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WPX talks PED; crop progress, land values and more

  • There are hundreds of things to see, do, and talk about at the World Pork Expo this week in Des Moines, Iowa. But one subject eventually surfaces in virtually every conversation: Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus, or PED. The nasty nature of this new disease has everyone talking, and that's one of this week's big stories in ag.

  • A year ago, no one could foresee just how quickly PED would spread to infect half of all the sows in the U.S., resulting in 7,000,000 dead piglets. The good news is it appears to be slowing down.

  • Hog numbers are down 4% but weights are up 3% in 2014. If these trends continue, sharply higher hog prices likely won't be part of the summer, according to Chris Hurt. The hog sector should still stay in the black moving forward if herd expansion doesn't surge ahead too far ahead of the demand side.

  • Though it's been far from the gutting of land values in the 1980s, land values have tapered off and are sliding lower in much of farm country. Despite the differences, memories of the farm crisis are fresh in many farmers' minds, and that's spawned a lot of questions.

  • "Pro Ag projects we have an above-average corn and soybean crop coming in fields," Ray Grabanski writes. "Pro Ag projects corn to drop $1 or more from recent highs (already we've dropped 60c), and soybeans to drop $2 or more by harvest."

  • Though not yet mainstream, things like wearable computers, unmanned vehicles, and new sensor equipment will all soon be part of your arsenal of tools and equipment to use in your effort to most efficiently raise the best crops you can.

  • Old crop or cover residue can make a huge difference in soil microbial activity. Use a simple $10 thermometer to take temperature observations and measure earthworm activity during scouting trips this summer, Chuck Markley suggests. 

  • The 2014 corn crop is out of the blocks in great shape, according to Monday's USDA-NASS Crop Progress report. The report shows 95% of corn is planted, with 76% is in good or excellent condition. Soybean planting is now 8% ahead of the normal pace at 78%. 

This week's big stories in ag

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