Many Can Benefit by Dropping Soybean Seeding Rates

Jan 21, 2018 17


One practical takeaway from a round of winter agronomy meetings is that soybean farmers might save some money on seed costs by lowering their seeding rates. Jim Schwartz, director of PFR and agronomy at Beck’s Hybrids says it might be strange for a seed company to be testing and talking about the use of less seed, but this year was the 9th year of the study and the results are worth a look.

“We continue to see that the economic optimum seeding rates for soybeans tends to be a little bit lower than many growers might be planting,” Schwartz told HAT. “We see that 125 to that 100,000 seeds per acre to be the economic optimum seeding rate, and yet we still have a lot of growers who are planting 150, 160, 170,00.”

At their winter PFR Insight meetings they’re encouraging growers to test different rates on their own ground.

“We’re not saying go plant 100,000 or even 115 or 1120,000. What we are saying is if you are planting in that 160,000-180,000 seeding rates, every 10,000 seeds that you cut back can save you around $4 an acre. So, we think if you’re 160, why don’t you try planting some strips in fields at 150 or 140, save yourself $8-10 an acre, and you’re not going to sacrifice hardly any yield. Our data would say, and we’re pretty confident in this multi-year, multi-location data, you’re not going to sacrifice yield, but you are going to improve your economics.”

In a first time PFR study of applying starter fertility on both sides of the row in corn plots, they call it 2x2x2, Schwartz says they realized a 6-bushel yield bump. Hear more on that from Schwartz in the HAT interview:Jim-Schwartz-on-Becks-PFR

Last week Beck’s announced an expansion at their El Paso, Ill. facility. Consolidating locations in central Illinois, Beck’s sold their Downs, Ill. facility to Horsch and is relocating their Practical Farm Research (PFR)® site to El Paso.

“Each day we strive to not only deliver farmers with the highest quality seed, but we look for opportunities to improve processes, facilities and programs that will ultimately help farmers succeed,” said Scott Beck, president of Beck’s. “By consolidating facilities, farmers will now have access to our agronomic PFR program, product testing, distribution and sales support all at one location in central Illinois. Helping farmers succeed is at the core of everything we do, and this move is a reflection of our continued commitment to Illinois farmers.”

El Paso will now be home to one of Beck’s six PFR locations, which are located across five states. In 2017, Beck’s PFR conducted more than 500 different studies designed with the farmer in mind to learn how different management practices and new technologies perform in field environments. Farmers can expect to tour PFR studies during the 2018 growing season and attend the first-ever Beck’s Field Show in El Paso on August 9, 2018.

Bower Trading Market Strategy Report: Don’t Panic

Jan 21, 2018 54

Bower Trading Market Strategy Report: Don’t Panic

Jim Bower

Last week did not see a big rally in corn, but was one of the better weeks in recent history with a higher close in soybeans on Friday. Jim Bower, with Bower Trading, says the market is trying to send producers some signals about planted acreage, ”To me the market is telling farmers to plant for soybeans and less corn, but for some that may be a hard choice. Last year corn yields were good while soybean yields were only average. It remains to be seen how willing growers are to go with soybeans.” He added that the next 30 days will see a battle between the corn and soybean market.

Exports were good last week, thanks to a weaker dollar and growing concern about the weather in South America. Rain in Brazil could hamper the planting of the 2nd corn crop. “We are keeping a close watch on the weather, especially as we move into February,” Bower said. Last year, problems in Brazilian corn production provided some strength to the U.S. corn market.

Overall, there is a good deal of pessimism by U.S. producers about 2018. Bower says, “Don’t panic. Let’s think this thing through on a day to day basis and make some decisions about what we need to do. Look at your input costs and make some decisions if you are going to cut back or not. Plan to have those plans in place and ready to go by the end of February.”

For more market strategy information, contact Bower Trading at 800-533-8045 or

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Commentary: Farmers See The Glass As Half Empty

Jan 21, 2018 19

Farmers can be the most optimistic people in the world; they can also be the most pessimistic. In the short term, this mood swing can be driven by the weather, the market, or the win/loss record of their favorite college sports team. At the recent farm show in Fort Wayne, the mood of pessimism was almost palpable. Exhibitors reported that, while crowds were good, very few were interested in buying anything or even finalizing orders for the 2018 crop. There was also very little interest in discussing selling any of their 2017 production. The most popular booth at the show was the NAPA booth because they were giving away free 5 gallon plastic buckets. “Well you always need a another free bucket,” said the thousands who walked out of the show with the bright yellow buckets.

This mood has been documented by Purdue in its monthly Ag Economic Barometer. This monthly survey measures the level of optimism farmers have about the farm economy. Ever since harvest, the barometer has been falling. “The decline has been driven entirely by producers adopting a more pessimistic perspective regarding the future,” said the Center for Commercial agriculture, which conducts the monthly survey. As recently as October, the Future Expectations index was at 137. The index fell to 127 in November, and, in December, dropped again to 120 – the lowest reading for the Index of Future Expectations since October 2016.

A look back over the past 2 years reveals an interesting trend. Farmer optimism spiked right after the election of Donald Trump. Since then, optimism has been on the decline. Today more farmers feel their farms will be in worse economic shape a year from now. This is most likely related to the lack of progress we have seen in Washington on key issues including trade, immigration, and the Farm Bill. While there has been progress on reducing regulations and putting a muzzle on the EPA, no significant improvement has been seen in the prices or profit margins for most Midwestern row crop farmers.

The winter extension outlook meetings that farmers attend have not been filled with optimism about prices and profits. Most economists are urging producers to sharpen the pencil and hunker down to ride out another year. So it is no wonder why farmers are in a bad mood.

There are, however, a few things on the horizon that promise some improvement. First, the recently passed tax reform package will put some cash in your pocket — not only for farmers but also for consumers. This extra money will continue to stimulate the U.S. farm economy and help with improved demand. In addition, the economies of other countries around the world are also heating up which will likely lead to increased demand for food products from the U.S. While we have not seen it yet, many market forecasters are telling me that demand will pick up in 2018 and that we will make a good deal of progress in reducing the surplus that has been depressing prices.

Finally, spring is coming soon. In less than 60 days, we will have the planters out and calibrated and will be waiting for some good weather to plant the 2018 crop. Nothing improves the attitude of a farmer like putting seed in the ground. In the meantime, let’s keep things in perspective, 2018 is going to be another tough year and we just have to find a way to work through it. Putting Donald Trump in the white House is not going to solve everything, and things will get better — it is just going to take longer than we want.

Technical Government Shutdown in Effect, USDA Vows Core Programs to Remain Open

Jan 21, 2018 20



Despite the Senate failing to pass legislation to avoid a government shutdown, no major changes are expected to occur over the weekend. Negotiations continue to reach an agreement, although some government employees did report furlough notices Friday. If the shutdown does continue, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said Friday night in a statement that “USDA is committed to safeguarding life and property through the critical services” provided by the federal agency. Those include food inspections through the Food Safety and Inspection Service, import controls, core nutrition programs, and keeping Rural Development offices open in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. USDA says crop insurance services will continue and indemnity payments will continue to be made

The U.S. Forest Service will continue emergency and defense preparedness, including fire suppression. Select services through the Agricultural Marketing Service will continue, and the North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations will be supported and maintained.

The complete list is available here:

Source: NAFB News Service

Hoosier Ag Today Expands Broadcast Staff

Jan 19, 2018 29




Hoosier Ag Today, Indiana’s leading farm radio network, is proud to announce the addition of Eric Pfeiffer to the largest and most experienced farm broadcast staff in Indiana. A native Hoosier educated at Purdue, Pfeiffer has extensive experience in radio and communications technology. Pfeiffer will manage the news gathering operation for both radio and digital distribution and will work closely with the award-winning broadcast team of Gary Truitt and Andy Eubank.

“I look forward to continuing HAT’s tradition of providing credible and timely news. As media and agricultural landscapes change, my goal is to make sure we are prepared to serve Hoosier farmers for many years to come,” said Pfeiffer. He has served as News Director for WSAL/WLHM radio in Logansport, IN and, most recently, as Telecommunications Systems Specialist at Purdue University.

“Having Eric on our team will allow us to position HAT to expand its services to farmers, radio affiliates, and sponsors while maintaining our commitment to quality and innovation,“ said Gary Truitt, President and founder of Hoosier Ag Today. Pfeiffer will be based in West Lafayette, IN.

Agribusiness Council Brings in IN Seed Trade Association

Jan 18, 2018 63

The Agribusiness Council of Indiana has approved a merger with the Indiana Seed Trade Association. The vote was taken in December and announced this week. The organization is strengthened by the merger, and ACI president Amy Cornell says it is not their first merger.

“The Agribusiness Council itself was originally formed by a merger between the Indiana Grain and Feed Association and the Indiana Plant Food and Ag Chemical Association. Our current bylaws restricted membership to those two categories and we wanted to increase our influence and our clout within the state. So, a merger with the seed trade association seemed like a natural fit.”

The mission of Agribusiness Council of Indiana includes legislative representation, industry insight and regulatory guidance for its member interests. Right now, they’re keeping an eye on what’s happening at the Indiana statehouse.

Amy Cornell

“We are watching closely all of the bills dealing with the office of the state chemist, noxious weeds, seed issues, in addition to keeping a close eye on any legislation that would affect livestock expansion and operation here in the state because those farmers are large customers of ours and we want to make sure Indiana is a place that remains open for livestock business,” Cornell said. “We’re continuing to monitor anything that could potentially affect any tax exemptions that we might have, and we are also very interested in seeing rural broadband move forward.”

“The goal of the merger with ISTA is to be able to expand the influence of ACI and to allow for better collaboration with stakeholders in all of the industries that we will now represent,” said Rod Miller, ACI board chair. “We are excited to broaden our reach and provide new opportunities to our members.”

The merger was completed on January 1, 2018.

“At the Indiana Seed Trade Association, we always looked for ways to maximize our presence among decision makers,” said Rod Busick, past chairman of ISTA. “A merger with ACI was the best way to ensure the interests of the seed industry are well represented and that our voices are heard.”

Directors from ISTA’s former board now make up one-third of ACI’s expanded 12-member board.

Cornell told HAT there are new features coming next week at the 2018 ACI Conference & Expo, January 24-26 in Indianapolis.

“First and foremost we are offering the night before a networking event for all of the alumni of our Emerging Professionals Leadership Program, and we’re kicking things off with some practical training seminars in the morning, grain grading, soil and water, CCA points, and overall talent management and employee retention training.”

The conference will also be the first chance for members to meet the new board and hear the 2018 plan of action. To register to attend visit and hear more of Cornell in the HAT interview:Amy-Cornell-ACI-merger-and-conference

Planting Green Produces Better Yields   

Jan 18, 2018 59



Planting Green Produces Better Yields   

Trey Hill

For farmers using cover crops, burning down those crops before planting is a common practice. One farmer, however, has had success planting into his cover crop while it is still green. Trey Hill grows corn and soybeans in Maryland. He has found that not burning down his cover crop before planting helps him plant earlier and get better yields. “We have been doing it for about 10 years and learning and adapting as we go,” he stated.  “We just do a little bit more each year.” He told HAT that today he plants green on about 90% of his soybean acres, “The reason we got into planting green was not soil health but agronomics.”

Planting into a cover crop of clover or barley lets him get into his fields earlier and not have to wait for burn down. He admits that corn has been more problematic, but, for soybeans, planting into a cover crop of clover or barley works well. “We really don’t care how tall it is. The cover crop roots help improve the biology of the soil and makes our crops healthier,” he said. “On our beans, we have found that where we plant green rather than brown, it yields better.”

He feels the cover crops provide some early season stress for the soybeans and that actually improves yield, “The shade and the root competition provides a little stress which is what the soybeans need to yield better.”  He told HAT he discovered the benefits quite by accident, but is now a firm believer in planting green.

Ag Coalition Formed to Support NAFTA

Jan 18, 2018 59



A new coalition of agriculture groups is focusing on the importance of the North American Free Trade Agreement. More than 30 organizations across the agriculture sector announced the formation of Americans for Farmers and Families, noting that food and agriculture supports 43 million U.S. jobs and depends on trade with Canada and Mexico. The group was formed to “ensure” President Trump and Congressional leaders understand the “importance of preserving and modernizing” NAFTA to America’s agricultural economy. As part of the effort, the coalition will be launching an educational campaign to highlight the positive impact of NAFTA and lay the groundwork for an updated trade agreement that “preserves America’s strong economic standing for decades to come.” Coalition members include the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture and many various commodity groups.

The need for such a group was seen this week as President Donald Trump said again he “may” terminate the North American Free Trade Agreement, saying such a move would yield the “best deal” in renegotiations. The president says many people “are going to be unhappy,” if he terminates the agreement, but counters that they “don’t realize how good it would be” if he did. But, just last week Trump said he would be “a little bit flexible” on the withdrawal threat.

Agriculture and the auto industry are pressing the administration to not withdraw from the agreement. The auto industry is even suggesting Trump back away from some of his demands. The comments from Trump come as Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says the president now understands the benefits of NAFTA for agriculture. However, Perdue warns the president’s view on trade should not be confused with a softer approach to the negotiations.

Source: NAFB News Service

Growth Energy: American Drivers Top Three Billion Miles Driven on E15

Jan 18, 2018 78



American drivers have logged another billion miles on E15 in just the past three months, according to Growth Energy, which says the total number of miles driven on E15 now sits at more than three billion. Growth Energy CEO Emily Schor says the growth comes from “forward-thinking retailers who have figured out that E15 is smart business” and from consumers who rely on the “value proposition” of E15 fuels.

Growth Energy, which works with the nonprofit Prime the Pump, helps build the needed infrastructure and distribution of biofuel blends, which they say give drivers more choice at the pump. E15 is approved for use in all vehicles 2001 and newer, as well as in all flex-fuel vehicles, which combined represent more than 87 percent of vehicles on the road.

Source: NAFB News Service

Kron Worried About Lack of Farm Bill Action

Jan 17, 2018 51



Kron Worried About Lack of Farm Bill Action

When Indiana Farm Bureau President Randy Kron attended the Fort Wayne Farm Show last year, all the talk was about what farmers wanted in the new Farm Bill. For the past year, both on a state and national level, there has been considerable discussion on what the priorities for the new Farm Bill should be.  Yet as 2018 dawns, there has been no action planned for actually writing a new bill.  At this year’s farm show, Kron told HAT he is worried, “With all the gridlock we see in Washington today on the Farm Bill, there is a lot of talk and no action.”  He is hopeful lawmakers can get past the politics and “do what is right for agriculture.”

Kiron said, while there is general agreement in most of agriculture on the major titles of the Farm Bill, there is likely to be serious opposition when the bill hits the floor of the House and Senate for debate, “It is going to take the farmers of this state contacting their legislators and letting them know what is important about getting a Farm Bill done.” He added that Farm Bureau will be activating its  grass roots support to send a strong message to Washington that it wants action on a Farm Bill.

Kron said finalizing a new NAFTA agreement is also important to agriculture, “The President said he was going to get a better NAFTA agreement. I will keep my fingers crossed that a better NAFTA deal will be better for agriculture.”  He said a failure to get a new NAFTA deal would plunge the ag economy into a major new depression.

Coverage of the Fort Wayne Farm Show on HAT has been made possible by Farm Credit Mid-America.