Grain Trade Remains Positive

Grain Trade Remains Positive

Strong day for the grain trade as corn, soybeans and wheat spent almost entire session higher. The big factor was the lack of fresh news but the continued dry conditions and hot temperatures in Argentina and Brazil also supported the grains. The dollar was lower, which also aided the higher prices. To listen to Tom Leffler and Lory Williams discuss markets on The Ag Network use the audio player on this page.

Tom Leffler is the co-founder/owner of Leffler Commodities, LLC and Leffler Ag Consulting, LLC located in Augusta, KS, with a branch in western Kansas. Tom has been a Commodity Broker/Ag Marketing Advisor since 1991, consulting clients in agriculture marketing, risk management and advising speculators.   Tom has an extensive background experience in agriculture, as he was actively involved for nearly 20 years as a third-generation member of his family’s diversified farming and cattle operation that operates in east-central Kansas. Tom over the years has conducted many marketing seminars and speaking engagements for agriculture producers in the Midwest.  He has done these in cooperation with banks, grain elevators, county extension agents, Ag radio stations and others.

John Jenkinson is Senior Farm Broadcaster for "The Ag Network." John grew up on an irrigated and dryland grain farm in Southwest Kansas.  With an early passion for agriculture, he was active in the FFA, 4-H, and went to college to pursue agriculture.  In 1997, someone mentioned that he should look into farm broadcasting as a career, and that began a new chapter in his life and he eventually became a board member of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting.  The stations that John has worked at are legendary farm radio stations with deep agribusiness roots, KFEQ, KSIR, WIBW, KXXX, KMZU, and KBUF.  In April of 2008, John started "The Ag Network" with 3 affiliates in Colorado, and then added stations in Kansas and Oklahoma.  Today, "The Ag Network" is still growing, and John is hosting two live farm talk shows, as well providing 12 farm programs a day for affiliates. He also produces a daily farm television program for a statewide network in Kansas.

San Joaquin Valley Grape Symposium set for Jan. 4

California grape growers are invited to attend the San Joaquin Valley Grape Symposium on Jan. 4, hosted by the California Raisin Marketing Board, to hear what the industry has been cultivating in the last year. The half-day event will feature presentations such as disease control updates, industry marketing activities and nutrition research, as well as the chance to win a John Deere Gator TS valued at nearly $7,000. Continuing education PCA and CCA hours have been requested.

“Beyond providing great insight for growers, this symposium should be the perfect jump start to another successful year in the grape industry,” said Larry Blagg, Senior Vice President of Marketing for the California Raisin Marketing Board.

The event takes place from 7 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 4, at C.P.D.E.S. Hall, 172 West Jefferson Ave., Easton, Calif. The agenda is as follows:

7 a.m.

Registration and Refreshments

7:45

Morning Welcome

8

Stephen Vasquez, “Glassy-Winged Sharpshooter and Pierces Disease Update”

8:30

Fresno County Sheriff’s Dept. Lt. Robert Kandarian, “Minimizing Agricultural Theft”

9

Matthew Fidelibus, “Fruitfulness of DOV Raisin Cultivars”

9:30

Break and Refreshments

10

Dan Barber, “Marketing Activities Update”

10:40

Bill Peacock, “Advancing Maturity of Raisin Cultivars Using Potassium Sprays”

11:20

James Painter Phd, RD, “Health and Nutrition Research Update”

Noon

Lunch

1:30 p.m.

Drawing for John Deere Gator TS (must be present to win)

Pre-register online at http://ucanr.org/sjvgrapesymposium to be entered in the prize drawing. The cost of attendance is $10 per person in advance, and registration is due by Dec. 31. Late registration and day-of attendance costs $20 per person. Registration includes morning refreshments, lunch and symposium proceedings.

New York Apple Growers Going 'QR'

New York Apple Growers Going 'QR'

Don't know what QR codes are? Meet the future, or rather today's hottest marketing edge to connect with the smart phone crowd. And now, the New York Apple Association is chomping into the technology.

This year, the association is promoting a new retail program that allows consumers using smart phones to scan QR codes on point-of-sale cards. With a click of the phone they access instant information about New York apple varieties right in the produce aisle.

BEATS THE BAR CODE: This QR code at retail point-of-sales allow consumers to tap into New York Apple info.

"We're trying to delight that sophisticated shopper not only with our fruit, but also with up-to-the-minute information technology," says Jim Allen, president of the New York Apple Association. "Smart consumers make smart choices when they have the right information. And, these same consumers want information quickly."

All of the associations new POS materials contain prominent QR codes, linking to online videos that show how New York apples are grown, packaged and delivered. The video series consists of six different segments showcasing how the apple goes from the tree to the table.

The videos take the viewer from seeing the blossom pollinated and follows it all the way to the produce shelves. "Foodies and localvores want to put a face to the farmer," adds Allen. "We accomplish that with this video series."

The videos were shot in New York orchards and packinghouses last spring and summer. Retailers across the nation are already starting to use the new POS cards. And when consumers scan the QR codes, shopping data goes back to the association.

Retailers are responding very positively, he says. "For those who want to reach out to their customers, we give them cutting edge materials that we hope will lead to the sale of more New York apples."

To watch the videos, click on: http://www.youtube.com/user/newyorkapples .

Check Out Spring Crop Insurance Benefits

Check Out Spring Crop Insurance Benefits

Federally subsidized crop insurance indemnity payments on 2011 crops are well on their way to breaking 2008's record payouts of $8.6 billion. That's the word from Jan Eliassen, a private consultant in risk management education for USDA's Risk Management Agency and several state departments of agriculture.

One reason for the big payouts was the relatively high 2011 crop futures prices last spring. They set last year's revenue guarantees for revenue products. Indemnity payments that farmers are now receiving on 2011 crops are now making up for a lot of lost revenue.

IN CASE YOU"VE FORGOTTEN: Widespread flooding in the Northeast wiped out a lot of farm revenue from crops and dairy production, making many more financially vulnerable to Mother Nature's whims in 2012. Photo by Alison Kosakowski

While crop prices have retreated from highs set in August, they remain lofty. And after the 2011 historic floods and harvest losses, you may want to push a pencil on projected revenue guarantees on their 2012 crops. Remember though, there's a March 15 deadline for buying crop insurance on spring-planted crops.

A case for planting-time price protection

Some marketing experts are predicting lower prices in 2012. Suppose 2012 bumper crops let prices drift lower into harvest.

Buying insurance products that base indemnity payments on planting-time prices could be wise. Buying up to higher levels of coverage may be a strong consideration, especially for corn and soybean producers.

March 15 is also the deadline for signing up for Adjusted Gross Revenue Lite (AGR-Lite). This whole farm revenue insurance works well for those who grow multiple crops.  It can be used as an umbrella policy. Premiums are prorated to account for crop insurance on insurable crops.

Premiums for AGR-Lite are roughly estimated to fall between $1.30 to $3.50 per $100 of coverage. For more information on crop insurance choices available in your area, contact a crop insurance agent well before the deadline.

Your Dairy Checkoff Dollars Are Working

Your Dairy Checkoff Dollars Are Working

The national dairy checkoff program's strategic partnerships led to a 4.2-billion-pound increase of dairy product sold for the 12 months ending July 2011. Much of that success was achieved through its business strategy of partnering with industry leaders, including McDonald's and Domino's Pizza, reports Vernon Horst, Pennsylvania dairy producer and chairman of Mid-Atlantic Dairy Association.

"This year's progress further validates that the checkoff business plan is on the right track," says Horst. Here's a quick look at some key 2011 results:

Partnerships with companies such as Domino's increased domestic disappearance of mostly mozzarella cheeses by 3.2% -- eating the equivalent of nearly 2 billion additional pounds of milk. Domino's, for instance, is growing cheese sales through its use of more cheese, carryout promotions its kid-approved Smart Slice school pizza program now in more than 300 U.S. school districts.

McDonald's dairy-friendly menu program is in its third year. It has added more than 1 billion pounds of additional dairy sales via its 14,000-plus U.S. locations in the United States with the introduction of several new dairy-friendly menu items. Early this year, a new fat-free, chocolate milk will be offered as the default beverage with all Happy Meals.

McDonald's success with its McCaf? menu – including milk-based beverages and specialty coffees – has inspired other chains to focus on this business. And, the dairy checkoff program has six employees on site at McDonald's corporate offices – the only product represented there – to provide dairy expertise and ensure dairy plays a prominent role in new product development.

The checkoff's in-school Fuel Up to Play 60 program is now in more than 70,000 schools nationwide to help protect dairy's "freedom to operate" and reach the industry's future consumers – youth. Done in partnership with the National Football League, FUTP 60 encourages students to consume nutrient-rich foods (including low-fat and fat-free dairy) and achieve at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day.

2011 dairy export volume now represents more than 13% of total milk solids production – two out of every three new pounds of milk produced domestically, thanks in part to the work of the U.S. Dairy Export Council, which receives the majority of its funding through the dairy checkoff.

Partnerships with leading lactose-free dairy marketers, such as HP Hood and its Lactaid brand, are boosting category sales, thanks to new products and packaging, along with efforts to educate health professionals. This outreach is helping change lactose intolerance perceptions.

For more information about producer-funded checkoff programs, visit www.Dairyspot.com .

Improved hopper insect management in desert alfalfa

Improved hopper insect management in desert alfalfa

The potato leafhopper insect is certainly not the Easter Bunny. Yet the one-eighth-inch-long, lime green-colored pest hops into Western alfalfa fields each year delivering eggs which once mature threaten crop yield and quality.

Improving the management of hopper insects including the potato leafhopper (Empoasca-fabae) and the threecornered alfalfa hopper (Spissistilus festinus) in low desert alfalfa production is the goal of Vonny Barlow, University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) entomologist and crop production specialist based in Riverside County’s Palo Verde Valley.

The potato leaf hopper (PLH) and the threecornered alfalfa hopper (TCAH) can be found year round in the Southern California desert, Barlow says. The PLH is found in the Palo Verde Valley from March through September. The insect can invade Central Valley alfalfa fields from April through July.

The TCAH is an occasional pest in both regions.

Barlow discussed alfalfa pest management efforts with farmers, pest control advisers, and industry representatives during the 2011 Fall Desert Crops Workshop in El Centro, Calif. The workshop, sponsored by Western Farm Press, was conducted by UCCE Imperial County and the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, Yuma County.

Commercial sponsors of the workshop included: Platinum Level – BASF, Bayer CropScience, and Syngenta; Gold Level - Dow AgroSciences and Valent U.S.A.; Silver Level - FMC; and Bronze Level - Westbridge Agricultural Products.

The PLH normally dies during the winter months from the extreme cold. A new infestation occurs in the early spring when PLH populations originating in the Gulf Coast states migrate westward.

Effective management of PLH is important to reduce the loss of alfalfa quality and yield from the insect. Barlow says the recommended pest threshold in the Palo Verde Valley is .2 leafhoppers when alfalfa plants reach three inches in height, .5 leafhoppers at 6 inches, and one-to-two insects on a 1-foot-tall plant.

“The potato leafhopper feeds on the plant and injects toxic saliva,” Barlow said. “If the saliva is injected high in the plant the result can be reduced growth at the plant’s top. If the saliva is injected at the plant base, severe stunting can occur.”

Early insect control is important.

“With a 1-foot plant, the loss of an inch is not a big deal,” Barlow said. “A 1-inch plant which loses a foot of growth potential is a big deal. That’s why the recommended threshold is lower when the plant is smaller.”

Insecticides can provide good hopper control in desert-grown alfalfa. One to two sprays are usually required annually for PLH control, but the number can increase based on larger populations. 

Reducing indiscriminate insecticide use lowers secondary pest outbreaks and pest resurgence (bounce back effect). It also reduces hazards to honeybees and other desirable insects and lowers crop phytotoxicity.

Barlow says integrated pest management (IPM) is a crucial tool to reduce control costs and maximize plant quality and yield. Since alfalfa is a perennial crop, insect management strategies generally last longer than with an annual crop.

Crucial IPM

“A large number of beneficial insects are found in alfalfa,” Barlow said. “If we can tailor our strategy to manage the potato leafhopper and the threecornered alfalfa hopper then we can conserve the natural enemies.”

The PLH family includes 200-plus species in North America. Adults and immature both damage alfalfa. The female deposits eggs on the plant 10 days after mating. The first through fifth instars are identical in appearance; the only difference is the insect size.

The PLH moves into alfalfa when other hosts become unavailable. More than 200 plants host PLH.

PLH adults feed excessively and extract plant sap. The insect injects phytotoxic saliva which results in ‘hopper burn,’ a v-notch located at the tip of the leaf which becomes yellow. The leaf then dies and falls off the plant. Feeding typically occurs on the harvestable part of the plant so plant protein and yield are lost.

The TCAH, also called the buffalo bug, is a triangular, heavy-sclerotized insect one-quarter-inch long and stands taller than its width. The mature adult is almost immune from natural enemies due to its heavily sclerotized surface. Immatures are prone to natural predators including the big-eyed bug.

“When sweeping for insects, adult threecornered alfalfa hoppers are easily caught since it is found in the plant crown and upper canopy,” Barlow said. “Immatures are almost exclusively in the crown so sweeping will not recover those.”

The sweeping problem with immatures makes it difficult to develop an economic injury level.

TCAH adults and nymphs cause plant girdling (outer tissue loss) 3-5 inches above the soil. Girdling reduces the flow of nutrients and water from the roots into the plant resulting in breakage and lodging. The stem color can change from green to purple. Plant stunting can occur.

“Stem breakage at the crown increases the introduction of Fusarium crown rot fungus,” Barlow said. “The fungus can enter the plant via irrigation or rain water through the open plant wound.”

The two population peaks for TCAH adults are late July to early August and September to early October. The most critical period to monitor for TCAH is the first three weeks of July.

“Threecornered alfalfa hoppers rarely cause economic damage but there is a working economic threshold of two treehoppers per net sweep,” Barlow said. “Natural enemy suppression is the only effective control in early instars.”

The TCAH host-plant range includes alfalfa, clover, cowpea, grasses, small grains (barley, oats, and wheat), soybeans, sunflowers, tomatoes, vetch, and weeds.

Unmanaged areas, including drainage ditches near alfalfa fields, are a source of arthropods, weeds, and plant pathogens. In Barlow’s field research over the last two years, a single application of the insecticide Cyfluthrin was applied to spring stubble alfalfa to test for season-long management of PLH and TCAH.

“The hopper populations were not significantly affected by stubble alfalfa treated with Cyfluthrin after the first spring cutting versus the untreated controls,” Barlow said.

The alfalfa plant with its dense upper canopy acts as a barrier to insecticides penetrating the plant crown where immatures feed. This basically creates a pesticide-free space allowing the TCAH population to build.

“The development of an IPM strategy to manage TCAH and PLH in alfalfa could potentially reduce insecticide applications to manage these pests,” Barlow said.

A possible alternative to direct hopper management in the alfalfa field could be hopper management in drainage ditches to disrupt the overwintering-reproductive areas.

Alfalfa production covered about 48,000 acres in Riverside County in 2009. Riverside was the ninth largest alfalfa-producing county in California, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service in Sacramento, Calif.

cblake@farmpress.com

New USDA risk management tool to help producers achieve GAP certification

A free online tool in now available to help U.S. producers of all sizes achieve Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) harmonized standards and certification, helping to further expand economic opportunities for American agriculture.

USDA's GAP audit verification program focuses on best agricultural practices to verify that farms are producing, and packers are handling and storing, fruits and vegetables in the safest manner possible to minimize food safety hazards. The online tool -- developed by FamilyFarmed.org with funding from USDA's Risk Management Agency (RMA) -- helps farmers design a customized manual to meet GAP harmonized standards and certification requirements, including USDA GAP standards, and mitigate business risks by answering just a few questions.

"USDA believes that a strong farm safety net—including effective, market-based risk solutions for producers of all variety and size—is crucial to sustain the vitality of American agriculture," said Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan. "Effectively managing risk is important to all producers, and having an acceptable food safety program is in the best interest of consumers, buyers, and the farmers themselves. USDA is proud to have worked with private, public and non-profit partners to introduce this free tool to farmers seeking to gain certification as a Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) producer."

The online tool, part of FamilyFarmed.org's On-Farm Food Safety Project, is the first of its kind and was developed by a broad coalition of farm and produce industry partners. It is available at http://www.onfarmfoodsafety.org/.

USDA's GAP audit verification program, administered by USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), focuses on best agricultural practices to verify that farms are producing fruits and vegetables in the safest manner possible to minimize risks of microbial food safety hazards. USDA's voluntary audit based program verifies adherence to the recommendations made in the Food and Drug Administration's Guide to Minimize Microbial Food Safety Hazards for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables.

To generate a food safety plan using the tool, the user must answer a series of questions on topics including worker health and hygiene, agricultural water, previous land use, soil amendments and manure, animals and pest control, packinghouse activities, product transportation, agricultural chemicals, and field harvesting. In addition to helping farmers create a food safety plan, the tool offers farmers a full-set of record keeping templates to document their food safety efforts as well as useful food safety resources.

Once users have completed their farm's food safety plan and compiled necessary documentation, they have the capacity to apply for GAP food safety certification, a process asked for by many larger buyers. Large buyers including Compass Group, SYSCO, and Chipotle Mexican Grill supported the project financially and with technical assistance. Groups that participated in the development and review of the tool include: Chipotle Mexican Grill, Community Alliance with Family Farmers, Compass Group, Earthbound Farm, Farm Aid, FDA, NSF Agriculture, Produce Marketing Association, SYSCO, The Organic Center, Western Growers, Wallace Center at Winrock International, Wild Farm Alliance, University of California at Davis, United Fresh Produce Association, and USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Former Stoneville Pedigreed Seed Co., president dies

George Rea Walker Jr., a cottonseed company executive who became one of the Mid-South’s leading proponents of growing corn and soybeans, died at his home in Leland, Miss., Dec. 24. He was 69.

Mr. Walker was an honor graduate of Leland High School and the University of Arkansas where he was an All-Southwest Conference running back and a member of the 1964 National Championship football team.

After graduation, he married his high school sweetheart, Margaret McGee Heard, and returned to Leland to work in the family business founded by his grandfather, G.B. Walker. He became president of Stoneville Pedigreed Seed Co., and built it into a leading cottonseed supplier.

After selling Stoneville Pedigreed Seed to California-based Calgene, he became its director of international marketing and traveled to more than 50 cotton-producing countries. (Selling the family business was a hard decision, he said later, but he came to realize that competing in the new world of biotechnology would be difficult for privately-owned businesses like Stoneville.)

In the 1990s, Mr. Walker gradually began phasing out cotton production on his family’s farm south of Leland in favor of corn and soybeans. He eventually pushed his farm yield averages to 75 bushels of soybeans and 200-plus bushels of corn, using a combination of university research and own-farm experimentation.

Besides his wife, Mr. Walker is survived by a daughter, Christine Walker Patterson of Memphis, Tenn.; two sons, George Rea Walker III of Jackson, Miss.; and Martin Heard Walker of Leland; 10 grandchildren; his mother, Dorothy Rea Walker of Leland; and two sisters, Dorothy Walker Meeks of Leland, and Francis Walker Thurmond of Lexington, Miss.

Memorials may be sent to First Baptist Church of Leland, 103 N. Broad Street, Leland, MS 38756 or The Endowment of Washington School, 1605 E. Reed Road, Greenville, Miss., 38703.

Checklist helps farmers make irrigation plans, avoid mistakes

Checklist helps farmers make irrigation plans, avoid mistakes

As grain farmers plan to install irrigation systems for next year's crops, a Purdue and Michigan State Extension irrigation specialist says organization is key.

That's why Lyndon Kelley authored a free irrigation planning checklist, available on the Michigan State University Extension news page.

"When planning a new irrigation system for your farm, a little organization can help avoid mistakes," Kelley said. "The checklist was collected from several well-seasoned irrigators and irrigation sales people."

First, he said, farmers need to pay attention to irrigation water requirements and make sure there is enough water available to meet them.

"In Michigan and Indiana, evaporation and plant water use from the soil are between 0.25 inches and 0.30 inches for several days each summer," Kelley said. "Systems that can provide 5 gallons per acre will meet the 0.25 inch per day. Seven gallons per acre will be needed to provide 0.30 inch water requirements."

Because irrigation isn't profitable without adequate water sources, farmers also need to pay close attention to ground and surface water availability.

Kelley said nearby, large-volume irrigation, municipal or industrial wells are good sources of water.

"Well drillers familiar with large volume wells in your area are also excellent resources," he said.

Surface water also needs to be available – especially during late July and early August when irrigation needs are at their maximum. Kelley said farmers need to evaluate the available flow the summer before they begin irrigation.

Legal requirements for irrigating need to be considered. Water rights and regulation differ by state, so producers need to pay special attention to those. And because irrigation is a large-volume water use, new installations in both Indiana and Michigan require registration. In Indiana, registrations are handled by the state Department of Natural Resources.

Farmers also need to take into account the options for sharing irrigation equipment with neighbors, mapping irrigation ideas, available power sources and the economics of irrigation.

"Make sure irrigation will pay," Kelley said. "Think in terms of increasing your average net income per acre after you have covered the additional irrigation-related bills. Figuring this out in advance of the investment is detailed but well worth the time."

He suggested getting multiple bids from irrigation professionals to make sure farmers have access to the best irrigation tools at the best prices.

Irrigation plans also will depend on the crops grown and crop rotation and tillage preferences.

"Among the traditional crops, commercial corn and alfalfa have shown the greatest economic advantage to irrigation," Kelley said. "Small grains and soybeans have offered some of the lowest returns from added investment in irrigation. Changes in crop rotations often result from adding irrigation."

Specialty crops, such as vegetables and hybrid seed corn, also can benefit from irrigation, but only on certain soil types.

Finally, Kelley said it's important to make sure farmers consider their farming and family goals and match them to irrigation ideas.

"If you think you have a difficult time getting away for a summer vacation now, adding irrigation will greatly increase the required summer labor and cut free time," he said. "Capable irrigation labor is hard to find. Misjudging your available labor and management time needs can lead to a disaster."

 

2011 forest products harvest tops $1 billion in Mississippi

FORESTRY IS Mississippirsquos secondlargest agricultural commodity with a preliminary yearend harvest value estimated at 104 billion Photo by MSU Ag CommunicationsRay Iglay

Low national home construction levels and relatively dry weather resulted in a slightly lower year-end harvest value for Mississippi forest products, but the preliminary estimate still exceeds $1 billion.

“At $1.04 billion, the preliminary harvest value is a decrease of less than 1 percent from the previous year’s harvest value,” said James Henderson, assistant Extension professor of forestry at Mississippi State University. “However, the 2011 harvest value is 19.7 percent higher than the 2009 value of $864.9 million, which was an exceptionally poor harvest year.”

The effects of the recession continue to keep demand for timber, and thus timber prices, low, Henderson said.

“Home construction in the U.S. has not increased much since the housing bubble burst in 2007,” he said. “The supply of harvestable timberland has not been adversely impacted by weather in 2011, which has had a further negative impact on timber prices. 2010 pulpwood prices were exceptionally high due to low mill inventories and an unusually wet 2009-2010 winter.”

The average 2011 timber product prices at the beginning of December are 8 percent lower for pine sawtimber, 58 percent lower for hardwood and 30 percent lower for pine pulpwood compared to 2010. Hardwood sawtimber prices remained nearly unchanged, Henderson said.

Softwood and hardwood mills have a slightly high inventory in some sizes and grades and low inventory in others due to the housing slowdown and changes in demand for exports, said David Jones, assistant Extension professor of forest products at MSU. These factors have contributed to the closure of several mills.

“Several sawmills closed this year, and a few mills changed hands,” Jones said.  “Currently, we have more than 100 sawmills, both hardwood and softwood, in the state. All of them are running below their capacity, but they are holding on, waiting for an economic recovery.”

The current number of mills is about a third of the number in operation in the 1990s, Jones said. Much of this reduction is based on increased efficiencies and older mills being decommissioned.

“When proposed mills related to the biofuels industry open there may be some impact on local markets, but for now, we’re watching the economy and anticipating it will continue its slow recovery,” Jones said.

The forecast for 2012 is positive, as U.S. housing starts have begun to trend modestly upward, Henderson said.

“The seasonally adjusted annual rate for October was 628,000 units,” he said. “Before the recession, starts were over 2 million and fell to a historic low of 478,000 during the spring of 2009. The Kiplinger Letter forecasts housing starts to reach 1.5 million by 2013, which should gradually improve timber prices as housing construction improves over the next several years.”

Since 1959, when the U.S. Census Bureau began to track home construction, there has never been such a prolonged depression in home construction, Henderson said.

“It appears that the long economic recovery is moving in a positive direction,” he said. “Over the next several years, home construction will benefit, as will Mississippi timber prices.”

Forest products are a highly valuable agricultural commodity in the state, second only to the poultry industry’s $2.44 billion year-end harvest value. Final agricultural commodity values will be determined in February 2012.