Making Decisions & Understanding The 2014 Farm Bill

CapitalA series of meetings to provide information and analysis to assist producers and landowners understand what’s required and make decisions. Meetings will be conducted by UGA agricultural economists Dr. Nathan Smith and Dr. Don Shurley, the USDA, Farm Service Agency, and the USDA Risk Management Agency. Questions and answers and discussion will be included.

Topics to be covered:

  • Decisions to be made – who makes them and the timeline
  • Opportunity to update Payment Yields – how it’s done
  • Crop History – opportunity to reallocate Base acres – how it works
  • Choosing between PLC and ARC – how each works and how they compare
  • Generic Base – assigning ‘covered commodities’ to Generic Base
  • STAX – The new safety net for cotton
  • Resources and decision – aids available to help make decisions

FarmBillMeetings - 2014

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2014 UGA Performance Tests Available

The 2014 performance tests for corn, cotton, soybean and peanuts have all been posted to the Statewide Variety Testing website. Click the link and the crops are on the left. (The quality data for peanut and performance data for other soybean locations is not yet in and will be posted as it becomes available.) Below is a summary page from early and late maturing dryland cotton tests:



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A Look At 2014 Pecan Crop

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Here is an update on pecan harvest from UGA Extension Horticulturalist Dr. Lenny Wells:

Early estimates placed the 2014 Georgia Pecan crop at 80-90 million lbs. But, as pecan producers have been gathering their crop, it is obvious that the lbs making it into the wagons are not what they appeared to be on the tree. Current estimates have fallen to 70 million lbs or less. The rain we’re experiencing this week provides an opportunity to slow down a bit and take a look at some data to help explain the issues we see with this year’s crop. Nut size is obviously off …nut size does play an obvious role in the reduced weight being accumulated. All the reasons I mentioned before— cool temps during nut sizing, drought, and lack of sunlight—played a part in the smaller nut size; however, pollination is also an important factor to consider whenever pecan quality is affected. In addition to small nut size, we see a significant percentage of “pops” or nuts that failed to develop kernel in this crop, which is almost a sure sign of poor pollination.

So, lets look at pollination conditions during spring of 2014. The first thing to consider here is that the crop was abnormally late. This dates back to the late bud-break we saw in the spring, a result of cool spring temperatures. Darrell Spark’s model shows that March temperatures have a strong influence on the date of budbreak, while April temperatures influence the rate of shoot growth and flower development.

From 1912-2003, maximum temperatures in Tifton during March and April average 69 and 77 degrees F respectively. For 2014, these temperatures were 65.7 and 74.7. This may not seem like much, but 3 degrees can make a big difference to a plant. By comparison, maximum March and April temperatures for 2012, a year with early crop maturity were 77 and 79 degrees, respectively. In addition, spring 2014 was wet in South Georgia. Average April rainfall for Tifton is 3.81″ from 1912-2003. We had 8.72″ in April 2014. Such cool, wet conditions are a perfect recipe for poor pollination.

UGA pecan breeder Dr. Patrick Conner collects pollen shed and pistil receptivity data each year for the many varieties growing at the UGA Ponder Farm. He shared with me these numbers for Desirable and Stuart, which you can see below:


Desirable and Stuart normally match up very well with each other. The pollen shed period for one normally covers most or all of the other’s pistil receptivity . However, in 2014  Stuart pollen shed only caught the last 3 days of Desirable pistil receptivity, while Desirable pollen only covered the first 2 or 3 days of Stuart receptivity. While this simply serves as one pollination example in one location, you can see that its very likely pollination was off this year. Pollen shed matched up poorly with pistil receptivity. Its likely that the days they did match up, poor weather conditions limited the ability of the pollen to disperse properly. These factors likely played a large role in the issues we see with the size and volume of the 2014 pecan crop.

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Cotton Market Update

Below is information from UGA Extension Economist Dr. Don Shurley through Cotton Marketing News:



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2014-15 Wheat Production Guide

The 2014-2015 UGA Wheat Production Guides are now available. If you need a hard copy, we can print one off. You can download the pdf at the link above.


There is a lot of economic information found in the guide. Below is information from UGA Extension Economist Dr. Nathan Smith on Georgia production:



Georgia planted acres dropped by a  third to 300,000 acres and harvested acres dropped 28% to 250,000 acres. Georgia’s average yield is estimated at 55 bushels per acre, falling 5 bushels from last year’s record wheat yield of 60 bushels per acre. Producers had problems harvesting wheat as less than 25% of the crop was harvested by June. As a result quality was also a concern and producers were faced with discounts.

Wheat prices were down over much of the year, and took a turn for the worse when a large 2013 Canadian wheat crop was realized. Monthly SRW wheat prices ranged between $5.90 and $6.92 during June 2013 and May 2014. The 13-14 marketing year started near $7.00 per bushel but dropped below $6.00 during harvest. Cash prices going into planting season for 2015 crop were below $6.00 per bushel, with basis at 65 cents under July futures before improving to 50 cents under. Wheat fundamentals are considered bearish going to 2015 as record global production is projected again. Wheat planting in Georgia will likely fall some again in 2014 due to lower prices and current dry conditions.


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Cold And Dry

Most of us don’t know of temperatures this low before Thanksgiving. A lot of people are already covering citrus trees planted in their backyards. Satsuma’s are probably my favorite citrus and have the best cold tolerance – withstanding temperatures as low as 19 and 20 degrees. Citrons, lemons, and limes have the lowest tolerance and can be damaged in the upper 20s. Tangerines and mandarins can withstand the mid-20s.

Pecans 007We’ve also been wondering about crops still harvesting. Here is a picture of some Stuart pecans that are still in the tree. I was asked about some Sumners the other day which were still green and shucks not opening. UGA Pecan Specialist Dr. Lenny Wells says its a misconception that cold will keep shucks from opening. If the nut is mature, it will open and fall. If it’s not opening, it’s something else – maybe pollination issue.

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A dry October has caused is hurting us trying to establish forage on dryland pasture. Here is some Big Boss Ryegrass that was drilled in the middle of October. This pasture received  its first rain last week since it’s been planted. The cold may have been a factor too since some tips have died back. Oats has the least cold tolerance of our cool season forages. Irrigated pastures for grazing are up and tillers developing with less stress for water.


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Diesel Prices Lower

Andrew Sawyer:

Here is some information on diesel prices posted on Seminole Ag Agent Rome Ethredge’s blog:

Originally posted on Seminole Crop E News:

It looks like farm diesel is lower in cost than it has been in almost 4 years. That’s a good thing as we use lots of fuel on the farm.  Here is an interesting report by Amanda Smith, UGA Extension Ag Economist, concerning farm diesel prices.

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These are the monthly farm diesel prices for the Southern Atlantic states from 2011-2014.  Compared to the previous four years, diesel prices have been more stable. Prices have ranged from a low of $3.13 to a high of $3.86 per gallon.  There appears to be some seasonality to diesel prices as you can see price fluctuating up and down throughout each year.

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These are farm diesel prices for the Southern Atlantic states from 2011 through 2014 with average prices for each year listed above the chart. The seasonality of diesel price is more apparent in this slide with higher prices during spring and fall…

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