Low grain prices are not expected to increase soon because of excess supply and lower demand, according to Kurt Guidry, LSU AgCenter economist who spoke with farmers at a wheat and feed grain meeting on Jan. 21 at Opelousas, La. “Prices are still under significant pressure,” he said.
Guidry said while yields for wheat, cotton, soybeans and grain sorghum were down in Louisiana last year from 2014, total U.S. production was still near record levels for many commodities.
“With large production levels and lackluster demand, carryover stocks remain high for most commodities. Even for those commodities that didn’t experience large production and supply levels in 2015, lower overall demand continues to keep stocks at troublesome levels,” he said.
China’s economic growth rate has slowed, he said, and the strong dollar makes American commodities more expensive overseas. Guidry said acreage and production for commodities in 2016 will affect prices.
“The one positive we can take from the current market is that prices have been relatively resistant despite the poor supply and demand fundamentals,” he said. “Soybeans, for example, have been able to mostly remain in the mid to upper $8-per-bushel range despite a near record U.S. crop in 2015 and record production in South America.”
He said China is buying South American soybeans.
Because of low prices and lower yields in Louisiana for 2015, Guidry anticipates that more commodities will be eligible for Price Loss Coverage payments. He also anticipates more commodities and more parishes will be eligible for Agricultural Risk Coverage payments administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Last year, Price Loss Coverage payments were primarily available only for rice, and Agricultural Risk Coverage payments were available for only a few commodities in selected parishes.
Boyd Padgett, LSU AgCenter plant pathologist, said wheat acreage in Louisiana at 50,000 or less is the lowest he’s seen in years. Poor planting conditions resulted in late planting for many farmers, he said. “All in all, it’s very poor,” Padgett said.
Choosing soybean variety
Trey Price, LSU AgCenter plant pathologist, said choosing a soybean variety with resistance to frogeye leafspot is the best way to avoid spending money on a fungicide.
Cercospora leaf blight has developed a resistance to fungicides, he said. No resistant varieties are currently available, Price said, but there is hope. “That’s about to change because of research funded by your dollars,” he told the audience.
Ron Levy, LSU AgCenter soybean specialist, said mid-April is the optimum soybean planting window. He advised that variety selection is the most important part of growing a soybean crop.
Levy said a study of harvest aids showed that Gramoxone resulted in a 1.6 bushels per acre loss from shattering compared to Sharpen at only 0.6 bushel.
Daniel Stephenson, LSU AgCenter weed scientist, said ryegrass is the biggest weed problem for corn. One ryegrass plant every 7 feet can reduce yield by 27 percent, he said.
For soybeans, he advised a pre-emerge herbicide followed by Roundup PLUS Dual Magnum early-postemergence to keep fields weed-free for five weeks after emergence.
He said herbicide-resistant rice flatsedge, barnyardgrass and Italian ryegrass have been found in St. Landry Parish, and he expects that resistant johnsongrass will be in the parish soon.
He said farmers in Arkansas, Tennessee and Mississippi are challenged by Palmer amaranth weeds that are resistant to glyphosate and have developed resistance to certain other herbicides such as Valor, Flexstar and Prefix. “This is scarier than glyphosate resistance,” Stephenson said.
Julien Beuzelin, LSU AgCenter entomologist, said grain sorghum seed should be treated against the sugarcane aphid, which can cause 100 percent yield loss. He said some hybrids have resistance, and the insecticide Sivanto is effective against the pest.
Randy Price, LSU AgCenter engineer, said prices for drones and software have gotten cheaper, making the high-tech aircraft more affordable for checking fields.
New regulations by the Federal Aviation Administration require registration for any aircraft weighing more than 0.55 pound by Feb. 21, he said.
Dan Fromme, LSU AgCenter corn specialist, said corn yields continue to increase at the rate of about 2 bushels per year in the U.S. because of improved genetics and new technology.