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Evening Report (VIP) -- April 21, 2014

15:23PM Apr 21, 2014

Condition of winter wheat declines slightly... USDA reports as of Sunday that 34% of the winter wheat crop was rated "good" to "excellent," which is unchanged from last week though there was a one-percentage-point shift from the "good" to the "excellent" category. Crop rated "fair" is at 33% (34% last week) and crop rated "poor" to "very poor" is at 33%, up one percentage point from last week. Traders looked for slightly more deterioration after last week's freeze event, but it takes time to determine the extent of such an event.

Winter Wheat
very poor
This week
Last week


USDA reports 9% of the crop was headed, which compares to 5% last week and 17% on average. Kansas is at 2% (8% average pace), with Oklahoma at 10% (38% average pace) and Texas at 34% (41% average pace).


Corn planting 6% complete... USDA reports as of Sunday that 6% of the nation's corn crop was planted, up just three percentage points from last week. This compares to expectations for planting to reach 9% complete and the five-year average pace of 14%. Leading the way in the Midwest is Missouri at 26% planted (29% average pace). This is followed by a sharp drop in the pace to 5% in Illinois (22% average pace). Indiana has just 1% planted (14% average pace), with Iowa at 2% (11% average pace). This slower-than-expected start is not a major concern as there's still plenty of time to get this year's crop planted. But it could attract some short-covering to prices in overnight trade.


Spring wheat planting 10% complete... USDA reports 10% of the spring wheat crop was seeded as of Sunday, which is a four-percentage-point gain from last week and compares to 19% on average. North Dakota has just 1% planted (10% average pace), with no crop planted in Minnesota (27% average pace).


Cotton planting slow going... USDA reports cotton planting progress gained just one percentage point from last week to 9%, which compares to 12% on average. Leading the way is California with 90% planted, which is well ahead of the five-year average pace of 45% complete. Texas has 12% planted, which compares to the average pace of 15%.


6- to 10-day forecast: Cooler across heartland... The National Weather Service forecast for April 27 to May 1 calls for below-normal temps across the Plains and Corn Belt, with mix of precip. The Upper Midwest is expected to see drier-than-normal conditions, while above-normal precip is expected across much of the Plains, western and eastern Corn Belt. If realized, timely rain across the Central and Southern Plains would help to at least stabilize the wheat crop, while cooler temps across the Corn Belt would keep planting at a less-than-stellar pace. Click here for related maps.

Study finds corn stover worse for the environment than gasoline over short-term... Biofuels made from corn stover (stalks, leaf and cob residue) have higher greenhouse gas emissions over the short-term than conventional gasoline, according to federally funded study published in the Nature Climate Change. According to the study, biofuels produced with corn stover release 7% more greenhouse gases than gasoline over the first few years. The study also found that the process of converting corn stover to fuel contributes to greenhouse gas emissions -- regardless how how much corn residue is removed from fields.

From a long-term perspective, corn stover biofuels surpass gasoline in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, but not by enough to meet standards set forth in 2007 for qualifying as a renewable fuel. The standard from the Environmental Protection Agency would require that cellulose biofuels release 60% less carbon pollution than gasoline. EPA's analysis had showed biofuels produced from corn stover would meet this standard.

The results of the study drew harsh criticism from the biofuel administration as well as the Obama administration, which has labeled cellulosic biofuel as a cleaner alternative to oil. They labeled the research as simplistic in terms of soil carbon loss calculations; they also said the study overestimated the amount of corn residue farmers would actually remove.

According to the Renewable Fuels Association, stover removal rates are currently around 10% to 25%, while the study assumes a removal rate of 60% to 70%, which RFA says is unsustainable. For this and other reasons, RFA says the study "shows a complete lack of understanding of current farming practices" and it is "contradictory to current science."


Wisconsin warns against intentional PEDV infection... Biosecurity is the best way to prevent the spread of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) advises Paul McGraw, DVM, Wisconsin State Veterinarian. This advice comes after the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) received information that some swine producers are considering transporting virus-laden material from premises with diseased pigs in an effort to build the immunity of their own herds against the disease. This may violate Wisconsin law. McGraw says the idea is a bad one because it could put other pigs throughout the state at risk, and knowingly infecting your own animals with a disease may also result in liability and possible prosecution.


New column: Headline Risk... Pro Farmer Editorial Director Chip Flory launched a new weekly column today titled "Headline Risk." The goal of the column is to identify the markets most vulnerable to headline-making news, and, of course, to identify the news that might influence price action in the corn, soybean, wheat, cattle and hog markets. Look for the new column each Monday. Click here.