What farmers are reading this week, March 13-20

As the COVID-19 situation continues to develop, the impact of the virus continues to affect agriculture.

On a national level and a local level, COVID-19 continues to impact the U.S. and the agricultural industry.

The Successful Farming staff broke down ways the virus could affect different areas of agriculture. Outside of that coverage, farmers read stories on Brazil’s crop, farm trends, and 2020 crop projections.

If you missed anything from the previous week, follow the link below.

Read more: What farmers are reading this week, March 6-13

Six possible impacts of COVID-19 on farming

The rapidly evolving situation with COVID-19 is raising questions throughout the U.S. As concerns continue to grow about the virus, it is not only wreaking havoc on the stock market, it is causing a significant downturn in the general economy.

But what about agriculture?

Mark Stephenson and John Shutske with the University of Wisconsin-Madison say there are six specific things farmers, farm families, ag employers, and employees need to be aware of and plan for.

Read more here.

Brazil's soybean crop is getting smaller due to drought

PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil -- Farmers in Brazil are watching a drought cut yield prospects, mainly in the southern states of the country.

Brazilian consultancy AgRural, which is based in Curitiba, has adjusted its soybean production forecast for the country to 124.3 million metric tons this week. That is over 1 million metric tons less than what was projected one week before.

The reduction is blamed on the drought in the state of Rio Grande do Sul. Some government institutions even project larger reductions for the state, but the AgRural estimate considers that bigger yields in other states would compensate significant losses.

Read more here.

10 trends to watch on farms right now

I had a sit-down discussion recently with Aaron Johnson, president and CEO of Farm Credit Illinois, based in Mahomet. He was joined by a 3,500-acre farmer from central Illinois who wanted to remain anonymous (I will call him Farmer T). Here are 10 bullet points from the discussion:

1. Balance sheets for most Illinois grain farmers are OK, but if you pull Market Facilitation Program (MFP) payments out, many would not be able to meet their cash flow needs in 2020.

Read more here.

5 steps to better soybean profits

These days, soybeans are the punch-drunk boxers of the crop world. Tariffs and a multitude of growing season maladies like waterhemp are taking their toll.

Still, soybeans have lots of perks in their corner. They aren’t called the miracle crop for nothing.

Read more here.

Ethanol prices hit all-time low, unconfirmed reports of plant shutdowns

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Corn demand by the U.S. ethanol oil industry could drop by 120 to 170 million bushels during the next two months if gasoline consumption – and the ethanol blended with it – continues to decrease as expected.

That’s according to Todd Hubbs of the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at the University of Illinois. In an analysis posted March 16 on the farmdocdaily website, Hubbs wrote that an estimated 15% to 20% reduction in gasoline consumption that is expected by many industry analysts in the next couple of months will lead to a decrease in demand for corn to make ethanol.

Read more here.

Local farmers need federal support, Pingree says

As the spread of the novel coronavirus shutters businesses, schools, and restaurants, farmers who sell locally and regionally need support from the federal government, said Representative Chellie Pingree in a letter sent Monday to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

As FERN reported on Monday, the pandemic has already begun to reduce attendance at some farmers markets, causing some farmers to worry about whether they can stay in business. Representative Pingree urged Pelosi to consider federal supports for those farmers as the government works to pass an emergency coronavirus bill.

Read more here.

95.0 million U.S. corn acres in 2020?

As attention shifts to the 2020 planting season, questions about U.S. acreage – and the potential for the more than 95 million acres of corn – will come into focus.

On the one hand, 95 million would be a substantial increase over the 90 million acres planted in recent years. On the other hand, 95 million is a significant step back from the 100 million acres pondered and rumored last summer.

Read more here.

As coronavirus spreads, farmers fear market closures and lost income

Communities across the country are attempting to delay the spread of the novel coronavirus by canceling large events, closing schools, and banning large gatherings. But farmers who sell directly to consumers, through farmers markets or other channels, are concerned about how their farms will survive if those outlets temporarily shutter.

While the spring and summer farmers market season is not yet in full swing, places that have year-round markets, or where markets are about to open, are deciding whether to shut them down in the wake of the rapid spread of COVID-19, as the disease caused by the novel coronavirus is called.

Read more here.

How the coronavirus could impact dairy producers

With the coronavirus influencing all sectors of the U.S. economy, its ripple effects will have an impact on a dairy industry already battered by years of depressed prices.

“The handwriting is there that we will probably see a downturn in commodity prices, including dairy,” says Mike Hutjens, professor emeritus of animal sciences at the University of Illinois. “We finally saw a few good months of prices that were on the rebound, and now they are likely headed back down.”

Read more here.

Preparing the farm for the novel coronavirus

The warnings are dire – the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) now poses a significant risk here in the United States. On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization officially characterized COVID-19 as a pandemic. What can a farm or agricultural business do to prepare? Here are five ideas.

1. Wash. Your. Hands. Obviously, make plenty of hand washing stations and/or containers of sanitizer available to your employees. This includes in barns, offices, trucks, sheds, etc. Hand washing is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of the virus.

Read more here.

Top Listen of the Week

Wet spring cover crop strategy

Let your cover crops grow a little longer in the spring – especially if it’s been raining a lot. This can help no-till farmers avoid a delay in planting corn and soybeans because of soggy field conditions. 

Heidi Reed is an extension educator at Penn State University.. She says over three-years, they tested five sites where they planted into green cereal rye cover crops and compared it to cereal rye that was terminated before planting They wanted to see how this affected soil moisture levels.

Read more and listen here.

Top Watch of the Week

Antique farm equipment museum tour – part 3

Dave Mowitz finishes the tour of the Eastern Washington Agricultural Museum in Pomeroy, Washington. In Part 3, we take a look at recreated grain tram, John Deere 45 Hillside combine, and a Russell steam engine.

Watch here.

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Tip of the Day

Agronomy Tip: Manage Compaction and Weed Pressure

A cornfield with cover crops. After a cold, wet year, compaction and weed pressure will be challenging to manage.

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