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Articles from 2013 In July

New hay tools for livestock producers

Making top quality hay is Job 1 for dairy and livestock producers. New Holland, a leader in hay and forage tool for decades, is releasing information on new balers, mower conditioners and windrowers for 2014. In addition, utility tractors have been upgraded with the livestock guy in mind.

Here's a rundown of the new products.

Round balers are the most frequently purchased piece of hay making equipment and New Holland has a new, higher capacity Roll-Belt  560  5 ft. by 6 ft. round baler to help make the process more efficient. Key features include a 60-inch, six bar SuperSweep pickup or the 82-inch, 5-bar ActiveSweep pickup. "The ActiveSweep design innovations add up to a 20% increase in capacity," says Michael Cornman, dairy and livestock market segment manager.

Producers can monitor and control bale making with the new Bale Command II (twine only), Bale Command II Plus (twine and net, twine only, or net only) system. They also have the option to go with ISOBUS with the IntelliView III color touchscreen monitor.

Three belt choices are available. They feature new low-profile Alligator rivet fasteners that reduce bale bending stresses. New endless belts area also available for a completely spliceless design.

A Specialty Crop option is designed for crops like cornstalks, straw, or large windrows of heavy grasses like sudan. These units are expected on dealer lots shortly after January 1, according to Cornman.

Other improvements include a new tool free gauge wheel adjustment.

Center-pivot mower-conditioners
New Holland's new Discbine 313 (13-foot cutting width) and Discbine 316 (16.3-foot cutting width) feature the WideDry conditioning system. "The chevron-design intermeshing rubber rolls, steel intermeshing rolls or LeaningEdge flails are 22.5% wider than previous models (125 inches vs. 122 inches)," notes Cornman.

The driveline is simplified –PTO power is transferred from the front swivel gear box to a second swivel gear box at the rear of the tongue that maintains perfect alignment of the output driveshaft to cutterbar- and conditioner-drive box on the left side of the unit. . This means the cutterbar is driven from one side which simplifies maintenance.

The MowMaxII modular cutterbar features larger discs with larger, heavier gears, bearings and interconnecting shafts. The design also features individually sealed disc drive modules so if the mower hits an obstruction the damage is isolated and contained in that module. ShockPRO disc drive hubs absorb the impact before damage to drive components can occur.

A new biomass kit is available working in energy crops like corn stover. Among other features, it includes extra-high skid shoes.

Self-propelled windrower
Three new models of the New Holland Speedrower self-propelled windrower will soon be available as well. They include the Speedrower130 with 4 cylinder engine rated at 126 h.p., the Speedrower 200 with 6 cylinder engine rated at 190 h.p. and the Speedrower 240 with 6 cylinder engine rated at 226 h.p.

All have integrated, factory-installed IntelliSteer auto guidance which can provide cutting accuracies from +/- 1 inch to 8 inches. Guidance and steering are both controlled hydraulically so there is no delay in response due to wires, electronics and steering linkages.

Tractor upgrades
New Holland introduced the T5 Series line of utility tractors earlier this year. They have now been upgraded to appeal even more to dairy, livestock and mixed farmers with the addition of the Electro Command semi-powershift transmission. Two models are available: a T5.5 105 and T5.115, which offer 106 and 114 h.p. respectively.

The Electro Command semi-powershift transmission is an optimized version of the transmission that's currently fitted to New Holland's T6 tractors. This transmission features sixteen forward and reverse gears, and enables operators to select up to eight gears via up or downshift buttons on the dedicated transmission lever without physically moving it.

Creeks, Rivers Flood After Heavy Rains

Creeks, Rivers Flood After Heavy Rains

Central Kansas has gone from drought to flood in the wake of repeated days of heavy rain.

As of Wednesday night, flood warnings were out for eleven counties in the central part of the state and dozens of roads were closed for had been closed, including one stretch of the Kansas Turnpike in Chase County.

Most of the flooding was from small streams and creeks which covered rural roads and flooded farm fields, but there was also river flooding on the Little Arkansas, Cottonwood, Neosho, and Smoky Hill rivers in central and eastern Kansas.

Lindsborg hit hard

Although the Smoky Hill River was running fairly low earlier this year, it rose out of its banks earlier this week and caused an estimated $2.5 million in damage to the town of Lindsborg.

The most serious flood damage occurred in the town of Lindsborg where five inches of rain on Sunday sent the Smoky Hill River out of its banks and floodwaters filled 125 homes and caused an estimated $2.5 million in damage.

Thomas Holmquist, who farms near Smolan, is often a flood victim when the Smoky Hill rises rapidly. He said the floodwaters covered a bridge near his home and water rose to the edge of the front yard, but did  not reach the house.

"My brother-in-law lives in Lindsborg and it filled his basement," Holmquist said. "Over the last two days, we have pumped 80,000 gallons of water out of the basement. We have filled four of those big 30-foot trash bins and they are working on the fifth. That's his house a couple of neighbors. It has just been awful."

Creek flooding near Lyons covered several farm fields and left a roadside picnic area under a foot and a half of water.

As of 5 p.m. Wednesday, the Cottonwood River was out of its banks and still rising near Emporia. It is forecast to crest about four feet above flood stage on Friday and fall below flood stage on Saturday afternoon.

The Cottonwood was also flooding areas near Plymouth and Cottonwood Falls.

The Little Arkansas River flooded at Sedgwick but was expected to fall back within its banks by Thursday morning.

Smithfield Releases Video on Group Housing

Smithfield Releases Video on Group Housing

In the midst of debate surrounding sows' group housing vs. gestation stalls, Smithfield Foods, Inc., in 2007 moved away from the stalls, citing consumer demand.

In effort to meet that goal by 2017 and explain the process to consumers and others outside the industry, the company Wednesday released a video detailing each step in a sow's transition into pregnancy and a group housing situation.

Company uses video to explain group housing systems to consumers

"We think this is both an entertaining and informative look at how we are caring for pregnant sows, with actual footage from our sow farms that helps to explain how the group housing system ensures the safety, comfort and health of the sows during the gestation process," said Dennis H. Treacy, Smithfield's executive vice president and chief sustainability officer.

According to a January, 2013 year-end report, the company had transitioned 38% of pregnant sows on company-owned farms to the group housing system by the end of 2012.

When completed in 2017, it is estimated that the U.S. conversion will have cost about $300 million. Smithfield's international hog production operations also will complete their conversions to group housing on company-owned farms by 2022.

Read more from Farm Progress on the sow housing debate:
Gestation Crates Hot Topic At World Pork Expo
Gestation Stalls An Ongoing Issue
AASV Board Amends Position Statement on Sow Housing

Adult tarnished plant bug cotton soybeans
<p> PYRETHROID INSECTICIDES by themselves are providing less than 30 percent control on tarnished plant bugs after two applications in Tennessee.</p>

Don’t overthink plant bug control

We’ve done a lot of insecticide evaluation in the last two weeks, and the common theme is that the best treatments are still providing good control. Our go to treatments of Bidrin (6-8 oz), Acephate/Orthene (0.75 lb), Transform (1.5 oz) are top performers, providing 75 percent to 80 percent control. 

Other top performers are Acephate or Bidrin tank-mixed with a pyrethroid insecticide. I lean toward these mixes as we progress into the bollworm window. Diamond also has added some consistent improvement in plant bug control when mixed with just about anything. Of course, tank-mixing any decent plant bug insecticide with another should improve control, but putting the unique mode of action of Diamond to use makes sense in our high pressure areas.

Bad treatments still stink. Do not use a pyrethroid insecticide applied alone for control of tarnished plant bug. By themselves, these products are providing less than 30 percent control after two applications. Imidacloprid products such as Admire Pro or imidacloprid + pyrethroid pre-mixes (e.g., Brigadier) are not providing acceptable control of tarnished plant bugs. I’ve also seen a slip with Endigo over the last two years, although control with this product is still acceptable.

Our pyrethroid resistance is now so complete that pre-mixes that include a pyrethroid have lost some of their punch. Avoid the neonic/pyrethroid pre-mixes during peak bloom when plant bugs are the primary pest. This includes Leverage, Endigo and Brigadier which I think will have a better fit at the tail end when bollworm and stink bugs become a greater concern.

Corn earworm flight expected soon

I’m expecting our corn earworm flight to start kicking off this week. Given the fair amount of late-planted soybeans in the state, we need to be alert for infestations in soybean during August. Normally, our worst infestations of corn earworm in soybeans occur in the Mississippi River bottoms, but they can potentially occur anywhere. The recommended treatment threshold for corn earworm in soybeans is 9 larvae per 25 sweeps.

Against high infestations, Belt SC, Prevathon, or Besiege will provide extended residual control. I’ve also had good results with Steward and Tracer, although you should expect less residual control. Avoid the pyrethroid insecticides if infestations are well above threshold. Their performance has been inconsistent in recent years, and they do not provide effective residual control more than 7 days (less if it rains). 

A new product, Intrepid Edge, may be worth looking at on a limited basis. It is a pre-mix of Intrepid and spinetoram (e.g., Radiant). However, I’ve not tested this product against corn earworm. It is labeled at a rate of 4 – 6.4 oz/acre. This should be an excellent treatment for soybean loopers, but I’m concerned the spinetoram rate is too low for corn earworm.

Farmers, Ranchers Faced With Ergot Issues This Summer

Farmers, Ranchers Faced With Ergot Issues This Summer

A cool, wet spring in many areas of the U.S. has farmers and ranchers on the lookout for ergot in cattle and livestock pastures, as infected small grains and grasses can cause death in animals.

Ergot, a fungal disease, can affect wild and cultivated grasses, as well as wheat, oats, barley and rye. The hard ergot bodies look like small rodent droppings and are easily visible in the seed head of cereal grains, as well as many common grasses such as timothy and tall fescue, according to Dan Undersander, University of Wisconsin-Extension forage agronomist.

Multiple ergot bodies can form on one seedhead. (Photo: Connie L. Strunk, South Dakota State University Plant Pathology Field Specialist)

The fungus only appears in seed heads and is present this year due to late pasture and hayfield harvesting because of wet conditions, Undersander said.

Infected grass crops should be harvested to remove fungus infected seedheads and destroyed, not fed to livestock or grazed. All infected hay should be destroyed and should not be used for animal bedding.

It might be possible to reduce ergot toxins by ammoniating the hay, but there is little published research on this approach, University of Missouri Extension Forage Agronomist Craig Roberts said. At least half of the alkaloid concentration produced by the ergot bodies would remain even if the hay were field-cured and stored more than a year.

Undersander said ergot's toxin can reduce blood flow and accumulate over time if small amounts are eaten regularly. It's poisonous to cattle and other ruminants, llamas and alpacas, horses, swine, dogs and humans.

In cattle, the first symptom of the alkaloid is lameness, two to four weeks after exposure, as a result of the reduced blood flow to extremities. The reduced blood flow will eventually lead to complete blockage of blood vessels with terminal necrosis of the extremities such as hooves and ears, Undersander explained.

According to MU, cattle may also seek relief in shade or stand in water. Other symptoms might include overall malaise, rapid breathing, sloughing of the switches of tails and tips of ears, abortion, and possible decreased milk production.

Ergot poisoning has been linked to human epidemics in the Middle Ages, MU said. The alkaloid toxins in ergot are chemically related to LSD, and some scientists suggest that bread made from infected rye may have played a role in the 17th-century witch trials in Salem, Mass., and even the French Revolution.


When will the soybean free fall end?

Soybeans traders are desperately trying to figure out when the "free-fall" in price will end. For those fans who have not been carefully following along, the old-crop AUG13 contract has given up close to $2.00 per bushel since last Tuesday, while the new-crop NOV13 contract has shed close to $1.00 per bushel in the same time frame. The problem is that many bears believe we may have another $1.00 lower to go by harvest. Export sales were disappointing yesterday, but China continues to be a buyer of new-crop US soy. Not sure it will be nearly enough to reach the USDA's lofty estimate, but nonetheless, at this moment they continue to be steady buyers. I should also point out the fact the Brazilian soybean crop seems to be getting bigger NOT smaller. Several sources are now much higher than the current USDA production estimate of 85.1 million, a few analysts are now estimating the crop at between 88-89 million metric tons.

The old-crop story  seems to be somewhat dead in regards to "exports," but I am hearing the crushers out east are still aggressively looking for domestic old-crop supplies. Producers are starting to ask more and more questions about "sunlight," or should I say lack there of. One farmer called in yesterday and told us, "The cool wet weather and lack of overall growing units, not only heat units, but sunlight hours as well, are really stating to be a concern." With lack of "heat and lack of "sunlight" there is some speculation beans may NOT yield as good as many in the trade are anticipating. Bottom line: A short-term technical bounce may be in order, but I doubt this market can mount a sustained rally during the next couple of weeks.

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What&#039;s Next For Northern Beef Packers?

What's Next For Northern Beef Packers?

An investor meeting and a date in bankruptcy court are what's next for Northern Beef Packers, a much troubled beef processing plant that opened in Aberdeen, S.D., in 2012.

The $110 million plant declared bankruptcy last week -- leaving creditors on the hook for $10-$50 million. It laid off its 250 workers -- some who hadn't been paid for weeks. However, sources say the company had paid farmers for their cattle.

Northern Beef Packers, shown here under construction, sits on about 100 acres on the south side of Aberdeen. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Northern Beef Packers CEO David Palmer told KSFY-TV that he resigned, but later told the media that he was still on the job. The principal investor in the company -- a South Korea businessman -- said he was coming to South Dakota soon for an investor meeting and to plan how to reorganize under bankruptcy protection. Most of the investors are South Koreans

Ever since its inception in 2006, Northern Beef Packers has been delayed by financing problems and construction setbacks. At one point, creditors filed more than $10 million in liens against the company.

Northern Beef Packers paid those bills, finished construction and opened last year but apparently never killed more than a couple hundred animals a week. The state of the art plant was built to process as many as 1,500 animals a day.

The plant was toured as recently as early July by a group of South Dakota cattlemen who said they were impressed by what they saw. It was the first meat processing plant in the nation to be built from the ground up, in approximately three decades. Nationally known cattle expert Temple Grandin helped design the cattle holding and handling system.

"It is a state-of-the-art plant," said Gary Deering, Sturgis, S.D., rancher and South Dakota Beef Cattle Improvement Association director. "It was very impressive. It's exciting to have a packing plant of this level in South Dakota."

News of the company's bankruptcy disappointed, but did not surprise some people in the industry. The plant had laid off workers in recent weeks, delayed paying employees and stopped buying and processing cattle.

Many now hope Northern Beef Packers can work through the reorganization and resume operations. Herman Schumacher, a beef producer owner of the livestock auction in Herreid. S.D., and an investor in the plant, has been widely quoted. He hopes the company can "find their bearing and move on. This plant will not only be a benefit to Aberdeen, but the Dakotas and the entire region."

Vacation trip runs through corn country

I’ve never been particularly good at walking into a field of corn, cotton, peanuts or wheat and offering a reasonable assessment of what the potential yield would be.

Is this 190-bushel corn? Will this field make 3.5 bales of cotton? Can you expect 5,000 pounds of peanuts this year? Will this wheat push 80 bushels?

I can make poorly educated guesses and sometimes I’m close to accurate. Not always, maybe not even usually. Crop estimating was not one of the prerequisites for an English degree, sadly.

But after driving through the American Heartland a few weeks back—on vacation so I may not have been as observant as usual when I drive across farm country—I saw some pretty good-looking corn.

Pat and I drove up I-35 for nearly forever, all the way to northern Wisconsin. We passed through North Texas, Oklahoma, Eastern Kansas, a sliver of Missouri, Iowa and most of Wisconsin. Texas, Oklahoma and much of Kansas was still dry.  Missouri was a bit greener. Then we hit Iowa. And corn. Lord we saw some corn.

I expected corn fields to stretch as far as I could see. This is Iowa after all.  I guess I just didn’t expect to see that far, and that much corn. Gently rolling hills on both sides of I-35 were green with corn. From the roadside ditch to where the eye was inadequate to differentiate field from sky, Iowa is filled with corn.

Most was head-high and tasseling. A few fields obviously had a late start and plants stood only about knee-high. In some fields, corn just emerged was trying to catch up with plants that were waist-high or a bit shorter. I suspect some crop injury and replanting activity.

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We saw a few fields that appeared stressed—too much water? Not enough? I was tempted to stop and find a talkative farmer but Pat suggested that once I got started talking to farm folk we might as well just pitch a tent. She was probably right—as usual.

We went north for a good way, past the Ames exit, and then took a route directly east, over smaller roads where we saw picturesque farmsteads nestled among the rolling hills, typically on the east side of a line of trees. I suspect it gets windy in Iowa.

We began to see livestock facilities. “Are those chicken houses?” Pat asked. I took a deep breath. “Nope. They’re hogs.” My yield-estimating skills may be lacking but I’ve been in enough hog houses to recognize that special aroma.

We saw a few soybean fields—but not many. The farther north we got, the shorter the corn, but even in southern Wisconsin, the prospects looked pretty good.

We also found an abundant crop of Wisconsin mosquitoes, aided and abetted by late-melting snow and lots of spring rain. They were glad to have us and seemed particularly fond of my warm southern plasma. I felt like I needed a transfusion by the time I got home.

But I digress.

Irrigation systems were rare. We saw a few pivots spraying water in Wisconsin but I don’t recall seeing any in Iowa. So, even with a good start, they’ll need some rainfall to make what promises to be a good corn crop.

So, I’d like to go out on a limb and predict Iowa corn yield for the 2013 crop. A lot. They are going to make a lot of corn in Iowa. You’re welcome.


Also of interest:

I’m among the 30 percent who like their jobs

Stover removal could be a plus for corn yields in Iowa

Surprising corn, grain yields in parts of Texas Valley for some grower…

Corn+Soybean Digest

Take Advantage of Soybean Price Rallies

There was thunder last week about how the age of hefty grain prices is history. May as well have played a snippet of the late Dandy Don Meredith’s, “turn out the liiights, the party’s over….”

But despite gloomy projections for slow economic growth in China and other big buyers of U.S. soybeans and corn, any experienced farmer knows there’s never a guarantee that markets will be up or down. In July, November 2013 soybean futures traded at $12.30 early on, before rallying to $12.90, and backing off to below $12.20 on Tuesday. Swings of 60¢ and 70¢ can mean $35-40/acre for typical soybean crops.

Price volatility has not been put to bed. And if a price bounce hits a level that work’s in a farmer’s budget, take action, says Ed Usset, University of Minnesota grain marketing specialist.

“You have to be committed to get something done when the opportunity arises,” he says. “Have a number in your head. When it shows up, get something done.” 

Darrel Good, University of Illinois agricultural economist, sees worldwide demand for soybeans as a plus for producers. “Assuming that the 2013 U.S. soybean crop is near its potential of 3.4 billion bushels, rationing should not be an issue in the 2013-2014 marketing year,” he says. 

It will be up to demand strength, he adds, and two factors support prospects for strong bean demand in the year ahead. “First is the expectation that China will continue to import large quantities of soybeans so that U.S. exports will increase, even with large crops in South America,” Good says.

Sales to China are about 25 million bushels larger than at this time last year. And

export sales data shows China has already purchased nearly 400 million bushels of U.S. soybeans for import during 2013-2014.

In addition, Good says biodiesel production is increasing. USDA projects soybean oil used for biodiesel will reach 5.5 billion pounds in 2013-2014, up from 4.8 billion pounds this year and 4.87 billion pounds last year. “The projection represents nearly 28% of total projected domestic use and exports of U.S soybean oil,” he says.

So while corn prices may face further pressure, beans may be better positioned for good sales. “Demand prospects for soybeans appear to be strong,” Good says. “If that is the case, a period of higher soybean prices relative to corn prices would be expected.”

THE UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE will offer workshops to help cattle producers market beef to local consumers
<p> THE UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE will offer workshops to help cattle producers market beef to local consumers.</p>

Tennessee sets workshops to market beef directly to consumers

Consumers are interested in buying food from local suppliers, including local beef producers. Since beef cattle is among the top commodities produced in Tennessee, with some 950,000 beef cattle in the state, the number of cattle producers interested in marketing beef directly to local consumers is on the rise.

To educate producers interested in responding to the demand for locally produced beef, University of Tennessee Extension’s Center for Profitable Agriculture will be leading a new educational workshop this fall at six locations throughout the state.The program will focus on beef production techniques and cost considerations and feature instruction by UT Extension animal scientist Justin Rhinehart talking about grain-finished, grass-fed and grain-on-grass systems.

Those interested in the “Production and Cost Considerations for Finishing Animals for Direct Marketing” workshop should register through  local UT Extension agent. The dates are September through December at these locations and times:

  • Alcoa – Sept. 30, from 6 to 9 p.m. To register contact John Wilson, UT Extension, Blount County, 865-982-6430.
  • Clarksville – Oct. 7, from 6 to 9 p.m. To register contact Rusty Evans, UT Extension, Montgomery County, 931-648-5725.
  • Cookeville – Oct. 14, from 6 to 9 p.m. To register contact Scott Chadwell, UT Extension, Putnam County, 931-526-4561.
  • Spring Hill – Oct. 21, from 6 to 9 p.m. To register contact Richard Groce, UT Extension, Maury County, 931-375-5301.
  • Greeneville – Nov. 14, from 6 to 9 p.m. To register contact Milton Orr, UT Extension, Greene County, 423-798-1710.
  • Jackson – Dec. 10, from 6 to 9 p.m. To register contact Jake Mallard, UT Extension, Madison County, 731-668-8543.

Seating is limited at some locations. Register as soon as possible. There is no cost to attend the workshops, but pre-registration is required so organizers can prepare adequate materials. A meal will be included.

For more information about these and other value-added beef workshops, go to