FORECAST TURNS WETTER, BUT NOT A DROUGHT BREAKER... Meteorologist Gail Martell of MartellCropProjections.com says satellite images show intense thunderstorms in Nebraska for the second day in a row and near-term temps suggest a weakening of the heat dome. But she says the question is whether or not the heat dome will regain its strength after this system slips through.
"Pockets of heavy rain have developed in Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri, Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio over the past week. This is a significant change from very severe drought earlier, when a massive heat dome was in control," says Martell, although adding the forecast is not wet enough to improve parched field conditions significantly.
Martell says the five-day rainfall forecast is not too impressive, as it signals 0.10 to 0.50 inch of rain for the Midwest. But she says the Upper Midwest could fare better, receiving one inch of rain, but locally more.
MIDWEST DROUGHT INTENSIFIES... According to the National Drought Monitor, above-normal temps last week led to an expansion of "extreme" drought conditions, which now cover 31.8% of the U.S. Corn Belt, compared to 29% last week. It notes preliminary data suggests temps were 5-10 degrees above normal for July. In the High Plains (Dakotas, Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska and Kansas) the monitor notes "extreme" drought now covers 48.26% of the area, compared to 44.51% last week. Click here for related maps.
LARGE CORN SALE TO MEXICO SIGNALS 'PANIC BUYING'... This morning USDA announced Mexico has purchased 1,516,380 metric tons (MT) of corn. Of the total, 982,980 MT is for delivery during the 2012-13 marketing year and 533,400 MT is for delivery during the 2013-14 marketing year. The sale did not initially support the market, but gained more attention as the day progressed as it signals some "panic buying" has begun by end-users -- especially considering the country purchased 2013-crop corn!
HOW TO MANAGE DROUGHT-STRESSED CORN AS LIVESTOCK FEED... With so many concerns about how to manage drought-stressed corn as a livestock feed, especially with silage already being cut, University of Illinois beef specialist Travis Meteer has compiled a list of questions and answers. Of top concern is nitrate poisoning. Click here to learn more.
FARM PRODUCTION EXPENDITURES REACH RECORD HIGH... Farm production expenditures reached a record-high $318.7 billion in 2011, a 10.2% increase over 2010, according to a summary released today by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). Average production expenditures per farm were $146,653 in 2011, an increase of 11.3%. The largest expenditure category was feed, on which farmers spent an average of $25,129 in 2011, followed by farm services ($17,075); livestock, poultry and related expenses ($13,163) and farm labor ($12,334). Together, these four categories accounted for nearly half of all production expenditures on U.S. farms in 2011.
As in prior years, fuel costs accounted for a significant portion of farm production expenditures, with farm operations spending more than $15.3 billion on it in 2011. Diesel fuel made up nearly two-third of all fuel expenditures, with farmers spending more than $10 billion on this fuel type in 2011 -- a 23.7% increase from 2010. Producers spent $2.8 billion on gasoline, $1.6 billion on liquefied petroleum gas and $820 million on other fuel in 2011, reports NASS.