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  • The Surface Transportation Board sent a letter to all the Class 1 railroads on July 13 asking them if they will be ready for the "fall peak" period. The railroads assured the STB performance has improved since last year.

  • As the 2014-15 crop marketing year draws to a close, let's look at how basis fared in the past 12 months. In general, at the end of August 2015, corn, soybean and wheat basis is about 30 to 40 cents weaker than the 5-year averages for each crop.

  • The Surface Transportation Board needs to quickly move ahead with a comprehensive set of proposals for railroad grain shipping rates and rail revenue adequacy in order to create more certainty for both shippers and railroads, the former acting chairman of the STB told attendees at this year's National Grain and Feed Association Ag Transportation Summit.

  • I logged nearly 1,000 miles in the car over the past week, and I saw signs of this year's wet spring almost everywhere.


  • Combines have been rolling this week in the southern portion of Corn Belt states. However Dan Hicks, Freese-Notis Meteorologist, sees the early harvest weather turning unfavorable through mid-September. Soon, the USDA will begin to report U.S. harvest progress. With traders, investors and farmers alike wanting to know if the U.S. corn and soybean crops are as big as estimated, harvest weather is the first piece of that puzzle to fall into place. {[SINGE PLAYER VIDEO]}

  • Prices May Rebound as Dry Weather Takes Toll on CropsCorn, soybean, and wheat prices may rebound on speculation that recent warm weather and lack of rain will curb crop conditions.Corn futures rose 0.2% overnight, soybeans were up 0.5%, and wheat gained 0.6% at the Chicago Board of Trade. Some 68% of U.S. corn was in good or excellent condition earlier this week, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. About 63% of soybeans earned top ratings, the USDA said in its weekly conditions report. "After the hot, dry weather much of the U.S. experienced (in the) past 10 days, I am anxious to see if we get a 1% to 2% drop in crop ratings," said Cory Bratland with Al Kluis Commodities.The USDA will release its weekly crop ratings on Tuesday, a day later than normal, due to Labor Day. While traders are closely watching crop conditions, some are looking at larger macroeconomic factors such as China's slowing economy, crude oil prices, and whether funds went net-short in all grains, Bratland said. "Market action this week had way more to do with outside market influences than actual grain fundamentals," Bratland said. Brazilian Real Losses Cut Into U.S. BusinessIt's not just China's slowdown that's hurting U.S. farmers. The Brazilian real has dropped almost 30% this year, boosting the appeal of Brazilian crops and cutting into sales of U.S. corn and soybeans. Brazilian corn exports from March through August were up 43% from the same period a year earlier, said Dan Hueber, author of The Dan Hueber report.The lack of interest is noticeable in the weekly export sales report, which showed that sales of U.S. corn for the 2015/16 marketing year fell from both the prior week and the same week a year earlier. "Unfortunately, export sales for corn last week have come in on the disappointing side," Hueber said.Midwest Forecast Drier in Six- to 10-Day OutlookBrazilian growers seem to have all the luck these days as heavy rains forecast for next week will "significantly improve moisture" in parts of the country, said Donald Keeney, a senior agricultural meteorologist at MDA Information Services. U.S. farmers will likely see drier conditions in the next six to 10 days. While showers in north-central and western areas may help crops, dry patches will continue to build in east-central areas of the Midwest, Keeney said.Temperatures will likely fall in the southern Plains, but the continued dry pattern in the region will further diminish soil moisture, he said. But all is not lost -- the 11- to 15-day outlook calls for wetter weather in some parts of the west-central Midwest, and some improvements are expected in the long-term for the U.S. southern Plains, Keeney said.Cooler temperatures in the 15-day forecast

  • Weather models struggle to forecast how cool temperatures will get in the Midwest over the next 11 to 15 days, but cooler temperatures are trending, nonetheless. Predictions for the next 31 to 60 days trend slightly warmer as we move into harvest season, and the central and western Midwest could also see slightly wetter conditions. See details below. {[SINGE PLAYER VIDEO]} 11- to 15-day outlookThe 11- to 15-day forecast is full of uncertainty as European and GFS models show different temperatures across the Midwest, according to MDA Weather Services. The European model leans toward slightly above-normal temperatures, while the GFS model favors a much cooler pattern. “Our forecast leans toward the cooler solution, as the European has struggled to pick up on some of the recent cool shots across the Midwest,” says Kyle Tapley, senior agriculture meteorologist for MDA Weather Services.Tropical cyclones in the central and western Pacific will likely cause model frustration and some unpredictability in the coming days, says Tapley.31- to 60-day outlook
The latest forecast for the next 31 to 60 days expects slightly warmer temperatures for the Midwest, reducing the risk of frost or freeze risks as harvest season commences. The precipitation outlook is slightly wetter for the central and western Midwest for September and October. “Showers in the Midwest would result in only minor harvest delays for corn and soybeans,” says Don Keeney, senior agriculture meteorologist for MDA Weather Services. Most of the Midwest continues to remain drought-free. Check here for the latest U.S. Drought Monitor update. Summer recap
The meteorological summer came to a close on Monday, August 31. According to MDA Weather Services, June through August were near seasonal levels across most of the Corn Belt, but were above normal for the rest of the U.S. Heavy rainfall during June and early July caused above-normal precipitation for the southern Midwest, according to MDA Weather Services. However, areas that received the most rainfall during June and July received the least amount of rainfall in August this year.

  • There’s little bullish sentiment in a Purdue survey of land market observers.Cropland values are down in the major corn- and soybean-growing states, the result of slumping commodity prices and expectation of higher interest rates. The decline is largest in Iowa, off 6% from mid-2014 to an average $8,200 an acre, says USDA’s annual Land Values report.Nebraska and Minnesota are down by more than 2%, while Illinois and Indiana cropland is marginally lower in value, says USDA, based on a survey of farmers. However, a Purdue survey of appraisers, farmers, and bankers says high-yielding Indiana land dropped 5% in value in the past year.“It may take more than just some recovery in crop prices for farmland values to turn up again, since interest rates are likely to head up in the upcoming year, and low interest rates have also contributed to high farmland values,” says economist David Oppedahl of the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank.The downturn in corn and soybean states is the first since the 2008-2009 recession. Half of the participants in the Purdue survey say they expect farmland values to decline over the next five years.“Where things go from here is, of course, the big question,” says economist Pat Westhoff of the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute at the University of Missouri. Westhoff says the softening of land values “is almost certainly due, in large part, to the drop in commodity prices.” While cropland values slipped in corn and soy country, they generally rose in the rest of the nation for an overall U.S. gain of $30 an acre. Cattle-growing Texas and Oklahoma were up 9%. The Corn Belt still has the highest regional land value.