Tuesday, November 04, 2014
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2014 Fall Farm Outlook:
2014 Year in Review
By John Fulton

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[November 04, 2014]  LINCOLN - The 2014 growing season has definitely been one of ups – and downs. “Up” refers to yields and rainfall, and “down” refers to income.

Early corn yields have indicated a possible record in the making, but they certainly aren’t all in the “bin buster” category. Factors contributing to less than stellar yields in some fields include wet weather, delayed planting, severe corn rootworm damage, nematode damage, and disease problems.

Soybean yields have been widely ranging, with lower than average yields in some fields and better than average in others. Frequently, those two scenarios have played out in fields across the road from each other, planted the same day, and using the same variety. Possible reasons include the Sudden Death Syndrome disease, white mold, and cyst nematode damage.

Farm income for 2014 and the projected income for 2015 is the big story.

Using figures from crop budgets on Central Illinois High Productivity Land, University of Illinois economists project less than $200 per acre from corn after soybeans and slightly over $200 per acre for soybeans after corn would be available to pay rent and family living expenses for the upcoming season.

For a point of reference, the average cash rent for 2014 in Logan County was reported at $308 per acre according to the National Ag Statistics Service. The budgets show non-land costs at $585 for corn after soybeans and $370 for soybeans after corn.

The actual number from Farm Business Farm Management Records show positive income from corn in 2010 to 2012 of $156, $292, and $240 respectively. The red ink started in 2013 with a small loss of $14 per acre, and projected losses for the 2014 are $156 per acre.

The numbers may look worse as the estimates are still using $3.80 for the corn price for 2015 and $4.12 for 2014. If you’ve checked the cash markets lately, the corn price is closer to $3.00.

On the positive side, livestock producers are probably experiencing one of the better periods they have seen in quite a while. Prices for their products are up, and the feed costs are down.

However this year or two certainly haven’t made up for the past 20 years where several livestock farms saw several generations of equity disappear. Most everyone can attest to the higher prices for livestock and products by simply going to the grocery store. Meat, milk, and eggs have all increased dramatically.

And the age old adage does hold true: Input prices, such as prices paid for feed or fertilizer; don’t come down as quickly as they go up. The same is true for prices paid in the stores, at the pump, or elsewhere.

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There have also been “bumps in the road” such as the PED virus leading to baby pig losses for pork producers. This has required sound management, and maybe a little luck, to keep the black ink flowing.

Of course, weather has played a big role in the bumper crops we are looking at. One reporting site in Logan County had 22.34 inches of rain from April through September. And, I’m certain it was probably on the lower end of rainfall for the county. Add in moderate to cool temperature, especially during pollination, and the recipe for corn was complete. The same weather pattern has persisted during harvest, making it a drawn out affair. Wet conditions, and a large crop, definitely hindered the progress.

In summary, great growing conditions have led to a large crop to harvest. This has been bittersweet as the market prices have plummeted to levels not seen in a while. Livestock income is up, and crop income is down.

Pressure will be on crop producers to reduce costs and therefore maximize profits – or minimize losses.

From an economic standpoint, the 2015 season looks to be a challenge for producers.

Read all the articles in our new
2014 Fall Farm Outlook

2014 Year in Review 4
Flip-flop Weather 10
The up-side-down harvest 16
Will corn producers make money this year? 18
At the Elevator 24
Harvest Quotes 29
What's bred in the ground 34
The growth of farm transportation 38
Behind the wheel 41
New combine head attachments 47
What's happening on the GMO/foreign trade issue 51

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