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Drought Dwindling Water


By Russ Quinn
DTN Staff Reporter

OMAHA (DTN) -- Karl Jacobson, like many farmers in drought-affected areas, wants it to rain. The Concordia, Kansas, farmer has only seen two inches of rain fall on his north-central Kansas farm since November of 2017.

"We had very little snow this winter and more wind than I can remember this spring," Jacobson told DTN. "I guess we have the drought of 2018."

The severe drought gripping different areas of the Midwest has crippled agriculture in these locations; livestock producers are being forced to find alternative sources of water for their grazing livestock. Farm ponds, often the only source of water in pastures and rangelands, are drying up.


The drought has left many livestock producers scrambling to find viable water supply options once a natural supply of water is gone.

Herschel George, Kansas State University Research and Extension watershed specialist based in eastern Kansas, said there are a lot of different ways to provide water to grazing livestock. George and other KSU Extension specialists have developed approaches, many of which outlined in the KSU publication "Waterers and Watering Systems: A Handbook for Livestock Producers and Landowners."

George touts different ideas, such as solar pumps for ponds or wells. The downside to these systems is on cloudy days you have a limited amount of pumping time, he said.

Producers with battery backups can avoid these issues, otherwise the pump is not going to come on until 8:30 or 9 a.m. and it will stop by 5 or 6 p.m.

"I know out in central and western Kansas, solar pumps are being used more and more," said George in a KSU press release. "The systems are available and they're working well."

Rural water lines could help to supply water to livestock during times of low natural water supplies in farm ponds. Some producers with rural water supplies near the pasture can add a connection and install a water tank.

When a pond has already dried out, George said producers could clean it out so more water can be stored once it begins to rain. The downside to this option is it can be expensive to move slop and muck out of the existing pond, he said.


Jacobson said he has two pastures that he probably will not be able to utilize during the 2018 growing season on his Republic County farm. The pastures have ponds where he would water his cow/calf herd, but now they are dried up.

He said he might dredge one of the ponds this summer to hopefully allow the pond to store more water when the moisture returns. In the meantime, his plan is to let them sit this year and hope it rains.

Jacobson considered hauling water to the pasture for his cattle, but the pastures are located in remote areas. Hauling water that far would be an expensive and time-consuming proposition, he said.

"I sold off some cows recently because of the lack of grass and water," Jacobson said. "They were older ones, so they needed to go anyway, but I won't replace them until conditions improve."

Jacobson said his other option was to try to dry lot some of his herd, but this too could be an expensive enterprise with the increased amount of feed needed. He is also short on hay so he would have had to buy expensive hay; moving the cattle to town and selling them made more sense, he said.

To help protect existing or rebuilt ponds and water quality, George strongly recommended producers put a fence around the ponds. This will help to assure water quality if a tank downhill from the pond is provided for the livestock.


Any water that does remain may not be of the best quality, according to a North Dakota State University (NDSU) press release from May 4. Ponds and dugouts in North Dakota may be compromised by concentrated levels of salts, minerals and bacteria, stated Miranda Meehan, NDSU Extension livestock environmental stewardship specialist.

NDSU recommended producers test their livestock's water sources for total dissolved solids (TDS), sulfates and nitrates.

TDS measures salts, and these levels should be less than 5,000 parts per million (ppm) for most classes of grazing livestock, according to Michelle Mostrom, toxicologist in NDSU's Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. Elevated levels of TDS may be harmful to livestock health, she said.

Sulfate levels should be less than 500 ppm for calves and less than 1,000 for adult cattle, she said. High levels of sulfate can reduce copper availability in the diet, while higher levels of sulfates can also induce central nervous systems problems.

During the 2017 drought, NDSU Extension helped producers collect 94 water samples for lab testing with 82 of these samples containing potentially toxic levels of TDS. NDSU recommended producers test the water before turning livestock out, said Janna Kincheloe, NDSU Extension livestock systems specialist at the Hettinger Research Extension Center.

"Monitoring water quality throughout the grazing season is important because the quality changes in response to climate and environmental conditions," Kincheloe said. "The importance will be magnified if the drought continues into the growing season, especially when using a shallow water source with a history of water quality issues."

Many commercial laboratories and the NDSU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory provide testing for livestock water quality and specialized testing. The cost of a basic water quality test is approximately $25.

The KSU press release about natural water sources in grazing situation can be viewed at:…

The NDSU press release about water quality can be viewed at:…

Russ Quinn can be reached at

Follow Russ Quinn on Twitter @RussQuinnDTN


Brazil Ports Ready for Soybean Boom


By Katie Dehlinger
DTN Farm Business Adviser

MOUNT JULIET, Tenn. (DTN) -- Brazilian grain export facilities along the Amazon River are picking up a larger share of the country's growing exports, and waterways are playing a larger role in carrying corn and soybeans to port.

Between 2010 and 2017, Brazilian exports of corn and soybeans increased by 145%, climbing to 97 million metric tons, the equivalent of nearly 3.6 billion bushels, according to a new report by Rabobank.

Over the past seven years, the share of exports from ports north of the 16th parallel -- which Rabobank refers to as Northern Arc ports -- grew from 15% to 27%, and there's plenty of room to keep growing.

"I believe most of these ports are being underused compared to the total capacity," Rabobank Grains and Oilseeds Analyst Victor Ikeda told DTN by telephone from Sao Paulo, Brazil. "Our production is getting closer to the northern ports, so our farm gate prices for the frontier are relatively higher in comparison to some traditional regions in the center west of Brazil."

Ikeda said crop production is increasing in the state of Para, along with the Matopiba region, made up of the states of Maranhao, Tocantins, Piaui and Bahia. Just like in the United States, this region's proximity to ports lowers transportation costs, giving farmers a better price than in other areas, which also helps motivate expanded production.

The ports' excess capacity and proximity to areas where soybean production is on the rise could give Brazilian farmers an edge, but it comes down to infrastructure investments.

Between 2010 and 2016, the Brazilian government invested the equivalent of $22 billion dollars in highways and roads, $13.5 billion in railways and $4.5 billion in waterway infrastructure.

"The pace of this investment, especially when you consider inland transportation, I think will be crucial to transform this potential competitive advantage into a real competitive advantage," Ikeda said.

Mato Grosso's northern region is a prime example of why Brazil needs to focus on its inland infrastructure. While it's almost twice as far to ship grain to the southern ports, the transportation cost is similar. Ikeda said it could be 20 to 30% cheaper to ship corn and soybeans north if the journey wasn't as risky and rugged. One of the primary roads connecting the northern port of Santarem to Mato Grosso is BR 163. Sixty miles of it is still unpaved, creating dangerous conditions during the rainy season.

Ikeda said grain-trading companies and others are pressuring the government to finish paving the road, but they're also looking at alternative ways to get grain to export facilities. In the Northern Arc, that increasingly means by barge. Nearly 14% of grain exported in 2017 arrived at ports via barge, up from just 6% in 2010.

According to the Soybean Transportation Coalition, it costs $115.01 to ship a metric ton of soybeans from northern Mato Grosso to Shanghai, but it only costs $82.09 to ship it from Davenport, Iowa. The primary difference comes from how those soybeans get to port. (You can find a chart comparing the costs and breaking it down by mode here:…)

Brazil has a number of projects in the works to the increase the efficiency of its transportation system. For example, a new line of the North-South railway will connect northern Mato Grosso to a waterway in the state of Para, cutting down on the number of miles beans have to travel by truck.

Rabobank analysts say they expect Brazil's soybean exports to increase by 40% to 90 mmt (3.3 bb) by 2026, and they expect exports from Northern Arc ports to increase by at least 130% over the next decade. Ikeda said he thinks barge and rail will play a bigger role ferrying crops to port, but infrastructure needs more investment before it becomes a strong advantage for Brazilian farmers.

Katie Dehlinger can be reached at

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America's Best Shops


By Dan Miller
Progressive Farmer Senior Editor

Tom Ries poured a new concrete floor in a one-time chicken house and, then, just kept going. "It wasn't in terrible shape. But, it needed some work," he says. The result was a compact 690-square-foot shop -- simple in many ways -- but one that meets Ries's needs for a dry and warm place to maintain a small-equipment fleet.

It also created room for a 345-square-foot gym. Ries's wife, Lindsay, is an interior designer who is into kickboxing and CrossFit. It's not often you'll find a pair of boxing gloves lying in a farm shop. "She gets into it pretty heavy," Ries allows.

The Monticello, Iowa, farm where the Rieses live is inhabited by a cluster of white, circa-1950s buildings. In their day, each building served a specific role. There is a single-story machine shed, the cattle shed, a hog barn, corn crib and a pretty magnificent dairy barn, with tie stalls on the ground floor and above, gothic-style, laminated rafters arching over an immense hay loft.

"It was my great aunt and uncle who built all this, so there is some history here. With history, you really don't want to destroy everything," says Ries, as he walks with a visitor among the cluster of buildings on a nice summer day. They are all in fairly good condition -- not a sagging roof or bulging wall among them. "These buildings have a lot of good use left in them. Instead of starting over, starting new, we wanted to renew what we have here."


The chicken house has space for trucks, small tractors and lawn mowers, and the small gasoline engines that run blowers, trimmers and chain saws. "With our main shop space being 23 x 30 feet and an overhead door height of 11 feet, the size of equipment that can be brought in is very limited, although this still makes a perfect space for working on smaller equipment," Ries explains.

Former owners took a swing at converting the chicken structure into shop space. But, it had fallen into disrepair. The new renovation began with the floor. "The floor was like a lot of old concrete. Everything ran to the walls, and there was no drain." The new pad fixed both issues, and the new floor slopes to a new floor drain.

Water service was a big deal. Where it once flowed from an often-frozen hydrant outside, Ries ran a water line into the shop. "It might sound simple, but that was one of our best improvements," he says.

Ries installed energy-efficient doors and insulated, double-pane windows. The walls are insulated and, for purposes of easy cleaning, are also covered with Reinforced Polyurethane Foam boards, often called glass board. They are strong, lightweight panels resistant to rot.


The shop boasts a strong Wi-Fi signal and is lighted by long-lasting LED lights he may never have to change. All the wiring and outlets are new. Ries tried to go old-school with the heat, but the wood-burning stove didn't measure up to an Iowa winter. "About the time we got the fire going, I was done with whatever project we were doing," he says. Instead, he installed a propane heater on the ceiling. Temperature is controlled by a wireless thermostat and monitored remotely.

"We know we're going to use it every day, so we thought we might as well have brought it to the next level," Ries says.

This shop has a television monitor -- what shop doesn't these days? The monitor is connected to the internet. So, when the football games are over, you might find Ries watching a YouTube video showing him how to repair a piece of equipment.

The monitor hangs above an L-shaped workbench. Ries makes good use of the space. A section of the bench is covered with a metal top for heavy work. A large vise and hideaway bench grinder give the space good function.


Ries's shop has compressed air delivered by a retractable hose. The compressor is housed in a large loft space above the shop floor. A permanently plumbed pressure washer sits by the overhead door. Hot water is delivered to the sink by a point-of-use water heater.

Outside the shop door, Ries poured a 30-x-35-foot approach connecting the shop with the machine shed. The pad nearly doubled the hard surface area available for work in good weather and improved the passage of equipment between buildings.

He believes the old chicken house has been successfully converted. "Having the space to spread out and stay clean is a big improvement. But, the most important feature of the shop is [that it allows us] to organize. We're not spending our time hunting for tools and parts."


Kub's Den


By Elaine Kub
DTN Contributing Analyst

Since early April, when a threat began to loom of retaliatory 25% tariffs on U.S. soybeans imported to China, the Chicago soybean futures market plummeted nearly 60 cents. It has rebounded upward, but only in recent sessions now that it seems trade officials from the U.S. and China are backing away from a strategy of mutual punishment. (See DTN Ag Policy Editor Chris Clayton's article: "Enthusiasm Follows China Talks"…)

They say it's "not in the public interest" for either country to play that game, and I agree. It's not desirable to drive down the availability of food in China (and drive up the cost); just like it's not desirable to drive down the availability of steel, minerals or manufactured goods in the U.S. (and drive up those costs).

But there was once a time when grain trade -- simple, necessary, straightforward grain trade -- would never have gotten mixed up in those broader political games. Prior to the two world wars, any trade of wheat from the U.S., Argentina or South Russia going to London, Paris, Hamburg, Alexandria or anywhere else, most likely would have taken place via a standardized contract printed by the London Corn Trade Association (LCTA).

The LCTA would have been the sole authority on what terms and quality standards were included in those international grain contracts, as well as the sole arbitration provider for any disputes. The traders would not have had to been British. For instance, a German trader buying feed peas from Manchuria (Northeast China) in the late 19th century would have used a contract designed and printed by the London Corn Trade Association.

Today, the LCTA is called the Grain and Feed Trade Association (equivalent to the National Grain and Feed Association in the U.S.), but even in its pre-war heyday, it was never a governmental body or obligatory legal forum. It was just a private little organization printing up standardized grain contracts. Only everybody who was anybody in the grain trade voluntarily agreed to obey the covenants set forth in those standardized contracts, and by sheer virtue of their ubiquity, the contracts themselves became "the market."

In fact, the international grain trade, which fed the urbanization, industrialization and globalization of our modern world, might never have occurred without the private ordering made possible by the LCTA. Or, if it did, it would have been highly inefficient, with each country's laws and each trader's contracts subject to intense scrutiny, high transaction costs and high counterparty risk.

As French law professor Jerome Sgard put it: "The LCTA market establishing contracts offered legal fast-tracks, or gateways to international transactions across a long succession of jurisdictions and transactions. And, with the large-scale adhesion of merchants from across the world, these international routes became the only way to access the global market and its many benefits -- legal safety, exact pricing and liquidity.

"What had first looked like an obscure and busy, hands-on, weekly bricolage by a few market insiders in London had become in fact a privately-run contractual highway. The remarkable thing is that this work of legal engineering was entirely based on private contractual language, and by and large, enforced by the Association itself, with limited direct support from public (British) authorities. Market power was enough, but it worked only because it had been formalized and leveraged by the Association itself: it both established the market and extracted from its very success a unique capacity to impose its own rules on merchants."

Sgard's working paper, "The Simplest Model of Global Governance Ever Seen? The London Corn Market (1885-1914)" has been presented at conferences and will be published in the Oxford Handbook of International Governance. It presents a powerful vision -- a time when trade disputes weren't subject to all the frustrations of international coordination, but instead solved quickly by one dominant, private authority, which everyone belongs to voluntarily.

Under the LCTA model, if someone had a problem with a trade (e.g., if China was concerned about pests or diseases in imported U.S. ag products), rather than resorting to whatever byzantine legal machinations were officially available in the local market (e.g., an increase of time-consuming, expensive inspections procedures), the problem would get solved quickly and efficiently through arbitration with two or three selected industry participants who were knowledgeable about commodity trading -- not by lawyers and international judges in a decades-long WTO dispute.

And historically, Sgard's research shows that under the LCTA model, "disputes were typically about the quality of grains and very rarely about points of law." Certainly, there were no fights about intellectual property exploitation spilling over into grain trades.

Why can't we have something like that today? It was a simpler time back then. Since the 1947 General Agreement on Tariffs and Trades, and ultimately the establishment of the World Trade Organization, solving disputes in international commodity trade has become an expensive, complex, decades-long legal process. There is no longer any single, trustworthy "imperial" power dominating global trade.

Maybe we could envision a future in which private market participants voluntarily get together and trust a blockchain to provide the global standardization, verification and arbitration infrastructure once provided by the LCTA, but that future isn't here yet. Grain sellers must take the world as it is --inefficiencies and political squabbling and all.

Watching the soybean market revert back to its pre-"Trade War" equilibrium, I'm reminded of a quote from Jurassic Park: "Life finds a way." Willing buyers and sellers in a market will always tend to work around obstacles and distractions, and ultimately find each other at an agreeable price. Government decision makers will ultimately tend to remember that it's in the public interest to just let that happen. Maybe in this optimistic season of new life popping up in rows all across the Corn Belt, we can say: "Trade finds a way."

Elaine Kub is the author of "Mastering the Grain Markets: How Profits Are Really Made" and can be reached at or on Twitter @elainekub.


DTN Retail Fertilizer Trends


By Russ Quinn
DTN Staff Reporter

OMAHA (DTN) -- According to retail fertilizer prices tracked by DTN for the second week of May 2018, prices continue to be mostly higher. There appeared to be signs over the last few months that prices may be turning lower, with multiple fertilizers having lower prices, but so far this trend has not developed.

Like last week, seven of the eight major fertilizer were higher in price compared to last month, although none were up a substantial amount. MAP had an average price of $505/ton, potash $354/ton, 10-34-0 $439/ton, anhydrous $510/ton, UAN28 $241/ton and UAN32 $276/ton.

The remaining fertilizer was slightly lower in price compared to the previous month. DAP had an average price of $483/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.40/lb.N, anhydrous $0.31/lb.N, UAN28 $0.43/lb.N and UAN32 $0.43/lb.N.


On May 17, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Scott Pruitt rescinded a package of safety measures proposed for the nation's chemical plants after a deadly blast at a Texas fertilizer facility in April of 2013, the Associated Press reported.

Pruitt revised a slate of rules from the Obama administration on safety and risk management at 12,500 U.S. facilities. A chemical manufacturing group welcomed the changes while Environment Working Group spokesman Alex Formuzis called them a "hollowing out" of the original safety upgrades.

Pruitt's changes eliminate several of the original requirements concerning safety training, accident prevention and accident investigations. The alterations also would remove a requirement that members of the public who ask the plants should receive information about any chemical risk and community emergency plans.

The change "would make it harder for those living near these plants to get basic information" about any danger posed, said Eric Schaeffer, director of the Washington-based Environmental Integrity Project nonprofit.

Pruitt said in a statement the revised slate of proposed rules reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens.

"Accident prevention is a top priority at EPA, and this proposed rule will ensure proper emergency planning and continue the trend of few significant accidents involving chemicals," Pruitt said.

The rules were prompted by the 2013 fertilizer facility explosion in West, Texas, which killed 15 people, including 10 volunteer firefighters.

As the blaze engulfed the facility, firefighters rushed in to try to contain the fire. According to the state fire marshal's report, the firefighters began to back out only moments before the stored ammonium nitrate exploded.


Six of the eight major fertilizers are now higher compared to last year with prices pushing higher in recent months. Both 10-34-0 and anhydrous are now up 1%, potash is 4% higher, urea is 5% more expensive, MAP is 7% higher and DAP is 11% more expensive compared to last year.

The remaining two fertilizers are lower in price compared to a year prior. UAN32 is 2% lower while UAN28 is 3% less expensive, looking back a year.

DTN collects roughly 1,700 retail fertilizer bids from 310 retailer locations weekly. Not all fertilizer prices change each week. Prices are subject to change at any time.

DTN Pro Grains subscribers can find current retail fertilizer prices in the DTN Fertilizer Index on the Fertilizer page under Farm Business.

Retail fertilizer charts dating back to 2010 are available in the DTN fertilizer segment. The charts included cost of N/lb., DAP, MAP, potash, urea, 10-34-0, anhydrous, UAN28 and UAN32.

DTN's average of retail fertilizer prices from a month earlier ($ per ton):

May 15-19 2017 437 471 340 350
Jun 12-16 2017 437 470 341 338
Jul 10-14 2017 436 467 340 321
Aug 7-11 2017 434 462 339 311
Sep 4-8 2017 431 458 338 302
Oct 2-6 2017 425 453 348 323
Oct 27-Nov 3 2017 434 455 348 330
Nov 27-Dec 1 2017 435 460 342 340
Dec 25-29 2017 448 488 344 348
Jan 22-26 2018 458 492 344 353
Feb 19-23 2018 460 496 345 357
Mar 19-23 2018 469 504 349 368
Apr 16-20 2018 484 502 353 368
May 14-18 2018 483 505 354 368
Date Range 10-34-0 ANHYD UAN28 UAN32
May 15-19 2017 436 510 248 283
Jun 12-16 2017 435 500 246 278
Jul 10-14 2017 431 451 235 268
Aug 7-11 2017 440 419 224 258
Sep 4-8 2017 418 413 215 248
Oct 2-6 2017 413 399 208 243
Oct 27-Nov 3 2017 405 401 208 262
Nov 27-Dec 1 2017 403 417 216 271
Dec 25-29 2017 407 468 216 254
Jan 22-26 2018 415 490 226 261
Feb 19-23 2018 416 495 231 265
Mar 19-23 2018 422 503 236 269
Apr 16-20 2018 431 508 240 275
May 14-18 2018 439 510 241 276

Russ Quinn can be reached at

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Enlist Expansion


By Emily Unglesbee
DTN Staff Reporter

ROCKVILLE, Md. (DTN) -- The Enlist weed control system is expanding this year, and with it, the need to be diligent about label compliance.

"We had such a good year last year, so let's not be overconfident and cut any corners this year," said Larry Steckel, University of Tennessee weed scientist. "Enlist is going to be used on a larger commercial scale this year, so the chance of problems is greater."

Enlist cotton acres are set to triple in 2018 to 1.5 million acres across the Cotton Belt, up from 500,000 in 2017, said Shawna Hubbard, herbicides product manager for Corteva Agriscience, the agriculture division of DowDuPont. The Enlist trait was developed by Dow AgriSciences to allow cotton plants to tolerate glyphosate, 2,4-D choline and glufosinate herbicides.

Enlist corn hybrids are also fully commercialized this season, and planting is underway across the Midwest and South, with a concentration in Iowa, Kansas and southern Minnesota, Hubbard said. The Enlist soybean trait is still awaiting Chinese import approval, but some growers are growing it in closed loop production agreements with ADM, she added.

Enlist growers have two options for post-emergence herbicides: Enlist Duo, a pre-mix of glyphosate and 2,4-D choline, and Enlist One, a 2,4-D-choline standalone herbicide, which has a broader range of tank-mix options.


The Enlist cotton trait is offered under the PhytoGen brand. It is stacked with Roundup Ready technology as well as Widestrike 3, a triple Bt-protein stack for aboveground insects. In corn, the Enlist trait is stacked with either Powercore, an aboveground dual Bt-trait stack, or SmartStax, which adds two rootworm Bt proteins to that stack.

Both Hubbard and Steckel urged growers to remain diligent about following the label during the 2018 season. Non-Enlist cotton is especially susceptible to 2,4-D.

"This is not a time to take the foot off the gas in terms of training and education," Hubbard said. "Quite a few new customers will be using Enlist for the first time, which makes it just as important to make sure they understand all the requirements."

Here are the highlights of the federal label requirements for Enlist Duo and Enlist One:

-- Don't spray when winds surpass 15 mph

-- Don't spray during a temperature inversion

-- Do not spray when the wind is blowing toward susceptible crops

-- Leave a 30-foot downwind in-field buffer when spraying

-- Use only pre-approved nozzles listed on the labels

-- Follow a triple-rinse tank cleanout process after use

-- Use only tank mix ingredients listed for Enlist Duo and Enlist One here:…

See the Enlist Duo label here:…, and the Enlist One label here:…


Remember that a number of states have additional 24-C labels for both products. Some states, such as Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama and Louisiana, require additional mandatory state training. A few states, such as Alabama and North Carolina, also drop the maximum wind speed to 10 miles per hour. Be sure to check with your state department of agriculture for any additional requirements.

Dow added a technology called Colex-D to Enlist Duo and Enlist One, which has significantly reduced volatilization of the product, Steckel noted. (The company permitted Steckel and other university weed scientists to test Enlist Duo many years before commercialization.)

However, many crops and plants are extremely susceptible to injury from 2,4-D, so even small amounts of drift can damage them. The Enlist labels ban any spraying when the wind is blowing toward susceptible crops such as tomatoes, fruiting vegetables (EPA Crop Group 8), cucurbits (EPA Crop Group 9), grapes and non-Enlist cotton fields.

Steckel said most of the problems he saw with Enlist technology last year stemmed from improper tank cleanout or mix-ups among growers who used both the Xtend and Enlist platform. "When you're running both systems, be careful cleaning out the tank, and watch what jug you grab," he said.

Don't use generic forms of 2,4-D on Enlist crops, Steckel said. They are much more volatile and -- because they are not labeled for post-emergence use -- can contain trace amounts of other herbicides that could injure your crop.

Growers are accustomed to add insecticides to herbicide passes, but many insecticides cannot be mixed with Enlist One and Enlist Duo, Steckel said. However, Enlist One does permit a greater number of herbicide tank mix options than Enlist Duo, namely glufosinate. "That tank mix is a great Palmer amaranth control option," Steckel said.

Although Enlist had a relatively drama-free commercial roll-out in 2017, applicators will still fall under increased scrutiny this year, Mississippi State University weed scientist Jason Bond said.

"Be smart, go through the list of things that are required on the label, because they are all there for a reason," he said. "It may seem frustrating, like someone is looking over your shoulder, but if we are going to use this technology successfully on a broad number of acres, that is way we will have to do it."

See Steckel's blog on this topic here:…

Emily Unglesbee can be reached at

Follow her on Twitter @Emily_Unglesbee


View From the Cab


By Pam Smith
DTN Progressive Farmer Crops Technology Editor

DECATUR, Ill. (DTN) -- Let's face it, the list of chores on the farm is never ending and they extend beyond the field and furrow. "Just when you think you are caught up with fieldwork, a honey-do list appears," said Kyle Krier, of Claflin, Kansas.

"We've used a bit of a weather gap this week to catch up on things that needed to be done around home and farm," he said. "But it seems when we cross one thing off the list, a bunch more magically appear."

Genny Haun can relate. Rain delays kept the farm planters out of the field most of the weekend at Layman Farms near Kenton, Ohio, but it opened up opportunities to work on landscaping around her house. "Our son, Carter, is old enough now (4 1/2 years) that he's really in to 'helping.' It makes my heart melt to see him working beside us," she said.

DTN is following Krier and Haun throughout the 2018 crop season. The young farmers volunteered to update readers through this column each week.

Here's what has been happening on their farms during the week of May 16-23:


An inch to just a smidgen less than an inch of rain found its way to most of Krier's fields this past week. It was perfect timing to get soybeans off to a good start.

"We were starting to be a bit dry, and that is going to make for good soybean stand establishment," he said.

Milo planting is still a week or two away for Krier's farm. Krier likes to time milo planting so the crop flowers a bit behind the heat. "We think it does better if it sets seed in that late-August-to-mid-September time period," he said. "Although, by doing that, we do risk getting the needed rain to get the crop up."

So far, his part of central Kansas has been fortunate compared to other parts of the state where Krier fears wheat has "used up its nine lives."

"While cool temps have delayed our wheat compared to a typical year, we are still looking good. I'm not going to say we'll knock the bin doors off, but yields should be respectable if nothing else happens," he said.

Hay is right on schedule, though. A forecast of rain made Krier and his father, Kirby, hold off from mowing last week. However, they planned to start cutting on May 21.

A New Holland swather with a sickle head and a Massey Ferguson disc mower allow them to cut wide/fast swaths through their own acres and what they manage on a custom basis.

"There's a few things to tweak with the mowers -- like getting the right tilt on the header and making sure sickles and knives are sharp, but today's machines are really amazing. I tend to prefer the discbine system because I can drive a little faster," he said.

Raindrops and waiting for field operations may offer a break, but Krier and his work crews don't twiddle thumbs while waiting. They refinished a deck that had been on the to-do list for nearly two years. "All the lawns are mowed, fences fixed and equipment washed off.

"When the power washer comes out, we really know we're getting caught up," he said. "By that time, everyone is usually thrilled to get back in the field."


A three-hour board meeting in the middle of planting season was on Genny Haun's Monday schedule. She's the current vice-president of the Hardin County (Ohio) Farm Bureau Board of Trustees and will be installed as president next term.

"Our board has a lot of young farmers with BIG personalities," said Haun. "When we gather, there's a lot of passion packed into one room. We also get a lot done, though, and I love their commitment to agriculture."

She sees benefits for herself, agriculture and her family farm through such efforts.

The meeting came at a good time because operations at Layman Farms, at Kenton were on rain delay. Corn planting finished on Saturday, but heavy storms followed and had stalled soybean planting. The family still has about 50% of their soybeans left to go into the ground.

Still, Haun feels fortunate. Parts of Ohio to the north of her have been enduring an extremely wet spring. "At this point, we are planting any time we see an opening," she said. "We're just trying to finish it up the best we can."

The family rented an additional farm for 2018 that is only 15 miles away, but difficult to reach. Delivering meals to the workers last week brought one of those special moments of clarity that made Haun realize why she's purposefully chosen this life of farming.

"Mom was babysitting my nephew. We grabbed my two kids and slapped three car seats in the back of the Jeep and headed to the field," she recalled. "At one point, we had to stop and wait on a train. I looked back and saw those three patient kids crammed together and then looked over at my mom.

"I just had to take a picture of all of us because it occurred to me how lucky we were to all be together, and life just seemed so good," she said.

Both farmers said next week they will need to ratchet-up field scouting and other operations, so it is good to savor these slightly slower moments.

Read earlier View From the Cab installments here:………

Pamela Smith can be reached at

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IA Farmer Raises the Toolbar


By Des Keller
Progressive Farmer Contributing Editor

There is scant activity on an early-spring morning on the streets of tiny Paton, in central Iowa. What movement there is on this sunny, chilly day seems to be occurring at the Paton Pit Stop convenience store, on the east edge of town. The Pit Stop is across the street from a John Deere plant that makes planters and disk rippers.

Behind the Pit Stop, several hundred yards to the north, is a second, newer facility, Bauer Built Manufacturing. Founder Vaughn Bauer, the farmer and entrepreneur who began modifying farm equipment 41 years ago, is responsible for the presence of both the John Deere plant (120 employees) as well as his own (60-plus employees) in a town of 230 people.

Bauer and his wife, Lori, built their original manufacturing facility in the garage behind their first house in the middle of town. He started modifying planters and cultivators there and, within a few years, moved to a larger machine shed adjacent to the garage.

In the early 1980s, Bauer first adapted a John Deere planter so a 12-row 30-inch unit could be folded up and transported more easily. He did it first for himself then for other area farmers. Word spread, and eventually, he was adapting planters for dealers and producers around the Midwest. He handled all brands of equipment, generally using his planter units installed on his wider-than-usual planters.

In 1989, Bauer built his own planter from scratch. Six years later, he redesigned the front side of the Bauer Built toolbar to configure any row width. In 2002, he began working exclusively with John Deere on cobranded planters. Eventually, in 2013, John Deere bought out the Bauers. Vaughn Bauer continues to collaborate and work on specialty order projects for Deere from his newer factory down the road.


Meanwhile, at the convenience store, it occurs to me a stool might come in handy on which to seat one, or both, of the Bauers for some photography. Back inside the Pit Stop, I ask the women at the counter if I can borrow one of their sturdy, metal-frame stools for a half-hour, explaining the purpose.

"Sure, you can borrow them," she says with matter-of-fact obviousness. "The Bauers own those stools." Not just the stools, as it turns out. Vaughn and Lori co-own the entire Pit Stop as well as 209 Main, the nice restaurant/bar two blocks away. The couple opened both as their machinery business thrived. Paton had no convenience store/gas station prior, and the restaurant came in handy to feed customers and vendors visiting Bauer Built.

"We were just doing whatever we could to make a living," Vaughn says of the beginning of the business, originally called Paton Machine and Welding. "There wasn't enough farming for all of us," he says of the family operation on which he worked part-time with his father, Verne Bauer. Vaughn started in the business after finishing a year at Iowa Central Community College, where he earned a machine shop certificate. He and Lori, who had been dating since high school, were married in 1980.

"Vaughn was always making something," Lori says. "We spent many weekends back when we were first dating going to antique tractor pulls, where Vaughn and his brother [Kevin] ran the sled." That would be the only pulling sled Vaughn ever purchased, as he has built many of his own design—one used not only across the U.S. but overseas.

"My mom thought we were crazy," Lori laughs. "Two young kids going to tractor pulls on dates."


It would be a mistake to assume Vaughn and Lori have slowed down in the wake of the buyout. Today, Bauer Built Manufacturing not only handles special orders for farm equipment, it has opened its doors to manufacturing heavy equipment and builds the aforementioned tractor-pulling sleds.

"He's put Paton back on the map," says John McCormick, who farms at nearby Churdan and is president of the Greene County Farm Bureau. "They've created a restaurant and a nice truck stop. And, to get a John Deere plant in a town of 230 people is unheard of," he added.

In 2015, Bauer was recognized with the Greene County Farm Bureau Distinguished Service to Ag Award. "The Deere Bauer Toolbar is used on all 60-foot to 96-foot John Deere planters, which are sold worldwide," the official release reads.

Greene County engineer Wade Weiss moved to the area in 1993 and had occasion to use the Bauers for fabrication work on county equipment.

"They are very community-minded people," says Weiss, "they give back. They are the same people I met in 1993, and they don't act any differently today."

As for the Bauer products, "they are ever-evolving," Weiss continues. "They didn't just have one planter design, make money from it and never change it. It is constantly evolving. Vaughn actually farms, so the products he's using, he's also researching."


Bauer farms an 8,000-acre operation with his son, Adam, and son-in-law Scott Walker. He's most comfortable in the cab of a tractor but is equally at home walking the factory floor interacting with his workers, doing as much listening as he does talking.

"I don't do an office very well," he says by way of understatement.

One afternoon, we caught up with Vaughn planting corn. He'd added a row cleaner unit along with the fertilizer discs. "We're putting 15 gallons of nitrogen 4 inches from the seedbed," Bauer says. "We've never done that before."

This new setup is working well, but the rig is heavy. "If we continue to put nitrogen on like this, the tractor is going to get bigger," Bauer says. As the planting continues, he talks about how the exclusive agreement with Deere in 2002, "put our planters in multiple markets everywhere overnight. In return, I put them in a market of planters [wider] that they wouldn't have gotten into for another five or seven years."

The respect Bauer has from Deere is clear. The Deere Bauer toolbars are the only cobranding John Deere has ever done on equipment in the U.S.

"Vaughn had a customer's understanding of what is needed and designed an innovative toolbar to do that," says Kristi Christensen, who, as factory manager for John Deere in Paton, worked with Bauer. "He built things of quality and ran a really good business -- those are things that made him an enticing partner. Vaughn continues to innovate for us and work on new designs to grow the Deere Bauer brand."


When we left Bauer at the end of the workday, he was still in discussions with coworkers at Bauer Built Manufacturing, and wife, Lori, was still on the job in the factory's office. She often assists in the daily operations of the facility. She gets teary-eyed recalling how she used to make dinners years ago for workers at their first factory, now owned by Deere.

"They would be working late to get toolbar orders finished," Lori says. "I think I get too attached to everyone." Their new factory is equipped with a nice commercial-sized kitchen, but the availability of their nearby restaurant, 209 Main, has reduced the need.

Speaking of 209 Main, we stopped there for dinner at the end of the day. The fried pork tenderloin sandwich, a thin-pounded, breaded piece of meat twice the size of its bun, is a must-eat. Your beer stays cold on a "frost rail," like a mini-frozen river around the edge of what is fittingly named "The Tool Bar." Seems everyone likes a really cleverly designed toolbar.


Todd's Take


By Todd Hultman
DTN Analyst

As the 2017-18 winter wheat season comes to a close in nine days, the price of spot Chicago wheat is on track to finish with an 18% gain. That isn't bad for a year in which USDA says the ending stocks-to-use ratios were 53% for the United States and 36% for world wheat, both at their highest levels in more than three decades.

More recently, spot prices rallied from their December low of $3.86 1/2 to Monday's close of $5.07 1/4, thanks largely to drought in the southwestern U.S. Plains. On May 10, USDA said the new winter wheat crop will drop from 1.27 billion bushels (bb) in 2017 to 1.19 bb this year, a number that will keep changing after this summer's harvest.

If wheat were primarily a U.S. crop, the factors above could give us a more bullish scenario, but that is not the case. USDA's May estimates expects U.S. winter wheat to account for 4% of world wheat production in 2018-19, an important influence that often gets outvoted by the world's other wheat regions.

The latest five-month rally caught the market at a time when the rest of the world's wheat was dormant, but that is no longer the case in the final third of May. So far, dry conditions are an early concern in Australia, but winter wheat crops in Europe, Ukraine and southern Russia are doing well. Winter wheat in China was dry for a while, but has recently been helped from increased rain.

As the situation currently stands, it is difficult to make a case for higher wheat prices, but the new year is still young. It is understandable if traders are cautious about going short until more is known about the new season, and that hesitant attitude is likely giving wheat prices room to hold their gains.

In fact, CFTC data shows noncommercial traders have been on the long side of the Chicago wheat market for three weeks as of May 15, an unusual and not necessarily bullish indicator for wheat prices. On May 7, I did a DTN Closing Market Comment video with Senior Ag Meteorologist Bryce Anderson, which showed that noncommercial net-longs marked peaks in wheat prices the most recent five consecutive times.

With spot Chicago wheat trading shy of its 2017 high at $5.53 1/2, we have to wonder if this will be the sixth consecutive time that noncommercials turned bullish at the wrong time. Technically, we have to respect that the trend in Chicago wheat is currently up, but a close below the three-month low of $4.59, if it happened, would mark a bearish change and put pressure on traders to liquidate.

Fundamentally, competition from the world's other wheat producers has been so tough that U.S. exports are down 14% from the previous year. USDA's latest estimate, which showed ending stocks of U.S. wheat dropping from 1.07 bb in 2017-18 to 955 million bushels in 2018-19, is not offering much bullish hope. Once again, weather is the wildcard in 2018 and noncommercials will need help from regions outside of North America to see their bullish bets pay off.

Todd Hultman can be reached at

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