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Follow the Fields Tour

Updated September 21, 2020
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Anthony Bly

SDSU Extension Soils Field Specialist

Additional Authors: Jack Davis

September 21, 2020

wo photos of corn field progress as of September 21, 2020. The left shows a row of corn in the R6 growth stage. The right shows a hand holding a corn kernel that's near maturity.
Figure 1. Corn field progress as of September 21, 2020.

Crop Progress

Corn

  • Growth Stage: R6 growth stage (Figure 1)
  • Agronomic notes:
    • Corn is very close to full maturity. 
    • Black layer is forming, partly because of normal plant maturity but also drought stress.
    • Yield has definitely been limited by drought stress with only around 14 inches of precipitation recorded near this field since January 1.

 

    Two photos of field progress as of September 21, 2020. The first is labeled “A” and shows a winter wheat field that has been harvested with cover crops seeded. The second is labeled “B” and shows an oats field that has been harvested with cover crops growing in it.
    Figure 2. (A) Winter wheat and (B) oats field progress as of September 21, 2020.

    Winter Wheat

    • Growth Stage: Harvested (Figure 2-A)
    • Agronomic notes:
      • A cover crop of multi-species was planted.
      • Cover crop is growing. Cover crop is growing without much precipitation in this field. 
      • Cool temperatures will greatly slow the growth of the warm-season species. Warm-season species are doing better than expected because of above normal temperatures.

    Oats

    • Growth Stage: Harvest, cover crop seeded (Figure 2-B)
    • Agronomic notes:
      • Cover crops are just beginning to grow well in the field.
      • Cover crop mix is predominately brassica.

     

      Two photos of soybean field progress as of September 21, 2020. The left shows a soybean field in the R8 growth stage. The right shows three soybean pods very close to full maturity.
      Figure 3. Soybean field progress as of September 21, 2020.

      Soybeans

      • Growth Stage: R8 stage (Figure 3)
      • Agronomic notes:
        • Very close to full maturity.
        • Plant dry down has begun.

      September 7, 2020

      Two photos of corn progress as of September 7, 2020. The first shows a field in the R5 growth stage. The second shows an ear split in half.
      Figure 1. Corn growth progress as of September 7, 2020.

      Crop Progress

      Corn

      • Growth Stage: R5 growth stage (Figure 1)
      • Agronomic notes:
        • Corn is just a few days away from maturity.
        • Milk line is ¼-1/3 up from the kernel tip. 
        • Drought conditions have probably reduced yield from highest potential, but still looks like a good yield.
        Photo of winter wheat progress as of September 7, 2020. The wheat has been harvested, and cover crops are growing throughout.
        Figure 2. Winter wheat field progress as of September 7, 2020.

        Winter Wheat

        • Growth Stage: Harvested (Figure 2)
        • Agronomic notes:
          • A cover crop of multi-species was planted.
          • Cover crop is growing.
          • Cover crop is growing without much precipitation in this field. 
          • Cool temperatures will greatly slow the growth of the warm season species.
          Two photos of field progress as of September 7, 2020. The first is labeled “A” and shows an oats field that has been harvested with cover crops seeded. The second is labeled “B” and shows soybeans in the R7 growth stage.
          Figure 3. (A) Oats field progress and (B) soybean field progress as of September 7, 2020.

          Oats

          • Growth Stage: Harvest, cover crop seeded (Figure 3-A)
          • Agronomic notes: Cover crops are just beginning to grow well in the field.

          Soybeans

          • Growth Stage: R7 stage (Figure 3-B)
          • Agronomic notes:
            • Nearing maturity.
            • Probably safe from frost/freeze.
            • R7 Growth stage, at least one mature pod on each plant.

          August 31, 2020

          Two photos of corn. The first shows an ear on a corn plant in the R-5 growth stage. The second shows a cob split in half to show its growth progress.
          Figure 1. Corn growth progress as of August 31, 2020.

          Crop Progress

          Corn

          • Growth Stage: R5 stage (Figure 1)
          • Agronomic notes:
            • Corn is fully dented. Severe stress can continue to limit kernel dry weight accumulation. A distinct horizontal line appears near the dent end of the kernel and slowly progresses to the tip end of the kernel over the next 3 weeks or so. This line is called the 'milk line' and marks the boundary between the liquid (milky) and solid (starchy) areas of the maturing kernels. Severe stress can continue to limit kernel dry weight accumulation. Kernel moisture content at the beginning of the dent stage is approximately 55 percent. Drought conditions can reduce yield at this stage of growth.
            Two photos of field progress as of August 31, 2020. The first is labeled “A” and shows a winter wheat field in the harvested stage. The second is labeled “B” and shows an oats field with oats in the harvested stage.
            Figure 2. (A) Winter wheat and (B) oats field progress progress as of August 31, 2020.

            Winter Wheat

            • Growth Stage: Harvested (Figure 2-A)
            • Agronomic notes: Cover crop mix is up and growing protecting the soil and adding diversity.

            Oats

            • Growth Stage: Harvested (Figure 2-B)
            • Agronomic notes: Oats harvested, yield 80 to 85 bushel, test weight 36-37 pounds per bushel, moisture 11.5 to 12.5%.  Cool season cover crop mix was planted.
              Three photos of soybean field progress as of August 31, 2020. From left: A soybean field. A single soybean plant pulled to show length. Three soybean pods.
              Figure 3. Soybean field progress as of August 31, 2020.

              Soybeans

              • Growth Stage: R6 stage (Figure 3)
              • Agronomic notes:
                • The seeds are filling the pods at this stage.  Seed growth is rapid. Leaves on the lowest nodes are starting to yellow .Soybean field received rain this week. They did notice some pods had given up during the past couple weeks of heat. Still looking pretty good in this field.
                • Stress at this stage can reduce pod numbers, the number of beans/ pod, seed size, and yield potential.

              Financial Update

              South Dakota producers will soon be planting winter wheat for harvest in 2021. A general crop budget for winter wheat is below. Small grains add diversity to the rotation, enhance the ability to use cover crops, break up resistance and pest trends of two crop rotations or continuous planting.

              Table 1. Sample winter wheat budget for 2021.

              Gross revenue
              Estimated Yield, bu., cwt., ton 80
              Estimated selling price per bu., cwt., ton $4.50
              Value per acre $360.00
              Other income per acre -
              Gross Revenue per acre $360.00
              Direct Costs per acre
              Seed $9.00
              Fertilizer $94.00
              Pesticides $24.00
              Crop Insurance $17.00
              Fuel & Oil $13.00
              Repairs $13.00
              Custom hire $42.00
              Drying -
              Operating Interest $7.00
              Other variable costs -
              Total direct costs per acre $219.00
              Return over direct cost per acre $141.00
              Total Direct costs per bu., cwt., ton $2.74
              Machinery (Ownership Costs) $32.00
              Management Charge $41.00
              Total cost per acre before land charge $292.00
              Total cost per bu., cwt. ton before land charge $3.66
              Return to land $68.00

              August 21, 2020

              Two photos of field progress as of August 24, 2020. The first is labeled “A” and shows a cornfield with corn in the R5 growth stage. The second is labeled “B” and shows a winter wheat field in the harvested stage.
              Figure 1. (A) Corn field progress and (B) winter wheat field progress as of August 24, 2020.

              Crop Progress

              Corn

              • Growth Stage: R5 stage (Figure 1-A)
              • Agronomic notes:
                • Corn is denting.
                • Drought conditions can reduce yield at this stage of growth.
                • Corn needs rain to help grow the 2020 crop.

              Winter Wheat

              • Growth Stage: Harvested (Figure 1-B)
              • Agronomic notes: Cover crop mix is up and growing, protecting the soil and adding diversity.
              Two photos of field progress as of August 24, 2020. The first is labeled “A” and shows an oats field with oats in the harvested stage. The second is labeled “B” and shows soybeans in the R5 growth stage.
              Figure 2. (A) Oats field progress and (B) soybean field progress as of August 24, 2020.

              Oats

              • Growth Stage: Harvested (Figure 2-A)
              • Agronomic notes:
                • Oats harvested, yield 80 to 85-bushel, test weight 36-37 pounds per bushel, moisture 11.5 to 12.5%.
                • Cool season cover crop mix was planted.

              Soybeans

              • Growth Stage: R5 stage (Figure 2-B)
              • Agronomic notes:
                • The seeds are filling the pods at this stage. Although doing well soybeans could use a rain to help fill out the soybeans. Heat stress this week may take off the top end yield for this field.
                • Stress at this stage can reduce pod numbers, the number of beans/pod, seed size, and yield potential. Plants are at their maximum height, node number, and leaf area.

              Financial Update

              RMA approves early harvest of prevent plant acres.

              A change in prevent plant acre early harvest was recently provided by Risk Management Agency (RMA) for some counties in South Dakota. The counties approved for grazing or haying as of September 1st 2020 in South Dakota are Beadle, Brown, Brule, Campbell, Clark, Codington, Day, Edmunds, Faulk, Hand, Hanson, Hyde, McPherson, Marshall, Potter, Roberts, Sanborn, Spink, and Walworth.

              August 14, 2020

              Two photos of field progress as of August 14, 2020. The first is labeled “A” and shows a cornfield with corn in the R4 growth stage. The second is labeled “B” and shows a winter wheat field in the harvested stage.
              Figure 1. (A) Corn field progress and (B) winter wheat field progress as of August 14, 2020.

              Crop Progress

              Corn

              • Growth Stage:  R4 stage (Figure 1-A)
              • Agronomic notes:
                • Corn is entering dent stage (seen at tip). 
                • Drought conditions can reduce yield at this stage of growth.
                • Corn needs rain to help grow the 2020 crop.
                • The majority of the stalks have two ears, but second ear is reducing in size.

              Winter Wheat

              • Growth Stage: Harvested (Figure 1-B)
              • Agronomic notes:
                • A cover crop of multi-species was planted. Cover crop is growing.
                • Only .76 inches of rain since planting.
                • Warm-season cover crop species are growing the quickest with some cool-seasons doing very well.
              Two photos of field progress as of August 14, 2020. The first is labeled “A” and shows an oats field with oats in the mature/partially harvested stage. The second is labeled “B” and shows soybeans in the R4-R5 growth stage.
              Figure 2. (A) Oats field progress and (B) soybean field progress as of August 14, 2020.

              Oats

              • Growth Stage: Mature/partially harvested (Figure 2-A)
              • Agronomic notes:
                • Oats are in middle of harvesting.
                • Humid weather is causing dry-down problems, but progress is happening.
                • Wait for yield report, test weight is from 36-37 lbs/bu.

              Soybeans

              • Growth Stage: R4-R5 stage (Figure 2-B)
              • Agronomic notes:
                • Pods are filling and new pods forming on top of plant.
                • Good precipitation has been received.

              Cover Crop Considerations

              Reasons For:

              • Improve soil aggregation, structure and macro-pores enabling stronger air and water exchange.
              • Recycle inorganic nutrients to organic forms thus preventing losses out of the root zone and field.
              • Alleviate soil compaction and increase weight bearing strength of the soil.
              • Capture sunlight and use excess water to increase soil carbon.
              • Livestock forage.
              • Protect soil surface – amour preventing water and wind erosion.
              • Provide living root for improved soil microbe activity resulting in soil aggregate and structure formation.
              • Moderates soil temperatures.
              • Excellent soil water management tool.

              Management Suggestions

              There is no standard cover crop mix that can be recommended to all producers, as each grower has unique circumstances with different production environments, soil types, management techniques and goals. Consider the following management suggestions.

              • Goal: Always begin with the end in mind. Soil health, weed suppression, nutrient capture, soil moisture management and grazing may all be common reasons to plant a cover crop. Focus on your own objectives when creating a cover crop plan. The SD Cover Crop Poster shows each species purpose, seeding rates and planting depths.
              • Crop rotation: Consider the previous and future crops; it is generally recommended to plant cover crops of diverse growth habits in regard to the following cash crop, i.e., primarily broadleaves prior to grass cash crops, and vice versa.
              • Herbicide history: Consider your crop rotation and livestock forage restrictions of herbicides previously applied; this includes herbicides applied before and after the cover crops this season as well as the previous season. 
              • Insurance and Farm Service Agency (FSA) Guidelines: Be sure to check with your insurance agent and FSA representative on all details regarding the seeding of your cover crop. Frequently asked questions and answers regarding insurance can be found on the Risk Management Agency (RMA) website.
              • Seed availability and price: Planning ahead and locating your cover crop seed ahead of time is a good idea. While selecting your cover crop species, consider getting the price sheets so you can know how much your blend will cost. Making your own blend and experimenting from year to year is a good approach to designing the blend that is best for you. Although most producers want to keep costs low, do remember that forage crops and/or improved soil health does come at a price, and some investment will be necessary.
              • Termination:
                • Many annual cover crops will winter kill, however winter annuals, such as cereal rye, winter wheat, and triticale do not.
                • Other species have hard seed that can stay dormant for a prolonged period, such as some ryegrass, vetch, clovers and brassicas.
                • This does not eliminate these crops as an option; it simply requires prompt spring attention and management, as these crops may be of great value to utilize excess moisture in a potentially wet spring, provide soil surface cover for weed control or build soil nitrogen for successive crops.
              • Weed Control:
                • Diverse species cover crop mixes make it nearly impossible to chemically control weeds during the growth of the cover crop.
                • If a mix is well-planned and grown under ideal growing conditions, weed competition is not typically an issue. However, if a particular weed is of concern, this should be considered before selecting cover crops.
                • Cereal rye (a winter annual) is known for its inherent allelopathic characteristics, which is the ability to suppress weeds by the production of a biological chemical substrates that are harmful to other surrounding plant species.
                • Other grasses as well as sprawling or ground covering broadleaf crops (such as vetches, or radish and turnip) can aid in weed suppression by keeping soils covered.

              August 7, 2020

              Two photos of field progress as of August 7, 2020. The first is labeled “A” and shows a cornfield with corn in the R3 growth stage. The second is labeled “B” and shows a winter wheat field in the harvested stage.
              Figure 1. (A) Corn field progress and (B) winter wheat field progress as of August 7, 2020.

              Crop Progress

              Corn

              • Growth Stage: R3 stage (Figure 1-A)
              • Agronomic notes:
                • Corn is blistering.
                • Drought conditions can reduce yield at this stage of growth.
                • Corn needs rain to help grow the 2020 crop.
                • The majority of the stalks have two ears.

              Winter Wheat

              • Growth Stage: Harvested (Figure 1-B)
              • Agronomic notes: A cover crop of multi-species was planted. Pictures of cover crops next week.
              Two photos of field progress as of August 7, 2020. The first is labeled “A” and shows an oats field with oats in the mature stage. The second is labeled “B” and shows soybeans in the R3 growth stage.
              Figure 2. (A) Oats field progress and (B) soybean field progress as of August 7, 2020.

              Oats

              • Growth Stage: Mature (Figure 2-A)
              • Agronomic notes: Took a sample from the field, waiting to dry down a little more.

              Soybeans

              • Growth Stage: R3 stage (Figure 2-B)
              • Agronomic notes: Pods forming up on plant.

               

              Financial Update

              Below is a check list of suggestions to improve cash flow and bottom line.

              • Know your numbers.
                •  Understand what is making you money and what is not.
                  • Know cost of production and contribution margin by enterprise
                • Compare your financial ratios and expenses.
                  • Internal comparison of 5 to 7 key ratios.
                  • Develop 3 to 5 year trend for these ratios.
                  • Compare to FINBIN database at CFFM University of Minnesota or similar group.
              • Sensitivity and scenarios analysis.
                • Know how changes in the following affect profit and cash flow.
                  • Price
                  • Production
                  • Costs
                • Develop scenarios and test cash flow.
              • Develop an advisor team.
                • Conservation consultant.
                • Financial advisor.
                • Livestock or crop consultant.
                • Meet 2 to 4 times per year.
              • Projected cash flow.
                • Develop cash flow.
                • Review actuals to budgeted.
                • Semi-annual, quarterly or monthly.
              • Partake in continuing education.
                • Attend 3 to 5 programs per year.
                • Develop schedule for employees to attend.

              July 31, 2020

              Two photos of field progress as of July 31, 2020. The first is labeled “A” and shows a cornfield with corn in the R2 reproductive growth stage. The second is labeled “B” and shows a winter wheat field in the harvested stage.
              Figure 1. (A) Corn field progress and (B) winter wheat field progress as of July 31, 2020.

              Crop Progress

              Corn

              • Growth Stage: R2 Reproductive (Figure 2-A)
              • Agronomic notes:
                • Corn is blistering.
                • Drought conditions can reduce yield at this stage of growth.
                • Corn needs rain to help grow the 2020 crop.
                • The majority of the stalks have two ears.

              Winter Wheat

              • Growth Stage:  Harvested (Figure 1-B)
              • Agronomic notes:
                • The wheat was harvested 60 to 65 bushel per acre at 14.2% moisture, crop is stored until sale.
                • A cover crop of multi-species was planted.
                • The weed pressure was not enough to justify spraying.
                Two photos of field progress as of July 31, 2020. The first is labeled “A” and shows an oats field with oats in the approaching maturity stage. The second is labeled “B” and shows soybeans in the R2+ reproductive stage.
                Figure 2. (A) Oats field progress and (B) soybean field progress as of July 31, 2020.

                Oats

                • Growth Stage: Approaching maturity (Figure 2-A)
                • Agronomic notes: Harvest will take place late this week or early next week.

                Soybeans

                • Growth Stage:  R2 + reproductive stage (Figure 2-B)
                • Agronomic notes: Pods forming up on plant.
                A line graph depicting the total liabilities per acre in SD, ND, NE, and MN. 1-k to 2-k acres. For a complete description, call SDSU Extension at 605-688-6729.
                Figure 3. Total Liabilities by income level in SD, ND, NE, MN; 1k to 2k Acres. Source: SDSU Extension, FINBIN UMN

                Financial Review

                This week we will look at solvency and how total debt levels have changed for the lower income level and upper income level of farms with data in the FINBIN database. Solvency is a measure of total debt to total assets for the farm.

                Debt to Asset Ratio

                One ratio that is used to track solvency is the debt to asset ratio calculated as total debt divided by total assets for the farm business. Figure 3 shows how total liabilities have changed over the last ten years.

                The two levels of income have had an increase in total liabilities over this time period. Additional measures are to compare total debt to asset values and to cash flow, as shown in Figure 4 and Figure 5 respectively.

                A line graph depicting the debt to asset ratio in SD, ND, NE, and MN. 1-k to 2-k acres. For a complete description, call SDSU Extension at 605-688-6729.
                Figure 4. Debt to asset ratio in SD, ND, NE, MN; 1k to 2k Acres. Source: SDSU Extension, FINBIN UMN

                A low debt to asset ratio is an indication of a strong balance sheet position, allowing some protection and additional borrowing capacity when margins are stressed. The lower this ratio the stronger the financial position. A comfortable level is 30% or less, 35 to 45% is a caution area, and above 50% is approaching the troublesome level.

                EBITDA

                EBITDA is a measure of cash flow and stands for earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization. It is calculated by taking net income and adding back interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization that were deducted to attain net income.

                EBITDA is the cash funds that can be used to reinvest in assets, pay taxes, interest, principal and dividends. 

                A line graph depicting debt to EBITDA in SD, ND, NE, and MN. 1-k to 2-k acres. For a complete description, call SDSU Extension at 605-688-6729.
                Figure 5. Total debt to EBITDA in SD, ND, NE, MN; 1k to 2k Acres. Source: SDSU Extension, FINBIN UMN

                Total debt / EBITDA is a more preemptive measure of leverage than Total Debt / Assets which is backwards looking. Total debt / EBITDA will show signs of financial stress before the Total debt to total assets will. A lack of cash flow compared to debt levels leads to an inability to service debt if this happens industry wide devaluation and deleveraging will occur as in the 1980’s agriculture financial crisis.

                As a guide the total debt / EBITDA is best if below 3, allowing the business to service debt and meet additional cash flow uses. Even the upper income level of the data set crossed above 3 in 2014 as a reflection of lower margins and continued use of debt.

                The method to fix this is to increase cash flow and slow the use of debt, which is not easy with current tight margins. This is done with improved efficiencies, enhanced financial management, and superior utilization of assets, and additional measures that will all result in more cash flow.

                July 24, 2020

                Two photos of field progress as of July 24, 2020. The first is labeled “A” and shows a cornfield with corn in the R1 growth stage. The second is labeled “B” and shows a winter wheat field in the harvested stage.
                Figure 1. (A) Corn field progress and (B) winter wheat field progress as of July 24, 2020.

                Crop Progress

                Corn

                • Growth Stage: R1 growth stage (Figure 1-A)
                • Agronomic notes:
                  • Corn needs rain to help grow the 2020 crop.
                  • The majority of the stalks have two ears.

                Winter Wheat

                • Growth Stage:  Harvested (Figure 1-B)
                • Agronomic notes:
                  • The wheat was harvested 60 to 65 bushel per acre at 14.2% moisture, crop is stored until sale.
                  • A cover crop of multi-species was planted.
                  • The weed pressure was not enough to justify spraying.
                Two photos of field progress as of July 24, 2020. The first is labeled “A” and shows an oats field with oats in the approaching maturity stage. The second is labeled “B” and shows soybeans in the R2+ stage.
                Figure 2. (A) Oats field progress and (B) soybean field progress as of July 24, 2020.

                Oats

                • Growth Stage: Approaching maturity (Figure 2-A)
                • Agronomic notes: Watching for maturity and timing of harvest.

                Soybeans

                • Growth Stage: R2 + growth stage (Figure 2-B)
                • Agronomic notes:
                  • Received timely rains, some insect feeding only small amount.
                  • Pods forming  up on plant.

                July 17, 2020

                Two photos of field progress as of July 17, 2020. The first is labeled “A” and shows a cornfield with corn in the V13 growth stage. The second is labeled “B” and shows a winter wheat field in the Hard dough growth stage.
                Figure 1. (A) Corn field progress and (B) winter wheat field progress as of July 17, 2020.

                Crop Progress

                Corn

                • Growth Stage: V13 growth stage (Figure 1-A)
                • Agronomic notes:
                  • Rapid growth last week adding two leaves.
                  • Field only received 0.15 inches of rain.

                Winter Wheat

                • Growth Stage: 
                  • Hard dough growth stage. (Figure 1-B)
                  • Grain moisture 15%.
                • Agronomic notes:
                  • Wheat drying down.
                  • Some weeds coming under canopy (waterhemp).
                  • Need to burn down herbicide before seeding cover crop.
                Two photos of field progress as of July 17, 2020. The first is labeled “A” and shows an oats field with oats in the dough stage. The second is labeled “B” and shows soybeans in the R2 growth stage.
                Figure 2. (A) Oats field progress and (B) soybean field progress as of July 17, 2020.

                Oats

                • Growth Stage:  Dough stage (Figure 2-A)
                • Agronomic notes: Late-season heat may trim test weight.

                Soybeans

                • Growth Stage:
                  • R2 growth stage (Figure 2-B).
                  • Height = 30 inches.
                  • Pods developing on bottom of plant.
                • Agronomic notes: Field is set up for top yield. Just need to keep getting timely rains.

                July 10, 2020

                Two photos of field progress as of July 10, 2020. The first is labeled “A” and shows a cornfield with corn in the V11 growth stage. The second is labeled “B” and shows a winter wheat field in the soft/hard dough growth stage.
                Figure 1. (A) Corn field progress and (B) winter wheat field progress as of July 10, 2020.

                Crop Progress

                Corn

                • Growth Stage: V11 growth stage (Figure 1-A)
                • Agronomic notes:
                  • Rapid growth last week adding 2 leaves.
                  • Field received 2.4 inches of rain.

                Winter Wheat

                • Growth Stage: Soft/Hard dough growth stage (Figure 1-B)
                • Agronomic notes:
                  • Wheat ripening. Some heads still in soft dough stage.
                  • Most leaves dying back from late season bacterial blight.
                Two photos of field progress as of July 10, 2020. The first is labeled “A” and shows an oats field with oats in the milk/dough growth stage. The second is labeled “B” and shows soybeans in the R1 growth stage, with some pods developing on bottom of plant.
                Figure 2. (A) Oats field progress and (B) soybean field progress as of July 10, 2020.

                Oats

                • Growth Stage: Milk/dough growth stage (Figure 2-A)
                • Agronomic notes:
                  • Timely rains received.
                  • Looking for a good finish.

                Soybeans

                • Growth Stage:
                  • R1 growth stage, with some pods developing on bottom of plant (Figure 2-B)
                  • Height = 28-30 inches
                • Agronomic notes:
                  • Sprayed for weed and grasses during last week of June, received timely rains, doing well.
                  • Spray costs $26.75 /acre; Dicamba 22 oz., Acetochlor 48oz., Glyophosate 32 oz., Water conditioning .45 qt, drift retardant 6.4 oz., water 14.00 gal

                July 2, 2020

                Two photos of field progress as of July 2, 2020. The first is labeled “A” and shows a cornfield with corn in the V9 growth stage. The second is labeled “B” and shows a winter wheat field in the soft dough stage.
                Figure 1. (A) Corn field progress and (B) winter wheat field progress as of July 2, 2020.

                Crop Progress

                Corn

                • Growth Stage: V9 growth stage (Figure 1-A)
                • Agronomic notes:
                  • Some rain, growing well, will need timely moisture with anticipated heat and crop moisture requirements at this stage.
                  • Positive 2020 Planted Acreage report this week. Producers may want to consider OLD and NEW crop sales on a portion of the corn crop.
                  • Corn market rally in early July lasts on average 2 weeks due to weather, seasonal rally, and upcoming July WASDE report on July 10.

                Winter Wheat

                • Growth Stage: Soft dough growth stage (Figure 1-B)
                • Agronomic notes: Looking forward to wheat ripening.
                Two photos of field progress as of July 2, 2020. The first is labeled “A” and shows an oats field with oats in the early milk stage. The second is labeled “B” and shows soybeans in the R1 growth stage.
                Figure 2. (A) Oats field progress and (B) soybean field progress as of July 2, 2020.

                Oats

                • Growth Stage: Early milk growth stage (Figure 2-A)
                • Agronomic notes: Timely rains received. Looking for a good finish.

                Soybeans

                • Growth Stage: R1 growth stage (Figure 2-B)
                • Agronomic notes: Sprayed for weed and grasses, received timely rains, doing well.
                A line graph depicting the workin capital per acre in SD, ND, NE, and MN. 1-k to 2-k acres. For a complete description, call SDSU Extension at 605-688-6729.
                Figure 3. Working Capital per Acre SD, ND, NE, MN; 1k to 2k Acres. Source: SDSU Extension, FINBIN UMN.

                Financial Review

                Return to look at working capital:

                • Four state area SD, ND, NE, & MN
                • FINBIN, Center for Farm Management, UMN
                • 1,000 to 2,000 acres of cropland
                • Queried by net income
                  • Look at 20 to 40% level
                  • And 60 to 80% level

                The average for the upper income level for the time period of 2010 to 2014 is $471,000 and for the lower income level is $430,000. The lower income level’s working capital average for 2015 to 2019 decreased $213,000 to an average of $217,000. The upper level’s average working capital increased $31,000 to $502,000 for this time period.

                Current Assets

                Current assets are considered "liquid"—those that are cash or can be turned into cash promptly, including:

                • Checking and savings accounts, mutual funds.
                • Stored production, such as grain.
                • Feed on hand.
                • Growing crops.
                • Market livestock.
                • Paid-for, but not yet used inputs and other supplies.
                • Accounts receivable.

                Current Liabilities

                Current liabilities are those that are due right away, within the next 12 months, including:

                • Accounts payable for inputs.
                • Land rent.
                • Farm taxes.
                • Current notes and credit lines.
                • Accrued interest on operating or term loans.
                • Current portion of principal due in 12 months.
                • Credit card debt.

                    The change in average working capital 2010-14 versus 2015-19 for the upper income level was an increase of $31,000, the lower income level decreased $213,000.

                    The upper income level increased current assets $122,000 and current liabilities increased $91,000 for an increase of $31,000 between the time periods. This is due to higher profit levels, more inventory, better priced inventory, and reduction of debt or current liabilities.

                    The lower income level’s working capital decreased by $213,000, resulting in increased financial strain for the business and liquidity concerns on the ability to meet current obligations. This negative change was a result of a $77,000 decrease in current assets and a $136,000 increase in current liabilities. This is due to a combination of less profitability, less inventory, higher percentage of unpriced inventories, and increase in debt or current liabilities.

                    Working capital is the first line of defense for businesses. It aids in working through downturns in margins and allows those in strong positons to take advantage of opportunities that arise.

                    Enjoy the July 4th holiday!

                    June 26, 2020

                    Two photos of field progress as of June 26, 2020. The first is labeled “A” and shows a cornfield with corn in the 8-leaf stage. The second is labeled “B” and shows a winter wheat field in the late milk to early dough stage.
                    Figure 1. (A) Corn field progress and (B) winter wheat field progress as of June 26, 2020.

                    Crop Progress

                    Corn

                    • Growth Stage: 8-leaf stage (Figure 1-A)
                    • Agronomic notes: Corn has good green color. PSNT samples exceeded 25 ppm nitrate-N sufficiency level and therefore no sidedress N applied. Field sprayed with Mesotrione (3 oz/a) + Atrazine (16 oz/a) + AMS/NIS ($7.40/a).

                    Winter Wheat

                    • Growth Stage: Late milk to early dough stage (Figure 1-B)
                    • Agronomic notes: Good rains received. No fungicides applied. Scab threat is over because pollinations complete.
                    Two photos of field progress as of June 26, 2020. The first is labeled “A” and shows an oats field with oats in milk stage. The second is labeled “B” and shows soybeans in the R-1 growth stage.
                    Figure 2. (A) Oats field progress and (B) soybean field progress as of June 26, 2020.

                    Oats

                    • Growth Stage: Milk stage (Figure 2-A)
                    • Agronomic notes: Fungicide did not get sprayed because of pressure to spray corn and beans in the area.

                    Soybeans

                    • Growth Stage: R1
                    • Agronomic notes: Post emergence spray complete, but no details on compounds and cost.

                    Soil Series Review

                    Table 1. Corn field soil series.

                    Soil Series % Slope % of Field
                    MnB – Moody-Nora
                    2-6
                    75
                    Trent – Trent-Moody
                    0-2
                    15
                    NcC – Nora Crofton
                    6-9
                    10

                    Table 2. Wheat field soil series.

                    Soil Series % Slope % of Field
                    MnB – Moody-Nora
                    2-6
                    18
                    NcC – Nora-Crofton
                    6-9
                    8

                    Table 3. Oats field soil types.

                    Soil Series % Slope % of Field
                    ChB - Clarno-Bonilla loams
                    1-6
                    60
                    EeC – Ethan Clarno loams
                    6-9
                    36
                    TcA – Tetonka-Davison-Clarno
                    0-2
                    4

                    Table 4. Soybean field soil types.

                    Soil Series % Slope % of Field
                    AaA – Alwilda fine sandy loam
                    0-2
                    75
                    AaB – Alwilda fine sandy loam
                    2-6
                    19
                    Ab – Artesian-Farmsworth
                    0-2
                    3
                    Td – Tetonka fine sandy loam
                    0-2
                    2
                    A series of 5 photos depicting beneath-ground soil conditions from Trent, Moody, Clarno, Nora, and Ethan South Dakota. For a complete description of the soil, call SDSU Extension at 605-688-6729.
                    Figure 3. Soil series for Trent, Moody, Clarno, Nora, and Ethan.

                    June 19, 2020

                    Two photos of field progress as of June 19, 2020. The first is labeled “A” and shows a cornfield with corn in the 7-leaf stage. The second is labeled “B” and shows a winter wheat field with wheat filling the head.
                    Figure 1. (A) Corn field progress and (B) winter wheat field progress as of June 19, 2020.

                    Crop Progress

                    Corn

                    • Growth Stage: 7-leaf stage (Figure 1-A)
                    • Agronomic notes: Winds and temperatures very high that prevented spraying of Mesotrione and glyphosate.

                    Winter Wheat

                    • Growth Stage: Filling the head (Figure 1-B)
                    • Agronomic notes: Very hot temperatures probably hard on filling heads, but plenty of sub-soil moisture. No fungicides applied. Scab not a threat during pollination.
                    Two photos of field progress as of June 19, 2020. The first is labeled “A” and shows an oats field with oats in late boot to early heading stages . The second is labeled “B” and shows soybeans with in the third to forth tri-foliate stage, V3-V4.
                    Figure 2. (A) Oats field progress and (B) soybean field progress as of June 19, 2020.

                    Oats

                    • Growth Stage: Late boot to early heading stages (Figure 2-A)
                    • Agronomic notes: Producer will try to apply fungicide for crown rust control as soon as possible.

                    Soybeans

                    • Growth Stage: Third to forth tri-foliate, V3-V4 (Figure 2-B)
                    • Agronomic notes: Post emergence spray delayed because of high winds and temps.

                    June 11, 2020

                    Two photos of field progress as of June 11, 2020. The first is labeled “A” and shows a cornfield with corn in the 5-leaf stage. The second is labeled “B” and shows a winter wheat field with wheat just starting to head.
                    Figure 1. Figure 1. (A) Corn field progress and (B) winter wheat field progress as of June 11, 2020.

                    Crop Progress

                    Corn

                    • Growth Stage: 5-leaf stage (Figure 1-A)
                    • Agronomic notes: Waiting for 6-leaf to spray post-herbicide application. 1 inch of rain received. Will take soil samples (0-1 ft) for the Pre-Sidedress Nitrate Test from 3 management zones in the field.

                    Winter Wheat

                    • Growth Stage: Just starting to head (Figure 1-B)
                    • Agronomic notes: Pollinating, no significant leaf diseases, decision not to spray fungicide at this time. Head Scab tool indicates low to no chances of head scab.
                    Two photos of field progress as of June 11, 2020. The first is labeled “A” and shows an oats field with oats in the jointing growth stage, nearing flag leaf. The second is labeled “B” and shows soybeans with second trifoliate, third emerging.
                    Figure 2. (A) Oats field progress and (B) soybean field progress as of June 11, 2020.

                    Oats

                    • Growth Stage: Jointing growth stage, nearing flag leaf (Figure 2-A)
                    • Agronomic notes: No leaf diseases noted. Good rains received.

                    Soybeans

                    • Growth Stage: Second trifoliate, third emerging (Figure 2-B)
                    • Agronomic notes: Some grass weeds noted, no insect leaf feeding.

                    Financial Trends

                    Look at working capital.

                    • Four state area SD, ND, NE, & MN
                    • FINBIN, Center for Farm Management, UMN
                    • 1,000 to 2,000 acres of cropland
                    • Queried by net income
                      • Look at 20 to 40% level
                      • And 60 to 80% level
                    A line graph depicting Working Capital per Acre in SD, ND, NE, and MN. 1-k to 2-k acres. For a complete description, call SDSU Extension at 605-688-6729.
                    Figure 3. Working Capital per Acre SD, ND, NE, MN 1k to 2k Acres. Source: SDSU Extension, FINBIN UMN

                    Liquidity

                    Liquidity is a measure of business’s ability to cover:

                    • It’s immediate and short-term (i.e. due within one year) debts and obligations.
                    • Put another way, it's a way of describing how well you can cover your current liabilities using your current assets.

                    Liquidity:

                    • Helps business succeed during margin squeeze
                    • First defense in downturn
                    • Helps take advantage of opportunities
                    • CASH is BEST
                      • Revolving credit, line of credit, term loan, equity
                      • Expense reduction, salaries, cutbacks, capital expenditures
                    A line graph depicting Working capital to gross revenue in SD, ND, NE, and MN. 1-k to 2-k acres. For a complete description, call SDSU Extension at 605-688-6729.
                    Figure 4. Working capital to gross revenue SD, ND, NE, MN 1k to 2k Acres. Source: SDSU Extension, FINBIN UMN

                    Working Capital

                    One measure of liquidity is working capital. Working capital is defined as current assets minus current liabilities. It is often expressed as the following:

                    • $ amount per acre
                    • % of Gross Sales
                    • Single $ amount
                    • % of Total Expenses

                    The average for the upper income level for the time period of 2010 to 2014 is $471,000 and for the lower income level is $430,000. The lower income level’s working capital average for 2015 to 2019 decreased $213,000 to an average of $217,000. The upper level’s average working capital increased $31,000 to $502,000 for this time period.

                    Next week we will look at pre-sidedress nitrate test.

                    June 4, 2020

                    Two photos of field progress as of June 4, 2020. The first is labeled “A” and shows a cornfield with corn in the 3-leaf stage. The second is labeled “B” and shows a winter wheat field with wheat just starting to head.
                    Figure 1. (A) Corn field progress and (B) winter wheat field progress as of June 4, 2020.

                    Crop Progress

                    Corn

                    • Growth Stage: 3-leaf stage (Figure 1-A)
                    • Agronomic Notes: Waiting for 6-leaf to spray post herbicide application. Plants look heat stressed during 95+ degree afternoons.

                    Winter Wheat

                    • Growth Stage: Just starting to head (Figure 1-B)
                    • Agronomic Notes: No significant leaf diseases, decision not to spray fungicide at this time.
                    Two photos of field progress as of June 4, 2020. The first is labeled “A” and shows an oats field with oats in the jointing growth stage. The second is labeled “B” and shows a soybeans with the first trifoliate emerging.
                    Figure 2. (A) Oats field progress and (B) soybean field progress as of June 4, 2020.

                    Oats

                    • Growth Stage: Jointing growth stage (Figure 2-A)
                    • Agronomic Notes: No leaf diseases noted. Some heat stress during 95+ degree afternoons.

                    Soybeans

                    • Growth Stage: First trifoliate emerging (Figure 2-B)
                    • Agronomic Notes: Some grass weeds noted, no insect leaf feeding.

                    Financial Trends

                    This week we will start to look at financial trends of farms in the four-state area. The information is taken from farms enrolled in record keeping programs or associations in South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska, and Minnesota. This data set is held at the Center for Farm Management, University of MN. The information we will track and use as examples is from farms with 1,000 to 2,000 acres of cropland.

                    The information is sorted by quintals by net income. These examples are the lower 20 to 40% and upper 60 to 80%.

                    A line graph depicting the gross sales in SD, ND, NE, and MN. 1-k to 2-k acres. For a complete description, call SDSU Extension at 605-688-6729.
                    Figure 3. Gross Sales SD, ND, NE, MN; 1k to2k Acres. Source: SDSU Extension, FINBIN UMN

                    Gross Sales

                    Gross sales averaged $1,076,000 from 2010 to 2014 for the upper net income farms, the average gross sales increased $166,000 for the years 2015 to 2019.

                    Gross sales for the lower level net income averaged $675,000 from 2010 to 2014, the average increased $162,000 for the years 2015 to 2019.

                    Now let’s look at the bottom line or median net income.

                    A line graph depicting the median net income in SD, ND, NE, and MN. 1-k to 2-k acres. For a complete description, call SDSU Extension at 605-688-6729.
                    Figure 4. Median Net Income SD, ND, NE, MN; 1k to2k Acres. Source: SDSU Extension, FINBIN UMN

                    Median Net Income

                    The upper level median net income averaged $244,000 from 2010 to 2014, then decreased $18,000 for the year’s 2015 to 2019 to a $226,000 average.

                    The lower net income level saw wider swings. Moving from $199,000 to $79,000 for a decrease of $120,000 for the years 2015 to 2019.

                    Next week we look at working capital and liquidity for the two sets.

                    May 29, 2020

                    Small corn plants emerging from a field. The plants are at 1-leaf stage.
                    Figure 1. Corn field progress as of May 29, 2020.

                    Crop Progress

                    Corn

                    Growth Stage: 1-leaf stage

                    Agronomic Notes: Will take PSNT soil samples (0-12 inch) at V6 growth stage.

                    Variable Costs to This Date (no equipment costs included):

                    • Seed: 31,500 seeds/a ($98.81/a)

                    • Fertilizer: (125-45-60-15S-1Zn) ($80.60)

                    • Pre herbicide and burndown: 13 oz/a Verdict + 16 oz/a 2,4-D LVE + 32 oz/a glyphosate + AMS/NIS ($26.55/a)

                    Winter wheat plants fully emerged from a field. The plants are in flag leaf stage.
                    Figure 2. Winter wheat field progress as of May 29, 2020.

                    Winter Wheat

                    Growth Stage: Flag leaf stage

                    Agronomic Notes: No significant leaf diseases, decision not to spray fungicide at this time.

                    Variable Costs to This Date (no equipment costs included):

                    • Seed: 120 lbs/a ($16.00/a)

                    • Fertilizer: (70-40-40-10S) ($54.40)

                    • Post Herbicide: Bromoxinyl 2EC 24 oz/a ($11.04/a)

                    Oat plants fully emerged from a field. The plants are in the tillering growth stage.
                    Figure 3. Oats field progress as of May 29, 2020.

                    Oats

                    Growth Stage: Tillering growth stage

                    Agronomic Notes: No leaf diseases noted.

                    Variable Costs to This Date (no equipment costs included):

                    • Seed: 100 lbs/a ($20/a)

                    • Fertilizer: (28-00-00) ($16.00)

                    • Herbicide: 44 oz/a ($6.05/a)

                    Small soybean plants emerging from a field. The plants are at the Unifoliate growth stage.
                    Figure 4. Soybean field progress as of May 29, 2020.

                    Soybeans

                    Growth Stage: Unifoliate growth stage

                    Agronomic notes: Weed control good, no leaf feeding.

                    Variable Costs to This Date (no equipment costs included):

                    • Seed: 150,000/a ($56/a)

                    • Pre herbicide and burn down: Valor SX 3.0 oz. Dimetric Liquid 6.0 oz, Sterling Blue 8.0 oz. Class Act 16 oz. Interlock 2x2.5 2.00 oz. 33 oz/a glyphosate ($32.58/a)

                    May 22, 2020

                    Update: Last week was cooler and favored crop development of the cool season crops (oats and winter wheat). Both the oats and winter wheat were sprayed for emerged broadleaf weeds. Corn and soybeans are slow to emerge from the soil due to higher base growing temperatures in the soil of around 50 degrees F. The winter wheat is at the 6 leaf stage and has about 3 tillers per plant (Figure 1). The oats are currently at the 2 leaf stage and developing more tillers on each plant (Figure 2). Last week the oats were not emerged from the soil. No corn (Figure 3) and soybean (Figure 4) emergence was noticed.

                    Next week: Follow the field tour next week as we review the variable input expenses for each crop.

                    A winter wheat field with numerous rows of green wheat blades emerged and developing throughout.
                    Figure 1. Winter wheat field progress as of May 22, 2020.
                    An oats field with numerous small rows of green, oat grass emerged throughout.
                    Figure 2. Oats field progress as of May 22, 2020.
                    A planted, no-till corn field. Corn plants have yet to emerge.
                    Figure 3. Corn field progress as of May 22, 2020.
                    A planted, no-till soybean field. Soybean plants have yet to emerge.
                    Figure 4. Soybean field progress as of May 22, 2020.