The picture below probably looks like a harmless pile of dirt to the untrained eye, but this pile is filled with nutrients essential for crop growth, and probably smells a little. The mound is a pile of turkey litter (turkey manure) on a property in western Minnesota. Most are familiar with the use of pig or cow manure as fertilizer, but over the last 10 years turkey and chicken litter has grown in popularity due to its high nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium levels.

POW 3-26-15


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Soybean exports increase for the first time since late January ending a six week skid. Corn exports increased this week after two weeks of decline and wheat exports increased slightly. Soybean sales increased this week, but both corn and wheat sales declined.

Analysts are anxiously awaiting next week’s USDA Prospective Planting report; estimates are suggesting an increase of acres moving to soybeans. The shift, if realized, would support corn prices due to decreased corn production expectations. But with a significant amount of 2014 U.S. corn remaining unsold, a dramatic increase is unrealistic. ...continue reading

(WSJ) A fight over a small maker of crop seeds in China last year sheds light on how Beijing plans to secure its food resources: by building an answer to Monsanto Co.

The world’s second-largest economy needs a seed developer that can hold its own in the country’s $17 billion seed market against global agribusiness companies including DuPont Co. and Syngenta AG.

Last year state-backed Hunan Xindaxin Co. launched an unsolicited $60 million bid for Origin Agritech Ltd., a Nasdaq-listed seed developer that controls the rights to China’s first genetically modified corn. ...continue reading

(Reuters) China will no longer chase bumper grain harvests and instead make safer foods a priority and boost imports as it bids to tackle its rural environmental problems, government officials said.

The shift in emphasis suggests authorities are willing to forgo their obsession with agricultural output growth. Achieving bumper harvests has long been considered a political necessity for the world's most populous country, particularly after Mao's 1958 "Great Leap Forward" industrialisation campaign led to widespread famine.

"In our current grains policy, one of the most important ideas is to speed up the transition in the way we boost grain output," said Han Jun, deputy director of the Office of Central Rural Work Leading Group, the country's top decision maker on rural policy. ...continue reading

As the clock ticks swiftly to the March 31 deadline, farmers now have at their disposal all of the information they are going to have to make the farm program decision. Recently, price forecasts have been updated and the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) published their estimate for the 2014 crop year county average yields. With that in mind, this article seeks to provide a closing perspective on the ARC-CO and PLC decision for corn and soybeans by considering the magnitude of risk in forward markets and the implications for program payments. ...continue reading

Rural bankers saw a continued decline in both the rural economy and farmland prices over the past month. The strong U.S. dollar is making U.S. corn less attractive on the global market. The glut of corn and soybeans harvested in 2014 continues to weigh heavily on their respective prices. The stabilization of U.S. farmland prices has increased investor interest in farmland with investors purchasing a slightly larger number of acres than eight months ago.

The Rural Mainstreet Index (RMI), an index which ranges from 0 to 100 with 50.0 representing growth neutral, decreased in the March report to 43.6 from 46.4 in February. Ernie Goss, Ph.D, Economics Professor at Creighton University stated, “The strong US dollar is undermining the farm and energy sector by weakening agricultural exports, crop prices and energy prices. Rural Mainstreet businesses dependent on export, agriculture or energy are experiencing pullbacks in economic activity.” ...continue reading

Wheat growing areas of the Great Plains have experienced what will be a second straight dry winter. Snow cover helps insulate the dormant wheat from the winter’s frigid temperatures. The snowless winters of the past two years have resulted in higher levels of “winter kill”, a result of the dormant seed being exposed to cold temperatures.

The picture below is a wheat farm in southeastern Colorado taken by one of our readers. The lack of snow is not only causing increased winter kill, but it is also an important source of early moisture the wheat uses to help it through the early stages of growth.

POW 3-19-15


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

U.S. corn and soybean sales rebounded this week from near marketing year lows reported last week, but concern remains about their competitiveness on the global market due to the strength of the U.S. Dollar. Wheat sales were slightly lower from last week, but remained above their 10-week average. Wheat exports increased following a two weeks slide, but both corn and soybean exports decreased.

American farmers inch closer to planting season as the weather has become unseasonably warm across the Corn Belt. Farmers have reported little to no snow in major growing regions in Illinois, Iowa, and Minnesota, well ahead of last year when fields were still frozen into April. The warmer weather can allow for farmers to begin field work sooner, but many are still waiting for fields to fully dry before getting any tractors onto the field. ...continue reading

(WSJ) This remote swath of West Texas, dotted with bobbing oil-pump jacks and Angus steers, is never going to be confused with California’s Napa Valley or Bordeaux.

But among the rows of white-tufted cotton plants that have long been the area’s cash crop, farmers are increasingly cultivating a new product: wine grapes.

“I’m a West Texas boy who drinks beer,” said Brent Hogue, whose family is now growing Merlot and Albariño grapes alongside cotton. “With grapes we can hopefully survive in the farm.”

The Lone Star State now ranks as the nation’s fifth-largest wine producer, after California, Washington, New York and Oregon, according to Wines Vines Analytics, the research arm of trade publication Wines & Vines. Last year, Texas winemakers churned out 1.8 million cases, 36% more than in 2010. ...continue reading

(Reuters) U.S. farmers will likely use less nitrogen fertilizer this season with the cost sky-high even though the price of natural gas, the key ingredient to make it, is down 40 percent from last year.

The reduction in usage should hit corn plantings more than other crops, since nitrogen is the key booster of corn yields.

"What we're seeing this season is a reduction in rates," said Ray Carpenter, senior vice president of agronomy for Farmers Cooperative in Ames, Iowa, referring to nitrogen bookings. "Reduced rates mean reduced yield."

Fertilizer's base feedstock, natural gas, is around $2.716 per million BTU, down from $4.536 last year. The price of anhydrous ammonia - a popular nitrogen fertilizer - remains high, around $650-$700/ton. ...continue reading