June 2017 Markets and Economic Update

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Today’s wheat prices are slightly improved over 2016’s dismal $3.85 per bu national average price. Nationally, U.S. wheat planted acres are down about 25% compared to 2016, and the national yield forecast of 48.9 bu per acre is more in line with average production. In 2016, the U.S. had a record-high production of 55.3 bu per acre. Season average farmgate wheat prices for 2017 are projected to be $3.90 to $4.70 per bu.

High protein wheat supplies are predicted to be tight, resulting in high premiums for high protein and high discounts for low protein. University of Idaho researchers are advising growers to optimize their nitrogen levels with spring foliar applications to avoid penalties for low protein! 

With the current forecast for low grain prices, non-wheat crops including Austrian winter peas (AWP) and garbanzos (G) are among the  profitable this fall. Spring peas, spring barley, and spring canola are predicted to be quite unprofitable this year (Fig. 1). Price and yield assumptions for the net returns calculations in Fig. 1 are listed in Table 1.

 Fig1_updated
Fig. 1. Estimated 2017 net returns over total costs for northern Idaho crops

  Table 1. 2017 crop yield and price estimates for northern Idaho
T1_updated

Net returns over total costs for winter wheat (WW) are predicted to be $29 per acre, assuming a yield of 90 bu per acre and a port price of $5.06 per bu. Returns for soft white spring wheat (SWSW) are predicted to be -$9 per acre, with a price assumption of $5.06 per bu and a yield assumption of 65 bu per acre. At 65 bu per acre, the break-even price per bu would be $5.21. On the other hand, net returns for some less commonly produced crops for this region are quite profitable, with the highest net returns forecast for Austrian winter peas, at $115 per acre, assuming a 2000 lb yield and a price of $0.25 per lb. Garbanzos are also forecast to be quite profitable, returning $97 per acre with a yield of 1400 lb per acre and a port price of $0.36 per lb. A detailed spreadsheet with cost and returns for each crop is available here. For a printer-friendly version, click here.

2016 Forage & Grazing School presentations include management intensive grazing, fertility, variety trial results, economics and hay preservatives

A day-long program for hay and cattle producers featured Idaho experts on topics including management intensive grazing, hay preservatives, results of alfalfa variety trials for North Idaho, managing fertility in hay and pasture ground, weed control and economics. Just over 50 attendees enjoyed the refreshments, lunch and door prizes provided by local suppliers, including Boundary Tractor in Bonners Ferry, Pape Machinery in Ponderay, Carter Country in Bonners Ferry and Ponderay, and The Coop County Store in Ponderay. Links to the presentations are below. Additional links to resource material are available below as well.

Management Intensive Grazing
Chad Cheyney, retired UI Extension Educator, Butte County

An overview of the concepts and methods of Management Intensive Grazing, or MIG, is presented by the founder of the Lost Rivers Grazing Academy, a 4-day intensive workshop for livestock producers. MIG is defined as a flexible approach to rotational grazing management that balances forage supply with animal requirements in order to increase carrying capacity and productivity while improving pastures.

Managing Grassland Ecosystems
Chad Cheyney, retired UI Extension Educator, Butte County

This presentation focuses on grass production, from physiology to thermodynamics to nutrient management through management intensive grazing. You will learn how rest periods affect production, and how to maximize grass production on your farm.

Alfalfa Variety Trial Results
Doug Finkelnburg, UI Extension, Nez Perce County

Performance of alfalfa varieties in dryland field trials as well as best management practices for small grains crop rotations including alfalfa production using glyphosate resistant varieties and non-resistant varieties are addressed.
North Idaho Alfalfa Variety Trial Entries and Results

Hay Preservatives and Innoculants: An Overview of Techniques
Glenn Shewmaker,  Extension Forage Specialist, UI

Effects of chemicals as drying agents such as potassium carbonate applied at time of cutting or organic acids and/or sulfate salts and amylase enzymes applied as preservatives at time of baling on composition, digestibility, and utilization by livestock for grass and alfalfa (Medicage sativa L.) hays are discussed.

Cover Crop Grazing Project Update
Ken Hart, UI Extension, Lewis County

Uses and challenges of cover crops to enhance soil health, as an alternative forage, and as a part of a dryland direct seed cereal crop rotation will be discussed. The talk includes recent results of on-farm testing and field trials.

Managing Fertility in Hay & Pasture Ground
Jen Jensen, UI Extension, Bonner County

Learn how to take a soil test and intrepret the lab results in order to maximize fertility in your hay and pasture ground. Management of fertility is also addressed for organic producers using animal manures.

Economics for North Idaho Crop Producers
Kate Painter, UI Extension, Boundary County

Current enterprise budgets for north Idaho crops that also include a grazing alternative will be presented. With today’s low grain prices, growing a rich cover crop mixture and grazing it may be competitive with other choices for your farm. Enterprise budgets include typical types and rates for fertilizers, herbicides, and fungicides by crop for northern Idaho growers.

2016 Enterprise Budgets for:
Conventional Tillage Grain and Rotational Crops, bulletin and Excel spreadsheet
Direct Seed Grain and Rotational Crops, bulletin and Excel spreadsheet
Grass Hay in Northern Idaho, Small Square Bales, bulletin and Excel spreadsheet
Alfalfa Hay in Northern Idaho, Small Square Bales, bulletin and Excel spreadsheet

The 2015 Forage School post includes additional presentations for North Idaho forage producers.

Additional Resources for Forage Producers:

A3637 Identifying Pasture Grasses

SARE website: Cover Crops for Sustainable Crop Rotations

SARE Handbook: Managing Cover Crops Profitably, 3rd Edition

PNW0614 Pasture and Grazing Management in the Pacific Northwest

PNW0627 Meadow Voles and Pocket Gophers: Management in Lawns, Gardens, and Cropland

BUL 901 Cover Crops for Grazing Use in Idaho

Intermountain Alfalfa Management, U of California, Publication 3366, 1997.