The first USDA crop progress report counting the corn emerged so far this year is out and the number is just one short of double digits.
That’s still almost a full one-tenth of the crop already breaking ground and soaking up the sunshine, like the plants in these photos taken at a field along I-70 in Missouri over the weekend. That’s a full 7 percent more than last year and the five year average. Pretty amazing.
Planting progress is even more amazing, with 28 percent of the crop in the ground, compared to 15% normal for this time of year. How about some of these numbers? Tennessee is leading the pack with 88% planted, twice the average. North Carolina has 79% and Kentucky is at 75%. Okay, so those are Southern states, but the Midwest is no less impressive – maybe even more so. Illinois has 59% planted, Missouri is up to half the crop in the ground and Indiana growers are getting near that halfway point with 46% done. Compare that with the averages for this time of year – Illinois 17%, Missouri 27% and Indiana just 10% – and yeah, that is amazing.
I talked with a couple of growers earlier this month, one in southwest Missouri and one in northern Indiana and both already had gotten quite a bit of corn in the ground. Kip Tom of Indiana had 45% planted as of April 12 and Kip Cullers of Missouri said he had been planting “for 12 straight days and never shut the planters off.” That was April 10 and he already had corn emerging at that time.
Normally at this time of year, less than half of the states have any corn emerged, but this year right now only five have no little sprouts to report. Illinois and Missouri are over 20% emerged and Indiana has 10% up.
While 16 of the 18 major corn producing states are running ahead of normal in planting, there are a couple of notable exceptions – one of them being Iowa. Only 9% of the Iowa corn crop is in the ground, compared to 16% average. But they are ahead of last year when it was only 3%. The only other state running behind is Minnesota, just a percentage point behind normal, but that’s 11% more than last year at this time when none was planted.
Never can tell what kind of weather surprises may be in store later this year, but it’s nice to see the season get off to such a great start! A good start is half the race won.
Today, the Associated Press demonstrated why common sense is no longer common and often does not make a significant amount of so-called sense. In a story written to promote a Eurocentric anti-modern meat agenda, the media source rambles on about the evils of administering antibiotics to sick cattle, pigs and chickens. Fear-mongering at its finest, the author uses sparse quotes from agenda-driven groups, unaccredited consumers and specialty producers who would personally benefit from a ban, to supplement the single, credible quote from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration which states clearly, when taken on its own, that indiscriminant antibiotic use is not favorable.
The questions ignored are myriad. Do antibiotics have a role to play in animal agriculture? How are they actually used on a normal American farm? Why do the current regulations remain in place?
The author, through crafty copy, attempts to sway the reader from asking these basic, simple questions through a subtext appealing to the idea that all readers with common sense would make the same assumptions he does. If using antibiotics can be bad, it cannot ever be beneficial. If the interest groups and niche marketers seem like good, conscientious people, then the family farmers who day in and out produce safe, nutritious, affordable food choices in abundance for the country must be the party at fault. The more modern technology, here in the form of medication, used to produce that food, the higher the chance that it will not be as wholesome as what our forefathers and mothers ate.
How can the average person find information, both facts and firsthand accounts, from knowledgeable sources willing to explain what they say? In the case of food questions, CommonGround volunteers across the country share true accounts of how they grow and raise food on their own farms. Plus, their stories are supported by credible, complete information from actual experts.
If you want to know more about antibiotics than the mainstream media is able to provide, take a moment to meet Teresa Brandenberg, a cattle rancher from Kansas. A young mother who cares deeply for both her family and her cattle, Teresa understands the government regulations for antibiotic use, the reasoning behind those rules and how it affects families, both hers and yours.
Maybe, it could more accurately be said that common sense still plays an important role in the life of most Americans. With so many urban and suburbanites far removed from the farm, asking questions about what feeds their families both natural and responsible. Talking to the people who live that story makes a lot of sense.
Listening to over-hyped, sensationalized accounts of farming written by Washington media? Maybe that is what doesn’t make sense after all.
This Earth Day, a lot of people will gather in parks and at events across the country to both celebrate our amazing planet and look for ways to protect it.
In St. Louis, just a few miles down the main east-west corridor from the National Corn Growers Association’s headquarters, concerned citizens and eco-enthusiasts alike will converge upon Forest Park, weather permitting, in droves to discuss a wide array of enviro-issues. In previous years, conversations tended to hold up food-related movements, such as those toward organics or locavore lifestyles, as models of how the eco-conscious should live.
This year, instead of dismissing these celebrations as agenda-driven vehicles for anti-ag activities, farmers and those who support them need to join the conversation. Attending events, participating in open forums and telling the story of modern American farming, growers can bring an informed, balanced voice in support of their industry to the conversation.
In many ways, be it through the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance or CommonGround, farmers have already learned about the importance of telling their story. Many have even practiced doing so. Earth Day marks a distinct opportunity to take a moment out of the field and actively cultivate public understanding and dialogue.
A new website featuring award-winning videos produced by the South Dakota Corn Growers Association and Utilization Council, www.trueenvironmentalists.com, reveals why farmers should value Earth Day in striking clarity. Using the example of their home state, the videos focus on how taking care of the land, air and water while increasing productivity provides hope. Hope that farmers will be able to help sustain a rapidly growing, hungry world. Watching the population counter tick up rapidly, thinking about the need to produce more food in the next 40 years than was produced in the last 10,000 years combined, it becomes obvious that we need to share the message of hope.
Take the time to share the incredible hope that farmers have for our growing world. Activists who would falsely accuse farmers of destroying the earth while promoting practices that would starve a constantly increasing segment of the population have already spun their yarn standing under the Earth Day banner for years. Let’s take part in a day that celebrates the earth, air and soil central to the very core of every farmer.
Sunday is the 42nd official “Earth Day” celebration for environmentalists, but for agriculturalists it is just another day at work.
While the environmentalists are rallying in Washington and listening to Cheap Trick and Dave Mason, the agriculturalists will be working to feed the planet with modern farming techniques that decrease soil erosion and runoff and produce more food with less land.
While “people of all nationalities and backgrounds will voice their appreciation for the planet and demand its protection” on Earth Day, farmers and ranchers will be conserving land and water resources to feed them.
No other profession is so utterly dependent on the earth for its livelihood and no other profession has done so much to preserve and protect it, while still working to feed its growing population.
So, if you wonder why farmers and ranchers won’t be rallying in Washington this Sunday, it’s because they are out in the fields doing what they do best on Earth Day – being good stewards of the land and water and feeding the world.
The poll, conducted by American Viewpoint, also validates some of the most important ethanol industry legislative priorities – including maintaining the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), commercializing E15, providing incentives for the development of cellulosic ethanol, limiting tax incentives for the oil industry, and requiring automobile manufacturers to build cars that will run on fuel sources other than oil.
Here’s some of the specifics:
- 61% percent of those polled said they supported the RFS
- 58% of respondents said they were very likely or somewhat likely to buy fuel containing 15% ethanol
- 65% percent said they supported incentives to help expand cellulosic ethanol production
- 69% said they opposed tax subsidies and other incentives for petroleum companies
- 75% favor requiring automobile manufacturers to build cars that will run on fuel sources other than oil
Some will say that since the poll was commissioned by the ethanol industry that the results are to be expected, but the questions were carefully worded by the polling company American Viewpoint in such a way as to not be leaning towards a certain outcome. The poll was conducted via telephone March 27-29, 2012 with a sample size of 1,000 and a margin of error of +/- 3.1%. By any standards, it is a well-conducted, statistically significant poll.
The RFA will be taking the poll results to Capitol Hill this week to show lawmakers that the desire to make America less dependent on oil is shared by a majority of the American people – not just corn growers and the ethanol industry.
Among those that Jasmine calls on to “Stand Up” are geneticists, agricultural engineers, food scientists, nutritionists, meat scientists, microbiologists, agronomists, educators and researchers. The TAMU student advocates say they are striving to teach everyone how to care for animals, the land and the importance of producing safe, nutritious food for the world.
“For too long we’ve let others tell our story, and they haven’t told it very truthfully. It’s time for us, as students and advocates of agriculture, to step up and let the world know what great people farmers and ranchers are!”
The video already has nearly 14,000 views on YouTube since last week and has been shared all over the social media networks. Watch it, share it, and Stand Up for agriculture!
Despite the increasing pressure on farming from over-regulation, agriculture was handed a victory this week by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as the agency denied a 2008 petition by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) seeking to cancel 2,4-D herbicide registrations and revoke all tolerances for use.
According to the agency, “EPA evaluated all the data cited by NRDC and new studies submitted to EPA in response to the reregistration decision. Included in the new studies is a state-of-the-science extended one-generation reproduction study. That study provides an in-depth examination of 2,4-D’s potential for endocrine disruptor, neurotoxic, and immunotoxic effects. This study and EPA’s comprehensive review confirmed EPA’s previous finding that the 2,4-D tolerances are safe.”
In the decision, EPA noted that based on “studies addressing endocrine effects on wildlife species and the adequacy of personal protective equipment for workers, the Agency concluded that the science behind our current ecological and worker risk assessments for 2,4-D is sound and there is no basis to change the registrations.”
“The impact of this decision should not be understated,” said Jim Gray, executive director of the Industry Task Force II on 2,4-D Research Data. “This has been one of the most widely used and successful herbicides in history and growers along with other users around the U.S. and the world can continue to use it with confidence.”
The original patent for 2,4-D – a phenoxy herbicide and plant growth regulator – was issues in 1945 and today it is one of the most widely used herbicides in the world. It is currently found in approximately 600 products registered for agricultural, residential, industrial, and aquatic uses. It is used on a variety of crops including wheat, corn, rice, soybeans, potatoes, sugar cane, pome fruits, stone fruits and nuts. In addition, 2,4-D controls invasive species in pastures, aquatic areas and federally protected areas and broadleaf weeds in turf grass.
Right now, corn is not among the big users of 2,4-D, but that is expected to change in the future since one of its major manufacturers, Dow Chemical, has developed a 2,4-D resistant hybrid and is seeking federal approval for it. USDA is currently accepting comments on approval for that hybrid, which runs through April 27, but they are being pressured by non-agricultural interests to decline.
While this is an important victory for agricultural users of the herbicide, it is just as significant for suburban lawn care and other non-agricultural uses, such as controlling invasive plant species that pose risks to the environment. The major problem with 2,4-D is that it is perpetually linked with Agent Orange, the defoliant used in the Vietnam War. However, while it was an ingredient of Agent Orange, it is now widely believed that the main health problems came from contamination of 2,4,5-T, the other major ingredient in Agent Orange. Regardless, the link still creates a bit of an image problem.
NRDC is none too happy with EPA’s decision and may yet appeal it because the underlying agenda here is to get rid of ALL chemicals used in crop protection, no matter how safe they are. Thanks to the EPA for standing their ground this time around.
With corn planting running well ahead of schedule, speculation is running high about how much corn could be produced this year if the USDA’s acreage estimate is correct.
Just a week or so ago, the USDA Prospective Planting report predicted that corn growers will plant nearly 96 million acres of corn this year – four percent more than last year and nine percent higher than in 2010. Using the five year average corn yield of 154.3 bushels per acre, that shows a potential 14.8 billion bushel crop!
“Certainly if we have a trend yield, we’ll see record production and we should see substantial rebuilding of stocks,” says USDA chief economist Joe Glauber. “We were calculating with even 94 million acres we would see almost a doubling of stock yields.”
Glauber says they were actually pretty surprised by the significant increase in corn acreage intentions, but he reminds us that this is still just an educated guess at this point, since farmers were surveyed back in early March. “For some producers, they will plant that because they’ve already purchased corn seed, purchased fertilizer, they have their plans and barring any problems with weather, they’ll get those acres in,” he said. “But for some, they still haven’t necessarily made up their minds and will be watching market prices over the next few weeks.”
Those who have made up their minds are wasting no time getting their crop in the ground. Seven percent of the nation’s corn crop is now planted – more than double normal for this time of year. Progress in some states must be record setting with double digits even in the Midwest. Missouri has 23% of the crop planted compared to the five-year average of 8% and Illinois is at 17% where just 3% is normal. Huge gains were seen from the previous week in states like Tennessee, which jumped from 15 to 46% planted in a week, while Kentucky went from 5 to 32%. Normally, only 10 of the 18 top corn states have corn in the ground by this time of year but right now only North Dakota and Wisconsin have nothing to report.
Candy corn is a staple for Halloween, but jelly beans and chocolate bunnies get most of the basket space on Easter.
Believe it or not, there is such a thing as Easter corn. Yep, it’s marketed by Zachary Confections of Frankfort, Indiana and those pretty pastel colors would be a great addition to any Easter basket. And they are made with real corn syrup!
Zachary does candy corn like nobody else. They actually have an “Award Winning Candy Corn line” that even includes different flavors and colors like Cherry, Tangerine, Raspberry, Caramel, Caramel Apple and Cinnamon.
Believe it. Candy corn – it’s not just for Halloween anymore.
Sanjeewa Ranathunga was recognized for his research at the recent annual meeting of the Midwest American Dairy Science Association meetings with the Young Dairy Scholars Award.
Ranathunga is in the final stages of his Ph.D. program in dairy cattle nutrition at South Dakota State University under the guidance of Dr. Kenneth Kalscheur, Associate Professor in Dairy Science. During his time at SDSU, Ranathunga has conducted valuable research looking at DDGS and their impact on dairy cattle diets.
Ranathunga began his Master’s program at SDSU in dairy cattle nutrition under Kalscheur after completing an M.S. in Biochemistry at Pukyong National University in Busan, South Korea.
His Master’s research demonstrated that the non-forage fiber provided from DDGS and soyhulls can effectively replace starch provided by corn in dairy cow diets without negatively affecting the performance of dairy cows.
This research revealed that DDGS can be used as an effective energy source to replace high priced corn, and can decrease the feed cost of the diet. According to income over feed cost analysis, an economic advantage if $1.42 per cow per day was observed in this study when feeding the 21 percent DDGS diet compared with 0 percent DDGS diet.