Red River Farm Network News

Verisem Names New CEO — Philippe Rousseau has been named the global chief executive officer for Verisem. Verisem is the new name for the specialty seed crop division of Paine Schwartz Partners. Previously, Rousseau led the sunflower and winter canola business for Syngenta.

OIG Investigates Organic Imports — USDA’s Office of the Inspector General says the Agricultural Marketing Service needs to do a better job inspecting organic food imports. The OIG investigation claims AMS does not always review the necessary paperwork, proving the imports were from certified organic farms. The OIG report says this problem at the ports could allow non-organic products to be imported as organic, creating an unfair situation for U.S. organic products.

Minnesota Farm Broadcaster Passes — Veteran farm broadcaster Al Carstens died September 16. Carstens, who was 80, worked for KATE Radio in Albert Lea, Minnesota for 45 years.

Waiting on SoybeansFarmers in southwest Minnesota are waiting on soybean harvest. Cottonwood, Minnesota farmer Carolyn Olson says some early harvest has started in the area, but she is waiting for the soybeans to dry down some more. "The soybeans are definitely yellowing, and the fields look even across as they are maturing. However, chilly and cloudy weather just hasn't promoted a lot of crop maturity the last few weeks." Olson adds that most of the soybean and corn crops have rebounded since heavy rains about a month ago. "You can definitely tell where the water had pooled-up around tile intakes, so some of those crops are showing stress and drying down quicker than other areas."

Silage Chopping Continues — Corn silage chopping is continuing across the Tri-State Area. Beaver Creek, Minnesota farmer Pete Bakken finished chopping corn silage before the weekend rains. He says timely rains in the area helped the crop ton-up well. "The weather was good, and we got it piled in a timely fashion. There's a lot of people in the area that are chopping silage now and storing in either an upright or in a flat-type space like we did." While chopping, Bakken says he saw a lot of corn aphids that could impact quality. "It's early enough where stalk quality and integrity isn't bad yet, but there might be some issues down the road."

Montana Wheat Wrapped UpMontana’s wheat harvest is all wrapped-up. Montana Wheat and Barley Committee communications coordinator Steve Becker says the crop varied considerably. "We did have good submoisture moisture, so the winter wheat had a good start and was a decent crop," says Becker. "The spring wheat went in well, but wasn't as far along. So when the expectional heat and dryness hit, it suffered a bit more." While test weights were lower, protein was very good. "On average, proteins were 14.7-to-14.8. Some were higher and some were lower, but again the test weights were below 60."

Drought Impacts Pulse Crop Production — Drought conditions are having an impact on pulse crop production. USDA National Ag Statistics Service’s Lance Honig says extreme dryness in western North Dakota and Montana has dramatically lowered production. "The potential was there for a big crop, and a record-high number of lentil acres was planted," says Honig. "However, production is expected to be down 41 percent because we're looking at record low yields." In addition, dry edible pea production is pegged to be down 45 percent, with the lowest yield expected since 1996.

Syngenta Awarded Damages — Syngenta Crop Protection has been awarded damages in a patent infringement lawsuit. A U.S. District Court jury ruled that the agrochemical manufacturer, Willowood, infringed a patent relating to the manufacture of the of the fungicide azoxystrobin. The patent remains in effect until 2029 and has counterparts around the world.

USDA Increases Yield EstimatesUSDA has surprised the grain trade for two months now by increasing its yield estimates for corn and soybeans. Rich Morrison, senior risk advisor, Diversified Services Marketing Group, says there are still more opportunities for USDA to adjust those numbers. “That’s true. We have three more reports. We’ll get crop production reports in October, November and January. They still have opportunities to make some changes. Historically, those changes don’t become as large as we move forward. They may make small tweaks. Then, we’ll focus on the demand side of the picture.” Morrison says farmers should be aware there are always opportunities in the grain markets. Morrison was part of Wednesday's market panel at the Big Iron Farm Show. Listen to the session.  

Watch the Harvest ProgressThe grain trade was surprised with Tuesday’s USDA report. Stewart-Peterson Senior Market Advisor Naomi Blohm thinks the market will adopt a wait-and-see approach. “Once the combines start rolling, we’re going to hear the truth about the crop that’s not out there.” Blohm says the crop in North Dakota is behind the normal pace, but the situation is worse in her home state of Wisconsin. “That will help get the harvest lows in place once the combines are rolling more. The next USDA report is September 29 and the following report is in October. I think the worst is behind us in terms of prices. Watch crude oil prices and political drama moving forward.” Listen to Blohm and other analysts like Tommy Grisafi and Bret Oelke from Big Iron.

Start with SoybeansThe 2017 and 2018 crops both deserve market attention right now. Zaner Ag Hedge Group chief ag market strategist Ted Seifried offered his perspective on the markets on the Red River Farm Network stage during Big Iron Farm Show. When making cash sales, Seifried said soybeans aren’t a bad place to start. "When you look at the implied pod weight that USDA is using, it's a new record by a long shot. They're looking at genetics getting better and a lower pod count. So when you put those two things together, it does sugget high pod weights, but I don't know if we've had the weather for that." As far as corn is concerned, there may be some marketing opportunities for the 2018 crop. "We have a 42-to-43 cent old crop/new crop spread. When you have new crop corn trading at $4, you have to take advantage of that." Listen to Seifried and other analysts speak on the outlook from the Big Iron Farm Show.

Seek Accountability — On the Red River Farm Network’s Big Iron stage, the importance of marketing plans was highlighted at the daily market outlook seminars. Van Ahn and Company CEO Jim Emter said this is an unique time in agriculture, meaning every penny matters. Farmers should be attentive to the basis opportuinities in this market. "In addition, take opportunities with market carries and accountability. Find a marketing firm or take accountability from a spouse, grandparent or someone who can assist you in making those decisions."  In light of the most recent USDA crop report, Emter said crop harvest should be the big focus. "We're hearing of some yield drag in Illinois, which could turn in to a brighter market where soybeans may be the market to watch."

Be Prepared to Sell at These PricesNorth Dakota State University Extension Crops Marketing Economist Frayne Olson says the lows for the corn and soybean markets are likely in for this season. "There is downside potential, but it will be because of odd events that will happen. From a risk-management standpoint, there are things you should be concerned about. The big adjustment is getting psychologically prepared for selling at these price levels. Unless there’s a major problem in South America, we’re looking at price levels not much different from what we see today.” Olson doesn’t see much basis improvement for corn, but there could be some improvement for soybeans. Farmers are also advised to control costs. Listen to Olson and AgCountry Farm Credit Services' Ken Knudsen share more on farm business management. 

A Weak BasisCorn growers are being hurt by a continued weak basis. Progressive Ag Marketing President Ray Grabanski says these basis levels are bankrupting corn farmers. “Our corn farmers are losing a lot on basis. You take $4 futures and an 80 cent basis off it and for the poor farmer, that’s 20 percent of the value of that commodity off the board is basis. The farmer gets $3.20. If his breakeven is $3.70, he’s just lost 50 cents a bushel and he did a good job of marketing. That’s killing our farmers. It’s been that way for 18 months straight. I’ve never seen it like that.”

La Nina Watch — The U.S. Climate Prediction Center has increased the possibility of a La Nina this fall. The odds are placed at 55-to-60 percent for a La Nina to form. The grain market is watching this possibility because a La Nina could hurt the crops in southern Brazil and Argentina.

Frost OutlookWith corn plant maturity lagging, farmers are watching weather forecasts for any hint of frost. Eric Snodgrass, who is an atmospheric scientist at the University of Illinois and co-founder of Agrible, gave his outlook at the Big Iron Farm Show Wednesday. “For North Dakota, the second or third week of September is a normal time for the first frost. Everyone needs to pay attention for the Pacific Ocean. Keep an eye out for troughs that will come through the Pacific Northwest and move into the Northern Plains. Midweek next week there could be an early frost risk.” Snodgrass also expects a cooler, and wetter winter in the Northern Plains.  Listen to Snodgrass' forecast. 

Heat Will Finsh the Crop — Soybeans in southeastern North Dakota are being harvested. WinField United district sales manager Jeff Kylo, who is based in Fargo, says those crops ran out of rain. The heat we’ve seen earlier this week will help finish the corn. “This heat is helping us. You can tell who got the rain in August and who didn’t. There are good spots and there are bad spots.” The corn still needs some time. “Most areas will need all of September to be where we want to be. Everything looks good and on track.”

Soybean Optimism Crop conditions in southwest Minnesota are highly variable, but NorthStar Genetics District Sales Manager Bryce Lindeman is optimistic about the soybeans. “We see lots of pods on the tops of plants. The bottom pods are filling out well. It is a decent soybean crop out there, hit or miss. Some farmers had issues with crusting early on. In some areas of Minnesota, there were hail storms about every other week. It all depends on who dodged the hail storms and where they went.” Lindeman says weed management has been a critical issue this past year and that issue is not going away. “Weed management is one of the biggest things on the soybean side.” RRFN's Harvest Hotline is sponsored, in part, by the Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council.

Dry Bean Scene — The Dry Bean Scene airs Fridays at 12:37 PM on the Red River Farm Network. Listen to the broadcast.

Yields VaryProseed district sales manager Jason Lovejoy covers northwest Minnesota and is seeing early soybean yields range from the low 30 bushels per acre to over 50 bushels per acre. "It will all depend on the rains. There are pockets that did decent, but others are struggling." Frost has already been seen in parts of Lovejoy's territory. "It cleaned up some of the corn and we hope it didn't hurt yields."

White Mold Evident in the Southern Red River ValleyCombines are beginning to move in portions of northwest Minnesota and northeast North Dakota. Travis Buccholz, distrct sales manager, Thunder Seeds, is hearing fairly decent yields. "As we get into the next couple weeks, we'll see a lot come off. In the southern part of the Red River Valley, there is a lot of white mold in the beans." Buccholz says there are isolated areas that will experience 30-to-40 percent yeild loss, due to white mold.

Grow More Sugar — To get the sugarbeet off to a good start, a seed treatment is recommended. Syngenta Seedcare technical product lead David Belles says the seed treatment will help farmers avoid early-season disease. "One of the main ones is rhizochtonia. It is a seedling disease that can nibble away at the root hairs and reduce the effectiveness of those roots to take up water and nutrients."  Vibrance is a new systemic seed treatment. Hear the latest update from Syngenta.

A Good Quality Beet CropThe American Crystal Sugar Company pre-pile sugarbeet harvest has been undeway for a month. So far, the quality of the crop looks very good. "One of the real impressive things about this crop is the sugar content, which is very good," said Nick Revier, SES VANDERHAVE. "The beets are a little dehydrated and they won't store well that way." The weekend rains should be a big help.

Canola Minute — Here's the latest Canola Minute from the Northern Canola Growers Association. Learn more about canola harvest.

ND Wheat LinkHear the North Dakota Wheat Commission's Wheat Link. Learn more about efforts to educate consumers about wheat. 

Another Political Scandal in Brazil — The world’s largest soybean farmer is being investigated by Brazilian authorities. Facing allegations of bribing state officials, the home of Blairo Maggi was raised by local police. Maggi, who is now Brazil’s agriculture minister, is accused of political misconduct during his time as the governor of Mato Grosso in 2003-to-2010. Maggi has denied any wrongdoing.

Market Access for Chipping Potatoes — For the first time in 11 years, Japan is opening its market to U.S. chipping potatoes from Idaho. Imports were shut down in 2006 when pale cyst nematode was found in southeastern Idaho. The USDA worked closely with the Japanese government, demonstrating the effectiveness of its eradication program. As a result, Japan reopened its market from all, but two Idaho counties. Those counties remain under quarantine for PCN.

Lessons Learned Thanks to BASF and Peterson Farms Seed for sponsoring the Lessons Learned initiative. Lessons Learned is an educational series about the new dicamba technology. A series of podcasts are available.

Sunset Clause — At a Washington, D.C. conference, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said “a sunset clause” should be included in the North American Free Trade Agreement. Mexican and Canadian officials quickly responded, saying a sunset clause would only bring more uncertainty to trade agreements. Ross also said he wants to finish the NAFTA negotiations before the end of this calendar year.

Corn Matters — Hear the Minnesota Corn Growers Association's Corn Matters program. Learn more about feedback on the draft fertilizer rule.

Building Relationships — A trade team from the Middle East and northern Africa was in North Dakota this past week. The group spent time at Northern Crops Institute. In addition, North Dakota Corn Council executive director Dale Ihry took this group to the NDSU Agronomy Seed Farm, Maple River Grain and Tharaldson Ethanol. “One of those small countries imports quite a bit of ethanol. We think it’s an oil hot bed and they would never take ethanol, but it is interesting how that works in the Middle East.” The countries represented on this trade team include Morocco, Algeria and Egypt. The U.S. Grains Council organized the trade mission.  

MN Farm Bureau Minute — Here's the latest from the Minnesota Farm Bureau. In this report, we learn more about a recent trip to Washington D.C. 

NDFU in Washington D.C.Farmers and ranchers from throughout the country spent much of this past week on Capitol Hill for the National Farmers Union Legislative Fly-In. Congress has a full agenda with very few days on the calendar before the next recess. North Dakota Farmers Union President Mark Watne is not optimistic about the schedule. "They'll pass some initial disaster money, and of course they'll be throwing out some new concepts on taxes, which may get the ball rolling." The Farm Bill, Renewable Fuels Standard and health care are legislative priorities for the Farmers Union. Watne also met with federal regulators, including the FDA, regarding the scab and vomitoxin issues. "We believe the numbers and deductions at parts per million are set too low to the point that farmers are bearing the cost burdens."

NDFMGA Update — We look at the different ways farmers market their products to consumers. More in this update from the North Dakota Farmers Markets and Growers Association.

NASDA Meets in New Orleans — At the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture annual meeting, the group put its support behind a unified farm bill. NASDA members do not want to see the nutrition title split from farm programs in the legislation. National Cattlemen’s Beef Association international trade director Kent Baucus also spoke at the New Orleans meeting and said trade talks between the U.S. and Japan were postponed last month when the conflict with North Korea made headline news. Bacus remains hopeful future trade talks will not be affected.

Rebuild Rural — The Rebuild Rural Coalition is seeking support for infrastructure in Rural America. The coalition sent its list of priorities to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, who chairs the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity. The areas needing more funding include ag research, transportation, broadband and more. More than 200 rural and agriculture-based organizations are part of this coalition.  

Moving to a B20 StandardBeginning June 1, 2018, a 20 percent biodiesel blend will be the standard in Minnesota. The Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council offered information about B20 during the Big Iron Farm Show. Justin Ge, who is with the MEG Group, says the B20 mandate will be in place for the summer months. "On October 1, it moves back to B5, which operates just like Number Two Diesel. There shouldn't be any issues with cold weathe performance."

Beef Checkoff Approves FY18 Plan of Work — The Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board will invest $38 million in beef promotion, research, consumer information, market development and more for the upcoming fiscal year. The biggest piece of that budget is $10 million for promotion programs, including the continuation of the beef checkoff’s digital advertising program. Nearly $7.5 million will be invested in foreign markets. The beef checkoff budget proposal still needs USDA approval.

MN Beef Update — Hear from the Minnesota Beef Council and the Minnesota State Cattlemen's Association in their weekly Minnesota Beef Update. Learn about opportunities at the state fair. 

Voluntary Program Verifies Age and Source of the Calf CropNorth Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring is urging cattle producers to enroll in the state’s verified livestock program. With the RFID tags, the age and source of the animal can be verified throughout the production chain. International markets, like South Korea, Japan and China, required this program.

Loan Programs Available for Drought-Stricken Ranchers — The North Dakota Industrial Commission has authorized two new loan programs through the Bank of North Dakota to help livestock producers hurt by the drought. One program will allow the borrower to purchase and rebuild breeding stock to average pre-drought levels. The other program helps cover feed costs for those dealing with short-term shortages. Local banks will work with the state-owned bank to implement this effort.

FCA Board Completes Quarterly Meeting — After three down years, net cash income is expected to increase this year. The Farm Credit Administration quarterly review says profit margins for corn and soybeans will remain at or below the breakeven levels. The profitability outlook is better in the livestock sector. For the first six months of the year, the farm credit system reports good quality credit quality, but financial stress is increasing for certain areas. The FCA board has also extended the date for AgCountry Financial Services and Compeer to complete reports on the effectiveness of internal controls over financial reporting. Both farm credit associations went through a merger this past year.

Making the Transition From One Generation to AnotherFarming is a unique business. Making the transition from one generation to the next requires significant preparation. AgCountry Farm Credit Services ag business consultant Marlene Niemann spoke about this process. "Many people don't want to talk about estate planning. It is talking about everything they have worked very hard to earn and build and now how do we pass it on to the next generation." Niemann says it is important to begin that conversation between all generations. Niemann spoke about estate planning in the AgCountry building at the Big Iron Farm Show.

An Early ACSC Stock Sale The first sale of American Crystal Sugar Company shares for this seen took place Wednesday morning. “There were 65 shares that sold at $2,725 per share," reports Jayson Menke, ag stock specialist, Farmers National Companym, "It is one of the earliest sales ever. Last year, we had our earliest sales the last two days of August. One year ago, the market started at $2,650. We ended the year last year, we had a late listing in April of about 293 shares. We started off at $2,550. By May 9 or 10, the last sales were at $2,350. It’s tough to know where the market ended, because we were late in the season.” While the most recent sale is one of the earliest, it is not unusual to have shares trade before harvest. Listen to Wednesday's Land Values Seminar.     

Managing Risk Mother Nature threw plenty of things at the crop this year. "This year, the guys that got a fair amount of rain for their crop, also seemed to have some hail," said Reed Ihry, Ihry Insurance. For those with hay or pasture ground, this is also the time to renew those policies. "For the guys out west, had they had these policies, they would have collected very well to subsidize their hay or pasture." 

engAGe: a series for agribusiness women The Red River Farm Network has a new podcast called engAGe: a series for women in agribusiness. We're gearing up for a LIVE broadcast at the Women in Agribusiness Summit later this month. Learn more about the event. engAGe is sponsored, in part, by AgCountry Farm Credit Services, Dow Agrosciences, Thunder Seed, Black Gold Farms, North Dakota Soybean Council, Peterson Farms Seed and the North Dakota Grain Growers Association.

Giving BackThe Cass County Farm Bureau sponsored a free pancake feed during the first two days of the Big Iron Farm Show. The breakfast was just the latest example of community service for Cass County Farm Bureau. "Our big one is our sponsorship of the Ag Education Center during the Red River Valley Fair," said Dale Bjerke, who farms at Page. "We also do some safety programs and we were involved in aid for wildfires in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas."

EU Court Backs Science-Based Decisions — The European Court of Justice has ruled EU member states cannot prevent their farmers from growing biotech crops if science doesn’t prove a risk to human health. The American Soybean Association supports this ruling, the EU has taken an unscientific approach to biotech crops over the last 20 years.

Rally Day PrepMinnesota FFA is preparing for the Region One Fall Rally Day. Region One Vice President Ethan Walz says this event helps younger members learn about the opportunities in agriculture and the FFA. “To really get the message out there to future members-what they can do in agriculture; it is more than crops and livestock in agriculture. It’s a wider range of things.” The Rally Day event will be held in Calloway, Minnesota.

RRFN On-air, Online and On Your SmartphoneThe Red River Farm Network serves its audience on-air, online and on your smartphone. If you want farm news headlines, agronomic information, weather, market analysis and RRFN's daily broadcasts, there are several ways to get it throughout the day. Listen to any of our 19 radio partners. "Like" the RRFN Facebook page. Check out the news headlines, our daily programs, the calendar of events and more at Or download the free RRFN smartphone app. The app is available for both iPhone and Android. Your way. When you want it. The Red River Farm Network is Reporting Agriculture's Business.

Good AttendanceCommodity prices may be weak, but attendance at the Big Iron Farm Show was strong. "I've been encouraged by the attitude of people," said AgWeek reporter Mikkel Pates. Pates has covered all, but two of the Big Iron Farm Shows over the past 37 years. The show has grown over that time. "It is a lot bigger with more concrete. The equipment is more amazing." 

Goehring Elected to Export Board — North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring has been elected vice president of the Food Export-Midwest board of directors. Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson is president of Food Export-Midwest. The election took place during the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture annual meeting in New Orleans.

NFU Honors Lawmakers — The National Farmers Union awarded 33 legislators with its highest legislative honor, the Golden Triangle, during its annual legislative fly-in. The 33 lawmakers include Minnesota Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken and North Dakota Senators Heidi Heitkamp and John Hoeven. Also awarded the NFU Golden Triangle are Minnesota Representatives Tim Walz, Collin Peterson and Rick Nolan.

Former CBOT Chairman Passes — A former chairman of the Chicago Board of Trade died Saturday. Leslie Rosenthal, 84, was the co-founder and managing partner for the Rosenthal Collins Group. Rosenthal served two terms as the CBOT chairman, beginning in 1981. Rosenthal was inducted into the FIA Futures Hall of Fame in its inaugural year in 2005.

Litchfield, MN Dairy Promoter Passes — Bruce Cottington, age 90, has passed away. Cottington spent 25 years in the grocery business before joining the American Dairy Association of Minnesota staff in 1979. Cottington also spent time as a membership coordinator for the Minnesota Milk Producers Association and was a private consultant.

Last Week's TriviaJ.J. Watts of the Houston Texans football team has raised millions of dollars for the victims of Hurricane Harvey. Mandy Kvale of Farm Credit Services of Mandan scored first and is our weekly trivia winner. Brian Brandt of Rabo AgriFinance, Dan Filipi of American Federal Bank, Erin Nash of Woodruff and Dean Nelson of Kelley Bean Company earn runner-up honors. The 'first 20' recognition goes to Kevin Schulz of National Hog Farmer, Greg Guse of Paulsen, Alvarado farmer Jared Sands, Brenda Kovar of Choice Financial, Bob Lebacken of RML Trading, David Fraser of the Fraser Group, Fessenden farmer David Clough, Brian Rydlund of CHS Hedging, Mark Dahlen of Benson County FSA, Al Juliuson of Juliuson Farms, Jim Altringer of Columbia Grain, Bob Brunker of J.L. Farmakis, Tracy Clow of SES VanderHave, Mark Bernard of AgroEconomics and Marc Kimball from Senator Franken's staff.

This Week's Trivia — What country music star was know as the Gentle Giant? Hint: his hit songs included Tulsa Time, Good Old Boys Like Me and I Believe in You. Send your answer to Please include your name and business.