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September 4, 2013
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Ag Notebook: Late planting impacting crops, near-record incomes for farmers

Late Corn Planting Could Impact Some Areas of Neb.

Late corn planting in some areas because of wet field conditions last spring could lead to reduced yields if an early frost hits this fall, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension experts say.

But some farmers didn’t get into the fields until after Memorial Day because of wet conditions. Expected yields in those fields could be down as much as 13 percent from the 30-year averages, thanks to late-season lower temperatures and a dramatic increase in the probability of frost damage before the crop matures.

Yields for rainfed fields are harder to project, but the model simulated yields where corn was planted on the average planting date to be lower than an average year for most areas, but close to or higher than a normal yield in the northeast, thanks to above-average growing season rains.

USDA: Farmers forecast to see near-record incomes in 2013

U.S. farmers will realize $120.6 billion in net income this year, up 6 percent compared to last year and the second-highest amount since 1973.

Still, the amount represents a drop from USDA’s February estimate of $128.2 billion, reflecting record harvests that will translate into lower prices and cut into expected farm incomes, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Tuesday.

Report: Conservation Work Minimizes Sediment, Nutrient Runoff

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a new U.S. Department of Agriculture report that shows farmers have significantly reduced the loss of sediment and nutrients from farm fields through voluntary conservation work in the lower Mississippi River basin.

Its findings demonstrate that conservation work, like controlling erosion and managing nutrients, has reduced the edge-of-field losses of sediment by 35 percent, nitrogen by 21 percent and phosphorous by 52 percent.

While the report shows the positive impacts of conservation, it also signals the need for additional conservation work.

The most critical conservation concern in the region is controlling runoff of surface water and better management of nutrients, meaning the appropriate rate, form, timing and method of application for nitrogen and phosphorous.

Model simulations show that an increase in cover crops will have a significant impact on reducing edge-of-field losses of sediment and nutrients and improve water quality.

Environmental Group Proposes Soil Health Component to Crop Insurance

The environmental advocacy group Natural Resources Defense Council Tuesday said an improved emphasis on soil health in crop insurance programs could have minimized crop insurance losses from the 2012 drought.

The idea is based on a recently unveiled study prepared by NRDC that found 80 percent of crop insurance payments made to farmers during the 2012 growing season were the result of heat, drought or hot wind.

The group suggested also that such weather events will become more common in the future, estimating that soil management practices such as no-till and cover crops could help limit the effects of extreme weather events.

NRDC policy analyst Claire O’Connor, author of the study, said weather challenges could be avoided by improving soil health; more resilient soil can hold and filter more water, meaning the difference between profit and loss, she added.

But the Federal Crop Insurance Program, O’Connor argued, doesn’t take soil health and subsequent water efficiency into account.

“The Federal Crop Insurance program charges farmers using a fixed formula that ignores the importance of how farmers are managing their fields,” O’Connor said.

In contrast, the NRDC said it is preparing plans for a pilot program that would take roll soil preservation practices into account.

CHANGES COMING TO NEBRASKA’S GASOLINE SOON

AAA Nebraska and the Nebraska Energy Office want Nebraskans to know changes will be coming to the state’s low and mid-grade motor fuels in September.

According to the Nebraska Energy Office, there are three levels of gasoline: low grade, midgrade, and high grade.

Each grade has an octane level, which varies from state to state.

In Nebraska, regular unleaded gasoline has an 87 to 88 octane.

Mid-grade gasoline has an 89 to 90 octane, which includes some octane boosters such as ethanol, and includes E–10.

In the past, 87 octane gasoline was delivered to the state by refiners.

Beginning in September, refiners will be delivering sub-octane unleaded gasoline with a level of 84.

Local suppliers will then blend the sub-octane gasoline with ethanol or premium gasoline to get the octane up to 87 for regular unleaded gasoline.

The change in gasoline formulation is being driven by several factors, including the Renewable Fuel Standard that requires transportation fuel sold in the nation to contain a minimum volume of renewable fuels, and that amount has been increasing each year as required under the Energy Policy Act of 2005.


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The Fence Post Updated Oct 16, 2013 02:41PM Published Sep 24, 2013 09:11AM Copyright 2013 The Fence Post. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.