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May 2012 Archive for From the Editor

RSS By: Brian Grete, Pro Farmer

Pro Farmer Editor Brian Grete takes time to talk with Pro Farmer Members about some of the key issues in each week's Pro Farmer newsletter.

Weird disease in some Iowa corn

May 25, 2012

Chip Flory

From The Editor

May 25, 2012

Hello Pro Farmer Members!

There are some things we just really hesitate to talk about in the newsletter... and we just "mentioned" one of them in this week's issue to make sure you were all aware of the problem. And we wanted you to know we're hearing about some of the "weird" diseases infecting the 2012 corn crop. The weirdest I've seen is "rootless corn syndrome."

Here's a link to a video shot by Nathan Wells, a Certified Crop Specialist for Agriland FS working in the Washington, Iowa, area that shows what the disease looks like. Nathan says he's finding it "to some degree" in most fields planted the last week of April. Which isn't good... Iowa corn planting progress jumped from 9% as of April 22 to 50% as of April 29.

What I'm still not sure about is how widespread and severe this "rootless" disease is. It's not like the "old days" when "outbreaks" like this would take a couple of weeks to work their way into most crop-watchers' vision. Now an isolated occurrence of a disease can appear to be widespread and/or severe when it's really not. That's due, in part, to the social networking that's connecting farmers in a matter of moments rather than "a couple of weeks."

We're working to confirm just how widespread disease problems are on this young corn crop. Please chime in with your own reports here, but be sure to include: Planting date; identify the disease; where you are located.

Unfortunately, I don't think "rootless" is confined to Nathan's area around Washington, Iowa. I've heard very similar reports out of Story Co., Iowa, in the central part of the state and I've heard a report from north-central Iowa of plant loss of 5% to 25% in various parts of fields the farmer is cultivating.

If we find out how widespread this problem is, we'll be sure to update on profarmer.com. But please head out and do some scouting. Even if you don't find any problems, be sure to report back "All clear, (planting date), (location)."

That's it for now...

... Thank you to all the Veterans out there that have protected the freedoms we enjoy in this country and for fighting for the lives we live. God bless you all!

To join Pro Farmer, click here!

Thanks for 15 years!

May 18, 2012

Chip Flory

From The Editor

May 18, 2012

Hello Pro Farmer Members!

Today's issue of Pro Farmer marks my 15th anniversary as the editor of your newsletter. Brian Grete reminded me of that this morning as he was writing this week's issue. I was busy working on the May issue of our Crop Tour newsletter as Julianne Johnston took over for Brian on the analysis pages of Pro Farmer and Meghan Pedersen covered the daily service duties. And Jim Wiesemeyer pitched in on this week's Pro Farmer, too, with a D.C.-based interview on the farm bill.

In 15 years of writing Pro Farmer, we've sent more than 750 issues of Pro Farmer to the printer and there's no way one editor could do it without the team described above. And LandOwner editor Mike Walsten and our technical analyst Jim Wyckoff can't go without mention in everything they've contributed over the years my name has carried the "Editor" title. In fact, Mike, Jim Wyckoff and Jim Wiesemeyer have been a part of my job (life) for nearly 25 years... dating back to my time spent in Chicago as a reporter on the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade. And I'd be crazy to not mention Shelley Eilderts who has helped to edit the newsletter in each of the 15 years I've been the Editor.

I might be a touch biased, but you've got a very dedicated group of editors at Pro Farmer that do a great job of filtering nonsense from what you really need to know. It's an honor working with them and there's no question the job they do every day gives me the opportunity to do the job I really love to do. Thanks to everybody mentioned and some I didn't mention (you know who you are) for making it possible to produce a newsletter that I'm proud to put my name on.

And thank you to all the Pro Farmer Members, too. I do not take your support of Pro Farmer for granted. Every time you renew your subscription (or sign up for the first time) I know you're putting your faith in me and the rest of the editorial team to provide you with the information you need to make smart decisions. That's a responsibility I take very seriously and one I hope to have for many years to come.

That's it for now...

... have a great weekend.

Time to change the marketing year?

May 11, 2012

Chip Flory

From The Editor

May 11, 2012

Hello Pro Farmer Members!

When all is said and done, July corn lost 39 cents this week; December corn lost 19 1/2 cents; July soybeans dropped 59 3/4; November beans lost 32 1/4; and July Chicago wheat futures were down 15 cents.That, my friends, is a tough week for the grain markets.

The corn-wheat price relationship this week is interesting. In a week that USDA once again cut estimated old-crop corn feed & residual use due (in part) to an expected increase in wheat feedings, wheat lost 24 cents of pricing incentive to encourage feeders to use more wheat and less corn.

The 50-million-bu. increase in corn carryover really didn't surprise us. USDA's World Ag Outlook Board is following last year's game plan very closely. Carryover was held steady February-April (at 675 last year; 801 this year) in an attempt to keep old-crop corn prices high enough, long enough to slow down use. It worked last year (with the help of some early-harvested corn) and it will probably work again this year (with the help of some early-harvested corn). As we explain on page 4 of this week's Pro Farmer, corn carryover really doesn't reflect "just" old-crop supplies any longer. It's more a reflection of September 1 stocks. I realize old-crop carryover is the old-crop carryover, but there is a difference.

Last year, we might have ended the year with about 700 million bu. of 2010-crop corn. And this year, we might have only about 800 million bu. of 2011-crop corn left on Sept. 1. But, the addition of new-crop supplies will inflate September 1 corn stocks... and WAOB will have to reflect that as carryover. Of course, that won't happen until the October Supply & Demand Report... after the September Quarterly Grain Stocks Report is released.

We think there's a "simple" way to clear up the supply-side confusion in the corn market. "Just" make the marketing year start on August 1 and end on July 31. That would give us a clearer picture of old-crop stocks and would start the marketing year ahead of the early-harvested corn in August that seems to find a way to work into the Sept. 1 stocks tally. It would take some adjustment... no doubt about that. And the first 30 days of the new marketing year could become a wild ride in the cash market. That's especially true if we get another year like 2009 when harvest didn't get started until mid-October (or later) on most of the corn acres out there. But... and August-July marketing year would draw a sharp line between old- and new-crop supplies instead of the gray line that blurs the line between old- and new-crop right now.

We're not saying this would be easy. Heck, we're not even sure those are the right dates. But we are sure the current marketing-year calendar now creates more confusion than clarity.

And a shift in the marketing year has happened before. Up until May 1986, the marketing year for corn started October 1 and ended September 30. In addition to some warnings that it was tough to get accurate information out of Russia because of a nuclear accident at Chernobyl, the Coarse Grain commentary in the May 1986 S&D Report included, "U.S. corn and sorghum estimates and forecasts for all years have been adjusted to a new September 1 - August 31 marketing year. The new beginning stocks estimates were significantly increased for corn."

Presumably, the reason for the "significant increase" in corn beginning stocks is because September 1 stocks reflected only 11 months of use after the start of the marketing year was moved up a month.

The point is, they've done this before to make the calendar better fit what's happening in the field. As we explain on page 4 of this week's Pro Farmer, it's probably time to make that adjustment again.

That's it for now...

Happy Mother's Day to my bride Sue who is the B-E-A-utiful mom to Emily and Thomas! And happy Mother's Day to an exceptionally patient Marlene Flory. And to Rosie Schnieder who after 25-plus years of having me around will still pour me a cup of coffee when we visit.

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there!

... have a great weekend.

Get ready for 22-hour trade!

May 04, 2012

Chip Flory

From The Editor

May 3, 2012

Hello Pro Farmer Members!

What a week! But, 1:15 on Friday has come and gone so we can take a deep breath and wrap things up for the week. It's a good feeling. Unfortunately, it's a feeling we'll only get to enjoy two more times. That's because starting May 20 grain trade will start at 5:00 p.m. CT on Sunday afternoon and will continue with just minor interruptions until 4:00 p.m. on Fridays. Make sure you read News page 4 of Pro Farmer this week. It gives you some of the potential impacts of how the expanded trade will be handled. To make it clear, grain trade will start at 5:00 p.m. on Sundays only. That session will continue until 4:00 p.m. on Monday, then the market will close for two hours and restart at 6:00 p.m. Monday thru Thursday evenings.

If USDA sticks with the current report release schedule, that means critical reports (like Quarterly Grain Stocks, Monthly Supply & Demand Reports, Monthly Crop Production Reports, Weekly Export Sales Reports and daily export sales announcements) will be released while the markets are open.

We're kicking around some ideas about how to handle these reports and sent a survey to some users of Pro Farmer's daily service (Pro Farmer Today) about how they'd like to see us handle coverage of these reports. One idea: We are considering providing “live streaming” of major USDA Reports at www.profarmer.com. We would begin “broadcasting” at about 7:25 a.m. CT ahead of USDA’s 7:30 a.m. CT releases of major reports. In the broadcast, we would announce details and add our perspective as the report details are “flashed” on newswires. If you’d like, you’d be able to continue to watch while Pro Farmer editors dig deeper into the details of these reports for added perspective.

What do you think? Would you watch live analysis of USDA reports? Leave us a comment below and we'll include your responses in our survey. Thanks!

That's it for now...

... have a great weekend.
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