Corn Commentary

American Ethanol Chicago NASCAR Weekend

American Ethanol was featured on the national stage again for NASCAR racing action at Chicagoland Speedway.

Illinois corn farmer Donna Jeschke got to wave the green flag for the American Ethanol 225 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race. Donna is near the end of her term on the board of the Illinois Corn Marketing Board.

She found the experience to be exciting and just a little scary. She says this type of promotion puts what she does as a farmer out in front of the public to help them better understand where their food comes from.

In addition to the American Ethanol 225 NASCAR also held the Nationwide Series STP 300 on Sunday. You can find lots of photos from the weekend’s activities in my photo album. Link is below

Listen to my interview with Donna here: Interview with Donna Jeschke

Listen to Mark Marquis, Marquis Energy, make the “Drivers, start your engines” call here: Start Your Engines

Illinois Corn Growers NASCAR Weekend Photo Album

Corn Growers Want Farm Bill Now

Corn growers are heading to Capitol Hill this week with a message – they want a farm bill NOW!

“All of the NCGA corn farmers, 127 delegates are in Washington DC, and we’re going to present our message that we want a farm bill now,” said National Corn Growers Association president Garry Niemeyer of Illinois. “And hopefully we’re going to get a rain as well.”

The farmers on the Hill are also talking about the drought, according to Garry. “We still don’t know what the final yields will be and that makes a lot of people nervous,” he said. “We’re very concerned about what the future holds for demand destruction because of the higher prices of corn as well.”

With the clear example of what weather can do to a crop, Niemeyer says getting a farm bill passed is more important now than ever. “Our highest priority is crop insurance,” he said. “That’s the reason it’s so essential and you’ll see on the corn growers on the Hill wearing this pin that says “Farm Bill Now.”

Listen my interview with Garry here: NCGA president Garry Niemeyer

E15 is On Sale in Kansas

Consumers now have another choice at the fuel pump, at least in Lawrence, Kansas.

The Zarco 66 “Oasis” station in Lawrence began offering 15% ethanol blended fuel, E15, in a blender pump last week for two cents a gallon less than E10.

Scott Zaremba, owner of Zarco 66 stations, is pleased to be the first to offer consumers real choice at the pump in the form of E15 ethanol fuel. “We just whole-heartedly believe that alternatives are what we need to be moving toward to lessen our dependence on foreign oil and also being able to have cleaner burning product,” said Zaremba.

Zaremba, the incoming President of the Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association of Kansas, is offering the E15 as one of the choices at the station’s blender pump, which was one of the first installed in the state in 2008 and he also plans to offer E15 at a second Zarco 66 in Ottawa. Zarco overcame the hurdles required to offer the fuel with the help of the Kansas Corn Commission, East Kansas Agri-Energy, and the Renewable Fuels Association.

Listen to interview with Zaremba here: Zarco CEO Scott Zaremba

USDA Lowers Corn Yields Due to Drought

The USDA World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimate report out this morning did, as expected, lower corn yields as a result of the hot and dry conditions throughout much of the corn belt this summer.

The projected U.S. corn yield was lowered 20 bushels per acre to 146 bushels reflecting the rapid decline in crop conditions since early June and based on that and reduced harvested area based on the June 29 Acreage report, WASDE reduced corn production prospects by 1.8 billion bushels from last month. “Persistent and extreme June dryness across the central and eastern Corn Belt and extreme late June and early July heat from the central Plains to the Ohio River Valley have substantially lowered yield prospects across most of the major growing regions,” the report says.

Reduced supplies and higher prices are expected to sharply lower 2012/13 corn usage with the biggest reduction for feed and residual disappearance, projected down 650 million bushels. Food, seed, and industrial use is also projected lower, down 105 million bushels, mostly reflecting a 100-million-bushel reduction in corn used to produce ethanol. Exports are projected 300 million bushels lower as tight supplies, higher prices, and strong competition from South American exporters limit U.S. shipments. A 52-million-bushel increase in beginning stocks and a 15-million-bushel increase in imports offset only a small portion of the expected reduction in this year’s crop. Ending stocks for 2012/13 are projected at 1.2 billion bushels, down 698 million from last month’s projection. The season average 2012/13 farm price for corn is projected at $5.40 to $6.40 per bushel, up sharply from $4.20 to $5.00 per bushel in June.

The picture here was taken in central Illinois yesterday afternoon – and that’s good compared to so many other areas.

Shadow in the Corn

This is not a Delta commuter jet doing aerial application on this corn field. No, it’s just why I like to have a camera on me at all times. Just that random, “that looks like it might be a cool photo” shot. This is our plane landing in Bloomington, IL today. You can click on the photo for a larger version.

I’m in the area for the Conservation Technology Information Center Indian Creek Watershed field tour. Hopefully, we’ll find some great corn conservation stories to share!

Cultural Controls For Aflatoxin

We’ve posted several interviews from the Corn Utilization Technology Conference focusing on various ways to control aflatoxin in corn. Here’s one to add to the series, with a focus on cultural controls.

Erick Larson, Mississippi State University, chaired a session titled, “Aflatoxin Cultural Controls.” Since he’s been working as an extension specialist he says there’s been a big growth in corn acreage in the south. I asked him what a cultural control is. He says it “is basically anything you can do from a management standpoint to affect the productivity of the crop and ultimately to also affect the aflatoxin content.” Since plant stress is a major contributor to the problem there are management decisions which may alleviate that stress during the growing season. He says there are things growers can do now like using irrigation as an example. Another is timely planting, hybrid selection and more.

Listen to my interview with Erick here: Interview with Erick Larson

2012 CUTC Photo Album

Self-Appointed Pseudo-Scholars Use Common Misperception, Not Common Sense

Lately, articles have flooded the internet claiming that the drought will cause food prices to skyrocket.  Combining the idea that a wide variety of grocery items contain corn and the fact that the hot, dry weather has damaged the U.S. corn crop, they loudly announce their “expert” analysis.  Obviously, food prices will go up soon.

Unfortunately, these “Einsteins” based their supposed economic analysis in incomplete, misconstrued facts.  Those actually familiar with how food prices rise and fall have come to a very different conclusion.

The truth is simple, but it requires an understanding of agriculture and our nation’s food system, something few of these “experts” actually have.

Corn, and many other commodity crops, constitutes a small percentage of the price consumers pay at their local market.  This means that even when the price of corn rises at the elevator or on the trading floor only a small fraction of the small increase in a small amount trickles into the foods American’s feed their families.

From the cost of slick marketing campaigns to the price of fuel, costs which may not be readily apparent to the alarmist authors actually drive food prices in this country.

America’s family farmers, the families who will truly feel the effects of the drought, will still provide the affordable, abundant food choices upon which the nation depends.  The only cause for alarm here comes from the megaphone provided to megamouths who fan false flames in a highly combustible situation.

Adding Value To Ethanol Byproducts

To enhance the efficiency of the ethanol production process researchers are working on ways to make use of the production byproducts. One of them is Kurt Spokas, USDA-ARS, pictured at the table as one of the panelists for a session titled, “New Processing Technology.” I spoke with him about his remarks at the recent Corn Utilization Technology Conference. His presentation was titled, “Adding Value to Ethanol Production Byproducts Through Microwave Assisted Pyrolysis.”

Kurt’s remarks focused on a project he’s working on with the Minnesota Corn Growers that is converting distillers grains into various bio byproducts that are of higher value than the grains themselves. He said the main take home message was “We have to start thinking about all these bio-energy residuals and what are potential value added products we can get from them.” In my interview with Kurt he describes several of the types of products he’s working on with his project.

Listen to my interview with Kurt here: Interview with Kurt Spokas

2012 CUTC Photo Album

CUTC Poster Session

Posters are popular at the Corn Utilization Technology Conference. The Chair for the poster session this year is Nathan Danielson, Dupont Applied BioSciences. He says the poster session allows researchers that may not have a project ready for a full talk or presentation, to showcase the work they’re doing and talk to people in the industry about it. The CUTC program is designed to provide plenty of time for interaction. The posters are brought to the conference by graduate students as well as companies doing work they’d like to present in this format. There’s also a competition for prizes.

Nathan says the National Corn Growers Association hold this poster session to support these students and researchers. This year the session was expanded to have a new topical division on aflatoxin. It’s part of NCGA’s commitment to helping understand and work on the aflatoxin issue.

Listen to my interview with Nathan here: Interview with Nathan Danielson

2012 CUTC Photo Album

Looking at Transgenic Approaches to Aflatoxin Control

Let’s continue our series of interviews about aflatoxin from the recent Corn Utilization Technology Conference with Ron Saylor, University of Arkansas. Ron participated in a session titled, “Aflatoxin Genetics/Transgenic/Plant Breeding.” His topic was “Transgenic Approaches to Control Aflatoxins in Corn.”

He says that breeding for resistance to this problem is “extraordinarily difficult.” So they’ve taken another approach, inserting some very potent anti-fungal trans genes into corn to address the problem. To date he has one trans gene inserted and will work on a new one as soon as he returns from the conference. Looking ahead he says that “Optimally I would hope that eventually the seed companies would adopt this as one of their stacked traits.”

Listen to my interview with Ron here: Interview with Ron Saylor

2012 CUTC Photo Album



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