(AgPro) Monsanto Co, the world's largest seed company, is also known for the popularity of its Roundup herbicide, a herbicide beloved by farmers and homeowners alike for its speed and deadly assault on tough weeds.

But Monsanto's ongoing efforts to try to take over Swiss agrochemicals firm Syngenta, a rival whose product portfolio offers an array of agricultural chemicals, could spark a sell-off or de-emphasis of a product line that last year brought in roughly $5 billion, or a third of total revenues for Monsanto, according to industry sources.

The key ingredient in Roundup is glyphosate, the world's most widely used herbicide. But glyphosate's heavy use has led to high levels of weed resistance, and Monsanto, Syngenta, and rivals BASF, Dow AgroSciences, a unit of Dow Chemical, and others have been developing alternative herbicide options. ...continue reading

Corn planting inched toward the finish line as farmers continued to be delayed by persistent rainfall last week. Soybean planting progress has also seen its large lead on the five-year planting average dwindle due to rain. Winter wheat conditions were estimated well above levels reported last year and spring wheat planting is nearly complete.

The USDA estimated 92% of corn acres were planted across the U.S. as of May 25th, a 7% increase from the prior week and 4% ahead of the five-year average. Of the five largest corn producing states in the U.S., Minnesota reported the highest level of completion at 98%, followed by Illinois at 97%, and Iowa at 96%. Farmers with corn acres left to plant this late in the season may consider switching their remaining acres to beans. ...continue reading

Low grain prices and the strong U.S. dollar continues to hamper the rural economy. Rural bankers surveyed around the Midwest reported continued pessimism, though slightly less than they did in April. Farmland values were also reportedly down, but responses were mixed. Farm equipment sales continue to decline as farmers look forward to another potential decline in farm income in 2015. Bankers were asked about the impact of the bird flu on their area, most reported little.

The Rural Mainstreet Index (RMI), an index which ranges from 0 to 100 with 50.0 representing growth neutral, increased in the May report to 49.0, from 46.0 in April. Ernie Goss, Ph.D, Economics Professor at Creighton University stated, “The stronger U.S. dollar continues to be a drag on the Rural Mainstreet economy. The strong U.S. dollar has made U.S. goods, especially agriculture and energy products, less competitively priced abroad. This has dampened farm income and the Rural Mainstreet economy. ...continue reading

(Reuters) U.S. seeds giant Monsanto is trying to line up buyers for assets worth up to $8 billion to appease competition authorities before making a fresh takeover approach for Swiss Syngenta, possibly within three weeks, industry sources said.

Monsanto is expected to tap German chemicals group BASF, an existing joint venture partner, as it seeks a buyer for the U.S. seeds business of Syngenta, which can't be part of its proposed takeover, sources said.

The St. Louis-based group is after Syngenta for its industry-leading crop chemicals, driven by the idea that seeds and pesticides will be better sold and developed together. ...continue reading

As winter turned to spring, weather was warm and dry, allowing farmers to enter fields in early spring; but over the last three weeks the weather has been a much different story. Rain and overcast cool conditions have stalled over the Midwest, laying down rain and dropping temperatures to below freezing in some areas.

Much of that excess rain that has fallen over the past three weeks has ended up in one of the many drainage ditches you can see across the Midwest. The picture below was taken in Hancock County, Iowa. The massive network of waterways in Iowa provides drainage assistance to millions of acres of farmland.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Remember, we are always looking for agricultural pictures or videos from anywhere in the world. Submit your picture or videos to farmlandforecast@colvin-co.com

Corn sales increased substantially, more than doubling their total from last week, behind soaring Japanese demand. Soybean sales also increased, but wheat sales decreased. Soybean and wheat exports increased, but corn exports decreased slightly.

Late last week meteorologists from Australia, Japan, and the United States confirmed that an El Nino weather system is currently occurring. Ocean temperatures were recorded at high enough levels to support what is classified as a weak El Nino, but there is still time for it to become more powerful. El Nino weather systems are normally classified by dry weather in Australia and southeastern Asia, and wet conditions in North and South America. ...continue reading

(Vox) As the world's population soars past 7 billion, farmland and freshwater are becoming increasingly valuable resources.

And, in response, a growing number of companies and investors — Wall Street traders, Chinese state corporations, Gulf sheiks — have been buying up farmland abroad. The trade has been booming since 2007, when a spike in grain prices got everyone fretting about shortages. The purchases help countries like China and Saudi Arabia secure food supplies and conserve water domestically. But critics worry that the trade has also spurred a rise in "land grabs" — when sellers in countries like Ethiopia or Cambodia forcibly acquire the farmland from locals in the first place. ...continue reading

(Marcellus) Because of high demand and low supply, the price of farmland in Colorado and surrounding states has gone up.

“In general, this year and the last five years, (with) agriculture land, whether dry or irrigated, we’re seeing good, strong prices,” said Tom Haren, owner of AGPROfessionals, 3050 67th Ave., No. 200, in Greeley.

Haren said he has seen an increase in demand for farming and ranching land, but the availability hasn’t changed. ...continue reading

Farmland values declined year over year by 2.5% in the first quarter of 2015, after 11 quarterly year over year increases. Lower grain prices during the second half of 2014 caused farmland values to decline in the eighth federal district for the first time since 2011.

Credit conditions in the district also struggled as falling grain prices suppressed 2014 farm income. Bankers reported an increase in loan demand while loan repayment rates fell. Respondents suggested low grain prices would continue to suppress farmland values over the next three months, while also impacting the credit condition for the district. ...continue reading

The 2015 planting onslaught was finally slowed by persistent wet weather this past week. Planting progress for corn, soybean, and wheat all slowed after gradually increasing their pace the prior two weeks.

The USDA estimated 85% of corn acres were planted across the U.S. as of May 17th, a 10% increase from the prior week and 10% ahead of the five-year average. Of the five largest corn producing states in the U.S., Minnesota reported the highest level of completion at 97%, followed by Illinois at 94%, and Iowa at 92%. Indiana showed the greatest improvement from last week, increasing by 22%, but remains the furthest from completion, with 74% acres planted. ...continue reading