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Articles from 2016 In November

New ammo seed hunting season

New 'ammo' for your seed-hunting season

Seed-hunting season for the 2017 growing season is already underway for farmers hunting for the best — and maybe less expensive — hybrids and varieties. Here are a couple of website tools that might help you scout the field:

* Find My Seed, a free search tool from Agrible, includes corn and soybeans, plus wheat, barley and oats. After you select a few options such as location, soil type, seed technology and brand, Find My Seed shows top-performing seeds matching your needs.

The unbiased tool now includes the latest third-party seed trials to ensure you get the most accurate seed data available, according to Agrible CEO Chris Harbourt. “No other tool on the market offers this much utility for this many crops that really drills down to the details in seed selection.”

It combines searchable data on 23,000 varieties from more than 300,000 third-party seed trial plots from universities, independent researchers and other third-party entities. Check it out at

* FBN Seed Finder, from Farmers Business Network, promises access to the largest unbiased seed performance database in agriculture — 1,800 seeds from 110 brands. You can also match best seeds for your soil types, drainage and irrigation status.

The site also offers a Seed Selection Playbook to help sort through seed decisions with a selection primer, seed cost worksheet, a peek at what traits pay and another peek at whether early discounts pay. As one example showed, even a 10% discount wasn’t enough to make up for a yield lag. Check it out at

Bean market boost from EC
Mid-Atlantic soybean growers can only gain from the European Commission’s July import approval of three biotech soy traits for import and processing. The biggest gain may come via Vistive Gold contracting, which, like Plenish high-oleic soybean, is a growing market premium source for this region. The three stacked events are:

* Monsanto's Xtend (dicamba x glyphosate MON87708 x MON89788)
* Monsanto's Vistive Gold (high oleic x glyphosate MON87705 x MON89788)
* Bayer CropScience’s Balance GT (glyphosate x HPPD inhibitor FG72)

“The EU’s approval of these events is welcome news for U.S. soybean farmers,” says U.S. Soybean Export Council Chairwoman Laura Foell, an Iowa soybean grower. Europe is one of the largest customers of U.S. soybeans, with over 165 million bushels of soybean exports already this year.  

The Xtend soybean clearance allows for the import and food/feed use of Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans into the European Union. The EC’s approval followed February’s Chinese import approval.

With that, plus U.S. EPA’s final review for over-the-top use, Monsanto expects a full U.S. launch in 2017. But Monsanto CEO Brett Begemann cautions that dicamba formulations still aren’t registered for in-crop use on Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans.

New corn weed-buster cleared
DiFlexx Duo, a new corn herbicide from Bayer, will be available nationwide in 2017 — except for Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts and California. It’ll help manage resistant weeds like Palmer amaranth, waterhemp and marestail, says Jason Manz, Bayer’s selective corn herbicides product manager.

The liquid formulation is the first to combine an HPPD inhibitor with dicamba, plus Bayer’s patented CSI Safener technology. It offers residual control of more than 100 grasses plus broadleaf weeds like waterhemp, kochia and Palmer amaranth.

Farm land

How To Terminate A Farm Lease

A farm lease automatically continues from year to year unless either party (landlord or tenant) gives notice of termination. In Iowa, a lease termination notice must be properly served by September 1, prior to the end of the lease year.

This applies to both cash and crop share leases, but not to custom farming agreements, explains Steve Johnson, an Iowa State University Extension farm management specialist. A written lease may state a date earlier than September 1 for serving a termination notice. The requirement to terminate a farm lease by September 1 does not apply to tracts under 40 acres in size (in Iowa). However, even an oral lease is automatically renewed if it is not properly terminated in time.

The termination notice must fix the termination of the tenancy to take place on the following March 1. If notice is not served, the lease continues for another crop year under the same conditions and terms. However, if mutually acceptable to all parties concerned, a lease can be terminated or modified at any time, and can have a different stated expiration date.

Iowa law specifies three methods of serving a farm lease termination notice to terminate the tenancy on the following March 1 date. The following is quoted from the Code of Iowa, section 562.7:

"Notice—How and when served. Written notice shall be served upon either party or a successor of the party by using one of the following methods:

By delivery of the notice, on or before September 1, with acceptance of service to be signed by the party to the lease or a successor of the party, receiving the notice.

By serving the notice, on or before September 1, personally, or if personal service has been tried and cannot be achieved, by publication, on the same conditions, and in the same manner as is provided for the service of original notices, except that when the notice is served by publication no affidavit is required. Service by publication is completed on the day of the last publication.

By mailing the notice before September 1 by certified mail. Notice served by certified mail is made and completed when the notice is enclosed in a sealed envelope, with the proper postage on the envelope, addressed to the party or a successor of the party at the last known mailing address and deposited in a mail receptacle provided by the U.S. postal service."

A form entitled "Notice of Termination of Farm Tenancy" is available as AgDM file C2-19. The file is available on ISU's Ag Decision Maker site Other forms are available from attorneys.

SUMMING UP: "A good lease is the first step toward a satisfactory operating relationship between a landlord and a tenant, says ISU's Steve Johnson. "Although it is difficult to develop a lease that will provide for all possible situations, the parties should try to anticipate areas where problems could arise and include provisions in the lease to handle them. Only the parties involved can determine what is fair to each and what the final agreement should be. Many factors influence a leasing agreement, and each contract should be modified to fit the individual situation."

For farm management information and analysis, go to ISU's Ag Decision Maker site and ISU Extension farm management specialist Steve Johnson's site

COOL SPINACH IS ‘HOTTER’: Spinach varieties, such as Emperor, are tastier when grown in cold weather, opening premium winter market opportunities for high-tunnel growers.
COOL SPINACH IS ‘HOTTER’: Spinach varieties, such as Emperor, are tastier when grown in cold weather, opening premium winter market opportunities for high-tunnel growers.

Colder-weather high-tunnel spinach is 3 ways 'hotter'

Spinach is a “hot” health food crop, but you can’t grow it in cold weather, right? Wrong, especially if you grow it in high tunnels.

Old Man Winter’s coldest months can be a boon to Northeast growers interested in adding spinach to their winter crop production system, suggest researchers at the New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station. They’ve found that spinach grown in unheated high tunnels during the coldest months of winter has the highest sugar content.

That makes it tastier and translates into higher demand. That’s especially true for growers already producing lettuce for winter markets.

Spinach is a suitable crop for winter production, even in New Hampshire, due to its ability to continue producing salable leaves at very low temperatures, says Kaitlyn Orde, a University of New Hampshire graduate student doing research at the Woodman Horticultural Research Farm.

Fall transplants into high tunnels can result in winter-long harvests and significant spring yields. “That opens an avenue for growers to meet strong consumer demand for local greens during the off-season,” adds Orde.

Two years of trials focused primarily on three spinach varieties: Regiment, Space and Tyee. They were planted at six different dates throughout the fall. They also investigated Carmel, Corvair, Gazelle, Emperor and Renegade.

3 take-home discoveries

Temps down; sugars up. With colder temperatures in the days leading up to harvest, sugar content in the leaves increased. Lowest sugar measurements were recorded during the warmest periods of the experiment (October, November, March and April). The highest measurements were recorded during the coldest months, February in particular.

Transplant timing is important. Earlier transplant dates resulted in higher fall yields of spinach. However, for spring harvest transplanting as late as mid-October didn’t negatively impact spring yields. Even the latest planting dates produced good spring yields. That means optimum planting dates will depend on the timing of growers’ markets.

Variety affected sugar content. Gazelle and Emperor had higher average sugar content than other varieties during both years. But differences in sugar content between varieties weren’t enormous. All were of a high eating quality.

A 48- by-30-foot rolling Rimol high tunnel was used. It was covered by an inflated double layer of 6-mm, four-year plastic plus polycarbonate end walls.

“New Hampshire’s traditional growing season is very short, limiting the period for local food production. Growing systems like this can extend production and supply more locally produced food on a more consistent basis,” Orde adds.

For more details on this research, visit

bulk pistachio Thinkstock Photo Olaf Bender/Thinkstock

Pistachio growers: Winter sanitation critical for NOW, keep tab on chilling hours

As California pistachio orchards enter dormancy this year, growers should keep their eyes peeled on two major developments which could impact next year’s production practices – the unusually high level of Navel orangeworm (NOW) damage to the 2016 crop and the number of chilling hours this winter.

Mae Culumber, University of California Cooperative Extension nut crop advisor for Fresno County, says the pistachio industry this year lost up to 2.5 percent of the crop to NOW damage.

She says much of the damage occurred late in the season and could be tied to lower split percentages this season. Waiting for the optimum number of splits may have caused growers to delay harvest and leave early-maturing nuts on the tree too long.

“By the time the later maturing nuts were ready, many of the hulls had already begun deteriorating, allowing NOW to infest the nuts and increasing their susceptibility to aflatoxin-producing molds,” says Culumber.

Early splitting hulls, which typically are 2 to 5 percent of harvested pistachios in an average year, can provide an opening to NOW infestations.

Winter rains can help degrade the nut and the mummies inside. However, current forecasts predict a relatively dry winter for much of the pistachio-growing region, heightening the importance of proper winter sanitation to minimize the NOW threat to next year’s crop.

“Winter sanitation is a must,” Culumber says. “It’s the most effective way to control NOW.”

She adds, “Shake the trees and blow the mummies out of the crotches of trees so nuts don’t settle in (the) canopy. Then sweep them into the row middles and shred them with a flail mower or disc them to destroy the nuts and help reduce the number of mummies.”

Monitor chilling hours

This winter, Culumber also advises growers to monitor the number of chilling hours.

“We estimate pistachio requires about 800 chill hours at or below 45º F. for normal growth of flower and shoot buds the following season,” she says. “Otherwise, blooming could be erratic, resulting in reduced fruit set and uneven maturity at harvest, which can exacerbate NOW and aflatoxin contamination in pistachios.”

Weather models suggest a warmer winter. She says frequent warming events during the winter can also impact bloom timing, even with an adequate number of chilling hours.

From Sept. 1 through Nov. 15, chilling hours at the Five Points station in Fresno County totaled five. This compares to the 117 chilling hours accumulated during this same period last year.

“While it’s still early in the chilling season, the number of chilling hours this winter could be a big concern for next year’s crop,” Culumber says.

More key winter management issues

Correct high soil salinity level - Although pistachios are considered more tolerant of saline soil conditions than other nut crops, growers should still monitor salt accumulation in the soil.

“I’ve seen a lot of pistachio orchards in Fresno County with visible indications of salt stress this season,” she says.” High sodium, chloride, and boron soil levels can reduce a tree’s ability to take up water and photosynthesize and, ultimately, decreasing growth and yield potential.”

Culumber recommends sampling soils in one-inch increments to a depth of five feet in different places in the orchard in the fall to determine the need to leach salts with water. Leaching during the winter is more effective than during the growing season since low evapotranspiration rates reduce salt accumulation in the shallow surface of the soil where tree roots are concentrated.

“Depending on soil texture and water holding capacity, growers should apply three-to-six inches of water to recharge the soil profile,” she says. “Then, allow the soil to drain completely before beginning leaching applications. Repeat this schedule until the targeted water application is reached.”

She encourages growers to allow enough time between leaching events for the soil to drain so water is always moving and doesn’t become stagnate.

Soft scale damage – Soft scales are becoming more prevalent as natural enemy populations decline with the increased use of permethrin treatments to control true bugs in pistachios, UCCE researchers report.

Any live and parasitized scales likely to be found on first-year fruit wood should be treated before the rubber stage, which usually occurs by the third week of February, says Culumber.

An average of one to five live scales per inch of fruiting wood in early February is considered a light-to-moderate population. A heavy population would be average 10 or more live scales per inch.

The recommended treatment is four quarts of Sevin XLR plus four-to-six gallons of oil, depending on the scale severity. An alternative to Sevin plus oil is Seize 35W which eliminates the rest-breaking effect of the oil.

Monitor for weeds - Tracking the type and location of weed stands this fall and winter can help growers select the most effective pre-emergence herbicides to apply next fall. 

“It’s easier to control perennial weeds going into dormancy because they’re not as vigorous as they are earlier in the season,” Culumber says. “Also, because annuals are smaller at this time they’re easier to control.”

Botryosphaeria-infected wood - When pruning, look for signs of Botryosphaeria panicle and shoot blight, and prune out cankers two inches past blighted margins. This fungal disease, which kills shoots, leaves and nut clusters, is very difficult to control, especially if allowed to increase over several years, says Culumber.

Sher recommends randomly collecting about a hundred fruit buds and cutting them in half. Blackened buds are likely infected with the fungal disease. Also, cut into dead one-year old shoots and black fruit rachises which don’t knock off the tree easily and look for signs of infection — a black streak in the limb extending beyond the base.

Keep in mind that wood damaged by cold temperatures also has a black zone between the live and dead wood. But, its margin is very sharp and the black area does not run into the limb.

Cankers can release inoculum for as long as six years, University of California researchers report. After harvest, remove and destroy unharvested nuts and mummies to reduce sources of inoculum.

Orchard winter sanitation practices to control NOW will also help reduce the source of Botryopshaeria inoculum, Culumber adds.

“Fungicides are available for treating this disease during the growing season. However, the main way to control Botryopshaeria is to remove any over-wintering cankers and prevent inoculum levels from building up in the first place.”

She notes to keep the inoculum from spreading don’t cut out infected areas of the tree if rain is expected soon.

Safety factors  should be a priority for all farm activities Agriculture is one of the most dangerous occupations in the US but many accidents  can be prevented with proper attention and training
<p>Safety factors should be a priority for all farm activities. Agriculture is one of the most dangerous occupations in the U.S., but many accidents can be prevented with proper attention and training.</p>

Surviving farm accidents: A call to action

Tom Clarney, a 60 year old dairy farmer, was killed when his head was caught in a cattle feeding machine on an early October morning.

A couple of years later, 71 year old Afton Clements died on his farm after a stock shredder he was working on fell and crushed him to death. The shredder was in a raised position and held in place by hydraulics, which unexpectedly failed because of an oil leak. Clements was set to celebrate his 72nd birthday the following day.

Albert Mosley was working in the field attempting to free a cultivator stuck in the mud when a chain hooked to the equipment broke without warning, causing the chain to whip around and catch the farmer on the side of the head. He was killed immediately.

A 17-year-old farm worker died when he became trapped in a round baler that caught fire. The young man was alone, baling dried wheat straw for hay when the baler became jammed, and the clutch temporarily shut down the power take-off device. While attempting to free the jam, the worker's leg became trapped, a fire broke out and he perished in the accident.

While the names have been changed to protect the privacy of the victims’ families, these farm-related accidents actually occurred in the not-too-distant-past, tragic ends to men young and old who had no hint that their day would take a most terrible turn when they started out for work that morning. In a blink of an eye, a normal day quickly turned into a horrible ending.

For the latest on southwest agriculture, please check out Southwest Farm Press Daily and receive the latest news right to your inbox.


Electrocutions, tractor rollovers, suffocation, deadly fumes, grain elevator mishaps -- these are but a few of the fatal accidents that can and do happen on the farm, making farming one of the most dangerous jobs in the world.

The truth is, just about everyone knows about the dangers. Annually, more lives are lost in the agricultural industry than in the mining and construction industries combined. For over a decade, farm-related accidental-deaths have led the world as the number one source of worker-related injuries and deaths.

But in spite of it all, most farmers and farm workers talk little about the risks, and according to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), they spend too little time avoiding accidents before they happen.

Accidents happen, and are impossible to eliminate completely, but farm safety specialists tell us that a vast majority of work-related deaths can and should be avoided. Complacency-- the familiarity with the "work-at-hand"—is often cited as the number one reason accidents happen.  Workers  may have with a false sense of security.

Tractor accidents alone claim about 125 lives a year in the U.S., representing the number one danger on a farm, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). But it is not the only kind of equipment accident that claims lives. Combines, choppers and hay balers bring their own brand of danger, as does the use of hazardous chemicals on the farm.

Whether we like to hear it or not, farm accidents are very real, and can be deadly.


Regardless how well we plan for farm safety, some accidents are going to happen. But the key to minimizing these accidents is awareness. While the risks are high, the amount of time spent addressing these risks is relatively low, and, according to farm safety experts, this is how farmers and farm workers become complacent.

Citing one of the most common mistakes when it comes to tractor accidents, safety specialists say many of the lives lost in such accidents could have been prevented had the driver of the tractor taken the time to fasten the seat belt.

Perhaps worse of all, complacency by a farmer or farm worker is often spread to younger farm workers. Statistics indicate almost 20 percent of farm-related deaths happen to farm workers under the age of 20. Perhaps even more startling, 19 U.S. workers under the age of 16 died in a workplace environment representing the number one danger on a farm, and 16 of them died on a farm or ranch.

OSHA has spent many years trying to determine why so many accidents on the farm and in other industries end in tragedy. But after years of research the number one common denominator has turned out to be something common and simple—distractions. Just like our reluctance to spend more time participating in farm safety education and workshops, farmers and farm workers are often just too busy to stay focused on danger.

Those who work on the farm are reminded that plenty of opportunities are available each year to reconnect with safety issues. Farm safety workshops from Extension, government-sponsored specialty workshops and private enterprise training, should be high on the list for everyone who works in agriculture.


In South Texas, Nueces County Extension Agent for Agriculture Jason Ott says worker safety is the very reason his office sponsors multiple safety training sessions every year, such as the upcoming farm safety short course set for Sat., Dec. 10 at the Johnny Calderon Building in Robstown.

The workshop will address important safety considerations while operating a tractor and preventive maintenance. Working with hydraulics, PTOs, and folding equipment will also be topics of discussion. 

Dr. Douglas Kingman, Instructional Associate Professor of Agricultural Systems Management at Texas A&M University–College Station will be the featured presenter for the workshop. In addition to some of the in class presentations, participants will also have an opportunity to operate several pieces of equipment on a driver practice course. South Texas farmers and farm workers can attend the safety workshop at no charge, but seating is limited, so attendees are asked to RSVP to the AgriLife Extension office in Nueces County at 361-767-5223 by December 5.

Similar workshops are being offered all across Texas in Dec. and Jan. and farmers are encouraged to contact their county extension agent for workshops available in their area.

Almonds: Latest UCCE findings on effective pruning, winter sanitation Credit: Kseniya Ragozina/Thinkstock

Almonds: Latest UCCE findings on effective pruning, winter sanitation

Pruning and orchard sanitation practices during tree dormancy can play a major role in minimizing production costs and maximizing returns from the next year’s almond crop.

This is true only if done properly, says David Doll, University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) farm advisor in Merced County.

For example, Doll says pruning may or may not boost yields, depending on the age of the tree. He recommends pruning trees during the first year or two of the stand to select good scaffolds and establish the basic structure of the tree. This can reduce scaffold splitting and improve equipment access later.

However, from then on, Doll says there is no need to prune trees except to improve equipment access, protect worker safety, or remove broken or diseased limbs.

“The value of pruning young almond trees is to achieve proper structure of the tree,” he notes.

“But, keep in mind the more limbs you cut off of first- and second-leaf trees the more you are reducing yields for the next one to four years or so. Once the tree reaches maturity, pruning has little effect on almond yields.”

This input reflects the results of a long-term study by UCCE farm advisors which examined the impact of different pruning practices on production (yield) of mature almond trees.

One of the researchers - Roger Duncan, UCCE Stanislaus County farm advisor – reported in 2010 the following Nonpareil yield for that year, plus the cumulative yield through the 11th growing season of his trials.

Below is a summary of Duncan’s findings on the yield comparison of four pruning strategies on Nonpareil almond trees.

                                                          Kernel pounds/acre       Kernel pounds/acre

Trained to three scaffolds and                   3,203                              22,388

pruned annually (conventional


Trained to three scaffolds pruned             3,457                               23,648

one more year, then unpruned

since except for equipment access                                                                              

Trained to multiple scaffolds and             3,241                             22,418

minimally pruned annually

(3 cuts per tree)                                                                                              

Only lowest limbs removed for               3,395                               23,714

shaker access during first year

(no scaffold selection); essentially

unpruned except for equipment


Duncan said, “Trees that had gone essentially unpruned for most of the life of the orchard were still yielding as well or better than trees than had been conventionally pruned every year.

Cumulatively, the unpruned trees yielded 1,260 to 1,326 pounds per acre more than trees pruned every year.

Doll says mature trees can be pruned from the end of harvest through February or March while young trees can be pruned from after harvest full leaf expansion in the spring without affecting tree growth.

Winter sanitation

Other studies by UCCE researchers highlight the value of winter sanitation – removing mummy nuts which can provide home and food for overwintering Navel orangeworm (NOW) larvae – to minimize the threat of this pest to the next year’s crop.

NOW damage exceeding 2 percent is considered excessive. This last season, some almond growers experienced much higher levels.

“In some areas, growers really struggled with controlling NOW populations in their orchards,” Doll says. “It seems that, in some cases, growers cut back on winter sanitation to reduce costs in response to lower almond prices.”

He adds, “However, winter sanitation is the most effective strategy you can take for controlling NOW. It adds to production costs, but it’s not as expensive as high levels of NOW damage.”

The UCCE trials suggest that leaving as few as .3 mummies per tree in almond orchards in the Bakersfield, Calif., area without an insecticide treatment can result in a 1 percent level of NOW damage in the crop.

Due to slower rates of insect development resulting from fewer degree days further north, the number of mummies required for NOW damage to reach 1 percent without insecticide treatment in Merced County increases to one mummy per tree.

“If you leave an average of 10 mummies per tree in Kern County without any chemical intervention during the season, you can expect to have about 30 percent NOW damage to your crop,” Doll says.

“Leaving the same number of mummies per tree in Merced County and not applying an insecticide is likely to result in about 10 percent NOW damage.”

The almond specialist recommends removing mummies by shaking almond trees after a little rain or moisture, or if necessary, using crews with poles to knock the mummies loose. Once on the ground, sweep the mummies into the row middles and then shred them using a flail mower to kill the larvae and destroy the rotting kernels which the larvae feed on.

“We used to advise removing the mummies by March 15,” Doll says. “However, with temperatures warming earlier in the season, it is probably better to remove them by the beginning of March.”

Walnut growers could see higher prices despite record tonnage

Walnut growers could see higher prices despite record tonnage

What’s already been a bang-up year for California walnut growers shows signs of getting even better.

Based on tonnage received by handlers through mid-November and additional deliveries expected by the end of this calendar year, the 2016 California walnut harvest is likely to meet - or perhaps even exceed - the record 670,00 tons forecast by the National Agricultural Statistics Service in early September.

This is according to walnut industry consultant Pete Turner of Turner and Associates in Stockton, Calif., and chairman of the California Walnut Handler Coalition. Tuner said by Oct. 31 handlers had reported new crop receipts of 627,812 tons; or 83,000 tons more than the same time last year.

Part of this increase reflects a one week earlier start of this year’s harvest, compared to 2015.

Turner attributes another 20 percent to 30 percent or so to increased production during the good growing season. He credits the balance to additional walnut plantings in recent years which began to enter commercial production this year.

He expects handlers to receive an additional 45,000 tons of walnuts in November and December. If accurate, the 2016 California walnut crop could total 673,000 tons – almost 12 percent larger than last year’s record 603,000 ton record crop.

With the larger walnut supply going into the market, Turner sees a good chance that once handlers have marketed the 2016 crop that growers could end up with higher returns compared to last year’s crop price.

“Prices of the 2015 crop started out higher than the current level but then they dropped,” Turner said.

“The lower starting prices for this year’s crop have stimulated an increase in demand. Based on the market so far, I see the possibility that average prices for the 2016 crop market could exceed last year. If so, this could mean higher returns for growers even with the larger 2016 crop.”

Serr variety yields this year are about 30 percent lower than last year, Turner notes. While 2016 tonnage of the Tulare variety was about the same as last year, Howard and Hartley variety yields were up slightly this year.

However, Turner says most of this year’s increased production is based on much higher yields for Chandler variety walnuts which represent almost half of California’s total walnut production.

On nut color and quality, Turner says, “The good news is that almost all varieties are well above average for light-color kernels and the overall quality of the crop was excellent,” Turner says. “But this has created a shortage of darker-color Combo type material in some areas, especially the domestic market.”

He says walnut shipments are up across the board, compared to last year.

October Shipments        2016                                        2015

In-shell                             146.5 million pounds              99.7 million pounds

Shelled                              50.4 million pounds               40.1 million pounds

In-shell Equivalent           130,504 tons                           96,000 tons

Year-to-date shipments

(since Sept. 1)

In-shell                           181.0 million pounds              112.9 million pounds

Shelled                            79.5 million pounds                62.7 million pounds

In-shell equivalent         180,829 tons                            128,748 tons

The October market was active in most areas, says Turner. Shipments posted record gains, including a nearly 77 percent increase in in-shell shipments to Turkey and 32 percent higher shipments to Europe.

Total shipments of shelled product to all countries increased 27 percent. In fact, walnut shipments reached record levels every month this year.

“I believe this string of record shipping volumes will continue for the next several months and that the walnut market will remain firm well into the new year,” Turners says.

In mid-November, J/L Hartley (a standard pack of 70 percent Jumbo and 30 percent large) was actively trading at $1.35 per pound or higher with Chandler J/L firm at $1.35, he notes.

The recent rain might be the best and maybe last shot at getting decent winter annual forage growth started in this drought
<p>The recent rain might be the best and maybe last shot at getting decent winter annual forage growth started in this drought.</p>

It might not be too late to plant annual winter forage

Rain finally fell this week over much of the Southeast. It wasn’t enough to break the drought but was it enough to get some much-needed, late-planted winter annual forages planted? Maybe but it’s still risky.

The rain was welcomed by cattlemen who have struggled to feed cattle through the summer drought and want now to make the right economic choices but also the best longer-term plan on how to feed cattle this winter. Planting winter forages into their drought-parched land was a no-go up until this week.

University of Georgia Extension forage specialist Dennis Hancock said in his blog Nov. 28 that “planting winter annuals late should be considered VERY RISKY and every consideration to alternatively feeding low-price commodities and by-products (corn gluten, soy hulls, wheat mids, etc.) should be evaluated from an economic standpoint.

“When making a late planting of winter annuals, it is important to remember that one should consider not only the cost of seed, but also fertilizer, fuel, labor, and other costs, as well as the risk involved,” he says.

Hancock recently updated an older factsheet wrote in 2007 with Dr. Don Ball, now Professor Emeritus at Auburn University.  Late Plantings of Winter Annual Forages provides more details on what you should consider when thinking about a late planting of winter annuals.

Hancock says if planting in late fall or early winter, a grower should focus on planting annual ryegrass.

“Annual ryegrass is fairly cold tolerant in the Deep South, and ryegrass seed is relatively inexpensive. Still, if a producer is going to try ryegrass in a planting in late fall or early winter, it makes sense to plant a variety known to have the potential to make early growth,” he says.

A late-planted crop is susceptible to ‘significant’ winter weather injury, he says, and the grass won’t have a chance to reach tillering potential.

Production will be greatly reduced, too, from normal expected yields. “It is impossible to predict how much yield reduction will occur, but a good manager that receives favorable weather may produce 2,000-4,000 pounds of dry matter per acre if planting in late fall or early winter with a good ryegrass variety,” he said.

More rain is needed to provide real, meaningful relief for the drought which has left much of the Deep South’s agricultural producers in critical shape.

But Hancock said this recent rain might be the best and maybe last shot at getting “decent winter annual forage growth started, but one should count the costs. If you can afford to take the risk and it is your best option, go for it. But, if you are literally betting the farm on a late winter planting, don't. The risk is too great! A more expensive alternative that has less risk would be a far better choice.”

For more information, visit the drought management page on, which includes management advice and links to hay directories.

soybean seedlings

What you should know about newly approved dicamba formulations

The label to spray dicamba on Xtend soybean and cotton has arrived. Specifically, the dicamba products that will be labeled are XtendiMax from Monsanto and Engenia (label expected in the future) from BASF.

I have made no bones about the need for new tools to help manage Palmer amaranth. Clearly we have seen that dicamba used in a system can be an effective Palmer amaranth tool.

However, as we all too clearly saw this summer, dicamba is a complex herbicide. It can readily move great distances and injure crops and vegetation if sprayed like a normal herbicide. There are two big reasons dicamba can be so much more impactful to off-target vegetation.

The first is that many broadleaf plants are very sensitive to ultra-low rates of dicamba. The second is that dicamba is much more volatile than many other herbicides.

Dicamba is not glyphosate with respect to injuring broadleaf plants at crazy low rates. Glyphosate at rates of 1/8 of the 1.0-pound rate — which is a very stout drift rate — will show 20 percent visual injury to plants like tomato, tobacco and soybean.

Dicamba, on the other hand, will show 20 percent visual injury with drift as low as 1/1500 of the 0.5-pound Banvel rate on several crops. That kind of sensitivity to rates so low is a real game-changer with respect to how much more careful dicamba must be stewarded compared to glyphosate.

That is also why the labels for the dicamba formulations that can go over the top (Engenia and XtendiMax) specify that Turbo Teejet Induction (TTI) nozzles must be used. Those nozzles limit the number of fine droplets to less than 3 percent. Fine droplets are typically considered to be less than 200 microns (100 microns is about the width of a human hair). Fine droplets can take many minutes to fall to the target after application and are the ones most likely to drift.

If glyphosate were being applied, those “fines” would often not be a big deal because they could not deliver a large enough rate to cause injury symptoms to most neighboring broadleaf plants. However, with dicamba that is not the case.

Another factor is dicamba is much more volatile under hot and humid conditions than most other herbicides. In other words, in the salt forms we know as Banvel and Clarity, dicamba can change into a gas 6, 12, 24 or even 72 hours after it is sprayed and then move off target with a slight breeze.

These volatilization events are ultra-low concentrations and only occur under very hot and humid conditions. Any herbicide other than dicamba or 2,4-D, at very low concentrations would not show injury to off-target vegetation.

That is why, for this technology, the new lower volatile formulations must be used in order to mitigate volatilization. Remember that although these new formulations have lower volatility, they are still volatile.

In my first glance at the Xtendimax label, I was surprised to see fewer restrictions than we first saw in the open comment period. It would appear the EPA is going to let states tailor stewardship for use within their borders. In most of the Mid-South states, expect stewardship training to be mandatory.

In Tennessee, during stewardship training we are going to stress the label requirements for Engenia and XtendiMax be followed. Most importantly, these lower volatile dicamba formulations are the only ones that can be used and must be sprayed with the TTI tips. Moreover, the boom height will need to be kept just 24 inches above the target. That last point is perhaps the biggest challenge for applicators.

Even following the label, some dicamba injury is likely to occur in neighboring fields. Therefore, not every field will be a good fit for Xtend soybeans. Fields where tobacco, tomatoes, or other sensitive plants are next door would best be planted to LibertyLink, Roundup Ready or conventional crops. A field of a neighbor you may have drifted on recently might be another reason to plant a non-Xtend soybean variety.

I know farmers want to go all one technology to keep from spraying, say, Liberty on Xtend soybeans. However, one is better off messing up their own fields due to a misapplication than drifting dicamba on a 60-acre tobacco field that will cost a lot of heartache and possibly a $600,000 lawsuit.

Finally, folks, we’ve already used our mulligan with this technology. If it is not stewarded well, then it is most likely that we will force the EPA’s hand and they will pull it.

ChinaMap ALEKSA/Thinkstock

The world is feeling the might of China's commodity traders

by Bloomberg News

The Chinese speculators shaking up global commodity markets are switched-on, flush with cash and probably not getting enough sleep.

For the second time this year, trading has exploded on the nation’s exchanges, pushing prices of everything from zinc to coal to multi-year highs and sending authorities scrambling to deflate the bubble before it bursts. Metals brokers described panic earlier this month as the frenzy spread to markets in London and New York, prompting wild swings in prices that show no signs of abating.

While billions of yuan have poured in from herd-like Chinese retail investors who show little regard for market fundamentals, brokers and traders say even more is coming from an expanding army of deep-pocketed hedge funds. They’re chasing better returns in commodities as stocks and real estate fade, often using algorithms and trading late into the night, when markets in London and New York are most active.

“There is no doubt that the price moves and the bigger volumes worldwide are being driven by the Chinese, and by professional speculators and financial players,” said Tiger Shi, managing partner at brokerage BANDS Financial Ltd., which counts several of those funds as clients. “The western hedge funds and institutional investors don’t really know what’s going on. Often they were used to trading macro factors or Fed policy, but now they find they have fewer advantages.”

Shi, previously head of metals in Asia at Jefferies Group LLC and Newedge Financial Inc., estimates that China may have more than 5,000 hedge funds active in commodities. At least 10 manage assets of more than 10 billion yuan ($1.4 billion).

The use of algorithmic trading, in which computers execute multiple orders in milliseconds, is turbo-charging volume and volatility, according to Fu Peng, a portfolio manager at Lianzhan Global Macro Fund Management Co. About a third of activity on Chinese exchanges is executed by automated commands, which generates more volume and greater momentum on global markets, Shi estimates.

A recent example was on Nov. 11. Copper in Shanghai jumped by the most since trading began in 2004 amid a surge in volume. On the London Metal Exchange, it gained as much as 7.6%, before sinking 1.7% in the Asian evening. The gap between the day’s high and low was more than $500, the widest in five years, and the intensity of the swing was just as big in New York futures.

“I can recall only two other occasions in my career where there was such panic and devastating price action in copper but this market today is far less transparent,” Matthew France, head of institutional sales for metals in Asia at Marex Spectron Group, said in an e-mailed report on Nov. 14. “The machine component in the market is now so much bigger as is the onshore retail and fund involvement on the Shanghai Futures Exchange and OTC options.”

The country’s biggest hedge funds include DH Fund Management Co., Shanghai Discovering Investment Co. and Shanghai Chaos Investment Group. Officials for all three declined to comment for this story.

Over less than two weeks this month, the value of daily transactions on China’s three commodity exchanges more than doubled to peak at $226 billion on Nov. 14. Sparked by speculation that government reforms are helping reduce oversupply of raw materials amid signs of improving demand, Chinese money is pouring into commodities as investors look for better returns than other assets including stocks or real estate, according to Fu at Lianzhan Global Macro Fund Management.

“The nation’s supply-side reforms had a big impact on the market balance, and that’s the fundamentals behind the trading,” Fu said by mobile phone from Hong Kong. “But at the same time, we’ve got too much money there. There have been no returns from investment in industries. The stock market is neither dead nor alive. Investment in real estate also got curbed. So all the money is rushing into commodities.”

The Bloomberg Commodity Index has returned 7.4% this year compared with an 8.3% drop in the Shanghai Composite Index of equities, and the government has imposed measures to cool the country’s real estate market.

“Commodities market volatility is liquidity driven, as money from commercial bank wealth management products and private banking accounts flow into the market seeking higher return,” said Li Yulong, chief investment officer at Jyah Asset Management, a mutual fund which overseas more than 9 billion yuan.

Chinese traders are often most active during the night session, when trading also typically peaks on the LME and on Comex in New York. On almost two-thirds of the past 30 trading days, copper trading was heaviest between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. in Shanghai, bourse data show. Analysis of volume and open interest suggests they typically hold contracts for only a few hours.

Similar to the last frenzy in April, the government-owned exchanges have stepped in to cool trading by raising fees and margins, or cutting the number of new positions allowed daily. In the latest move, the Shanghai Futures

Volume and turnover have since come off their highs but prices are still swinging. Copper is poised for its biggest monthly advance since 2006 in London and has briefly jumped above $6,000 a metric ton. Metals swung between losses and gains on Wednesday after a broad rout on Tuesday that saw zinc tumble the most in six years.

“The massive and unprecedented surge in Chinese trading volume in base metals over the past month -- but especially since the election -- has put LME metals traders on red alert,” Tai Wong, director of commodity products trading at BMO Capital Markets in New York, said in an e-mail. The price moves caused by Chinese traders make “a strong argument that the Middle Kingdom is once again the center of the world, at least for metals,” he said.

--With assistance from Gary Gao. To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Martin Ritchie in Shanghai at; Winnie Zhu in Shanghai at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jason Rogers at

James Poole

© 2016 Bloomberg L.P