2010 farm year: Shaping up to be a biggie?

 

How are farmers in the Red River Valley and North Dakota doing in 2010?

Pretty darn good, I’m thinking. That’s barring some sort of weather disaster, which, of course is possible.

But look at what’s happening so far. In the Grand Forks Herald and Agweek this week I’m reporting that sugar beet yields appear poised to break records, with the pre-pile harvest results already in the mid-20s for tons per acre. That’s pre-pile! Markets are looking solid, and if they approach the $50 per ton level that they’ve attained in three out of the past four years – well, it could be a sweet year.

I was talking to Jerry Melvin, a farmer from Buffalo, N.D. He has a couple of sons, Randy and Jon, and they run a full-service commodity brokerage firm, in addition to a grain farm.

The corn crop is early – two full weeks ahead of last year. Some people I’ve talked to think it could be 10 or 15 percent bigger than previous crops.

On the Melvin farm they’re past “dent” and but not yet mature with the so-called “black layer.” The Melvins feel that if they have another 10 days of good weather, the crop would be safe from a killing frost with good quality corn.

Generally, the Red River Valley has been seeing corn yields of 130 to 140 bushels an acre over the past 10 years. This year could be better, according to various farmers I’ve spoken with. With mixed results in places like Iowa, however, no one is counting their chickens. Certainly there are problem spots.

Richland County in North Dakota has some areas with yellowing corn. The central part of the state has missed some showers and I saw some corn fired from the bottom-up in areas west of Carrington this week.

On the other hand, some farmers in the Minot area will probably see 110- to 120- bushel corn, which is good for short-season varieties.

On the price side, farmers are seeing futures prices a dollar higher than it was in late June. Should be a good year.

Soybeans are also looking pretty universally good throughout the region. I’ve seen some nice beans between Fargo and Brookings, S.D., between Fargo and Hoople, N.D., and between Fargo and Minot in the past few days. Most appear to have had adequate moisture. Bean yields in the high-30s seem like a pretty good bet. The Melvins say some beans will have been affected by white mold in heavy stands. “The humidity has been high, like an Illinois or Iowa climate from a humidity and temperature standpoint,” he says.

The Melvins grow pinto beans and the crop will be at least average, but white mold is a factor, even though they applied fungicide.

The wheat is mostly off the field in many areas, with yields in flatter valley-type soils a little less than expected. Yields farther west in more rolling country will probably be better, depending on variety.

I’ve run into a lot of farmers who put the nitrogen to their wheat this year, after a disappointing 2009. Some terminals are currently offering $2 a bushel for premiums for high-nitrogen wheat in the 16 percent range, Jerry says. Anything with 14 percent protein or better should do pretty well. The Japanese seem to be wanting high-protein wheat.

Other crops are looking good. Sunflowers are looking healthy.

What’s ahead for next year?

Seed corn and seed bean companies won’t be coming out with new prices for a couple of months yet. That’s a chess game among the bigs in the business.

Nitrogen fertilizer is up a bit, but it’s probably worth it.

So, cheers! I’m thinking there will be very few producers that aren’t going to have a good year this year. Will it be as good as the huge 2008 year? Well, we’re unlikely to see prices that high again, but then, how many people actually achieved the highest prices?

I’m thinking 2010 could be a real winner.

How are farmers in the Red River Valley and North Dakota doing in 2010?

Pretty darn good, I’m thinking. That’s barring some sort of weather disaster, which, of course is possible.

But look at what’s happening so far. In the Grand Forks Herald and Agweek this week I’m reporting that sugar beet yields appear poised to break records, with the pre-pile harvest results already in the mid-20s for tons per acre. That’s pre-pile! Markets are looking solid, and if they approach the $50 per ton level that they’ve attained in three out of the past four years – well, it could be a sweet year.

I was talking to Jerry Melvin, a farmer from Buffalo, N.D. He has a couple of sons, Randy and Jon, and they run a full-service commodity brokerage firm, in addition to a grain farm.

The corn crop is early – two full weeks ahead of last year. Some people I’ve talked to think it could be 10 or 15 percent bigger than previous crops.

On the Melvin farm they’re past “dent” and but not yet mature with the so-called “black layer.” The Melvins feel that if they have another 10 days of good weather, the crop would be safe from a killing frost with good quality corn.

Generally, the Red River Valley has been seeing corn yields of 130 to 140 bushels an acre over the past 10 years. This year could be better, according to various farmers I’ve spoken with. With mixed results in places like Iowa, however, no one is counting their chickens. Certainly there are problem spots.

Richland County in North Dakota has some areas with yellowing corn. The central part of the state has missed some showers and I saw some corn fired from the bottom-up in areas west of Carrington this week.

On the other hand, some farmers in the Minot area will probably see 110- to 120- bushel corn, which is good for short-season varieties.

On the price side, farmers are seeing futures prices a dollar higher than it was in late June. Should be a good year.

Soybeans are also looking pretty universally good throughout the region. I’ve seen some nice beans between Fargo and Brookings, S.D., between Fargo and Hoople, N.D., and between Fargo and Minot in the past few days. Most appear to have had adequate moisture. Bean yields in the high-30s seem like a pretty good bet. The Melvins say some beans will have been affected by white mold in heavy stands. “The humidity has been high, like an Illinois or Iowa climate from a humidity and temperature standpoint,” he says.

The Melvins grow pinto beans and the crop will be at least average, but white mold is a factor, even though they applied fungicide.

The wheat is mostly off the field in many areas, with yields in flatter valley-type soils a little less than expected. Yields farther west in more rolling country will probably be better, depending on variety.

I’ve run into a lot of farmers who put the nitrogen to their wheat this year, after a disappointing 2009. Some terminals are currently offering $2 a bushel for premiums for high-nitrogen wheat in the 16 percent range, Jerry says. Anything with 14 percent protein or better should do pretty well. The Japanese seem to be wanting high-protein wheat.

Other crops are looking good. Sunflowers are looking healthy.

What’s ahead for next year?

Seed corn and seed bean companies won’t be coming out with new prices for a couple of months yet. That’s a chess game among the bigs in the business.

Nitrogen fertilizer is up a bit, but it’s probably worth it.

So, cheers! I’m thinking there will be very few producers that aren’t going to have a good year this year. Will it be as good as the huge 2008 year? Well, we’re unlikely to see prices that high again, but then, how many people actually achieved the highest prices?

I’m thinking 2010 could be a real winner. What do YOU think?

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