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  • It may be a little early to start talking about 2015 planted acreage, but there are plenty of opinions on just how much farmers will increase soybean planting.

  • Crude oil futures have sunk to four-year lows, giving farmers an ample window to consider pricing their fuel needs for 2015.

  • Beginning Oct. 22, all Class I railroads will be required to publicly file weekly data reports regarding service performance.

  • Private analytical firm Informa Economics boosts U.S. soybean production above 4 billion bushels while holding corn production steady at 14.4 bb


  • Do you have the next big ag technology idea? Are you looking for a way to get it started toward the marketplace? Here's the program for you.The Yield Lab is an ag tech accelerator that's accepting applications from agriculture technology firms, from start-ups to established companies, for its inaugural "class" that will comprise the front-runners in the sector developing new tools for the industry.The Yield Lab will, according to a company report, seek "to invest in companies with innovative products that increase agriculture yields in livestock and crops, help to reduce waste throughout the agricultural value chain, or promote sustainable agricultural practices."Putting together the resources of the Yield Lab, a St. Louis, Missouri-based think tank, and the four to six companies chosen to be part of the program will go a long way to moving the general ag technology sector forward, says Thad Simons, a former Monsanto executive and CEO of Novus International."The time is right to provide new AgTech companies with support to successfully grow. Participating companies can leverage the unique networks and resources our team can offer. We think this can be a powerful opportunity to take innovative companies to the next step," says Simons, who's one of a group of "former ag industry executives" leading the Yield Lab program.The 2015 class will be announced in January. Applications are due by October 31. Go to for more information about the program or to learn how to apply.

  • After a few showers move through the eastern Plains and northwestern Corn Belt late this week and into the weekend, and chances for light showers at a few points in the western Midwest and northern Delta late next week, weather conditions should remain free of setbacks for corn and soybean harvest in the Midwest for the next 15 days, forecasters say."Only sprinkles lingered in eastern fringes of the Midwest yesterday. Light showers briefly slow western Midwest harvest Thursday, but the weekend is dry. Showers expand into central areas next Tuesday and in the east by the 11- to 15-day, slowing later harvest," according to the Commodity Weather Group's Ag QUICKsheet on Wednesday. Those showers won't spawn big delays, though; Don Keeney, senior ag meteorologist with MDA Weather Services, says "no major setbacks" will result from the showers that will float around the northwestern and western Corn Belt, eastern Plains, and southern Delta."Showers are still expected to return to the northwestern Midwest, and east-central and southern Plains over the next two days. The rains in the northwestern Midwest will slow corn and soybean harvesting a bit, but drier weather there by Friday and Saturday should allow harvesting to improve again," he says. "Meanwhile, drier weather in the southern and eastern Midwest and Delta will favor corn and soybean harvesting. Rains should return to the western Midwest and northern Delta next week, though, which will once again slow fieldwork there. NO major setbacks are expected, though, especially in the eastern Midwest and southern Delta."A big reason conditions will remain generally setback-free the next few days despite the showers: Temperatures will hit the 70s in parts of the Midwest in both the short- and mid-term, adds Wayne Ellis, Freese-Notis Weather, Inc., meteorologist."Dry weather otherwise for the Midwest through the weekend. Highs tomorrow will be in the 50s north-central through the eastern Corn Belt and range up to the low 70s far west. About the same for Thursday then warmer Friday into the weekend with weekend highs in the 60s east and 70s west," he says. "Above-normal temps across the area with near-normal rainfall for roughly the northwest two fifths of the region and below normal elsewhere for October 27-31."Look for "near-normal" temperatures to return through the first seven to 10 days of November, Ellis adds.Farmers in the region aren't entirely out of the woods yet for harvest this fall, weather-wise; MDA's latest longer term outlook through the end of the calendar year shows warmer-than-normal temperatures are still likely in much of the Midwest, but moisture chances are higher now than earlier expectations."The latest 31- to 60-day temperature outlook has trended slightly warmer in the central Midwest," Keeney adds. "The precipitation forecast has trended slightly wetter in the Midwest and central Plains but has trended drier in the far northern and far southern Plains. The wetter pattern in the central and eastern Midwest will slow any remaining corn and soybean harvesting, although harvesting should progress well in the western Midwest."The warmer temperatures -- which Keeney says are as likely for the Plains states -- will limit any potential damage from freezing temperatures before that region's winter wheat crop can get a good stand established.Get your latest weather info here!

  • What sort of shape is your corn crop in as you put it in the bin this fall? How about your soybeans? There are a few common characteristics to this year's crops that call for some pretty specific storage management strategies, one expert says.Despite the difficulties many farmers have had in getting the crop harvested because of less-than-perfect harvest weather this fall, there's still a big crop out there. There are some quality issues this year, just like there were a year ago. However, those issues are quite a bit different than they were a year ago, especially for corn. In other words, this crop's a whole different animal than last year's, says Iowa State University Extension ag engineer Charles Hurburgh."Every year brings on a new set of challenges for harvest and grain management; in the past five years we have gone from very wet to very dry," he says. "Moderate temperatures and adequate moisture in grain fill should create well-filled kernels, which will give generally high test weights. High test weight means above-average storage properties. This is good because a considerable amount of 2014 corn is going to have to carry over into 2016. Corn with high test weight stores well, but producers are reminded not to mix 2014 with 2013 corn, which had poor storage properties."Keeping it separated might be a tougher task than normal this year, with high yields expected. If you find yourself in a logistical knot or are otherwise unable to keep the two years' crops segregated, Hurburgh recommends sending some of it to town right out of the field, starting with your drier fields and taking that grain to the elevator early and often."The tight storage situation will mean heavy flow to grain elevators in the later season once farm bins are full. Consider sending some grain to the elevator early and continue with this plan throughout the season," he says. "Elevators will have to fill piles covered with tarps and other less flexible storage this year. Allowing elevators to start filling early will even the flow and reduce the risk of having to put wetter corn in these storage locations."Although it's important to get that grain to the elevator as quickly as you can, if you have fields that you know will be the biggest bin-busters, you might want to hold off on running the combine there until your problem spots are taken care of first."Corn with leaf blight, storm damage, or frost damage will need to be harvested quickly to avoid ear loss. This corn will also be on the lower end for test weight and storability. If the cool wet weather is extended, scout for field mold as buyers would be looking primarily for vomitoxin in these cases," Hurburgh says.For soybeans, you've probably got a little more flexibility with how long you want to store it, especially considering the likelihood of a rapid in-field drydown Hurburgh says is probable considering the recent warmer, drier weather. That doesn't mean you can tarry long, though, when getting the remaining half of that crop out of the field."A warm period will allow soybeans to take their usual rapid nosedive in moisture, but this will probably occur later than normal. Soybeans will rewet in the field after the initial fall, and from then on, field drying is much slower," Hurburgh says. "The window for harvesting at lower moistures may be short this year. Soybean moistures up to 14% to 15% can be managed with aeration, but soybeans are often stored in bins that do not have this equipment."The story is the same with soybeans as corn, though: Don't count on commingling it with previous years' crops, especially 2013, mainly out of quality concerns. Though it may take some new storage management strategies you haven't thought about in the past, it's likely going to be worth it because of the wider marketing window it will create for your crop."Carryover of the 2013 crop will create complexities because of its poor storage. Do not mix crops from multiple years in bins, and recognize that a considerable quantity of 2014 corn will be stored for at least two years," he says. "Overall quality is likely to be good with a few uncertainties because of weather. Basic grain science and management principles still apply; some grain is being prepared for 2016 use or beyond."

  • Corn harvest is just shy of 1/3 complete, while soybean harvest has passed the halfway point, according to Monday's USDA-NASS weekly Crop Progress report. Corn harvest remains well off the average pace after another week of just single-digit progress as an overall percentage of this year's crop; as of Sunday, 31% of the nation's corn crop is harvested, up from 24% a week ago but off 7% from a year ago and 22% behind the previous average pace. The story's a little different for soybeans; farmers made better progress with that crop in the last week, going from 40% to 53% completion as of Sunday. That's still behind normal, though, as farmers had 61% of the crop harvested last year at this time. On average, 2/3 of the soybean crop is harvested by this time.See more from Monday's Crop Progress report One bright spot in Monday's report is corn maturation: It's caught up with the normal pace and, at 93%, means any frost at this point in areas where that's yet to happen will have minimal damage potential for the crop.Harvest has been a tough go in many parts of the Corn Belt in the last 2 weeks, when cooler temperatures and rainfall have been common. But, moving forward, much-improved harvest weather will likely show up as much bigger harvest completion numbers for both crops. Temperatures are expected to stay above normal through this week, with rainfall chances much fewer and farther-between than in recent weeks."Heavy rains across the southeastern two-thirds of Iowa early last week kept farmers out of the fields for several days and as a result we remain well behind the five-year average with only 19% of corn and 61% of soybeans harvested,” Iowa Ag Secretary Bill Northey said Monday. "The dry weather the last several days has been very helpful and farmers will be working long hours to get the crop in when conditions allow."Adds MDA senior ag meteorologist Kyle Tapley: "The precipitation forecast...remains rather dry across the Midwest and northern Plains. The dry weather across the Midwest and northern Plains would favor corn and soybean harvesting."Monday's federal crop data is likely to have just a slight impact on the grain markets moving through the overnight trade and into Tuesday's CME Group open-outcry session."Today's report is a little negative for prices tonight. I expect corn to start out 1 to 2 cents lower tonight," says Kluis Commodities market analyst and broker Al Kluis. "Today's report is likely to take [soybean] prices 2 to 3 cents lower tonight."Chat the data & the trade's response in Marketing Talk See more: 70-degree Temps Seen Propelling Harvest This Week Latest Field Shots: Illinois Farmers Mudding Out Corn Harvest