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Articles from 2019 In September

Soybean field in southeast Minnesota on Sept. 30, 2019 Janet Kubat Willette

USDA crop progress: Corn, soybean harvests start slowly

With a wet, cool spring that featured an abundance of late-planted crops, it’s perhaps no surprise that the 2019 harvest is also off to a sluggish start.

Corn harvest reached 11% completion as of September 29, per the latest USDA crop progress report, out Monday afternoon. That’s a step forward from the prior week’s pace of 7% but lags well behind 2018’s pace of 25% and the five-year average of 19%.

A trio of southern states – Texas (72%), Tennessee (74%) and North Carolina (87%) – are actually much closer to the finish line at this point. But the national average is hampered by single digit progress in some key production states that include Illinois (4%), Indiana (8%) and Iowa (2%).

Fields that have yet to be harvested are still nearing that phase of the season, however. USDA marked 88% of the crop as dented, with 43% now fully mature. Both maturity phases remain well behind the prior five-year averages of 98% and 73%, respectively.

From a quality standpoint, little was changed. USDA rated 57% of the crop in good-to-excellent condition (unchanged from last week), with 29% rated fair (down a point from last week) and the remaining 14% rated poor or very poor (up a point from last week).



“Crop ratings out Monday showed only minor changes with no clear trend for changes,” says Farm Futures senior grain market analyst Bryce Knorr. “While the U.S. rating dropped, our state-by-state analysis showed a small increase, with the average of the two losing around four-tenths of a bushel per acre. The average yield forecast based on the ratings is 169.25 bushels per acre in a range from 168.8 to 169.7 bpa. The three I states posted declines along with northern tier states except Wisconsin.”

These estimates are running stronger than USDA’s monthly production estimates, which will be updated late next week, Knorr adds.

“Development remains behind normal, with only 15% of corn dented in North Dakota, where forecast models today turned colder again for later next week, also raising frost threat levels from South Dakota to Wisconsin,” he says. “But these models have been flipping back and forth the last couple of days and have yet to be confirmed by the more reliable European model.”

The 2019 soybean harvest also kicked off this past week, with 7% now complete. That’s well behind 2018’s pace of 22% and the five-year average of 20%. Only 55% of the crop is even dropping leaves, compared to the prior five-year average of 76%.

“Any freeze could also affect soybeans, though 86% of fields in North Dakota were dropping leaves,” Knorr says.

Quality-wise, 55% of the soybean crop is now rated in good-to-excellent condition, up a point from last week. Another 32% is rated fair (down a point from last week), with the remaining 13% rated poor or very poor (unchanged from a week ago).

All told, soybeans saw very small changes in yield potential this past week, with the average of our two models at 50 bpa, in a narrow range from 49.5 to 50.6 bpa.



Spring wheat harvest reached 90% last week, which was higher than analyst estimates, but 99% to 100% of the crop is typically harvested by the end of September. Winter wheat planting is more in line with the pace of recent years after reaching 39% last week. The prior five-year average is 38%.

“USDA’s updated production estimate showed slightly higher spring wheat production, despite more delays to harvest after heavy storms last week that included snow in Montana,” Knorr says.

Click here to read USDA’s latest crop progress report, with additional updates on sorghum, oats and southern row crops.

Hemp Farming Act of 2018 Thinkstock/torstengrieger

Hemp council asks EPA to approve products for use on hemp

The National Industrial Hemp Council recommends the EPA approve the 10 applications the agency has received from companies which seek to add hemp to product labels.

The products:

1. Debug Turbo, EPA Registration Number: 70310-5. Applicant: Agro Logistic Systems, Inc. Active ingredients: Azadirachtin and Neem Oil. Product type: Insecticide, Miticide, Fungicide, and Nematicide.

2. Debug Optimo, EPA Registration Number: 70310-7. Applicant: Agro Logistic Systems, Inc. Active ingredients: Azadirachtin and Neem Oil. Product type: Insecticide, Miticide, Fungicide, and Nematicide.

3. Debug Tres, EPA Registration Number: 70310-8. Applicant: Agro Logistic Systems, Inc. Active ingredients: Azadirachtin and Neem Oil. Product type: Insecticide, Miticide, Fungicide, and Nematicide.

4. Debug-On, EPA Registration Number: 70310-11. Applicant: Agro Logistic Systems, Inc. Active ingredient: Neem Oil. Product type: Insecticide, Miticide, and Fungicide.

5. Regalia Bioprotectant Concentrate, EPA Registration Number: 84059-3. Applicant: Marrone Bio Innovations. Active ingredient: Extract of Reynoutria sachalinensis. Product type: Fungicide and Fungistat.

6. MBI-110 EP, EPA Registration Number: 84059-28. Applicant: Marrone Bio Innovations. Active ingredient: Bacillus amyloliquefaciens strain F727. Product type: Fungicide.

7. GH CMT, EPA Registration Number: 91865-1. Applicant: Hawthorne Hydroponics LLC. Active ingredients: Soybean Oil, Garlic Oil, and Capsicum Oleoresin Extract. Product type: Insecticide and Repellent.

8. GH MPMT, EPA Registration Number: 91865-2. Applicant: Hawthorne Hydroponics LLC. Active ingredient: Potassium Salts of Fatty Acids. Product type: Insecticide, Fungicide, and Miticide.

9. GH DNMT, EPA Registration Number: 91865-3. Applicant: Hawthorne Hydroponics LLC. Active ingredient: Bacillus amyloliquefaciens strain D747. Product type: Fungicide and Bactericide.

10. GH NAMT, EPA Registration Number: 91865-4. Applicant: Hawthorne Hydroponics LLC. Active ingredient: Azadirachtin. Product type: Insect Growth Regulator and Repellent.

“(F)or hemp to reach its full potential, it is essential that EPA take a leadership role in consistent review of applications for use on hemp, to facilitate a consistent and equal playing field to the degree possible across state jurisdictions. EPA’s approach here is encouraging on this front,” wrote the National Industrial Hemp Council and American Farm Bureau Federation in joint comments submitted to the agency through the rulemaking process.

EPA requested comments regarding adding hemp to the labels of products registered under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act.

The groups also asked EPA to approve these and additional applications to expand the range of approved products and provide their members with lawful options for pest control beginning in 2020.

Source: AFBF, 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. 
DFP-BRobb-Hemp-Plant.jpg Brad Robb

LSU AgCenter schedules meeting on industrial hemp

The LSU AgCenter will hold a meeting Nov. 13 to provide information on industrial hemp.

The full-day event will take place at the State Evacuation Shelter on U.S. Highway 71 south of Alexandria, La. Lunch and refreshments will be provided.

The event will feature presentations by hemp researchers, producers and processors from other states as well as AgCenter and Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry personnel.

State Rep. Clay Schexnayder, who authored the bill that paved the way for industrial hemp legalization in Louisiana, also will speak.

Louisiana did not participate in the industrial hemp pilot project program authorized by the 2014 farm bill. Therefore, no legal production can occur in the state at this time.

It is anticipated that Louisiana’s state plan and federal regulations will be in place to accommodate the 2020 planting season.

Those interested in attending the meeting must register and pay a $25 fee in advance. For a $150 fee, vendors can sign up for an exhibit table.

Information on how to register is available at

Send questions to Ashley Mullens at

Source: LSU AgCenter, 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.

Max Armstrong's Daily Updates

MIDDAY Midwest Digest, Sept. 30, 2019

Boeing has found structural cracks in wing supports of some aircraft.

There's a charity that provides beds to families in need.

It can take 30 years to develop a new onion. A new one is coming out soon.

In two weeks, a memorial service will be held for a long-time farm broadcaster in Iowa. 

Ripening soybeans in southeast Minnesota on Sept. 30, 2019. Janet Kubat Willette

Corn, soybeans surge on bullish stocks data

Grain futures moved sharply higher following bullish Sept. 1 stocks data for corn and soybeans and lower wheat production.

USDA put Sept. 1 corn carryout at 2.114 billion bushels, 331 million below its last estimate Sept. 12. The update suggests extremely strong feed usage over the summer, despite abundant supplies of cheap feed wheat and sorghum. In addition to adjusting statistical errors from previous reports, the shockingly low stocks total could also mean the 2018 crop was smaller than previously reported by USDA.

The government won’t update its corn production estimate until after the next ag census. But the soybean production estimate is revised in these end of September reports, and USDA cut the 2018 by 116 million bushels. That trimmed 92 million bushels off the agency’s Sept. estimate. Both the corn and soybean forecasts were below the low end of trade guesses, causing futures to jump higher.

USDA had mixed news for wheat. Sept. 1 wheat stocks were put at 2.385 billion bushels, down just 5 million from last year and near the top end of trade guesses. The data suggest weaker than expected summer feed usage, perhaps due to the relatively late harvest of the crop of the Plains.

USDA also failed to confirm fears of smaller spring wheat production, despite heavy moisture that’s delayed harvest on the northern Plains and raised concerns about quality. USDA put total spring wheat production at 600 million bushels, up 3 million from its last estimate and near the top end of trade guesses. Still, Minneapolis futures held on to small gains as today’s report is likely not the last word on the crop.

All wheat production still fell 18 million bushels in the smaller grains summary due to lower winter wheat output. USDA lowered production of hard and soft red winter wheat production but increased its estimate for white wheat.

November soybeans posted double digit gains in the wake of the reports, rallying up to the resistance line drawn off summer highs. December corn tested its 50-day moving average, drawing closer to confirming a head-and-shoulders bottom on its chart.

USDA’s updated production estimate for soybeans lowered harvested acreage by 516,000 and knocked a full bushel per acre off last year’s yield, which fell to 50.6 bpa. Only a handful of states saw steady to higher yields and production with the size of the crop dropped 14.4 million bushels in Iowa, 14.5 million in Minnesota and 32 million in Illinois.

Still, weak demand in 2018 due to the trade war with China helped to more than double Sept. 1 inventories from year-ago levels. All major reporting states showed increases.

The drop in Sept. 1 corn stocks was most notable in the eastern Midwest, which suffered multiple years of disappointing crops. Stocks also fell in Iowa, Wisconsin and North Dakota.






brad-haire-sefp-round-bale-cotton-field-6.jpg Brad Haire

Two farmers reappointed to Georgia Cotton Commission Board

In late July, the Commodity Commission Ex-Officio Committee met to make appointments to the Georgia Cotton Commission Board of Directors.  GCC Vice Chairman Matt Coley, a cotton and peanut farmer from Vienna; and director Steven Meeks, a cotton, peanut, tobacco, and timber producer from Screven, were both reappointed to another three year term on the GCC's board of directors.

Matt Coley and his father operate Coley Farms.  The Coleys also operate Coley Gin & Fertilizer, a cotton gin and peanut buying point that has been operating since 1945.  Matt has degrees from the University of Georgia’s College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences.  He spent time in Washington as a staffer for Senator Saxby Chambliss and was instrumental in developing the 2008 Farm Bill.  Matt holds leadership positions in many cotton organization, including serving as a member of the National Cotton Council’s Sustainability Task Force.  Coley has served on the Georgia Cotton Commission board since 2012 and as Vice Chairman since 2017.  He was a member of the Leadership Georgia class of 2016 and serves as a member of the National Peanut Buying Points Association board.  Matt and his wife have two daughters who attend Crisp Academy, where he serves on the school board.

When asked why it was important to him to be involved with the Georgia Cotton Commission, Coley said, “As a 4th-generation cotton producer, one of my top priorities is working to make sure that the next generation has the opportunity to continue producing cotton in the future.  The work of the Georgia Cotton Commission helps ensure this by utilizing the $1/bale investment from Georgia cotton producers for research, education and promotion.  It is a great honor to be able to help steer Commission funded projects that will not only help cotton growers today, but also benefit the next generation of Georgia cotton producers.”

Steven Meeks operates Nine Run Farms and serves as operations manager for FMR Burch Farms.  After graduating from the University of Georgia College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences, Meeks worked for Congressman then Senator Saxby Chambliss as well as the US Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry and was a key staff member during the drafting, passage, and implementation of two farm bills.  Meeks serves on numerous cotton industry boards and has served on the Georgia Cotton Commission board since 2012.  He serves as a trustee for Leadership Georgia, of which he was a member of the 2012 class, and on the UGA CAES Dean’s Advisory Council.  Meeks has served the people of Appling, Brantley, Pierce, and Wayne Counties as a State Representative since 2018.  In the General Assembly he is a member of the Agriculture & Consumer Affairs; Energy, Utilities & Telecommunications; and Intragovernmental Coordination Committees.  Meeks and his wife, the former Joy Burch, have one son, John William.

Meeks said of his reappointment, “I am honored to have been reappointed to the Georgia Cotton Commission Board of Directors.  Cotton is Georgia’s number one row crop and the work that Commission does in research, promotion, and education is instrumental to the continued sustainability, both financially and environmentally, of cotton production in Georgia and will keep this economically important crop in Georgia for generations to come.”

The Georgia Cotton Commission is a producer-funded organization located in Perry, Georgia. The Commission began in 1965. Georgia cotton producers pay an assessment enabling the Commission to invest in programs of research, promotion, and education on behalf of all cotton producers of Georgia. For more information about this and other topics please call 478-988-4235 or visit us on the web at

Source: Georgia Cotton Commission, 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.
CargoShip 3dmentat/ThinkstockPhotos

Weekly Grain Movement – Are soybeans bullish or bearish?

Were soybean export inspections “good” or “bad” this past week? That question typically has a subjective answer – especially in the latest round of grain export inspection data from USDA, out Monday morning.

“Export inspections were good for soybeans, depending on how the data is viewed,” according to Farm Futures senior grain market analyst Bryce Knorr. “Total shipments were above the rate forecast by USDA for the 2019 marketing year with near two-dozen countries booking supplies. But China accounted for only 5.1 million bushels of that business despite increasing purchases recently as the government waived tariffs for private buyers there.”


Total soybean export inspections were 36.1 million bushels for the week ending September 26. That’s slightly above the prior week’s tally of 34.0 million bushels and on the high end of trade estimates that ranged between 26 million and 40 million bushels. The weekly rate needed to match USDA forecasts also retreated slightly, to 34.1 million bushels. Year-to-date totals for 2019/20 also remain above last year’s pace, with 116 million bushels.

China led all destinations for soybean export inspections last week, with 5. 1million bushels. Other top destinations included Mexico (4.9 million), the Netherlands (4.6 million) and Indonesia (2.8 million).



Corn export inspections improved over last week’s dismal 9.3 million bushels but were still lackluster after reaching 15.7 million bushels. That was on the low end of trade estimates that ranged between 15 million and 23 million bushels, with the weekly rate needed to match USDA forecasts moving up to 39.4 million bushels. Year-to-date totals of 60 million bushels so far for the 2019/20 marketing year are also pretty tepid, versus 175 million this time last year.

“Corn shipments improved but were again disappointing, coming it at less than half the rate needed to reach USDA’s forecast for the 2019 marketing year,” Knorr says. “Brazilian corn continues to undercut the U.S., even among domestic users here. News that Southeast livestock operations are importing corn rather that ship it from the eastern Midwest is an indication of the competition the U.S. faces.”

Mexico accounted for more than half of all U.S. corn export inspections last week, with 9.1 million bushels. Japan chipped in another 5.5 million bushels, with other countries taking on the last 1.2 million bushels.



Wheat export inspections continued a mostly steady pace last week after reaching 17.1 million bushels. That was slightly behind the prior week’s tally of 18.0 million bushels but in the middle of trade estimates that ranged between 14 million and 22 million bushels. The weekly rate needed to match USDA forecasts moved slightly higher, to 18.7 million bushels, while cumulative totals for 2019/20 remain 23% above last year’s pace, with 312 million bushels.

“Wheat inspections slipped a little to 17.1 million bushels, a little below the rate forecast by USDA,” Knorr says. “Egypt was the only buyer booking more than one cargo as most customers continue to fill only short-term needs.”

Egypt’s 3.7 million bushels led all destinations for wheat export inspections last week. Other top destinations included Peru (2.3 million), Italy (2.1 million), Nigeria (1.9 million), Brazil (1.8 million) and Guatemala (1.8 million).



Animal Health Notebook
Good soil in the hand Alan Newport
Healthy soil results from management decisions that provide big disturbance and then plenty of recovery for the plants and soil life.

Dirt versus soil: A little explanation

Back in August of 2016 we were planning meals and food for our 499 Ranch college and conference. Everything centered around beef that came from our forage and soil and grazing program. But we needed some vegetable sides. We wanted local, nutrient-dense material that had been grown biodynamically. I wanted tomatoes, peppers and a few other ingredients. Research led me to Tennessee’s barefoot farmer, Jeff Poppin. "Barefoot" likes to barter, and we made a trade.

“Barefoot” grows six acres of a diverse mixture of greens, colors, tubers, roots, corn and more every year. He has a handful of cattle, and his partner has added a milk cow or two and several hens on pasture.

The other evening I drove several miles north to their CSA (community supported agriculture) to pick up a sack of sweet-potato slips. We ended up at a local brewery and tabled with a partner shop of 1940-model folks that I quickly learned are old lawyers with lots of experience in environmental law. They were interested in buffalo, soil building, nutrition and carbon.

“Barefoot” introduced me as some kind of expert and it wasn’t long before I had to start fielding questions and giving opinions. I explained the difficulties of buffalo management and the advantages of cattle. They voiced concerns over dietary fat and I went over the natural model truths. Most important, I explained the vital relationship between properly grazed cattle and soil and the community. The centerpiece for a healthy diet involves dirt versus soil, with cattle properly grazed and harvested. This is what we strive to accomplish.

The lawyers were interested in boom-and-bust pasture management resulting in soil building. They were impressed when I explained how we could catch and hold 80% of a five-inch rain even (140,000 gallons) and the runoff would be clear and drinkable.

I also mentioned the fact that raising the mowing height on yards, roadsides and other properties to four or more inches would reduce runoff by 25,000-50,000 gallons per acre in every rain event of significance. The more functional the animal-plant-soil-complex, the better water quality and availability become. Ditto for air quality. This is a portion of what dirt versus soil is all about.

One of the beauties of natural model programing is that 1+1 can routinely equal 3, 4, 5 or 6. Next year can be better almost every time. Soil is life from death. Dirt is mostly dead. The natural model requires death but can multiply it into an increase of more life.

Fall comes to Mid-South with hints of color

Thermometer readings may not support the reality that fall came to the Mid-South on Sept. 23. Standing in a cornfield before noon with temperatures already inching toward 90 degrees feels a lot like summer.

But, according to the calendar, fall has arrived.

And if one looks closely enough and ignores the unusually hot mid-September weather, the first blushes of color or the fading greens of summer indicate the transition. Driving the backroads of west Tennessee recently, I noticed early indications. Here are a few signs of fall.

DFP-RonSmith-Saori.jpg Ron Smith
Saori Duborg, BASF Board of Executive Directors, chats with Paul Rea, senior vice president of Agricultural Solutions – North America, during a break in the Global Media Event recently in Durham, N.C.

Needs of business, society and environment interconnect

BASF leadership advanced a new business model during a Global Media event recently that marks a departure from traditional bottom line economics to include the impact decisions have, not on profit alone but also on society and the environment.

“It’s a matter of balance, finding the sweet spot,” said Saori Duborg, member of the Board of Executive Directors at BASF SE.

Duborg, in her address to a diverse group of agricultural journalists gathered at the BASF offices in Durham, N.C., said going forward, BASF will consider the needs of customers (farmers), the environment and society by “using resources the smart way. We are looking at the value for society, the environment and for business.”

A key goal, she added, is for BASF as a company to be carbon dioxide neutral by 2030. “That creates value for society and protects the climate. BASF is committed to contributing to the Paris Climate Agreement,” she added.

Eradicating malaria is another target. The goal, one with widespread industry support, is zero malaria cases by 2040.

BASF President Vincent Gros said the company “is beginning a new chapter, changing the way we do business for the benefit of our customers.”

New digital management tools, Gros said, aid farmers in key decisions.

Digital Tools

“We have developed digital tools to help farmers understand the impact of their decisions on sustainability. Farmers can look at simulations to say, okay, if I do that, what's the impact on the sustainability of my farm?

“Sustainability is not something new for BASF,” Gros said in a follow-up interview. “It has always been very, very close to my heart. The problem is that we have a general definition of sustainability, but the way to measure it is an issue. We don't yet have a consensus.”

Darren Armstrong, a North Carolina farmer and a member of a grower panel, agreed that sustainability is difficult to define. The definition of sustainability may differ from one segment to another, he said. “I’m afraid we are losing the battle, so farmers need to define sustainability, and the industry needs to define it and we need to come together and define it in a scientific way.”

Paul Rea, senior vice president of Agricultural Solutions – North America, said a commitment to sustainability, collaboration and identifying talent play crucial roles in the BASF culture.

“We have a strong commitment to customers during a time of tightening farm economics,” he said. “We want to help them maximize their return on investments. BASF has a customer focus and a stronger footprint in agriculture.”


During a later interview, Rea said collaboration with John Deere Finance offers BASF the opportunity to aid producers in evaluating capital requirements and financing options.

“This collaboration is part of being that solution provider, having the ability to understand what is limiting productivity. And sometimes it can be making the right product choice at the right time, maybe when capital's tight. That's why we work with John Deere Finance, to help farmers make decisions when they're planning the crop and securing a product at the proper time to plan better.”

“We need to be a partner, not just a supplier,” added Rick Turner, senior vice president, Seeds and Traits.

Duborg said transparency will be a key for BASF. “We want a new way of accounting,” she said. “We want to consider the impact a decision has on society.”

She said salary is an important consideration, but so are the social values of the company and the environmental footprint.

The impact of robotics on society may not be all positive, she said. “Robots don’t go shopping. We need to show the value [of decisions] to the environment and to society. Minimizing the environmental impact is important to the way we think and the way we lead.”

New Talent

Rea said BASF is committed to finding and training new talent. “I think we have to be committed to growing it locally,” he said.

“I think we need to be there at those key moments of truth for students as they find their way through the schooling system and at intersection points where they can go left or right in terms of whether or not they pursue a career in agriculture.”

He said involvement in programs such as FFA and TeachAg offers opportunities to identify talented young men and women who could be future leaders in BASF.

“We want to start thinking broader [than just production agriculture] and consider engineers and data scientists and molecular breeders and marketers and accountants. There is a career for everyone in agriculture.”


Rea said agriculture faces significant problems, including low commodity prices. “The economic situation at the moment is a challenge and I think it's hard for farmers to be entering their sixth year of lower commodity prices, and with a trade dispute intensifying those challenges. “That’s the fundamental challenge the industry faces, and it's going to be harder and harder for growers to keep investing if returns remain low.”

Turner, also in a follow-up interview, said anticipating market needs is a crucial factor for an industry leader. “I've been fortunate to be in organizations that have been market leaders,” Turner said. “And the thing about a leader is you can’t stand and watch for others to tell you what to do. You have to anticipate and develop.”

That’s where the balance comes in, BASF leaders said. Leaders anticipate the impact actions will have on society, the environment and profitability. They also must anticipate the needs of farmers and consumers well into the future. And they have to be on the lookout for the next generation of scientists, managers and even communicators to move the company forward.

From the featured BASF leadership, to the grower panel and through afternoon breakout sessions (pollinators and butterflies, more efficient products and varieties and new traits), speakers delivered a message of transparency, honest dialog, and collaboration.

Duborg summed up the BASF commitment in her concluding remarks noting that a key mission is: “Finding the right balance for success for farmers, for agriculture and for future generations.”