Home 5 Ag Stories 5 Ag Stories You Need to Read Today, May 6

5 Ag Stories You Need to Read Today, May 6

23% of Iowa’s corn crop is in the ground

DES MOINES, Iowa – In a week with just 0.9 days suitable for fieldwork, Iowa farmers have now planted 23% of this year’s corn crop.

The figure is roughly half of the 5-year average of 50%, but well above last year’s amount planted at this time: just 7%. In northwest Iowa, planting has progressed the most, with 45% of the corn crop planted, while progress lags the most in northeast Iowa with only 3% of the crop in the ground.

“Planting was slowed by the wet weather that affected much of the state for several days last week,” said Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey, “but 23% of the corn crop has now been planted. Farmers will look to make significant progress on corn and some will likely start planting beans if we do get several days with warm dry weather as forecast.”

Nationally, 29% of the 2014 U.S. corn crop has been planted, compared to last week’s figure of 19% and last year’s figure at 11%.

Lingering winter weather had little impact on success of first 2014 Des Moines farmers’ market

DES MOINES, Iowa – Wet, windy weather in Des Moines Friday gave way to sunshine and crowds of about 40,000 people on Saturday at the first Downtown Des Moines farmers’ market of the year.

Producers said getting their products ready by the 3rd of May wasn’t exactly easy; persistent winter weather extended into the spring. At Maxwell Farms in State Center in Story County, it was a pronounced problem. Farmer Greg Maxwell said his ground temperature hit 58 degrees early, so he started planting asparagus, lettuce, and peas. Then, the soil temperature went back down.

“This year all we have early is the asparagus,” said Maxwell. “The lettuce and all that, it popped out of the ground real quick but it just isn’t growing.”

However, Maxwell pointed out that the first market of the year was by no means a failure. “So far I think we’ve sold about 500 pounds of asparagus,” said Maxwell around 10 a.m., “that’s quite a bit. We brought about 700 pounds down, so we’ll see by the end of the day how it is.”

Cold weather continuing into the spring also threatened the bee population at Soder Apiaries in St. Charles, south of Des Moines.

“Well winter, I think, was bad for everybody, lots of cold, terrible cold, spring has been rainy and cold,” said apiarist Jennifer Soder, “but our bees did really well through the winter, which was a surprise, so we’re happy about that. We’re on the road again for another market year.”

Soder said beekeepers she’s spoken to have had population losses as high at 75%. Soder said Soder Apiaries only lost 12% of its bees.

Lawmakers Ask EPA to Withdraw Proposed Waters of the U.S. Rule

WASHINGTON(NAFB) – More than 200 members of the U.S. House of Representatives sent a letter last week to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy and Department of the Army Secretary John McHugh asking them to withdraw the proposed “waters of the U.S.” rule.

The lawmakers say the new rule, which seeks to clarify which bodies of water EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers can regulate, would be particularly damaging to the ag industry.

Under the proposed plan, Representative Doc Hastings of Washington says there would be no body of water in America that wouldn’t be at risk from job-destroying federal regulation. Hastings says the expansion of federal control will impact the livelihoods and viability of farmers and small businesses in rural America.

PEDv cases on the rise

ADEL, Iowa (NAFB) – It’s been a year since PEDv was first identified in the U.S., and as of April 26, 2014, the National Animal Health Laboratory Network has reported 204 out of 779 PEDv tests conducted at nine veterinary diagnostic labs came back positive

The latest tests bring the confirmed PEDv count in the U.S. to 6,226 since May, 2013. 29 states have at least one confirmed PEDv case, but the American Association of Swine Veterinarians says there have been cases diagnosed in Virginia, which would bring the state count to 30.

President of Adel-based Paragon Economics, Steve Meyer, estimates as many as 7-million pigs have died from PEDv, but no firm numbers have been confirmed. This is why retail pork and hog prices have reached new record highs, and could potentially increase more. Meyer says USDA’s move to require reporting of PEDv cases is a positive one he wishes they would have taken last summer when it became obvious the disease was rapidly spreading.

Growth in corn supported by increasing grower returns

WASHINGTON (USDA ERS) – Positive grower returns have supported the expansion of U.S. corn area since the late 2000s.

Returns to corn production—the value above total economic costs that include opportunity costs of land, labor, and other owned resources—have been positive since 2007. Returns reached a high of $224 per planted acre in 2011 before declining to $48 in 2013.

With economic profit available from corn production, planted corn acres increased nearly 25 percent nationally from about 78 million in 2006 to a record of more than 97 million in 2012. In 2013, however, lower corn price expectations pushed down planted area, and lower corn prices, along with higher land costs, reduced returns to corn production.

From 1997 to 2006, economic returns to corn production had been negative, averaging $74 per planted acre. During this time, planted corn acreage was relatively stable between about 75 and 80 million acres.