From The Editor
July 12, 2013
Hello Pro Farmer Members!
I had a great week of vacation last week and this week was awesome with Leading Edge Conference in Des Moines, Iowa, on Monday and Tuesday and with a trip to my hometown of Oxford Junction, Iowa, to participate in the Wyffel's field day. It gave me a chance to spend time on the road and get an update on crop development and conditions across the center part of the state.
I drove Highway 30 from Marshalltown, IA, to Lowden, Iowa, before heading north to Oxford Junction. Between Des Moines and Keystone, Iowa, a small percent of the corn is absolutely pathetic and a small percent of the corn is really good. Development of the corn along that path ranges from six-inches tall to just about ready to tassel. The corn that was planted during Iowa's "big" planting week is just over fence-post high and probably still about two weeks from tasseling. Add another few days before the silks flow, and we'll see a lot of pollination in the last few days of July.
From Keystone to Stanwood, Iowa, the condition of the crop upticks from what I saw west of Keystone. It's not great, but it's not as bad as it is in the center of the state. Development pace is more consistent and is probably about a week ahead of the crop (on average) further west. That's not to say this is "good corn." Inconsistencies in development and stands are clearly evident across fields and from field to field. "Fair" describes the bulk of the corn from Keystone to Stanwood.
From Stanwood to Oxford Junction, conditions consistently improved. When I pulled up to the outskirts of OJ along Highway 136, we saw our first field of tasseled corn. It was an awfully pretty picture. Talking with the farm operator there, however, he says it's not as good as it looks from the road. He offered me a climb to the top of his grain leg, but with temps at about 88 degrees and humidity already making me sweat, I passed. But, he's been to the top of the leg... and he says the field isn't "full" of holes, but there are way more out there than he'd like to have.
As I drove home up I-380 between Cedar Rapids and Waterloo, the variability clearly returned to the corn crop and continued to deteriorate the farther north I traveled.
Around home (I live north of Waterloo a few miles), conditions are good... not great, but good. And on my drive home, there are six fields that still haven't been planted.
West of Cedar Falls on Highway 20, the corn is not good. There is zero consistency and some of that corn finally reached knee-high by the 12th of July. (See... it still rhymes, but that doesn't mean it's a "good thing.") It's that way all the way over to I-35 in the middle of the state.
I also had some reports in from Minnesota and northern Iowa west of I-35 this week. I give some of the highlights of those conversations on the front page of this week's Pro Farmer... check them out there.
What a great meeting!
First... a special thanks to Pro Farmer co-founders Merrill Oster and Jerry Carlson for helping us celebrate Pro Farmer's 40th Anniversary at our Leading Edge Conference. It was great getting caught up. We also had past-Pro-Farmer staffers Elizabeth Curry-Williams, Bob Coffman, Larry Grahm and Ron Michaelsen with us to jog some memories. It was really cool to see them talking and story-telling with the current Pro Farmer staff.
And thanks to all that attended the Leading Edge that helped make it a great success. We're already making plans for next year.
Vince Malanga, President of LaSalle Economics, Inc., New York, helped set the stage for many discussions at the conference. His bottom line: The Fed still has a lot of work to do; the economy is still struggling to get its footings; sequestration budget cuts will continue to be a drag on the economy at an increasing rate in the years ahead; and interest rates are likely to remain low for the foreseeable future.
Jim Wiesemeyer delivered the goods on his Washington Outlook on day 1 of the conference and put the concept of a split farm bill into the spotlight for the first time for many attendees. Brian Grete did a great job delivering the outlook for the markets, including a warning to "watch out for demand" with new-crop prices at current levels (nice call after today's announced corn sale to China).
Day 2 was dedicated to breakouts with Davis Michaelsen and Mike Walsten from the office doing a great job of informing attendees about input price trends and the land market. I spent four hours (yes... 4!!) doing marketing education for those looking to tune-up their marketing skills.
That's it for now...
... except for this. I talked only about corn crop conditions in my "route report" above. I can't talk about soybeans... the crop is just too scary to talk about at this point. It's still early, but the condition of the pathetic bean crop I've seen in Iowa so far this year will become a bigger market factor in the weeks (maybe days) ahead.
Follow me on Twitter at @ChipFlory
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