Tag Archives: crops

As Nebraska

farmers continue to enjoy record yields, researchers are warning that

nutrient removal is now outpacing nutrient application, a trend which

could soon hit growers’ bottom lines.

These are the findings of an exclusive eKonomics nutrient balance

analysis, which recently collected USDA harvest records and manure

application data, along with the Association of American Plant Food

Control Officials (AAPFCO) fertilizer consumption reports.

“Ultimately, Nebraska farmers may find themselves victims of their own

success,” said Robert Mullen, Ph.D., Director of Agronomy at Nutrien.

“Thanks to recent bumper crops, growers here are removing nutrients

faster than they are applying them.”

Since 1975, the potassium balance in Nebraska has dropped from a 37

pounds-per-acre deficit to a 57 pounds-per-acre deficit. Meanwhile,

the phosphorus balance removal is at a steady 14 pounds-per-acre


“This is a significant swing, which if not corrected will lead to more

Nebraska soils falling below the critical level for these critical

nutrients,” Mullen stated.

Today, 9 percent of Nebraska soils already fall below the critical

level for potassium, while nearly 35 percent are deficient in


“The big takeaway here is-it’s easy to get lulled into a false sense

of security when yields have been so good,” Mullen said. “But if

you’re not replenishing the soil at levels that match harvests, it’s

not a question of if your bottom line will be impacted, but when. And

that applies to everyone. Whether you’re renting for one year or have

owned and operated the land for decades.”

“There’s no escaping the math. When nutrient balance trends go down,

farmer profits ultimately go down too,” said Mullen.


Topeka – Today Governor Jeff Colyer, MD issued Drought Declarations for Kansas counties with Executive Order 18-11 at a press conference with Secretary of Agriculture Jackie McClaskey and Kansas Water Office Director Tracy Streeter. The declaration includes all 105 counties either in an emergency, warning or watch status.

“The entire State of Kansas has been considered in drought or abnormally dry conditions for the past several weeks,” said Governor Colyer. “This has led to an extremely high risk of fire hazards and many have already occurred.”

The drought declaration placed 28 counties in emergency status, 29 into a warning status and 48 into a watch status. This action was recommended by Tracy Streeter, Director of the Kansas Water Office and Chair of the Governor’s Drought Response Team. Over the past six months the state-wide average precipitation was only 66 percent of normal and in January and February the state-wide average precipitation was even less, at 43 percent of normal.

“While wildfires are the most urgent concern at this point, water supplies can be dramatically impacted in a very short period of time, especially as we start to enter into spring and summer months,” said Streeter. “The Governor’s Drought Response Team will continue to monitor the situation closely as future outlooks call for drought persisting and make recommendations to the Governor as necessary.”

Secretary of Agriculture McClaskey, who was also present at the press conference, remarked on the potential impact the drought could have on Kansas agriculture, saying “The Kansas Department of Agriculture is committed to serving Kansas farmers and ranchers, especially during challenging times like the current drought. Whether that means making sure regulations and statutes are in place to move hay or working with our federal partners to gain access to additional grazing land, we stand ready to work with farmers and ranchers and all of our partners in agriculture.”

Counties who are in emergency stage are eligible for emergency use of water from certain state fishing lakes due to the Kansas Water Office (KWO) Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Kansas Department of Wildlife Parks and Tourism (KDWPT).

County Drought Stage Declarations:


Drought Emergency:

Barber, Barton, Clark, Comanche, Edwards, Finney, Ford, Grant, Gray, Hamilton, Harper, Haskell, Hodgeman, Kearny, Kingman, Kiowa, Meade, Morton, Pawnee, Pratt, Reno, Rice, Sedgwick, Seward, Stafford, Stanton, Stevens, Sumner


Drought Warning:

Allen, Butler, Chautauqua, Chase, Cowley, Dickinson, Elk, Ellis, Ellsworth, Greeley, Greenwood, Harvey, Lane, Lincoln, Marion, McPherson, Montgomery, Morris, Neosho, Ness, Rush, Russell, Saline, Scott, Trego, Wallace, Wichita, Wilson, Woodson

Drought Watch:

Anderson, Atchison, Bourbon, Brown, Cherokee, Cheyenne, Clay, Cloud, Coffey, Crawford, Decatur, Doniphan, Douglas, Franklin, Geary, Gove, Graham, Jackson, Jefferson, Jewell, Johnson, Labette, Leavenworth, Linn, Logan, Lyon, Marshall, Miami, Mitchell, Nemaha, Norton, Osage, Osborne, Ottawa, Phillips, Pottawatomie, Rawlins, Republic, Riley, Rooks, Shawnee, Sheridan, Sherman, Smith, Thomas, Wabaunsee, Washington, Wyandotte

For more detailed information about current conditions, see the Kansas Climate Summary and Drought Report on the Kansas Water Office website at: www.kwo.ks.gov

LONDON,  — Agriculture was touted as one

of the first industries that would leverage the rapid development of

commercial-grade small unmanned aerial vehicles (sUAVs) and

incorporate them into its practices. Early on, the use cases for an

aerial analytics platform were evident to drone solution providers,

farmers, and agronomists. As a result, large numbers of drone solution

providers have entered the market over the past 5 to 7 years, either

specializing in agricultural solutions or having it as part of their

wider portfolio in anticipation for explosive growth.

However, according to ABI Research, a market-foresight advisory firm

providing strategic guidance on the most compelling transformative

technologies, the explosive growth forecasted by others is hugely

over-estimated.  ABI Research’s projected revenue for sUAV

agricultural services is US$3.2 billion by 2025.

“ABI Research gives comparatively conservative estimates at the

valuation of the drone-ag market for many reasons, including an

increasingly consolidated market, and the actual needs of the farming

industry,” says Rian Whitton, Principal Analyst at ABI Research.

“The overenthusiasm and exaggeration in the early stages of the

industry should be subdued by the fact that drones are not the only

source of aerial imaging,” Whitton explains.  “Satellites and manned

aircraft have been providing similar services for years, and have some

identifiable advantages. This emphasizes a more important point that

the discussion really does not center on the hardware of drones, but

on the actionable insights that are garnered by data-gathering.” Where

this comes from is far less important that the solutions it provides,

and this is a key reason why so many companies in the vendor ecosystem

provide cloud-services and specialist software for analyzing different

vegetation indices.

ABI Research can predict that the short-term future will harbor

considerable change in the drone-agriculture ecosystem. The large

number of current vendors will likely be trimmed down into a more

consolidated market, as aerospace giants like Airbus and Boeing

further involve themselves in delivering commercial sUAV solutions.

Whitton continues, “As argued, the key resource in this market is not

the drone, but the data from the aerial imagery, and the ability to

gain predictive and prescriptive intelligence from that data. Drones

are but one of many platforms that can provide aerial imaging. For the

foreseeable forecast, one can expect drones to become more popular,

but manned aircraft and satellites will still play a critical role in

the aerial imaging market.”

There has been a history in farming of leasing technology. This is

because, despite being a historically enormous industry, agriculture

has been owned by a plurality of actors, most of whom lack the

necessary capital to buy and maintain in-house technological

solutions. With aerial imaging and analysis, you don’t only need the

hardware, operating system, and software to conduct the mission, you

also need to maintain the solution and derive insights from it.

In most cases, therefore, agricultural companies will shift capital

responsibility to the vendors, who will provide a service for aerial

imaging, analysis (predictive and prescriptive), and action (spraying

or planting. This should not be characterized as drones-as-a-service

(DaaS), given that many companies already providing this service are

using imagery from satellites or manned aircraft. Rather it would be

more accurate to call it aerial-imaging-as-a-service (AIaaS) including

data capture, prediction, prescription, and potentially action.

Within a small timeframe, the sUAV-Agriculture ecosystem has evolved

from a select number of hobbyists and drone manufacturers, to a

multi-billion-dollar industry that is now serviced by the world’s

largest aerospace giants. “Commentators, investors and onlookers

should not let the many caveats and the legitimate issue of industry

hype distract from what is an exciting technological and commercial

development for a key primary industry,” Whitton concludes.

These findings are from ABI Research’s Small Unmanned Aerial Systems

for Agriculture Applications report. This report is part of the

company’s Robotics, Automation & Intelligent Systems research service,

which includes research, data, and analyst insights.

About ABI Research

ABI Research provides strategic guidance for visionaries needing

market foresight on the most compelling transformative technologies,

which reshape workforces, identify holes in a market, create new

business models and drive new revenue streams. ABI’s own research

visionaries take stances early on those technologies, publishing

ground-breaking studies often years ahead of other technology advisory

firms. ABI analysts deliver their conclusions and recommendations in

easily and quickly absorbed formats to ensure proper context. Our

analysts strategically guide visionaries to take action now and

inspire their business to realize a bigger picture.

CALEXICO, Calif. (AP) — The daily commute from Mexico to California farms is the same as it was before Donald Trump became president. Hundreds of Mexicans cross the border and line the sidewalks of Calexico’s tiny downtown by 4 a.m., napping on cardboard sheets and blankets or sipping coffee from a 24-hour doughnut shop until buses leave for the fields.

For decades, cross-border commuters have picked lettuce, carrots, broccoli, onions, cauliflower and other vegetables that make California’s Imperial Valley “America’s Salad Bowl” from December through March. As Trump visits the border Tuesday, the harvest is a reminder of how little has changed despite heated rhetoric in Washington.

Trump will inspect eight prototypes for a future 30-foot border wall that were built in San Diego last fall. He made “a big, beautiful wall” a centerpiece of his campaign and said Mexico would pay for it.

But border barriers extend the same 654 miles (1,046 kilometers) they did under President Barack Obama and so far Trump hasn’t gotten Mexico or Congress to pay for a new wall.

Trump also pledged to expand the Border Patrol by 5,000 agents, but staffing fell during his first year in office farther below a congressional mandate because the government has been unable to keep pace with attrition and retirements. There were 19,437 agents at the end of September, down from 19,828 a year earlier.

In Tijuana, tens of thousands of commuters still line up weekday mornings for San Diego at the nation’s busiest border crossing, some for jobs in landscaping, housekeeping, hotel maids and shipyard maintenance. The vast majority are U.S. citizens and legal residents or holders of “border crossing cards” that are given to millions of Mexicans in border areas for short visits. The border crossing cards do not include work authorization but some break the rules.

Even concern about Trump’s threat to end the North American Free Trade Agreement is tempered by awareness that border economies have been integrated for decades. Mexican “maquiladora” plants, which assemble duty-free raw materials for export to the U.S., have made televisions, medical supplies and other goods since the 1960s.

“How do you separate twins that are joined at the hip?” said Paola Avila, chairwoman of the Border Trade Alliance, a group that includes local governments and business chambers. “Our business relationships will continue to grow regardless of what happens with NAFTA.”

Workers in the Mexicali area rise about 1 a.m., carpool to the border crossing and wait about an hour to reach Calexico’s portico-covered sidewalks by 4 a.m. Some beat the border bottleneck by crossing at midnight to sleep in their cars in Calexico, a city of 40,000 about 120 miles (192 kilometers) east of San Diego.

Fewer workers make the trek now than 20 and 30 years ago. But not because of Trump.

Steve Scaroni, one of Imperial Valley’s largest labor contractors, blames the drop on lack of interest among younger Mexicans, which has forced him to rely increasingly on short-term farmworker visas known as H-2As.

“We have a saying that no one is raising their kids to be farmworkers,” said Scaroni, 55, a third-generation grower and one of Imperial Valley’s largest labor contractors. Last week, he had two or three buses of workers leaving Calexico before dawn, compared to 15 to 20 buses during the 1980s and 1990s.

Crop pickers at Scaroni’s Fresh Harvest Inc. make $13.18 an hour but H-2As bring his cost to $20 to $30 an hour because he must pay for round-trip transportation, sometimes to southern Mexico, and housing. The daily border commuters from Mexicali cost only $16 to $18 after overhead.

Scaroni’s main objective is to expand the H-2A visa program, which covered about 165,000 workers in 2016. On his annual visit to Washington in February to meet members of Congress and other officials, he decided within two hours that nothing changed under Trump.

“Washington is not going to fix anything,” he said. “You’ve got too many people – lobbyists, politicians, attorneys – who make money off the dysfunction. They make money off of not solving problems. They just keep talking about it.”

Jose Angel Valenzuela, who owns a house in Mexicali and is working his second harvest in Imperial Valley, earns more picking cabbage in an hour than he did in a day at a factory in Mexico. He doesn’t pay much attention to news and isn’t following developments on the border wall.

“We’re doing very well,” he said as workers passed around beef tacos during a break. “We haven’t seen any noticeable change.”

Jack Vessey, whose family farms about 10,000 acres in Imperial Valley, relies on border commuters for about half of his workforce. Imperial has only 175,000 people and Mexicali has about 1 million, making Mexico an obvious labor pool.

Vessey, 42, said he has seen no change on the border and doesn’t expect much. He figures 10 percent of Congress embraces open immigration policies, another 10 percent oppose them and the other 80 percent don’t want to touch it because their voters are too divided.

“It’s like banging your head against the wall,” he said.

Selling corn under $4 per bushel is not fun for anyone, but it will be a reality for Nebraska producers this year. Despite low prices, there will be opportunities for savvy marketers.

The 2018 marketing year is shaping up to be a similar situation in corn to that experienced in 2017. Here we will review some of the challenges producers faced in 2017 and how to avoid them in 2018.

In 2017, corn accumulated a record amount of global ending stock, placing downward pressure on corn prices. Without a major market jolt, we can expect 2018 corn prices to be shaped by this large quantity of corn.


Challenge: Because of the high volume of corn available, basis has been weak across the state. Grain buyers (elevators, ethanol facilities, feed yards) have access to plenty of grain and do not need to improve basis to attract farmers to sell. Remember basis values, especially for new crop, seldom change throughout the year. Furthermore, changes that take place are likely to be minimal (a few cents). Do not let a weak, unwavering basis keep you from selling grain when futures prices spike.

Solution: There is little to nothing that individual farmers can do to improve the basis. However, this is a good time to consider which delivery locations are the most profitable. Each grain buyer sets their own basis. Thus shopping around your area for the best basis may help you gain a couple of cents. If you have the ability to haul grain to another area, you will want to calculate if the cost of hauling grain to receive the better cash price is worth the expense of hauling. Check out the University of Kentucky’s Grain Haul Decision Spreadsheet. www.uky.edu/Ag/AgEcon/pubs/extGrainHaul36.xlsx

Early futures price peak

Challenge: Another symptom of high ending stocks, are that prices reach their peak much earlier in the year, February-April rather than April-June. Figure 1 compares a 20-year average percent price change from Jan. 1 to the average of years with “Very High” ending stocks. In 2017 many producers did not price corn early enough to capture seasonal highs.

Solution: Be prepared to sell grain early in 2018. Accept that you may be pricing a crop that you have yet to plant. Remember, in pre-harvest marketing plans it is not recommended that you forward contract or hedge 100% of expected production. The rule of thumb is to not pre-price more than insured production (Actual Production History (APH) times your percent of coverage). However, most producers price 25%-50% of insured production.

Unrealistic price targets

Challenge:  One of the barriers many farmers ran into in 2017, was that their pre-harvest price targets were too high. Producers had set target prices at and above $4.00/bu. cash in 2017. For most Nebraska farmers they had a small window, if any, to pre-price at this level.

Solution: The market does not care if prices are below your cost of production, until prices are so low that you decide not to produce anymore. Realistic target prices should be set based on grounded market expectations. The USDA releases the World Agriculture Supply and Demand Estimate monthly. In this report, they predict farm prices for corn, soybeans and wheat, giving us a good gauge to set price targets.  The December 12 USDA WASDE report estimates that national average cash price will be between $2.85 and $3.55/bu.

This year will be a challenge for many grain producers. Having a written marketing plan that addresses the pitfalls outlined above will help keep you on track. For more grain marketing information checkout cropwatch.unl.edu.