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East & Midwest Grain & Hay Prices as of July 1 ...
Plus reflections on what organic producers can do following the Midwest floods

July 1, 2008-After the Flood: Options for Organic Producers
Kathleen Delate, Extension Organic Specialist, Iowa State University

Like everyone affected by the June floods, Iowa’s organic producers are busy sorting priorities and positioning themselves to deal with what has been revealed by the receding waters. Our thoughts and concern go out to those most affected by the floods. With the range of situations from operation to operation, all producers will be considering the short, mid-and long-term consequences of the floods of ’08.

Changing Your Rotation: Obtaining a Temporary Variance
By now, the viability and potential profitability of the crop initially planted has been determined and decisions have been made whether to replant the same crop, plant another crop, or not plant at all. The USDA-National Organic Program requires that farmers rotate their crops; i.e., corn following corn is not permitted. Fortunately, at least for this crop year, organic certifiers will not enforce filed farm-plan crop rotations in the 83 counties declared disaster areas by Governor Culver. According to an e-mail letter from National Organic Program Acting Director, Barbara Robinson, to Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture, Bill Northey, to be eligible for the temporary variance a producer must be farming in a county declared a disaster area and clearly document that the crop planting was “actually delayed in planting due to heavy rains and flooding.” You may obtain your variance by calling the Iowa Dept. of Agriculture and Land Stewardship organic program at 515-281-5783 and requesting the form you need to fill out for the variance.

Soybeans
The most likely cash grain crop to be planted at this late date time is soybeans and the primary questions are seed availability and whether the maturity should be shortened.  In a recent article summarizing retired Professor Keith Whigham’s soybean maturity studies conducted after the 1993 floods, Iowa State University Assistant Professor, Palle Pedersen concluded:

Based on that data, the yield potential from planting in mid-June was approximately 60% of the optimum yield in northern and central Iowa and 80% of the optimum yield in southern Iowa. When planting was delayed until early July, soybean yield potential dropped even further and producers would have approximately 33% of the maximum yield in northern Iowa and 50% in central and southern Iowa available. Producers should plant their original soybean variety unless planting is delayed beyond late June in northern and central Iowa and beyond early July in southern Iowa.

Dr. Pedersen’s final conclusion was that:

Growers in central and northern Iowa may switch to a shorter maturity group and shorten the maturity group by 0.5 to 1.0. Southern Iowa growers can wait another 10 days before needing to switch to a shorter maturity group. No data supports planting soybeans as a grain crop after mid-July in Iowa.

Corn
While soybeans can provide some level of yield, corn presents a riskier proposition. The issue here is frost. Dr. Roger Elmore, Professor of Agronomy at Iowa State University examined a 1990 planting date study conducted by ISU Extension corn agronomist Garren Benson who found that producers could expect about a 33% to 66% loss from maximum yield from corn planted July 1st – 10th, regardless of whether an earlier maturing variety was substituted, depending on the first killing frost.  However, as with conventional producers, fertility will be a major consideration.

Forages and cover crops
Planting forages and cover crops is another opportunity to be considered either for on-farm use or for market.  Covering the soil with a crop is mandatory in organic production. Dr. Stephen Barnhart, forage specialist in Iowa State University’s Agronomy Department, provides a relatively wide range of forage and cover crop options for producers who have determined that they will not be able to replant or substitute a cash grain crop. Included are foxtail millet, Japanese millet, sudangrass, sorghum x sudan hybrid, hybrid pearl millet and oats, all of which can be planted now until mid-July, except oats, which can be planted as late as mid-August. Besides providing a crop that can be sold into a premium market, planting forages and cover crops will help to mitigate the damage done by floodwaters and heavy rains.

Pest Pressures
While disease pressure was expected to increase based on high humidity, to date, no spray recommendations have been put forward based on the level of disease observed in organic corn and soybeans. There is an extensive soybean rust monitoring system in place throughout the region, so we will post any considerations on the need to spray for this disease if it spreads to Iowa. Bean leaf beetles have been observed at low levels in organic soybeans, but spray recommendations are unnecessary at this time. Weeds are the main concern for late planted or replanted fields. Many organic farmers missed rotary hoeings due to wet soils and are now facing extensive weed pressure in the row. Cultivation can help bury many weeds in the row, but additional “walking” for weeds will undoubtedly occur this year. Flaming is another option. Many organic farmers have included propane (LP) flame-burners as an additional tool in their weed management toolbox. Flaming is used particularly during times of high field moisture when tillage with large machinery is not feasible. In drier weather, flaming is used in conjunction with cultivation. Flame weeding of corn can be accomplished when corn is less than 2" in height or 8" to 1.5' in height. Other growth stages are considered potentially damaging to the corn meristem (growing point). According to several Iowa farmers, soybeans can be flamed prior to emergence and at the 1' to 1.5' height stage. Caution must be used in flaming soybeans, however. Mixed results have been reported, including damaged soybeans and decreased yields. Because the growing terminal of corn is more protected within the whorl, corn can withstand greater damage from flaming, compared to soybeans with their exposed growing points. Several flame burners are commercially available, including complete units and individual burner kits that can be attached to tractor tool bars. Flamers are usually run at 38–40 psi with a tractor speed of 4 mph, but specific rates will be based on the crop stage, weed species present, and the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Long-term Consequences
We will continue to disseminate information on the long-term effects from the floods as the season progresses. Scientists at ISU are constructing simulations predicting different outcomes based on when the crop was planted and how the market will behave. There is general agreement that the price of organic crops, and subsequent food prices, will continue to rise. How this will affect the future of organic meat production is currently an area of grave concern. The bottom line is that demand for organic products continues to rise, and Iowa organic farmers are needed to help fill that demand.

For additional information and postings, please visit the ISU Organic Ag Program webpage at http://extension.agron.iastate.edu/organicag or call Kathleen Delate at 515-294-7069.

Lakeview Organic Grain price list 6/9/08
119 Hamilton Place, Penn Yan, NY 14527. Phone: 315-531-1038

Organic corn

$440/ton

Organic roasted soybeans

$910/ton

Organic 48% soybean meal

$1,320/ton

Organic roasted dry beans

$530/ton

Organic flaxmeal

$760/ton

Organic barley

$460/ton

Organic oats

$410/ton

Organic Sunflowermeal

$545/ton

Upper Midwest (Des Moines, IA) 6/28/08
Organic grain and feedstuff prices were firmer on moderate demand and light offerings.  Conventional prices have pulled organic prices slightly higher. Not all of the corn crop got planted due to continued wet weather, while soybean plantings continue.  The corn crop looks very uneven.  Organic new crop wheat is trading as the crop has been great, much better than projected. New crop feed corn bids range from $9.50 to $11.25 per bushel.  New crop food grade soybean bids are from $27.00 to $30.00.  New crop feed grade soybean bids are from $22.00 to $24.00.  Old crop organic milo is trading from $8.00 to $8.50.

All prices FOB price per bushel except where stated (trucking cost needs to be added)


                                             

June 28 08

May 2008

April 2008

     March  2008

   Feb 2008

Feed Grade Corn

10.82

10.49

10.26

10.37

10.07

Food Grade Soybeans

 

      29.83

28.59

29.25

26.29

Feed Grade Soybeans

28.15

24.00

26.79

25.33

22.73

Feed Grade Oats

 

 

 

5.75

5.05

Feed Grade Barley

 

8.43

8.00

8.05

7.92

Food Grade Wheat

 

 

25.00

16.98

17.14

Feed Grade Wheat

 

 

15.75

 

 

Feed Grade Rye

 

12.15

 

11.00

11.00

Feed Grade Peas

 

 

13.50

9.00

 

Organic Alfalfa – Good

 

190-200/ton

200/ton

 

 

Organic Alfalfa – Utility

 

125-135/ton

 

 

 

Eastern Cornbelt (Springfield, IL) 6/28/08
Compared to two weeks ago, organic grain and feedstuff prices were higher.  Trading activity was slow for light to moderate offerings. Feed grade corn and soybeans prices were higher. Buying interest was light following recent floods in the Midwest drove grain prices higher. The uncertainty over this year's corn crop, has many end users wondering an adequate price for new crop contracts.  Confirmed trades for new crop contracts for food grade Soft Red Wheat ranging from 13.00 to 15.00 per bushel and new crop feed grade soybeans from 23.00 to 25.00 per bushel.

All prices FOB price per bushel except where stated (trucking cost needs to be added)


                                             

6/28/08

May 2008

April 2008

March  2008

1st qtr 2008

Feed Grade Corn

10.76

10.04

9.91

10.27

9.82

Food Grade Wheat

 

21.53

 

14.50

14.57

Feed Grade Wheat

 

 

 

 

10.73

Food Grade Soybeans

28

 

24.41

 

24.05

Feed Grade Soybeans

 

26.75

25.93

26.21

22.45

Soybean meal/ton

 

 

 

1106

1008.25

Feed Grade Oats

 

5.68

5.48

5.32

 

Organic Alfalfa – Good

 

 

185/ton

 

 

Organic Grass Hay – Utility

 

 

125/ton

 

 

Hay Price 5/3/08


Northern CA -premium Alfalfa hay

270/ton

Eastern and Lake County Oregon -  premium Alfalfa

200/ton

Nevada – Premium Alfalfa

230/ton

Nevada – Fair Alfalfa

200/ton

May 2008 organic grain prices compared to February/April 2007


% Change

Eastern Corn Belt              April 07 to May 08

Corn

            54.02%

Soybean

101.76%

Soybean meal

71.89%

Wheat

115.45

Barley

16.67%

Oats

75.64%

 

Upper Mid West            Feb 07 to May 08

Corn

70.13%

Soybean

44.71%

Wheat

167.40%

Oats

69.12%

Barley

85.61%

Northeast Organic grain price 2005-2008


Year

12% CP Grain

16% CP Grain

18% CP Grain

2005

$    310

$    330

$    349

2006

$    350

$    380

$    395

2007

$    360

$    393

$    412

2008

$    547

$    588

$    608

% increase 2005-2008

73.22%

78.18%

74.21%

Located below are the links to latest organic price reports.
Upper Midwest Organic Grain and Feedstuff  http://www.ams.usda.gov/mnreports/nw_gr113.txt
Eastern Corn Belt Organic Grain Feedstuff  http://www.ams.usda.gov/mnreports/gx_gr120.txt
National Hay, Feed & Seed Weekly Summary  http://www.ams.usda.gov/mnreports/lswfeedseed.pdf