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Economic development effort will build from agriculture BY DIRCK STEIMEL Iowa lawmakers and business leaders last week launched an economic development plan designed to take advantage of Iowa’s strength in agriculture and food production. The leaders said the effort, which they branded the Cultivation Corridor, will leverage the strength of Iowa farming and agribusi-

nesses, such as DuPont Pioneer, Monsanto and John Deere, which have flourished in the state. It will also build upon the agronomic and bioscience research strength of Iowa State University (ISU) and other academic institutions in the state, they said. The Cultivation Corridor is designed to generate added economic activity, attract new businesses and create jobs in the corridor between Ames and Des

nomic vision for central Iowa.

Building on strengths

Moines and the surrounding areas. It is part of the Capitol Crossroads plan, which is developing an eco-

“You have to build on your strengths, and agriculture is our strength here in Iowa,” said Craig Hill, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) president who will serve on the advisory board of the Cultivation Corridor. “We have world-class farmers, agribusiness and a top land-grant institution in ISU that provides farmers with the

Vilsack: farms don’t need mandatory emission rules

U.S. farms emit less

U.S. farms actually emit a smaller percentage of greenhouse gases than farms on a worldwide scale, Vilsack said. U.S. agricultural GHG emissions are estimated at 9 percent of total emissions, compared to 14 percent globally, he said. “Everyone assumes what’s happening globally is happening nationally,” said Vilsack. “Clearly, there are challenges globally in terms of agriculture and its contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. That’s not necessarily the case in the United States.” The production of renewable biofuels is another way U.S. farmers are helping reduce harmful CLIMATE PAGE 2


DM water officials wrongly shifting blame to agriculture IFBF’s Rick Robinson writes that finger pointing is not improving Iowa water. STORIES ON PAGE 3

BY TOM BLOCK Climate change poses real challenges for farmers working to feed and fuel a growing population, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said last week at a forum on climate change at Drake University. However, the former Iowa governor brushed off the idea that mandatory regulations should be imposed on farms. Other speakers at the climate change forum hosted by the New Republic, along with the League of Women Voters and Drake, said regulations are needed to limit greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Vilsack said farm groups are engaging in climate change discussions and taking actions to voluntarily reduce their GHG emissions. For example, the dairy industry has set a goal to reduce methane emissions 25 percent by 2020. “We started down the road with dairy producers, and they have been responsive,” Vilsack said. “So long as that continues, there is no need for mandatory regulations.”

best tools and techniques to feed a growing world population while protecting the environment.” ISU President Steven Leath said that establishing an economic development effort based in agriculture makes perfect sense for Iowa. “All of the pieces are in the right place for success,” Leath said. “This positions our region

Corn planting starts up in parts of Iowa Some acres were planted, while spotty rains kept many farmers on the sidelines, Spokesman crop reporters say. STORY ON PAGE 4

Sioux County dairy farmers Aaron Maassen, left, and his father, Lee, second from left, look at the plans for a conservation demonstration field with Greg Marek, right of the Natural Resources Conservation Service office in Sioux County and Erin Hensch, the coordinator of the demonstration project. The demonstration project, on the Maassen’s farm, is one of eight around the state designed to provide real world information on conservation and water quality practices as part of Iowa’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy. PHOTO/DIRCK STEIMEL

Sioux Co. farmers step up for conservation and water quality



owa farmers have made tremendous strides to conserve soil and improve water quality in recent years. And with the groundbreaking Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy in place, they are step-

ping up their efforts to learn more about which conservation practices will be most effective for the environment while fitting with their operations. A good example of those efforts is sprouting this spring on a 20-acre field in Sioux County. Farmers Co-op Society (FCS),


working with local farmers, the Sioux County Farm Bureau and others, is setting up several demonstration plots designed to show how different conservation practices will work in real world farming conditions of northwest Iowa. CONSERVATION PAGE 2

Virtual farm visits build ag knowledge Polk Co. Farm Bureau uses Skype technology to bring school kids to the farm. STORY ON PAGE 5

New rules on killing cover crops prior to spring planting Crop insurance rules for terminating cover crops are different depending where you farm in Iowa. STORY ON PAGE 7.



The Iowa Legislature has passed and sent to Gov. Terry Branstad a James McKean, a respected Iowa State University Swine Extension bill that provides a key incentive for biodiesel production in Iowa. veterinarian and food safety researcher, died recently. He was The bill promotes one of the most powerful economic drivers 67. Iowa has – biofuels, said Grant Kimberley, executive director of McKean’s long list of contributions to the pork industry the Iowa Biodiesel Board. “Not only does this biodiesel policy includes developing tools and programs for disease surveilbenefit Iowa’s economy and a rural renaissance, it also props up lance, especially his efforts to eradicate the pseudorabies virus our nation’s energy security and environment by encouraging and porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) domestic fuel production.” virus. More recently, McKean was designing strategies to The legislation provides a biodiesel producer incentive in the eradicate the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDV). form of a two-cent per gallon refundable credit on the first 25 milMcKean was involved in numerous industry-wide organilion gallons of biodiesel produced in any single plant. The incenzations, including the Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa tive is set to expire at the end of calendar year 2014, but the legisla- MCKEAN Veterinary Medical Association, American Veterinary Medical tion extends the credit through 2017. Kimberley said the legislation will Association, American Association of Swine Veterinarians, National help shelter the state’s biodiesel industry from the impact of uncertainty Pork Board, National Institute for Animal Agriculture and the U.S. over the federal Renewable Fuel Standard and other federal policies. Animal Health Association.



“The idea is to have something to show for all types of farms,” said Dave Van Oort, an agronomist with the Sioux Center-based FCS. “It’s important to demonstrate things that farmers can relate to, whether they are all crops or raise crops and livestock.” In Sioux County, the state’s leader in livestock production, the demonstration will look specifically at how manure applications fit with cover crops and the effectiveness of injecting manure with

knives that minimize soil disturbance, Van Oort said. The demonstration field, which is southwest of Orange City in the watershed of the West Branch of the Floyd River, will also look at crop rotations, silage production and other agronomic practices that maintain strong yields and boost conservation in the area, he said. “The idea is to keep our farmers ahead of the curve in both profitability and stewardship,” Van Oort said.

One of eight in Iowa

The Sioux County conservation demonstration project is one

of eight around the state that are gearing up this spring to show off conservation practices in different types of topography, soils and cropping conditions. The projects, which were chosen last fall by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) as part of its Iowa Water Quality Initiative, are being designed to provide farmers in priority watersheds first-hand information on conservation practices. The demonstration projects are a key part of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy, which was developed by IDALS along with the Iowa Department of Natural

Getting a good start on corn planting

Resources, with technical support from Iowa State University. It is a voluntary science and technologybased plan that provides farmers with a series of options, such as cover crops, bioreactors and wetlands, to reduce losses of nitrogen and phosphorus from their fields. The overall goal of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy is to improve surface water quality in Iowa and help reduce nitrogen and phosphorus delivered to the Gulf of Mexico. IDALS allocated $4.1 million in state funding to support the initial eight demonstration projects over the next three years. That investment is being leveraged with approximately $8 million in matching funds to support the demonstration projects, according to Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey. Later this year, IDALS is expected to announce funding for another group of conservation and water quality demonstration projects.


emissions while benefitting the rural economy, Vilsack said. A new study reporting that cellulosic biofuels may actually cause greater emissions than gasoline is misleading because of assump-

tions that don’t reflect real-world practices, he added. The study assumes 60 to 70 percent stover removal for cellulosic biofuel production. Actual removal rates are only 10 to 25 percent. “The problem with the assumption (in the study) is that no farmer we know would take that much residue,” said Vilsack. “If you start

off with a faulty assumption, you get a faulty conclusion.”

Climate change work

The USDA has several initiatives in place to help farmers adapt to climate change, Vilsack added. The agency has established research hubs across the country to study how farmers can adapt and mitigate climate change as they deal with more extreme droughts, floods and temperatures. Last week, Vilsack announced the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture is awarding $6 million to 10 universities to study the effects of climate on agriculture production. Iowa State University received $550,000 to examine climate adaptation and assess the role of infrastructure and policies in protecting natural resources, grassland and wetlands. “We all have to be aware that the climate is changing, and we need to be prepared for that change,” he said. “The discoveries these grants will lead to will be invaluable for farmers whose livelihoods directly depend on the nation’s land and water resources.”

Voluntary focus

Although the seeds of the Sioux County demonstration project are just now being planted, many Sioux County Farm Bureau members are excited about what they will able to learn from the conservation plots and eventually incorporate into their operations. “It really shows that farmers are trying to do something new for conservation, not just the things we’ve always done before,” said Daryl Muilenburg, who raises row crops and livestock near MUILENBURG Orange City. “It will give us a good idea of how different conservation practices work on our own farms.” Lee Maassen, a dairy farmer whose land will be used for the demonstration project, said the demonstration project is part of the constant learning process for farmers. “We are always learning and try to see what we can improve today to do better than what we did yesterday,” he said. “This is really part of a lifelong process of trying to be the best resource

Lee’s son, Aaron, added that the demonstration field will show which practices work and which ones need more refinement. “It’s going to be important to learn as we go so we can implement the practices on a voluntary basis,” Aaron Maassen said. “If certain practices were mandated, you’d end up with practices that might not work on some farms.” Kirk Den Herder of Orange City will be looking at the demonstration field as  part  of his effort to continually improve his conservation efforts. Den Herder, who raises row crops and beef cattle, has planted cover crops on his fields for several years and wants to find a DEN HERDER way to improve fall growth of the cover crop before winter ends the growing season in northwest Iowa. “We are pretty far north to make cover crops work, so we are looking for ways to adjust,” he said. This year Den Herder plans to experiment on a few acres by planting cover crops in mid-summer, when his corn is waist-high, to gain growing time. “It all goes back to trying different things. We need to step outside the box and try new things for conservation,” Den Herder said. “My goal is to leave things better than when I started, and this conservation work is a big part of that.”


extend to every county of the state and to every citizen of the state.”

Excited to learn

Michael Kramer, with help from his dad, Arden, loads his planter and prepares for planting corn on the family land near Orient in Adair County. Corn planting was scattered around Iowa last week as rains kept farmers out of fields in parts of the state, while planting progressed well in drier areas. For more information on planting progress, see the Spokesman crop reporter update on page 4. PHOTO/ GARY FANDEL

managers we can be and learning from each other.” Maassen, who farms with his three sons, has already incorporated several conservation practices into his operation, including cover crops, terraces and grass waterways. Those efforts have improved soil health, stemmed erosion and reduced the loss of nutrients into surface water, he said. At the same time, the Maassens have worked to incorporate cover crops into nutrition programs for their dairy operation. “It’s really creating a win-win for everybody,” Maassen said.


as a premier economic development corridor, allowing us to fully leverage our world class science and agricultural expertise.” While the Cultivation Corridor effort will be focused on central Iowa, the entire state will benefit from the effort, said Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad. “We welcome this as a way to continue keeping Iowa as a premiere place to locate,” he said at the development effort’s unveiling ceremony held at the World Food Prize headquarters in downtown Des Moines. I F B F ’ s Hill agreed building on a g r i c u l t u r - HILL al strength will have a positive impact on the entire state by creating improved markets for crops and livestock, more jobs and a larger tax base. “This goes way beyond the 60 mile radius around Des Moines,” he said. “The benefits will really

Collaborative spirit

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who also attended the unveiling of the Cultivation Corridor brand unveiling, said the effort is a prime example of how Iowans pull together. “Nobody does collaboration better than Iowa,” the former Iowa governor said. Iowa, Vilsack said, is well positioned to be a key player in the emerging bio-based economy. That will help the state keep talented people and become a more attractive place for scientists and others to locate here, he said. “This really looks beyond production and beyond biofuels into whole new ways to use what we grow,” Vilsack said. The three-year branding Cultivation Corridor effort is expected to cost about $1.5 million, which will be raised by participating companies and by fundraising. The effort will be led by Brent Willett, who had been leading the North Iowa Corridor Economic Development Corporation, based in Mason City.




Shifting blame to farmers is not improving water quality water supply. Simple monitoring of the water and the use of activated carbon, either in granulated or in powder form, could’ve solved the problem, he says.



his past winter was one for the record books. It was the ninth coldest in 141 years, according to the state climatologist. Persistent below-normal temperatures since mid‐October allowed the soil to freeze as far down as three feet in most places, and as deep as fiveand-a-half feet in some. Water main breaks were commonplace. But by ROBINSON mid-February, some parts of Iowa were starting to see rising temperatures again. Spring was around the corner. This freeze-thaw cycle is a part of living in Iowa. Plants grow in the spring and summer, wither in the fall and go dormant or decay in winter. This cycle contributes to our world-renowned, productive soil organic matter. This cycle also contributes to our water quality as the snow and ice melts, moving some of this organic matter — leaves, wood and protective crop residue — across the landscape and into streams. Most water quality engineers that know will tell you that a combination of this organic mat-

Shifting blame

ter from ag and urban storm water and drainage contributes to this season cycle, and they say it’s nearly impossible to sort out the specific sources.

Not science-supported

That’s why the recent comments by letter writers and by Des Moines Waterworks general manager Bill Stowe, claiming Iowa farmers are solely to blame for its recently-announced drinking water standard violation of Total Trihalomethanes (TTHM) are as chilling as a polar vortex; they’re not supported by science. Dennis Alt, the supervisor of Iowa’s water supply engineering section at the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, who is delegated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for implementation of the safe drinking water act, says there are a

number of sources for the chemicals that cause the formation of TTHM. Alt says the problem is more likely created in an attempt to treat for the different sources of seasonal ammonia in surface water. “As winter ice melts and moves, it carries existing organic material such as dead leaves, tree branches and crop residue downstream. Our unusually harsh winter created more ‘scouring’ of the riverbeds, stirring up and forcing more organic matter downstream. That organic matter naturally produces ammonia, but it takes the addition of chlorine to create TTHM.” Alt says he’s never heard of agricultural practices being the sole cause of TTHM; “It just doesn’t work that way.” Alt says one way that TTHM can be eliminated is by adding ‘activated carbon’ to the drinking

But, rather than accept some of the responsibility for possibly inadvertently creating that temporary problem with its drinking water, Stowe continued his path of publicly assigning blame outward, pointing his finger at Iowa farmers. It’s a good thing farmers are solution seekers. That’s why they spent this winter learning how to add new conservation measures to their farms. The job is far from done, yet Iowans need to know that our farmers are being praised across the nation for not just growing food better than any other state, but leading the nation in developing a plan to improve water quality for all. Responsible Iowa farmers know that conservation is a yearround job that produces results over the course of years, not a single season. It takes accountability, not finger pointing, to plant and nurture the seeds of change. Robinson is environmental policy advisor of the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation. This article originally ran in the Des Moines Register.

AFBF: It’s time to ditch the proposed EPA water rule The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) last week urged its members to resist a proposed rule from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that it says will impose unworkable regulations on the nation’s farms. Published in the Federal Register, the more-than-111,000word “Waters of the U.S.” proposed rule reflects the EPA’s latest interpretation of the 1972 Clean Water Act. The rule could ultimately lead to the unlawful expansion of federal regulation to cover routine farming and ranching practices as well as other common private land uses, such as building homes.

Spokesman Editor DIRCK STEIMEL News Coordinator TOM BLOCK Senior Features Writer TERESA BJORK Ag Commodities Writer BETHANY BARATTA Photographer/Writer GARY FANDEL

“This rule is an ‘end run’ around congressional intent and rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court,” AFBF President Bob Stallman says. “Congress and the courts have both said that the 50 states, not the EPA, have power to decide how farming and other land uses should be restricted. It’s time to ditch this rule,” he said. Among other things, the rule would expand federal control over land features such as ditches and areas of agricultural land that are wet only during storms. The EPA says its new rule clarifies the scope of the Clean Water Act. However, EPA’s “clarification” is achieved by categorically classifying most water features and

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even dry land as “waters of the United States.” If carried out, Farm Bureau says, ordinary field work, fence construction or even planting could require a federal permit. The result will be a wave of new regulation or outright prohibitions on routine farming practices and other land uses.

Navigable waters?

“Congress, not federal agencies, writes the laws of the land,” Stallman said. “When Congress wrote the Clean Water Act, it clearly intended for the law to apply to navigable waters. Is a small ditch navigable? Is a stock pond navigable? We really don’t think so, and Farm Bureau memIowa Farm Bureau Federation: Craig Hill, President; Joe Heinrich, Vice President; Denny Presnall, Secretary-Treasurer and Executive Director; Edward G. Parker, General Counsel. Board of Directors: District 1 - Carlton Kjos, Decorah. District 2 - Charlie Norris, Mason City. District 3 - Phil Sundblad, Albert City. District 4 - Doug Gronau, Vail. District 5 - Mark Buskohl, Grundy Center. District 6 - Nick Podhajsky, Traer. District 7 - Andrew Hora, Riverside. District 8 - Calvin Rozenboom, Oskaloosa. District 9 - Jim McKnight, Afton.

bers are going to be sending that message.” The EPA contends that an entire set of exemptions will protect many farmers from the burdensome new rule. But Stallman counters that those exemptions will only apply to farming that has been ongoing since the 1970s, not new or expanded farms. Even for those farms, the exemptions do not cover weed control, fertilizer use or other common farm practices. “The EPA exemptions offer no meaningful protection for the hundreds of thousands of farmers and ranchers whose operations and livelihoods are threatened by this expansion of the EPA’s regulatory reach,” Stallman says.

Despite shaky science, GMO foes persist BY DIRCK STEIMEL Perhaps it’s a phenomenon of the Internet age, but it seems some people are taking a wide latitude these days when they quote scientific studies about health issues. The debate over food made with biotech crops or GMOs (genetically modified organisms) is a prime example. The lengths GMO opponents go to demonize the technology might seem comical, if it wasn’t such a serious issue for farmers who rely on the agronomic and environmental benefits of biotech crops. A good example of quoting questionable authorities came last week in a comment I received from a reader of our Farm Bureau blog, Farm Fresh. He slammed us for our support for biotech crops and that we dared to say they had been proven safe. Hadn’t we heard, the reader wanted to know, that the American Academy of Environmental Medicine had called for a moratorium on GMOs. The integrity of the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) appears to be a little shaky. The group is not recognized by groups that certify medical specialties and it is listed as a questionable organization on Quackwatch, a website dedicated to outing bogus medical claims. In short, the AAEM should probably not be ranked up there with the American Medical Association, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and a wide range of other health groups that have vouched for the safety of food made from biotech crops. Still, GMOs opponents are unfazed and continue to get traction.

Still getting traction

Vermont is on track to pass a GMO labeling bill this year and similar measures are being considered in other states. These measures are designed to do one thing: make consumers wrongly fear that biotech crops pose some sort of health threat. That’s exactly why Farm Bureau is asking members to make their voices heard in support of recently-introduced national legislation, called the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, to make the FDA the authority on GMO safety and prevent a patchwork of state laws. Farm Bureau supports all types of farmers and common-sense regulations that are based on real science and stands adamantly opposed to those who want to take safe and effective tools, like biotech seeds, away from farmers. The stakes are high, and it’s time for biotech supporters to speak up.

4 APRIL 30, 2014


Rehder planted one-third of his corn crop before the rain came. “Planting conditions were good,” he said April 24, though he said the soil was a little cool. More rain was in the forecast, which was needed, he said. “It would be nice to get an inch or two and dry up and get back out there,” Rehder said.

Planting progress was limited last week by rain and cool weather, Siefker said April 24. “We did get one field of corn planted last week. Conditions were pretty good here Saturday,” he said. The area received 1.5 to 2 inches of rain on Easter weekend. “It soaked up nice. It almost was ready yesterday, but we keep getting light rains to dampen it up. It’ll take at least one warm day, and people could go again.”

Farmers had started on some field work in northeast Iowa before rains arrived, Haeflinger said April 24. “There were a lot of guys planting oats and some applying anhydrous or liquid manure before it started to rain. There was a little more activity south of us,” he said. Corn planting is likely still a week or so away, depending on the weather, Haeflinger said. Pastures are starting to green up, he said.

Bennett started planting corn on April 18 and had about one-third of his corn crop in the ground. “The first corn we planted has a decent sprout on it already,” he said April 24. The rain gauge measured 2.2 inches of moisture, but has been variable in the area. He finished spraying Prowl on his soybean acres and was holding off on planting until warmer temperatures this week.

Some corn was being planted and anhydrous fertilizer was being applied last week in between light rain events, Black said April 24. “We just got a couple tenths over the weekend,” he said. “It was enough to keep us out of the field for a couple of days. Everybody got back out in the field late Monday or Tuesday.” Alfalfa was starting to green up and looks like it survived the winter, he said.

There has been some scattered corn planting in the area, but most farmers are still preparing fields, Russell said April 24. “There’s a lot of guys putting on fertilizer and some are strip tilling,” he said. “There will probably be a lot of guys get going with planting after this rain rolls through.” The soil temperature is rising some, although the subsoil is still cold, Russell said. Recent rains are greening up pastures, he said.

Nelson said he was half done planting his corn crop on April 24. “We’ve been planting and running as much as we can,” he said. Planting conditions were good, he said. Rain has slowed planting in the area, but he has heard of at least one farmer who had planted some acres of soybeans. Pastures are turning green with rainfall.

Planting picked up early last week as fields finally dried out from 4.5 inches of rain that fell a week earlier, Carson said April 24. “I saw one guy planting Sunday, a few more Monday and there were planters up and down the road Tuesday,” he said. Light rain and cool weather returned late in the week. Pastures are greening up, but growing slowly. “We need some warm weather. It doesn’t look like we’re going to get it.”

“Most guys have started to plant corn around here, and there are a few that are already finished up,” Vogel said April 24. “I’d guess we are about 20 percent planted around here, and that might be conservative.” Scattered rain showers during the week have slowed planting for some farmers, he said. While recent rains have helped replenish the topsoil, subsoil moisture remains very short, Vogel said.

Wetter weather returns in April, expected to linger in May IOWA’S WEATHER OUTLOOK



he colder-than-normal winter weather pattern continued into early spring in Iowa with statewide temperatures for March averaging 6.6 degrees below normal. March was also considerably drier than normal in most of Iowa with statewide precipitation averaging only 39 percent of normal, ranking as the 11th driest in 142 years. The southwestern crop district of the state was the driest, receiving only around 12 percent of the normal precipitation. Wetter weather returned to much of Iowa during April, but amounts varied widely through the first three weeks of the month with some locations reporting around twice their normal amounts, while parts of northwestern Iowa had less than half their normal amounts. April temperatures showed a common spring pattern of wide swings from one side of normal to the other, but the average temperature for the month as a whole

could be closer to normal than in any month since last fall. Lingering cool soils and increasing rainfall in April led to a slow start to planting progress in Iowa and some neighboring states. May weather patterns during years with comparable winter weather conditions, including 1959, 1978 and 1982, show a trend of near to a little above normal temperatures and precipitation in the western Midwest.

Still no El Nino

In the Tropical Pacific, neutral conditions continue with respect to El Nino or La Nina, but sea surface temperatures have warmed from consistently below normal since late last year to above normal in the past few weeks. It appears that this warming will generally continue and we may see El Nino conditions later this summer. A composite of years with a similar transition shows that summer temperatures in the Midwest tend to average a little below normal overall. The strongest precipitation trends tend to be below normal amounts in eastern areas

of the Midwest and above normal amounts in southwestern areas of the Midwest. During May, I look for temperatures in most of Iowa to average near to a degree or two above normal. Early in May, normal high temperatures range from the middle 60s in northern Iowa to around 70 degrees south, and normal lows range from around 40 north to the

mid-40s south. By the end of the month, normal highs range from the middle 70s north to around 80 in southern Iowa, and normal lows range from the lower 50s north to the upper 50s south. I look for May precipitation to average near to a little above normal in most of Iowa. Normal amounts for the month are between 4 and 5 inches in most of

Iowa, with normal amounts of 3.4 to 4 inches in northwestern Iowa and from 5 to 5.75 inches in parts of the south. Hicks is a meteorologist with Freese-Notis Weather Inc. in Des Moines. Freese-Notis offers daily forecasts, long-range outlooks and other services. For more information, call 515-282-9310 or go to

Managing soybeans for maximum yields BY TIM BERKLAND The 2014 soybean planting season in Iowa is getting close to kickoff, if not already under way in some parts of the state. It is always an exciting time as many of us have been planning and preparing for ways to attain higher yields than in the past. Although many plans BERKLAND are already in motion, it is useful to review some fundamental high-yield soybean practices that can be implemented during planting to help maximize soybean yields this season.

CROPS TODAY tional 4.5 bushels/acre when compared to wide rows. Narrow row systems create more equidistant plant spacing as well as drive larger leaf area, which allows for more sunlight to be harvested by the plants. Increasing light interception increases biomass production, which in turn drives soybean yields.

Plant early

To maximize soybean yields, your planting date needs to be a strong consideration. Planting should start around the last week of April in the southern two-thirds of Iowa, and should begin the first Utilize narrow rows Narrow row spacing (less than week of May in the northern one30 inches) can generate an addi- third of the state. By planting early,

soybeans are able to establish sooner and canopy quicker. Although early planting can increase yields, field conditions must be suitable for planting; “mudding-in” soybeans will cause more harm than good. There is an 80 percent probability of increasing soybean yield when planting soybeans at the recommended times and utilizing good management skills.

Use a seed treatment

Soybean seed treatment is a vital component of a high-yield soybean system. The benefits of early planting can be negated quickly if the seed is not protected from earlyseason pathogens that favor cool and wet soils. When choosing a seed treatment, be sure it contains both a fungicide component as well as an insecticide component. Berkland is a Growmark field sales agronomist. His email address is


Report shows more cattle in Iowa, fewer in the U.S.


he latest cattle on feed report issued last week shows more cattle on feed in Iowa feedlots, but fewer cattle on feed in U.S. feedlots. Cattle and calves on feed for slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 10.9 million head on April 1, 2014, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) cattle on feed report. The inventory was 1 percent below April 1, 2013. There were 670,000 cattle and calves on feed for slaughter market in Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head on April 1, 2014, the report said. This was up from 630,000 on April 1, 2013. Placements in U.S. feedlots during March totaled 1.80 million, 5 percent below 2013. There were 71,000 head of cattle placed in Iowa feedlots during March, the report said. This was down 1,000 head from March 2013, the report said. Marketings of U.S. fed cattle during March totaled 1.66 million, 4 percent below 2013. U.S. marketings for March are the lowest since the series began in 1996, the report said. There were 69,000 head marketed from Iowa feedlots during March, the report said. This was up 1,000 head from March 2013.

Record corn shipments

More than 1.6 million metric tons of corn was loaded for shipment during the week ended April 17 in the United States, government data showed last week. That is the highest total in U.S. Department of Agriculture records dating to 1990. A bulk of the grain was destined to major origins, such as Japan, Mexico and South Korea, as well as emerging buyers, including Colombia, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Buyers in Asia and the Middle East have bought cargoes originally headed for China, but rejected after they were found to contain Syngenta’s Agrisure Viptera, a GMO variety known as MIR 162 that has not been approved in China. Syngenta requested approval of the trait four years ago.

Milk production higher

Milk production in the 23 major milk-producing states including

Iowa during March totaled 16.7 billion pounds, up 1.1 percent from March 2013, the USDA said last week. Production per cow in the 23 major milk states averaged 1,959 pounds for March, the report said. The number of milk cows on farms in the 23 major states for March was 8.51 million head, 1,000 head more than February 2014. Iowa milk production during March totaled 393 million pounds, down 3.4 percent from March 2013, the report said.

Cold storage supplies

Total red meat supplies in freezers were down 8 percent from the previous month and down 14 percent from last year, a USDA report said last week. Total pounds of beef in freezers were down 1 percent from the previous month and down 21 percent from last year. Frozen pork supplies were down 12 percent from the previous month and down 11 percent from last year. Stocks of pork bellies were down 9 percent from last month but up 55 percent from last year, the report said.

Red meat production

Commercial red meat production, including beef, veal, pork, lamb and mutton, for the United States totaled 3.81 billion pounds in March, down 5 percent from the 3.99 billion pounds produced in March 2013, a USDA report said last week. Beef production, at 1.94 billion pounds, was 5 percent below the previous year. Cattle

Weekly Average Price Comparison Sheet Price comparisons: Week ending: 04/25/2014 03/28/2014 04/26/2013 Cattle - National 5 Area Confirmed Sales 4,061 76,364 19,160 5 Area 65-80% Choice Steers: Wtd Avg. $147.16 $151.37 $127.21 Average Weights (Estimate) Cattle 1315 1327 1305 Boxed Beef Choice 600-750 (5 day avg.) $232.83 $234.46 $192.89 Boxed Beef Select 600-750 (5 day avg.) $221.64 $227.34 $184.43 Five Day Average Hide and Offal Value $15.86 $16.03 $14.32 Cattle - Interior Iowa - Minnesota Supply: 3,415 25,410 13,356 Average Price Choice Steer: Live Basis $147.16 $151.91 $127.46 Average Price Choice Steer: Dressed Basis NA $240.71 $202.73 Feeder Steers at River Markets (Neb. Feedlots) #1 Muscle Thickness 500-600# $229.76 $229.53 $171.79 #1 Muscle Thickness 700-800# $188.00 $184.33 $140.94 Hogs -- Interior Iowa - Minnesota ISM Friday Weighted Average Carcass Price $111.88 $129.00 $83.21 Average Weights (Estimate) Hogs 286.4 283.9 277.1 Sows 1-3 300# and up: Average Price $93.23 $87.35 $51.97 Pork Loins 1/4” trimmed 13 - 19 pounds $145.80 $164.02 NA 51-52% 185 pound Pork Carcass (5 day avg.) $116.27 $130.49 $86.20 Feeder Pigs: National Direct Delivered Feeder Pigs 10 Pounds Basis - Wtd Avg. $80.10 $88.73 $28.60 Feeder Pigs 40 Pounds Basis -- Wtd Avg. $129.14 $127.69 $56.91 Sheep -- National Slaughter Lambs Negotiated Sales 5,700 5,400 5,300 Choice & Prime Wooled and Shorn 130-150 lbs. No Test $154.00 NA Iowa Large Eggs (cents per dozen) $0.92 $1.44 $0.63 Young Hen Turkeys: 8 -16# - Eastern (cents/lb) 105.11 103.50 98.48 *Iowa Ethanol Prices $/gal $2.40 $3.15 $2.46 Futures: Corn $5.07 $4.92 $6.44 State Average Cash Corn Price $4.82 $4.65 $6.56 Basis -$0.25 -$0.27 +$0.12 Futures: Soybean $14.98 $14.36 $14.31 State Average Cash Soybean Price $14.59 $13.93 $14.34 Basis: -$0.39 -$0.43 +$0.03 Slaughter Under Federal Inspection Estimates Estimates Actuals Hogs: 1,938,000 2,011,000 2,088,000 Cattle: 568,000 577,000 606,000 Sheep: 38,000 41,000 40,000 Estimated Numbers through Saturday Cash Corn and Soybean prices are the Iowa Average Prices as reported by IDALS. NA-No report at time of publication. Source: USDA Livestock and Grain Market News

slaughter totaled 2.45 million head, down 5 percent from March 2013. Pork production totaled 1.85 billion pounds, down 4 percent from the previous year. Hog slaughter totaled 8.67 million head, down 7 percent from March 2013. January to March 2014 commercial red meat production was 11.7 billion pounds, down 2 percent from 2013.

Brazil beef opposed

The Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) submitted comments last week in opposition to a recent proposal by the United States Department of Agriculture-Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) that the group says could put the U.S. cattle herd at a greater risk of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD).

USDA-APHIS has proposed a rule that would allow for the importation of fresh, deboned beef from a region in Brazil into the United States. According to TSCRA President Pete Bonds, Brazil has a long history with FMD and lacks strict control measures to properly mitigate the risk of FMD into the United States should certain types of fresh beef be imported.

States confirm PEDV

Confirmed cases of the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDV) have now been confirmed in Vermont and Virginia, according to the National Animal Health Laboratory Network. Thirty states have now confirmed the presence of the virus in swine herds.

CME Class III Milk Futures Closing prices April 25, 2014 Contract April 2014 May 2014 June 2014 July 2014 Spot Prices Block Cheese Barrel Cheese Butter NFDM Grade A

Settle $24.29 $22.70 $20.83 $20.23

Last Week $24.21 $22.14 $20.37 $19.48

$2.2100 $2.2575 $2.1800 $1.8100

Contract August 2014 September 2014 October 2014 November 2014 Milk Prices May Class III May Class IV

Settle Last Week $19.83 $19.28 $19.68 $19.21 $19.26 $18.92 $18.80 $18.55

$22.70 $21.99

Iowa Hay Auctions Dyersville, April 23

Hay, large squares, premium, $280-360; good, $200-250; fair, $150-200; utility, $100-150; large rounds, good, $145-170; fair, $150-200; utility, $10-105; small squares, fair, $1.50. Prairie grass, large rounds, fair, $80. Straw, large squares, good, $32-43; large rounds, good, $46-50. CRP, large rounds, good, $70-87.50. Mixed, large squares, good, $280; large rounds, $120-145. Grass, large squares, good, $80-140; large rounds, good, $65-140. Cornstalks, large rounds, good, $32.

Ft. Atkinson, April 23

Hay, small squares, 1st crop, $75-175; 2nd crop, $100-160; 3rd crop, $100-280; large squares, 1st crop, $120-200; 2nd crop, $130-205; 3rd crop, $125-230; large rounds, 1st crop, $80-145; 2nd crop, $90-145; 3rd crop, $800-205. Grass, large rounds, $75-140. Oat hay, large rounds, $45-115. New seeding, large rounds, $30-60. Straw, small squares, $205-210.

Perry**, April 19

Alfalfa, small squares, premium, $6-7; good, $4; large squares, premium, $80; good, $55; large rounds, premium, $90; good, $65. Grass, small squares, premium, $4.50; good, $3.50; fair, $2.50; large rounds, premium, $65; good, $50; large squares, good, $64; fair, $50. Straw, small squares, $3.50. Cornstalks, large rounds, $15.

Rock Valley, April 24

Alfalfa, large rounds, premium, $145-155; good, $130-135. Grass, small squares, premium, $150; large rounds, premium, $135-145; good, $105127.50; small squares, good, $120; fair, $100. Mixed: large rounds, premium, $140-155; good, $120-130. Cornstalks: large rounds, $40-50.

Yoder**/Frytown, April 23

Grass, large rounds, $25-57.50. Alfalfa, large rounds, $50-150; large squares, $55-80; small squares, $3.10-4.10.

**Perry and Yoder hay auction prices are per bale. All other prices are per ton. Contacts: Dyersville, 563-588-0657; Ft. Atkinson, 563-534-7513; Perry, 515-321-5765; Rock Valley, 712-476-5541; Yoder, 319-936-0126

New-crop soybean futures surpassed the last five-year average in mid-February and have continued that strength. This has to be encouraging to farmers as they enter the planting season. Recent opportunities easily beat the crop insurance price set in February at $11.36. Illustrated is the five-year average of November soybean futures prices (red dashed line) and the 2014 November futures prices (solid blue line). Although it is good to be above the historical average shown here, the most important consideration is the comparison of your own local new-crop pricing opportunities and your costs of production.


Robust corn exports help to strengthen basis levels


here’s been a lot of talk in the trade this week about the robust pace of corn business since the beginning of the year. But compared to last years’ experience, this year’s export demand was going to seem robust. Early on, there were signs corn exports could be very good this year. It didn’t get much notoriety early on because the focus was on soybean exports. Starting last fall, seeds were being sown for potentially good demand. Having gone through three years of persistent high prices and occasional supply tightness, there was a need for end users around the world to rebuild working inventories. Having prices back at their lowest levels since 2010 and potentially having the largest feed grain supplies since that time may have encouraged end users to build some modest reserve inventories as well. Corn’s low price relative to soybeans fostered ideas acreage would shift away from corn to soybeans in South America this past winter, as well as the U.S. this summer. The situation in Brazil was particularly important as their second crop corn had undermined U.S. exports the last couple of summers. But with prices 25 percent higher than their winter lows, we are starting to see new demand weaken. That will diminish the commercial buying interest in futures that comes with offsetting the risk of the new export sales. Instead, the demand will continue to shift to the cash sector to fill sales that have been made, our unshipped export sales. Looking back, 2007/2008 is the only recent year in which the unshipped sales were as large as this year. They were built even earlier in the marketing year and were already winding down by this time. The need to fill commitments on the books should strengthen basis into June, especially in areas near the river system. However, basis has steadily been gaining over the winter. And transportation levels have already fallen about as much as they are going to. Gains from here may be limited. About the only thing that might weaken corn basis might be an unexpected surge in futures (and flat) prices. But if futures would slide, it could lift basis a little more. Once summer begins, if crop prospects look good, farmers may be stimulated into selling remaining old-crop inventories, weakening basis levels slightly. But it may not have much impact given the export book to be filled.


Unshipped U.S. corn export sales

700 5 yr. avg.

million bushels


11-12 12-13



2014 CROP: In the short term weather should dominate the trade. But unless it gets wet enough to push acreage into prevented planting, soybean acres will still match the USDA forecast, if not exceed it. We could recommend another small sale at any time. Check the Cash Strategist Hotline frequently.

There still is a chance December futures could make one more quick push to a slightly higher high before the move up off the January low is complete.

525 500 475 450

Still, the rally/collapse the day of the 20-week April report had the character of a cycle lows top. A close under $4.95 would add to signs the trend is turning down into the coming 20-week low.

425 4/25/13


38% retracement $4.86 $4.66 62% retracement

due late May/early June



125 100

Basis Chicago Futures

75 50

25 0 -25 -50 -75 5/17/13





for corn remains good, illustrated by last week’s inspections number. November 2014 Soybeans with 50-day moving average


November soybeans have been trading in a well-defined uptrending channel. It has failed to overcome $12.40 on a closing basis









become a major influence. Spring planting in Ukraine and Russia has gone relatively well. Planting in the U.S. has gotten off to a slower start than the trade would like to see, but it’s still well ahead of last year. This week’s national progress report could be close to 20 percent; last year it was 5 percent. Demand

SOYBEAN STRATEGY 2013 CROP: U.S. supplies will be tight this summer, but most of the necessary adjustments have probably already been made. Meanwhile, supplies are relatively abundant in the world. About the only thing that might carry prices significantly higher is weather. We do not recommend owning inventory.

with 50-day moving average


2014 CROP: Use rallies over

Ukraine continue to underpin the grain markets, but the situation has not gotten tense enough again to

December 2014 Corn


2013 CROP: Export shipments should remain strong, but new buying interest is more subdued than it was earlier this winter. Leave an order to price another 10 percent if July futures hit $5.25. Use rallies to get caught up to recommendation.



Cash Strategist Hotline: 1-309-557-2274


$5 on December futures to make catch-up sales. We expect additional pricing opportunities, but they may not come until summer, and may not necessarily be as good.

APRIL 30, 2014

38% retracement $11.78

A close below this past week's $12.08 low 16- to 18and the uptrend week cycle would indicate the lows trend might finally be turning down into its 16- to 18-week low. If it clears $12.50, the next upside target is $12.75.

1075 4/25/13


$11.44 62% retracement

due in May



has resold two more cargoes of Brazilian soybeans to the U.S. The total of known cargoes is now four, along with two cargoes of soybean meal having been sold into the Southeast. Rumors have more, but there’s no way to confirm them. South American port basis levels are firming, suggesting the neces-




300 250 200 150 100 50

0 -50 5/17/13

Basis Chicago Futures





sary adjustments have been made. Argentine harvest is rolling along, now 42 percent complete.


Iowa Corn & Soybean Basis

400 300

CORN: (basis vs. May futures, 4/23/14)


NW $4.71 -0.33 SW $4.72 -0.32

100 data - AMS/FAS/USDA

0 9/5/13







at a glance 2014

7-16-12 — 10% sold @ $6.35

3-10-14 — 10% sold @ $4.82

8-21-12 — 10% sold @ $6.50

3-10-14 — 15% sold @ $4.78

4-29-13 — 10% sold @ $5.36

3-31-14 — 10% sold @ $4.95


— 10% sold @ $5.33

65% unsold

6-3-13 — 10% sold @$5.27 2-10-14 — 10% sold @$4.42 1/4 3-10-14 — 20% sold @ $4.85


20% unsold



7-11-12 — 10% sold @ $12.92

12-23-13 —10% sold @ $11.72

8-1-12 — 10% sold @ $12.90

12-31-13 — 10% sold @ $11.35

2-4-13 — 10% sold @ $13.35

2-18-14 — 10% sold @ $11.38

4-22-13 — 10% sold @ $12.06 6-3-13 — 10% sold @ $13.25


NE $4.82 -0.22 SE $4.91 -0.13

SOYBEANS: (basis vs. May futures, 4/23/14) NW $14.18 -0.51 SW $14.42 -0.27

NC $14.23 -0.46 SC $14.37 -0.32

NE $14.30 -0.39 SE $14.35 -0.34


Cash Strategist Positions CORN

NC $4.78 -0.26 SC $4.80 -0.24

— 10% sold @ $11.72 60% unsold

10-28-13 — 10% sold @ $12.78 11-11-13 — 10% sold @ $13.00 12-9-13 — 10% sold @ $13.34 1-21-14 — 20% sold @ $12.99

Iowa Farm Bureau members have free 24/7 access to AgriVisor daily updates through the Members portion of the IFBF website: www. The AgriVisor link is on the homepage under the Daily Market chart.

Neither AgriVisor LLC nor the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation is liable for any damages that anyone may sustain by reason of inaccuracy or inadequacy of information provided herein, any error of judgment involving any projections, recommendation or advice or any other act of omission. This publication is owned by the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation with advice provided by and copyrighted by AgriVisor Services LLC, 1701 Towanda Avenue, Bloomington, Ill., 61701. No reproduction of any material in whole or in part of this page may be made without written consent.

New guidelines apply to cover crop termination Farmers who planted cover crops last fall should be aware of new guidelines for cover crop termination that are slightly different from last year, Iowa State University Extension farm management specialist Steve Johnson said last week. The USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) changed the guidelines after meeting with officials from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Farm Service Agency (FSA). “Timing for termination of a cover crop can affect whether the crop insurance coverage attaches for the corn and soybean crop yet to be planted,” Johnson emphasized. The cover crop termination

guidelines for 2014 use four strategic management zones across the nation. Iowa has two of those zones. About one-third of the state, mostly in western Iowa, is in Zone 3, while the rest of Iowa is in Zone 4. Farmers in Zone 3 must terminate the cover crop at or before planting the subsequent crop in order to maintain insurance coverage. In Zone 4, farmers must terminate the cover crop at or within five days after planting. “Termination is not about a date; it’s about when you are going to plant the subsequent corn or soybean crop,” explained Johnson. “The cover crop, if it is not 100 percent destroyed, will compete with corn or soybeans for

moisture in the soil.” Farmers can still graze or hay a cover crop, but crop insurance will not attach to the crop following a cover crop if termination of the cover crop is not done according to these new guidelines, Johnson said. “The key is you want to kill the cover crop if you want the crop insurance coverage to attach,” he said. Farmers should contact their crop insurance agent if they have questions or are uncertain about termination practices. The 2014 Cover Crops Crop Insurance and NRCS Cover Crop Termination Guidelines FAQs are online at faq/covercrops2014.html.


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Working smarter is now easier than ever through the TruChoice® Advantage and TruChoice® Financing programs. Asana® XL is a restricted use pesticide. DuPont™ Aproach® fungicide and Asana® XL insecticide may not be registered for sale or use in all states. Contact your DuPont retailer or representative for details and availability in your state. Always read and follow all label directions and precautions for use. The DuPont Oval Logo, DuPont™, Aproach® and Asana® are trademarks or registered trademarks of DuPont or its affiliates. TruChoice® is a registered trademark of Pioneer. Copyright© 2014 E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company. All Rights Reserved. 4/14 DUPCAR.14015VA