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Spotlight on Economics: Are Low Crop Prices Here to Stay?

Corn
(Photo courtesy of Morgue File)
A farmer recently asked a very simple but extremely relevant question at a market outlook meeting: “Will I ever see high grain prices again in my lifetime?”

The farmer asking this question started his farming career in the early 1980s and remembers the low commodity prices and tough financial conditions in agriculture at the time. The fear was that the grain markets were going to return to many years of low prices.

As usual, simple questions often have complicated answers. My short answer to the question was, “Yes, it is possible to see high grain prices again, but it likely will not happen this year.”

NDSU Extension Service Crops Economist shares his predictions on 2015 crop prices.

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Considering Planting Winter Wheat? Several Options are Available

Winter Wheat
Winter wheat (photo by NDSU)
This is the time of year when farmers are considering whether to plant winter wheat.

One of the biggest benefits to growing winter wheat is that it typically yields higher than spring wheat. Planting winter wheat can help producers spread out the workload. Even if the winter wheat crop suffers a significant winter kill, producers can plant another crop next spring.

Variety trials can help you choose which winter wheat to plant.

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Keep Livestock Away from Blue-Green Algae

Blue Green Algae is toxic
Photo by NDSU
With hot, dry and calm days comes the threat of cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, which can be toxic to livestock and wildlife.

This algae often is found in stagnant ponds or dugouts with elevated nutrient levels. Live cyanobacteria are green. It turns blue after it dies and dries on the surface or shoreline.

Gerald Stokka, Extension veterinarian and livestock stewardship specialist, says symptoms of cyanobacteria poisoning can include weakness, staggering, difficulty in breathing, convulsions and ultimately death.

Tips for Preventing Cyanobacterial Poisoning in Livestock

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Help Cattle Beat the Heat

heat stress in cattle

With summer's hottest temperatures upon us, producers need to be proactive in dealing with heat stress in cattle, including:

- Identifying animals that are most susceptible to heat stress.
- Developing an action plan to deal with heat stress.
- Knowing when to intervene. A combination of factors, including temperature and humidity, drives heat stress.

Get help planning with our publication Dealing with Heat Stress in Beef Cattle Operations.

Photo by Carl Dahlen, NDSU

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N.D. Top Wheat Producer in U.S.

ndsu wheatIn 2014, North Dakota produced 17.1 percent of the total U.S. wheat production, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Statistics Service. North Dakota produced 347 million bushels of wheat, compared with Kansas at 246 million, Montana at 209 million and South Dakota at 131 million.

Four of the most popular wheat varieties in North Dakota are public varieties from North Dakota State University. Popular varieties grown in the state last year included Barlow, Prosper, Faller and Glenn. Of the spring wheat planted in North Dakota last year, more than 40 percent of the acreage was planted to these NDSU varieties.

"The newly released NDSU variety Elgin-ND has high yield, good quality and wide adaptation, so I expect it to be grown on significant acreage in the state in the near future," says Joel Ransom, NDSU Extension Service agronomist. With many top-performing varieties to choose from, NDSU is likely to have a variety that will work for most growers throughout the state, he adds.

Learn about NDSU's latest spring wheat variety trials.

NDSU Photo

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2015 Field Days

Langdon REC Field DayJoin us for the 2015 Research Extension Center field dayevents. Field days allow our eight Research Extension Centers to share information with the public and producers on various projects under way at each center. The events are free of charge.

Photo: Langdon REC field day, 2014 (NDSU)

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Focus on Quality When Planning Your Hay Harvest

hay baleTiming is crucial when harvesting hay since it can affect the quality of forage. Plant stage and maturity, soil quality and damp weather conditions also play a role in hay quality. See other factors that can affect hay quality and learn how to improve the end result. Once hay is harvested, get a nutrient analysis report, as visual appraisal alone is not sufficient. Learn how to interpret the forage analysis.

Photo: butkovicdub

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Get Help with Prevented-planting Decisions

CanolaNeed help with prevented-planting decisions? NDSU Extension has developed a spreadsheet that uses partial budgeting to compare the economics of prevented planting to growing the same crop for which a prevented-planting payment could be received or some other crop.This analyzer also includes final planting dates for each county in North Dakota.

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Annual Cover Crop Options Publication Now Available

grazing and cowsCattle grazing can add nutrients to previously cropped or hayed soils, especially with the integration of cover crops in the system. Annual cover crops may be grazed and hayed, providing an extended season of use for cattle as well as potentially improving soil health. Learn more from the 2015 Cover Crop Options publication.

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Be on the Lookout for Grass Tetany

grass tetany and cowsGrass tetany could be a problem for grazing cattle and sheep once temperatures start to warm. Forage grasses left shorter in the fall soon could experience rapid growth, which can lead to protein or potassium overtaking the magnesium in the grass. This could pose a poisonous threat to cows and ewes that are in late gestation or heavy lactation. Learn about grass tetany susceptibility, symptoms and prevention.

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