Grain futures higher; Soybeans rise to 1-week top By

U.S. grain futures were higher on Tuesday, with soybean prices rising to a one-week top amid speculation forecasts for rainfall across the U.S. Midwest in the coming days may delay the pace of the harvest.

On the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, soybeans futures for November delivery traded at USD13.0313 a bushel, up 0.5%.

Prices of the oilseed rose to a daily high of USD13.0563 a bushel earlier in the session, the strongest since September 30. The November soy contract ended 0.12% higher at USD12.9640 a bushel on Monday.

Influential industry group Informa Economics cut its forecast for U.S. soybean production to 3.176 billion bushels last week, 1.5% lower from a previous estimate.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Agriculture postponed the release of its weekly crop progress report scheduled for Monday due to the U.S. government shutdown.

The agency said it will delay the release of its monthly supply and demand report scheduled for October 11 as well.

Elsewhere on the CBOT, corn futures for December delivery traded at USD4.4913 a bushel, little changed. Prices held in a tight range between USD4.4788 a bushel, the daily low and a session high of USD4.4963 a bushel.

The December corn contract settled 1.35% higher on Monday to end at USD4.4920 a bushel.

Despite Monday’s rally, market players saw limited upside for corn prices, amid expectations U.S. farmers will harvest the largest corn crop on record this season.

Prices of the grain fell to a three-year low of USD4.3512 a bushel on October 2.

Meanwhile, wheat for December delivery traded at USD6.9812 a bushel, up 0.5%. Wheat futures rose to a daily high of USD6.9863 a bushel earlier in the session, the strongest level since June 24.

The December contract settled up 1.13% at USD6.9460 a bushel on Monday.

Wheat futures have been well-supported in recent sessions amid indications of robust demand for U.S. supplies and as concerns over crop conditions in the Black-Sea region mounted.

Corn is the biggest U.S. crop, followed by soybeans, government figures show. Wheat was fourth, behind hay.

The Best Grasses To Match With Alfalfa | Alfalfa content from Hay & Forage Grower

An alfalfa-grass mix makes for a digestible dairy ration that can reduce the potential for laminitis. But not all alfalfa-grass pairings are created equal.

Some grasses mature faster or slower than alfalfa, making harvest more challenging. Some yield significantly more or offer higher potential milk production than others. Seeding rates vary by species. And, of course, grasses produce differently depending on the region. Those are just a few factors producers should consider when deciding which grass to seed with alfalfa.

“What is most important about the grass is tons per acre, as well as the digestibility of the fiber relative to when you can harvest it,” says Charlie Sniffen, a dairy nutritionist with Fencrest LLC, Holderness, NH.

When matching grasses with alfalfa, Sniffen looks for new species that have about 14% protein and 50% neutral detergent fiber (NDF). If the NDF gets much higher, digestibility falls off. The highly digestible fiber from grass can also tone down high-energy diets that cause laminitis, Sniffen says.

Determining the right alfalfa-grass ratio in a stand is important, too. For dairy-quality hay at optimal yield, stands should contain no more than 25% grass, recommends Jim Paulson, University of Minnesota (U of M) Extension educator.

Source: University of Minnesota

Meadow fescue and tall fescue are Paulson’s top choices as alfalfa companion crops because of their yield, quality and survivability. The two had some of the highest yields of any grass mixed with alfalfa at trials he ran in 2011 and outperformed pure alfalfa stands. The alfalfa-meadow fescue combination averaged 5.43 tons/acre of dry matter at two sites, and alfalfa-tall fescue averaged 5.76 tons/acre. The alfalfa-only stand averaged 5.4 tons/acre at the two sites.

The two grasses also were of high quality, with alfalfa-meadow fescue averaging 14,090 lbs milk/acre and alfalfa-tall fescue averaging 14,920 lbs milk/acre. The alfalfa-only stand averaged 13,490 lbs milk/acre.

Tall fescue also matures in a similar time frame as alfalfa, adds Keith Johnson, Purdue University forage specialist. Johnson is high on improved varieties of the grass from a grazing perspective because of its firm surface for animal traffic and stockpiling ability. “It’s a species I’d have on my short list.”

Be sure to choose a novel-endophyte or endophyte-free tall fescue that’s been adapted to increase NDF digestibility, Paulson says.

Orchardgrass is the other species Johnson and Paulson recommend. The grass was the top yield and quality performer in Paulson’s alfalfa-grass trials, averaging, with alfalfa, 5.85 tons/acre of dry matter and 16,400 lbs milk/acre.

But orchardgrass only works well in dairy rations as a late-maturing variety. The grass has a range of maturity dates, and early maturing varieties can be stemmy at first cutting when included with alfalfa, Johnson says.

Timothy produces fairly good yields and quality, but peaks at first cutting and slows down during a hot summer. With alfalfa, it averaged 4.75 tons/acre of dry matter and 12,285 lbs milk/acre in U of M trials.

The perennial can mature too late to match with alfalfa, developing seed heads a week or more after the legume begins to flower.

“As a beef hay or horse hay, it probably works. But for overall productivity I’d probably stay away from timothy (when combined with alfalfa),” Paulson says.

Smooth bromegrass poses problems mixed with alfalfa because it should not be harvested on alfalfa’s four-week schedule. It needs to be cut every six weeks to persist.

Like timothy, smooth brome produces well at first cutting, but peters out during summer, Paulson says. The alfalfa-brome mix averaged 5.15 tons/acre of dry matter in his trials, but produced only 13,005 lbs milk/acre.

Meadow brome seems to perform best in cooler climates, Paulson says. He lost a lot of plants at his southern Minnesota trial location, but not at plots farther north. Johnson has been impressed with the anecdotal results he’s seen from meadow brome in Indiana, but wants to see more research before forming a concrete opinion of it.

The alfalfa-grass mix averaged 5.4 tons/acre of dry matter in Paulson’s research, the same as the alfalfa-only stand. Its average quality was in line with alfalfa’s, too, at 13,430 lbs milk/acre.

Festulolium and perennial ryegrass are better-suited for Southern climates, because they don’t survive winter as well as other grasses. They also lack the yields of other grasses. Alfalfa seedings with perennial ryegrass averaged about 0.5 ton/acre less than ones with orchardgrass and tall fescue in Paulson’s trials – 5.3 tons/acre. An alfalfa-festulolium mix yielded even less at 5.14 tons/acre.

Reed canarygrass is slow to develop and was well behind the fescues and orchardgrass in terms of yield and quality in Paulson’s trials. The cool-season grass, with alfalfa, averaged 5.31 tons/acre in yield, and 13,725 lbs milk/acre.

In Indiana, reed canarygrass is considered an invasive species by many because “seed can find its way to tributaries and streams, and then you have a species that can be in spots where you don’t want it to be,” Johnson adds.

It does have its attributes. Reed canary grows well in different soil types, so it may be productive in a wet region or in a low-pH field, Sniffen says.

Looming 2014 California water crisis strikes fear in farmers | Farm Press Blog

It does not take long for a conversation with a California farmer to reach the topic of water. It has always been that way.

However, the topic strikes real fear like it has never before. California has faced numerous water crises, but nothing like this one.

Economically it could not come at a worse time. Harvests are at hand and for the most part, yields and prices across most all commodities are good. Amazing in some cases. There should be considerable optimism for 2014, but there’s trepidation because many producers do not know if they will have water to grow crops next season.

Secondly, California is largely permanent crops, orchards, vineyards and groves that cannot be fallowed. They are either irrigated or die at a cost of billions.

Federal and start water purveyors are telling famers to expect zero allocations next spring and maybe zero for the entire season. Granted, most farmers who have access to surface water also have wells. Many farmers irrigate with wells only. However, the idea of restricting pumping from long overdrafted aquifers is being considered.

Unlike most states, California has virtually no governmental restrictions on groundwater pumping. However, California farmers have long realized Sacramento will someday at least try to regulate it. Local water agencies are now talking about regulating groundwater themselves to get ahead of the regulatory scenario. It’s not unprecedented. Westlands Water District did it in 2006 when there was plenty of surface water for delivery. Tom Birmingham, Westlands district manager, has been quoted as saying the district is looking at regulating pumping again in 2014.

Water is getting so expensive; farmers are considering selling what water they have rather than farm. Offers of $1,200 per acre foot for water this year are common. That is five or six times what it cost the farmer. However, there were few takers because there was no water to sell. However, selling water may be easier suggested than realized. Rules — old and new — within districts often preclude a farmer from selling water allocations or even moving water around within a district.

If a Central Valley farmer has water, either via grandfathered water rights or good groundwater, he is being courted by garlic, onion and tomato packers. Tomato processers are reportedly offering $90 to $100 per ton 2014 tomato contracts. This year’s contract was $70. The other reason for those prices is a disease-shortened 2013 crop that reduced inventory in a good sales market.

The impact of this drought has already been felt in fallowed open fields this season. There are fewer jobs and lost farm income. Growers have not had water for post-harvest irrigation of trees and vines, which has a significant impact on the next crop. And the well water that farmers have relied heavily upon this year has not been the best quality in many cases. This could also have significant impact on future crops.

I have written countless water articles over the years, mostly under the “crisis” category. However, as one farmer told me, “We have survived so far.” California producers are definitely resourceful, but many are feeling like they have no play yet for next season. It will be a long winter of looking skyward for relief.

Today grain futures

Corn futures closed the day 7 cents lower across the board. The Dec 13 contract retraced all of the previous gains seen yesterday and closed near the lows of the session. Dry weather forecasts in major production areas over the next 3-4 days which should help harvest progress provided a negative influence. Reports that China was in the market for 700-900,000 MT of corn over the past week continue to surface but nothing has been confirmed due to lack of data available from the USDA during the government shut down. Export inspections for the previous week came in at roughly 25.6 million bushels. The USDA has now confirmed it will not be releasing the October Crop Production and WASDE reports due out on Friday.

Dec 13 Corn closed at $4.41 3/4, down 7 1/2 cents,
Mar 14 Corn closed at $4.54 1/2, down 7 1/4 cents,
May 14 Corn closed at $4.62 3/4, down 7 cents
Jul 14 Corn closed at $4.70, down 7 cents

Soybeans closed 7 to 9 cents lower on the day. The front month Nov 13 contract traded as high as $13.05 at one point but finished well of the highs at $12.88. Earlier this morning, wires reported that Taiwan’s BSPA group purchased 60,000 MT of Brazilian Soybeans. The US exported roughly 30.5 million bushels of beans last week, beginning the seasonal ramp up after a slow start in September. Shipments are expected to remain below year ago levels, due to increased availability of South American supplies compared to last year. Trade surveys suggest 22-24% of the US soybean crop has been harvested, with producers swinging to a soybean emphasis this week as moisture levels have declined quickly.

Nov 13 Soybeans closed at $12.88 3/4, down 7 3/4 cents,
Jan 14 Soybeans closed at $12.87 3/4, down 9 1/4 cents,
Mar 14 Soybeans closed at $12.75 3/4, down 8 1/2 cents,
May 14 Soybeans closed at $12.56 1/4, down 8 cents,
Oct 13 Soybean Meal closed at $428.70, down $5.00,
Oct 13 Soybean Oil closed at $40.20, up $0.55

Wheat futures finished the day 1 cent lower to 3 cents higher. A sharp reversal to the downside in corn prices provided a negative influence. The front month CBOT Dec 13 contract attempted a new high of $7.00 earlier in the day, but failed to achieve follow through and finished down a penny. The KCBT Dec 13 contract displayed the most strength and finished up 3 cents. Export inspections for the previous week came in at roughly 29.7 million bushels. The CBOT Dec 13 Wheat/Dec 13 Corn spread gained another 6 cents to close at $2.51575. A lack of fundamental data releases due to the on-going government shut down continues to keep some participants on the sidelines

Dec 13 CBOT Wheat closed at $6.93 1/2, down 1 1/4 cents,
N/P KCBT Wheat closed at $7.60, up 3 1/2 cents,
Dec 13 MGEX Wheat closed at $7.53, up 2 3/4 cents

Who Owns U.S. Agricultural Land? – Modern Farmer

Who Owns U.S. Agricultural Land?

The USDA released a report today detailing foreign holdings of U.S. agricultural land as of December 2011, and it’s pretty fascinating stuff. “Foreign persons” are defined as individuals who are not citizens of the U.S., foreign businesses and governments that have their principal place of business in a foreign country and U.S. entities in which there is a significant foreign interest.

Below are some of the more eye-opening facts:

So, How Much Land is Foreign Held?

Foreign investors held an interest in 25.7 million acres of U.S. agricultural land (forest land and farmland) as of December 31, 2011. This is an increase of 1,490,781 acres from the December 31, 2010 report, and represents 2.0 percent of all privately held agricultural land in the United States.

Forest land accounted for 54 percent of all foreign held agricultural acreage, cropland for 19 percent, and pasture and other agricultural land for 27 percent.

Foreign persons have reported acreage holdings in all 50 States and Puerto Rico.

The state of Texas has the largest amount of foreign held U.S. agricultural land with 2,894,563 acres. This figure represents only 1.9 percent of privately owned agricultural land in Texas.

Maine has the second largest amount of foreign held agricultural acres with 2,877,965 and Washington has the third largest amount of foreign held agricultural land with 1,671,102 acres, which is 7.6 percent of its privately held agricultural land.

16 percent of Maine’s of Maine’s privately held agricultural land is held by foreign investors; this is approximately 11 percent of the reported foreign held agricultural land in the United States.

Hawaii has the second largest percentage of foreign held U.S. agricultural land, 158,887 acres, which is 8.8 percent of the privately held agricultural land in the state. Washington, Alabama and Florida follow.

Kansas, Washington and Wisconsin showed the biggest increases in foreign-held agricultural acres in 2011. The increases were primarily due to the execution of long-term leasehold interests by wind energy companies.

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Who Owns It?

Canadian investors own the most reported foreign held agricultural and non-agricultural land, with 28 percent, or 7,250,834 acres. Foreign persons from the Netherlands own 19 percent, Germany owns 7, the United Kingdom owns 6 and Portugal owns 5. Together, 9,511,437 acres or 36 percent of foreign-held acres are owned by individuals or entities from these countries.

What Do They Use it For?

Fifty-two percent of the land is timber or forest with cropland accounting for only 19 percent of the total acres. Foreign held pasture and other agricultural land totals 27 percent of all foreign interest holdings in the United States. Nonagriculture land (including homestead and roads commonly reported as part of the agricultural land or land that is idle now, but its last use in the past 5 years was agricultural) accounts for approximately 2 percent.

What Are the Trends?

Between 2007 and 2011, foreign landholdings in cropland and pasture land increased. During this time period, cropland increased from roughly 2,400,000 acres to 4,900,000 acres, and pastureland increased from approximately 4,000,000 acres to 5,900,000. These changes are mostly due to foreign-owned wind companies executing long-term leases on large numbers of acres; however, the acres actually utilized by said companies are very few due to the small footprint of the wind towers erected on the land.