Ag Connection
Your link to the Universities for ag extension and research information

This Month in Ag Connection
Time to Make New Crop Sales?
New Waterhemp Guide Now Available at Your University Extension Center
Federal Agricultural Improvement and Reform Act of 1996
FAIR Sign-up . . . Generally an Easy Decision
An Editorial Comment on FAIR . . . from Harold Breimyer, Extension Economist Emeritus
Summer Corn Pests
Earthworms Increase with No-till
Listservs for Crop Information
1996 Field Days at MU Research Farms
June 1996
Volume 2, Number 6

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Publishing Information
Ag Connection is published monthly for Central Missouri Region producers and is supported by University Extension, the Commercial Agriculture program, the Missouri Agricultural Experiment Station and the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, UM-Columbia. Editorial board: Maryann Redelfs, Managing Editor; Parman Green, James Rogers, Mark Stewart, Melvin Brees, Don Day.

Comments or Suggestions?
Please send your comments and suggestions to Maryann Redelfs, Agronomy/Information Technology Specialist, University Outreach and Extension, 608 E. Spring Street, Boonville, MO 65233, call 660-882-5661, or send messages by e-mail to:

To send a message to an author, click on the author's name at the end of an article.

Time to Make New Crop Sales?

New crop (1996) corn price bids have been above $3.00 and soybeans above $7.00. There has been only one year in the last ten, for each crop, that harvest time prices exceeded these new crop bids (1995 for corn, 1988 for soybeans). These are prices that, for many operations, can provide a return to the operator's labor and management and still earn a return on investment of more than 10%! But making money at these prices requires selling at these prices.

Many producers are typically reluctant to make early sales of a growing crop. There are always risks of selling too early and this year is no different. No one is sure how much they or anyone else will actually produce. Prices are good, but new crop corn is discounted considerably when compared with the old crop prices. Unfavorable weather, strong demand and tight supplies could easily drive both corn and soybean prices higher--maybe much higher.

There are also risks of waiting too long to make sales. What if the weather is favorable and big crops are produced? What if export and industrial use demand slows? What if livestock numbers are reduced because of high feed prices? Prices may have over reacted to the high side in order to ration demand. They can also over react to the low side when a correction occurs. If some of these events happen, prices at harvest might be considerably less than current prices.

Producers who wait until they are sure they will have a crop, usually miss out on the highest prices. Corn and soybean prices typically peak in late spring or early summer. If weather conditions are favorable at this point, prices usually decline sharply into fall. Even if weather conditions aren't favorable, prices may still decline. In the drought year of 1988, prices peaked in late June and then declined even though the crop continued to deteriorate. Waiting might be more risky than selling!

The odds nearly always favor early selling of, at least, the portion of a crop that must be moved at harvest time. While there is production risk, with the exception of flood or extreme drought, zero yields seldom occur. So the risk of being unable to deliver may not be that great when making early sales of only a portion of the crop.

Advance sales can be made in a variety of ways. Forward cash contracts or futures hedges have been the most common methods of forward sales in the past. Hedge-to-Arrive (HTA) contracts have received some bad publicity recently. But when used properly, HTA contracts provide a cash market alternative to a futures hedge. For those concerned about missing out on higher prices (if crop problems develop); minimum price cash contracts, put options or using call options to offset forward cash sales can establish minimum sales prices. The use of options can also avoid or help offset delivery problems resulting from reduced production.

Historically, this late spring or early summer period provides a good opportunity to make new crop sales before prices typically decline into harvest. This year, new crop bids have offered prices that should be profitable. Good marketing involves taking advantage of good prices when they are offered. (Melvin Brees, Farm Management Specialist)

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Now Available at Your University Extension Center

G 4871: Waterhemp Management in Missouri
Click here to E-mail a request to your local University Extension Center for a free copy of this guidesheet.

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Federal Agricultural Improvement and Reform Act of 1996

On March 28-29, 1996 the U.S. Congress passed the new farm bill. President Clinton signed the legislation a week later. The new farm bill is termed the Federal Agricultural Improvement and Reform (FAIR) Act of 1996.

This legislation is quite an historic act and many of the current farm programs will be changed and/or eliminated. A few of the key provisions of the FAIR Act follow:

These are just a few of the many provisions of the FAIR Act. Sign up for the program is May 20 through July 12, 1996. This is a seven-year program. If a producer/landlord does not sign up during this period, he or she will be ineligible for the entire seven-year program. (Mary Sobba, Farm Management Specialist)

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FAIR Sign-up . . . Generally an Easy Decision

For most producers, participation in the FAIR Act is an easy decision.

Planting flexibility -
There are no restrictions to stay within planting bases, set asides, or even planting requirements to receive payments.
Crop choices -
With the exception of fruits and vegetables, about any crop can be planted without affecting payments.
Payments are set -
Prices don't affect the amount of payment and high prices won't require repayment.

There appear to be very few reasons for non-participation. Crop insurance is no longer required, however producers must sign a waiver for any future disaster payments if they don't insure. Conservation compliance is still required and could influence some producers' decisions. (Melvin Brees, Farm Management Specialist)

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An Editorial Comment on FAIR

from Harold Breimyer, Extension Economist Emeritus

Many veterans of farm programs do not view FAIR favorably. Their reasons lie in the new law's abandoning two principles of long standing. These are that program payments were not to be a handout, but instead (1) required performance by the farmer and (2) served to compensate for a shortfall in market prices and therefore farmers' income.

The new law could prove more difficult to administer than might be supposed. Nagging problems will likely arise in the division of payments between landowners and tenants. Owners and tenants may change during the seven years, yet the USDA is required to protect the interests of both. Where environmental rules still apply, their enforcement may be made more difficult by the prevailing freedom-to-farm philosophy.

All of which is to suggest that FAIR does not really prescribe a firm, inexorable pattern for farm programs of the future. What transpires in years ahead will depend less on political than on economic developments -- on what happens to prices and incomes. If farmers prosper, programs may be allowed to fade out. A year or two of low prices could restore programs.

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Summer Corn Pests

Some pests are already finished for the summer and other species will be arriving soon. There are several methods to combat pest problems such as planter box treatments, resistant seed varieties and crop scouting. Each method has advantages and disadvantages.

The University of Missouri Integrated Pest Management Department provides support to many scouting programs throughout the state. Scouting fields is the most accurate method of knowing exactly what is happening in a field.

In early June, hopefully black cutworms(BCW) are finished or almost finished. BCW development is based on heat and is therefore weather dependent. The economic thresholds (point at which the costs of spraying are less than costs of damage) for BCW are 2 to 4% below ground cutting or 6 to 8% above ground cutting.

Another damaging insect is the European corn borer (ECB). Typically, there are two generations of ECB per summer. The first generation normally arrives at about the whorl stage. In late May to early June egg masses are laid on the smooth underside of corn leaves next to the mid rib (masses look like fish scales). About one week after the eggs are laid, damage can be noticed as "shot holes" in the leaves. Economic threshold for both first and second generation ECB is approximately 50%.

During the summer of 1995, several other insects were identified in Central Missouri such as armyworm, fall armyworm and chinch bugs. Typically these insects do not reach economic levels, but there can be exceptions.

For more information on scouting procedures for a certain insect contact the local University Extension agronomist or the author. (Mary Sobba, Farm Management Specialist)

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Earthworms Increase with No-till

GraphA two-year MU study to characterize earthworm populations within no-till and chisel-disk systems found three times more earthworms in no-till plots than in chisel-disk plots when sampled in April of 1995 and seven times more when sampled in October of 1995.

During the first year of the study, 1994, a May sampling showed four times more earthworms with no-till than the chisel-disk system. This was despite the fact that the site had been no-tilled for three years prior to the spring tillage operations, and the tillage occurred only three weeks before sampling. An October 1994 sampling found twice as many earthworms for the no-till system.

The study also looked at the effect of crop rotation and nitrogen (N) rates on earthworm populations. In April, no-till corn plots fertilized with 200 lb. N/acre the previous year had more earthworms than plots with 100 lb. N/acre. The 200 lb. N/acre plots had more crop residue which likely contributed to the increased earthworm numbers.

With the October 1995 sampling, a crop rotation effect was observed. In the no-till plots, the fewest earthworms were found in the continuous corn plots. In the chisel-disk plots, the most earthworms were found in corn plots rotated from soybean.

Corn and soybean yield, test weight , and stover weight were similar between tillage systems in 1994 and less with no-till than with the chisel-disk system in 1995.

This study is conducted at the Bradford Agronomy Research Center near Columbia, Missouri on a Mexico silt loam soil which has a slowly permeable claypan near the soil surface. (Maryann Redelfs, Agronomy/ Information Technology Specialist, Source: John Stecker, Research Associate; Diann Jordan, Assistant Professor; and James Brown, Professor, University of Missouri)

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Listservs for Crop Information

Listservs on many different subjects are available on the Internet through electronic mail (E-mail). Anyone can subscribe to a listserv by sending an E-mail message to the address where the listserv resides and simply saying in the message "subscribe <name of listserv, your name>." For example, I would subscribe to the irrigation listserv by sending an E-mail message to with the message: subscribe IRRIGATION-L Don Day

You can find the names of listservs in many ways. They can be found on the Internet or you can read about them somewhere. You can even subscribe to a listserv that announces new listservs.

Listservs are very useful for us in keeping up with what is going on, in getting answers to questions, and in discussing topics. (Don Day, Agricultural Engineer/Information Technology Specialist )

Listservs for Crop Producers

When subscribing to a listserv, remember that you must subscribe to one address and you send messages to another address. Be sure to note which one is which. Always keep in mind that what works in one geographic area may not work in yours. Contact your University Extension Center if you have questions relating to local relevance of information.

IRRIGATION-L Irrigation theory and practice discussion list.
Subscription address:
Message: subscribe irrigation-l <yourname>
NIPMN-L National integrated pest management network mailing list.
Subscription address:
Message: subscribe nipmn-l <yourname>
PANUPS Pesticide action network: North America update service.
Subscription address:
Message: subscribe panups <yourname>
PRECISE-AGRI Precision agriculture discussion list.
Subscription address:
Message: subscribe precise-agri <yourname>
SOILS-L Soil science discussion group.
Subscription address:
Message: subscribe soils-l <yourname>

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1996 Field Days at MU Research Farms

These field days will feature reports on University of Missouri research and demonstrations under way at the various farms.

All programs are free of charge.

Meals will be available at Field Days.

The dates, events, times and locations are:

June 25 Pasture Day 4 p.m. Forage Systems Research Center, Linneus, MO
June 27 CRP Field Day 4 to 8 p.m. Knox County, north of Greenley Center, Novelty, MO
July 25 Field Day 4:30 p.m. to dark MSEA Plots, Centralia, MO
Aug 27 Field Day 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Grave Plots, Fairfax, MO
Aug 29 Field Day 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Delta Center, Portageville, MO
Sept 5 Field Day 9 a.m. Hundley-Whaley Farm, Albany, MO
Sept 6 Forage Field Day 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wurdack Farm, Cook Station, MO
Sept 12 FFA Day 1:30 to 7:30 p.m. Greenley Center, Novelty, MO
Sept 12 FFA Day   Southwest Center, Mt. Vernon, MO
Sept 13 Field Day 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Southwest Center, Mt. Vernon, MO
Oct 11 FFA Science Day 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wurdack Farm, Cook Station, MO

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University Extension Ag Connection - June 1996 -- Revised: February 17, 1997