October 30, 2013

Harvest Continues...Slow and Steady

Nebraska's Gold!
For the week ending on October 27, 2013 the state welcomed drier weather. Farmers were busy in the fields harvesting corn and soybeans. Even with this drier weather, crops are still struggling to dry down because of the cooler than average weather we are experiencing. The combination of moisture and cool temperatures is continuing to drag out the harvest season.

Topsoil moisture levels rated 35 percent short/very short, 64 percent adequate, and 1 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated 55 percent short/very short, 45 percent adequate and 0 percent surplus.

All corn conditions rated 7 percent very poor, 6 percent poor, 19 percent fair, 48 percent good, and 20 percent excellent. For irrigated corn, conditions rated 81 percent good or excellent. Dryland corn rated 49 percent good or excellent.

Corn mature was 97 percent which is behind last year’s 100 percent but near the national average of 95 percent. Corn harvested was 55 percent, well behind 93 percent last year and equal to the average nationwide.

To view all crop progress photos please visit Flickr or Pinterest!

Sunsets on the farm during harvest season are incredible.

October 21, 2013

Agribusiness Virtual Roundtable–Jerry Warner


*The Business Leaders "Virtual Roundtable" discussion was gathered for the Spring 2013 CornsTalk publication. The responses of these business associates were consolidated for the publication, but you can find the full responses through this blog series.

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Jerry Warner, Farmers National

How does Nebraska's strength in agriculture—and corn, livestock and ethanol specifically—influence your business/organization? How does the fact that you are located in Nebraska provide a competitive advantage or growth opportunities for you?

Nebraska's strength in agriculture is of utmost importance to Farmers National Company. A vibrant ag economy contributes to strong land values, good rental rates and profits for land owners, which strengthens the overall economy of the state. The impact on the economies of Lincoln and Omaha is far greater than most people realize.

What should Nebraska do to leverage its strength in agriculture to enhance economic vitality across the state—and position the state for long-term success in meeting global demand for food, feed and fuel?

We must continue to increase both irrigated and dryland corn production in Nebraska. We must be more efficient water users everywhere, but especially in the more limited aquifers. If rural and urban interests work together, we can bring new systems into use which will conserve water and make enough available for everyone.

What do you think Nebraska consumers—especially those in urban areas—need to better understand about Nebraska agriculture and your organization's relationship to agriculture?

Many people are surprised to learn that more than half of the land in NE is owned by non operating land owners, who are partners in production and very important "investors" in agriculture. Most have a rural heritage and now reside in towns and cities within the state. Our company works with this group of land owners.

How important is it that Nebraska corn farmers continue to invest in the future of their industry through their checkoff?

Corn farmers absolutely must continue to invest in developing current as well as new markets for corn. As food and fuel prices increase, the checkoff is more important than ever in all aspects of market development.

What concerns you most about the future of agriculture in Nebraska? And what will it take to address those concerns?

The diversity of Nebraska agriculture is one of its tremendous strengths. It is also one of its challenges.

October 17, 2013

Wet Week

Due to the continued Federal government shut down we can not provide you with an official crop progress report from USDA. However, in our best attempts to keep this page updated here is a short summary of what happened the past week in Nebraska.

Corn continues to look somewhat green due to all the recent rains
Wet conditions across most of the state made corn harvest challenging. Nebraska farmers were in and out of the fields working diligently to get this year’s crop harvested and stored in the bins. Even though the wet conditions are proving to put a stress on crop harvest, it is hard to complain about the recent rains after the drought we have experienced. Hopefully all this moisture will help replenish the groundwater we have used the past two years. Needless to say harvest is progressing…maybe that is all we actually need to know.

All crop progress photos can be viewed at Flickr or Pinterest

October 16, 2013

Wordless Wednesday!

#Harvest13 is in full swing!! Please send your photos to Facebook or Twitter so we can share them with everyone.

One Rough Ride by: Curt Tomasevicz

There has been lots of attention paid to concussions and brain injuries in sports in the media recently. The NFL and NHL are changing their rules to attempt to make the sports safer and reduce the number of injuries that come from hits to the head. The results of several studies have shown that repeated blows to the head can have both short term and long term damage. But the sports are far from becoming extinct. Players know there is the potential for injury every time they step on the field or ice and yet they rarely hesitate to consider the risks versus the rewards.

Many jobs are dangerous. I know farmers in Nebraska that have lost fingers and even arms to auger accidents. Combines and tractors have hundreds of mechanical moving parts that can be dangerous. Electric fences, grain dust, and livestock that weigh hundreds of pounds, carry the potential for injury, both short and long term. But with the proper precautions, injuries can be avoided.

Bobsled is not a gentle sport. Our 4-man sled weighs 1400 pounds including the athletes and can reach speeds of 95 miles per hour. Many people believe that a bobsled ride is like a smooth roller coaster. Wrong! I heard one person compare their first (and last) bobsled ride to a “controlled car wreck”. It is sixty seconds of a violent shake that rattles your brain inside your skull like someone is scrambling an egg in a bowl. There is no Zamboni machine that smoothes out the ice before we slide. Mother Nature controls how soft or hard, rough or smooth the ice is. And when humidity or even precipitation is added into the equation, the result is a violent headache. And that is before I even mention the 15 to 20 curves of pressures that can pull up to 5 G’s of force on the neck and head.

Take a couple minutes and watch this video put online by Manuel Machata, a German bobsled driver. The camera is looking up at the brakeman from inside a 2-man sled.

Trust me. Riding in a bobsled is as comfortable as it looks in the video. But just like many NFL players, I am doing what I can to prevent the short and long term effects of head trauma.

I recently took the IMPACT test and the SCAT3 test which will serve as a baseline so that, if I am in a bobsled crash or I do show the initial signs of a concussion, I can retake the test to see if my results have varied. And even though study results may not be completely conclusive, I constantly do things that will promote brain activity and cerebral function.

I try to do the USA Today crossword each day. I won’t claim that I am able to complete the puzzle every attempt, but I’d say I score about 80% on each endeavor. I consistently have at least two books open on my Kindle. And I love critical thinking riddles and quizzes. Just like physical exercise helps strengthen my body, mental exercise helps keep my brain resilient and neurological pathways firing. (Read one of my recent blogs on Intelligent Jocks).

Safety is always a top priority, but sometimes…when the task is flying down an icy chute in freezing temperatures, in a fiberglass shell, with no seatbelt, wearing only a spandex suit, going for an Olympic gold medal for the USA … the headache is worth it!

October 10, 2013

The Many Benefits of GMO's

Consumers are more cautious than ever about what they choose to eat. Some people prefer to eat  foods that are generally labeled "USDA Organic", while others choose to eat Genetically Modified food. American's are fortunate to have a choice between which type of food they choose to consume, sadly along with these choices there are generally many misconceptions, many focused on GMO products. Today I will talk about some of the benefits of GMO's and hopefully work to clear up some misconceptions.

GMO's have been around for 10,000 years! That seems like a tall tale, however it is not. Every crop that is grown today has been selected based on human selection and breeding, so much in fact, that modern crops barely resemble their wild ancestors. The only difference between the present breeding and 10,000 years ago is that we have improved technology that can make this natural selection process much faster. Before technology came about selecting for superior crops was done by visual selection. This process was slow and took whole growing seasons to accomplish. Plant breeders would have to select the best crops at the end of a growing season and then selectively breed them to other plants and then wait to see what happens. Now thanks to biotechnology we can observe single DNA variations in a laboratory, select the genetically superior traits, and transfer those traits to other plants. Essentially we are still doing the same process as we have always done, we are just accomplishing results faster than ever before.

90% of all crops grown in the United States are GMO crops and this is understandable because of the many benefits that GMO crops present for farmers as well as the environment. The most well known benefit of GMO crops is that we are experiencing higher yields than ever before. More and more citizens are choosing to move to a more urban setting, this leaves a fewer number of people that are willing to produce food for everyone in the U.S. and many people around the world. Another problem that agriculture is overcoming with higher yields is the fact that there is fewer acres of land available to produce food on. The world population is continuing to grow so farmers must work to produce more food on fewer acres and the only way this is possible is with improved yields.

The second major benefit of GMO crops is that they require fewer fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides. This means that for every American citizen fewer chemicals are being put into plants and the ground which means your food and water is safer than ever. For years agriculture was known as a major polluter, but thanks to GMO's we are able to "clean up our act" and provide a safer environment for everyone.

The last major improvement to modern agriculture that has come along, thanks to GMO crops, is what agriculture refers to as sustainability. Water conservation has evolved because of GMO crops. We can now grow more food and save more water doing it, thus providing a better environment for the generations to come. Along with water conservation has come the development of soil conservation. No-till farming is now a common practice, this type of farming helps to reduce soil erosion that occurs in fields.

Sadly all these benefits have not come without criticism from the consumers. Many people question if these crops are safe to eat and feel that they should be labeled. The law clearly states that food companies are required to label foods that are substantially different in composition from similar foods. GMO foods are amongst the most tested foods in all of history and after extensive research it has been proven that there is no nutritional difference between GMO and non-GMO foods. This means that legally, GMO's currently have no reason to be labeled as different. That is because they are not different they are only bred to grow more efficiently. Labeling of GMO products would only bring about more confusion for consumers.

Hopefully after reading this post people will realize that GMO technology is quite possibly one of the largest technological advancements the world has ever seen. Thanks to improved production the average American farmer now feeds 155 people. Without this, the average farmer would only feed somewhere around 10 people and as a result America would have to import large amounts of food thus leading to an even larger budget deficit. So next time you are taking a road trip across the Midwest remember to thank a farmer for providing you with a safe, reliable, and homegrown food source!    

October 9, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Harvest of corn silage started last week and harvest of all corn will hopefully start soon! Please send us your photos of harvest. Post them to our Facebook or Twitter walls using the hashtag #Harvest13.

October 7, 2013

October Corn Products Spotlight: Glue

Every project goes smoother with Elmer's!
As we move closer to the holiday season there is one thing that every elementary student will need—that item is glue. Take a second and think back to your younger years, they most likely included paper pumpkins, Thanksgiving turkeys made from a cut out of your hand, and Christmas ornaments decorating the classroom….all of these crafts require glue. What you might not know is that corn is an essential piece of making that glue affordable.

There are a few different types of glue, and after doing some research, I discovered that each type contained corn! To collect all the facts I first started by looking up the official definition of glue. Adhesive; more commonly known as glue, is any substance that binds surfaces together and resists separation. I started thinking about all the different uses for adhesives and then I wondered, where do we get all that resin? As it turns out we don’t use that much resin, instead we use corn.

The process goes like this. After oil is extracted from the corn germ, scientists have found a way to make glue from corn germ. It was first tested in 2008 by chemist Milagros Hojilla-Evangelista. She sprayed the corn germ glue on the surface of a 12X12 inch piece of southern pine and then put another piece of pine on top, heated the glue to industry standards, and waited to see the results. Her findings proved that corn germ could be used to develop glue that has the same viscosity as industrial glue. This discovery has lead to the addition of corn germ to industrial glue which makes industrial adhesives even stronger. It has also been discovered that you can add corn germ to what I would refer to as “regular glue”, more commonly known as Elmer’s Glue, thereby reducing the amount of resin needed in the glue. This means with the addition of corn germ, your glue stays at a lower price.

Chemist Milagros Hojilla-Evangelista.
To wrap up my newly found obsession with adhesive, I will say this. The next time you are out buying a bottle of glue before the school year starts, or even buying certain brands of hair spray, you can thank a farmer for growing a product that helps you cut costs on adhesives.

October 3, 2013

Warm and Windy Start for Harvest

Corn Silage is being harvested and will be fed to cattle.
For the week ending September 29, 2013 warm, and windy conditions were again experienced. Rainfall also occurred across most of the panhandle and central Nebraska counties. Widespread corn harvest was limited due to the rains which are continuing to cause high grain moisture levels. Statewide producers had 5.5 days suitable for fieldwork.

Topsoil moisture levels rated 52 percent short/very short, 48 percent adequate and 0 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 70 percent short/very short, 30 percent adequate, and 0 percent surplus.

All corn conditions came in at 8 percent very poor, 7 percent poor, 21 percent fair, 44 percent good, and 20 percent excellent. Irrigated corn rated 82 percent good/excellent, which is higher than the 75 percent average. Dryland corn conditions rated 39 percent good or excellent, this is lower than the 57 percent average. Mature corn was 64 percent, which is well behind 92 percent last year but near the 66 percent average. Corn harvested was 9 percent which is well behind 51 percent last year and this years 16 percent average.

To view all crop progress photos visit our Flickr and Pinterest sites!

This ear of corn will be ready to harvest soon.