Monthly Archives: June 2013


Discount Forecasts of Corn Price Extremes

JUNE 28, 2013
By: Ed Clark, Top Producer Business and Issues Editor

Wild estimates have been circulating on what corn prices for the 2013/14 marketing year could end up being given everything in play, but it’s wise to discount both high and low extremes.
“I give a 10% chance of $7 corn in the year ahead and a 2% odds of $3.50 corn,” says Frayne Olson, ag economist at North Dakota State University. “Can I make a case for both, sure, and both are possible, though highly improbable.”
To reach $7/bu., it would take a major weather event, such as a high pressure ridge settling over Iowa and Illinois in July and August, affecting pollination and filling. Although most soils in the heartland have been recharged, heavy rains have produced root systems that are generally shallow, so if weather is hot and dry during pollination, futures markets would respond quickly. However, Olson gives such a scenario low probabilities. For $3.50 corn, it would take yields higher than present forecasts, an extremely weak global economy and weak exports. A combination of factors certainly could create $3.50 corn, but it’s even more improbable than $7 corn, Olson says.
He looks for world GDP, excluding the U.S., to grow at a 2.5% to 3% clip the next two years, which is slightly softer than the last three years at 3.5% to 4%. China will grow at 7.5% to 8.5%, which is lower than the 8% to 10% during the past three years, he predicts. Only modest growth is likely in the U.S. and possibly just 1% in Europe. This does not spell doomsday for global corn exports.
Most likely, Olson believes corn prices in the marketing year ahead will average $5.25 to $5.75 per bushel for the 2013 crop.
He’s more optimistic than USDA, whose current price forecast is $4.40 to $5.20 (June WASDE). His reason why: USDA’s yield forecast of 156.5 bushels per acre, and the 155 yield of many private forecasters, are too optimistic given early problems with the corn crop. Olson thinks a 150 to 152 bushel per acre yield is more realistic. “Even so, yields of 150 on 95 million acres will produce a lot of corn,” he adds. Additionally, it might take several years for demand to come back, which can limit big upward price moves. In the meantime, he looks for 2014 corn acres to fall by as much as 5 million acres.
“How I see the next decade is several year periods of $4.50 to $5.50, but then shorter periods of production problems somewhere where prices could shoot back up to $7 to $7.50, then back down,” he says. With low global stocks to use, he thinks volatility is here to stay.

By |2013-06-28T15:02:56-05:00June 28th, 2013|Articles|0 Comments

Monitoring Udder Health on Dairy Farms

JUNE 13, 2013
By: University News Release

By Kathy Lee, Michigan State University
Effectively managing udder health on dairy farms requires a good record keeping system and routine monitoring of somatic cell count (SCC) data.
Effectively managing udder health on dairy farms requires a good record keeping system and routine monitoring of somatic cell count (SCC) data. Michigan State University Extension dairy educators recognize the importance of using SCC data to determine the overall udder health status of dairy herds. SCC data for individual cows also help focus on those specific cows with udder infections.
Dairy Records Management Systems (DRMS) offers the Udder Health Monitor report (DHI-427) to summarize SCC data collected through DHIAs (Dairy Herd Information Associations). Data from individual cows are used to calculate the overall SCC average for the herd and to monitor udder health of subgroups of cows based on lactation number or stage of lactation. Newly infected cows or cows with chronic udder infections also are identified.
The Udder Health Monitor report contains various graphs, tables and lists to look at current SCC infection rates, current SCC averages by lactation and stage of lactation, changes in infection rates during the past 12 months, and infected cows. For several of the graphs and tables, dairy producers, dairy farm managers and herd consultants can see how their herds compare to the Top 20 percent Herds within their herd size category. The three herd size groups are: 1-199 cows, 200-999 cows, and 1,000+ cows.
The Current SCC Infection Rates graph and table provide the total number and percentage of infected cows for several subgroups of cows. Users can evaluate differences in infection rates based on lactation number (first, second, or third and greater). They also can determine if they are meeting their goals to minimize the number of new and chronic infections and the number of infected fresh cows.
Monitoring average SCC and infection rates by stage of lactation will help pinpoint the potential source of udder infections. For example, high SCC in fresh and early-lactation cows could be lowered by making management changes in the dry cow groups or maternity pens. The Current SCC by Stage of Lactation graph shows the percent of cows by SCC level for 3 stages of lactation: 5-29 days in milk (DIM), 30-220 DIM and 220+ DIM.
Graphs of monthly trends in infection rates will illustrate progress resulting from management changes to improve milk quality. Or the graphs may alert herd owners and managers when infection rates begin to trend upward. Trends in new and chronic infections as well as infections in fresh cows are graphed for the past 12 months.
Comparing a cow’s SCC at the previous test day to the current test day SCC in her current lactation in a scatter-plot graph shows the prevalence of cows in these 4 categories:
Not infected – previous and current SCC < 4.0
New infection – previous SCC =4.0
Cure – previous SCC >=4.0 and current SCC =4.0

In addition to summarized SCC herd data, the Udder Health Monitor report includes […]

By |2013-06-13T12:40:09-05:00June 13th, 2013|Articles|0 Comments

Which Crops Are the Thirstiest?

JUNE 3, 2013
By: Ben Potter, Farm Journal Technology Editor

University of Minnesota study looks at water usage for 16 major row crops.

Ever wonder how much crop you’re getting per drop? A group of research scientists were, and they just published a study on their findings. Scientists with the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment (IonE), along with the Institute of Crop Science and Resource Conservation at the University of Bonn (Germany) conducted the study.

IonE postdoctoral research scholar Kate Brauman led the research team, which looked at crop production, water use and crop-water productivity across multiple climate zones for 16 different crops , including corn, soybean, wheat, potato and more. They found a wide range of variation in crop-water productivity in places that have similar climates, which could translate into water savings opportunities.

“For example, disease presence or nutrient availability can cause big yield changes even though water consumption is the same,” Brauman says.

The implications for capitalizing on these “crop per drop” variances are substantial, Brauman adds. The researchers calculated that in drier regions, farmers could raise enough food to provide for an additional 110 million people without increasing water use or using additional cropland – simply by improving the very lowest performers to just the 20th percentile.

“Because crop production consumes more freshwater than any other human activity on the planet, the study has significant implications for addressing the twin challenges of water stress and food insecurity,” Brauman says.

As part of the study, researchers calculated total water consumption, rain fed consumption and irrigation consumption across the 16 crops. Here are the top 5 irrigated U.S. crops, for example:

1. Corn
2. Soybean
3. Rice Wheat
4. Sorghum

By |2013-06-03T13:52:10-05:00June 3rd, 2013|Commodities|0 Comments