Renewable Farming

Dry weather in Brazil could extend enthusiasm in corn, bean markets

Thanksgiving is meant to commemorate the first European settlers’ surviving the harsh winters in this brave new world, with help from a number of local inhabitants. Like them, we have to be thankful for surviving another year. We just hope we never have another year like it.

November 27, 2020 By Bob Streit, crop consultant

The 57th anniversary of the assassination of JFK was Sunday, November 22. I know that every person in any grade at school, even kindergarten, remembers what happened in Dallas early that afternoon. When discussing it with their parents or any other thinking adult, they recognized that the American people were being lied to. Even though Walter Cronkite repeated the lie, the facts didn’t add up to the men who had been in the army and knew anything about ballistics. Then when Oswald was shot before he could tell his side of the story, he was killed by a man with mob and CIA ties. A good contact of mine who operated in that world shared with me what he saw, knew, and learned at the time and over the years. 

Crop consultant Bob Streit

Now, 57 years later, the “mainstream” media is asking us to believe new tall tales. Who’s going to buy their blather this time? 

Last week I had the chance to visit with another friend, an expert at running many high-dollar medical detection instruments. He told me how the official WHO and CEC recommendations were to run 35 to 40 amplification cycles of the PCR device. However, lab tests have verified that when running this device — which indirectly amplifies small amounts of RNA into DNA — the greatest accuracy occurs when only 15 cycles are run. Running more than 15 cycles destroys its accuracy and magnifies any past virus DNA unrelated to the Covid to create lots of false positives.

Above 35 magnification cycles the rate of false positives was >80%. Plus, the Nobel Prize winning inventor of the machine stated it should never be used as a diagnostic device. Unofficially more than a few people had the ‘Chinese Crud’ as it was called in Wyoming and Utah ski towns last fall — months before it officially arrived in the U.S. A few people around me reported it was the worst cold they ever had experienced. I may try to post the article yet.  

The Grain Markets 

It has been a long five or six years since there was enthusiasm in the grain markets. Unfortunately, the bears and lack of storage by guys in derecho windstorm territory led a number of corn and bean producers to sell before the run-up in prices occurred.

With the recent moves in the bean markets, the ceilings are off and the market will have to ration bean sales. It has been a rare event when U.S. beans were shipped south to go into Brazil ports for livestock and crushing needs. In one of my later Brazilian trips, two of us took off across Sao Paulo and western northern Parana states through towns I could not pronounce to meet with heads of various producer groups.

At our western most jaunt, we stopped at several large cooperative offices and learned that those grower groups figured out there was a huge demand for frozen chickens in Europe. So they had member growers build enough broiler barns that their slaughter plants could process as many as 500,000 birds per day. Now it sounds like those poultry farms may be feeding Midwest-grown beans to their birds.  

One of the benefits of grain farmers making some money is that there could again be enough cash flow to purchase needed inputs and equipment. A lot of growers were having combine breakdown problems, but put off expensive repairs due to budget concerns or simply old age of their machines.  

One thing creating apprehension among observant growers is that part of the reason for the run-up in prices this fall is that we had drought and derecho that made a lot of bushels disappear. China had historic flooding in their prime grain growing areas. The Ukraine also had dry conditions.

And now the dry conditions are continuing to shut down planters in Brazil. They typically like to see a week of rain on their lighter organic matter, low CEC soils before they take the risk of planting their first crop, which is normally soybeans. They ultimately will get the beans in, but it forces a later bean harvest and limits or eliminates the planning of the rotational corn crop, the Safrina. Because rain in their four winter months is rare, they have a firm drop-dead date past which they will forego planting dryland corn. That lays out a bullish outlook for our 2021/2022 corn price in a year when second-year corn could be a rarity in the territory where the windstorm blew over so many acres of corn.  

Winter Meetings 

Once Thanksgiving is over, we typically get updated on new products and hear summaries of how input products worked or disappointed. Those with their CCA certification recognize they need to build their CEU resumes. A few of us may need to contact the ASA Office up in Madison and have Luther Smith react proactively to have more online certification classes offered on a very flexible schedule.  

Conferences that already have or will go virtual: The Annual Agronomy and Soil Scientist meetings and the ACRES Eco Ag conference in Columbus, OH. We have not heard anything about the Iowa Power Show, normally held in late January in Des Moines. 

Last year most seed company reps and herbicide salesmen from the major companies were instructed to have no face-to-face contact with their customers. Reps from smaller companies had more leeway in what they were allowed to do. Some of the business that needs a face to face meeting may have a hard time getting completed. Luckily most farmers recognize they face more of a disease threat when they walk into a confinement building than they do with this flu. 

Ongoing Fieldwork

Until this past weekend there was still lots of tillage, fertilizer application, tiling and deep ripping. Now with nighttime temps falling into the teens, the ground is going to get harder as it begins to freeze. If the forecasts are correct, we may see one to two inches of rain soak in. After that, very little moisture will be added to the profile and we will have a substantial deficient existing in the western two thirds of Iowa.  

Insect Outlook for 2021 

Expect the 2021 season to be nearing the peak of the 2022 five-year corn borer cycle. Growers who have continued to plant conventional hybrids simply need to be able to recognize when the first and second brood moths are flying into the fields to deposit their eggs, be able to make counts of the moths or shot holed plants and take action if needed. Timing is still everything, but longer lasting insecticides like Stewart, and the use of polymers to lengthen their residual period could all play a role. 

A tougher insect is the rootworm and their larvae. So far they have foiled anything and everything that growers and input companies have developed to control them, be it crop rotation, planting time insecticides, or traits. The recommendations I have heard for this year call for multiple strategies to be used in any suspected problem field. Controlling them will get expensive, but not getting control will be more expensive. 

Seed Selection 

In a year with wide yield variability, drawing a clear-cut conclusion about varieties and how they performed was difficult in many parts of the Midwest. Planting dates, rotational differences, soil types, duration and extremes of stress periods, plus method and amounts of N applied were very important in most fields. Will those extremes ever be duplicated, or are they already in the cards? A wise man hopes for the best but plans for the worst. What may help a lot is that there are five or six things that can be done to minimize the effects of heat or moisture stress. I will discuss them in my next column. 

So have a piece of pumpkin or pecan pie this weekend and say thanks for all the great things we have been blessed with in this great country. Plus, thank the people who grew and prepared the food. They deserve thanks every day. 

Bob Streit is an independent crop consultant. He can be reached at (515) 709-0143 or