Pricing Corn Silage — Fall 2019

John J. Hanchar, Cornell University/College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, <jjh6@cornell.edu>

Summary

    • Analysis suggests corn silage price depends on corn silage quantities, alfalfa hay price, the price received by farmers for milk, and corn grain price.
    • Analysis for NY suggests that estimated corn silage price is most sensitive to corn silage quantities, alfalfa hay price and corn grain price.
    • Price estimates combined with understanding of relevant supply and demand factors from an individual farm business owner’s perspective can aid decision making regarding corn silage price. Given recently available alfalfa hay and corn grain prices (May through July, 2019, and August 27, 2019, respectively), price analysis for NY suggests an estimated corn silage price of about $45 per ton.  The Fall 2018 estimate was about $41 per ton.

Determining Corn Silage Price

A farm business owner can examine how much corn silage he/she would be willing to supply to a market at a given price.  Analysis of the farm business’ cost structure for corn silage production combined with consideration of other factors help to define the supply relationship.  A seller can develop a target based upon the above, but actual market conditions provide no guarantee that a buyer will purchase quantities desired at a price that achieves the producer’s target.

Some farm business owners might approach the problem of determining corn silage price from a value in production, or input demand perspective.  Amounts of corn grain and corn stover in a ton of corn silage, relevant prices, and corn silage’s place in the milk production process are key factors.  A buyer can develop a price target based upon the above, but actual market conditions provide no guarantee that a producer will sell the quantity desired at a price that matches the buyer’s willingness to pay target.

Although factors in price determination, the two approaches described above in isolation, don’t completely determine price and quantity.  Supply and demand relationships work simultaneously in markets to determine price and quantity.  Empirical price analysis brings supply and demand relationships together to determine price.

Corn Silage Price Analysis

Empirical price analysis suggests that corn silage price is a function of corn silage quantities, alfalfa hay price, the price received by farmers for milk sold, and corn grain price.  The ordinary least squares regression model here expresses corn silage price as a linear function of the above variables.  The statistical analysis used here is fairly basic.  However, readers of the original August 2012 Ag Focus article describing this work, and readers of annual update articles note that the analysis and estimates help farm business owners price corn silage.

Corn Silage Price Estimates – Fall 2019

The ordinary least squares regression model reported in August 2012, updated here to reflect additional data available to date and changes in other underlying factors, produced corn silage price estimates for NY.  Below, estimated corn silage price is a function of alfalfa hay price and corn grain price with other factors (corn silage production and milk price) fixed at expected levels.  Expected corn silage quantity is set at 8,365 tons, the average for the period 2007 through 2017.

    • estimated corn silage price ($/ton) = -3.1431 + (0.1845 x price of alfalfa hay ($/ton)) + (3.5138 x price of corn for grain ($/bushel))

Suppose

    • NY alfalfa hay price is $186 per ton, the three month average of the period May, June, July 2019. (USDA/NASS.  Agricultural Prices. Washington, DC:  National Agricultural Statistics Service.  July 31 and August 30, 2019 releases), and
    • corn grain price is $3.94 per bushel (Western NY Energy.  “Corn Bids.” August 27, 2019.  Approximate value based upon reported bids for fall 2019.)

Using the estimating equation and the above prices for alfalfa hay and corn grain as expected prices, estimated corn silage price is about $45 per ton.  Compare this to last fall’s estimate of about $41 per ton.  Suppose alfalfa hay price is $179 per ton, the annual average for the period 2007 through 2017, and expected corn grain price is 3.94 dollars per bushel, then estimated corn silage price would be about $44 per ton.  Buyers and sellers use an estimate as a base, typically, adjusting for quality and, or costs for harvest, hauling and storage based upon the situation, for example, when pricing standing corn for silage.

Corn silage price estimates combined with understanding of relevant supply and demand factors from the individual farm business owner’s perspective, including local conditions, for example, growing conditions, can aid decision making regarding corn silage price.

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USDA NASS: Northeastern Region Small Grains Annual Summary

New York

Barley production is estimated at 208 thousand bushels, down 55 percent from the 2018 total of 464 thousand bushels.  Average yield per acre, at 52.0 bushels, is down 6.0 bushels from the previous year.  Harvested area, at 4 thousand acres, is down 50 percent from 2018.  Winter wheat production for 2019 totaled 4.16 million bushels, down 37 percent from the 2018 total of 6.56 million bushels.  Average yield, at 63.0 bushels per acre, is down 6.0 bushels from 2018. Area harvested for grain is estimated at 66 thousand acres, down 31 percent from the previous year.

For the complete “Small Grains Annual Summary” report, go to: https://usda.library.cornell.edu/concern/publications/5t34sj573

 The “Small Grains Annual Summary” report and all other NASS reports are available online at www.nass.usda.gov.

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Weather Outlook – October 3, 2019

Northeast Regional Climate Center (NRCC)

A much cooler week is in store compared to last week, with a good chance of a 1-2 inch rainfall event for upstate NY from late Sunday through Tuesday.  After today’s rain, clear skies will reappear later Friday and particularly Saturday.   This will lead to a widespread frost for much of  northern and central NY Saturday morning.  This is right on schedule as the average day of the first fall frost is October 4 in Ithaca.  Saturday will be the coolest day of the week with highs only in the upper 50s to upper 60s across the state and lows from around 30 to the mid to upper 40s down near the city.  After that temperatures should mainly be in the 60s from Sunday-Wednesday with lows in the mid 40-mid 50s most days.  Normal highs for this time of year is low 60s upstate and upper 60s near the City with normal lows mainly in the low 40 to low 50s.  For the period starting next Thursday (10/10).  Temperatures should average slightly above normal and precipitation should be on the lighter side as the long range forecast models show a zonal (west to east) jet stream pattern, which typically does not bring extreme temperature variations or big storm systems.

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Frogeye Leaf Spot in Soybeans: Becoming More Prevalent in NY?

Jaime Cummings and Ken Wise, NYS IPM

Soybean fieldFrogeye leaf spot (FELS) is currently considered a minor foliar disease of soybeans in NY.  This easy-to-identify leaf spot is caused by the fungus Cercospora sojina, and typically shows up mid- to late-season in random soybean fields.  The disease gets its name from the similarity of the spots to what a frog’s eye looks like, having dark reddish-brown margins and light brown-gray centers (Fig 1).  The lesions may be round or irregularly shaped.  If you look closely with a hand lens, you may see the spores of the fungus in the center of the spots if it’s humid.  These spores in the spots will be wind-dispersed to other leaves, resulting in multiple cycles of the disease in one season if the weather is conducive for infection.

Frogeye leaf spot foliar lesions on soybean leaves
Figure 1. Frogeye leaf spot foliar lesions on soybean leaves in Tompkins County 2019. (Photos by J. Cummings, NYS IPM)

The FELS pathogen has multiple races (up to 20 known races!), which means that management with genetic resistance is race-specific.  We do seem to have some highly virulent strains of the fungus in NY, and likely multiple races among those strains.  That’s why you can see one soybean field with moderate to high levels of FELS across the road from another soybean field with little to no FELS.  The genetic resistance available in some soybean varieties is quite effective, but only against specific races of the pathogen.  However, there are soybean varieties available with resistance to all known races of FELS, though maybe not in early maturity groups that are planted in NY.

NYS map of counties identified with frogeye leaf spot
Figure 2. NY counties with known frogeye leaf spot occurrence 2012-2018 shaded in purple. More counties will be added when updated with 2019 observations. (image courtesy of fieldcrops.org)

FELS has typically been a sporadic pest in NY, rarely reaching epidemic levels that would require fungicide applications (Fig. 2).  We’ve been fortunate that when it does appear, it typically shows up during later reproductive stages and will have little to no effect on yield or grain quality.  But in recent years, this trend may be changing, and we may need to be more aware of FELS in NY soybean fields, and potentially consider management options.

Leaf showing severe epidemic of frogeye leaf spot
Figure 3. Severe epidemic of frogeye leaf spot on a susceptible variety. (photo courtesy of T. Allen, Mississippi State University)

I’ve noticed FELS in more and more fields in NY over the past few years, and have had reports of moderate to severe outbreaks earlier in the season in fields planted with susceptible varieties (Fig 3.).  FELS is considered one of the major foliar diseases contributing to yield losses in more southern latitudes in the US, causing 17,662,000 bushels lost nationally in 2015; second overall only to Septoria brown spot.  Our NY yield losses to FELS have likely been minimal, but that could change as we see more FELS around the state each year.  Yield loss from FELS is due to decreased photosynthetic capability of infected leaves and premature defoliation, along with a potential reduction in seed quality.  For more information on estimated yield losses to soybean diseases, see this publication by the Crop Protection Network.

Life cycle of frogeye leaf spot
Figure 4. Life cycle of frogeye leaf spot fungal pathogen on soybean. (image courtesy of A. Grahek and apsnet.org)

As FELS prevalence increases in NY, so does the local inoculum.  The fungus can overwinter on soy residues, including shattered seeds, and can be seed transmitted (Fig. 4).  Seed transmission can be mitigated via fungicidal seed treatments and purchasing high-quality, treated seed.  Other good integrated pest management practices for reducing FELS in your fields include crop rotation, planting resistant varieties, and potentially foliar fungicide applications in severely infected fields.  Should we get to the point where fungicides are needed to manage FELS in NY, there are a number of products available with ‘good’ to ‘very good’ efficacy ratings against this disease.  And it is recommended to make protective fungicide applications between R2-R5.  See this table from the Cornell Guide to Integrated Field Crop Management for available fungicides.  However, it is worth noting that fungicide resistance has been well-document to some quinone outside inhibitor (QoI) group (FRAC group 11) fungicides among numerous FELS fungal populations in at least 13 states (Fig 5).  For more information on fungicide resistance in soybean pathogens, visit this site.

US map showing locations of fungicide resistant populations
Figure 5. Documentation of fungicide resistant populations of frogeye leaf spot pathogen as of 2016. (image courtesy of Plant Management Network)
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Weather Outlook –September 26, 2019

NOAA Northeast Regional Climate Center, Cornell University

Last week temperatures ranged from near normal to 8 degrees above normal. Precipitation has ranged from a trace to 2 inches. Base 50 growing degree-days ranged from 30 to 110.

Today a cold front will bring showers with temperatures in the mid 60s to low 70s. Overnight lows will be in 40s to low 50s.

Friday temperatures will be in the mid 60s to mid 70s with mostly sunny skies. Overnight temperatures will range from the upper 40s to low 60s.

Saturday temperatures will range from the 70s to near 80 with showers and thunderstorms possible. A few storms could produce strong, gusty winds and heavy downpours. Overnight temperatures will be in the low to mid 50s.

Sunday highs will be in the mid 60s to mid70s with sunny skies. Overnight temperatures will be in the 40s.

Monday temperatures will be in the low to mid 70s with scattered showers possible. Overnight temperatures will be in the 50s.

Tuesday highs will be in the 70s (near 80 possible) with scattered showers possible. Overnight temperatures will be in the 50s and low 60s.

Wednesday highs will be in the 70s. Overnight temperatures will be in the 50s.

The seven-day precipitation amounts will range from a trace to near 2 inches.

The 8-14 day outlook (Oct 3-9) favors below-normal temperatures for a majority of the state, excluding far western and southeastern NY. Above-normal precipitation is slightly favored for western to central NY.

Maps of 8-14 day outlooks:
http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/814day/index.php

National Weather Service watch/warnings map:
http://www.weather.gov/erh/

US Drought Monitor:
http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/Home.aspx

Drought Impact Reporter:
https://droughtreporter.unl.edu/map/

CLIMOD2 (NRCC data interface):
http://climodtest.nrcc.cornell.edu

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USDA Gathers Data about On-Farm Labor

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) will conduct its biannual Agricultural Labor Survey during the second half of October. The survey will collect information about hired labor from more than 4,000 farmers and ranchers across the 11-State Northeastern Region.

USDA and the U.S. Department of Labor will use statistics gathered in the Agricultural Labor Survey to establish minimum wage rates for agricultural workers, administer farm labor recruitment and placement service programs, and assist legislators in determining labor policies.

In the survey, NASS asks participants to answer a variety of questions about hired farm labor on their operations, including total number of hired farm workers, hours worked, and wages paid for the weeks of July 7-13 and October 6-12. For their convenience, survey participants have the option to respond online.

“By asking about two separate reference periods each time we collect data during the year, we are able to publish quarterly data and capture seasonal variation,” said Whetstone. “This approach reduces the number of times we ask farm operations to respond to surveys while ensuring that accurate and timely data are available for anyone conducting research or analyses.”

NASS will compile, analyze, and publish survey results in the November 21 Farm Labor report. All previous Farm Labor publications are available online at: www.nass.usda.gov/Publications .

For more information on NASS surveys and reports, call the NASS Northeastern Regional Field Office at 1-800-498-1518.

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Weather Outlook –September 12, 2019

NOAA Northeast Regional Climate Center, Cornell University

Last week temperatures were near normal to 6 degrees below normal. Precipitation has ranged from a trace to 2 inches. Base 50 growing degree-days ranged from 20 to 100.

Above-normal temperatures this week!

Today will be cooler & cloudy with scattered showers and thunderstorms and temperatures in the 60s and low 70s. Overnight lows will be in the 40s to mid 50s.

Friday temperatures will be in the 60s to mid 70s with breezy conditions. Overnight temperatures will be in the mid 40s to upper 50s with showers and thunderstorms; locally heavy rainfall is possible.

Saturday temperatures will range from the 60s to 70s with showers and thunderstorms ending from west to east by afternoon/evening. Overnight temperatures will be in the 50s.

Sunday highs will be in the mid 70s to low 80s with mostly clear conditions; northern NY could have a few showers. Overnight temperatures will be in the 50s.

Monday temperatures will be in the mid 70s to low 80s. Overnight temperatures will be in the 50s

Tuesday highs will be in the mid 70s to low 80s. Overnight temperatures will be in the 50s.

Wednesday highs will be in the mid 70s to low 80s. Overnight temperatures will be in the 50s.

The seven-day precipitation amounts will range from a trace one inch.

The 8-14 day outlook (September 19-25) favors above-normal temperatures with high probability and slightly favors above-normal precipitation for most of the state.

Maps of 8-14 day outlooks:
http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/814day/index.php

National Weather Service watch/warnings map:
http://www.weather.gov/erh/

US Drought Monitor
http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/Home.aspx

Drought Impact Reporter:
https://droughtreporter.unl.edu/map/

CLIMOD2 (NRCC data interface):
http://climodtest.nrcc.cornell.edu

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Weather Outlook –August 29, 2019

NOAA Northeast Regional Climate Center, Cornell University

Last week temperatures were near normal to 4 degrees below normal. Precipitation has ranged from a trace to 3 inches. Base 50 growing degree-days ranged from 50 to 130.

High pressure brings sunny but cooler weather today, followed by a cold front bringing some scattered showers of Friday.

Today will be sunny & cooler with temperatures in the 70s. Slight possibility for a shower in the northern areas. Overnight lows will be in the 50s.

Friday temperatures will be in the mid 70s to low 80s with a cold front bringing scattered showers & possibly some storms in central and eastern NY. Overnight temperatures will be in the 40s and 50s.

Saturday will be a dry day with temperatures in the upper 60s to 70s. Overnight temperatures will be in the 50s.

Sunday highs will be in the mid 60s to low 70s with rain likely. Overnight temperatures will be in the 50s.

Monday temperatures will be in the upper 60s to 70s with some lingering showers. Overnight temperatures will be in the 50s.

Tuesday highs will be in the low 80s with clearing conditions. Overnight temperatures will be in the mid 50s to mid 60s.

Wednesday highs will be in the low to mid 80s. Overnight temperatures will be in the mid 50s to mid 60s.

Will keep an eye on Hurricane Dorian…

The seven-day precipitation amounts will range from a tenth of an inch to one and a half inches.

The 8-14 day outlook (September 5-11) favors below-normal temperatures for the state. The outlook slightly favors below-normal precipitation for southeast NY and near-normal precipitation for the rest of the state.

Maps of 8-14 day outlooks:
http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/814day/index.php

National Weather Service watch/warnings map:
http://www.weather.gov/erh/

US Drought Monitor:
http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/Home.aspx

Drought Impact Reporter:
https://droughtreporter.unl.edu/map/

CLIMOD2 (NRCC data interface):
http://climodtest.nrcc.cornell.edu

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Unfamiliar Foliar Lesions on Your Corn??? It Could Be Southern Corn Leaf Blight

Jaime Cummings (NYS IPM), Joe Lawrence (PRO-Dairy), and Josh Putman (CCE)

corn leaf blight
Southern corn leaf blight lesions on corn leaf. (Photo by C. Grau, and image courtesy of Crop Protection Network)

Reports of Southern Corn Leaf Blight, have been confirmed by our neighbors near Erie, PA this past week.  This is on our radar, because that area shares latitude with some of our corn acreage in our southern tier and Hudson Valley region.  Therefore, you may want to keep an eye out for atypical corn foliar disease symptoms as the season progresses.

Most corn growers are unfortunately familiar with many of our common foliar diseases, including northern corn leaf blight, gray leaf spot, and eyespot.  Sure, at first they all look alike as all young lesions start out as small chlorotic spots.  But, as the disease progresses, and as the lesions mature, each disease has fairly distinctive lesion types that a trained eye could possibly identify even from the window of the truck on a drive-by scouting effort.  But, throw an unfamiliar leaf spot into the mix, and it might get a little more confusing.

Southern Corn Leaf Blight (SCLB), though not common in NY, was confirmed in 2018 on Long Island, and may be appearing again in 2019.  Suspicious samples have been submitted for ID.  SCLB lesions may not be as distinctive or easy to identify, because they are somewhere intermediate in size and shape between gray leaf spot and northern corn leaf blight, and they also resemble lesions of the northern corn leaf spot disease.  With so much overlap in symptoms, it’s best to get an accurate diagnosis before making any management decisions.

SCLB typically appears on corn leaves between VT and R4 growth stages as irregular tan lesions with vaguely reddish margins.  Lesion shape and size may vary among hybrids.  There are different races of this pathogen (races T, O, and C), but race O is most common in North America and is restricted to leaf infections.  However, race T also exists in the US, and can infect leaves, stalks, and ears.  As with most of our corn diseases, the fungus overwinters on corn debris, and can be further disseminated by wind or rain within and among fields in subsequent seasons (Fig. 1).  There can be multiple cycles of this disease in one season if conditions are favorable (warm and wet).  However, this hasn’t been a major disease of concern since the 1970’s, and we don’t anticipate it to be a chief concern here in NY compared as compared to our regional issues with northern corn leaf blight and gray leaf spot.

Diagram of the disease life cycle of corn foliar pathogen
Figure 1. Typical disease life cycle of a corn foliar pathogen such as southern corn leaf blight. (Image courtesy of Pioneer)

As with all corn foliar diseases, the incidence and severity of the lesions and the level of epidemic in the field will determine its impact on yield, because all foliar diseases affect photosynthesis and may leave plants more susceptible to stalk rots.  The first and best option for managing SCLB is through genetic resistance.  However, since this is such an uncommon disease in NY or other northern production areas, resistance ratings specifically for this disease may not be widely available in seed catalogs when making hybrid selections.  And, as for many of our common foliar diseases, an integrated management approach will work best.  Reducing primary inoculum through residue management and crop rotations, in combination with genetic resistance and use of fungicides only when necessary will successfully minimize losses from southern corn leaf blight.  Please remember, research has shown that fungicides are most cost-effective with a single application at VT/R1 when disease pressure is >5% throughout the field, and when the disease reaches at least the ear leaf by tasseling on susceptible hybrids when the weather is expected to be conducive for the disease to spread (Fig. 2).

Data charts
Figure 2. Corn fungicide timing and disease severity trials summary of hundreds of trials in 2013 by Dr. Kiersten Wise of University of Kentucky show that a single fungicide application at VT/R1 with disease severity >5% resulted in the best yield response.
Corn leaves from Southern NY
A corn field in Chautauqua County with suspected southern corn leaf blight infection. Samples submitted and awaiting diagnosis. (Photo by J. Putman)
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USDA to Measure Small Grain Production

During the week of August 26th, growers of small grains around the country will receive survey forms from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). The agency is taking a comprehensive look into the 2019 production and supply of small grains, which include wheat, oats, barley, and rye.

“The small grains industry is an important part of Northeastern agriculture and it is crucial for all involved with the agriculture sector to have accurate data about this key sector of the economy,” explained King Whetstone, director of the National Agricultural Statistics Service. “We will contact more than 4,000 producers in Delaware, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania to accurately measure 2019 acreage, yield, and production for small grain crops. The data collected from this survey will also help set small grain acreage, yield, and production estimates at the county level, to be published in December 2019.”

NASS will contact survey participants to gather information on their 2019 production and the quantities of whole grains and oilseeds stored on farm. As an alternative to mailing the survey back, and to help save both time and money, growers will have the option to securely respond to the survey online. Farmers who have not responded by August 30, 2019 may receive a phone call or visit from a NASS representative who will help them fill out the survey form.

“NASS safeguards the privacy of all respondents and publishes only county, State and National level data, ensuring that no individual operation or producer can be identified,” stated Whetstone. “We recognize that this is a hectic time for farmers and ranchers, but the information they provide helps U.S. agriculture remain viable and capable. I urge them to respond to these surveys and thank them for their time and cooperation,” said King Whetstone.

NASS will analyze the survey information and publish the results in a series of USDA reports, including the annual Small Grains Summary and quarterly Grain Stocks reports, both to be released September 30, 2019. Survey data also contribute to NASS’s monthly and annual Crop Production reports, and the USDA’s World Agricultural Outlook Board’s monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE).

All NASS reports are available online at https://www.nass.usda.gov/Publications/. For more information call the NASS Northeastern Regional Office at (800) 498-1518.

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