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  • Agriculture industrial reports on wet and dry ethanol milling, flour milling, oilseed crush and cotton suffered from the Census Bureau's budgetary axe in 2011, but USDA announced on Monday it's ready to put the reports on 2015 calendar.

  • Grain piles are starting to multiply in northern areas of the Corn Belt and railroads remain behind on delivering car orders as costs rise.

  • Expectations of record corn and soybean crops are boosting barge freight rates.

  • Analyst David Hightower recently explained why he thinks demand will provide more support to the corn and soybean markets six months from now than people think.

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  • Hogs made history this summer. Pork producer profits were, quite simply, enormous -- averaging $82 profit for each hog marketed in the third quarter. "I've never seen anything like it," says Chris Hurt, agricultural economist at Purdue University. "Producers are paying down debt, and banks are smiling ear to ear." See the 20th Annual Pork Powerhouses Report, a Successful Farming magazine and Agriculture.com Exclusive! Also: PEDv May Be Nothing Compared With These Diseases   Download the 2014 Pork Powerhouses (PDF) Check out the latest chat in Hog Talk Also: See the latest Fall Hog Market Outlook See more of the biggest pork producers in the U.S. in 2014 How do this year's Powerhouses stack up to previous years? Flip through the last few years here! 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007  

  • There are far fewer soybeans stored around the U.S. right now than the trade expected, if USDA's data Tuesday is any indication.In the agency's quarterly Grain Stocks report, USDA pegged old-crop soybean stocks as of September 1 at 92.0 million bushels, down 35% from a year ago. This falls well short of the average trade analyst estimate of 126 million heading into Tuesday's report. The range for soybean stock estimates was 100 to 150 million bushels, making USDA's 92 million-bushel number sharply bullish."Soybean stocks stored on farms totaled 21.3 million bushels, down 46% from a year ago. Off-farm stocks, at 70.6 million bushels, are down 30% from last September," according to Tuesday's report. "Indicated disappearance for June-August 2014 totaled 313 million bushels, up 6% from the same period a year earlier."See the latest farmer and trader reactionsSee more from Tuesday's report Get more trade reactions to Tuesday's dataIt's a different story for corn; the corn ending stocks number -- 1.24 billion bushels -- fell above the average analyst estimate ahead of Tuesday's report, but within the general estimate range. Last year at this time, the ending stocks number for corn was 821 million bushels. And a much bigger share of the corn supply right now is sitting physically in farmers' hands."Of the total stocks, 462 million bushels are stored on farms, up 68% from a year earlier. Off-farm stocks, at 774 million bushels, are up 42% from a year ago. The June-August 2014 indicated disappearance is 2.62 billion bushels, compared with 1.95 billion bushels during the same period last year," according to Tuesday's report.Though immediate market reaction was fairly light and mostly bearish, there's some hope that soybeans could see a boost from Tuesday's data, which shows a smaller soybean stockpile than previously estimated. Those supplies come despite no change in last year's crop output. The numbers will likely be traded for a short while, but the focus will flip back soon to this fall's harvest and whether or not it will yield the kind of crop necessary to build up those stocks back to previously guessed levels, says Don Roose, analyst and broker with U.S. Commodities in West Des Moines, Iowa."Now we've got a harvest that is real and big so far, so that is helping replenish supplies. It's being traded," he says of Tuesday's report. "It starts to mitigate the downside for soybeans. You've got almost 50 million bushels that has to be accounted for. On top of that, what it means is your huge stocks are going to be not as huge, but still huge."On the corn side, though, Tuesday's data hold no bullishness. In fact, it reinforces what the trade has been suspecting for some time: That it could take a crop calamity of some kind to give any bullish support to the corn trade."The cure for low prices is low prices. It looks like right now we're going to have to come up with some kind of weather problem somewhere in the world, or we're going to have to cut acres back," Roose says. "Demand isn't going to grow as much as it needs to."Another theme driven home by Tuesday's report is the growing likelihood of a larger soybean crop in 2015: "We're starting to move the corn-soybean ratio to soybeans. The justification is because it's taken a while to replenish these historically tight bean stocks. At some point in time, we'll come back in line," Roose adds. "Into 2015, we've already done it. It may take part of this year's crop in the U.S. and part of South America's crop. We're quickly going to go from historically tight supplies to record-large supplies."

  • As if fall wasn't busy enough...Putting down a herbicide application this fall could help you keep weeds knocked down better next spring in a lot of circumstances in no-till production systems, 2 Purdue University specialists say in a report released this week. The utility of fall herbicide applications isn't the most widely accepted practice, but in the right situation, applying something like glyphosate, 2,4-D or dicamba starting in a couple of weeks could go a long way to keeping down winter annual emergence prior to corn and soybean planting time next spring, say Travis Legleiter, weed scientist, and Bill Johnson, plant pathologist, both of Purdue University Extension."The necessity of a residual herbicide in the fall is always in debate amongst producers and weed scientists. A residual herbicide applied later in the fall can keep fields cleaner longer in the spring, and can in some years provide enough activity to keep fields clean up to planting. With the cold, harsh winter we experienced this past fall, residual herbicides persisted well into the spring planting season. There were several cases this year where residuals persisted too long and soybean injury occurred because of additive effects from the remnant fall residual and a spring residual that was applied," according to a university report from Legleiter and Johnson. :The success of this past years fall residual herbicides will not occur every year, it all depends on the weather and we all know it’s improbable to predict what the winter and next spring will bring."There are a few specific circumstances under which a fall application is critical; if you're no-tilling soybeans and have a marestail problem, for example, Legleiter and Johnson say a fall application's "a must." More generally, though, think immediate control first, not residual, and target what you can see now, not what you think you might have a problem with later on."The recommendation from Purdue has been and will remain to be that fall applications should consist of products that will control the weeds that are present and to save the use of a residual herbicide until as close to planting as possible in the spring. This eliminates the guessing game of what the winter and spring will bring and whether of not an additional residual application will be needed. A planned fall burndown without residual followed by a spring burndown with residual assures that the residual will still be present into the growing season. However, given our continual struggle to control marestail throughout much of the state, we are revising this recommendation in areas where additional horsepower is needed for marestail control," according to Legleiter and Johnson's university report. "The use of a fall application, regardless of whether or not it includes a residual, is a must if you are trying to control marestail in no-till soybean. The emergence pattern of marestail in fall as well as in the spring and summer means that multiple herbicide applications are needed and these applications need to start in the fall. Again the fall application needs to focus primarily on controlling the marestail rosettes that emerged in the fall and we will like to see a low-cost residual component added to the foliar product. The residual component should not be expected to provide residual control of marestail in the spring for more than 2 weeks. A program like this will make the spring burndown more effective as there will be less marestail plants to control and the plants present will be the smaller spring emerged rosettes, rather than large bolting fall-emerged plants."Though it's not the only weed that's problematic this time of year and holds the potential to jump into next spring easily without treatment now, marestail is just one weed that you need to watch for and treat in a fall application if early-spring weed pressures concern you. Just make sure you're selecting what you put down carefully and how you approach your whole herbicide program with attention to what your specific fields need."The treatments that included 2 burndown applications with a residual included in at least one of those applications not only had the highest control of marestail, but also the most consistent. The treatments that included fall residuals were the highest and most consistent, again this is due to the delayed spring and extended persistence that will vary from year to year," according to Legleiter and Johnson. "The treatment that did not include any residual herbicides had the lowest amount of control and was the least consistent. This again solidifies the need not only for multiple burndown applications, but also for the use of residual herbicides to manage marestail in no-till soybeans."

  • (Story courtesy of South Dakota State University Marketing & Communications)When it comes to extreme weather events, last year’s October 3-5 blizzard that dumped anywhere from 20 to 55 inches of snow on western South Dakota was devastating. Livestock still had their summer coats and were rain-soaked in pastures when the snowfall began. An estimated 45,000 head of livestock perished and utility line repairs, tree removal, and other cleanup cost millions of dollars.What are the chances of it happening again in changing climate conditions?That’s what South Dakota State University (SDSU) Extension climate field specialist Laura Edwards and SDSU state climatologist Dennis Todey tried to figure out. They had the help of science and operations officer Matthew Bunkers of the National Weather Service in Rapid City and associate professor John Abatzoglou and graduate student Lauren Parker, both of the University of Idaho Department of Geography.  “It was just an anomaly,” Edwards says. “This type of early-season blizzard is an outlier and is not any more likely to occur in the future due to a changing climate.”Such a storm occurs about once every 10 years, so it is not uncommon to get that much precipitation in a two- or three-day period in western South Dakota. But the timing of the 2013 early-October blizzard created devastating impacts.Computer models showed a reduction in what Edwards calls “extreme precipitation events” in the fall season in western South Dakota when compared to climate conditions in the 1800s. However, she adds, the results were not statistically significant.  The scientists compared the amount of water vapor in the air within the September 19-to-October 19 time frame, two weeks before and after the 2013 storm. Water vapor in the atmosphere in the Rapid City area has increased by nearly 12% since 1966, explained Edwards, but that increase again was not statistically significant. “This increase in water vapor has contributed to increasing total precipitation in the fall season, but does not necessarily mean an increase in extreme precipitation events,” she adds.Using climate modeling techniques, the scientists found no consensus regarding whether the blizzard could be attributed to a changing climate. Their findings are part of an American Meteorological Society publication, Explaining Extreme Events of 2013 from a Climate Perspective.“Climate change has not loaded the dice in any way for this early fall blizzard,” Edwards says. “Individual events are very difficult to attribute to a changing climate.” 

 

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