No Yield Loss Necessary

Tue. Jul 26, 2016 11:05 AM

By Marcia Zarley Taylor
DTN Executive Editor

ST. LOUIS (DTN) -- All signs point to the largest-ever corn crop in history this fall and the third year in a row of plunging farm incomes. But with prices potentially tumbling to $3 by harvest, corn growers with high levels of revenue-based crop insurance could buffer some of the price damage. In fact, many corn growers could trigger 2016 crop insurance payouts with no yield loss.

Producers sometimes forget revenue-based crop insurance protects against a growing-season price collapse as well as sub-par yields, pointed out Jason Alexander, vice president of crop insurance for Louisville-based Farm Credit Mid-America. Since the Risk Management Agency set the spring guaranteed price for corn at $3.86 per bushel on March 1, prices have fallen to about $3.40 and could bottom near $3 by harvest, many commodity analysts now say.

"There was 2012 when people had big claims because the price went up. Don't forget you have price protection both ways with revenue insurance. When price comes down like this, this is when it comes into play," Alexander said.

This is a good time of year to be in contact with your agent and assess your coverage, he added. Some isolated parts of Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee could suffer yield damage. "But even if you expect an average crop year or even a decent crop, and prices are heading lower, ask what will it do to your bottom line," he said. "Will you have a claim or not?"

DTN Analyst Todd Hultman noted Dec corn closed at $3.41 1/4 Monday, not very far from $3 and certainly within striking distance this fall, especially if the weather continues to provide good crop conditions. "Rains in July have been widespread and will likely give us a record crop this fall, possibly near 15 billion bushels," Hultman said. "With that much production likely, corn prices will have difficulty finding support, at least until harvest time. That just makes Dec corn prices near $3 a reasonable guess this fall."

University of Illinois economist Gary Schnitkey echoed that assessment. "Right now the market is expecting trendline corn yields, which would produce the largest crop ever in the U.S. and Dec corn futures are running about $3.40. Anything above trendline yields could send corn to $3 at the time RMA is setting that harvest price."

Should Dec futures prices average $3 harvest price this fall, that would represent 78% of the March 1 projected price, Schnitkey added. In essence, that means growers with 80% or 85% products would trigger revenue indemnities. In fact, their yields could run 10% to 15% over their average yields and still trigger some payment, he said.

"So a pretty key period looking forward is when USDA releases its yield estimates in mid-August," Schnitkey added, as that will indicate price direction.

The last time revenue crop insurance paid largely on price rather than yield loss was 2013, but such volatility is rare, both Schnitkey and Alexander told DTN. In 2013, the crop insurance spring guarantee was $5.65 per bushel, but futures plunged to $4.39 when averaged at harvest. That also represented only 78% of the projected price. RMA calculates the harvest price for corn based on average closings for the Dec corn contract during the month of October.

Growers who took advantage of private insurance riders that set alternative months for planting price guarantees could see even larger crop insurance payouts, Alexander pointed out. For example, instead of averaging the February closing prices for Dec corn, some companies offered "price flex" riders that averaged guarantees as late as spring planting season. That allowed growers who chose to set crop insurance prices in May or June to see guarantees at $4.31 per bushel "or a tad higher" this year, Alexander said.

Revenue crop insurance is not a complete substitute for farm safety nets, since year-over-year reductions in commodity prices can whittle federal price guarantees, Schnitkey said. This year's $3.86 corn price, for example, ran below cost of production for many Midwest producers.

In such low-price environments, growers need to closely monitor how they market insured crops. "After that spring crop insurance projected price is in place, whenever you see Dec futures markets moving above that level, you should think about locking in some of that crop with futures or puts," Schnitkey said. "We had some of those opportunities earlier this spring. We had some four-ish dollar prices on the Dec contract." Now the corn market seems to be hitting reverse.

Marcia Taylor can be reached at

Follow Marcia Taylor on Twitter @MarciaZTaylor


Todd's Take

Tue. Jul 26, 2016 10:27 AM

By Todd Hultman
DTN Analyst

For those who spend a lot of effort trying to understand the grain markets and sometimes feel overwhelmed by the complexity of it all, you may want to sit down for what I am about to show. It is one of those strange things in life that is hard to explain, but can't be denied.

In 2016 alone, we have seen enough events for Billy Joel to add another verse to his 1989 montage, "We Didn't Start The Fire." I admit the lyrics aren't as catchy, but this year's market-threatening topics already include record harvests, rising dollar, zika virus, Janet Yellen, Dilma Rousseff, wildfires, La Nina, hot June, wet July, more wheat, Chinese floods, building walls, and Brexit.

As DTN Senior Analyst Darin Newsom wrote in Friday's Newsom on the Market column "The Haystack," much of this year's grain moves can be explained by shifts in noncommercial positions which don't always seem to make sense fundamentally. One of the biggest surprises this year was the rally in soybeans after noncommercials turned net long in mid-March.

At the time, it was widely expected Brazil was harvesting a record soybean crop and would soon be taking export business away from the U.S. Spot soybean prices, however, were not bothered by the lack of fundamental explanation and proceeded to climb from roughly $9.00 in mid-March to $12.00 by early June. It turned out to be a significant move that many grain-watchers missed.

So what is the strange thing I promised? It comes from Richard Donchian, born in 1905 in Connecticut to Armenian immigrants. As Wikipedia tells it, Donchian began his Wall Street career in the 1930s, worked as a securities analyst, wrote newsletters, and later started one of the first publicly-held commodity funds.*

Donchian tinkered with various trend-following methods and it is not clear when he came up with the four-week trading rule for which he is known, but it's easy enough for anyone to understand. The rule states that one should go long when the price of any commodity exceeds its high of the past 20 trading days (four weeks) and reverse short when the price falls below its low of the past 20 trading days.

The advantage of following Donchian's rule is that one is always positioned with the trend whether we understand why prices are going a certain direction or not. The disadvantages are numerous and start with the fact that one is always in the market, right or wrong. When prices chop up and down as they sometimes do, this method loses money.

According to Investopedia, "Test results for this (Donchian four-week rule) system were published as early as 1970, and it was found to be the most profitable system then known."** I decided it was time to update those test results and enlisted the help of DTN's ProphetX software to put together over 20 years of back-adjusted price data for December corn. To keep things simple, I only used daily closing prices.

Applying Donchian's four-week rule to December corn price data from 1995 up to July 14 of this year showed a hypothetical trading profit of $5.53 a bushel or $27,650 per contract, not including slippage or commission. While that is somewhat successful, the profit per trade only came to $151.92 or slightly over 3 cents a bushel, which does not leave much room for error.

Because I have always suspected that 20 trading days was too short of a time frame, I decided to re-test Donchian's method with other time periods. Not surprisingly, a 10-day rule generated too many trades and was slightly unprofitable. A 50-day rule did better, producing a hypothetical profit of $45,450 per contract on less than half of the trades required by the 20-day rule.

The star performer of the past 21 years however, was the 30-day rule. Going long Dec corn on a new closing high of the past 30 trading days and reversing short when prices closed at a new 30-day low produced $66,525 of hypothetical profit on 102 trades. This worked out to roughly five trades a year of $652.21 each, a winning track record by any standard.

In fact, the 20-day, 30-day, 40-day, and 50-day versions of Donchian's method all easily outperformed simply buying and holding one contract of December corn throughout the 21 1/2-year period tested.***

With that kind of trading math at work, why doesn't everyone use a 30-day version of Donchian's rule for their trading and/or risk management decisions? I suspect it's because it runs against the grain of human nature. As profitable as the history of this method has been, most understand past success does not guarantee a profitable future and the uncertainty of not knowing can be stressful.

A closer look showed that following Donchian's rules did not always produce rosy results. After the 30-day rule amassed big gains by November, 2010, the hypothetical trading account lost 31% of its equity in the following year and a half. Many would not be stoic enough to endure that much loss for that long of a time and still stay true to the system.

Most likely the toughest difficulty to overcome is the reluctance to give up old habits. Most of us have learned to study up on the news, weather, USDA reports, etc. We also watch out for numerous what-if scenarios that can make our head spin and keep us up at night.

Trend-followers, on the other hand, have to learn to disregard everything except for price and that is not necessarily easy. The traditional approach makes trades based on known factors, but trend-following forces one to also consider factors at work which aren't known. Factors like the ones that propelled this spring's soybean rally.

Every trade is not a winner and Donchian's method is not for everyone, but it deserves a look and should give us pause to consider the pros and cons of how we look at markets. As a market analyst, I have to tip my hat in amazement to a man who devised a trading method decades ago which still outperforms most efforts of traditional analysis, all without the benefit of any supply or demand information. In my book, Donchian rules.


** "Four-Week Rule Boosts Winning Trades," by Michael Carr, August 5, 2014 at:…

*** Of course, one contract of December corn can't be held for 21 1/2 years, so the data assumes that the position is rolled forward on the final day of November each year.

Todd Hultman can be reached at

Follow Todd on Twitter @ToddHultman1


Grazing Leases Important

Tue. Jul 26, 2016 10:15 AM

By Cheryl Anderson
DTN Staff Reporter

OMAHA (DTN) -- A man is as good as his word, unless it comes to future disputes over a handshake agreements. While some livestock producers may only have a handshake agreement for renting grazing land, having a written lease is important in protecting both the tenant and landlord.

Having a written grazing lease can help avoid future conflicts, according to Kate Binzen Fuller, assistant professor/extension specialist for Montana State University. Fuller recently updated and modified a publication on Grazing Leases, along with Jeff Mosley, MSU professor/extension range management specialist.

"Some of these leases can get pretty complicated, so it's nice to have a document you can look back to, to make sure you know who is responsible for what within the lease," Fuller said.

Some disagreements do end up in court and different states have different laws about whether a written lease is required for it to be enforceable. For those reasons, Fuller advised that producers and landlords brush up on the laws in their particular state. In some states, unwritten leases may be legal, but can be difficult to enforce. Fuller recommended both parties have an attorney go over the lease, or write it with them.


There are a number of elements that are vital to include in a grazing lease, Fuller said.

Grazing leases should contain an accurate property description; not just an address, but actual tract information on the specific parcels of land. A lease should also contain the names, address and emergency phone numbers for all those involved in the lease.

Stocking rates and the kind of animals allowed to graze should be included in a grazing lease. Most leases require the tenant to keep records of turn-on and turn-off dates, the number of livestock grazed, and should submit those records to the landlord at the end of the grazing season.

A grazing lease should also outline who is responsible for maintenance and improvements, such as maintenance of fences, corrals, water development and other structures, as well as range improvements practices such as weed control, seeding, fertilization, etc.

The lease should define the lease rate and how it will be calculated, as well as the method and conditions of payment, when the rent is due and whether insurance is required. It is generally recommended that the lease carry a stipulation requiring the tenant to carry liability insurance for the livestock on the leased property.

Special clauses may also be included regarding the right to terminate the lease if it is breached, or procedures to modify or terminate the lease in case animals need to be removed because of fire, drought, flood or other emergencies.

Lease agreements may also specify prohibited activities such as hunting, fishing or logging. Some leases may specify that the tenant's vehicles only travel on established roads or trails, except to perform weed control or in case of emergency.

Fuller said she encourages people to work through a budget so they know what their break-even is. Tenants should strive to make sure they're not paying more than they are getting out of the lease, and landlords often want to cover the costs associated with maintenance and property taxes.

Lease agreements should be signed, dated and notarized by all parties and it may be a good idea for the signed lease to be filed with the local county clerk's office, so an unbiased third party will have a record of the transaction and so it will show up in a title search.

"I just heard about someone who purchased land unaware there was an outstanding written lease for several years, so they had had to rent to that person," she said.


One of the trickier aspects of negotiating a grazing lease is finding a fair and equitable rate. Unfortunately, Fuller said that for many states, detail on market rates is lacking.

She finds that, at least in Montana, the best information on current grazing lease rates are from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service's website (…) or monthly grazing rates at the NASS Quick State website (…). However, those statistics may not be entirely representative, as they are averages over a wide range of variable property and could have been in place for a long time. Also, the statistics may not account for fluctuating cattle prices.

Fuller suggested that producers can talk to their extension agents, local lender or neighbors to get an idea of current rates in their area.


Lease rates for grazing can be written in a number of ways and should be suited to fit the needs of all parties to the less.

The MSU publication lists several types of grazing leases:

-Per acre lease rates vary with the productivity of the land and lease conditions. The rental rate remains the same for the duration specified, however, the tenant assumes the risk of changes in annual forage production due to weather.

-Per whole tract leases apply to a block of land for a specific annual fee and are normally used if leasing an entire ranch for a specified number of years. These kinds of lease arrangement are also used when the leased land consists of various land types (rangeland, seeded pasture, crop aftermath, forest, etc.)

-Per animal unit month (AUM) leases provide some flexibility for various types of livestock. To eliminate confusion about the definition of an animal unit month (AUM), it may be simpler to write a grazing lease on a per-acre basis, then stipulate the number and kind of livestock allowed. The typical definition of an AUM (what one 1,000-pound animal requires to graze for one month) has caused a great deal of confusion, as most cows now are significantly bigger than that.

-Per head or per pair lease rates typically are monthly or seasonal rates. But since types of livestock can vary greatly in quantities of forage, using AUMS as a common denominator may be a better plan.

-Share of gain lease rates are usually used for seasonally-grazed, weight-gaining livestock such as stocker cattle, replacement heifers and lambs and consist of a charge per pound of gain or a share of the total weight gain for the grazing period.

-Variable leases involve a fixed base rate for the term of the lease, and a variable rate that allows for fluctuations in livestock prices. This type of lease rate is set by considering the relative contribution of both parties to total production costs, as well as livestock prices.

Fuller added that grazing lease rates and their structure are very regionalized.

"I think out here in the west we see a lot more leases that are on a per-AUM basis," she said. "In the Midwest, you hear of more per-acre and per-head leases."

The MSU Grazing Leases publication, as well as a variety of lease rate information, resources, guides and presentations is available on the MSU Extension website at….

Cheryl Anderson can be reached at


Kaine's Ag Resume

Mon. Jul 25, 2016 2:59 PM

By Jerry Hagstrom
DTN Political Correspondent
By Todd Neeley
DTN Staff Reporter

OMAHA (DTN) -- Though U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack would have been considered a homerun for agriculture as Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine's, D-Va., resume suggests a mixed bag for farmers and ranchers.

Following the passage of the 2014 farm bill, Kaine said in a news release in February 2014 he supported and voted for the bill for a number of reasons. He indicated the bill would save taxpayers about $23 billion in the next decade, "eliminates wasteful direct payments, strengthens crop insurance and closes loopholes in the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) program without reducing nutrition access for the neediest people."

Much of Kaine's support for the farm bill came from the inclusion of what he said was "robust support" for Chesapeake Bay restoration and improved "farmers' access to export markets and consumers' access to fresh, local, organic foods."

In 2015 Kaine voted for two Senate bills that would have given the president trade promotion authority, also known as fast-track authority to allow the president to negotiate trade deals that could not be amended by Congress.

Kaine made news this weekend by altering his position on the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement. Kaine had said he saw much "to like" in the TPP, but has changed his position to follow Clinton's opposition. Kaine said he has concerns about the dispute-resolution mechanism in the agreement.

Kaine has been a proponent of the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, which has faced heavy criticism from Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

As Virginia governor, Kaine was successful in preserving some 400,000 acres from development in 2005, according to PolitiFact Virginia. Also, in 2009 Kaine pushed for expanded conservation efforts through conservation easements, according to WHSV-TV in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

On the climate front as governor, Kaine convened a climate commission in 2008 to study the issues. As senator he has frequently called out climate skeptics.

Two environmental groups were quick to endorse Clinton's choice Friday.

"The Democratic ticket now features two environmental champions, both of whom understand that Americans want our government to secure a clean energy future for our kids and grandchildren," said Kevin Curtis, executive director of the National Resource Defense Council Action Fund. "Sen. Kaine's impressive environmental record is a perfect match for a presidential candidate who puts so much emphasis on creating green jobs and expanding America's reliance on clean, renewable energy."

Environment America Executive Director Margie Alt and Environment Virginia State Director Sarah Bucci released a joint statement saying Kaine "has a long history of standing up for the protection of our environment and the safety of our climate, and he'll make an excellent vice president."

On immigration, in October 2015 Kaine voted against proceeding to a vote on a bill that would have withheld funding to so-called sanctuary cities that protect illegal immigrants from deportation.

In January 2013, Kaine joined a number of lawmakers in asking the United States trade representative Ambassador Michael Froman and Vilsack to open chicken markets in the Trans Pacific Partnership.

"The TPP represents a significant opportunity to expand U.S. chicken exports and bring increased economic benefits to chicken growers and companies across the country," Kaine and other lawmakers wrote in a letter to Vilsack and Froman.

In May 2016, Kaine voted to repeal the catfish inspection program calling it a "waste of taxpayer dollars" and an "unnecessary, duplicative program."

There still are questions about Kaine's positions on biofuels and the Renewable Fuel Standard. According to an Associated Press story Saturday Kaine has ties to oil and gas interests.

As governor of Virginia Kaine supported expanded oil drilling off the state's coast, and according to AP has received political contributions from oil companies in previous election cycles.

According to a report by Taxpayers for Common Sense, however, from 2009 to 2012 Kaine received $28,750 in contributions from biofuels industry groups. That placed him in the top 15 among federal recipients who were not on Congressional committees overseeing biofuels subsidies or mandates.


When Kaine made his debut as Clinton's running mate at a rally in Miami Saturday, he was quick to point out his Midwestern roots.

"Vice president was never a job I thought about growing up in Kansas," Kaine said to a television audience.

"Like a lot of people in Kansas City, my parents weren't that into politics -- church, the Kansas City Royals, that's the kind of thing that we spent time talking about. They had too much else going on. My dad ran a union-organized ironworking shop in the stockyards of Kansas City. And my mom, in addition to all the challenges of my two brothers and me, she was my dad's best saleswoman.

"That ironworking business was tough. It's the kind of job where you can't cut corners. If you're not careful, you can make one mistake and ruin an awful lot of work in an instant.

"I learned that working in my dad's shop. My two brothers and I, we all pitched in. Sometimes we were scheduled to pitch in and sometimes Dad would just shake us in the morning and say, 'I got an order to get out and I really need you guys today.'

"I remember once, the last day of summer vacation, I was so looking forward to sleeping in and then I felt that hand on my shoulder at about 6 a.m. -- 'I've really got to have your help to get an order out today.'

"But that's what families do. We would go there early, especially in the summer, to try to get the work done before the day got hot."

Kaine also noted, "My parents, Al and Kathy, and they're alive and healthy, and they're happy today — 81 years old, alive, healthy and happy. They taught me early lessons that have guided my life: the importance of hard work, of faith and kindness, of following your dreams.

"My mom once told me -- and I'll say this, she wasn't much of a lecturer, she just kind of liked to live and then we were supposed to follow the example -- but she once told me this: 'Tim, you have to decide whether you want to be right or you want to do right. If you want to be right, go ahead and be a pessimist. But if you want to do right, be an optimist.'

"And folks, I've been an optimist ever since."

Kaine said he went to a Jesuit boys' school, Rockhurst High School in Kansas City, before graduating from the University of Missouri-Columbia in three years.

He then attended Harvard Law School where he met his wife, Anne Holton, who was the daughter of a Republican governor of Virginia. They returned to Richmond, where Kaine served on the city council and as mayor before being elected governor and then senator.

In her introduction, Clinton said both she and Kaine grew up in the Midwest.

"We were raised by fathers who ran small businesses and who taught us about the dignity of work and the discipline of a job well done," Clinton said. "And in both of our families, faith wasn't just something you talked about at church on Sundays. It was a call to serve others in every way that we can.

"And as you get to know Sen. Kaine, you will see that Tim's lifelong commitment to social justice is a shining example of his faith in action. During law school, when his fellow classmates were taking internships at prestigious law firms, he took time off to work with missionaries in Honduras."

The Kansas City Star reported the Kaine family lived in Overland Park, Kansas, a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri.

Kaine's parents and two younger brothers -- one a lawyer, the other a pediatric cardiologist -- still live in the Kansas City area, according to the Star. Kaine was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, but the family moved to the Kansas City when his father got a job as an electrical engineer at Bendix. His father later started his own business and his mother was a home economics teacher. Kaine went to the University of Missouri to study journalism, but switched his major to economics.

Jerry Hagstrom can be reached at

Follow Jerry Hagstrom on Twitter @hagstromreport

Todd Neeley can be reached at

Follow Todd on Twitter @toddneeleyDTN


Cash Market Moves

Mon. Jul 25, 2016 12:04 PM

By Mary Kennedy
DTN Cash Grains Analyst

"Bin-buster" will likely be the one word to describe the 2016 harvest. Starting with the winter wheat crop, yields so far have been reported to be anywhere from 50 bushels per acre to as high as 85 bpa or higher in some areas. USDA recently revised its winter wheat yield estimate to 50.5 bpa, which would be a new all-time high vs. the final yield in 2015.

Tim Luken, manager at Oahe Grain in Onida, South Dakota, told me it didn't take long for his winter wheat bins at the elevator to fill up. Currently, he said, "Anything that is coming through the door at this time is cash and with bins being full in the country, cash is the only game in town at this time."

"Winter wheat yields in western South Dakota have been as good as expected," said Jerry Cope, who does the grain marketing for Dakota Mill & Grain, Inc. in Rapid City, South Dakota. "I am guessing our average is in the high 50s bpa. Harvest has outrun either total farm capacity or allotted capacity at farm bins. Grain delivered to the elevator has been contracted bushels, first, and excess over storage, second. In turn we have, or will be, shipping more. For now wheat is following soybean weather and corn's export demand and will either benefit on the cash side or suffer if freight values go higher."

Moving on to the 2016 corn crop, the most recent USDA estimate is that yields will be at 168 bpa vs. 2015 final at 168.4. However, many in the trade feel USDA will raise that estimate again for 2016, given the excellent shape reported for corn all summer. As of July 17, the corn crop was rated at 76% good to excellent vs. 69% the same time in 2015.

Here's the problem: 2015 corn is still left in the bins. In the June 30 USDA Grain Stocks report, 2.47 billion bushels of corn remained stored on farms. This means corn has to start moving in order to make room for all the 2016 crops, not just corn and winter wheat.

As far as the corn reported stored on farms in the June 30 report, some of that has moved from farm storage, but likely not enough to make a huge dent in the pile thanks to prices diving since June. On June 15, the DTN Cash Index was at $3.92; one week later on June 22, the cash index was 3.57; on July 1, the cash index was $3.23 and as of Friday, July 22, the cash average was at $3.06. As the price dropped, farmers ran away from the market. To make matters a little worse, freight costs are on the rise.

At the end of June, secondary shuttle (shuttles no longer needed) freight costs were at $50/$150 per car (over tariff costs) for July, August was at $0/100 per car, September was at $0/$200 per car and October-December was at $450/$650 per car. On July 19, freight was quoted at $700/$900 for the rest of July split, August was at $400, September was at $300/$750, October was at $1,000/$2000 per car and full October, November, December was at $550/$750 per car.

To put it in perspective, the shuttle tariff rate per car (plus fuel mileage) cost for corn delivered from Minneapolis to Portland, Oregon, is about $1.24 per car. If you want to buy shuttle cars in the secondary freight market for new crop, the added cost on top of the tariff cost is about 50 cents per bushel and that cost, in the end, may end up cutting into the price paid to a farmer; not a good thing given how much the cash corn price has dropped in the past two months.

New-crop shuttle freight costs are obviously on the rise given the expectations for a very large corn new crop along with soybeans and wheat new crop that will have to ship. Nearby costs have been moving higher due to demand and also because shuttles are not moving quickly enough to destination and back again to be reloaded. A shuttle loader in eastern North Dakota told me he has three shuttles to move in the next few weeks, but "shuttles have slowed down causing delays." The BNSF considers "normal" trips per month for shuttles delivered to the PNW at 2.5 TPM (turns per month). In their weekly rail service update, the BNSF reported that for the week ending July 16, shuttle TPM were at 3.0.

Dakota Mill and Grain, which is serviced by the Rapid City, Pierre & Eastern Railroad (RCPE), doesn't have a secondary freight market but is affected by other railroads that do, as well as rising barge freight. "We watch BN freight and notice bids are strong through the end of the year," Cope told DTN. "You are right, nearby freight values have jumped. From what we hear, there is fall demand and indications of a strong corn export program that will keep shuttle resale values well supported. We don't follow barge freight as close, but it is reasonable that stronger rail demand creates barge demand. The railroads are leaving the door open for rate increases after November and if they follow their usual pattern, would not be surprised to see an attempt for $200-plus per car (5 -- 6 cents per bushel)."

Barge freight on the Mississippi River and its tributaries reached all-time highs in the past month. USDA in its June 23 Grain Transportation report said, "Current grain barge rates have increased to the highest levels since November 2015, based on increased demand from higher shipments. As of June 21, St. Louis to New Orleans grain barge rates were 300 percent of tariff ($11.97 per ton), a 40% increase compared to last week, and 18% above the five-year average. Rates at other major barge origins had 25% to 51% weekly increases and were 10% to 27% above the three-year average. The largest weekly increase for export-barged grain was at origins on the Ohio River. Corn shipments have been up as the last four weeks of corn inspections at the Mississippi Gulf were 120% of last year and 151% of the three-year average. Continued concerns over tight corn supplies in South America, especially Brazil, may be driving the current increase in corn exports and may be causing the higher barge rates."

Since that report, costs have come down some, but remain well above average for this time of year. For example, barge freight on the Illinois River for the week ending July 19 was 9% higher than last week, 12% higher than last year at this time and 27% higher than the three-year average.

A northeast Illinois grain merchant told me that he has quite a bit of corn to move to be shipped to the Gulf via the Illinois River. He agreed that high freight costs are not a good thing for the farmer with the lower prices we are currently seeing. He added that he has heard talk of bulk ocean vessel freight moving higher as well.

That means that the piece of pie going to the farmer will just keep getting smaller.

Mary Kennedy can be reached at

Follow Mary Kennedy on Twitter @MaryCKenn


Fire From the Sky

Fri. Jul 22, 2016 11:38 AM

By Cheryl Anderson
DTN Staff Reporter

OMAHA (DTN) -- Ranchers who use prescribed burns to control invasive plant species on their pastures could soon receive some help from above.

Researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln have developed a prototype unmanned aerial vehicle -- commonly called a drone -- capable of safely igniting prescribed burns.

Developed at UNL's Nebraska Intelligent Mobile Unmanned Systems (NIMBUS) lab, the six-rotor AscTec "micro-drone" is only about 1 square foot in size, capable of fitting into a backpack. The drone has various layers of sensors, systems and software which enable an operator to very precisely and safely ignite a prescribed burn, according to Sebastian Elbaum, professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Elbaum and Carrick Detweiler, assistant professor of computer science and engineering, designed the prototype for the drone.


The drone carries small balls that contain a chemical powder. Just before dropping the ball, the drone injects a second chemical into the ball and it bursts into flames within 60 seconds. The drone is capable of dropping the fireballs every few seconds, Elbaum said.

The UNL team has four prototypes of the drone, each carrying different sensors, a different number of fireballs and even different types of balls. While the current vehicles carry anywhere between 15 and 75 balls, the next prototype may be able to carry twice as many.

As the balls ignite, fire begins to emerge. Since the drone is a robot of sorts, users can plan very precisely where they want the fireballs to land.

"You can program where they are going to fall, or you can specify patterns where you want them to fall every 'x' number of feet over an area," Elbaum said. "You can actually tell them to go in a line or circle. You can specify all kinds of fire patterns that would be hard to do with a person."

Another benefit of the drones is that they can fly very low, so the balls are not blown away by wind gusts. The current prototypes are capable of flying in winds up to 15 miles per hour, but with prescribed fires manned by people, the winds are usually only up to 10 mph in Nebraska.

Currently, most people doing prescribed fires in small- and medium-sized areas are using tools such as torches, which haven't changed in the last 20 to 30 years, he said. Cars and all-terrain vehicles are also commonly used, which work well when there are roads or paths to navigate, but become more dangerous in rugged terrain such as ravines or canyons.

"That's where we think these micro-drones can come in. They can actually reach hard areas and cover them fast," Elbaum said. "They can get to a target location and initiate fires in a very controlled and targeted manner."


Earlier this spring, the NIMBUS team tested their drones to ignite a prescribed burn of more than 2,000 acres of private land in a loess canyon area near Gothenburg, Nebraska, in the south-central area of the state.

The goal of the burn was to target the red cedars that are considered an invasive species and are a problem because they consume a lot of water and take up a lot of pasture space, Elbaum said.

Then, in April, the NIMBUS team used the drone to burn 26 acres of restored tallgrass prairie at the Homestead National Monument of America near Beatrice, Nebraska, where a third of the prairie grass is burned every year for soil health and to control invasive species.

"It was a great test," Elbaum said. "We were able to work with firefighters, learn about how the technology performed, learn what the firefighters liked and didn't like, which helped us learn what aspects of the technology were limiting.

Other collaborators in the Homestead prescribed burn included the National Park Service's Midwest Region Fire and Aviation Program, the Service's national-level Branch of Aviation; and the Department of the Interior's Office of Aviation Services.

The Federal Aviation Administration gave permission for the test after the device was reviewed and approved by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, which oversees air transportation research as well as space research.


After analyzing data from the Homestead burn, Elbaum said one of the interesting things the team learned was fire vectors and temperature information. This will help them to assign paths that are safer to navigate and gave them a better idea of the efficiency of the vehicle and the success rates of the initiated fires.

Since the tests, the team has been contacted by other parks interested in doing prescribed burns with drones, as well as ranchers in Nebraska and Kansas, and people in Michigan, Georgia and Arkansas, to name a few.

The drones could also be used to combat wildfires.

The NIMBUS team is talking to the Department of the Interior and private organizations to try to work with them in a more systematic way for conducting trials and to help them learn how to develop the technology to better match current needs, Elbaum said.

He summed up the team mission in three goals: to push the technology as far as possible to solve large problems, to help students become educated in the design and use of complex systems, and to perform outreach to help people doing this type of activity in the field.


Firemen or others using the drones will need to be trained, though the main goal of the team at UNL is to minimize the amount of training that is needed by programming the vehicle to operate on autopilot most of the time.

The Federal Aviation Administration requires even small drones to be registered, but since the NIMBUS engineers are not recreational users and are not doing things with drones that recreational users do, they needed a special Certificate of Authorization from the FAA to conduct their tests.

Elbaum said the laws for drone registration and usage are changing rapidly and may become more streamlined and straightforward in the future.

Other members of the NIMBUS team who helped develop the drone were Craig Allen, UNL professor and expert on invasive species management and sustainability; Dirac Twidwell, UNL rangeland expert who studies prescribed burns; Brittany Duncan, assistant professor of computer science and engineering; and students James Higgins, Evan Beachly, Christian Laney and Rebecca Horzewski.

Videos about the NIMBUS lab and its drone research are available here:… and…

Cheryl Anderson can be reached at

Follow Cheryl Anderson on Twitter @CherylADTN


DTN Distillers Grain Weekly Update

Fri. Jul 22, 2016 7:26 AM

By Cheryl Anderson
DTN Staff Reporter

Protein supplementation is important for spring-calving beef cattle grazing low-quality dormant forage, but altering the frequency of that supplementation may affect performance, especially in the last 28 days before calving.

Grazing low-quality dormant forage typically does not allow spring-calving beef cattle to meet their maintenance requirements for protein. The expansion of ethanol production has made distillers dried grains with solubles very popular as a protein supplemental feed.

A team of researchers from Kansas State University recently conducted research on the effects of altering supplementation frequency during the pre-partum period of beef cows grazing dormant native range, according to Justin Waggoner, associate professor and extension specialist for Kansas State University.

The trial expanded on an earlier 2014 KSU study on supplementation frequency of dried distillers grain, to see if DDGS could be fed as infrequently as once a week without affecting cow performance.

"One of the big questions our group has been interested in is: How do we better use distillers grains as a supplement?" Waggoner said.

In that earlier study, the researchers found supplementation frequency did not affect cow performance when DDGS was used. While analyzing the data, fellow researcher John Jaeger noticed some interesting changes in the last 28 days of gestation, so the two decided to see what would happen if, instead of keeping the supplementation frequency intact, they changed it 28 days before the expected calving date.

Waggoner said some operations will increase supplementation frequency as they get closer to calving. This makes delivery more efficient, since producers are out driving, looking for new calves anyway.

"With some producers making that change in going from an infrequent delivery to daily when getting close to calving, we wanted to see how the cows would respond to changing supplementation frequency from daily to every six days and from every six days to daily.

Another reason for the study, Waggoner said, is that producers are continually looking for ways to reduce operating costs and decreasing supplementation frequency may help reduce costs for labor and fuel involved in delivering the DDGS.

"The primary reason we were interested in evaluating the use of DDGS and supplementation frequency was to see if there were ways we could reduce those delivery costs associated with providing a supplement to a cow and increase our understanding of how DDGS may be used as supplement for the cow herd," Waggoner said.


The more recent study was titled "Effects of Altering Supplementation Frequency During the Pre-Partum Period of Beef Cows Grazing Dormant Native Range."

The trial involved pregnant Angus crossbred cows which were maintained on dormant native range for 88 days until the onset of calving. The cows were assigned randomly to one of four treatments:

1) Dried distiller's grains fed daily (D1).

2) Dried distiller's grains fed once every six days (D6).

3) Dried distiller's grains fed daily for the first 60 days and then once every six days for the remaining 28-day period (D1-D6).

4) Dried distiller's grains fed every six days for the first 60 days then daily for the remaining 28-day period (D6-D1).

The treatments were initiated 100 days prior to the expected onset of calving. Cow body weights and body condition scores were measured every 28 days. Cows that calved before the final weigh day were excluded from the analysis. A total of 232 observations were made in the trial.


The researchers found no differences between those cows supplemented with DDGS daily or those at six-day intervals.

Although the team hypothesized that increasing supplementation frequency from every six days to daily for the 28 days prior to calving would increase dry matter intake, resulting in greater nutrient intake and improved performance, they found increasing supplementation frequency had the opposite effect.

Cows in the D6-D1 group (supplemented every six days for the first 60 days, then daily for the remaining 28 days) had lighter body weights and lower body condition scores than cows in the other treatment groups.

Waggoner explained that when feeding less often, more supplement is delivered at a time. So instead of delivering two pounds of DDGS on a daily basis, a producer would be delivering 12 pounds of DDGS at one time in a feed bunk. Since the cows would likely eat more DDGS after delivered, that could, in effect, disrupt their grazing behavior and result in the lower intake of forage on the day the supplement is delivered.

Also a factor was the fact that cows are creatures of habit, he said.

"One of the things we learned was that as we supplement cows, they become accustomed to a feeding schedule and they get into a routine" he said. "What we did prior to calving was make a change in their routine."

[JW1] Waggoner said the take-home message from the trial is that it is important for producers to maintain their supplementation schedule for pregnant beef cows during the last 28 days of gestation.

"Whatever supplementation schedule you are on, it may in your best interest to maintain that through calving based on the results of this study," he said.

Other KSU researchers on the project were: C. J. McMullen, J. R. Jaeger, K. R. Harmoney and K C. Olson.

Cheryl Anderson can be reached at

Follow Cheryl Anderson on Twitter @CherylADTN



Chicken Council Lobbies for Ethanol Reduction

The National Chicken Council is asking for a reduction in the amount of ethanol produced in the U.S. in 2017, as well as a reassessment of the U.S. biofuel program as a whole, according to comments made by the NCC in response to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's proposed Renewable Fuel Standard for 2017 (…).

The EPA recommendation was to increase the RFS from 18.11 billion gallons in 2016 to 18.8 billion gallons in 2017. Those recommendations for 2017 are not just fuel market issues, the NCC argued. It said increased ethanol produces increases demand for corn, which impacts all corn users, especially poultry producers who do not benefit from the renewable identification numbers.

Distillers grains, that are used as feed for livestock, are not as valuable to broiler producers, especially with the growing trend of removing corn oil from distillers grains, the NCC said. Poultry producers value the oil as a source of energy in rations. Currently, 85% of all ethanol plants utilize oil extraction, according to the RFA.

The NCC argued that EPA needs to create a more sustainable approach to U.S. fuel policies, as current diversion of corn from feed to fuel uses "exacts a heavy toll on the domestic chicken industry and American consumers." Mike Brown, NCC president, said the proposed 2017 volumes are "overly aggressive and based on faulty assumptions about the fuel market and thus should be further reduced to limit the disruptions to the corn market and nation's feed supply.

Cheryl Anderson can be reached at



COMPANY STATE 7/22/2016 7/15/2016 CHANGE
Bartlett and Company, Kansas City, MO (816-753-6300)
Missouri Dry $155 $155 $0
Modified $67 $67 $0
CHS, Minneapolis, MN (800-769-1066)
Illinois Dry $140 $145 -$5
Indiana Dry $140 $145 -$5
Iowa Dry $130 $140 -$10
Michigan Dry $140 $150 -$10
Minnesota Dry $125 $125 $0
North Dakota Dry $120 $125 -$5
New York Dry $145 $150 -$5
South Dakota Dry $120 $120 $0
MGP Ingredients, Atchison, KS (800-255-0302 Ext. 5253)
Kansas Dry $130 $140 -$10
POET Nutrition, Sioux Falls, SD (888-327-8799)
Indiana Dry $150 $155 -$5
Iowa Dry $130 $130 $0
Michigan Dry $130 $140 -$10
Minnesota Dry $125 $125 $0
Missouri Dry $145 $145 $0
Ohio Dry $155 $160 -$5
South Dakota Dry $125 $130 -$5
United BioEnergy, Wichita, KS (316-616-3521)
Kansas Dry $127 $135 -$8
Wet $30 $40 -$10
Illinois Dry $150 $160 -$10
Nebraska Dry $127 $135 -$8
Wet $30 $40 -$10
U.S. Commodities, Minneapolis, MN (888-293-1640)
Illinois Dry $155 $155 $0
Indiana Dry $145 $145 $0
Iowa Dry $135 $135 $0
Michigan Dry $145 $150 -$5
Minnesota Dry $130 $130 $0
Nebraska Dry $115 $120 -$5
New York Dry $155 $155 $0
North Dakota Dry $125 $130 -$5
Ohio Dry $145 $145 $0
South Dakota Dry $115 $125 -$10
Wisconsin Dry $140 $140 $0
Valero Energy Corp., San Antonio, TX (402-727-5300)
Indiana Dry $145 $145 $0
Iowa Dry $130 $130 $0
Minnesota Dry $130 $130 $0
Nebraska Dry $125 $125 $0
Ohio Dry $150 $150 $0
South Dakota Dry $125 $125 $0
Western Milling, Goshen, California (559-302-1074)
California Dry $195 $198 -$3
*Prices listed per ton.
Weekly Average $135 $138 -$3
The weekly average prices above reflect only those companies DTN
collects spot prices from. States include: Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska,
Kansas, Illinois, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Michigan,
Wisconsin and Indiana. Prices for Pennsylvania, New York and
California are not included in the averages.

*The spot prices gathered by DTN are only intended to reflect general market trends and may vary. Please contact individual plant or merchandiser for exact prices.

If you would be willing to take a weekly phone call and have your distiller grains spot prices listed in this feature, please contact Cheryl Anderson at (308) 224-1527 or (800) 369-7875, or e-mail


Settlement Price: Quote Date Bushel Short Ton
Corn 7/21/2016 $3.3425 $119.38
Soybean Meal 7/21/2016 $352.50
DDG Weekly Average Spot Price $135.00
DDG Value Relative to: 7/22 7/15 7/8
Corn 113.09% 106.67% 106.67%
Soybean Meal 38.30% 36.19% 36.19%
Cost Per Unit of Protein:
DDG $5.40 $5.52 $5.52
Soybean Meal $7.42 $8.03 $8.03
Corn and soybean prices taken from DTN Market Quotes. DDG
price represents the average spot price from Midwest
companies collected on Thursday afternoons. Soybean meal
cost per unit of protein is cost per ton divided by 47.5.
DDG cost per unit of protein is cost per ton divided by 25.




Dried Modified Wet
Iowa 120.00-149.00 49.00-70.00 34.00-40.00
Minnesota 125.00-145.00 55.00 33.00-45.00
Nebraska 115.00-150.00 54.00-66.00 30.00-45.00
South Dakota 120.00-140.00 60.00-68.00 37.00-40.00
Wisconsin 135.00-155.00 60.00-77.00 NQ
Eastern Corn Belt 126.00-160.00 66.00-75.00 NQ
Kansas 125.00-155.00 NQ 45.00-50.00
Northern Missouri 151.00-170.00 67.00 45.00-47.00
CIF NOLA 173.00-191.00
Pacific Northwest 184.00-196.00
California 183.00-193.00
Texas Border (metric ton) 200.00-216.00
Lethbridge AB n/a
Chicago 170.00-179.00

Dried Distillers Grain: 10% Moisture

Modified Wet Distillers: 50-55% Moisture

Wet Distillers Grains: 65-70% Moisture


Distillers Dry Grains

  Rail to California Points         190.00-192.00    unch-up 2.00
  FOB Truck to California Points    188.00-196.00    dn 2.00-9.00


Offers for Distillers Dried Grains delivered by rail to feed mills in the Pacific Northwest were 2.00 to 23.00 lower from 181.00-195.00. Offers for distillers dried grains trans-loaded onto trucks and delivered to Willamette Valley dairies were also 2.00 to 23.00 lower from


*All prices quoted per ton unless otherwise noted.



Dry and Wet Mill, Co-products and Products Produced - United States

April 2016 - May 2016

July 1, 2016


Dry mill co-product production of distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) was 1.84 million tons during May 2016, up 7 percent from April 2016 but down 1 percent from May 2015. Distillers wet grains (DWG) 65 percent or more moisture was 1.23 million tons in May 2016, down 2 percent from April 2016 and down 10 percent from May 2015.

Wet mill corn gluten feed production was 333 thousand tons during May 2016, up 9 percent from April 2016 but down 4 percent from May 2015. Wet corn gluten feed 40 to 60 percent moisture was 306 thousand tons in May 2016, up 2 percent from April 2016 but down 5 percent from May 2015.

Co-products and Products May 2015 Apr 2016 May 2016
Dry Mill tons
Condensed distillers solubles (CDS-syrup) 148,757 130,324 131,318
Corn oil 117,049 111,077 121,699
Distillers dried grains (DDG) 418,448 374,750 411,467
Distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) 1,861,795 1,717,024 1,842,182
Modified distillers wet grains (DWG) <65% moisture 1,368,926 1,264,745 1,234,315
Modified distillers wet grains (DWG) 40-64% moisture 414,956 429,972 425,532
Wet Mill
Corn germ meal 69,274 67,530 63,859
Corn gluten feed 348,355 306,464 332,975
Corn gluten meal 97,139 84,916 88,177
Corn oil 53,208 51,455 50,262
Wet corn gluten feed 40-60% moisture 323,436 301,283 306,424



National Organizations:

Distillers Grains Technology Council (

Renewable Fuels Association (

U.S. Grains Council (

National Corn Growers Association (

American Feed Industry Association (


National Grains and Feed Association (

Association of American Feed Control Officials (

USDA Animal Feed Safety System (…)

USDA Food Safety Modernization Act (…)

University Websites:

Corn Processing Coproducts Manual, Nebraska Corn Board and Nebraska Corn Board and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources Agricultural Research Division Cooperative Extension Division (…)

University of Minnesota Biofuels Coproducts in Animal Feed (



*Distillers Grains Technology Council Inc.'s 21th Annual Distillers Grains Symposium

The Distillers Grains Technology Council will hold its 21st Annual Distillers Grains Symposium on May 17-18, 2017 at the downtown Marriott in Indianapolis, IN. For information, contact the DGTC office at (515) 294-4019 or (800) 759-3448, or check the DGTC website (

(If you are sponsoring or know of any event, conference or workshop on distillers grains, and would like to list it in the DTN Weekly Distillers Grains Update, please contact Cheryl Anderson (see contact info below).


We welcome any comments/suggestions for this feature. Please let us know what information is valuable to you that we could include in the Distillers Grains Weekly Update. Please feel free to contact Cheryl Anderson at (402) 364-2183, or e-mail


I deleted this section primarily because we did not evaluate grazing behavior so it is simply speculation which we science types don’t like to do

Copyright 2016 DTN/The Progressive Farmer. All rights reserved.

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Aggies Gather at RNC

Thu. Jul 21, 2016 3:04 PM

By Jerry Hagstrom
DTN Political Correspondent

CLEVELAND (DTN) -- A series of high-ranking Republicans on Wednesday urged farm leaders to be unified in supporting the Republican ticket this fall. But they barely mentioned the name of GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, leaving the pitch for him to a Nebraska farmer and agribusiness executive who will chair Trump's farm and rural committee.

Representatives of most of the nation's major farm groups and agribusiness firms attended the Great American Farm Luncheon, a Republican National Convention tradition.

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam; House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway, R-Texas; Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan.; and Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, all urged attendees to vote Republican, but they either did not mention Trump's name or only in passing. House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Robert Aderholt, R-Ala., and other current and past members of Congress were also present, but they did not speak.

Ted McKinney, the Indiana agriculture director appointed by Trump's running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, also spoke. McKinney said Pence "has a sense of our culture. He gets the hard part of agriculture."

If Trump and Pence are elected, McKinney said, "American agriculture will be at the fore. It will not be forgotten." Pence has held a governors' conference on agriculture and convinced the FFA (formerly the Future Farmers of America) to bring its annual convention to Indianapolis for at least nine years.

The Trump pitch was left to Charles Herbster, president and CEO of the Conklin Company and Herbster Angus Farms in Falls City, Nebraska.

"We need to be passionate about this next election," said Herbster, who was a candidate for governor of Nebraska in 2013, but dropped out due to his wife's illness. His biography says he has a mission "to bring God back into the corporate boardroom."

Herbster said he is putting together a farm, ranch and rural group for Trump with the assistance of Sam Clovis, a professor at Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa, who became associated with the Trump campaign in 2015 after leaving the presidential campaign of Texas Republican Gov. Rick Perry, who dropped out. Herbster told DTN after the event that a farm and rural advisory board will be announced in about two weeks.

Herbster, who said his speech was written by Clovis, said he "knows" that Trump understands that food security is national security. Trump also will immediately address elimination of the "death tax," the term preferred by Republicans for the estate tax. Trump also understands "we have to revitalize rural America," and will bring "common sense" to land management in the western states.

Herbster also maintained that Trump is a supporter of free trade. Herbster said, "believes in trade just as much as anyone in the room," but believes the United States needs better-negotiated trade agreements because "we keep coming up on the short end of the stick" and this "is not good for manufacturing."

Herbster, who has previously told the media he has known Trump for 10 years, said he has visited New York three times in the last five weeks on campaign business. Herbster added, "Hillary Clinton is not an option for president."

Herbster told the attendees, "Donald Trump may have been your tenth pick" in the primaries, but the possibility that Clinton would make appointments to the Supreme Court should motivate them to support Trump now.

CropLife America President and CEO Jay Vroom was the master of ceremonies but noted that National Council of Farmer Co-operatives President and CEO Charles Conner, a former Agriculture deputy secretary, was his co-chair.

Vroom established the second theme of the event by telling the attendees that they must "stop talking to ourselves" and "dedicate ourselves to communicating" with the broader society.

Throughout the event, there were references to the difficulty convincing urban consumers and college students of the value of commercial-scale agriculture. David Daniels, director of the Ohio Agriculture Department, an appointee of Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich, noted that he has to communicate with "people who live in a loft" and "have never been on a farm" and have a nostalgia for old-style farming.

Ohio Farm Bureau Executive Vice President Adam Sharp said Ohio has 14 million acres of farm land and 11 million people, which means farmers need to raise crops and animals in close proximity to urbanites. That proximity makes it particularly difficult to raise pigs on a commercial scale, Sharp noted.

Putnam, who is often mentioned as a candidate for governor, made the most impassioned speech in favor of voting Republican. Putnam said farmers' biggest threat today is not the weather but the Environmental Protection Agency, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Internal Revenue Service and the Labor Department.

"Hillary Clinton won't fix them," Putnam said. "The biggest obstacle to [agriculture] is our federal government."

The people attending the luncheon need "to support people up and down the ballot," Putnam said. The farm states will be battleground states, Putnam said, adding "even my state to a degree." (Polls show Clinton as much as nine points ahead of Trump in Florida.)

Putnam did not mention Trump, but said, "It doesn't matter who your pick was in the primary."

Of Pence, Putnam said, "Pence is our people."

Putnam also expressed frustration with the larger political atmosphere for agriculture. Putnam said he fears that Norman Borlaug, the plant breeder who developed the Green Revolution that increased agricultural productivity in India, would not be able to carry out his research at land grant colleges if he were alive today. Leftists, Putnam said, have forged "an unholy alliance" with people who usually support agriculture, including conservationists. Putnam urged the attendees not to allow opponents of large-scale agriculture to "pick the industry apart one commodity at a time" -- a statement that could be a reference to cane sugar farmers in his own state who advertise that their products are not genetically modified.

In order to feed a growing world population, Putnam said, agriculture "can't be Old MacDonald's farm."


Sorghum Pest Alert

Thu. Jul 21, 2016 2:18 PM

By Emily Unglesbee
DTN Staff Reporter

ROCKVILLE, Md. (DTN) -- Sorghum pests never gave Jerry Martin many headaches before last year.

Now for the second year in a row, the central Kansas farmer is bracing for infestations of the sugarcane aphid. After a slow start in Texas this year, the pest has moved north and east earlier than ever.

In Kentucky, aphids were spotted in mid-July, a month earlier than 2015. Now, three hours south of Martin's farmland near Manhattan, Kansas, the pest has been found in sorghum fields in southern Kansas 10 days earlier than last year.

The levels of infestation in those Kansas fields suggest the pest has been calling the Sunflower State home for nearly a month already, according to a report compiled by Kansas State University's field crop Extension entomology team.

"Aphid densities are well below threshold, but those with sorghum fields are encouraged to scout fields now," the team wrote.

Because they reproduce asexually, aphid populations can grow rapidly and infest fields in a matter of days.

"Sugarcane aphids have caused yield losses of 30% to 100% for sorghum growers since 2013 in many states of the U.S.," warned University of Kentucky entomologist Raul Villanueva, in a university pest alert. "Sugarcane aphids affected severely grain and sweet sorghum fields last year in Georgia, South Carolina, Missouri, Tennessee, and Kentucky."

Last year, Martin sprayed his fields in early August and still experienced yield losses when aphid-damaged plants toppled over before harvest. "We still had very good yields, but we would have had fantastic yields if so much of it hadn't gone down," he said.

The aphids are piercing insects -- they suck fluids from the plant and leave behind a sticky honeydew that encourages the growth of a sooty black fungus. The plant damage lowers yield potential and the honeydew can clog and damage combines and field equipment.

Scouting can be tedious and thresholds for treatment vary by region. Villanueva recommends selecting 10 plants by random within a 50-foot stretch of the field. Examine a top and bottom leaf from each plant, looking for the tiny, light-colored aphids and counting those you find.

After repeating this process four to five times, count the average aphid counts per leaf. "If this average is between 30 to 135 aphids per leaf up to boot stage of development, then make an insecticide application," Villanueva concluded.

Growers on the High Plains should follow this slightly more conservative threshold:….

For more details on how to weigh the cost and potential benefits of spraying, see this guide from Texas A&M:….

Growers have two options for effective treatments this year: Bayer's Sivanto Prime insecticide and Dow's Transform insecticide, which has received Section 18 emergency use approvals for sorghum fields in 14 states (Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia). You can find those labels here:….

The EPA also just issued a Section 18 emergency use approval for Bayer's Sivanto Prime in sweet sorghum in North Carolina. You can see that label here:….

You can find the Kansas State University sugarcane aphid alert here:…, and Villanueva's update from Kentucky here:….

Emily Unglesbee can be reached at

Follow Emily Unglesbee on Twitter @Emily_Unglesbee.


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