May 27, 2015

Wet Conditions Hampered Spring Planting

Courtesy of Heartland FFA Chapter
For the week ending May 24, 2015, cloudy, wet conditions hampered spring planting activities with an inch or more of rainfall common in the western half of the State, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Temperatures were again cool, and averaged six to eight degrees below normal. The wet conditions have been favorable for disease development in southeastern wheat fields, with some producers applying fungicide. Sunshine and warmer conditions were needed to dry soils and boost corn and soybean development. Alfalfa harvest has been slow due to the wet conditions. Pastures continued to improve.

Courtesy of Shickley FFA Chapter
There were 2.7 days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 5 percent very short, 9 short, 69 adequate, and 17 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 6 percent very short, 17 short, 66 adequate, and 11 surplus.

Corn condition rated 1 percent very poor, 6 poor, 32 fair, 54 good, and 7 excellent. Planted was at 92 percent, near 96 for both last year and the five-year average. Emerged was at 73 percent, near 70 last year, but ahead of 67 average.

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

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

May 26, 2015

Use American Ethanol-Blended Fuel to Lessen the Burden of Gasoline Costs this Summer

It’s that time of year again. Summer is quickly approaching and gasoline prices are once again climbing. Although gas prices are lower starting off this summer’s driving season compared to last year’s, gas prices have been on the rise. Thankfully, there is a solution to help lessen the burden on drivers’ pocket books, and that solution is American Ethanol.

The rise of gas prices in the busy summer months can have a big impact on consumers’ summer plans. The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) projection for the April-through-September summer driving season year is on average $2.45/gallon. However, AAA, has the current national average at $2.73, which is the highest price for gasoline since December. American Ethanol-blended fuel lowers gas prices and saves the average American household over $1,000 on their gas bill annually.

“As Nebraskans gear up for their summer travel and recreational plans, the choice to use American Ethanol at the pump is the easy one,” said Kim Clark, Director of Biofuels Development at the Nebraska Corn Board. “American Ethanol-blended fuels provide a wealth of benefits for consumers. It is cost-effective, American-made, renewable, and better for our environment and consumer health.”

Compared with oil, American Ethanol-blended fuel burns cleaner and improves air quality. When drivers use American Ethanol, they’re improving air quality and reducing the causes of asthma, heart disease, and lung cancer not only for themselves but also their children and grandchildren. American Ethanol lowers the level of toxic, cancer-causing emissions in vehicle exhaust—reducing air pollution, improving human health, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

American Ethanol also gives Nebraskans a choice when they go to fill up with gas. Those choices aren’t limited to the lower price of their gas bill, but also the chance to choose a domestic, clean-burning fuel that fuels our state’s economy as well. Drivers with a flex fuel vehicle (FFV) have the choice to use any American Ethanol fuel blend up to 85 percent ethanol (E85)—a blend of 85 percent American Ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. The EPA has also approved that non-flex fuel vehicle owners with automobiles manufactured in model year 2001 and newer, can use E15. Additionally, small engine owners can successfully use American Ethanol-blended fuels up to 10 percent (E10) for their marine watercraft and small engines, such as lawn mowers.

“Consumers and professional drivers alike can appreciate the power and performance that American Ethanol-blended fuels offer while also recognizing the money saving benefits the fuel provides,” said Jon Holzfaster, a farmer from Paxton, Nebraska, Director on the Nebraska Corn Board and chairman of National Corn Growers Association’s NASCAR Advisory Committee. “NASCAR has proven the power and durability of American Ethanol and as consumers you can witness the health and cost savings.”

May 22, 2015

El Nino weather impacting Nebraska crops and the world


In agriculture, we all know that Mother Nature is one of the key factors in determining a successful or unfortunate year. Thankfully in Nebraska this spring, we have received ample moisture, thanks to El Nino.

Recently, the National Climate Prediction Center has raised the probability of an El Niño in the Northern Hemisphere lasting through this summer to 90 percent, and added that there is an even greater than 80 percent probability it will last through all of 2015.

While this “rainy” season is among us here in the bread basket of the world, the El Nino is not positive for some around the world.

The probability is raising the chance of heavy rain in the southern United States as well as South America, but it is adding scorching heat in Asia that could devastate crops of thirsty food staples like rice.

A new paper recently published in journal Nature Communications confirms the link between the natural climate fluctuation known as the El Niño Southern Oscillation and food harvests of wheat, rice, corn and soybeans that provide nearly 60 per cent of all calories consumed by humans on the planet.

El Niño years were found to have a tendency for negative impacts on crop yields in 22 to 24 percent of growing regions, especially in Asia. At the same time, El Niño tended to have a positive impact on crop yields in 30 to 36 per cent of harvested regions, especially North America. The study estimates the global average negative impact of an El Niño on total crop harvests is between a 0.8 and 4 percent decrease for wheat, rice, corn and soybeans.

These numbers may not seem large to some, but five years of El Niño in the 1950s led to massive famine in China. In the late 1950s, food supplies dropped by 30 percent and immense starvation prevailed in China. It has been 18 years since the world was hit with a strong El Niño, so very few countries are equipped for its considerable impact. However, we have more available technology and information than we did 65 years ago. With China and virtually all of Asia now confirmed global traders, there should be plenty of wheat, rice, corn and soybeans in storage to initially prevent any type of famine. But we could see the price of food increase.

Recently, Reuters reported that a strong El Nino last appeared in 2009-2010 and resulted in significant spikes in sugar, cocoa and wheat prices. If a strong El Niño does develop the likely U.S. impacts include wetter conditions across the southern U.S., from California through Texas to Florida, which could bring relief to the drought-stricken areas.

May 20, 2015

Kum & Go to Offer E85 Fuel for $0.85/Gallon


Flex-Fuel Vehicle Owners Can Save on American Ethanol-Blended Fuel for Six Consecutive Thursdays in the Omaha Metro Area


Drivers of flex-fuel vehicles in Nebraska and Iowa will be able to fill up with E85 for just 85 cents per gallon during six upcoming promotions at Kum & Go locations in the Omaha metro area.

The promotions will take place as follows:


Currently, one in seven drivers in the Omaha metro has a flex-fuel vehicle, which can run on any blend of American Ethanol and gasoline, from E10 to E85. However, many drivers do not realize they own a flex-fuel vehicle, let alone the additional fuel options they have at the pump. To confirm your vehicle is flex-fuel, look for a yellow fuel cap, a flex-fuel emblem, or check your owner’s manual.

“Consumers like to have a choice when they are making a purchasing decision at the pump,” said Jim Pirolli, Vice President of Fuels at Kum & Go convenience stores. “Kum & Go will soon begin to offer E15 at locations in Omaha and already offers E85 at seven locations across the metro area.  The E85 promotions are a great way to bring awareness to the variety of fuel blends we offer and provide an opportunity to promote the many environmental and economic benefits of ethanol-blended fuels.”

According to the American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest, when flex-fuel drivers fill up with E85 – a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline, and other American Ethanol-blended fuels, they’re improving air quality and reducing causes of asthma, heart disease 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 rather than 100 percent gasoline, they are significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions that enter our air.

“The health and environmental benefits of American Ethanol is so great we want all consumers to use American Ethanol,” said Ryan Welsh, Director of Sales & Marketing of American Ethanol.  “Even if a consumer doesn’t drive a flex-fuel vehicle, they still have the option to use American Ethanol fuel such E15 and reap the benefits.”

All standard vehicles can operate on E10, a blend of 10 percent American Ethanol and 90 percent unleaded gasoline. E15 with 15 percent American Ethanol has been approved for use in all standard vehicles model year 2001 and newer. E15 is gaining a foothold at retailers across the U.S. and is available at a growing number of locations. Kum & Go recently announced that E15 will soon be offered at several Midwest retail stations, including Nebraska and Iowa.

The E85 promotion is sponsored by Green Plains, Iowa Corn Promotion Board, Nebraska Corn Board, and Nebraska Ethanol Board in cooperation with Kum & Go. For additional information about these promotions and American Ethanol, visit


May 19, 2015

Corn Planted at 85%

For the week ending May 17, 2015, precipitation during the last half of the week limited fieldwork, according to the USDA's National Agriculture Statistics Service. Rainfall of one inch or more was common, except for portions of northeast and southwest Nebraska, which received lesser amounts. Lowland flooding was again reported in southeastern counties where fieldwork was at a standstill. Temperatures were cool, averaging two to four degrees below normal. There were 2.4 days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 6 percent very short, 10 short, 67 adequate, and 17 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 7 percent very short, 18 short, 65 adequate, and 10 surplus.

Corn planted was at 85 percent, near 89 last year and 87 for the five-year average. Emerged was at 54 percent, ahead of 39 last year and 40 average.

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

May 18, 2015

Positive Cattle on Feed and Beef Exports worth celebrating

May is a time for celebration. This time of year finds many of us attending graduations, weddings and BBQs – where great-tasting Nebraska corn-fed beef may be featured. May is also Beef Month and there is a lot of exciting beef news important to us right now.

Photo credit:

Big Beef

Recently, the Cattle on Feed Report came out showing that the number of cattle on feed in Nebraska was up 2 percent from last year. Nebraska feedlots with capacities of 1,000 or more head, contained 2.53 million cattle on feed on April 1, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Placements during March totaled 440,000 head, up 7 percent from 2014. This is the largest number of placements for March since the data series began in 1994. Fed cattle marketings for the month of March totaled 395,000 head, unchanged from last year. Other disappearance during March totaled 15,000 head, unchanged from last year.

On a national level, cattle and calves on feed for slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 10.8 million head on April 1, 2015. The inventory was slightly above April 1, 2014. The inventory included 7.46 million steers and steer calves, up 5 percent from the previous year. This group accounted for 69 percent of the total inventory. Heifers and heifer calves accounted for 3.34 million head, down 10 percent from 2014.

All of these positive increases in cattle number are positive signs of a strong beef and ag economy in Nebraska and in the U.S.

Export Momentum

But we also know that domestic consumption of beef is not what is growing, but exports of our high-quality beef is showing positive momentum. According to the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), an important cooperator of the Nebraska Corn Board, exports of U.S. beef (and pork) gained momentum in March after starting the year slowly.

March beef exports totaled 86,774 mt, down 7 percent from a year ago but a 5 percent increase over February. Export value was $527.3 million, up 2 percent year-over-year but down slightly from February. The March results reflect some degree of relief from the West Coast port congestion that plagued red meat exports in January and February Beef exports add well beyond $300 to the value of each head of cattle annually, but without the USMEF and their excellent staff all over the world working on behalf of farmers and ranchers to build demand for U.S. beef, this figured wouldn’t be nearly so positive.

Let’s continue to celebrate beef this month, and continue on through the summer. Summer is the perfect time to BBQ, so now is as good a time as ever to enjoy some Nebraska corn-fed beef. For recipes, visit the Nebraska Beef Council’s Kitchen or

May 15, 2015

A final look at my time as Nebraska Corn Board Intern


Approximately one year ago I attended the 2014 Nebraska Groundwater Festival to present about the value of water to the corn industry with Lauren Ibach, Nebraska Corn Board’s (NCB) 2013-2014 intern. Lauren was a great mentor and did a good job of preparing me that week to take over her role as the new NCB in-house Communications and Outreach intern.
Since then, my NCB intern experience has been fantastic. I have met people all over the state, helped lead a trip of young professionals to Washington D.C., became proficient in effectively communicating through social media, and learned about how the Nebraska Corn Board is working on behalf of Nebraska’s 23,000 corn farmers. But most of all, I have grown as a person and as a professional.
This brings me to this week; my final week at the Nebraska Corn Board. The 2015 Groundwater Festival was held on Tuesday, May 12th and once again I had the opportunity to attend this event. However, this time, I was accompanied by Megan Hamling, the newest NCB Communications and Outreach intern --officially starting today (Friday, May 15th). We had a wonderful time playing Corn/Aqua Bingo with 4th grade students and even learned a little bit ourselves! I’m excited to see how much Megan learns and accomplishes during the next year! The circle of interns will continue to revolve as I leave the NCB internship in Megan’s hand and begin my newest adventure as a Mycogen sales intern for Dow Agrosciences. I know that I will continue to work hard and be pushed out of my comfort zone so that I can gain one more step towards finding a future career in the agricultural industry.
Additionally, I would like to thank all of the Nebraska Corn Board members and staff, along with the state’s 23,000 corn farmers for supporting this internship program. Your money, time, and effort is more than worth it, as you are creating much-needed future leaders of the agricultural industry.

May 14, 2015

Nebraska Corn Applauds Nebraska Congressional Leaders for Support of E15 Legislation

The Nebraska Corn Growers Association and Nebraska Corn Board would like to thank Senator Deb Fischer for co-sponsoring and Representative Adrian Smith for introducing a bill to expand the volatility waiver for blends of American Ethanol up to 15 percent (E15), ultimately increasing consumers' access to higher blends of American Ethanol year-round.

"We appreciate Senator Fischer and Representative Smith for their continued efforts to support America’s ethanol industry,” said Larry Mussack, farmer from Decatur, Nebraska and president of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association. “Their joint effort on the E15 bill not only supports the market for ethanol producers but also expands consumer choice at the pump.”

“From reducing our dependence on foreign oil, to expanding our use of renewable fuels, to improving the air we breathe, there are many benefits to expanding the volatility waiver for E15,” said Tim Scheer, farmer from St. Paul, Nebraska and chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board. “Passing this legislation will ensure that consumers have access to energy that is clean, renewable, and American-grown.”

Reid Vapor Pressure measures the evaporation rate of gasoline. Under current regulations, summertime volatility restrictions are in place from June 1 through September 15, but E10 receives a volatility waiver. This legislation would extend the same waiver to E15 blends. Similar legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives in April.

May 13, 2015

Heavy Rain Pauses Planting

For the week ending May 10, 2015, rain fell statewide with an inch common in central counties and two or more inches of moisture recorded in many eastern and western areas, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Rainfall of six to ten inches was received in portions of the Southeast, resulting in lowland flooding and soil erosion. Replanting was expected. Up to two feet of snow fell in portions of the northern Panhandle over the weekend, stressing livestock.

Planting progress slowed due to the wet soil conditions, but were still ahead of average for most crops. There were 2.8 days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 6 percent very short, 17 short, 64 adequate, and 13 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 8 percent very short, 23 short, 63 adequate, and 6 surplus. Corn planted was at 76 percent, near 72 last year, but ahead of the five-year average of 67. Corn emerged was 30 percent, ahead of 16 last year and 18 average.

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

May 12, 2015

Chipotle’s Bold Move to GMO Free…But Will it Last?


clip_image002Two weeks ago, Chipotle took its propaganda filled marketing campaign to a troubling new level when it announced that its entire menu will be GMO-free—meaning nothing served at its fast-food restaurant chains will contain ingredients derived from genetically modified plants or animals. According to their website, the company is “G-M-Over It” and has decided that serving GMO’s in their restaurants does not align with their vision of “food with integrity.”

Even though Chipotle’s GMO stance opposes the best scientific knowledge in the world, the company has taken a bold stance that GMO’s are unsafe and have long-term implications that consumers should be concerned about. But what scientific evidence supports these claims? According to a 2014 report by the World Resources Institute, GMO-derived foods have been widely consumed for years and “there is no evidence that GM crops have actually harmed human health.”

The bottom line…this GMO-free campaign has satisfied some of Chipotle’s most loyal and health-conscious guacamole fans, however, it has missed a huge opportunity to ethically educate American’s about where their food comes from.

So was Chipotle’s declaration to be “G-M-Over It” a good choice? Will this marketing hype last? Will consumers actually fall for their unethical propaganda? In a recent article on NPR, writer Dan Charles entertains “why we can’t take chipotle’s GMO announcement all that seriously” with five rational points that every consumer should be aware of. We highlighted a few below…

1. Soda

At the bottom of the page that announces Chipotle’s new policy, you’ll find the following statement: "Many of the beverages sold in our restaurants contain genetically modified ingredients, including those containing corn syrup, which is almost always made from GMO corn."

Looks like the fast-food giant is making quite the exception to its GMO-free policy when it comes to sugary drinks.

2. The "superweed" double standard


As an example of the ways that GMOs can damage the environment, Chipotle points to the problems caused by herbicide-tolerant GMO crops and how they encourage farmers to use a single herbicide, usually glyphosate, or Roundup. This, in turn, has led to the emergence of herbicide-resistant weeds, which Chipotle calls "superweeds." Chipotle's answer to this, per its new non-GMO policy, is to switch from soybean oil to sunflower oil.

The problem is, many sunflower varieties, while not genetically modified, also are herbicide-tolerant. They were bred to tolerate a class of herbicides called ALS inhibitors. And since farmers starting relying on those herbicides, many weeds have evolved resistance to them. In fact, many more weeds have become resistant to ALS inhibitors than to glyphosate.

Why should Chipotle bemoan the emergence of weeds that are resistant to glyphosate, yet not to other weedkillers?

3. Meat

Chipotle says it wasn't too difficult or expensive to remove GMO ingredients from its burritos. It simply had to find new suppliers for corn flour and cooking oil.

It would be much harder, and presumably more expensive, to use only meat from pigs or chickens that consumed a non-GMO diet. That's because the amount of corn or soybeans required to feed Chipotle's animals is vastly larger than what's needed for its tortillas or cooking oil. Finding a new supply of animal feed would raise costs, so Chipotle isn't doing it.

To view the full NPR article, click here.