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Grain Exchange

The USDA supply and demand report will be out this morning at 11:00. While the last USDA update of the year typically is a non-event, traders are worried about the terrible pace of corn exports and if further cuts in demand and increases in ending stocks will be an unwelcome surprise. Today’s report will hold the attention of the trade for a few minutes then it will all be about trade news and the Sunday Dec 15th tariff deadline.

The last weekly harvest report was issued yesterday with corn coming in at 92% (94% estimate).  The slowest states are 74% harvested in MI and WI while ND is well below half-way done at 43%.  This leaves about 1.1 BBU still in the field.

The President’s administration sent House Speaker Pelosi a new proposal with changes for the USMCA, Pelosi should be feeling the pressure to get this voted on and approved by the year end and a vote could come as soon as next week.

China imported 8.28 MMT of soybeans in November, the highest number since August and 53.9% ahead of last year.  Their hog herd also continues to grow with last month’s numbers putting their increased numbers up 2% from October, and sow herd numbers are up 4% from October.

Trump administration sees partial waivers as potential fix in biofuel debate -sources – Reuters…will consider granting small refineries exemptions on a part of their blending requirement rather than taking a 100% or nothing approach of the past…this had been done even when the Department of Energy had recommended only partial exemptions. The ethanol industry is waiting for the 2020 blending requirements to be finalized, the EPA last week sent their latest proposal to the White House for approval.

End of harvest is near, be safe.

Jim Fleming

Posted in Blog, Grain

Prevent Stinky, Slimy Haylage & Avoid Clostridia Haylage

Larry Roth, Provimi North America, Inc

You have been looking forward to feeding an excellent first-cut haylage but you find wet, slimy haylage with a smell not leaving your hands and, even worse, cows want no part of it! Sooner or later, many harvesting haylage end up in this situation. Recognizing the factors involved in formation of clostridia haylage and then managing accordingly can reduce these headaches.

A Perfect Storm for Clostridia Haylage

Numerous factors contribute to clostridia haylage. Legumes and small grains are popular choices for haylage; however, their higher protein and mineral content work as buffers against decreasing forage pH during fermentation and nutrient preservation. They are generally lower in water-soluble sugars, feeding the lactate-producing bacteria critical for reducing forage pH. Often, legumes and small grains are harvested when forage drying is difficult, entering fermentation wetter than desired. Further, while a disc mower enables a high rate of mowing and the air turbulence created under the hood lifts the forage for easier cutting, it also creates whirlwinds in the soil, increasing the chances of clostridia inoculation after heavy manure application.

Suggestions for Reducing Clostridia Haylage

Mow at 2.5-3″ cutting height. While raising the mower bar may reduce yield slightly, leaving more photosynthetic material speeds up plant growth for the next cutting and increases stand longevity. The higher height reduces soil incorporation from sickle bar mowers and lowers soil contamination from disc mowers. Twisted or angled disc blades are great for lifting heavy or lodged forage, but such blades also increase soil contamination.

Wide swaths encourage faster and more even drying. Mown forage will continue photosynthesis while lying in the field. Photosynthesis will combine CO2 and sunlight with forage moisture to create water-soluble sugars. This reaction is a win-win, with more sugars to foster fermentation and less water hauled to storage. Wide swaths enable forage to be heated by sunlight, causing wilting as the plant attempts to cool itself by moving stem moisture through leaves. If the swath is lying on a 2.5-3″ forage stubble, air can move under it to encourage drying and lessen the chances of moisture wicking into the mown crop from wet soil.

Manage raking, tedding, and merging equipment to reduce soil contamination. High-capacity forage choppers require wide swaths to be raked and merged for more efficient harvesting. Tedder use can speed up drying. Any time equipment touches the forage there is risk for soil incorporation and leaf loss. Consult your manufacturer and adjust equipment accordingly to minimize soil pick-up.

Chop haylage at <65% moisture. Hopefully sunshine has been fostering photosynthesis and causing wilting, and the wind has been removing moisture. Cloudy and humid days do not help. The wetter the haylage, the more lactate must be produced to sufficiently lower forage pH to preserve nutrients. Further, clostridia like higher pH conditions. Waiting for appropriate moisture may test a person’s patience, but it is a critical step in the process.

Inoculate with lactate-producing bacteria to decrease forage pH. Inoculation helps overcome inherent forage buffering capacity and acidifies water in haylage. Most companies supply haylage-specific inoculants providing 200,000+ colony-forming units per gram of forage, or recommend doubling applications of standard products in challenging conditions. Fermentation can be summed as “The side that gets there first with the most wins.” A few suppliers have developed organisms and products specifically designed for clostridia-prone situations.

Pack haylage to remove oxygen and stop plant respiration. Chopped plants in storage are deprived of sunlight, and consequently conduct the “dark reaction” (respiration reaction of photosynthesis; O2 and sugars combine creating H2O, CO2, and heat). The minimal O2 present in well-packed haylage is quickly used up in plant respiration. Lactic fermentation can then occur to rapidly reduce forage pH and hinder clostridia growth. Clostridia Haylage Does Not Have to Happen!

Forage, weather, and agronomic conditions can come together at the wrong time to cause clostridia haylage. Developing a plan to reduce potential for clostridia haylage can improve overall haylage quality and limit chances of being greeted by a stinky, slimy mess.

Posted in Animal Nutrition, Blog

What Caused The Molds and Mycotoxins In My Forages?

Article by Larry Roth, Provimi North America, Inc

Imagine the scene: Your nutritionist walks into your office, sits down across the desk from you, and hands you assays of your forages that indicate you have high levels of molds and mycotoxins. “Where did these evil organisms come from?”, you ask. It is helpful to be aware of the many factors at play when forages are affected by molds and mycotoxins.

A mycotoxin is a secondary metabolite produced by mold. One mold species may produce many different mycotoxins, and several mold species may produce the same mycotoxin. High mold levels do not necessarily mean mycotoxin levels will be high. Different micro-environmental conditions can trigger production of varying levels of various mycotoxins by a given mold species. The exact environmental triggers for particular mycotoxins and levels are not precisely clear, but understanding and managing the factors contributing to mold growth can lessen mycotoxin presence in forages.

There are favorable and optimum temperature ranges for growth of the Aspergillus, Penicillium, and Fusarium molds (Figure 1). Certain Aspergillus and Penicillium molds prefer warm, Summer conditions, while Fusarium generally thrive in cooler temperatures, as in the Fall, for optimal growth. Aspergillus molds are the primary aflatoxin producers; aflatoxin is most commonly observed in heat and drought conditions. Although a few Penicillium molds produce aflatoxin, most members of this genus produce mycotoxins of lesser importance. The Fusarium genus is perhaps of greatest concern in the Upper Midwest due to the production of vomitoxin (DON), zearalenone, and fumonisin mycotoxins. Fusarium species like the cool, wet conditions which have come to typify Fall in the Midwest.

Figure 1. Favorable and Optimum Temperature Ranges For Aspergillus, Penicillium, and Fusarium molds

While forage producers cannot control temperature, rainfall, and humidity, they can influence other factors involved in mold growth and the potential for mycotoxin production.

Soil Health: A healthy and diverse microbial population in the soil will enhance crop residue degradation, which could otherwise serve as a mold reservoir. A young corn plant pushing its first green leaf through last year’s crop residue could become infected with harmful molds. Healthy soil will also have greater water-holding capacity to sustain growing plants during dry spells and allow water to readily drain during excessive rainfall. Proper tillage can maintain some surface residue to reduce soil erosion, while excessive tillage may reduce soil aggregation, lowering nutrient and water-holding capabilities.

Agronomic Practices: Any stressors on the plant can tip plant health in favor of mold production. Proper planting time, plant population, plant genetics, insect control, and fungicide use are among the many agronomic practices that influence plant health and can bolster the plant in its battle against harmful molds.

Harvest Conditions: Timing harvest before the appearance of cool, wet conditions favorable for Fusarium growth may reduce molds and mycotoxins brought from the field to the silage storage structure. Chopping at a proper moisture, reducing chop length as the crop dries, and proper packing can reduce mold growth during ensiling. Segregating mold-infected crops from clean forages during ensiling may pose logistical challenges, but could pay-off in animal health and production by keeping clean forages clean and enabling feeding strategies based on animal susceptibility to mycotoxins.

Storage and Feed-Out Conditions: Proper packing to exclude oxygen is essential in controlling the growth of aerobic molds, such as Fusarium and most Aspergillus. Recent research suggests P. roqueforti may continue growing in well-packed silage, however. Mold spores can survive ensiling, and then start growing with the reintroduction of oxygen and proper temperature at feed-out. Proper feed-out practices are always essential when managing ensiled feeds, and even more critical with forages infected with mold at harvest.

High mold levels do not necessarily mean high mycotoxin concentrations in forage. On the other hand, mycotoxin concentrations could be high in forage with low mold counts due to toxin production pre-ensiling. Viewing a forage assay with high mold counts or high mycotoxin levels is never a pleasant experience for a forage producer. Taking the time to review the production practices that resulted in the particular forage can help change the course for future forage crops, however.

Posted in Animal Nutrition, BlogTagged , , , , ,

Grain Exchange

As the market is looking forward to the December 10th crop report, local farmers are pushing hard to try to get the crop out of the field.  Average trade estimates for U.S. corn ending stocks is 1.919 billion bu, soybeans at 476 million bu and wheat at 1.01 billion bu.  IEG released a smaller guess at Argentina 19/20 corn production vs the USDA at 46 MMT vs 50 MMT and a smaller bean production of 52.5 MMT vs USDA at 53 MMT.  The private analysts had Brazil with a larger crop in corn and beans than the USDA.

While much can be made of the production side that is only half of the story as there are a lot of questions with the demand side of the equation.  How do the politics of Argentina affect the bean meal market?  How much demand will China have with their hog situation?  When do we get a new headline on trade relations out of Washington?  USDA did report 245,000 tons of beans sold to unknown in 19/20 this morning.

Much of the chatter in the marketplace is getting tuned out by the growers in the north as their focus is to will their way through the growing season.

Good luck and be safe!

Posted in Blog, Grain

Grain Exchange – A Good Week For Harvest

Well, it looks like a great week to get some harvest done or finish.  The market continues to look to news to rally with.  Harvest remains slow at 89% complete on corn and 96% complete on beans.  Planting in South America remains slow and markets are watching weather.  South America has a couple of areas that are on the drier side.

Beans still needed to be harvested in Wisconsin (14%) and Michigan (15%).  Beans seem to trade both sides of the market with concerns on trade wars and consolidation with funds.  October bean crush numbers was a record at 187 million bushels.

Corn harvest is right in line with trade expected.  North Dakota still has 64% to harvest while WI has 36%.  Corn remains uncompetitive against South America and Black Seas.  Please see below for bushels left by states.


Make sure to have offers working for Spring and Fall 2020.  We are here to start your marketing plans for Fall 2020 and beyond.  Enjoy the sun this week!




Posted in Blog, Grain

Grain Exchange

The November 24th USDA weekly crop progress report (which the USDA has decided to extend indefinitely for the 2019 production) shows Wisconsin at 57% complete for corn and 82% on soybeans.  Soybean exports are better than expected.  Corn exports are poor as we are beginning to price more competitive.  US dollar remains strong.

With the US crop inching its way to completion, more questions than answers on trade relations, and disappointing corn exports, markets need more optimistic news.

Wheat does have some strength.  CBOT Sept 20 wheat futures are $5.40 as Argentina is preparing for near record wheat harvest forecasted at 19.4 million tonnes.  There are some questions about this crop size given dryness in some regions.  Wheat outlook has been cut in Ukraine, Russia, Canada and Australia.  Hopefully the strength in wheat futures can spill over and help corn.

Adequate rains are noted in most areas of South America.

Winter storm warnings from California to New Mexico to Northern Wisconsin are in the forecast.  High winds and rains for more southern areas.  We are off to a slow finish for harvest.

Thank you for your business and have a safe and productive harvest.

Posted in Blog, Grain

Feed Troubles May Be Lurking

If going directly from monsoon season to the middle of winter weren’t bad enough, it appears that Wisconsin’s dairy and livestock producers may need to keep their eyes open for something lurking in their feeds: mycotoxins.

For those not familiar with the term, mycotoxins are stable toxic compounds produced by some molds that can accumulate in both the corn grain and the stalk. When eaten, these compounds can lead to a variety of health hazards in livestock and humans, including suppressed intakes, a pronounced drop in milk production, and abortions or other reproductive issues.

This fall’s excess precipitation—further delaying an already late harvest—along with warm days and cool nights, have set the stage for near-perfect growing conditions for several molds in the corn crop. According to several Landmark agronomists, this year’s biggest offenders appear to be Gibberella/Fusarium and Diplodia ear rot, as well as Gibberella and Anthracnose stalk rot.

In terms of potential mycotoxin production, the pink-colored Gibberella/Fusarium molds are likely to cause the biggest issues. These are the molds responsible for vomitoxin (deoxynivalenol or DON), zearalonone, T-2, and fumonisin. In the feed and grain industry, we often use vomitoxin testing as a marker to judge the severity of a mycotoxin issue in the feed.

To be clear, the presence of these molds does not automatically result in high levels of mycotoxins. However, early testing of this year’s corn crop at our grain facilities is showing some instances of highly elevated levels of vomitoxin. Rock River Laboratory in Whitewater also reported elevated vomitoxin levels in some TMR samples from both the Midwest and eastern United States. The graph below is from their October 18, 2019 “Data Distillations” report.

Landmark is working hard to ensure safe feed production for our customers. As a precaution, all loads of corn entering the Landmark Animal Nutrition facilities are being tested prior to dumping to ensure the inventory for feed production remains below 2.0 ppm vomitoxin. Since corn byproducts also tend to concentrate the mycotoxin levels, we’re in regular communication with suppliers regarding their testing and labeling of products. Additionally, in order to preserve the integrity of the marketable corn, Landmark Grain locations are monitoring vomitoxin levels each day. In some cases, we are testing individual loads as well, depending on the overall levels coming into that location.

It’s important to remember that vomitoxin levels alone may not give producers a clear-cut answer on what to expect regarding reduced performance. In many cases, vomitoxin levels do serve as a guide for the overall level of concern we should be taking regarding other mycotoxins. Cattle generally tend to be less susceptible than monogastrics such as swine and poultry. That said, depending on the levels and combinations of mycotoxins in the total diet, serious economic loss can also occur in dairy cattle.

As you begin distributing this year’s feedstuffs to your herd, keep an eye on feed intakes, milk production, overall herd health, and reproductive performance. If you have questions or concerns, be sure to address those with our nutritionist and veterinarian. In many cases, we can provide options to minimize the effects.

And as you wrap up this fall’s harvest and field work, be sure to bring up any mycotoxin concerns with your agronomist. They can help you select more Gibberella-resistant varieties, determine proper crop rotation and nutrient management, and schedule fungicide applications.

Posted in Animal Nutrition, Blog

Grain Exchange

Grain markets are trading mixed this morning.  Very little news happening to move the market.  The US/China headlines continue to fatigue the market.  There is confidence that a phase one deal will be made but the timing remains in question.

Corn is slightly higher this morning.  Export sales are at 31 mln bu which is in line to meet USDA projected level.  Ethanol margins continue to improve.  Overall conditions on a technical side points to improving price trends during  the next 90 days.

US weekly exports were good for soybeans and soyoil.  Look for choppy trade as the same old US and China trade deal record keeps playing.  The export report was favorable however more sales to China are need to support US soybean projections.

Wheat is slightly lower today.  Export sales were within range.  Current upside potential for wheat is unlikely.  US sales will have to pick up to meet expectations.

Reach out to your Grain Market Specialist, we are here for you.

This has been an extremely challenging crop year from start to nearing the finish line.  Take care of yourself and be safe so you can cross that finish line.

As bad as some days seem remember, there is always, always something to be thankful for.  Thanksgiving reminds us to give thanks and count our blessings.

Happy Thanksgiving,

Judy Uhlenhake

Posted in Blog, Grain

Grain Exchange

Corn and beans traded mostly flat yesterday while wheat fell back after Tuesday’s strong rally up until an afternoon story that indicated more headaches for trade negotiations pressured prices to the daily lows by the close.  The market continues to be pulled and pushed by strong U.S. basis bids and slow harvest progress.

The propane shortage in the upper Midwest is becoming another frustrating layer to this year’s harvest as wet corn and lack of drying capacity are forcing major elevators to work on reduced schedules. Your Landmark energy team is having no issues supplying propane to our dryer and home heat customers due to the foresight months ago, that this was coming and having a plan in place.

President Trump said Tuesday that there are enough Democratic votes in the house to pass the USMCA if they had a vote today and urged the house speaker to push the vote forward.

Renewable fuels associations were losers yesterday in court as a lawsuit filed in May of 2018 challenging EPA’s granting of small-refinery exemptions was dismissed by a federal court.

Be safe out there,

Jim Fleming

Posted in Blog, Grain

Grain Exchange

Crop progress updates will be out today after we recognized our Veterans yesterday.  With cold and snow locally, farmers are doing everything they can to try to get the crop out of the field.  Dryer weather across the US will push harvest along when assessing the Nation’s progress.  Traders expect the US corn harvest to be 65-67% complete vs 52% last week and 84% on average while soybeans harvest completion estimations range from 83-90%.

As this is published, Trump is expected to comment on the US economy as the general tone to trade talks with China has been negative this week.  Chinese crushers continue to look to Brazil for new crop beans as Nationally Brazil has 58% of the crop planted vs the 5-year average of 57%.   The weather outlook for South America has turned favorable providing rains to dryer areas of the country.

Posted in Blog, Grain