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Keep Your Eyes Peeled For These Early-season Pests, Diseases

It's still really early in the growing season, but the weed, insect and disease pressures are already popping up in young and emerging corn and soybean fields around the Midwest, agronomists report.

They're all fairly familiar pests whose treatments will likely be just as familiar. But, chances are you'll still need to do some good old-fashioned crop scouting to get a sense for whether or not you'll have your hands full taking care of them both in the short and longer-term.

Heading toward mid-May, here are the pests and disease for which you'll need to be on the lookout.

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Grains Chop Around in Mixed Monday A.M. Trading

There are conflicting factors underpinning choppy, mixed grain prices as Monday's session gets underway, with corn and wheat futures dipping into the red while soybean futures have moved slightly into positive territory.

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Syngenta Spurns Monsanto Merger Bid -- Company Officials

Monsanto officials confirmed late last week they'd made a bid to buy fellow agribusiness giant Syngenta, whose company officials said Friday they'd "unanimously determined to reject" the merger. The move was decried by critics for the consolidated company's existing dominance over a massive portion of the seed and chemical business, but it was lauded by supporters as a way to "deliver significant value" to both shareholders and farmer customers. 

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Will Fertilizer, Natural Gas Costs Follow Crude Oil Lower?

Crude oil prices have been steadily climbing since about mid-March, now toiling around the $60-per-barrel mark, one that some analysts say is a critical price point that could signal more upside momentum to come. Though a lot of analysts in the energy sector say it's not time to batten down the hatches in preparation for another runup to $80 or $100 a barrel yet, it's a sign that a low is in, at least for the remainder of spring and summer.

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Grain Markets Sink Toward Midday

Wheat futures are still hanging on to slight gains after a sharply higher day Wednesday, while corn and soybeans are moving lower as midday approaches Thursday: Outside factors and expected improvements in planting weather are ganging up on the grains in a session that has started out on a sour note for the bulls.

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Price Uncertainty Underscores Cattle Business Risk Through This Year

Year-over-year prices for finished steers remain high, but it looks like in general, cattle futures have peaked for the season, and that's likely to trim gains heading into summer. The cattle business has responded to supply-driven price movement and begun to trim the overall herd size. Although that's fundamentally bullish, the industry looks to face a lot of uncertainty -- and resulting price risk -- in the next few months, says one economist.

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