KJAN Ag/Outdoor

From County extension to conservation to grain prices, we provide lots of information every day on KJAN.  Here is some of that information on the web too!  We hope you find it useful.

Advice for chopping failing corn fields for silage

Ag/Outdoor

July 31st, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Iowa livestock farmers who’ve seen their pastures dry up and their hay supply dwindle may be able to find another source to feed their animals. Corn stalks can be chopped up and turned into silage. Daniel Loy, a livestock specialist with Iowa State University’s Extension Service, says the corn stalks must have about 60 to 70 percent moisture and stalks that look dry often have that much moisture inside. “The key to quality harvest of silage is to exclude the oxygen…cover it with plastic or other material so that they can exclude as much oxygen as possible, and then it goes through a fermentation process which is almost exactly like pickling,” Loy says. That pickling process takes about three or four weeks.

“It will develop enough acidity and drop the pH to a level that actually will fight off the microorganisms that might cause it to deteriorate,” Loy says. “It becomes stable at that point and that’s why, if you’ve ever smelled corn silage, it has that sweet/sour aroma which is very much similar to what you would find in your pickle jar.” You can’t just go out in a field and start chopping with a mower, however. It takes special equipment to cut silage. “There are custom operators that will bag silage and put it into a big plastic bag which is kind of a silo-on-the-spot and there are also custom operators that will do the chopping and delivery,” Loy says, “so if producers aren’t really set up to harvest and store silage, there are opportunities for custom operators to help them do that.” But not every corn field that’s judged a total loss for the farmer who wanted to harvest the corn in bushels can be sold as tons of silage.

Some crop insurance policies bar farmers from chopping the corn plants for resale as silage. In other fields the nitrogen content of the corn stalks may be too high to be fed to livestock. But Loy says that four-week process of converting the chopped corn into pickled silage cuts the nitrogen levels. “That can reduce the nitrates that (are) in the plant material by 30 to 80 percent, depending on the quality of the fermentation,” Loy says. “So between diluting with other feed stuffs, between the reduction in nitrate that occurs during the ensiling process, the risk can be decreased quite substantially.” Loy advises farmers to visit with an expert if they’ve never chopped silage before and to check with an advisor before feeding silage to their livestock for the first time. Go to www.radioiowa.com to find a link to I-S-U Extension resources about silage.

(Radio Iowa)

Iowa crops decline in long, hot summer

Ag/Outdoor, News

July 30th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – The condition of Iowa’s crops continues to decline as the drought persists. Even with some rain last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says 46 percent of the corn crop is now in poor or very poor condition. Last week, it was 40 percent.  The USDA says in Monday’s report that 34 percent of Iowa’s soybeans are in poor to very poor condition. Last week, it was 30 percent.
 
Thunderstorms hit on Wednesday and over the weekend, with a statewide average of .70 inches. But Audubon hasn’t had any measurable rain in 36 days. In Atlantic, the last measurable rain was on June 28th, when we received just two one-hundredths (.02) of an inch.

The high temperature for the week was 107 degrees in Donnellson, Fairfield and Keokuk.  Iowa State Climatologist Harry Hillaker says July could be the third hottest and fifth driest July among 140 years of state records.

Iowa corn harvest to start in August

Ag/Outdoor

July 30th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The state’s top agricultural official predicts the 2012 corn harvest will begin in August, far earlier than normal, due to the drought. Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey says the corn harvest normally begins in mid-September.  “I do believe harvest will be early. We are seeing maturities move along a lot faster, in part because it was short of water, in part because it was short of heat,” Northey says. “We did get in the fields early this last spring, but we’re likely to see some harvesting start, I believe, in August.” Although there’s a day left in the month, this is likely to be the fifth driest July since officials began keeping weather records 136 years ago. Just an inch-and-12-hundredths of rain has fallen, on average, in the state this month. That’s more than three inches below normal. This is also going to be the third hottest July in Iowa as well. “The combination of those creates real, real stress on our crops out there, our corn and soybean crops as well as our pasture land, as well as water demand that you see in our urban and rural areas,” Northey says.

The state’s largest urban water system — the Des Moines Water Works — has asked customers to conserve — and quit watering lawns. Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management director Mark Schouten has met with the directors of Iowa’s 19 rural water systems. “Although those systems are being taxed and they’re producing record amounts of water, they continuing to meet demand,” Schouten says. “Some of them are looking to drill new wells. They’re looking forward, sensing their water levels are dropping, so they’re working with DNR to increase their ability to generate water.” 

State officials are reviewing the rules and regulations for well-drilling, to see if there’s any way to speed up the permitting process. Schouten and Northey spoke this morning (Monday) at the governor’s weekly news conference. Governor Branstad last week lifted weight restrictions for hauling hay and the D-O-T started granting permits to farmers who want to mow ditches and bale the forage for their livestock.

(Radio Iowa)

Drought could impact upcoming Iowa pheasant population survey

Ag/Outdoor

July 30th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources will begin conducting a roadside survey this week to determine what the pheasant population looks like across the state. DNR wildlife biologist Todd Bogenschutz is predicting a significant increase in pheasant numbers for the first time in six years. But, because of the drought, Bogenschutz is warning the roadside survey may not accurately reflect the bird population. “To get a really good count of the birds, we’re dependent on good dew conditions. For good dew, you need moisture in the soil and right now, we don’t have any,” Bogenschutz said. “We don’t get very good counts of birds if we don’t have good dew.”

Last week, the DNR reported hunters in Iowa shot a record low number of pheasants last year. Around 109-thousand (109,000) pheasants were harvested in 2011 — the fewest since record keeping began in 1962. Bogenschutz is expecting hunters will see more pheasants this year because of the recent mild winter. “We need about two more years just like this and we’ll probably get back to bird numbers that people expect in Iowa, but it’s going take more than just one year,” Bogenschutz said. Iowa’s pheasant population dropped to record low territory in 2011 following five winters with above average snowfall and five wetter than normal springs. The DNR’s annual roadside survey is scheduled for August 1-15. The 2012 pheasant hunting season will open October 27.

(Radio Iowa)

Drought may mean fewer, smaller animals at fairs

Ag/Outdoor

July 29th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

MILWAUKEE (AP) — State and county fairs in the sweltering and drought-stricken Midwest may see smaller livestock and produce this year. The dozen pigs Greg Marzahl and his 15-year-old daughter are bringing to the Wisconsin State Fair are about 15 pounds smaller than the normal 275 pounds. Marzahl had three grand champion pigs last year. He says this year, the heat is affecting the pigs’ virility and appetites. The Wisconsin fair opens its 11-day run Thursday in the Milwaukee suburb of West Allis.

State fairs also are set to begin in the next two weeks in Indiana, Iowa and Illinois. Those states also have been hit by unusual heat and drought. Marzahl still plans to bring his pigs to the fair, expecting his competition will be smaller too.

ISU, Creighton economists weigh in on drought impact

Ag/Outdoor, News

July 28th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Two Midwestern economists say the drought that’s hit the region will “absolutely” be felt beyond the farm and will be a damper on the national economy. Ernie Goss, an economist at Creighton University, says his research finds the drought hitting beyond the farm field, impacting other businesses like ethanol plants and farm equipment dealers. “Depending on the weather, we’re going to see some significant impacts,” Goss says. “And this is going to roll across the U.S., all the way from Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota — less impacts up further north — (and in) Missouri, very significant impacts, so this will have some impacts on GDP.” The latest report, released Friday, shows the country’s Gross Domestic Product increased by one-and-a-half percent in the second quarter.

There was a drought last year in the south, Texas was especially hard hit, but Iowa State University economist Bruce Babcock says this year’s drought will have a far wider impact because corn and soybean losses will be significant.  “I think Midwesterners mainly felt the southwest drought because now we’re experiencing higher beef prices over the last six months because the herds got culled and we’re now at our smallest cattle herd size in I don’t know how many years,” Babcock says. “…Now we have a potentially another round of shrinking the cattle herd again, but also because of higher feed grain costs, and so this should be a wider-spread event.” According to Babcock, it’s the smaller producers who are most likely to get out of the cattle or hog business this year.

A U-S-D-A report recently estimated food prices would climb five percent because of the drought, but Babcock suggests that impact is under-estimated because the calculation was made before the full extent of crop losses became clear. “It’s really the livestock sector that’s going to be taking the big burden here through higher feed costs,” Babcock says. “It’s not necessarily the crop sector. Even though the drought’s there, it’s not like we’re going to produce zero and what we do sell is going to be sold at a higher price and so crop income is going to be somewhat buffered.” Babcock estimates more than 90 percent of Iowa grain farmers bought crop insurance for this growing season. Skyrocketing feed costs will lead to increased prices for not just beef and pork, but for many other grocery store items, including eggs, milk and cheese.

Each month, Goss and some of his colleagues at Creighton University survey bankers in the Midwest and his July survey is nearly complete. “These are bank CEOs in rural portions of 10 states, average community size 1300. We asked them the impact of this drought. We asked about the impact on ethanol plants and biodiesel and two-thirds of those with ethanol and biodiesel plants in their area reported there were either cut-backs or shut-downs — temporary shut-downs, of course,” Goss says. “…We have an ag equipment sales index. (It) dropped to recession levels this month.” Goss and Babcock made their comments on the Iowa Public Television program, “Iowa Press” which aired Friday night and will be replayed Sunday at noon.
(Radio Iowa)

Posted County Prices 07-27-2012

Ag/Outdoor

July 27th, 2012 by Chris Parks

Cass County: Corn $7.87, Beans $16.66

Adair County: Corn $7.84, Beans $16.69

Adams County: Corn $7.84, Beans $16.65

Audubon County: Corn $7.86, Beans $16.68

East Pottawattamie County: Corn $7.90, Beans $16.66

Guthrie County: Corn $7.89, Beans $16.70

Montgomery County: Corn $7.89, Beans $16.68

Shelby County: Corn $7.90, Beans $16.66

Oats $3.67  (always the same in all counties)

Branstad suspends rules, aids transport of feed

Ag/Outdoor, News

July 26th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad is suspending state laws and regulations to make it easier to transport hay, straw and stover at a time when drought has depleted supplies of the material used largely to feed livestock.  Branstad’s action took affect today (Thursday) and will continue for 60 days.
 
The proclamation will allow people to transport loads of hay, straw and stover weighing up to 90,000 pounds on non-interstate highways without a state permit. Wide loads also can be moved without a permit as long as they don’t exceed 12 feet, 5 inches in width. Rules regulating hours of service for drivers hauling specific agricultural produces also are suspended.

Details about the rules are available online at www.iowa.dot.gov .

Rain fails to fall in Shelby County: Fire Danger is still HIGH

Ag/Outdoor, News

July 26th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Much anticipated rainfall following the passage of a cold front failed to materialize across much of western Iowa Wednesday night and early Thursday morning. As a result, Shelby County Emergency Management Officials say the Fire Danger level will remain in the “HIGH” category through Monday, July 30th.  Jason Wickizer, Emergency Medical Services Coordinator at the Shelby County EMA, told KJAN News the rains in his county were “very spotty.”

Wickizer said the Fire Danger rating in Shelby County is based on input from local fire chiefs and the Emergency Manager, and weather factors. He says the County has experienced high temperatures, low humidity during the afternoon, and abundant natural fuel –in the form of dry grass and crops – due to the low rainfall. Wickizer says even though some rain is in the forecast for this weekend, that doesn’t mean the Fire Danger threat will be reduced prior to Monday.

Signs indicating the increased fire threat are located at fire stations within the County, and on the Shelby County Emergency Management Agency’s website, at www.shelbycountyema.com.  Shelby County is currently not included in a ban on open burning. Wickizer said that’s because they are using the “Fire Danger” signs as a “public education tool.” He said since they have not seen an increase in fires, they will use the signs instead of asking the State Fire Marshal’s Office for an open burning ban. The purpose of the Fire Danger signs, according to Wickizer, is to cut down on instances where people start fires on their property, and have numerous fire trucks show-up when it is a non-emergency situation.

He says anyone who wants to conduct any type of open burning outside, on their property, should contact the Shelby County EMA at 712-755-2124, and inform the on-duty dispatcher of your intentions. The dispatcher will put residents in contact with their local fire chief. Permission for you to conduct an open burn is at the sole discretion of your fire chief.

 

Nebraska, Iowa enduring severe drought or worse

Ag/Outdoor, News, Weather

July 26th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – The latest U.S. Drought Monitor map shows all of Iowa and most of Nebraska are suffering severe or extreme drought.  The map shows the east-central portion of the state and a section of southeast Iowa are experiencing extreme drought.  

In Nebraska, the western 75 percent is enduring extreme drought, with the most of rest suffering severe drought. A few counties in central Nebraska are listed as being under exceptional drought conditions, the worst possible listing on the monitor.
 
The drought map is a project shared by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Weather Service. The latest map is based on conditions as of 6 a.m. Tuesday and so doesn’t include rainfall from storms Wednesday night and Thursday morning.