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10/13/2008 - 10/19/2008

Corn Disease Publication Now Available

By Alison Robertson, Department of Plant Pathology
Corn producers and other professionals in the agriculture industry depend on the Iowa State University Extension publication Corn Diseases, PM 596. It is always in high demand, and after a revision, is back on the shelf to be ordered from the Extension online store.

The title is precise, the photographs dynamic and the information concise. Alison Robertson, Daren Mueller and Greg Tylka, extension plant pathologists updated the publication by adding new photographs and information on a couple of “new” diseases.

“The booklet is divided into four sections – foliage and above-ground diseases, stalk rots, diseases affecting roots, and ear and kernel rot,” said Robertson. “We have added two diseases - Physoderma brown spot and anthracnose top dieback - and a section on management of foliar diseases with fungicides.”

Corn Diseases, PM 596, details diseases that occur on a regular basis in the Midwest and those that occur less regularly but are potentially very damaging when they occur. Along with multiple photographs, each disease description includes symptoms, favorable conditions for disease development and management options.

“Every year corn diseases reduce yields to some extent and can be responsible for reductions in grain and seed quality,” Robertson said. “Their occurrence is strongly influenced by weather conditions – and we have had an assortment this year.”

For additional publications on corn diseases and other production issues, visit your county extension office or check out the Extension online store.


Alison Robertson is an assistant professor of plant pathology with research and extension responsibilities in field crop diseases.

Integrated Crop Management Conference and Agribusiness Expo set for Dec. 10-11

By Brent Pringnitz, Department of Agronomy

The Iowa State University Integrated Crop Management Conference and the Agribusiness Association of Iowa (AAI) Agribusiness Expo will be held Dec. 10 and 11 on the Iowa State University (ISU) campus.

“Combining our annual education conference and the Expo with a common date and location is a great benefit for participants. This allows service providers and retail dealers an opportunity to participate in both events without being away from their business for an extended period of time,” said Gerald Miller, program director, ISU Extension to Agriculture and Natural Resources.

“Our AAI members are always looking for new technology, data and innovation from the academic side of our industry. Partnering with the ISU ICM conference in early December provides an excellent venue to start out the new crop year,” said Jose Laracuente, AAI Services chair.

Conference attendees can choose from 42 different workshops that offer the latest information on crop production and protection technology in Iowa and surrounding states. Workshops are offered by ISU faculty and staff and invited speakers from around the Midwest. The Conference is hosted by ISU Extension, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the departments of Agronomy, Entomology, Plant Pathology and Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering.

The Agribusiness Expo presents a comprehensive collection of new and innovative products covering all facets of the agribusiness industry. A wide variety of exhibitors will be present for this year’s Expo, held in Hilton Coliseum.

Registration for the 2008 Integrated Crop Management Conference and Agribusiness Expo is now open.



Brent Pringnitz is coordinator of the Agribusiness Education Program.

Crop Production and Outlook - the Demand side

By Chad Hart, Department of Economics

The latest round of USDA updates to its World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates and Crop Production reports were released on Oct. 10.  On the demand side, corn feed demand was projected at 5.35 billion bushels, up 150 million from last month, reversing the move from last month.  Lower corn prices are seen as the major reason for this shift.  Corn demand from ethanol was reduced by 100 million bushels to 4 billion bushels.  While lower corn prices should be attractive to the ethanol industry, reduced transportation fuel consumption is a significant drag to the industry. Combined with general economic concerns, ethanol blending growth is expected to slow. 

Corn exports are held steady at 2 billion bushels. These changes result in projected ending stock for the 2008-09 crop of 1.154 billion bushels, up 136 million from last month and slightly above trade estimates. This puts the projected stocks-to-use ratio for 2008 at 9.1 percent, well down from 12.7 percent in 2007. 

For soybeans, ending stocks for 2008/09 were revised upward 85 million bushels to 220 million. Much of that increase was due to the increases in 2007 ending stocks and 2008 production.  Crush demand was lowered by 25 million bushels, but export demand was increased by 50 million.  In the mid-September USDA reports, soybean stocks-to-use ratios for 2007 and 2008 were below 5 percent.  In these latest reports, those ratios were raised to 6.7 percent for 2007 and 7.4 percent for 2008.  So the soybean stock situation remains tight, but not nearly as tight as it previously looked.

The corn and soybean markets, like many commodity and stock markets, have taken a pounding.  Concerns about the general economy both here in the U.S. and worldwide have weighed heavily on market trading and have been a significant factor to the slide in crop prices, especially over the past two weeks. 

USDA significantly updated its season-average prices for corn and soybeans to $4.70 per bushel for corn and $10.35 per bushel for soybeans. The corn price is off 80 cents per bushel, while the soybean price is down $2 per bushel from last month’s estimates.  While these are sizable drops in price, they look relatively optimistic compared to futures prices. Based on Oct. 9 settlement prices, the futures markets were projecting 2008 season-average prices of $4.27 for corn and $9.79 for soybeans.

Factors outside of agriculture will continue to strongly influence agricultural prices. The financial market turmoil is the dominant factor across many markets. Crop agriculture over the past couple of years has enjoyed strong demand for food, feed, and fuel use.  But the concerns about the general economy lead to concerns about future crop demands both here and abroad. 

As Figure 1 shows, the outlook for overall fuel demand has dropped significantly over the past few months. Credit markets have tightened and, in some cases, ceased to function. Much of the funding for agricultural production and trade worldwide depends on liquid credit markets.


Fuel Demand


The 2009 crop year was already looking to be a tighter year for crop producers, as input costs have ratcheted up.  And just as it took a while for costs to catch up on the upside, costs will also lag prices going down.  Based on USDA current estimates of relative net returns, soybeans may be the most attractive play in 2009 given its lower production costs. 


Historical and Projected net returns


Chad Hart is a grain markets specialist and an assistant professor of economics with research and outreach responsibilities in grain and bioenergy crop marketing.

Crop Production and Outlook

By Chad Hart, Department of Economics

U.S. Supply
The latest round of USDA updates to its World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates and Crop Production reports were released on Oct. 10. On the production side, pre-trade estimates had indicated little movement was expected. The October estimates from USDA showed increased corn and soybean production of 1 to 2 percent.  The corn increase was driven by an increase in yields, up 1.7 bushels to 154 bushels per acre national average. The soybean increase was driven by a jump in acreage, with harvested area increasing by 2.15 million acres. 

The national soybean yield estimate was lowered to 39.5 bushels per acre, but the increase in area was more than enough to offset the yield drop.  For corn, the 2008 crop is shaping up to be the second largest crop in terms of yield and production. The soybean crop is still on target to be the fourth largest on record.

For Iowa, corn harvested area was reduced by 100 thousand acres, but the yield was increased to 172 bushels per acre. The combination points to slightly higher corn production. Overall, corn yields were increased in 12 states, lowered in 14 states, and held steady in 7 states.  But most of the major corn producing states saw their projected yields go up. 

Illinois was bumped up 5 bushels per acre, while Minnesota and Nebraska yields were increased by 4 bushels per acre.  Looking at the number of ears per acre, record ear counts were seen across most of the upper Midwest.  In fact, Kansas and Nebraska were the only states that were not at record ear counts.

October 10 Corn Yield changes


Iowa soybean production was raised nearly 14 million bushels as the acreage increase, 500 thousand acres, more than offset the yield decline, off 1 bushel per acre to 46.  Several other states also saw significant adjustments to soybean area.  At least 100 thousand soybean acres were added to Arkansas, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, and Nebraska.  North Dakota had the largest increase with 530 thousand acres. 

Figure 2 shows where soybean area was added. On the yield side, Illinois was up 3 bushels per acre to 45, while Indiana and Nebraska were down and Minnesota was unchanged.

October 10 corn yield changes

At the end of last month, USDA updated the grain stocks situation.  In that update, both corn and soybean stocks were increased for the 2007 crop year.  Corn stocks for 2007 were upped 48 million bushels, based on lower feed, food, and seed use.  Soybean stocks for 2007 were increased 65 million bushels, based on higher production and lower crushing use.  The increased production, combined with the higher stock levels coming out of the 2007 crop year, will likely add to the downward pressure on both the corn and soybean markets. 

World Supply
For the 2008 crop year, the worldwide production of corn is projected at 30.9 billion bushels, up 0.3 percent from last month. Besides the U.S., corn production estimates increased in the European Union by 1.7 percent. Projected corn production in Brazil and the former Soviet republics was lowered by 3.5 percent and 1.6 percent respectively.  The Brazilian drop was attributed to lower corn plantings for the main summer corn crop, which is being planted currently. 

Worldwide soybean production is projected at 8.8 billion bushels, up 0.6 percent from last month.  The vast majority of the increase is due to the U.S.  There were small increases in projected soybean production for the European Union and Canada.  Production for Argentina, Brazil, and China were held unchanged.



Chad Hart is a grain markets specialist and an assistant professor of economics with research and outreach responsibilities in grain and bioenergy crop marketing.

Watch the $oil TemperaturE

By Elwynn Taylor and John Sawyer, Department of Agronomy
Soil temperature is the best indicator we have to reduce the risk of nitrogen loss when fall application of anhydrous ammonia, or manure with high ammonia content, is deemed expedient.  Experience has taught us that the conversion to nitrate is greatly reduced at soil temperatures below 50 F, though not totally avoided.

Fertility in the right place and at the right time is highly important. When the risk of loss is high both the “E” (ecosystem) and the "$" (pocketbook) should be considered.

Soil temperature in Iowa’s counties was in the mid- to upper-50s on October 9, 2008.  Although soils have occasionally cooled to below 50 F by the third week of October, as in 2002, it is usually the latter half of November (2003, 2004, 2006).  Do not anticipate that soil temperature will remain below 50 F until after mid-November.

Soil temperature can vary several degrees depending on the slope of a field and soil conditions. The general temperature for each Iowa county is mapped and linked to the Extension Soil Temperatures for Agriculture Web site.

The county temperature maps are updated daily. Visitors to this site can get an idea of temperature direction trends from maps of the previous two days.


soil temperature map



Elwynn Taylor is a professor of agronomy with research and extension responsibilities in climatology. John Sawyer is a professor of agronomy with research and extension responsibilities in soil fertility and nutrient management.

This article was published originally on 10/20/2008 The information contained within the article may or may not be up to date depending on when you are accessing the information.

Links to this material are strongly encouraged. This article may be republished without further permission if it is published as written and includes credit to the author, Integrated Crop Management News and Iowa State University Extension. Prior permission from the author is required if this article is republished in any other manner.