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Articles from 2013 In October

Mattson Farms hits banner cotton yields

What does 4-bale cotton look like? Take a look at the sea of white in some of Mattson Farms’ fields to find out.

In 2012, Scott Flowers, Mattson Farms, Mattson, Miss., had his best cotton crop ever, averaging 2.8 bales per acre. But that was then and a 300-pound per acre increase is now: “We’re going to beat last year by about 300 pounds per acre.”

“It’s amazing how these crops are turning out. This cotton will be, by far, the best we’ve ever had. I don’t know if we’ll ever pick a cotton crop like this again."

Crop consultant Rob Lewis, Clarksdale, Miss., echoes Flowers’ outlook and says the growing season has been phenomenal. “For some of the fields, I believe the best is yet to come and some acreage is going to keep coming in at 4 bales per acre.”

Lewis says along with weather, other factors have played a role. “Fertility, rotation, weather, insect control, and even luck have resulted in a huge crop. Mattson Farms made 2.8 bales per acre in 2012 and I bet if you had asked Scott in the spring, ‘Would you take 2.8 bales again in 2013?’ he would have taken it to the bank. But now it’s at least 3.3 and it’s absolutely unbelievable.”

Flowers attributes the heavy yields to a host of factors, but weather in particular. “We haven’t picked anything under 3 bales per acre so far. The difference between this year and last year was out of our hands. We were blessed with our weather; a summer so mild that I didn’t see any of our crops heat stressed even one time.”

Mattson Farms, a partnership of Steve Cooke and brothers Scott and Graydon Flowers, planted 2,700 acres of cotton this year with five varieties: Deltapine 0912 and 1321; Phytogen 499; and Stoneville 4946 and 5288.

(For related, see Wolf Lake Farms set for major cotton harvest)

Scott makes it clear that despite weather and other factors lining up, Mattson Farms is indebted to a fine crew — top to bottom. “We’re just lucky to have the people on this farm that we do and they are what makes this a good operation. Our managers and workers are excellent and it plays out in a team effort. John Swilley manages the farm in Tunica and it’s in good hands. Down here, Joe Thomas is the head manager and working with him, we’ve got Peewee Gordon and Jessie Readus. Rob Lewis is our crop consultant and stays on top of insect control.

“All of these these guys are so sharp and take care of things. All our managers, the guys actually in the field, are really, really good and we’re lucky to have them. I look at it a little like a football team; everyone has to be good and they are.”

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For more, see

Photos: Delta farmland reveals secrets of Indian history

Photos: Farmer in the belly of a cotton picker beast

Photos: Legendary combine driver — Jesse Small

Photos: Meet one of America's youngest farmers

Photos: Hunting season on, beware the cottonmouth

Photos: Pigweed is the ‘Satan’ of resistant weeds

Photos: Lonesome Dove begins cutting corn

Photos: Shifting farmland with Robert Precht

Photos: Vernon Jackson fires irrigation gun at cotton crop

Photos: High school cotton choppers hit Delta rows

Cattle Feeding Station Offers New Features

Flies are just trouble for the cow-calf producer, but the new Kay Dee IGR Feeding Station offers what the company calls a "revolutionary new complete mineral package." The new IGR Feeding Station is the only granular mineral tub on the market that contains Altosid insect growth regulator fly control without the CTC additive. The mineral control will tackle fly populations and can be fed to all-natural herds. Producers should consult with their local all-natural programs to determine if Altosid IGR is permitted.

The company, known for its Super Ranger Kaydets granulated, weatherized minerals, incorporates that technology into its feeding stations. The new Kay Dee SR 8.2 IGR Feeding Station is formulated to stay firm and packaged in easy-to-feed 100-pound tubs. The new feeding station is available through the Kay Dee dealer network. Learn more by calling 800-831-4815 or by visiting

Check out our extensive roundup of new products from the fall farm shows, visit You can also check out our other free reports by visiting

We also have a running update on this site of new equipment entering the market place throughout the year. For more up-to-date information on that, check out our bi-weekly e-newsletter on trends and developments in machinery and ag technology. Click here POWERIRON to join thousands of readers who receive our updates free of charge every other week.

For Willie Vogt's observations about the growth of technology in our industry, be sure to visit his FARMER IRON column.

And, there's always something new going on at our world-class show sites:

Farm Progress Show             

Husker Harvest Days             

New York Farm Show

Hay Expo

New flex fuel pumps at Penn Minnoco in south Minneapolis dispense E15 and E30 as well as regular gasoline Photo Minnesota Corn Growers Assn
<p> New flex fuel pumps at Penn Minnoco in south Minneapolis dispense E15 and E30 as well as regular gasoline. Photo: Minnesota Corn Growers Assn.</p>

E15 debuts in Minneapolis-St. Paul

E15 made its official debut in Minnesota’s Twin Cities this week at Penn Minnoco in south Minneapolis. It is cause for celebration by the Minnesota Corn Growers Association, the Minnesota Biofuels Association, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Growth Energy, the American Lung Association in Minnesota and a growing number of independent fuel retailers.

Originally a Mobil, the Minneapolis fuel station  is working with other independent fuel retailers to form Minnoco, a new oil company owned and controlled by station owners…not the big oil companies that have been largely dissuading them from offering higher ethanol blends. The Minnesota Star Tribune reported that at least four stations plan to rebrand under the Minnoco name and offer choices like E15, E85 and E30.

Minnesota Department of Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson (speaking); and Speaker of the Minnesota House Paul Thissen (left) join Rick Bohnen, Penn Minnoco, at the ribbon-cutting event in south Minneapolis this week. Photo: American Lung Association in Minnesota

More stations may follow suit which could get E15 into more vehicles – a lot more vehicles. The Twin Cities metro area has a population of 3.7 million people. As it becomes more available in an area this highly populated, more consumers will simply learn more about E15. This is good on several levels.

From human health and environmental standpoints, for example, ethanol blends reduce a number of air pollutants compared to regular unleaded gasoline (for a list, please visit Kelly Marczak, director of environmental programs, American Lung Association in Minnesota, explains that this is why the organization has long supported E85 use in flexible fuel vehicles.

In fact, the American Lung Association in Minnesota is administering the grants being offered to fuel retailers to install “flex” pumps that can dispense ethanol blends, such as E85, E15 and mid-level blends. The Minnesota Corn Growers Association has contributed $2 million and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture is offering another $1 million over the next two years to boost the number of flex pumps.

New flex fuel pumps at Penn Minnoco in south Minneapolis dispense E15 and E30 as well as regular gasoline. Photo: Minnesota Corn Growers Assn.

Depending on a particular fuel station’s configuration, flex pump system installation costs can vary widely from less than $10,000 to a $100,000 or more, says Tim Gerlach, executive director and CEO, Minnesota Corn Growers Association. The American Lung Association in Minnesota is coordinating application materials and reviewing applications, Marczak says.

E15 will also be beneficial from an economic standpoint. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture reported last year that Minnesota’s ethanol industry has contributed more than $5 billion annually to the state’s economy, and supports more than 12,000 jobs. Gerlach says that the state’s ethanol plants are capable of producing more than 1.1 billion gallons each year. Between the E10 and E85 that have been available for years, Minnesota drivers use approximately 270 million gallons of ethanol annually, while the remainder is exported out of state.

Gerlach expects that over the next two years, many more stations will participate in the grant program, possibly as many as 50. There are nearly three thousand fuel stations in Minnesota, many selling under a major company brand. However, more retailers are also taking a look at going independent (like the retailers who are forming Minnoco). More also would support retailer bills of rights that would provide them some protection against restrictive contract terms limiting their ability to offer consumers more fuel choices.

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House Panel Releases Transportation Recommendations

House Panel Releases Transportation Recommendations

The Panel on 21st Century Freight Transportation, led by U.S. Rep John J. Duncan, Jr., R-Tenn., and Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., this week released its final report on the current state of freight transportation in the U.S. and its recommendations for freight transportation improvements to strengthen the U.S. economy.

The special panel of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee was established to identify the role of transportation in the U.S. economy; ways to increase the safety, efficiency and condition of the U.S. freight network; how technology can assist in the freight network; and financing options for transportation projects.

Special panel address funding concerns, completion of improvement projects

"Over the past six months, we have had an opportunity to focus on how best to strengthen the freight network – across all modes of transportation – to meet current and future goods movement demands, whether it be grain shipments on the Mississippi or two-day deliveries to a New York apartment," Rep. Nadler said. "I fully support this bipartisan report, signed by every Member of the Panel, and believe we have made a great start."

The 11-member panel presented its findings, recommending that Congress should:

- Direct the Secretary of Transportation, in coordination with the Secretary of the Army and the Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, to establish a comprehensive national freight transportation policy and designate a national, multimodal freight network;

- Ensure public investment in all modes of transportation, and incentivize private investment in freight transportation facilities;

- Promote and expedite the development and delivery of projects and activities that improve and facilitate the efficient movement of goods;

- Authorize dedicated funding for multimodal freight projects through a grant process and establish clear benchmarks for project selection;

- Direct the Secretary of Transportation, in coordination with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of the Army, to identify and recommend sustainable sources of revenue across all modes of transportation that would provide the necessary investment in the Nation's multimodal freight network; and

- Review, working through the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and the Committee on Ways and Means, the Secretary's freight funding and revenue recommendations and develop specific funding and revenue options for freight transportation projects prior to Congress' consideration of the surface transportation reauthorization bill in 2014.

The recommendations come after six public hearings, three roundtable discussions and tours of several national freight facilities.

According to the Soy Transportation Coalition, more than 900 million bushels of soybeans are transported by rail, with that volume expected to increase to 1.4 billion bushels by 2021. Barge movements of soybeans are also expected to increase 43% between 2009 and 2021.

Read the full report.

Grain handling tools for 2014

In the past five years, it's estimated that farmers added 1 billion bushels of new grain storage on their farms. Now that you're storing all that grain how do you handle it from combine to storage from storage to truck? That's a growing question as farmers set up their own independent elevators to control their storage and grain marketing.

We have rounded up some top grain handling systems from the fall farm shows, including the Farm Progress Show, offering you a look at some new ways to move grain around your operation, and take care of it while in storage.

Earlier this month we showed you new spraying tools from the shows as well. Check them out.

Check out this gallery of grain handling farm technology. These tools can help with your efforts to manage the grain you have in storage too. The quick dozen products you'll find in this gallery offer you some interesting options.


Avoid grain bin accidents; take safety precautions

Inside a grain storage bin, flowing grain can engulf a grown man in just 20 seconds. That fact alone helps explain why every year, people are hurt – and some killed – in grain bin accidents. Avoiding grain bin entrapment requires awareness of the dangers, as well as training and clear safety procedures to follow in case of emergency.

“When you enter a bin, there are huge potential consequences,” says Wayne Stigge, technical trainer for CHS, County Operations Division, in Pasco, Wash. “People think they’ll go in, get something loose and then get back out. But once grain starts flowing, it’s so hard to get out of the bin.”

Grain bin parts (the auger, fans and grain vacuums) can cause injury and death, and accidents in grain bins are especially challenging because reaching the victim is difficult for rescuers. The average rescue time is more than three hours.

An employee at Heartland Co-op in West Des Moines, Iowa, experienced the danger of flowing grain firsthand when he was trapped and buried to his waist two years ago. “Fortunately, our people were able to get him out,” says Bill Chizek, Heartland’s director of safety and compliance.

Chizek emphasized that no one should ever enter a bin with a sweep augur running; following lock-out/tag-out procedures helps ensure that doesn’t happen.

Air monitoring is another important safety precaution, notes Dan Neenan, director of the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety(NECAS). “An employee entering a bin should clip the monitoring device to his or her harness so it goes with the employee down where the air could be dangerous.” 


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Bridging and crusting grain are two more potential causes of disasters: A person goes in to knock down grain crusted on the bin’s side and causes an avalanche, or he falls into a void when a grain bridge—a hard, crusty surface formed by moldy or frozen grain—collapses. A more recent development is texting while using a grain vacuum.

“Workers stick the hose at their feet while they answer a text, and it sucks the grain out from under their feet,” Neenan says.

“‘It can’t happen to me’ – we’ve got to end that thinking,” says Neenan. “The wrong decision could end your life.”


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When should you price 2014 soybeans?

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Network With Cover Crop Farmers At USDA-NRCS Cover Crop Tour

Network With Cover Crop Farmers At USDA-NRCS Cover Crop Tour

While cover crops are already in the ground and growing, there's still much to learn about variety selection and planning for successful stands in 2014. That's why a USDA-NRCS Cover Crops Workshop & Tour is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 14, in Big Flats, N.Y.

It'll kick off at the USDA-NRCS Plant Materials Center with registration plus a cover crop tour and equipment demonstration starting at 9:15 a.m. There, you can watch demonstrations of Penn State's three-way no-till row crop interseeder – to be featured in December's American Agriculturist magazine – and a zone-builder tool.

SEE HOW IT RUNS: This patent-pending cover crop interseeder can drill seed, place fertilizer and apply herbicide in one pass.

Dave Shearing, consultant for the Western Crop Management Association, and Fisher Welles, a Chemung County farmer, will compare conventional, no-till and zone builder results in wet and dry years.

At 11:45, the program moves to the American Legion Hall at 45 Olcott Rd. South for lunch, plus speakers covering specifics of cover cropping on context of the Chesapeake Bay TMDLs, nitrogen production and cycling, updated cover crop specifications for New York, small grains as winter forage (including triticale) and creating cover crop mixes to meet soil and crop needs. 

Three Pennsylvania farmers, including Dave Mclaughlin, PA No-Till Alliance Founder and President Jim Hershey and former State Agronomist Joel Meyers will discuss their farmer to farmer network, how it started and how it operates, sharing experience and new ideas on no-till and related topics, to improve soil quality and crop productivity. 

Registration costs $12 to cover the lunch. For the full agenda, driving directions and online registration click here.

Plug the Plant Materials Center at 3266 Rte. 352, Big Flats, N.Y., into your GPS and make the trip.

Oregon Ag Agency Fines Nine For Pesticide Violations

Oregon Ag Agency Fines Nine For Pesticide Violations

Chalk up nine more of those Oregon Department of Agriculture fines to the tune of nearly $4,000 for those who still have not learned the law – or how to follow it – when it comes to pesticides.

Penalties just issued include the following:

  • Associated Arborists, Hayden, Idaho: $660 civil penalty for hiring unlicensed applicators. The case stems from applications made in McMinnville, Ore., in 2012. Chris A. Cohen, Carlton, was issued a $330 civil penalty for performing a pesticide application without a license.                                                         
  • Coastal Farm and Ranch, The Dalles: $480 for selling or offering to sell pesticides not registered for use in the state. The unregistered product was discovered to be offered for sale during a routine ODA marketplace inspection.
  • R&R Tree Service, Salem: $407 for putting on a pesticide product in a way not stated on the label. The restricted use pesticide product Tordon was applied on a landscape or turf and ornamental site under wet conditions, which is not allowed according to the product label. The application resulted in the pesticide moving off site. The applicator, Jannai Cornett of Salem, was issued a $407 civil penalty for her role in the offense.
  • Staab Horticultural Specialists, Silverton: $407 for applying inconsistent with label instructions. Eagle 20EW fungicide was intentionally applied to a residential pear tree in Portland  even though it is not labeled for that u se. The applicator, David Sosna, Oregon City, was also issued a $407 fine.
  • Precision Ag Incorporated, Hermiston: $407 for performing pesticide applications in a faulty, careless or negligent manner. An additional $407 fine was charged against Mark Reynolds, Hermiston, as the applicator.

Any of the above retain the right to contest and demand an administrative hearing under Oregon law.

ODA's Pesticide Program completed more than 275 investigations in 2013 resulting in the nine penalties.

The agency licenses more than 12,000 commercial pesticide businesses and applicator, most which the agency says comply with  Oregon pesticide laws.

UNL Aids 13 African Nations In Using Fertilizer More Effectively

UNL Aids 13 African Nations In Using Fertilizer More Effectively

All farmers want their crop inputs like fertilizer to help them produce the highest profits possible. It's no different in Africa. Currently, University of Nebraska-Lincoln scientists are helping farmers in 13 sub-Saharan countries achieve that goal.

The research and extension effort can both help raise subsistence farmers' income and help feed a growing global population, says UNL soil scientist Charles Wortmann, who is leading UNL's role in a new $5.65 million project to enable improved profitability of fertilizer use in those nations.

FEEDING THE WORLD: Charles Wortmann, UNL agronomist, works with producers in Uganda on the fertilizer use project.

The three-year project, funded by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, builds on research done earlier by Wortmann and colleagues in Uganda. They studied how six crops responded to the application of various levels of fertilizer to determine where farmers might best invest those inputs for the highest profits.

The UNL team and Ugandan colleagues developed an Excel-based Uganda Fertilizer Optimization Tool that tracks 15 crop-nutrient response functions across the crops. The tool considers the land area the farmer wants to plan for each crop, expected commodity values at harvest, the cost of fertilizer and finance available to the farmer. From that information, the tool provides recommended fertilizer rates for each crop and the expected effects on yields and returns, Wortmann says.

With the new funding from AGRA, $345,470 of which will go to UNL, scientists will expand this work in Uganda to Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zambia.

Wortmann says UNL is providing its technical expertise and much of the grant's funding will go to national agricultural research institutes in the nations themselves.

Crops to be studied may include maize, sorghum, pearl and finger millet, teff, cassava, rice, beans, groundnuts, soybean, pigeon pea, chickpea and cowpea.

In sub-Saharan Africa, fertilizer use is very low with only 8 to 9 pounds per acre applied to such food crops. Crop production is primarily by poor, small-scale farmers with very little financial capacity.

Fertilizer use needs to compete with basic needs in allocation of the small amount of money available.

Therefore, net returns on investments need to be very high, he says.

In Uganda, for instance, the UNL team's research showed that nitrogen applied to rice or dry beans were especially profitable.

"If farmers have one or both of those crops in their cropping system, that's where they should apply the nitrogen because that's what's going to give them the best return on their investment," Wortmann says.

In addition to research, Wortmann will help train people in the 13 countries to in turn train farmers to use the information.

Other partners in the research, formally known as Optimizing Fertilizer Recommendations in Africa, are the African Soils Information Service; the UNL-led Global Yield Gap Atlas; and the Grameen Foundation, which will help develop the computer-based tool for use on smart phones that are becoming increasingly common in Africa.

Source: University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Larger Than Expected September Cattle Marketings are Friendly

Larger Than Expected September Cattle Marketings are Friendly

Cattle and calves on feed for slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 10.144 million head on Oct. 1, 2013. The inventory was 8% below Oct. 1, 2012 and close to the average trade guess.

Placements in feedlots during September totaled 2.03 million, 1% above 2012 and also near trade guesses.

Marketings of fed cattle during September totaled 1.70 million, 6% above 2012. A few more cattle came to market than traders generally expected. That's a bit friendly to prices.

Cattle and beef supplies will drop

Inventories and placements come in near trade expectations; More heifers on feed than expected do not signal retention for beef cow herd expansion

The 8% drop in the Oct. 1 cattle on feed inventory points to significantly lower first quarter 2014 fed cattle marketings. The limited availability of cows will further constrain slaughter. That points to higher cattle and beef prices.

On Wednesday, Oct. 23, cash fed cattle traded at $132 to $134, punching through the previous record cash trade of $130 set in March 2012.

Larger than Expected September Cattle Marketings Are Friendly

Beef buying interest holds firm

Choice cutout advanced $4.71 over the first three days of this week to Wednesday's $205.88. Select advanced $4.69 to $190.09. Those strong gains in wholesale prices suggest retailers are currently willing to pay up to get beef. That suggests consumer buying interest in beef remains firm.

However, Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Retail featuring may soon shift to turkey and maybe pork, which carry lower prices per pound.

To keep cash fed cattle in the $130 to $135 area, choice cutout needs to consistently top $200. It ran above $200 from May 2, 12013 through June 18, with the peak of that rally being $211.37 on May 23. It subsequently held below $200 until Oct. 23. The summer low was $186.32 on July 31.

Longer term, pork and poultry producers are expanding in response to lower feed prices which will boost production. They will be able to bring more product to market sooner than beef, whose breeding and feeding cycle is much longer.


First quarter rally likely

Last year, cattle futures rallied sharply at the end of the year on expectations that high feed costs would negatively impact cattle performance and reduce the supply of beef coming to market. However, wide spread use of beta agonists, including Zilmax, boosted feed conversion rates preventing a sharp first quarter supply reduction. Cattle prices corrected lower.

This year significantly fewer cattle are on feed going into winter. Zilmax is basically gone. Feed costs are much lower, but that may not matter if cattle are not available to feed. The recent spike in feeder cattle prices was a reminder that feeder cattle supplies remain tight.

Feeder cattle will hold good value

Feeder cattle and calf supplies will likely keep tightening. Once a quarter USDA asks respondents for the Cattle on Feed Report to provide data on heifers in feedlots.

On Oct. 1, feedlots with 1,000 or more head capacity reported having 6.442 million steers on feed and 3.662 million heifers on feed. Heifers comprised 36.2% of the feedlot steer and heifer population. That's actually up from 35.4% last year, 36.0% in 2011 but below 36.8% in 2010.

Many analysts, including ourselves, expected heifers to represent a smaller share of the on-feed inventory. The logic: strong returns to beef and respectable returns to dairy encourage producers to expand both the beef and dairy herds. Apparently, the lure of pricy feeder cattle has enticed cow-calf producers to let feedlots have heifers and stash their cash in the bank.

Still, the shrinking on feed inventory and producers eventually retaining heifers for herd expansion and keeping more of their best cows, rather than culling them, will further tighten number of cattle coming to slaughter.