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Articles from 2020 In May

brad-haire-farm-press-peanut-ga-2019-GG.JPG Brad Haire

When do you start the peanut fungicide program?

A successful fungicide program is built on a foundation of timing of application, choice of product, rate and coverage. The best program may vary from field to field and from year to year. Failure to build on a solid foundation can result in more disease and lower yields.  

The start date of a peanut fungicide program is critical and leads to a Goldilocks dilemma. Initiating a program too soon after planting insures staying ahead of disease but may result in wasted expense if too early. Starting a program too late could result in loss of disease control and loss yield. Recognizing the just right, which may involve waiting, can be the hardest part.

In the old days peanut farmers were instructed, “Make your first fungicide applications at 30 days after planting and continue on a 14-day spray schedule until within two or three weeks of digging; if it gets wet or you find rust, shorten your spray interval to every 10-12 days.”  Our recommendations are more varied today and growers have options for an appropriate date to begin a fungicide program. 

Reasons for variability in starting a fungicide program are:

  • Availability of more effective fungicides.
  • Use of certain products at-planting that delay disease onset.
  • The development of the Peanut Rx disease risk index.

Traditionally, fungicide programs to battle leaf spot have begun about 30 days after planting. The 30-day rule works because the peanut plants are small without a canopy of leaves to trap humidity and increase periods of leaf wetness and the number of infective spores in a field are generally low.  Making an application at approximately 30 days after planting means the fungicide is almost certainly in place before the disease arrives. The actual start date can be delayed by a week to 10 days if the field is at low risk (as determined with Peanut Rx) and/or if weather conditions are unfavorable for development and spread of disease, for example during periods of hot and dry.   

Disease Factors

Factors that affect disease risk in a field include crop rotation, variety, tillage and planting date. (Peanut Rx can be found at  Initiation of a fungicide program for leaf spot program usually should not be delayed if peanuts are planted on a short rotation or when there is abundant rainfall.

Fungicide programs anchored to a 30-day start date often include chlorothalonil in the first application. Chorothalonil continues to be an important part of our peanut programs.  Because it is a protectant fungicide without systemic or curative activity, chlorothalonil MUST be applied prior to disease onset, making a 30-day application advised except under special conditions.  Where newer fungicides with curative activity, to include Lucento, Aproach Prima and Priaxor, are used, initiation of fungicide programs can be delayed until 45, 40, and 45 days after planting, respectively.

Decisions to use specific in-furrow products can influence the best date to start a fungicide program for leaf spot.  Research has shown that if Velum Total or Propulse is used in-furrow at planting time, the start of a fungicide program can be delayed until 45 days after planting.  Use of Thimet in-furrow for management of thrips and tomato spotted wilt will also provide additional control of leaf spot; however how this will affect start of a fungicide program remains to be determined.

White Mold

Application of a fungicide for white mold control has generally been made about 60 days after planting.  When early-season conditions are unusually warm, fighting white mold before that time can be beneficial. Proline used in-furrow is a convenient way to do this, but provides only limited control of white mold. Banded applications of Prolinet between 21 and 35 days after planting will be much more effective. If a grower is not prepared to make a banded fungicide application, other effective strategies are to apply Elatus at 30 days after planting or tebuconazole + chlorothalonil at 45.  Early applications of Lucento or Priaxor also have some activity against white mold.

Today’s recommended fungicide programs may begin as early 21 or as late as 45 days after planting. The earliest starting dates are primarily to protect against early-season white mold. Later starts are appropriate when risk to leaf spot is low (as based upon Peanut Rx and predicted weather) or with use of products like Velum Total, Propulse, Priaxor, Aproach Prima, and Lucento. 

For some growers, waiting an additional two weeks to start a program can be stressful. As in the words of Tom Petty, one of the best to come out of Gainesville, Florida, “The waiting is the hardest part; every day you see one more card. You take it on faith, you take it to the heart; the waiting is the hardest part.” 

However, the most important part is to start your fungicide program on time, whenever that may be.

farm-for-sale-GettyImages-471333085.jpg Shotbydave / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Treatment proves worse than the disease

A common reaction to the lockdown brought on by the coronavirus pandemic is that the treatment is worse than the disease. You need to look no farther than the American farm to see the damage created by the lockdowns across the country.

Farmers were already barely getting by. The coronavirus and the resulting lockdown only made it worse. North Carolina State University Agricultural Economist Nick Piggott has crunched the numbers and concluded that farming will likely be unprofitable in 2020 thanks in part to the coronavirus.

Piggott notes that farm commodity prices have taken double-digit percentage losses since the coronavirus crisis began. Moreover, the coronavirus catastrophe has changed the way America is now consuming food, and the significant spike in unemployment and loss of income will shift and change the demand for food, influencing the profitability of agriculture at the farm gate.

The farm economy was already suffering tremendously prior to the coronavirus pandemic. The American Farm Bureau Federation points to data from U.S. courts showing year-to -year farm bankruptcies increased 23 percent by March of this year. Farm Bureau’s Market Intel report shows a total of 627 filings during the 12-month period ending March 2020, marking five consecutive years of Chapter 12 bankruptcy increases, including an accelerated rate since January.

These increases in bankruptcies are not related to the coronavirus pandemic. That is certain to change, and bankruptcies will only go up due to COVID-19. The situation has weighed heavy on the heart of American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall, a broiler, cattle and hay producer from Greensboro, Ga.

“Each bankruptcy represents a farm in America struggling to survive or going under, which is both heartbreaking and alarming,” Duvall says. “Even more concerning, the difficulty staying afloat is made worse by the pandemic and related shutdowns as farmers are left with fewer markets for their products and lower prices for the products they do sell.”

Indeed, the treatment is worse than the disease.

The key is to fully reopen the country, from New York to Los Angeles, from the big cities to rural America that farmers call home. Open businesses and a free people, free to go where they want and spend their dollars as they see fit, will help spark demand for food and fiber and alleviate some of the pain seen by so many American farmers and ranchers.

This Week in Agribusiness, May 30, 2020

Part 1

Note: The video automatically plays through all show parts once you start.

Max Armstrong starts off hearing from Steve Moest from High Plains Pork about the struggles his business faces currently. Mike Pearson is on the desk and chats quickly with Greg Soulje previewing the weather report. Dale Durchholz of Grain Cycles joins the show to talk about the weather’s impact on the 2020 crop and how ethanol’s return is lifting the market. Next they turn some attention to livestock.

Part 2

Dale Durchholz of Grain Cycles rejoins Mike to discuss the challenges with international trade. In the Colby Ag Tech segment Chad Colby is chatting with Matt Foes who’s describes how tech is helping out with cover crops and tillage.

Part 3

Max is talking to Mike Naig, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture to discuss the Iowa hog industry and the Iowa Disposal Assistance Program.  

Part 4

Max Armstrong checks in with Polly Ruhland of the United Soybean Board where they are developing many new uses for soybeans, including asphalt and tennis shoes. Agricultural Meteorologist Greg Soulje joins Max and Steve to look at the forecast for the week ahead.

Part 5

Agricultural Meteorologist Greg Soulje returns to take a look at the long-range weather picture.

Part 6

In Max’s Tractor Shed, Max is teasing us with a peak at the tractor for next week’s broadcast. Mike Pearson profiles Woodbury FFA in Woodbury, Connecticut, way out of the corn belt they produce maple syrup and raise tilapia. Member Aiden Usher tells us about their greenhouse program’s “Peddle it Forward” program. In Samuelson Sez, Orion Samuelson say that the “natives are getting restless” and is responding to viewer e-mails as he looks towards a return to whatever normal is.

Part 7

Max chats with Lisa Safarian of Bayer Crop Science who tells us how COVID-19  has challenged her work, both on a personal level and across the Bayer Crop Science.


Woodbury FFA, growing crops, fish

Mike Pearson profiles Woodbury FFA in Woodbury, Connecticut, way out of the corn belt they produce maple syrup and raise tilapia. Member Aiden Usher who tells us about their greenhouse program’s “Peddle it Forward” program.

The weekly FFA Chapter Tribute is an opportunity to shine a spotlight on the good work of your local chapter. Tell us about what you're doing, give us some history from your group and tell our viewers of the work you do in the community. FFA chapters across the country deserve recognition for the work they do, make sure we include yours.

To have your chapter considered for this weekly feature, send along information about your group by e-mail to Orion Samuelson at or to Max Armstrong at They'll get your group on the list of those that will be covered in the future. It's a chance to share your story beyond the local community. Drop Orion or Max a "line" soon.

The National FFA Organization, formerly known as Future Farmers of America, is a national youth organization of about 650,000 student members as part of 7,757 local FFA chapters. The National FFA Organization remains committed to the individual student, providing a path to achievement in premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. For more, visit the National FFA Organization online, on Facebook at, on Twitter at

Soybean seedlings iStock/GettyImages

Comment on soybean deregulation request

Public comment is being accepted on a petition from BASF Corporation seeking deregulation of a soybean variety developed using genetic engineering for resistance to soybean cyst nematode, a microscopic parasitic worm, and for herbicide tolerance.

The petition is available for review here and comments will be accepted through July 27, 2020.

USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is interested in receiving comments regarding potential environmental and interrelated economic impacts to assist in its assessment of the petition as it relates to the National Environmental Policy Act.  The public comments received, along with the best available scientific documents, will assist APHIS in determining the appropriate environmental documents to prepare in accordance with its petition process to make a fully informed decision on the regulatory status of this soybean variety developed using genetic engineering.

Submit your comments in print or digital format:

The petition and any comments we receive on this docket may be viewed at​#!docketDetail;​D=​APHIS-2020-0023 or in our reading room, which is located in room 1141 of the USDA South Building, 14th Street and Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC. Normal reading room hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except holidays. To be sure someone is there to help you, please call (202) 7997039 before coming.

The petition is also available on the APHIS website at:​aphis/​ourfocus/​biotechnology/​permits-notifications-petitions/​petitions/​petition-status under APHIS petition 19-317-01p.

For further information, contact Cindy Eck, Biotechnology Regulatory Services, APHIS, 4700 River Road Unit 147, Riverdale, MD 20737-1236; (301) 851-3892, email:

Source: USDA APHIS, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset. 
disease lesions on corn leaves Tom J. Bechman
SCOUT FOR LESIONS: When you find even disease lesions and the hybrid is susceptible to that disease, consider spraying, experts say.

Sometimes it simply pays to spray

To save money, I don’t want to spray fungicides on corn unless it’s a must. What should I look for and when?

The Indiana certified crop advisers panel answering this question includes Betsy Bower, agronomist, Ceres Solutions, Terre Haute; Jesse Grogan, regional manager, AgReliant Genetics LLC, Lafayette; and Stan Miles, agronomist, A&L Great Lakes Labs, Fort Wayne.

Bower: Be prepared to keep up with what’s going on agronomically. The Purdue Pest and Crop Newsletter is a great source of weekly agronomic info. There are also phone apps called the Purdue Corn Field Scout and Soybean Field Scout. They cost a few dollars but are great assets.

Scout at least once per week starting around V10. Yield-impacting diseases you can see at V10 to V12 include physoderma, northern corn leaf blight and gray leaf spot. For physoderma, an early application of fungicide when needed can improve yield and standability through harvest. Each disease has an economic threshold.

Two later-season diseases that can highly affect corn are tar spot and southern rust. Both diseases can be extremely detrimental to yield. Some hybrids are more susceptible.

Research would indicate the best return on investment with many corn diseases is an application of fungicide around R1 to R2, soon after tasseling till brown silk. Exceptions are early infections of physoderma and very late infections of tar spot and southern rust on susceptible hybrids.

Most fungicides have mixed modes of action — a good thing. While most are pretty good on northern corn leaf blight and gray leaf spot, there are differences on tar spot and southern rust. Consult your local crops professional for guidance.

Grogan: Hybrid selection, tillage system and crop rotation are the best routes to avoid fungicide rescue decisions. Choose hybrids that have at least a moderate level of tolerance or resistance to key foliar diseases. Factor in yield, standability and plant health. Risk factors such as tillage system, irrigation and weather should be considered.

Disease pathogens like gray leaf spot are associated with crop residue on the soil surface, enabling early onset. Applying fungicides at V6 as a preventative treatment isn’t consistent or efficient. Best timing for a one-time fungicide application is tassel or flowering. Scout corn in the late-whorl stage. Look for lesions or rust pustules for southern corn rust. If lesions or pustules are on the ear leaf, a fungicide is likely beneficial when wet and warm weather follow.

Choose products according to the target. This fungicide efficacy table is a good resource. Return on investment should be considered. Best results are in fields with high yield potential.

Miles: If the hybrid at the top of the yield chart caught your eye but has a lower disease tolerance, scout these fields and monitor for disease progression and possible fungicide treatments.

Gray leaf spot normally thrives on susceptible hybrids when temperature and humidity are high. When the temperature is in the high 90s and grass is too wet to mow at 11:30 a.m., scout gray leaf spot. When lesions are at the ear leaf or above prior to flowering, the potential for yield loss is present.

Northern corn leaf blight prefers cooler temperatures through grain fill. Southern rust must be transported into Indiana on strong thunderstorms that blow spores up from the Gulf of Mexico.

Careful scouting, attention to weather and environmental conditions, and a strong knowledge of your hybrid’s disease tolerance ratings will help you make the best economic decision.

mesh visor with ear protectors perched on riding lawnmower Tom J. Bechman
NEW STANDARD EQUIPMENT: This mesh visor with ear protectors is now standard equipment for mowing the yard.

Why I don combat gear to mow the yard

I used to laugh at my grandson every time I was ready to start up my Massey-Harris 44 tractor. Graham, a 10-year-old with super sensitive hearing, would tell me to wait. Then he would race across the pole barn and grab the combination mesh face protector with hardcore earmuffs that I bought to use while running the Stihl weed trimmer.

Graham was after the hearing protection. He claims the loud grumble of older tractors, especially the Massey 44, hurts his ears. So, there he is, following me around the barn lot at a safe distance as I drive the old girl, wearing his face mask and ear protectors. Admittedly, the FFA boys at Delphi FFA did talk me into a chrome pipe instead of a muffler when they restored the Massey. But it just sounds like power to me.

Well, these days Graham gets to laugh at Grandpa. When I mow the yard on my garden tractor, especially if I’m going to mow around trees and bushes, I put on the same mesh-screen face mask and ear protectors. I probably look as dumb to him as he does to me when wears it.

Hard lesson

Why do I wear the face protector? Because when I didn’t and mowed a neighbor’s yard with umpteen trees and bushes, it looked like I had been in a fight when I got home. Trying to get as close as possible so I wouldn’t have to use the weed trimmer, branches would knock my throttle back. That wasn’t so bad. It’s when they slapped me in the face that it hurt.

First, it was a cut on the lip, Then, it was what looked like a rug burn on the cheek that lasted nearly two weeks. Ouch — that one hurt! So, the next time, I grabbed the face protector. That kept limbs off my face. It didn’t do much good when I forgot how low a tree limb was and cracked my head on it trying to mow under the tree.

It also didn’t help when I drove into a flurry of branches and one poked right above the rim of the face protector, leaving a mark just above my eye. At least it wasn’t in my eye. That’s when I threatened to go to the helmet and ear protectors, with full plastic face shield, we bought for our son when he uses the chainsaw. Somehow, I couldn’t quite stand the thought of what someone would think driving by if they saw me wearing a construction hat and full face shield to mow the yard.

Maybe not mowing quite as close and using the weed trimmer a little more often is the best answer. But then Graham wouldn’t have anything to laugh about!

Klamath Basin convoy Tim Hearden
Farm equipment and trucks convoy through the Klamath Basin in Northern California and Southern Oregon, protesting an unexpected cutback in water that could jeopardize the area's crops.

Water wars heat up again in Klamath Basin

Bob Gasser didn’t expect to be in this situation again.

The owner of Basin Fertilizer in Merrill, Ore., Gasser was deeply involved in the first big protests over water in the Klamath Basin straddling the California-Oregon state line, which gained national attention in 2001.

After 19 years of lawsuits, negotiations and a water-sharing breakthrough that slipped through its proponents’ fingers, Gasser was back to co-organizing another protest movement.

He was one of hundreds of area growers and agriculture-related businesspeople who drove a convoy of farm equipment and big rigs through the Klamath Basin on Friday morning to protest federal cutbacks that could leave some 200,000 acres of farms without surface water by midsummer.

Many of the tractors and trucks displayed handmade signs with messages such as “Save our farms” and “No water, no farms, no food.”

“It’s not just farm equipment” participating in the convoy, Gasser said. “I have a furniture store that’s sending three rigs. I have sprinkler pipe people. I have people coming out of the woodwork. The whole community is upset.”

Mike Mustoe, owner of Morningstar Farms, drove one of his irrigation trucks. The farm grows, packs and ships peppermint, potatoes and sugar beets, among other crops.

“If we can make it to around the 1st of August, we’ll be OK,” Mustoe said. “But if they cut us off in mid-July, we’d lose about half our yield.”

A call to unity

The “Call to Unity” tractor convoy started on a farm near Merrill and traveled about 20 miles, passing through downtown Klamath Falls, Ore., and past the head gates of the Klamath Reclamation Project’s main canal.

The convoy ended up in another farm field near Midland, Ore., where Gasser and others have planted hundreds of white crosses on bare ground visible from Highway 97 – the main highway coming from California – as a symbolic reminder of those whose livelihoods are threatened by the water shortages.

People on Friday placed American flags amid the crosses.

“We needed to be a part of our brothers’ and sisters’ fight down here,” said Larry Needham, a safety officer for the Roseburg, Ore.-based Gene Whitaker Inc. log trucking company. “I’m hoping that all our farmers and ranchers will get the water they need.”

People gathered along the convoy route and waved flags and held signs supporting the demonstrators.

Zach Wells of Rocky Mountain Construction Co. drove his truck in the convoy. He said a water shutoff could affect everyone in the basin.

“There’s a lot of dairies in California that rely on the alfalfa that’s grown here,” Wells said. “It’s going to affect everybody.”

Looming shutoff

The latest protest comes after the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation initially forecast 140,000 acre-feet of water for the project but cut its allocation to 80,000 acre-feet for the entire year.

Growers planted their potatoes, horseradish and other crops based on the higher allocation, and they’ve already used about 30,000 acre-feet. The initial allocation was already less than half the roughly 350,000 acre-feet sent to farms in the basin in a normal year, Gasser said.

“If they shut it clean off, it’s devastating,” said Tracey Lyon, who grows hay, grains and potatoes near Merrill, Ore. Depending on the weather, an early shutoff could cost Lyon as much as 75 percent of his crop, he said.

The U.S. Drought Monitor shows the basin to be in moderate drought following a dry winter.

“We know there’s a drought,” Gasser told Farm Progress, “but there’s roughly 250,000 acre-feet of water that will come into Klamath Lake from runoff and the (Klamath) River this year is going to get 400,000 acre-feet.”

A way of life

Water wars have been a way of life for decades in the basin, where farms, endangered fish, local American Indian tribes and downstream fishing businesses vie for limited supplies.

The Klamath project was created in the early 1900s, when the federal government began drawing water from nearby lakes and streams. World War I veterans homesteaded what had been dry uplands, using the water to grow the potatoes, alfalfa, horseradish and cattle that are still raised there today.

The basin became Ground Zero for water fights in 2001, when biological opinions on endangered suckers and threatened coho salmon led the Bureau of Reclamation to abruptly shut off irrigation water to about 1,200 farms.

The bureau for years kept enough water in the Upper Klamath Lake for suckers, but the coho listing forced more drastic water-saving measures, officials argued.

The so-called "bucket brigade" protests in 2001 drew some 18,000 participants from throughout the West and prompted then-President George W. Bush's administration to boost deliveries to growers the following year, which environmentalists blamed for a subsequent die-off of about 70,000 salmon.

A National Academy of Sciences panel later found fault with the science used to justify cutting off irrigation for farms and water for the project’s two wildlife refuges.

Agreements sought

Ensuing legal battles eventually gave way to five years of talks involving farmers, fishing interests, environmentalists and local, state and federal officials. In 2010, representatives of those groups gathered in the rotunda of the Oregon state capitol to sign two landmark agreements – the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement and Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement.

The two pacts outlined water-sharing among the tribes, fishermen and farms and called for various fisheries improvements around the basin. Their most controversial element was the removal of four dams from the Klamath River.

In 2014, off-project ranchers in the upper basin reached a similar agreement with local tribes.

The 50-some bureaucrats, activists and growers working to make the agreements a reality encountered no shortage of obstacles and setbacks, including persistent local opposition and the inability of Congress to pass authorizing legislation by an end-of-2015 deadline.

The proponents regrouped and created a nonprofit entity to be formed, take control of the dams from owner PacifiCorp and seek approval for their removal from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. In 2019, the Klamath River Renewal Corp. gave an $18.1 million contract to Kiewit Infrastructure West, the firm that led repairs to the Oroville Dam in Northern California, to oversee the dam removals.

Optimism is gone

But the spirit of cooperation that fueled a sense of optimism in the basin is gone. Many of the signatories in the original agreements have moved on to other things, and new conflicts have arisen, including a series of water-rights calls by the Klamath Tribes that further diminished supplies.

“It’s just unfortunate that we’re kind of back to the way things were,” said Greg Addington, a former director of the Klamath Water Users Association who worked on the water-sharing agreements.

This year’s flap began when Reclamation agreed to send an additional 40,000 acre-feet of water down the Klamath River as part of a three-year interim operating plan, which was initiated under an agreement with the Yurok Tribe.

“Every acre-foot of water is valuable and is in limited supply,” said Klamath Basin Area Office Water Operations Chief David Felstul.

A federal judge on May 22 denied the tribe’s request for an additional 390 cubic feet per second (cfs) in releases for about 20 days, or a total of 16,000 additional acre-feet, the Klamath Falls Herald and News reported.

“I always said the worst scenario for irrigators would be that the dams come out but we don’t get a water deal done,” Addington said. “That’s where we seem to be headed.

“I didn’t expect to be back here,” he said, “but after that (set of agreements) failed, I lost some amount of hope.”


Soybean prices continue to slide

Need a quick catch up on the market news of the week? Here's what you missed.

Ag Marketing IQ

It is easy to observe the bearish news today and become very pessimistic about upcoming marketing opportunities. It is critical to recognize the current issues and the reality of the resulting low prices, but it is equally important to appreciate that it is very early in the crop year and much can and likely will change.

Memorial Day marks the real beginning of the race to bring in another crop, as growers navigate the risks and rewards of the growing season. What happens at the start of the race to harvest doesn’t assure how the market will finish come fall. But the next few days may offer clues about chances for a rally.

Grower A thinks he could market his corn for up to $5 per bushel this season using various risk management tools. This is not the ag depression of the 1980s, mostly because of the safety nets and marketing tools set up for corn growers in response to the decade's financial devastation.  Check out the numbers for the growers projected corn revenue for 2020.

It has been a quiet few weeks for grain futures as prices hold firm awaiting fresh fundamental news in order to provide new price direction. Cattle futures have slowly recovered higher after the coronavirus sell off, and now are waiting for cash and demand news before committing to the next price objective. Corn futures are in a timid uptrend. Soybean futures continue to consolidate in a firm, sideways trade pattern. Wheat futures have tested recent price lows, and look patient to wait for events that could dictate the next price movement.

It goes without saying 2020 makes 2019 look like a walk in the park. When states issued stay-at-home orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for gas plummeted. With a massive build-up for oil, gas and ethanol stocks, energy prices took a nosedive, with the pinnacle seeing May crude trade sharply into negative territory just before going off the board. Just over a month ago, corn grind for ethanol hit its low of 53 million bushels. It seemed as though the demand destruction could continue for some time. Fast-forward a month, and it seems like so much has changed.


USDA’s latest grain export inspection report was released a day late, due to the Memorial Day holiday on Monday. But the latest round of data didn’t feel worth the wait, with corn, soybean and wheat volumes all taking a step back from the prior week’s tally.

Export sales were reported three days this week. China bought soybeans. Unknown bought corn and the Philippines bought soybean cake and meal.

USDA didn’t offer a lot of bullish data in its latest export sales report, out Friday morning. The report, which showed sales for the week ending May 21, saw volume for corn, soybeans and wheat all slide lower compared to their prior four-week averages.

Planting progress

Corn planting progress was again hampered by ample Midwestern rains this week, but farmers were still able to make some forward momentum for the week ending May 24, per the latest USDA crop progress report. Both corn and soybean planting progress are much faster than 2019’s historically sluggish start and maintain moderate leads over the prior five-year average.


As the world adjusts to a new reality, there are few economic impacts from which farmers have been spared. Consider these financial and input factors as you look towards the summer months. Gasoline demand fell as much as 45% since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, pressuring the limits of 6.8 billion barrels of global oil storage capacity. As the coronavirus pandemic infected international markets, investors searching for “safe-haven” assets flocked to stable currencies, particularly the U.S. dollar and Japanese yen.


Corn prices inched higher this morning as wet weather across the Corn Belt stalled the final round of planting in many states. Rising tensions between the U.S. and China spurred losses in the soy complex this morning. Prices in the wheat complex were mixed this morning after U.S. and European forecasts raised concerns about meeting production potential.

Worries over an eroding relationship with China kept soybean prices sliding lower again on Friday. Technical selling trimmed prices by another 0.7%. Corn prices also saw moderate losses, as planting pressure and the expectation for a huge harvest this year has created headwinds for both crops. Wheat prices jumped another 1.25% or more higher Friday, in contrast, as dry weather in the U.S. and abroad may negatively impact yields in some key production countries.

rice-harvest-dfp-1540B.jpg Delta Farm Press Staff Photo

Global rice prices recede from peak

As several rice-exporting countries around the world begin to ease COVID-related export and other trade restrictions, global prices have become more competitive, falling from their peak earlier in May, according to an economic impact report from the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. 

Alvaro Durand-Morat, research assistant professor for the Division of Agriculture and co-author of the report, said that while prices in the United States remain higher than pre-pandemic levels, global trade and competition have brought international prices to heel. 

Durand-Morat said that many key rice-exporting countries, including Myanmar and Cambodia among others, are beginning to resurface after several months of import restrictions designed to weather the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“As the COVID situation evolves, some countries have done quite well, and they’re relaxing those export restrictions, and that’s easing prices,” he said. 

“Prices in the United States have been driven by short supply more than anything else,” Durand-Morat said. “But in India and Thailand, for example, they’ve gone back to pre-COVID-19 levels. In Vietnam, they remain about $100 above pre-COVID prices. Overall, prices have become much more competitive after the peak a few weeks ago.” 

India, the world’s largest rice exporter, continues to struggle with the spread of the virus to a large degree, causing delays throughout its supply chain. 

“While the country has the lowest, most competitive price right now, they’re by no means back to full activity on the export side of things,” Durand-Morat said. “They still have stay-at-home orders, and that’s delaying shipments.” 

There is no way of knowing when the global rice market will truly return to pre-COVID levels of efficiency, he said. 

“Who knows where this pandemic will go?” he said. “Some countries, such as Vietnam, have done a very good job, domestically speaking, in terms of controlling the pandemic. So, I’d expect them to be back to normal sooner, rather than later. India’s outlook, on the other hand, is not very optimistic. It’s very hard for them to maintain social distance, and their cases are increasing. They have plenty of rice to export, but if the pandemic is not under control, we could expect their export capacity to suffer and put pressure on the global rice market.” 

Durand-Morat was one of four authors who contributed to the economic impact update report. The Division of Agriculture has continued to publish economic analysis and other reports throughout the pandemic, all of which can be found at

Impact on U.S. rice

Given the current stage in the U.S. agricultural planting cycle, it’s unclear what opportunities the current situation may present for American producers in 2020. 

“With planting decisions, we know that for the last two months, all the economic factors favor rice,” Durand-Morat said. “When everything’s said and done, we will likely see an increase in rice acres.

“Is this an opportunity for US agriculture? I think if we had our choice, no one would have chosen this situation,” he said. “It continues to be a highly risky environment for agriculture, and more so for cotton and corn; less so for soybean and rice.”