The hot weather has arrived, but then again, it is late July in Southern Illinois and I believe that we wanted some drier weather and guess what — it is here. Does this heat create problems with crops? I believe it does, and if it continues into next week, yields will be affected. There is some early planted corn that is past roasting ears, some is pollinating while some is a week or two from tasseling.
Soybeans are doing quite well, but it is my belief that if it is hard on humans, it hard on crops and livestock.
Farmers have many tasks this time of year, but a new chore is dealing with weeds that have become resistant to the chemicals that we use. Water hemp and mares tail are almost totally resistant to chemical control. This year as farmers were dealing with wheat harvest and planting, spraying was way down on the list and weeds grew rapidly creating the problem we now have. Control has meant more dollars and trips over the field.
Yet, farmers have to be pleased with the strength in the grain markets. New corn can be sold at $7 and soybeans at $14 per bushel. Growing demand for corn to use in biofuels and for soybeans to help feed a booming Chinese economy are among key forces driving commodity prices higher this year according to a report by three Purdue agricultural economists released Tuesday.
The Chinese market share has really been the driving force in the prices of commodities. Imports of farm commodities by China have tripled since 2006 making China the largest user of U.S. farm commodities. Of the top 12 importers of U.S. products all have had sizeable increases since 2006. Canada is second only to China but very close in total dollars. What is driving prices up? Simply put:?demand. World production is up, but demand drives the market.
The question is how long this last will and could there be a bubble in the farm economy? I believe that world population certainly is an issue but ultimately the economies of the world will determine the answers to these questions and perhaps the results and decisions of our federal government on our budget could be the key to it all. Now that is scary!
Speaking of budgets, the total USDA dollar expenditures are $134 billion. Can you guess how much of that is for farm programs — only17 percent! Most of the USDA budget goes to nutrition programs, and the portion of the budget that is targeted for cuts are farm programs. I am not defending what farmers receive, but if you are looking to cut the budget, honestly, you have to look at the other 83 percent. Would that be taking food from children or helping them trim their waistlines?
Remember, we are farmers working together. If we can help, let us know.