Farm Bill Seed Cotton and Hurricane Program Updates

Farm Bill Seed Cotton and Hurricane Program Updates

Cotton field with open white bolls

On September 7, 2018, courtesy of Clover Leaf and Sowega Cotton Gins, the Jackson County Extension Office hosted a two-hour meeting for cotton growers. Don Shurley Professor Emeritus of the University of Georgia and John VanSickle with the University of Florida shared pertinent information regarding risk management program decisions, and the upcoming deadlines for cotton growers. This meeting was also web broadcast via Zoom to participating Extension Offices across Florida’s Panhandle in order to increase the number of producers reached. The meeting was recorded live and the labelled presentations are available below for viewing along with their PDF versions.

The first hour consisted of Don Shurley giving an overview of the seed cotton program (specifically in terms of how it works and how prices and payments will be calculated) and then discussing the generic base conversion options.  The following was the recorded presentation explaining the Seed Cotton Program provided at this training.

Important date regarding the seed cotton program:
1. December 7, 2018 -enrollment deadline for seed cotton program and make base elections.

Seed Cotton Program Overview Handout used at the meeting
Printer friendly Seed Cotton Presentation
Seed Cotton Program Decision Aid spreadsheet mentioned in the presentation

Dr. Shurely also wrote an article on the Seed Cotton Program: Understanding Your Generic Base Conversion Options with the New Seed Cotton Program

After the farm bill update, Dr. Shurely also briefly covered the Market Facilitation Program (MFP) and what it entails.

Market Facilitation Program (MFP) Handout

During the second hour, John VanSickle discussed the Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program (WHIP). This program enables the USDA’s Farm Service Agency to make disaster payments to offset losses from hurricanes and wildfires during 2017. WHIP covers both the loss of the crop, tree, bush or vine as well as the loss in production.

Important dates regarding the WHIP program:
1. November 16, 2018- enrollment deadline.

WHIP Program Factsheet
Printer friendly WHIP Presentation

Cotton Marketing News: Pre-Harvest Outlook & Hurricane Florence Impacts

Cotton Marketing News: Pre-Harvest Outlook & Hurricane Florence Impacts

Don Shurley, Professor Emeritus of Cotton Economics

Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone, but especially for our fellow farmers and cotton producers in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia.

The very latest projected path of the storm (as of this morning), takes it along the North Carolina coast then inland across virtually all of South Carolina.  This storm is slow moving—meaning that it will dump a lot of rain, and there will be high winds for several days.


Accumulated rainfall from this storm is expected to total 12-18 inches or much more in some areas and accompanied by high winds.  Most areas, even if not in the most heavily impacted area, are expected to receive totals of 5-12 inches of rainfall.

It looks like Georgia may be fortunate to escape the brunt of any major impact on crop production:

I am relieved to say that with the current path of the storm, impacts on most of Georgia are now expected to be minimal. Eastern counties will still experience some wind gusts from the storm, which could cause isolated power outages, but they are expected to be less than 40 mph. Rainfall will be confined to the northeastern part of the state and should amount to less than two inches in all. The rest of the state should see no rain at all from the storm, which is not good for areas that are currently suffering from dry conditions. The southern half of Georgia should not experience any significant impacts from the storm, and northern Georgia’s impacts will be small and limited in space and time.”   Pam Knox, UGA Agricultural Climatologist.  September 14, 2018

North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia were forecasted to produce a total of 1.58 million bales of cotton this year.  Recognizing the location of most cotton production in these states (based on 2017 county production), it appears that South Carolina cotton will be subject to heavy rainfall as well as North Carolina.  Virginia will receive less and east Georgia mostly 1-2 inches or less.


As we experienced with Irma here in Georgia last year, the damage from sustained high wind can be significant—resulting not only in lost lint from open bolls, but also twisted and lodged plants difficult to harvest.  As of Sept 9, the NC crop was 43% open, SC 28%, and VA 37%.

Market Update

The visions of a return to 90-cent cotton appear to be fading.  The good news is that the market is clearly showing signs of good support at roughly 82 cents.  Support is a good thing; but prices (Dec futures) have struggled to clear a hurdle at 85 cents—we’ll first have to clear 85, if we hope to reach 90.  Producers looking for an opportunity to add on to earlier sales, support is good but a rally is even better.


USDA’s September estimates raised the US crop to 19.68 million bales—440,000 bales higher than the August estimate.  The 2018 forecast yield was lowered just a bit, but acres planted was raised 520,000 acres.

The US crop is still a big unknown.  This is one thing giving us support.  Texas, as of Sept 9, is 62% poor to very poor condition.  The September USDA numbers lowered the Texas state average yield to a projected 694 lbs/acre—down from 726, but added roughly 200,00 more acres to be harvested.

US exports projected for the 2018 crop year were raised 200,000 bales from 15.5 million bales to 15.7 million.  World demand is strong but there is some skepticism within industry about whether or not USDA is over-reaching a bit on its export number.  2017 crop year exports were 15.85 million bales.

Compared to the August estimates, China’s production for this season was raised 1 million bales; India production was unchanged; Australia production was cut 550,000 bales and Brazil raised ½ million bales; Chinese imports and use were unchanged; Bangladesh and Vietnam imports were unchanged.

Although prices appear to have good support, producers should be 50% sold or better at this point.  The current level of prices (in the 82 cent neighborhood) is disappointing compared to where we have been.  But if you’re not already at the 50% level, you also need to think about guarding against this market going to less than 80 cents and you being at-risk with most of your crop.

On the other hand, if you are already 50% or more priced, rallies to the 85 cent area could be a good opportunity to add further to sales—unless you want to take the risk of holding out for 85 to 90—but then realizing  you’re also taking the risk that the current level of support will hold.

 

 

 

Friday Feature:  Weed-Killing Robots

Friday Feature: Weed-Killing Robots

This week’s featured video was produced by ecoRobotix to show how their autonomous robots control weeds in crop fields with micro-doses of herbicides.  Their self-propelled robots are solar powered, and use a plant-recognition camera to guide targeted, and precise applications of herbicides to the weeds detected amongst the crop plants. Thanks to Dr. Pete Vergot for sending in this video to be shared.

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If you enjoyed this video, you might want to check out the featured videos from previous weeks:  Friday Features

If you come across an interesting or humorous video, or a new product innovation related to agriculture, please send in a link, so we can share it with our readers. Send video links to:  Doug Mayo

 

Pest Identification is Essential and Sometimes Surprising

Pest Identification is Essential and Sometimes Surprising

Throughout my 22 year history as an Extension Agent, I have been the first responder for all sorts of strange things farmers, ranchers, and landowners encounter.  This is one of the critical roles county agents play all over the country.  If you see something odd or unusual, whether it is a new weed, insect or disease, your county agent should be one of the first people you contact to get information.  It is very possible that if you find something you have never seen before, others may not have not seen it either.  County agents are connected to a vast network of experts and identification labs that can help figure out what those strange new things are. Because of the ports, huge numbers of visitors, and tropical storms, new pests and diseases show up in Florida on a regular basis.  It is very important to have new pests identified, before they have the opportunity to spread.

Most of the time the plants, bugs, and diseases agents have identified by experts are harmful in some way to the crops we grow.  Whether it is toxic weeds in pastures, insects feeding on plants, or diseases in crops, the first thing you need to know is, “What is it?” Once the issue is identified, most of the time there are some type of control options available.  Sometimes, however, things are not at all what you expect.  Such was the case this summer as four types of plant pests were identified that turned out to be harmless, and in some cases were actually beneficial.

Specimen #1

Aschersonia aleyrodis on Satsuma is a fungus that feeds on whitefly nymphs. Photo credit: Doug Mayo, UF/IFAS

A citrus grower thought that his satsuma trees were under serious attack.  White flies were already an issue as noted by the sooty mold growing on the leaves, and then this terrible scale that he had never seen was all over the undersides of the leaves of the trees.  While from a distance this looks much like a harmful scale insect, it turned out to be a beneficial fungus that destroys whitefly nymphs!

Dr. Xavier Martini, UF/IFAS Entomologist in Quincy shared the following information:

What you have is not scale, it is citrus whitefly nymphs that have been attacked by an entomopathogenic fungi called Aschersonia aleyrodis. It is very good to have this fungus, because it helps control the whitefly population.

You can read about this in the Featured Creature article entitled: Citrus WhiteflyScroll down to the section called: Parasitic fungi for more details.

Aschersonia aleyrodis fungus on the underside of a satsuma leaf looks terrible, but it was actually making a bad situation better by reducing the whitefly population on young satsuma trees. Photo credit: Doug Mayo, UF/IFAS.

Specimen #2

The beneficial fungus Beauveria bassiana is a natural enemy of kudzu bugs on soybeans. Photo credit: Doug Mayo, UF/IFAS.

A soybean grower saw something he had never noticed before.  A white mold was growing in spots all over the stems of soybean plants in a field.  This is where you have to be careful.  Soybeans can get white mold, which is caused by the fungus Sclerotinia sclerotiorum.  If you do a google search for Soybean white mold, you will find pictures that look somewhat similar.  Upon closer inspection, at the NFREC Plant Pathology Lab, in Quincy,  the fungus was actually Beauveria bassiana which is a biological control of kudzu bugs.  The white spots in the photos are actually dead or dying kudzu bugs, and the fungus was growing on the insects, not the soybean stalks.  You can read more about this beneficial fungus at: Kudzu bugs’ decline is attributed to two factors.

The white spots are beneficial fungus Beauveria bassiana that are attacking kudzu bugs not the soybean stalks. Photo credit: Doug Mayo, UF/IFAS

Specimen #3

Slime mold found growing on a centipede lawn. Photo credit: Doug Mayo, UF/IFAS

A landowner noticed this really strange growth on her centipede lawn.  It looks hideous and destructive.  In truth, it was a relatively harmless plasmodial slime mold, named Fuligo septica.

Larry Williams, UF/IFAS Okaloosa Horticulture Agent shared the following information:

Slime molds mostly function as saprophytes, feeding on and breaking down organic matter. It should not cause any permanent problems or major damage to the lawn. One such slime mold is commonly referred to as “dog vomit” slime mold.

Here is a link to an article on slime molds that pop up on lawns, in mulch, and damp areas under trees with high organic matter: Those Mysterious Molds

Slime mold growing on the moist organic matter in a Jackson County Lawn. Photo credit: Doug Mayo, UF/IFAS.

Oklahoma State University’s diagnostic labs had gotten so may calls from concerned homeowners that they developed a YouTube video on slime molds:

Specimen 4

Harmless slime mold growing on centipede lawn after multiple rainy days. Photo credit: Doug Mayo

A similar scenario was seen on a centipede lawn at a county building in Jackson County.  This slime mold is commonly found on lawns and pasture grasses during extended rainy periods in Florida. While it looks like a serious disease, it is really just another plasmodium species that feeds on decaying organic matter.  As with the large slime mold in specimen 3, what you are seeing is actually the spore masses that will generate more slime molds when conditions are favorable again for growth.  You can knock these off with a garden hose, if you want to, but they disappear almost as fast as they form.  No real harm is done to the grass that is just serving as a platform for slime mold reproduction.

Read more about it in this article written by Matt Orwatt, UF/IFAS Washington Horticulture Agent: Frequent Rains Induce Slime Mold in Panhandle Lawns

Summary

Most of the time, when you see something that does not look normal it is a bad thing, such as weeds, fungal diseases, or damaging insects. But before you spend money on a control, it is really important to have a positive identification of the pest.  Not everything unusual is harmful.  Modern pesticides have become very target specific, so it is vital to first find out what this new thing is before you spend money trying to control it.  So the next time you see something alarming or strange in your crop, pasture, or landscape, contact your local county agent, so you can find out for certain what you are dealing with, and get some science-based advice on a plan of action, if one is needed.

2018 Sunbelt Ag Expo Offers Innovation, Technology, & Education – October 16-18

2018 Sunbelt Ag Expo Offers Innovation, Technology, & Education – October 16-18

 

When you visit the Sunbelt Ag Expo in October, make sure you visit the UF/IFAS Barn to visit with members of the Panhandle Ag Team about services available from the Extension Service for farmers, and enjoy some free orange juice and peanuts while you are there.

Becca Turner, Sunbelt Ag Expo

The Sunbelt Agricultural Exposition will celebrate its 41st Anniversary show October 16-18, 2018. Over 1,200 exhibitors will display and demonstrate products and welcome thousands of visitors to the 100 acre show site.

Crowned as North America’s Premier Farm Show ® and the largest Farm Show in America with field demonstrations, the Sunbelt Ag Expo brings together all segments of agribusiness including farmers, educators, policy-makers, ag-enthusiasts and families.  All attending the show will see the latest innovation and technology that the agriculture industry has to offer.

Education is the key component of the show with over 300 seminars and demonstrations offered over the 3-day event.  These seminars and demonstrations are taught in exhibit areas for beef, dairy, poultry, forestry, pond management, equine and cattle management.  Farmers and ranchers attending gain beneficial knowledge on the latest in cutting edge techniques from industry leaders and university specialists.  The Expo works with 21 different education sponsors to host a strong seminar and demo schedule.  These education sponsors include major universities and colleges with six of these having permanent exhibit buildings on-site.   New this year, the Expo will feature Youth Educational Challenges for 6th-12th graders as a competitive and fun opportunity for students to demonstrate their knowledge in six different content areas.

The Hoss Tools Sustainable Living Center focuses on topics for the specialty gardener. If you are interested in learning how to garden year round, visit this section.  Greg Key, owner of Hoss Tools will offer a bounty of information on gardening tips, tools and more in the demonstration garden.

A crowd pleaser is the 600-acre research farm’s field demonstrations. These demos showcase harvesting and tillage equipment for cotton, peanuts, corn, soybeans and hay. As in the past, cotton will be harvested during the show!  In addition, hay demos will include all facets of hay harvesting from cutting to baling and will provide visitors the opportunity to see 80 different types of hay harvesting equipment run in a true farm setting.

Expo is honored to have Kentucky as the 2018 Spotlight State. The Kentucky Spotlight State Committee has put together an all-encompassing exhibit themed “Kentucky Start to finish: Pioneering Innovation.”  The exhibit will also feature a special section on Agricultural Safety, including seminars and demonstrations.

There’s never a dull moment during the 3-day show and attendees will find there is something for the entire family.  There is a daily rolling Antique Tractor Parade, the American Grand Finals Stock Dog Trials (the largest field of competition in recent Expo history), and even a Cow Milking Contest. Add in rural lifestyle fun, truck, tractor and ATV test drives, and the venue is perfect for rural enthusiasts.

Chip Blalock, Show Director, says, “The Sunbelt Expo is an unbelievable showcase of rural living blanketed with agriculture’s newest ideas and technologies. Its 3-days of fun, education and dreaming about agriculture’s future as we team together to feed, clothe and house a growing population around the world.”

The Sunbelt Ag Expo is open Tuesday through Thursday, October 16-18, from 8:30 AM to 5:00 (T,W) and 4:00 (Th).  Admission at the gate is $10 per person per day. Advanced and discount tickets can be purchased online.  The Show site is four miles southeast of Moultrie, GA on Hwy 133. For more information, go to the show website at www.sunbeltexpo.com.

Friday Feature:  Highlights from the 2018 UF/IFAS Peanut Field Day

Friday Feature: Highlights from the 2018 UF/IFAS Peanut Field Day

This week’s featured video was produced by the Panhandle Ag Extension Team to share the most important points made by the six speakers at the 2018 Peanut Field Day.  The event was held August 23, 2018 near Marianna at the North Florida Research and Education Center.  Topics discussed at the Field Day included: new peanut varieties, managing insects, fungal diseases, and weeds in peanut fields, the fertilizer value of peanut vines for the ensuing cover crop, and the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program being offered to farmers by USDA’s Farm Service Agency.

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If you enjoyed this video, you might want to check out the featured videos from previous weeks:  Friday Features

If you come across an interesting or humorous video, or a new product innovation related to agriculture, please send in a link, so we can share it with our readers. Send video links to:  Doug Mayo