Farming 101:  What is a Superweed?  Hint…it’s not one of the Avengers!

By now You may have heard the term “Superweed“. 

Generally it refers to a weed that is naturally resistant to common herbicides like the popular Roundup Herbicide made by Monsanto.  However there has never been a great definition on what a Superweed really is until now.   Yesterday, AgWeb, a popular agricultural news source, published an article (click here)  which included the excerpt below aiming to define what the so called Superweed really is:

“the Weed Science Society of America (WSSA) has defined the term “superweed” as:

Slang used to describe a weed that has evolved characteristics that make it more difficult to manage due to repeated use of the same management tactic. Over-dependence on a single tactic as opposed to using diverse approaches can lead to such adaptations.”” – 4/30/15  in AgWeb

While the so called Superweed Is a growing problem for farmers, there really isn’t anything “Super” about it. It doesn’t have a cape, change clothes in a phone booth, or turn into a big angry green monster like the Hulk.   It’s merely a weed that is naturally un affected by a certain herbicide, which is nothing new.  Weeds have done just that for years!  This is not to say that other herbicides or the old school garden hoe won’t do the job.  After all it’s not like it has Avenger Style Super Powers or anything.  It’s just a little tougher than the average weed. 

Farming 101: Are farmers forced by Big Ag and Monsanto to plant seeds they don’t want to?

For years now, there has been a myth going around the internet about how farmers seed options have been growing smaller and smaller to the point where they are basically forced by seed companies to plant a certain variety in a monocropping style production method.  This myth is most likely rooted in the fact that farmers who want to use the “latest and greatest” corn hybrids or soybean varieties must sign a contract (discussed here) with the respective seed company agreeing not to reuse the harvested grain as seed for the following year.


The fact is this myth simply isn’t true.   Today there are quite a few seed companies out there that offer countless options for farmers to pick from.  The three most well known seed companies are Monsanto which has the Dekalb, Asgrow, Channel and other brands.   Syngenta Seeds providing the Golden Harvest and NK brands. And DuPont with the Pioneer brand.  Others include smaller privately held seed companies like Wyffels, Becks and Burrus Seeds.

FACT: Farmers have the choice to purchase seed from whatever brand they want to as well as the choice to purchase whatever seeds they want to from that company.   In fact, based on what I have seen in many farmers sheds this spring (and for years prior) many farmers choose to diversify and buy a few bags of seed from 3-4 companies on average.  You can learn more about how farmers choose what seeds to plant by clicking here.

Here are 17+7 reasons why this myth is 100% busted.  
Every year we conduct seed trials on our farm comparing the yield potential of various seeds and brands.  As in years past we go above and beyond what is considered a normal size seed trial which is usually 4 rows wide and 500′ long.

For 2015 our main “Potential To Yield” (P2Y) seed trial consists of 17 corn hybrids from 7 different Seed brands including everything from the big Monsanto brands to the little guy, Wyffels Hybrids Brand.  Each corn hybrid will be planted 32 rows wide and 1/2 mile long and will provide ourselves and other farmers with quality yield data after harvest is completed this fall.  That data will then help farmers choose which seeds may be best to plant on their farms in 2016!

For more information on our “Potential To Yield” (P2Y) seed trials visit our web site Potential Ag.

Have a comment or question?  Feel free to post a comment below.

I look forward to discussing your concerns with you!

Thank you and have a Great Day!

Friday Farm Flicks #plant15 Style

This week was out first week back in the fields, and the first few days of the 2015 planting season (#plant15 on Twitter)

Here are just a few of the pictures I have taken so far while we were busy planting.
 

First we started off by filling our tractor up with fuel  

Then Start off the year with a prayer


  Some quick flying to make sure the fields are ready
Then came the rain  
Meanwhile we prepped the planter for #plant15 in our shop    

A few days later the ground dried and we were able to level some of our fields off, prepping them for planting.  That night Mother Nature offered a great sunset  
Ground leveling continued for a few days  
Meanwhile our cover crops thrived in the warm spring weather  

When the fields were ready we began to plant our 2015 corn crop

 After one day of planting, more rain fell, bringing field work to a halt for the next few days

  Thank you for stopping by.

Want to see more pictures and follow us as we continue the planting season? 

Follow us at @boucherfarms on Twitter

like us on Facebook at Boucher Farms 

Farming 101:  What difference do a few pennies make?

Farming is an expensive occupation.  Whether the farm raises cattle on 20 acres or raises corn and soybeans on 5000 acres, the expenses and risks are high.

That being said what difference do a few pennies make?

All the difference in the world.

Today the USDA released its monthly report showing the status of cash crops grown in the U.S. such as corn and soybeans.  At this time of the year (prior to most farmers planting the current years crop) the reports can show esitimates of how many acres will be planted into certain crops, estimates showing how many bushels of grain are sitting in storage in the country and the demand for their eventual usage.  All of these factors and many more go into determining the price of the grain for local and worldwide market levels.

When reports like this come out the market often reacts quickly. Sometimes it rises quickly and stays there offering the farmer a opportunity for increased revenue, other times it’s not so positive. To a farmer, that move in the market prices can mean the difference between turning a profit for the year or being in the red.

Here is a screen shot of the markets reaction to the USDA’s report today. Showing a $0.13 cent drop in the Corn price shortly after the report was issued. 

Let’s pencil this out:

A farmer farms 1000 acres of Corn

After paying the landlords rent, or making land payments (if he/she owns the land) and paying for all input costs like seed, fertilizer, machinery, fuel, etc, he/she may have a total per acre expense of $750.00/acre of corn.

That same acre of corn has been known to produce an average of 190 bushels per acre (bpa) of corn grain at the years end.

Using the prereport price per bushel of corn for $3.98 the potential income equals

190 x 3.98 = $756 income per acre.

Now let’s Subtract the $750 he/she spent to plant the acre.

$756 – $750 =  $6/acre return on investment.

Remember: there are 1000 acres of corn,

This results in a mere $6,000 profit for the year.

As you can see there is income but isn’t enough to support the farm or the farm family, but, this is a real life situation.

So what financial effect did the reports initial reaction have on this farmer?

At the time of this screen shot the market price for corn was $3.85. So let’s calculate the farmers income.

190  x $3.85 = $731 income per acre.

Remember the farmer needed $750/acre income to turn a profit.

$750 – $731.50= $-18.5 per acre loss.

1000 acres x $-18.5 per acre income = $-18,500 loss for the year.

Harvesting Corn

Harvesting Corn

Sure the market moved only 13 pennies per bushel of corn but the result to the farmer was a $24,500 change in potential income and a $18,500 loss, all in a matter of minutes.

  I bet the pile of change you have in your cars cup holder looks a little different now!

Interested in watching how the market performs in the coming days?  You can watch the price of May Delivery Corn fluctuate by up to $0.40 per day by clicking here to visit the Chicago Mercantile Exchange website.