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Published January 16, 2012, 09:24 AM

Regional News

Corn prices plunge on higher supply forecast
Corn prices plunged Jan. 12 after the government said corn supplies were higher than traders expected.

By: Agweek staff and wire reports, Agweek

Corn prices plunge on higher supply forecast

Corn prices plunged Jan. 12 after the government said corn supplies were higher than traders expected. Investors had bid the price up, expecting tighter supplies because of weather damage to crops. Corn for March delivery fell 40 cents, or 6.1 percent, to $6.115 per bushel. The price has fallen 24 percent from June, when concerns about a potential shortage sent the price to a record $7.99. The Agriculture Department says farmers produced 12.358 billion bushels of corn last year, slightly higher than its estimate a month ago. It predicts supplies will drop 2 million bushels to 846 million bushels by the end of this year’s harvest. Analysts say traders had expected that number to be closer to 750 million bushels. USDA’s forecast would still leave both domestic and global supplies at fairly tight levels by summer’s end. The global corn supply forecast was little changed at 128.14 million metric tons. USDA says losses in Argentina caused by dry weather should be offset by increased production in the U.S., parts of Europe and Russia compared with a year ago. Wheat and soybean prices also fell, partly because of the drop in the price of corn. March wheat fell 36 cents, or 5.6 percent, to finish at $6.05 per bushel, while soybeans ended down 20.5 cents, or 1.7 percent, at $11.825 per bushel.

Minnesota corn and soybean yields down

WILLMAR, Minn. — As expected, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s crop production report finds that farmers in Minnesota harvested lower yields for corn and soybeans in 2011. According to the report, which was released Jan. 12, Minnesota averaged 156 bushels of corn per acre in 2011, well behind the 177 bushels per acre in 2010. Soybean harvest was 38.5 bushels per acre, down from 2010 yields of 45 bushels per acre. The state’s sugar beet crop averaged 19 tons of beets per acre, also well behind the 2010 yields of 26.6 tons per acre. The state produced 1.2 billion bushels of corn, 270 million bushels of soybeans and 479,000 tons of beets in 2011. The national soybean crop was 3.06 billion bushels, with the average yield per acre at 41.5 bushels, 2 bushels below last year’s yield. Iowa’s corn yielded an average of 182 bushels, with 2.35 billion bushels produced in 2011. The state’s soybean crop was 466 million bushels, with average yields of 50.5 bushels per acre.

S.D. takes top spot in sunflowers

GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Step aside, North Dakota. South Dakota is now the nation’s leading sunflower producer, at least temporarily. South Dakota farmers produced an estimated 777 million pounds of sunflowers in 2011. That just topped the estimated 766 million grown last year in North Dakota. It’s the first time South Dakota outproduced its northern neighbor since data for both states began to be published in 1977. The numbers, from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s annual sunflower production report, were cited in a press release Jan. 12 from the National Sunflower Association, based in Mandan, N.D. North Dakota, long the nation’s top sunflower producer, suffered from an exceptionally wet spring in 2011, which lead to a 34 percent decrease in planted sunflower acres and a 39 percent decrease in production from 2010. In contrast, South Dakota’s 2011 sunflower production rose slightly from the previous year. Nationwide, 2011 sunflower production totaled 2.04 billion pounds, down 25 percent from 2010. Both the U.S. average yield per acre and planted acreage fell in 2011.

S.D. corn production up in 2011

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — South Dakota farmers produced more corn but fewer soybeans last year compared to 2010. The Agriculture Department in its annual production report estimates South Dakota’s 2011 corn crop at 653.4 million bushels, up 15 percent from 2010. Average yield was down slightly over the year but harvested acres were up 17 percent. The state’s soybean crop is pegged at 150.6 million bushels, down 4 percent over the year. Average yield and harvested acres both were down slightly. The report says last year’s hay, sorghum and sunflower crops in South Dakota all were larger than in 2010, but the millet and dry edible bean crops were smaller.

Winter wheat seedings down in S.D., up in N.D.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Winter wheat seedings this season dropped in South Dakota but rose in North Dakota. The Agriculture Department says winter wheat seeded last fall for harvest this year totaled 1.35 million acres in South Dakota, down 300,000 acres or 18 percent from the previous year. The estimate also is down from the five-year average of 1.77 million acres and the 10-year average of 1.65 million acres. In North Dakota, spring wheat is the staple crop and winter wheat is a minor crop. Winter wheat seedings last fall are estimated at 700,000 acres, up from 400,000 acres the previous year. That likely is due to the large amount of cropland that was flooded in the spring but dried out later in the year.

N.D. farmers produce smaller crops in 2011

FARGO, N.D. — North Dakota’s corn and soybean crops last year were much smaller than in 2010. The Agriculture Department in its 2011 production report estimates the North Dakota corn crop at 216 million bushels, down 13 percent from the previous year, and the soybean crop at 113 million bushels, 19 percent below the 2010 level. Average yields for both crops were down over the year. North Dakota farmers last year also produced smaller crops of sunflowers, canola, flaxseed, dry edible peas, lentils and sugar beets. Sugar beet production is estimated at 4.61 million tons, down from 5.67 million in 2010.

National Sunflower Association has new leader

BISMARCK, N.D. — The National Sunflower Association is starting the new year with a new leader. Longtime marketing director John Sandbakken is now the executive director of the North Dakota-based group. He takes over for the recently retired Larry Kleingartner, who had led the association since its founding in 1981.

NSA: Sunflower market bright with dry Argentina crop

MANDAN, N.D. — The National Sunflower Association’s Sunflower Highlights publication on Jan. 9 said South American oilseed damage has occurred already this month. Argentinean sunflower planting may not be carried out because of dry conditions. On the other hand, Russia and Ukraine produced record crops in 2011 that seed and oil buyers are “still chewing through.” “A further tightening in world sunflower stocks would keep U.S. prices firm in the 2011 to 2012 market year,” the report says. Other highlights: New crop sunflower remains strong, with Cargill Fargo offering Act of God contracts at $25 and $26 for cash sunflowers for October/November delivery. ADM Enderlin 2012 prices are $25.95 for cash sunflower and $24.45 with AOG protection. Prices are subject to change, the publication says.The open winter is allowing farmers to mow or burn dead cattail sites to get rid of blackbird roosting opportunities. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says a five-acre slough can harbor 4,000 birds. Each bird can eat one-half ounce per day for six weeks. That’s 5,250 pounds of seed, or $1,312.50 at 25 cents a pound. The warm winter with fluctuating temperatures dictates increased storage monitoring. Monitor seeds regularly and sample seeds every three to four weeks and record temperature, moisture, fungi and odor differences from previous inspections. “Check the seeds, not the bin,” the association suggests. Aerate or remove seeds if problems are detected. The January issue of The Sunflower magazine, available online, includes info on the 2011 crop survey, and out-going executive director Larry Kleingartner’s farewell column.