General Manager’s Report – By Monty Johnson, General Manager
Welcome rains of 2-3 inches were received throughout our territory during the first half of April. Prior to the recent rains, NOAA Drought Severity maps (Long Term Palmer Index) indicated that the Southeast corner of Nebraska remained in the severe drought category. The Northeast corner of Kansas was in the highest drought category referred to as extreme drought. Prior to recent rains, it would have taken Southeast Nebraska 6 to 9 inches of rain to return to the “normal” category. Similarly, it would have taken Northeast Kansas 9 to 12 inches of rain to return to “normal.” Although recent rains helped dramatically, we still have a long way to go to return to normal. Hopefully another major system forecast for around April 17th remains accurate.
Despite recent prolonged dry conditions, your Board of Directors feels that it is important to continue to put up speed and space grain projects within your cooperative. After focusing on the shuttle facility at Beatrice, your Board has now agreed to start putting more emphasis on branch locations. It was recently agreed to add speed and space facilities at Virginia and Herkimer. We have signed contracts to construct grain storage and add 15,000 bushel per hour legs at Virginia and Herkimer in the near future. Both projects will be identical with 2-89’ diameter Behlen bins, each with a capacity of just over 400,000 bushels. Both sites will have the capability of adding additional bins in the future. Each location will gain about 800,000 bushels of additional storage space along with faster unload speeds. Total cost of the project will be approximately $4.0 mil making this the largest one time project ever taken on in our cooperative’s history.
Although this won’t directly alleviate the bottle necks at Beatrice during fall harvest it will allow us to store more bushels at these two branches and then bring the bushels to Beatrice post-harvest. This project will add a total of 1.6 million bushels of storage to our company’s licensed capacity. This project will represent a 14.5% increase in our licensed capacity. When added to our 2011 Burchard project, this will represent 2.3 million bushels of additional storage and 45,000 bushels per hour of increased dumping capacity constructed at our branches in the last 2 years, despite ongoing drought conditions.
Indirectly, this will allow us to keep 2.3 million bushels of grain at branch facilities until post-harvest. This project will not eliminate the need to bring excess grain from branches to Beatrice at harvest time but it will greatly reduce the amount of inter-company grain that competes with farmer grain to get dumped at Beatrice each fall. On average, these projects will result in approximately 50 less semis of intercompany grain that will have to be dumped each day at Beatrice in the fall.
In addition to adding storage space and grain dumping capacity, these projects will allow us to ship 5-6 less trains in the typically depressed market value time periods of September, October and November. In addition to revenue from storage and handling margins, we’ll also be able to realize better margins on these 5-6 trains which will make a dramatic impact on our fall revenues. We’ll keep you updated as the project progress.
Grain Marketing – By Steve Faxon, Grain Origination Manager
The spring season is upon us. Crop insurance is now in place, we have a spring price established for the revenue portion, and we have locked in protection for a certain yield goal. Now the planters come out of storage, the crops get planted and with the help of mother nature we expect to maximize production. What if we raise a crop that exceeds the yield goal protection? With all the uncertainty in the grain markets today, do we have the price protected on these bushels? Planning for the uncertainty and expectations is very important. The CME/CBOT is now offering Short Dated Options or SDO’s. They are basically the same options used in the past, except the expiration date changes. Example: You can purchase a July SDO corn put that would give you the right to sell Dec. Corn futures. The only difference is the July SDO will expire the end of June, just like a traditional July option. In exchange for this expiring earlier the premium expense is less. We use and manage the SDO’s the same way we used the traditional options with rolling up and down based on market conditions and coordinating with your strategy. We still believe that the option strategy is the most flexible program to manage risk and allow you to maximize market opportunities. This just gives us a new tool to use and incorporate into your marketing strategy. We would encourage you to visit with us to learn more about these Short Dated Options and how they can be utilized in your grain marketing program.
Feed Department Article - By Linda McKay, Feed Department Manager
As I write this article, I can hear the sound of rain falling. Unfortunately this does not mean that the drought is over. Many producers have already reduced their herd size by culling cows that were old, unproductive, open or had attitudes to help take pressure off their grass and hay supplies. Nutrition management is even more important now. How we manage our pastures, what we provide for mineral, protein and energy will all affect the outcome of our cows and calves this fall. The primary focus should be balancing the forage supply with demand. Sounds simple, but it depends on a lot of things: Is it going to keep raining and how much, how much grass did I leave, how much carry over hay I have, is there water in the pasture, and many more questions. One thing we know is the year after a drought the pasture production will be reduced even if we get average rainfall, so stocking rates needs to be carefully looked at. Dr. Rick Funston, University of Nebraska West Central Research and Extension Center, North Platte, recommends delaying spring turnout to buy time for grasses to recover. This allows the grass to develop more leaves and hopefully restore some of the depleted energy reserves in the plant. A two to four week delay from the normal turn-out date can result in a 10 to 20 percent increase in herbage production states Dr. Funston.
Additionally, if moisture arrives and producers can turn out at a normal time, one needs to remember in some pasture there is not much if any old or dead grass. This is important because the old or dead grass supplies the dry matter needed by the cows for energy. The new grass will be lush and high in protein, but will lack dry matter the cows need for energy, therefore creating an improper balance between protein and energy. This is where problems can arise. Diets high in protein with inefficient amounts of energy can cause body condition scores to drop, leading to decreases in reproductive efficiency. Feeding lower quality hay or stocks (poured with liquid so cows will come to it) on pasture can help increase the amount of dry matter the cows receive and help to balance the protein-energy ratio. In closing, none of us know how much it will rain or when, but a flexible plan will allow a producer to manage their cowherd as needed.
As mentioned above nutrition needs for the cow and calf are important to get the most return on your investment. To meet the nutritional needs of your cowherd Southeast Nebraska Coop offers a line of Rangeland and Wind N Rain minerals plus Pasture Gest Creep feed. To help the producers get the most out of their dollar stop in and check out the specials that Southeast Nebraska Coop is offering on mineral and creep feed.
Spring is here and it is time think about 4-H. This is the time when most of the 4-Her’s pick out or purchase their projects for the upcoming year. What an exciting time for these youth, a new start with a new animal and new hopes of bringing home the purple ribbon. No matter what the species, we at Southeast Nebraska Coop can help you set up a feeding program for your project. We carry the Honor Show Chow feeds, which are a nutritionally complete, highly fortified, balanced feed for show animals to promote optimum growth and development during all phases. The Honor Show Chows feeds come in a complete or grind and mix options. Stop in at one of our locations and let us help you put together a winning feeding program.
No-Till Planting- By Chris Nicholas, Agronomy Department Manager
When it comes to no-till planting, the key is to minimize the soil and residue disturbance. The residue protects the soil surface, reducing crusting and soil moisture evaporation. The residue cover in no-till fields is essential when it comes to conserving water.
When using crop rotation plant down the old row, and for corn on corn, try and plant beside the old row. Don’t plant between the rows in last year’s wheel tracks and don’t wear out your tires by driving down the old row. Too many times we tend to move residue away from the row when planting, trying to make the seedbed warmer and drier during the cool part of the growing season. This isn’t necessary in a warm, dry spring, especially if drought conditions would possibly continue. Growers should focus instead on using residue to keep the soil cooler and wetter during the hot part of the growing season. By leaving the residue over the row while planting, soil moisture evaporation is reduced and the root zone is kept cooler for the entire season.
On account of not uniformly spreading residue during the previous harvest a person could use residue movers to "even up" the residue and create a more uniform residue layer. However, we should not remove all of the residue from the row as soil moisture losses are higher from bare soil. If the residue cover is already uniform, such as in long-term no-till, residue movers can do more harm than good. In these cases, the movers break residue loose from the soil and some of the residue can then blow back over the row, creating non-uniform conditions. In addition, the emerging seedlings may leaf out under the residue and may have difficulty surviving. When properly adjusted and working together, the sharp double disk seed furrow openers on planters can easily cut through the residue and soil to place the seeds. Running coulters in front of seeding disks often increases the folding of the residue as the tillage of the coulters incorporates some of the residue into the seed zone. Planters can more effectively cut residue using the seeding disks, as the disks are sharper than most coulters on the market. In some situations, the coulters start pushing the residue down without cutting it and the seeding disks fold the residue because they don’t have a firm soil surface to cut the residue. If folding of the residue is a problem, increase the planting depth some to improve the residue cutting angle of the disks.
The residue of no-till, especially in hard, dry soil, requires down pressure springs and extra weight on the planter to cut through and penetrate the soil to achieve the desired seeding depth. Enough down pressure should be on the row units to make sure that the depth gauging wheels are actually gauging planting depth. Check the down pressure on the row units as conditions change to avoid over compacting wet soils, creating sidewall compaction.
We should try and plant down the old row to place the seed in the old root zone, the most biologically active area of the field. Don’t seed between the old rows as some of the new rows will be in soft, untrafficked row middles with different soil conditions than the wheel tracks, the most compacted area in the field. Planting about 5-6 inches to the side of the old row works well for corn on corn to reduce planter bounce, resulting in more uniform depth control. This also reduces tire wear as compared to driving on the root stumps to plant between the old rows.
We should also consider planting deeper to ensure that all of the seeds are in good soil moisture for uniform emergence. Seed Firmers or Rebounders help place all of the seeds at the bottom of the seed-vee for a more uniform planting depth. Planting the seeds deeper also puts them into a more buffered soil environment with a more uniform soil temperature and soil moisture. This improves uniformity of emergence which increases yields. In addition, by planting deeper, the root system is better established, improving standability and allowing the plant to better handle stresses. Corn should be planted at least 2 inches deep as most corn planters were designed for planting depths of 2 to 3 inches. Consider the 3-inch planting depth in dry years and low residue conditions to reduce potential drying of the seed zone.
The seed-vee should be properly closed for good seed-to-soil contact and to reduce drying out of the seed zone. Some options are to add spoked closing wheels to planters to help close the seed-vee, especially in wet soil conditions. The spoked wheels serve the purpose of drying the soil with tillage, closing the seed-vee while fracturing the sidewall, and providing loose soil above the seed. The loose soil created by the spoked wheels reduces the potential for the seed-vee opening back up as the soil dries. However, depending on the moisture situation, the tillage of the closing wheels might dry out the soil too much. In some cases, growers get better results using one spoked wheel and one regular closing wheel.
With No-till applications there should be requirements for surface application of preemerge or postemerge herbicides for weed control. One or two properly timed applications may be necessary. To provide more dependable herbicide performance for later planted crops apply an early preplant residual herbicide at two-thirds to full rates early in the spring when the probability of rainfall for incorporation is high. This application often eliminates the need for a burn down herbicide and because weeds are controlled early in the growing season, soil moisture losses are reduced. Then if needed when post application is considered another application of a residual herbicide can be tanked mixed at that time. Make sure and stop by one of our locations to discuss the options of spring preplant herbicide applications