In the biblical book of Genesis, the pharaoh of Egypt dreams of seven thin cows eating seven fat cows, which signifies seven years of famine to follow seven years of good crops. In 2014, we are seeing the reverse, as bumper crops globally have reversed the trend of rising food prices that led to riots in some countries in recent years.

This has not deterred the many institutional investors who are looking at farmland as an asset class that has hitherto been neglected. Many experts say this is just a blip in a longer-term trend that makes any weakness in prices a buying opportunity.

While agricultural land values in the central US corn belt did creep up by a percentage point in the past year, this compares with double digit rises in recent years. ...continue reading

Soybean harvest is catching up as the gap between current harvest progress and the five-year average begins to shrink. Farmers across the Corn Belt have reported significant soybean harvest progress and above average yields. Corn continues to lag, mainly because the corn in the field is still too wet to harvest. On average, farmers have been reporting corn moisture contents between 22-27%, well above the optimal 15%. The six to ten day forecasts are predicting drier weather in major corn growing regions, which should help dry the corn down.

The USDA estimated the corn harvested at 31%, a 7% increase from last week, but 22% behind the five-year average. Analysts estimated corn harvest at 31% ahead of today’s report. Of the top five corn producing states, Iowa and Minnesota remain the furthest behind their five-year average at 34% and 31%, respectively. ...continue reading

The rural economy continues to be lead downward by stubbornly low grain prices. Along with the rural economy, the farmland price index has fallen significantly. Low grain prices have led to decreased farm incomes which have stunted sales expectations for farm implements.

The Rural Mainstreet Index (RMI), an index which ranges from 0 to 100 with 50.0 representing growth neutral, decreased to 43.4 from 48.2 in September, the lowest level since February 2010. The expected decline in farm income, due to lower grain prices, is weighing heavily on agriculture dependent areas. ...continue reading

Corn sales exploded due to low corn prices and expectations of a record crop in the October World Agriculture Supply and Demand Estimates. Soybean and wheat sales also increased. Soybean exports continued their torrent rise increasing for the sixth consecutive week, their highest level since February. Corn and wheat exports decreased from last week.

Harvest has continued to fall behind the five-year average for corn, soybean, and wheat providing some price relief. The six to ten day forecast is reporting dry weather across the Corn Belt, which should provide farmers with their best opportunity to progress harvest thus far in October. ...continue reading

Have you ever wondered what soybean harvest looks like from the combines point-of-view? Below is an amazing video taken by Matt Boucher of Boucher Farms in North Central Illinois. With a Go-Pro camera mounted to the cutter bar of the combine, the video gives an inside look to how a combine removes soybeans from a field. For more of Matt’s videos visit his YouTube channel:

Remember, we are always looking for agricultural pictures from anywhere in the world. Submit your picture to

(Reuters) With the world population rising, demographers are grappling with one of the most pressing issues of the century - will there be enough food for an extra two to four billion people?

Projections of global population growth vary widely with the United Nations last month forecasting numbers rising to 9.6 billion in 2050 and around 10.9 billion by the end of the century from 7.2 billion currently.

That is about 1.5 billion more people than another estimate calculated by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), a Vienna-based research organisation, which predicts a world population peak of 9.4 billion in 2070.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that 60 percent more food is needed to feed a world population of nine billion people. ...continue reading

(New York Times) For about 4,000 years, farming in this region has been a touchstone of Chinese civilization. It was here that the mythic hero Hou Ji is said to have taught Chinese how to grow grain, and the area’s rich harvests underpinned China’s first dynasties, feeding officials and soldiers in the nearby imperial capital.

But nowadays, Yangling’s fields are in disarray. Frustrated by how little they earn, the ablest farmers have migrated to cities, hollowing out this rural district in the Chinese heartland. Left behind are people like Hui Zongchang, 74, who grows wheat and corn on a half-acre plot while his son works as a day laborer in the metropolis of Xi’an to the east.

Mr. Hui, still vigorous despite a stoop, said he makes next to no money from farming. He tills the earth as a kind of insurance. “What land will they farm if I don’t keep this going?” he said of his children. “Not everyone makes it in the city.” ...continue reading

The gap between this years reported harvest progress and the five-year average continues to widen. Wet weather remains to keep farmers at bay. Maturity in soybeans has caught up to the five-year average, while corn maturity is still behind. Conditions remain near record levels as they have for much of the season. Farmers have expressed some concern over strong frosts that could impact yields.

Corn conditions were estimated by the USDA at 74% in “Good” or “Excellent” condition, unchanged from last week. 19% was considered “Fair,” unchanged from last week, while only 7% was considered “Poor” or “Very Poor.” Of the Corn Belt states, Illinois had the most corn rated “Excellent” at 34%, followed by Indiana at 26%. ...continue reading

(DTN) As Matt Hughes pulled large, well-formed ears from his cornfield near McLean, Ill., he conceded that his Bt hybrids performed well this year. Nearly every kernel was free from insect damage and yields could set some farm records.

So why is this central Illinois farmer considering abandoning corn containing traits in favor of conventional, non-genetically engineered (GE) hybrids next year?

"The problem is we've seen a 50% decline in our commodity prices recently," Hughes explained to DTN. "Last year, our margins suffered dramatically, and we're below cost of production today even with increased yields." ...continue reading

(Bloomberg) The Chinese government is trying to convince Zhou Guangxiu that the corn in the congee she wants to feed her son is safe. That may not be easy.

Zhou, the owner of a recycling business in the northeast coastal city of Weihai, said one source of her concern was an anonymous article shared online by her friends that alleges genetically modified crops cause infertility in Asians, part of a U.S. ploy against China. She fears her 21-year-old son won’t have his own family if she feeds him the corn-meal porridge.

“I definitely won’t let my son eat it,” Zhou said by telephone. “It’s not just me. All our friends are worried. All the corn grown now is genetically modified.” ...continue reading