Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Stray thoughts on harvest...  

Just some stuff wandering through my mind.
  • This will be the first crop claim ever for many farmers. I wonder how they will rate the experience and the discovery of what they actually get. Both could be real opportunities for disillusionment if not handled well. Could crop insurance come out of this with less support than before?
  •  There is a sad trend here of corn fields continuing to degrade. Lodging seems to happen overnight and the ugly brown color is stomach churning.  Also, enough early reports have pretty well dashed hopes for a miracle. The more leaves drop the more obvious the absence of ears. Some of which are on the ground.
  • Please read and heed Dan's warning about the Black Dust. DAMHIKT.
  • Crop estimates are heading lower. This tends to agree with central IL experience, but your results may vary, of course. Early fields/short season hybrids were likely the best. By far.
  • India may be the forgotten drought story:
    Some scientists warn that such calamities are part of a trend that is likely to intensify in the coming decades because of climate changes caused by the human release of greenhouse gases. A paper published last month blamed global warming for a large increase in the percentage of the planet affected by extreme summer heat in the last several decades. And the World Meteorological Organization, a division of the United Nations, recently warned that climate change was “projected to increase the frequency, intensity and duration of droughts, with impacts on many sectors, in particular food, water and energy.”
    Scientists say that in addition to increasing temperatures, climate change appears to be making India and its neighbors Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh more vulnerable to erratic monsoons.
    Studies using 130 years of data show big changes in rainfall in recent decades, said B. N. Goswami, director of the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, a government-backed research organization. Climate models suggest that while overall rainfall should increase in the coming decades, the region can expect longer dry spells and more intense downpours — forces that would seem to cancel each other out but in fact pose new threats.
    “Heavy rains are normally short duration, and therefore the water runs off,” said Dr. Goswami, who added that more research was needed to fully understand the impact of climate change on monsoons. “Weak rains are important for recharging groundwater.”[More]
  •  No quick economic turnaround. Or it could be soon. Make your plans accordingly. FWIW, I think a slow slog between 2-3% GDP for a decade or more will look like a win.
  • Soybeans could be better than we currently think around here. Partly this is due to the extreme pessimism from our corn harvest, and partly due to rain on 1 August on fields on heavy black ground that had at least not aborted all pods. Could be some fields in the 50's.  (Or I may be trying to Find the Proverbial Pony)
  • I suspect there will be a protracted emotional funk after this harvest. There is always some letdown/collapse, but this one could leave us drained. In fact, by the time the election is over, many of us could mentally check out for a few weeks.
  • Remember Clarke's Law: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Recall Gray's Corollary: Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice. Now read this following post from Kevin Van Trump's morning newsletter (which I find remarkably valuable):
Central Illinois - Elevator tested Aflatoxin at 67, docked me $1.50 a bushel to unload. They saved me a sample and I paid the insurance company the $30 lab fee to test the same sample. It came back a 5. Insurance company says nope, not enough to pay, nothing we can do. Elevator saying-our test is accurate-nothing we can do. Can you drop Aflatoxin coverage from your policy for a cheaper rate? LOL! In their defense, there is still corn standing in that field-and insurance company coming out tomorrow to pull another sample from field. But only about 20% of our loads showing any-and only a couple with levels enough to dock-which tells me it is scattered around the field. So probably not a great chance they will find it in the field-or at least enough to pay on. I bet the elevator just blended it in and took the $1.50 as profit; it doesn't give me much confidence in the validity of Aflatoxin tests. I find it hard to believe that the sample tests are 13 X higher at one place than at the other. I had one guy tell me that they have heard of drying down to 13% with high heat then letting it cool and taking it in and it has been passing. I understand the elevator is in a tight spot with their customers but without a test that is even remotely accurate, I think it is just easiest to stick it on the farmer. Insurance sees it the same way I do. To fight against this, I am going to use a grain cleaner to screen off the cracked and broken kernels as they exhibit the most infection, put it in bins until the first good freeze, or dry it down with air. I just hope it's not just a gimmick to make money on high prices.
 The natives are restless.


Anonymous said...

You might want to ease up on the bashing of crop insurance, it might come off as sour grapes. With that said, I think the real problem this fall will come through the review process of all claims above $200,000 per crop per county. This could be easily reached -- 200 acres of corn at high insurance levels. It may strain the record keeping of some producers to do so. Also, if you have share rent landlords, you have to produce theirs as well. The system should work, but the claims review process is antiquated for the scale of disaster we are facing this year.

Andy Miller

John Phipps said...


Thanks for the feedback - it wasn't meant that way, but could be construed as same. I'm surrounded by first-time claimers who are pretty nervous about a possible gulf between what they think will happen and what will happen.

Further, as I pointed out below, any part of our industry that struggles will be subjected to misinterpretation.

You are exactly right. Like the livestock sector or ethanol or grain merchandising, the Drought will illuminate the true capacity of the system.

Anonymous said...

I'll try to put up a link to the source for Van Trumps Comments about Aflotoxin. I'ts a combination of several posts on New Ag Talk. Not sure how I feel if he is reading them and passing off as info from one of his contacts.

John Phipps said...


I didn't realize that was where he was sourcing it. He should attribute.

I thought they were comments he was receiving.