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What farmers are reading this week, February 21-28

USDA projections and other national news draws interest from the ag industry.

Recent news brought an update on USDA projections, weed management, and grain bin safety.

Successful Farming magazine also talked with an Iowa cattleman and farmers who tested out UTVs. News coverage also extended to different regions of the country with updates on the Texas planting season and North Carolina nuisance suits.

And if you missed any news from the previous week, follow last week's recap below.

Read more: What farmers are reading this week, February 14-21

The largest corn crop ever is coming, USDA says

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. farmers will harvest their largest corn crop ever this year, fueled by the largest plantings in seven years, growing so much corn that carry-over stocks will be the biggest since 1988, projected the USDA on Friday.

The soybean crop would be the fourth largest on record, with exports recovering to pre trade war levels due to “increasing global import demand, particularly for China.”

Read more here.

grain bins behind a soybean field
iStock: scalatore1959

Why grain bin safety is extra important in 2020

For Gary Woodruff, grain bin safety is personal. When he was in college, his dad’s best friend was killed in a grain accident. Two more people Woodruff knew personally have died in similar tragedies over his career.

“They’ve all been great, intelligent farmers. Good, wonderful people, but they didn’t listen to what they’ve been told,” he says.

Read more here.

What farmers can learn from the hog nuisance suits in North Carolina

What can farmers learn from the nuisance suits against Smithfield Foods? Andy Curliss, CEO of the North Carolina Pork Council, spoke to two Iowa pork groups recently about the lawsuits in his state and what farmers should know and watch out for. He gives several tips.

Read more here.

Farmers should consider owning two years of production, analyst says

It’s late February, the time when crops are being harvested in northern Brazil and getting ready to be harvested in southern Brazil. Argentina’s harvest follows quickly after. 

So-called experts are forecasting another record SAM crop. But if you look at rainfall patterns in Brazil the past 60 days, the odds of a record crop are quickly diminishing.

Read more here.

The U.S. corn-planting season has kicked off in Texas

While snow blankets the eastern Corn Belt, farmers in the South have their corn planters out.

“We have close-to-ideal conditions for corn planting,” a central Texas farmer told Wednesday.

Read more here.

Q & A: Bill Couser, Iowa cattleman

In 1977, Bill Couser started farming with his father in central Iowa. Their crop and livestock operation has grown “tenfold, at least” from the 320 acres Couser grew up on. 

Read more here.

A John Deere planter.

Trump intrudes on spring planting for second year in a row

Besides weighing potential market prices against the cost of fuel, fertilizer, and seeds, farmers have a new factor for their planting decisions: Will it assure them of a trade war payment? President Trump’s suggestion that if his trade deals with China and other nations are slow to bear, “aid will be paid by the federal government,” could encourage farmers to plant more land this spring than would otherwise be justified.

Payments were tied to crop and livestock production in the two previous versions of the Market Facilitation Program so growers could assume they would be this time, too. USDA provided no details following Trump’s announcement on Twitter on Friday. A day earlier, the USDA projected ag exports to China this fiscal year would be one third of the target set for food, agricultural, and seafood products in the Phase One agreement that took effect 10 days ago.

Read more here.

It's a new era in weed management

These days, soybeans sizzle with great genetics, chemistry, and traits galore. 

Somehow, though, maladies like weeds always keep one step ahead of the curve. Remember Pursuit? This Group 2 herbicide was the darling of the weed-management dance in the early 1990s, as it obliterated numerous weeds. When weeds started resisting it, the Roundup Ready system that featured glyphosate-tolerant soybeans stepped up. Seemingly bulletproof in its early years, weeds like glyphosate-resistant marestail and waterhemp began ravaging glyphosate-tolerant soybeans.

Read more here.

Farmer tested, farmer approved UTVs

If you’re in the market for a new side-by-side, we have good news: Our team of farmer evaluators tested three machines that all stand up to the daily demands of farming. They had about six months to put the UTVs to work on their operations, and, at the end, each machine received a perfect or near-perfect rating.

Successful Farming magazine has a long legacy of testing ATVs and UTVs. Our team has completed three extensive evaluations: in 2007, 2013, and 2017. At each evaluation, we had a crew of riders evaluating multiple machines, taking each through a series of tests. In 2018, we decided to expand our coverage and bring our testing to the farm, using the Successful Farming Product Test Team. Beyond UTVs, these farm evaluators also test a variety of shop advances and tools less commonly found on farms.

Read more here.

Shortstop corn

“See this?” asks Calvin Treat as he compares two corn plants that initially seem identical – with two exceptions.

One is a conventional hybrid, most of which range in height from 9 to 11 feet. The other is what Bayer Crop Science scientists term a short-stature hybrid that’s 6 to 8 feet tall.

Read more here.

To meet goals, China will be 'ramping up' U.S. ag purchases, says Perdue

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said he believes China will meet the goals of the Phase One trade agreement, although the USDA’s new estimate of sales — $14 billion this fiscal year — is only one third of the target. “We believe those numbers will be surpassed,” Perdue said Thursday at the USDA’s annual Ag Outlook Forum.

Phase One obliges China to buy $40 billion worth of U.S. food, agricultural, and seafood products this year and in 2021.

Read more here.

Oats find a fit

Back in 2018,Wayne Koehler’s golden-hue oats just north of his house were rapidly nearing harvest.  

“It was along the highway, so they were very visible,” says the Charles City, Iowa, farmer. “I had some people stop and ask if I wanted to sell my oats to them. I’ve never had anyone stop and ask about buying corn and soybeans. It was clear that there was a demand that was not being met.”

Read more here.

Top Listen of the Week

Restoring Farm Wildlife Habitat

Years ago, farmland around the country was teaming with wildlife including birds, butterflies, and mammals because diversified crops and production practices allowed for healthy habitats. Today, the wildlife is disappearing due to factors such as intensive farming practices and homogenization. However, coupling habitat conservation with efforts to improve water and soil health shows promise in restoring farmland wildlife.

Adam Janke is an Extension wildlife specialist at Iowa State University. He says there is a lot of potential in native plants and natural features.

Read more and listen here.

Top Watch of the Week

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Tip of the Day

Waterproof firewood storage bin

Ken Miller's firewood rack I removed the plastic tank portion of the tote from its cage and cut out the top and bottom. Next, I unbolted the steel cage from its base... read more

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