that must be filed on certain dates each year. Journalists, of course, have deadlines. But farmers can procrastinate as long as their bankers will let them. They can pick any business day among an entire year of days to price their grain. When the markets are muddled and seem to be moving nowhere but sideways, how should a farmer pick that day?

One guideline might be the futures trading volume. This quantity isn't steady from day to day; rather, it occurs in spurts. On Monday, May 1, for instance, over 96,000 December corn futures trades were made -- 3 1/2 times as many as were transacted on a quieter random day, like Friday, May 12. It's interesting to note that high-volume days do tend to coincide with the chart's pivot points -- a flurry of activity will frequently occur right when the market is hitting a short-term high or short-term low. So, if a high-volume day occurs after a steady stream of losses, it may turn out to be the worst day to sell (or the best day to buy). But not always.

After examining data from the past couple of years, I can definitively say that the day of the week with the highest average corn futures trading volume has been Tuesdays, when traders tend to be 15% more active (across several contracts) than they are on Wednesdays. I can't guarantee that just because it's true on average, it will always be true on the week that you may feel like selling some grain. Furthermore, even if high trading volume does happen to occur on that particular Tuesday of that particular week, I can't guarantee that high trading volume will translate into a high grain price. Tuesdays were also the day of the week with the highest average volatility numbers, but that could as easily be downward volatility as upside volatility.

Now, from painful personal experience, I know that a person can decide "Today is the day to sell grain," and still sit staring at a flickering computer screen as hour after hour ticks by and the mythical perfect moment to hit 'Sell' never makes itself quite clear. So I took this exercise a step further and examined December corn trading volumes every half hour from the past two months. There is one timeframe that far outstrips any other -- the first half hour once the markets re-open in the morning.

Almost twice as many new-crop corn futures contracts are traded between 8:30 and 9:00 in the morning (Central Time) than during any other half-hour period during the average day. It goes like this: On average, over 4,000 December corn futures contracts are traded during that half hour, then about 2,000 contracts for each half hour until about noon, then a burst of about 2,500 contracts traded right around the close of the day session. During the overnight session, it's more like 20 to 100 December corn futures contracts traded during any half hour.

Again, a study of how trading volumes tend to aggregate on certain days and at certain hours is emphatically NOT a guarantee -- not by any stretch of statistics -- of positive price movement. But if all you need is a specific moment in time to serve as your decision moment, then may I suggest setting an alarm for Tuesday at 8:30 in the morning? In today's low-volatility grain markets, it may be as good a time as any.


Editor's Note: Elaine Kub is the author of "Mastering the Grain Markets: How Profits Are Really Made" and can be reached at elaine@masteringthegrainmarkets.com or on Twitter @elainekub.


USDA Weekly Crop Progress

By Anthony Greder
DTN Managing Editor

OMAHA (DTN) -- Planting and emergence were running close to the average pace for both corn and soybeans last week, while winter wheat conditions saw a slight boost from the previous week, according to USDA's weekly Crop Progress report released Monday.

USDA estimated 84% of U.S. corn was planted as of Sunday, May 21, even with a year ago but slightly above the five-year average of 85%. USDA also said 54% of U.S. corn was emerged, down from 58% a year ago and down slightly from the five-year average of 55% emerged. Monday's report is neutral for corn, said DTN Analyst Todd Hultman.

Soybean planting was estimated at 53% complete, even with a year ago and slightly above the five-year average of 52%. USDA said 19% of U.S. soybeans were emerged, down slightly from 20% a year ago and down from the five-year average of 21%. "Monday's report is neutral for soybeans," Hultman said.

Winter wheat conditions saw a slight boost in Monday's report.

Fifty-two percent of the winter wheat crop was rated in good-to-excellent condition, resulting in a DTN Winter Wheat Condition Index of 126, up 6 points from a week ago. DTN's index is down from 156 a year ago, but above the five-year average of 92. "Monday's crop ratings are slightly bearish for winter wheat," Hultman said.

USDA reported that 72% of winter wheat is headed, down from 74% a year ago, but up from the five-year average of 67%.

Meanwhile, U.S. spring wheat planting reached 90% complete as of Sunday, down from last year's 94%, but above the five-year average of 84% planted. Sixty-two percent of spring wheat was emerged, down from 75% a year ago but up from the five-year average of 59%. "Monday's report is neutral for spring wheat," Hultman said.

In other crop reports, cotton was 52% planted, compared to 45% last year and 50% average. Rice was 91% planted and 78% emerged, compared to 92% and 82% last year and 90% and 76% on average.

Sorghum was 37% planted, slightly behind the five-year average of 41%. Barley was 88% planted and 59% emerged, compared to 93% and 78% last year and 87% and 64% on average. Oats were 95% planted, 83% emerged and 26% headed, compared to 97%, 89% and 25% last year and 93%, 81% and 28% on average.

The following are highlights from weekly crop progress reports issued by National Ag Statistics Service offices in individual states. To view the full reports from each state, visit http://www.nass.usda.gov/…


Rain and snow across the state halted fieldwork midweek. Several localities received several inches of rain, with areas at higher elevation receiving moderate to heavy snow. Precipitation continues to improve dryland crop and pasture conditions, as well as soil moisture. In northeast counties, reporters noted that wheat mosaic virus has spread and some wheat is damaged beyond recovery. Isolated severe weather and damaging hail was also reported. A reporter noted that some sugarbeets are being replanted due to a previous damaging freeze. Concern over increased wheat stripe rust infection due to wet conditions was noted in east-central counties. In southwest counties, freezing temperatures were experienced that may have caused damage to wheat. The San Luis Valley also received late snow and freezing temperatures that damaged some growing alfalfa. Barley planting is nearing completion in the San Luis Valley. Topsoil moisture: 0% very short, 3% short, 86% adequate, 11% surplus. Subsoil moisture: 0% very short, 8% short, 89% adequate, 3% surplus.


Producers continued planting soybeans last week while some began replanting corn. There were 4.0 days suitable for fieldwork last week. Statewide, the average temperature was 67.7 degrees, 3.1 degrees above normal. Precipitation averaged 1.61 inches, 0.73 inch above normal. Topsoil moisture 1% short, 64% adequate and 35% surplus. Subsoil moisture: 1% short, 71% adequate and 28% surplus.


Farmers received a short break from the rain, and were able to make significant progress with corn and soybean plantings. Warm temperatures and high winds dried out fields, allowing farmers access to plant and replant fields. The break in weather was short-lived, as the rain returned later in the week leaving fields saturated in some areas. The statewide average temperature was 69.7 degrees, 6.0 degrees above normal. Statewide precipitation was 1.40 inches, above average by 0.49 inch. There were 4.0 days available for fieldwork last week, up 2.2 days from the previous week. Farmers rushed to the fields to get corn and soybeans planted, and in many cases, replanted before the rains returned. The high winds that swept across the state did bring some damage to emerged cornfields, although it does not appear to be widespread. Many farmers were not able to spray due to the high winds. There were some reports of cutworms in cornfields. Topsoil moisture: 0% very short, 1% short, 53% adequate and 46% surplus. Subsoil moisture: 0% very short, 1% short, 61% adequate and 38% surplus.


Iowa farmers had only 2.3 days suitable for fieldwork last week. Those few days came early in the week as rain throughout the rest of the week made conditions too wet for planters to enter the fields. Topsoil moisture: 0% very short, 0% short, 65% adequate and 35% surplus. Subsoil moisture: 0% very short, 1% short, 71% adequate and 28% surplus. Corn planting is three days behind last year but two days ahead of the five-year average. Corn emerged reached 59%, four days behind last year. Soybean planting is two days behind last year but one day ahead of average. Soybean emergence is one day behind average. Oat emergence is two days ahead of average.


Temperatures in the western half of the state averaged 2 to 4 degrees below normal last week, while temperatures in the east averaged 2 to 4 degrees above normal. Rainfall continued across the entire state, with totals exceeding 1 inch in most areas. There were 2.9 days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture: 0% very short, 1% short, 70% adequate and 29% surplus. Subsoil moisture: 0% very short, 2% short, 82% adequate and 16% surplus.


There were 5.1 days suitable for fieldwork last week. The week began with warm, dry conditions which allowed producers to make good planting progress. Cool, wet conditions returned by the end of the week halting fieldwork, although the moisture was welcomed in some areas. Despite the cool mornings and variable weather, producers made good progress planting row crops last week. Both the corn and soybean planting progress surpassed last year's pace. The nice weather allowed oat seeding to advance, but progress lagged behind last year and the five-year average. High winds midweek limited spraying operations and caused some damage to sugarbeets and other emerged crops. Winter wheat development had just started to progress into the heading stage in some areas. The crop remained in good condition. There were no major disease or insect problems reported. Many producers experienced good fieldwork conditions a majority of the week until late week rains left some fields inaccessible. Topsoil moisture: 0% very short, 4% short, 73% adequate and 23% surplus. Subsoil moisture: 0% very short, 3% short, 70% adequate and 27% surplus.


Cool temperatures and precipitation limited farmers to only 2.5 days suitable for fieldwork last week. When conditions allowed, field activities involved planting and spraying. Topsoil moisture: 0% very short, 1% short, 72% adequate and 27% surplus. Subsoil moisture: 0% very short, 1% short, 79% adequate and 20% surplus. Spring wheat emergence was eight days ahead of the five-year average. Oat emergence is 12 days behind last year. Oats jointing is one day ahead of last year. Soybean planting was four days behind last year, yet ahead of average.


Warm weather and above-average precipitation were prevalent across the state last week. Temperatures averaged 68.7 degrees, 3.0 degrees above normal. Precipitation averaged 2.09 inches statewide, 1.07 inches above normal. There were 4.0 days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture supply was rated 3% short, 70% adequate and 27% surplus. Subsoil moisture supply was rated 3% short, 74% adequate and 23% surplus. Corn planting was 93% complete, 4 percentage points behind the previous year but 3 percentage points ahead of the five-year average. Corn emerged progressed to 79%. Corn condition was rated 52% good to excellent. Soybean planting was 42% complete. Soybean emerged progressed to 20%. Cotton planting was 68% complete. Rice planting progressed to 92% complete. Rice emerged progressed to 81%. Rice condition was 68% good to excellent. Sorghum planting was 30% complete. Winter wheat headed reached 97%. Winter wheat condition was rated 61% good to excellent.


Temperatures averaged 3 to 5 degrees below normal across the state last week. Significant rainfall of 2 inches or more was recorded across the majority of counties; however, rainfall totals of 3 inches or more was recorded across the southeast. Producers made planting progress during the early part of the week, but wet conditions kept farmers out of the field for the remainder of the week. There were 2.1 days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture supplies were rated 5% short, 74% adequate and 21% surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies were rated 1% very short, 6% short, 80% adequate and 13% surplus. Corn planted was 87%, near 91% for the five-year average, and emerged was 52%, behind 57% average. Soybeans planted was 52%, behind 61% average, and emerged was 13%, behind 21% average. Winter wheat jointed was 99%, ahead of 86% average, and headed was 61%, ahead of 36% average. Winter wheat condition was rated 45% good to excellent. Sorghum planted was 18%, behind 36% average, and emerged was 6%. Oats jointed was 46%, near 43% last year, and headed was 6%, near 4% average. Oats condition was rated 78% good to excellent.

North Dakota

Cooler temperatures prevailed most of the week as they averaged 2 to 6 degrees below normal across most of the state. Planting progress slowed in the eastern third of North Dakota, as rainfall was received. Less rain fell over the western two-thirds of the state, and had a smaller effect on fieldwork activities. There were 5.6 days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture supplies were rated 3% very short, 21% short, 70% adequate and 6% surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies were rated 1% very short, 14% short, 78% adequate and 7% surplus. Corn planted was 82%, ahead of 73 for the five-year average, and emerged was 38%, ahead of 31% average. Soybeans planted was 57%, ahead of 49% average, and emerged was 10%, equal to average. Winter wheat jointed was 60% and headed was 6%, near 3% last year. Winter wheat condition was rated 74% good to excellent. Spring wheat planted was 88%, ahead of 75 average, emerged was 56% and jointed was 4%. Barley planted was 89%, emerged was 57% and jointed was 5%. Oats planted was 87%, emerged was 54%, jointed was 9% and headed was 1%. Durum wheat planted was 72%, emerged was 36% and jointed was 10%. Canola planted was 72%, ahead of 63% average, and emerged was 30%, near 32% average.


High temperatures at the beginning of the week helped dry out fields for some planting but spotty rains toward the end of the week delayed further planting. There were 4.4 days suitable for fieldwork. Producers were able to plant corn and soybeans before the rain set in but now are experiencing problems with excess moisture. A significant number of fields had to be replanted, and many farmers had to return to fields to handle soil crusting. Statewide, topsoil moisture was rated 2% short, 67% adequate and 31% surplus. Subsoil moisture was rated 2% short, 65% adequate and 33% surplus. Corn was 73% planted, even with the five-year average, and 41% was emerged, behind the average of 44%. Soybeans were 43% planted, behind the average of 47%, and 17% were emerged, near the average of 18%. Winter wheat was 97% jointing and 81% headed. Winter wheat condition was rated 81% good to excellent. Oats were 96% planted, 85% emerged and 1% headed. Oats condition was rated 65% good to excellent.


Severe storms produced large tornados, up to softball-size hail, damaging winds and heavy rainfall last week. All districts recorded above-normal precipitation. According to the OCS Mesonet, the panhandle and northeast districts experienced the wettest 60-day period since 1921. Drought condition was rated 7% moderate-to-exceptional drought, up 3 points from last week but does not yet reflect last week's rainfall totals. Statewide, temperatures averaged in the low 80s. Topsoil moisture was rated 1% very short, 3% short, 88% adequate and 8% surplus. Subsoil moisture was rated 1% very short, 11% short, 86% adequate and 2% surplus. Winter wheat headed reached 98%, up 2 points from normal, and harvested reached 1%, down 4 points from normal. Winter wheat conditions were rated 49% good to excellent. Canola coloring reached 80%, up 17 points from normal, and harvested reached 1%. Oats headed reached 67%. Corn emerged reached 70%, up 2 points from normal. Sorghum planted reached 34%, down 5 points from normal. Soybeans seeded reached 26%, down 5 points from normal, and emerged reached 9%, down 4 points from normal. Cotton planted reached 38%, up 9 points from the previous year and up 10 points from normal.

South Dakota

Cool, wet weather limited fieldwork across parts of South Dakota last week. Daytime high temperatures were 15 to 20 degrees below normal for many locations during the latter half of the reporting period. Rainfall totals varied widely across the state. Some heavier rainfall amounts were located in already saturated areas of the southeast, causing ponding and flooding in planted and to-be-planted fields. There were 3.0 days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 5% very short, 24 short, 66 adequate and 5 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 6% very short, 27 short, 64 adequate and 3 surplus. Winter wheat jointed was 56%, well behind 79% last year, and headed was 10%, behind 16% average. Winter wheat condition was rated 54% good to excellent. Spring wheat emerged was 95%, ahead of 76% average, and jointing was 8%, behind 16% last year. Spring wheat condition was rated 44% good to excellent. Oats emerged was 95%, ahead of 81% average, and jointed was 20%, equal to last year. Barley emerged was 94%, well ahead of 65% average. Corn planted was 88%, near 84% average, and emerged was 47%, near 43% average. Soybeans planted was 56%, ahead of 50% average, and emerged was 11%, near 13% average. Sorghum planted was 19%, equal to average, and emerged was 1%.


Many areas of the state received from 0.5 inch to 2.0 inches of rainfall with isolated reports of up to 5.0 inches of rain. The Trans-Pecos, panhandle and the Lower Valley reported the lowest total precipitation for the week. There were 6.3 days suitable for fieldwork. Statewide, topsoil moisture supplies were rated 10% very short, 36% short, 48% adequate and 6% surplus. Subsoil moisture was rated 8% very short, 32% short, 56% adequate and 4% surplus. Corn was 87% planted, near the five-year average of 86%, and 76% of the crop was emerged, also near the average of 75%. Twenty percent of corn was silked, equal to the average. Cotton was 42% planted and 8% squaring. Rice was 86% planted and 84% emerged. Sorghum was 82% planted 65% emerged and 35% headed. Soybeans were 85% planted, ahead of the five-year average of 73%, and 74% of soybeans were emerged, also ahead of the average of 60%. Winter wheat was 20% harvested as of Sunday, well ahead of the average pace of 7%. Oats were 45% harvested, also well ahead of the average of 14%.


Fieldwork was slowed last week as heavy rain and severe thunderstorms lashed the state. Northern Wisconsin was the hardest hit, with reporters noting up to 12 inches of rainfall for the week. Farms in Barron and Rusk Counties were struck by a tornado on Tuesday evening. Flooding, large hail and strong winds also damaged fields, trees and farm buildings around the state. Cold temperatures and standing water had farmers in many areas concerned for recently planted fields. Statewide, topsoil moisture supplies were rated 56% adequate and 44% surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies were rated 65% adequate and 35% surplus. As of May 21, spring tillage was 81% complete statewide, 11 days behind last year but one day ahead of the five-year average. Corn planting was 65% complete, 10 days behind last year, and three days behind the average. Corn emerged was at 21%, five days behind last year and two days behind the average. Twenty-nine% of the state's expected soybean acres have been planted, eight days behind last year, and four days behind the average. Three percent of the state's soybeans have emerged. Oats planting was reported as 88% complete, eight days behind last year, but one day ahead of the average. Oats emerged was at 61%, seven days behind last year and two days behind the average. Winter wheat was 67% in good-to-excellent condition statewide, compared to 71% the previous week.

National Crop Progress Summary
This Last Last 5-Year
Week Week Year Avg.
Corn Planted 84 71 84 85
Corn Emerged 54 31 58 55
Soybeans Planted 53 32 53 52
Soybeans Emerged 19 8 20 21
Winter Wheat Headed 72 63 74 67
Spring Wheat Planted 90 78 94 84
Spring Wheat Emerged 62 40 75 59
Cotton Planted 52 33 45 50
Sorghum Planted 37 32 36 41
Oats Planted 95 91 97 93
Oats Emerged 83 72 89 81
Oats Headed 26 NA 25 28
Barley Planted 88 78 93 87
Barley Emerged 59 42 78 64
Rice Planted 91 83 92 90
Rice Emerged 78 73 82 76
National Crop Condition Summary
(VP=Very Poor; P=Poor; F=Fair; G=Good; E=Excellent)
This Week Last Week Last Year
Winter Wheat 4 11 33 44 8 5 12 32 43 8 1 7 30 51 11
Oats 1 5 31 55 8 2 4 32 55 7 1 3 23 64 9
Rice 5 6 24 49 16 NA NA NA NA NA 3 6 24 54 13

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