R.F.D NEWS & VIEWS: Harvesting continues, corn prices and more

By Tim Alexander for Chronicle Media

A Peoria County farmer takes advantage of excellent fieldwork conditions. The Illinois corn harvest stands at 12 percent complete and the soybean harvest at 4 percent complete as of Sept. 17. (Photo by Jon’l Alexander

At press time, the Illinois corn harvest is already 12 percent complete and could result in record production. We have an analysis of how much this forecast is weakening prices for Illinois corn farmers. Also, record yields and low prices are resulting in grain storage pressure, according to a farm bureau report. For more on these and other topics of interest to Illinois farmers and rural dwellers, please read on …

Corn, soybean harvests continue

SPRINGFIELD — The corn and soybean harvests are now in full swing throughout Illinois, with 5.9 days suitable for fieldwork, during the week ending Sept. 16. As mature corn reached 75 percent, around 12 percent of the state’s corn harvest was complete and the soybean harvest had reached 4 percent. This is according to the latest Illinois Crop Progress and Condition report from the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service.

According to NASS, the 75 percent corn maturity rate was 28 percent higher than the five-year average of 47 percent mature for Illinois. Corn condition was rated 45 percent good and 31 percent excellent, while soybean condition was estimated at 47 percent good and 30 percent excellent. Soybeans coloring was at 87 percent, which is 25 percent higher than the five-year average of 62 percent. For an analysis on how corn condition and supply is affecting corn prices, please see the next item:

U of I: Corn forecast depressing already-weak prices

URBANA — When corn prices fell even lower after the USDA’s September crop production report — which included Illinois as one of eight top-producing states that will see larger-than-predicted corn yields — was issued, it came as a surprise to few. Along with Nebraska, Illinois’ August corn yield projection increased by 13 bushels per acre above previous record yields of 214 and 198 bushels, respectively. Along with the projection came an increase in the forecast of total domestic supply for corn during the 2018-19 marketing year of 215 million bushels, to 16.879 billion bushels.

“While it is tempting to discount this yield projection, the September yield forecast over the last five years only witnessed a yield decrease once and the change was for less than a bushel,” reports Todd Hubbs, University of Illinois agricultural economist, in an essay published September 17 by the U of I College of ACES. Hubbs noted that the forecast of the seasonal average corn price fell 10 cents in a range of $3-$4. An adjustment to this year’s production forecast or a sharp increase in demand appears necessary to see prices in the upper part of that range during the current marketing year, he stated.

“The market now anticipates yield reports from the field as harvest commences and the October production forecast. Corn prices will be dependent on consumption throughout the marketing year barring a reduction in production levels,” Hubbs said. “Corn use continues to show strength at lower corn prices in place in the market. While there is a potential for a higher corn yield as we move through harvest, the impact on corn prices may be minimal. Conversely, any reduction in corn yields sets up the potential for a strong rally.”

Illinois Farm Fact:

A unit train, with 110 cars, carries up to 450,000 bushels of grain. (Illinois Farm Bureau)

IFB: Storage space at a premium at harvest

BLOOMINGTON — So with farmers facing below return on investment prices for corn, plunging basis levels for soybeans, excess domestic supply and an expected record harvest, what are they doing with all the corn and beans? Farmers who can store grain on-farm are taking advantage of the opportunity, hoping to sell when prices improve. But the Illinois Farm Bureau reported last week that storage space in grain elevators is already at a premium as harvest goes into full swing.

“Basis levels on beans are so bad a lot of farmers are looking for ways to find a place for corn and store beans, which is the opposite of the last few years when many farmers were told to sell beans and store corn,” said Scott Sims, manager of Western Grain Marketing in McDonough County. USDA has projected Illinois farmers will lead the way in soybean production again in 2018, with 716 million bushels production and an average yield of 66 bushels per acre projected. If realized, both numbers would set state records for soybeans.
“Space is going to be at a premium for both corn and beans,” said Luke Metz, grain merchandiser for Sunrise FS in Cass County. “We’ve got really good, if not record, yields. And we’ve got markets that are quite a bit lower, so farmers aren’t willing sellers. We’re getting hammered from both sides.”

Corn prices slipped to a three-month low in mid-September as soybean futures plunged to a 10-year low. The current USDA corn yield estimate for Illinois, 214 bu./acre, would set a new corn production level of 2.32 million bushels. (IFB news service/Daniel Grant)

USDA: Let’s de-list EAB quarantine

WASHINGTON, D.C. —The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is seeking your input on their recently announced proposal to remove the domestic quarantine regulations for the emerald ash borer (EAB). “The proposal would end APHIS’ domestic regulatory activities, which includes actions such as issuing permits, certificates and compliance agreements, making site visits, and conducting investigations of suspected violations, and instead direct all available resources toward managing the pest,” according to a USDA news release. The proposed rule is available in the Federal Register and open for comment through Nov. 19.

Oak-hickory funding announced by NRCS

CHAMPAIGN — The Illinois USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service announced last week they would offer funding to improve oak-hickory forest stands through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program. Landowners can apply for assistance through the Environmental Quality Assurance Program to implement forest stand improvement, brush management, herbaceous weed control and tree-shrub establishment practices. Landowners in 37 Illinois counties may apply before Oct. 19 by submitting an application to their local NRCS field office. (Illinois NRCS news)



–R.F.D NEWS & VIEWS: Harvesting continues, corn prices and more–