July 3, 2015

Do rain delays affect corn crop yield?

What is different about this corn planting year? The weather- more specifically the moisture received, perhaps. Sure, we’ve had plenty of rain in years past that has delayed planting. But this year, the markets have shown the threat that rain delays have on planting conditions and ability to even get a crop in the ground.

Rainfall in the planting season (typically between April and May) around areas of the state caused planting delays of the state's largest row crop. For some farmers, tillage operations, herbicide applications, and nitrogen fertilizer applications must be completed first before they can consider planting their crops.

Does a delayed start to planting affect the corn crop and even yield? If you look at USDA-NASS crop progress reports for the past 20 years (USDA-NASS, 2015b), there is not a strong relationship between planting date and absolute yield on a statewide basis. Yet, many farmers were simply not even able to “mud in” the crop this year because of conditions.

And the markets reflected this. On Tuesday after the most recent USDA-NASS crop progress report was posted, corn prices (along with soybean prices) were up sharply, their biggest rally in five years, from concerns of diminished harvests.

Nebraska corn planting acreage estimates were unchanged from March, 9.3 million acres, matching last year, but soybean acres were down 4 percent from last year to 5.1 million acres, and down from a 5.2 million estimate in March.

Nationwide, growers planted an estimated 88.9 million acres to corn, fewer than estimated in March and the lowest corn acreage in the United States in the last half a decade. July corn futures were up 30.75 cents a bushel to $4.14, 8 percent.

Historically speaking, corn that has gotten in late does not take much time to take off and produce a great crop. The next question is, will Nebraska farmers need to irrigate this summer? We’ll see what El Nino has planned!

June 30, 2015

Irrigation Activities Underway

Photo Courtesy of Fullerton FFA Chapter
For the week ending June 28, 2015, rainfall of one inch or more was recorded in portions of north central Nebraska as well as southeastern areas, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Temperatures averaged near normal. Storms brought hail to parts of the Panhandle. Irrigation activities were underway with pipe being laid in southern counties and pivots running in others. Late planting of low lying areas was near completion. Overall, it was a productive week of spraying, hilling, and hay harvest.

There were 5.7 days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 3 percent very short, 10 short, 75 adequate, and 12 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 4 percent very short, 12 short, 74 adequate, and 10 surplus. Corn condition rated 1 percent very poor, 5 poor, 58 good, and 12 excellent. Corn silking was at 1 percent, equal to last year, and near the five-year average of 4.

Data for this news release were provided at the county level by USDA Farm Service Agency and Nebraska Extension.

Photo Courtesy of David City FFA Chapter
Access the National publication for Crop Progress and Condition tables HERE.

Access the U.S. Drought Monitor HERE.

Access the High Plains Region Climate Center for Temperature and Precipitation Maps HERE.

June 29, 2015

A Wide, Wonderful World of Agriculture!

By Glen Ready, National Corn Growers Association Intern.

Hello! My name is Glen Ready, and thanks to the incredible staff at Nebraska Corn Board, I have the opportunity to serve the Washington, D.C. public policy office of the National Corn Growers Association. As a policy and membership intern in the office, I get to work in various capacities for each of the Directors of Public Policy. Being here has truly opened my eyes to the amount of work that goes beyond the annual ritual of planting, tending, and harvesting our crops. This work is important, even vital, to our precious industry, and is often overlooked. My time here has shown me that the agriculture industry is vast, and each facet of the industry plays a key role. Before going in to this, let me share my background!

I grew up on a small no-till family farm just outside of the town of Scribner, NE. Growing up, my siblings and I all played various roles on the farm, as many “farm kids” do. I know that growing up in small town Nebraska “agriculture policy” was the last thing I was concerned about as I helped fill the planter for the thousandth time or prepped the sprayer to head out on the field. I currently attend the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, and am an Agricultural Economics major with an emphasis in Public Policy and will be a senior in the fall. If you are like many of my fellow students, you had a confused face when you read “public policy”. This is not an unnatural reaction, nor, after three years, unexpected. The realm of agricultural policy is often overlooked by some of us in production agriculture.

The Nebraska Corn Board, National Corn Growers Association, and countless other organizations that I’ve had the opportunity to network with here in the district all work very hard to make sure we as producers (and across the entire supply chain) can do our jobs. Being here has given me the opportunity to see this work in progress. I’ve gotten to attend hearings on the Hill, sit in on important meetings about various issues, and seen active discussions as to which “next step” this organization can take in the best interest of the producer back in small-town Nebraska. This industry that our state cherishes is one that wouldn’t exist as we know it without the work that these organizations have done and continue to do.

Growing up, I was presented so many opportunities and experiences thanks to community members that cared about the future of agriculture. This industry continues to give me the experience and opportunities to grow in a number of ways. I probably won’t be going back to production agriculture, but I can use my strengths and experiences to help those that have helped me in so many more ways than what people may see on a daily basis. I’ve had a wonderful time here, and am looking forward to learning even more from these hard-working people. I’m excited to graduate and begin a career as an advocate for our industry, and am thankful for this opportunity that the Corn Board has given to me.

June 26, 2015

Immigration issues important to Nebraska agriculture

Nationally, immigration laws and discussions have been at the forefront of policy talks. And immigration issues are important to agriculture, especially where many farms and ranches are dependent on immigrant workers to help bring in the harvest and help with livestock and milk production. One of many important discussions has been about immigrants having the ability obtain a driver’s license.

In Nebraska last month, the Nebraska Legislature approved LB 623 on a 34 to 9 vote which provides immigrants with deferred action for childhood arrival (DACA) status the opportunity to obtain Nebraska driver’s licenses. The bill was a priority bill to several Nebraska agriculture policy organizations as their policy supports comprehensive immigration reform to ensure a thriving employee base for crop, livestock and milk producers. (The Nebraska Corn Board cannot support or oppose any state legislation, however they can support or oppose federal legislation).

Other states that have state laws on immigrants obtaining a driver’s license include California, Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Washington, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.

In other immigration news this week, more than 3,000 farm workers seeking temporary immigrant visas are stranded outside the U.S. by a government computer glitch that halted security checks more than a week ago.

Producers in California, the biggest farm state, are losing $500,000 to $1 million a day as harvests slow for crops from berries and melons to cherries, said Tom Nassif, chief executive officer of the Western Growers Association based in Irvine, California.

The backlog of applications from farmworkers has climbed steadily since June 9, when the U.S. stopped granting H-2A guest-worker program visas.

June 25, 2015

Nebraska Corn Growers, Partners to Attend Rally for Rural America

EPA Renewable Fuels Standard Hearing also Scheduled

Nebraska corn farmers, state leaders and ethanol supporters from across the state and nation will be attending the upcoming Rally for Rural America in Kansas City on Thursday, June 25th to show continued support for corn ethanol and its value to Nebraska’s overall economy.

In addition to the rally, there are 260 individuals scheduled to testify before the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) relaying their concerns about EPA’s proposed renewable volume obligation (RVO) figures that will slash the use of biofuels, as it is currently proposed.  Both the rally and hearing are scheduled for June 25th with the hearing at the Jack Reardon Center in Kansas City, Kansas, and the rally held nearby. 

“The rally and hearing provides corn growers, ethanol producers, state and national leaders and allied industries an opportunity to express their support of biofuels and their displeasure with EPA’s proposal,” stated Kim Clark, Nebraska Corn Board’s Director of Biofuels. “With EPA finally releasing their proposed 2014, 2015 and 2016 RVO’s, the hearing and rally will provide one opportunity for their voices to be heard.”

Those interested in attending the rally and hearing can call the Nebraska Corn Board office or go to www.ncga.com/rfshearing to find more information about times and bus departure points for both the Rally for Rural America and EPA hearing.

“Even if you can’t attend the rally and hearing, we are encouraging everyone to submit comments to the EPA for the RVO through the Nebraska Corn Board website by clicking on the Don’t Mess with RFS icon,” added Clark.  The deadline to submit comments to the EPA is July 27th

Great Start to my Year-Long Internship!

By Megan Hamling, Nebraska Corn Board Intern.

My name is Megan Hamling, and this summer I have been given the opportunity to serve as the Communications and Market Development Intern for the Nebraska Corn Board. This fall, I will begin my sophomore year at the University of Nebraska Lincoln where I am majoring in Agricultural Business and minoring in Agricultural Leadership and Communications. I grew up just outside of Garland, Nebraska and attended Seward High School. My passion for agriculture sparked during my high school years with all the time and effort I spent with my high school FFA chapter. This is where I came to realize the need for young leaders in agriculture, and I eventually decided I wanted to make the agricultural industry a career in the future.

Throughout the past month, I have been able to experience more than I ever thought I would. During my first week of training, I attended the Grand Island Children’s Groundwater Festival with Morgan, the previous intern, and we led a Corn/Aqua Bingo game with fourth graders who traveled from all across the state. Just a couple weeks ago, I was able to attend the Nebraska Agriculture Business Club Tour where we visited a Farmer-Veteran Coalition farm, Ficke Cattle Co. and the Raising Nebraska exhibit at the state fair grounds. These tours were such eye-openers for me, and showed me just how diverse Nebraska agriculture is. I have also been attending the weekly E-85 Kum & Go American Ethanol promotions in Omaha.  I was even able to take a road trip to Ankeny, Iowa with Sam, the Nebraska Corn Growers intern, to help out with one of their ethanol promotions. I love being able to communicate with consumers about the benefits of using ethanol, and the agriculture industry they are supporting when they fill up with it. Finally, I have been able to shadow Emily, our Communications Director, on several of her meetings out of the office; one being a Nebraska CommonGround meeting in Columbus.

This internship has already taught me so much. I never understood how much work goes on behind the scenes of a corn check-off program. I have come to appreciate those who work in the agriculture industry to a greater extent than before. One of my favorite parts about this internship so far has been the chance to get out of the office at least once a week and talk with consumers and leaders in the industry at different events, especially at the ethanol promotions, where I am able to communicate with consumers about the benefits of filling up with ethanol.

Overall, I have had a rewarding first month here at the Nebraska Corn Board Lincoln office. It seems like yesterday that I was here for intern training, and now here I am five weeks later. The time has flown by, and I know it will only continue to do so over the course of the next year. Through this internship, I have greatly expanded my understanding of the Nebraska corn industry and agriculture field itself, met great agriculture leaders from across the state, grown as an individual, and have had so much fun along the way. I am looking forward to making even more great connections throughout the upcoming year. Until next time!

June 23, 2015

Corn Condition Rates 11% Excellent

Courtesy of Imperial FFA Chapter
For the week ending June 21, 2015, rainfall of one inch or more occurred in many areas with temperatures averaging near normal, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Storms damaged crops in portions of the west with some replanting necessary. Hay harvest continued to be a challenge. Wet meadows in north central counties were saturated, many with standing water. Fields too wet to plant were still being reported in portions of the southeast.
Courtesy of David City FFA Chapter
There were 4.3 days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 3 percent very short, 7 short, 74 adequate, and 16 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 3 percent very short, 12 short, 72 adequate, and 13 surplus. Corn condition rated 1 percent very poor, 5 poor, 25 fair, 58 good, and 11 excellent.
Courtesy of Heartland FFA Chapter
Data for this news release were provided at the county level by USDA Farm Service Agency and UNL Extension Service.

June 19, 2015

Creighton Celebrates One-Year Anniversary of Flex Fuel Pumps

A grand opening celebration marking the one-year anniversary of the new flex fuel pumps at Creighton Express fueling station in Creighton, Nebraska is scheduled for Tuesday, June 23.

This flex fuel pump anniversary celebration will be held from 11:00am – 7:00pm with American Ethanol fuel discounts. Flex Fuel vehicle owners can save $0.85 per gallon on E85—a blend of 85% American Ethanol and 15% gasoline, and $0.30 per gallon on E30—a blend of 30% American Ethanol and 70% gasoline.  There will also be a free lunch of hot dogs, chips and a small fountain drink from 11:00am – 1:00pm.

“In addition to the savings at the pump and the complimentary lunch, we will have American Ethanol giveaways as well as American Ethanol gift card drawings,” said Kim Clark, Director of Biofuels Development with the Nebraska Corn Board.  “If you are unsure if you drive a flex fuel vehicle, come visit us during the grand opening.”

Creighton Express is one of more than 85 locations in Nebraska with flex fuel pumps that offer American Ethanol-blended fuels for flex fuel vehicles. These flex fuel pumps were paid for in part by a grant provided by the Nebraska Corn Board and Husker Ag, LLC. Over the last two years, Nebraska Corn Board, in cooperation with the Nebraska Ethanol Board and Husker Ag, LLC, has helped the state more than double the number of locations that offer American Ethanol-blended fuels, such as E10, E15, E30 and E85. Husker Ag, LLC has provided grant dollars and ethanol for several retail locations in northeast Nebraska including Creighton Express.

“While gas prices tend to increase during the busy summer months, flex fuel vehicle owners can enjoy greater savings at the pump when they use American Ethanol-blended fuels,” said Seth Harder, General Manager at Husker Ag, LLC.

Currently, one in seven Nebraska motorists drives a flex fuel vehicle, which can run on any blend of American Ethanol and gasoline, up to E85. To confirm your vehicle is flex fuel, look for a yellow gas cap, flex fuel emblem or check your owner’s manual.  

When drivers fill up on American Ethanol-blended fuels, they’re improving air quality and reducing the causes of asthma, heart disease and brain and lung cancer not only for themselves but also their children and grandchildren. E85 is approved as a Clean Air Choice® and when flex fuel drivers fill up with E85 and other American Ethanol-blended fuels rather than gasoline; they are significantly reducing carbon dioxide emissions that enter our air, according to the American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest.

“When flex fuel drivers fill up with American Ethanol blended fuels, they are not only improving our air and helping the environment, but they are also strengthening Nebraska’s economy, creating jobs, and making our country more energy independent—and that’s something any driver can take pride in,” added Clark.

To find a list of retailers that offer E85 and other mid-level ethanol blends, visit the Nebraska Corn Board website at www.NebraskaCorn.org or the Nebraska Ethanol Board website at www.ethanol.nebraska.gov.

June 18, 2015

Nebraska Corn Farmers Recognize the Importance of the Dairy Industry during Dairy Month

June is diary month, and thanks to Nebraska’s hardworking dairy farmers and families, Nebraskans can celebrate with a tall glass of milk. With a growing number of more than 55,000 dairy cows in the state, Nebraska’s dairy industry produced 139 million gallons of milk last year and was able to provide Nebraska families with a number of nutritious dairy products, including milk, cheese, yogurt and much more.

“On behalf of 23,000 Nebraska corn farmers, we are proud to celebrate Dairy Month and the value added opportunities Nebraska’s dairy industry offers us”, said Debbie Borg, a farmer from Allen, Nebraska and Director on the Nebraska Corn Board. “The dairy industry is a major consumer of corn not only in Nebraska, but also in states such as California.” 

“One single dairy cow has an estimated economic impact of $5,000 per year on Nebraska communities,” Borg added. “When you look at the sector’s total impact, it’s considerably higher because so many dollars circulate several times through the local economy. Everything from a strong tax base, to feed, veterinary care, equipment, trucking, milk processing and more, a strong dairy sector is good for the state.”

Here in Nebraska, there are 195 dairy farms that are producing milk for consumers located in the state, across the U.S., and around the world. On average, a dairy cow can produce 7 gallons of milk a day, which ends up being 2,508 gallons in a typical year.

“There are a lot of things that attribute to this large output of milk, such as Nebraska’s resources of feed, land, water, labor, and most of all, Nebraska’s quality of life,” said Borg. “When looking at feed, Nebraska’s corn industry provides the dairy industry with an abundant and sustainable supply of high quality feed.”

Boone McAfee, Director of Market Development and Research with the Nebraska Corn Board, noted that there is a tremendous synergy between the dairy industry and corn industry, especially when it comes to the corn-ethanol co-product, distillers grains.

“Dairy cattle consume a lot of feed on a daily basis, and corn and distillers grains along with many locally-produced feedstuffs are an important part of their ration,” McAfee said. “Distillers grains are a beneficial high-protein feed ingredient in a dairy cow’s diet and on average they will consume five or more pounds of dried distillers grains a day.”

McAfee also noted that one benefit of distillers grains is that it provides dairy cows the necessary fiber. This fiber helps the cows have a better digestive system, which in turn helps keep the animal healthy.

June 16, 2015

Corn Condition Rates 58% Good

Courtesy of Imperial FFA Chapter

For the week ending June 14, 2015, above normal temperatures and limited rainfall early in the week boosted crop development, but cloudy skies and rainfall of one inch or more later in the week was common in eastern areas, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Temperatures averaged one to two degrees above normal. Three or more inches of precipitation occurred in portions of the southeast causing further planting delays while western producers made good progress.

Alfalfa harvest continued to be challenging in eastern areas, with few days between rain events. There were 3.2 days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 3 percent very short, 7 short, 70 adequate, and 20 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 4 percent very short, 12 shorts, 68 adequate, and 16 surplus.
Courtesy of Shickley FFA Chapter

Corn condition rated 1 percent very poor, 5 poor, 27 fair, 58 good, and 9 excellent. Corn emerged was at 97 percent, near 99 for both last year and the five-year average.

Data for this news release were provided at the county level by USDA Farm Service Agency and UNL Extension Service.