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The USDA's national corn condition rating declined a little bit last week, while soybeans improved slightly. Conditions in key U.S. growing areas continue to look mixed, with generally better growing weather in some areas than in others.

60% of U.S. corn is in good to excellent shape as of Sunday, down 1% on the week. 93% of corn is silking, 42% is at the dough making stage, and 7% has dented, all a little slower than average.

60% of U.S. soybeans are in good to excellent condition, up 1% from a week ago. 90% of beans are blooming and 65% are in the pod stage, both ahead of normal.

94% of the winter wheat crop is harvested, compared to the five year average of 92%.

24% of spring wheat is harvested, compared to 21% typically this time of year, and 32% of the crop is rated good to excellent, up 1%.

44% of U.S. pastures and rangelands are in good to excellent condition, 1% lower than last week

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway, R-Texas,  who has said he wants to finish the next farm in 2017, said Saturday that he now hopes to have the bill on the House floor in the last quarter of 2017 or the first quarter of 2018.

Conaway made the statement at the beginning of a House Agriculture Committee farm bill listening session on Saturday in Modesto, California.

Conaway, California Republican Reps. Jeff Denham, Doug LaMalfa, David Valadao, and Democratic Rep. Dwight Evans of Pennsylvania listened for three hours to statements from agriculture, nutrition and animal welfare advocates.

At the end of the session, Conaway noted that writing the farm bill would be challenging because "no one asked for less money."

He also said that the top 20% of earners in the country spend more on food than the bottom 20% make, and he said that when he writes the farm bill, he will keep that in mind.

Conaway also said that American consumers "get a deal" on food and that he would "deputize" all the attendees "to tell that story."

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Syngenta announced today that it has entered into non-exclusive licensing agreements with Dow AgroSciences LLC and M.S. Technologies, L.L.C. for the Enlist E3 Event in soybeans in the United States, Canada and Latin America, and the Conkesta Enlist E3 stack in soybeans in Latin America, with options for global rights for both. Syngenta has also entered into a non-exclusive licensing agreement with Dow AgroSciences for global rights for the Enlist event in corn. Terms of the agreement have not been disclosed. 

"We will now have the opportunity to incorporate these traits into our genetics to provide growers additional seed and trait options with greater genetic diversity," said Jeff Rowe, Syngenta president of Global Seeds and North America, "This is another step in delivering on our commitment to enhance our seed offering and ensure continued choice for growers." 

"The Enlist System of novel traits and advanced herbicides along with Conkesta, represents the most complete and effective line of weed and insect control. We are pleased to license these innovative technologies, aligning to our strategy of ensuring broad availability to farmers across the Americas who need this technology to continue advancing their productivity," said Joe Vertin, global business leader, Enlist Weed Control System, Dow AgroSciences. 

"We at MS Technologies are extremely pleased that Syngenta has chosen to license Enlist E3 soybeans and Conkesta E3 soybeans," says Joe Merschman, president of MS Technologies. "Having Syngenta on board will allow us to work jointly to deliver high-yielding elite soybean genetics and exceptional weed control to even more soybean growers." 

DuPont (NYSE: DD) and The Dow Chemical Company (NYSE: DOW) announced today that all required regulatory approvals and clearances have been received, that all conditions to closing of their merger of equals have been satisfied, and that their merger of equals will close after the market closes on August 31, 2017. 

Shares of Dow and DuPont will cease trading at the close of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on August 31. Shares of DowDuPont will begin trading on the NYSE under the stock ticker symbol "DWDP" on September 1, 2017. 

The companies continue to expect the intended spin-offs to occur within 18 months of closing. Additional information is available  here.


Monsanto and Valent U.S.A. LLC, a subsidiary of Sumitomo Chemical Company, Limited, expanded their partnership in the 2018 Roundup Ready PLUS Crop Management Solutions platform.

"We're very excited about our partnership with Valent," says Scott Burchette, Monsanto North America Crop Protection Systems lead. "The goal of Roundup Ready PLUS Crop Management Solutions is all about partnering with industry leading suppliers to deliver simple and effective options to combat herbicide-resistant weeds. Together with Valent, we are creating even more value through expanding product offerings while creating a better experience for retailers and growers alike."

As a result, Valent will offer Valor and Fierce brands as the exclusive pre-emergence PPO residual herbicides in the program. In addition, new products will be added to the program, including solutions for control of tough weeds, such as new Mauler Herbicide and a line extension of the longest lasting residual, Fierce, with Fierce MTZ Co-Pack. Valor SX Herbicide will again be part of the program for 2018. Rowel Herbicide and Rowel FX Herbicide will be phased out to streamline product offerings. Valent's line of postemergence herbicides, including Cobra and Select Max Herbicide with Inside Technology, will remain in the program.

In addition, growers will have access to the latest insecticide solutions from Valent in the 2018 program. Asana XL Insecticide, an industry leader for broad spectrum foliar insect control and Zeal SC, a proven residual miticide, will both be offered in the 2018 program. Valent and Monsanto will offer a broader range of insecticide solutions that will help growers maximize yields and protect their acres throughout the growing season.

"Valent looks forward to expanding our collaboration with Monsanto and Roundup Ready PLUS for the 2018 growing season and beyond," says Trey Soud, director of row crops for Valent U.S.A. LLC. "Growers trust the Fierce and Valor brands to protect their fields against a broad spectrum of weeds, and with the addition of Zeal SC and Asana XL, we are able to uphold our commitment to creating long-term value for growers through integrated agrosolutions."

The full portfolio of Valent soybean, corn or cotton crop protection products that will be endorsed in the 2018 Roundup Ready PLUS platform include Valor EZ, Valor XLT, Valor SX, Fierce, Fierce XLT, Fierce MTZ Co-Pack, Mauler, Chateau Herbicide, Cobra, Select Max, Asana XL and Zeal SC.

The Buckhorn Box Program has opened early this year for prepayments for the 2017 Fall season. Pricing per box is set to $470/box - a savings of $177.03 off retail. This program is a prepayment program with shipping starting in October from the Springfield, MO plant. Payments will need to be submitted before September 25, 2017. 

Contact Cat Ballard at, at the IPSA office at 870-336-0777 to order boxes or for any questions. 

DES MOINES, Iowa - The U.S. corn crop is getting smaller, while the soybean crop gets bigger, according to the USDA.

In its August Supply/Demand Report Thursday, the USDA pegged the 2017 U.S. corn yield at 169.5 bushels per acre vs. the USDA's July estimate of 170.7 and the average trade estimate of 166.2 bushels per acre.

For soybeans, the USDA's U.S. yield is estimated at 49.4 bushels per acre vs. the trendline forecast of 48.0 and the average trade estimate of 47.5 bushels per acre.

As a result, the CME Group futures markets have dropped.

At the close, the September corn futures finished 15¢ lower at $3.57¼, while December futures closed 15¼¢ lower at $3.71.

September soybean futures closed 32¢ lower at $9.34, November soybean futures settled 33¢ lower at $9.40¼.

September wheat futures finished 19¢ lower at $4.40.

December soy meal futures ended $12.70 per short ton lower at $300.20. December soy oil futures settled at 0.37¢ lower at 34.16¢ per pound. 

In the outside markets, the Brent crude oil market is $0.97 per barrel lower, the U.S. dollar is lower, and the Dow Jones Industrials are 124 points lower.

The U.S. 2017 corn production estimate is 14.15 billion bushels vs. the previous USDA estimate of 14.25 bushels per acre and the average trade estimate of 13.85 billion bushels.

For soybeans, the USDA pegged the 2017 production at 4.38 billion bushels vs. the USDA's July estimate of 4.26 billion and the average trade estimate of 4.212 billion.

In its report, the USDA pegged the U.S. 2016-17 corn ending stocks at 2.37 billion bushels vs. the USDA July estimate of 2.37 billion bushels and the average estimate of 2.386 billion.

For 2017-18, the U.S. corn ending stocks is estimated at 2.27 billion bushels, compared with its July estimate of 2.32 billion bushels and the average trade estimate of 2.00 billion.

The USDA pegged old-crop soybean ending stocks at 370 million bushels, vs. the USDA's July estimate of 410 million bushels and the average trade estimate of 401 million.
For 2017-18 soybean ending stocks, the USDA sees U.S. stocks at 475 million bushels vs. the July estimate of 460 million and the average trade estimate odf 424 million bushels.

Sal Gilbertie, Teucrium Trading founder, says that the end-users seem to have caught a break with this report, with official estimates of higher per-acre yields for both corn and soybeans than were expected.
"New record-high global inventories for wheat are also a bit of a surprise but are more than welcome given the drought in the Dakotas and near-record world demand," Gilbertie says.
He adds, "Also, corn supplies are falling faster than use in the U.S., which says that even though farmers are projected to harvest the second largest U.S. corn crop in history, we will still draw down our ending stocks due to steady and high demand for corn."
Jack Scoville, The PRICE Futures Group's senior market analyst, says that the report's yields are very high and imply much better crops than what I saw last weekend in central Illinois.  

"These estimates are way too high and a borderline bad joke. But we will see. Central Illinois has a lot of soybeans fields, but bean plants are small this year. Corn and beans very uneven."

Brian A. Rydlund, CHS Hedging's market analyst, says that the USDA's soybean yield shocker was huge.

"No one saw that coming. Since August 1, my guess is that the crop has gotten bigger in most areas based on weather," Rydlund says. The trade went into this report thinking it was going to be a friendly report               and got a surprise."

Rydlund adds, "With these yields, row-crop carryouts grow U.S. corn carryout for 2017/18 remains over 2 billion bushels. And that doesn't equate to a $4 futures market."
For soybeans, the U.S. 17/18 soy carryout goes to 475 million bushels. "That is not a $10 futures market," Rydlund says.

Don Funk, founder of Channel Bio Corp, is leading a team of entrepreneurs to launch  Midwest Seed Geneticsacross the Corn Belt for the 2017/2018 growing season.  In 2001, Funk purchased Midwest, a small, sleepy seed company, and turned it into a regional powerhouse.  He is re-acquiring the brand for the purpose of providing farmers meaningful choice in the dynamic future that awaits agriculture.

"Over the last several years, we've been closely watching the seed industry, spending a great deal of time listening to both farmers and seed industry professionals," says Funk. "While there is great excitement for what the future holds, there is also frustration and dissatisfaction.   The people of agriculture are being left behind.  We will put them first again." 

 "Most importantly, we will bring unique, high-performance, product choice to the American farmer.  We're also stripping away the complexity, gimmicks and inefficiency the industry has created so we can put more money into our customer's that is theirs to begin with." 

 In preparation for the launch, Funk is assembling a core team to drive Midwest into the future. "We're focused on people who share a great entrepreneurial spirit as well as a belief the seed industry is weighted down with inefficient practices.  I'm excited to work with extremely capable people who are focused on bringing real value to farmers for decades to come."

 Funk continues, "While the seed industry turns inward, focused mainly on itself, we will practice a philosophy we call Outward Focus, providing product choice and an experience based on what our customers tell us they want, rather than on what we decide is good for them." 

 "Some may say this is largely going back to what worked best in the past.  We would absolutely agree with them.  We know from experience, if we help farmers succeed they will take us with them.  The next generation of farmers is rightfully looking for the best - the best product, the best service, the best experience.  We won't provide anything less."


GALESBURG, Ill. - John Hennenfent is out standing in his field.

No, really.

Hennenfent surveys the corn planted within eyesight of his office at the Munson Hybrids headquarters in rural Geneseo. To get him to go outside for a photo at the field's edge takes no persuading.

Even as the owner and president of the company, the field still is his favorite place to be.
"I still enjoy the production, the field production, the most. It's the way I brought up and where I started here. I know that's not where I need to spend most of my time, but I enjoy it," Hennenfent said.

Hired in 1987 by Bud and Alice Davis as a manager at the independent seed company founded by Carl Munson in 1934, Hennenfent bought the company in 1999.
Today, Munson is expanding its area and its market share and holding its own in an industry that has seen massive change and restructuring.

Hennenfent talked about staying independent, staying current and keeping up with the millennials.

The Next Big Thing
"I think the thing that will be the biggest unknown in the next five years is the consolidation that's happening in the seed industry. Those things will be the biggest mover for our part of the industry, as well as for the grower, because we don't know what to expect out of that."

Growing Times
"We've been in a growth mode the last number of years. We've added salespeople, we've transitioned from five counties within a 50 mile radius of Galesburg to 300 miles and more. We get up to northern Wisconsin. We get down to Mattoon. We've had double-digit growth in the last three to four years, and we should be on track to keep pace with that."

Munson People
"For Holly and I, some of the biggest pressure we feel is to have our business be successful because there are 30 families, our full-time staff, who depend on our business being successful."

Declaration Of Independents
"I think we made the decision to stay independent because we enjoyed the freedom that being independent offers."

Card Of Thanks
"I think we have to thank Monsanto for putting independent companies in the situation we are in now where we are growing market share when most everybody else is losing market share. Monsanto and Syngenta and the other breeding programs, with the technology they have now, make so many great hybrids every year. It has given the independent companies more of a pool to draw from, and it's actually created more regionally-adapted hybrids."

Not Mom And Pop
"The term 'mom and pop' bothers me more and more all the time. At one time in our industry, it was kind of 'mom and pop.' We, as a group, have become much more professional in the way we do business. We are well-run businesses with well-trained salespeople that hit that niche that growers really want to work with."

Secret To Success
"I think growers want to work with companies that are well run, well managed, doing things that need to be done and recognizing that we can't do everything that a Monsanto or a Syngenta does, but we do everything that we do well."

Next Generation
"We have to communicate with a younger audience in different ways. We might be more comfortable dealing with the fathers than the sons and daughters. Market data I've seen says when that 20-something or 30-something returns to the farm, they are not just working for dad or grandpa. They become a decision-maker very quickly. So if you are not speaking their language and communicating with them the way they want to communicate, you are not going to keep their business."

Getting Personal
"I think the independent companies, all of us, really rely on that personal aspect and knowing that our customers know if they call, they can talk to the owner, they can call us. If they have a problem, they know it's going to get taken care of, it doesn't have to go through seven layers of management and attorneys to get something done."

Help Wanted
"I think our biggest challenge over the years has been hiring the right people."

Be Good
"If they have the right work ethic, we can figure the rest out. One of the things I wish we could get through to students is - it's not how much you know; it's how good of an employee you are going to be because if you are a good employee, you will always have a job."

Price Cycle
"I think the financial piece for our customers is the most concerning thing we have right now. The demand for seed is going to be relatively steady, whether we have 91 million acres or 93 million acres. The acres are going to be farmed, and we will have demand. It's the capability of the farmer to pay for everything they need and to be willing to invest a few more dollars to get the best product."

Chipper Ahoy
"I think the thing that has helped the seed industry the most is Monsanto's seed chipper. It has sped up the breeding process so much, and it continually increases our genetic gain. That has helped the independent seed companies as much as anything to get us on the playing field where we can compete."

Shop Local  
"We still use local kids for detasseling. We've been able to get the job done, and we would just as soon keep that money local. There aren't as many places anymore for kids to make some extra money during the summertime. There are a lot of families where, if the kids want to buy something new or extra for school, this is where they get the money to do that. It's nice to keep it local."

Agriculture's Big 6 seed and chemical companies are pretty busy these days sorting through the details of mergers and acquisitions and keeping an eye on their mega competitors.

The club, which includes BASF, Bayer, DuPont, Dow, Monsanto and Syngenta, are deep into their post commodity boom strategies, with a key focus on efficiency and shareholder value. But what about smaller, independent input suppliers? Where do they fit into the changing agribusiness landscape?
Illinois-based Verdant Partners consultant Garrett Stoerger believes the independents will face challenges in the wake of mega mergers, but there's also tremendous opportunity. Stoerger was in Ontario recently to speak to growers at a seed industry event.

In this interview, he tells RealAgriculture's Bernard Tobin that independents who focus on customer service, delivering the right product for the right acre, and build a strong brand can take advantage of the market distraction that bigger companies suffer as they work through the consolidation process.

Stoerger says farmers are not big fans of mergers that tend to shrink the number of competitors working to win a farmer's business. In this scenario, he believes independents who can deliver service, value and the right product mix have a strong opportunity to attract and maintain customers and grow their business.

Watch the Podcast Here

The weather has always been an unpredictable element of agriculture, but climate change is expected to make matters significantly worse. Determining how much worse has historically been a challenge. A new study, however, says climate-induced drought could hit several of the world's major corn producing regions all at once. 

The Met Office, the U.K.'s national weather service, used a novel approach to determine the probability of severe water stress in three major corn-producing regions that are responsible for 40 percent of global production  . Instead of relying on observed historical data-which the researchers found to seriously underestimate the impact of climate change-the new study used a model focusing on water stress. The authors noted the limitations of the study, including its reliance on a single climate model, and they advise researchers to utilize multiple models in the future.

"Importantly, we find that large-scale water stress is physically possible in locations where it has not been observed in the last 30 years," the researchers found.
There are few agricultural products as omnipresent as corn. Thanks to the crop's geographic adaptability and genetic malleability, it has  found its way into nearly every part of the Western diet. It's in ketchup, soda, bread and candy. It is the U.S.'s  top feed grain, a dietary staple today for cows, pigs and chickens. In 2016,  the U.S. harvestednearly 87 million acres, producing 15.1 billion bushels, for a total value of $51.5 billion.

"We haven't seen a major drought in the U.S. and China in the same year in the last 30 years," said Chris Kent, the lead researcher on the study. "Our simulations indicate that that type of scenario is possible in the current climate."

To simulate present day climate conditions, the researchers used a supercomputer to create 1400 simulations of the climate from 1981 to 2015, providing 40 times more data than is available from observations alone. 

The findings are alarming. The annual probability of severe water stress impacting the regions is as high as 30 percent, or one in three years. In the U.S., the chance of all six Corn Belt states simultaneously experiencing severe water stress is about 20 percent per decade. Similar events conspired in 1988 and 2012, the researchers note, leading to estimated losses of more than $30 billion worth of crops. For the three provinces of the North East China Plain, the probability of one province to experience severe water stress is 33 percent per decade, consistent with other observational estimates. However, the model also included simulations-unprecedented in observational data sets-in which two, or even three, of these global regions experience severe water stress concurrently.
Overall, the new model found probabilities of severe water stress to be "considerably higher" than previous observation-based predictions. The chances of major swaths of these corn-producing regions getting hit with severe water stress at the same time is 6% percent per decade.

The Met Office researchers are already looking at wheat and rice, using similar methods. Wheat, Kent said, unlike corn, is spread out across many regions, from the U.S. to Australia to Russia. But rice is produced almost entirely in South Asia or Southeast Asia, making the crop more vulnerable to regional impacts of climate change.
The scientists said they are not pushing any policy proposals. "Our main aim is to provide the information to people who can make the policy," said Kirsty Lewis, the Met Office's Climate Security Science Manager. "If you think the level of resilience in the system is unacceptable, you could do something about it."

A special thank you to all of our members!


Todd L. Martin, CEO
Independent Professional Seed Association