Texas Sorghum Insider

February 20, 2018

NSP Update—National Sorghum Producers continued steps this week to respond to the announcement of anti-dumping and countervailing duties investigations into imports of U.S. sorghum by the Chinese government. Our partners and stakeholders across the industry are working closely together to demonstrate that U.S. sorghum is not dumped into China, it is not unfairly subsidized and is not injuring China.

Meanwhile, it is important our producers know trade with China and other countries continues. Last week’s export report shows exports remaining strong with China committing to purchase 4.6 million bushels of sorghum. Japan also committed to purchase 421,239 bushels to bring the weekly total to just under 5.0 million bushels. Total commitments for the marketing year now stand at 212 million bushels, including 204 million bushels of commitments from China. Shipments were also strong with China taking delivery of 4.8 million bushels and Japan taking delivery of 303,962 bushels shipped from the Pacific Northwest. Basis has recovered from recent shocks driven by trade concerns. Here are select basis bids from around the country:

  • Ohio River: +20 for immediate delivery (compared to +6 for corn)
  • Texas Gulf Coast vessel price: +165 for March delivery (compared to +63 for corn)
  • West Texas and eastern New Mexico: -10 for new crop (compared to -10 for corn)
  • Central Oklahoma: -30 for immediate delivery (compared to -35 for corn)
  • Central Kansas: -50 for new crop (compared to -45 for corn)
  • Central South Dakota: -30 for immediate delivery (compared to -60 for corn)

Trade Surplus—As our government and governments around the world debate the merits of global free trade, it’s important to keep in mind agriculture’s role in bolstering the United States’ trade balance. While every other American industry sector maintains a trade deficit with other countries – both in the North American bloc and around the world – agriculture consistently runs a trade surplus. This is a testament to the quality of American-produced crops and a reminder of the significance of keeping these international markets accessible. Below are two charts provided by the United States Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service. These charts demonstrate the net value of traded agricultural goods in the United States. Take particular note of the widening gap between export and import values over the last decade or so, which indicates that, when provided fair market access, our agricultural goods are as internationally competitive as ever.

Sugarcane Aphid Management on Tolerant Hybrids— Investigators: Michael Brewer, Research Entomologist (Corpus Christi area site, all sites coordination and principal investigator; mjbrewer@ag.tamu.edu); Robert Bowling, Extension Entomologist (Corpus Christi area site /outreach); Allen Knutson, Extension Entomologist (Hunt County coordination); John Gordy, County Extension Agent (Rosenberg area site); Danielle Sekula-Ortiz (Rio Grande Valley area site/outreach; 
This research was funded by Texas Grain Sorghum Producers Board

Well timed application(s) of an insecticide can protect high yielding aphid susceptible hybrids from economically damaging populations of sugarcane aphid when using an economic threshold of 50-75 aphids per leaf. Essential in using this strategy is to scout fields for aphids on at least a weekly basis and spray within a few days of exceeding threshold. The scouting card and insecticide use guidelines produced with support from the Texas Grain Sorghum Board helps guide this effort.

For those considering growing commercial ‘tolerant’ or ‘resistant’ hybrids, current season-long research confirms that most but not all of these hybrids express partial protection of plants from sugarcane aphid. With results from 2016 and 2017, we provide guidance on SCA management for these hybrids, under the good growing conditions we experienced in the past two seasons. For some of these hybrids, aphids can be tolerated above the original ET (see Guidance column in table). Here, ‘resistant/tolerant’ hybrids maintained good yield despite aphid presence between 100 and 200 aphids per leaf. For other hybrids, yield loss was seen or variable, justifying continued use of an ET of 50 aphids/leaf. Note, these may be good performing hybrids when aphids are absent or controlled. We advise additional testing of some of these hybrids to verify this work under a range of growing conditions and locations. Those listed as ‘additional testing needed’ have not been confirmed to be highly resistant or tolerant and caution is advised until further testing.

Regarding insecticides, Sivanto Prime (Bayer) at 4.0 fl.oz./ac. or Transform (Dow) at 1.0 oz./ac. is recommended for treatment of SCA. Continued monitoring of SCA is recommended following insecticide application to verify control.  

Changes in Base Acres—Part of the budget fix for cotton includes changes in base acres. Any generic base acres that have not been planted to a covered commodity, including program crops and cotton, from 2009-2016 become unassigned base acres making them ineligible for any Title I farm program payments. This will certainly raise additional base questions on expired CRP acres in the upcoming farm bill debate. 

Plowing Through Food Facts—Texas Farm Bureau recently launched a new video campaign addressing misconceptions regarding agriculture. To see the video and webpage geared toward answering consumer questions, click here.

February 2, 2018

 

Texas Sorghum Joint Annual Meeting—Earlier this week, the Texas Grain Sorghum Producers Board (TGSB), Texas Grain Sorghum Association (TGSA) and delegate body hosted the third joint annual meeting for the organizations. The meeting took place in Austin in conjunction with the Texas Ag Form. Approximately 50 grain sorghum producers and industry leaders from across the state came together to discuss farm policy, research projects and issues facing sorghum. Austin Wayne Self, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver also stopped by the meeting to discuss his partnership with TGSB, United Sorghum Checkoff Program (USCP) and TDA through a Biofuels Infrastructure Program Grant (BIP).

“For me it’s more than a logo on a truck— I get to represent something I believe in,” says Self. “When you’ve got a bunch of fans up there it makes it personal. It’s estimated that NASCAR has 80 million Americans out there looking to support a driver and get behind something they believe in. That’s why I think sorghum is so interesting in NASCAR. It’s real easy– you’ve got ethanol fuel, motors and you’ve got trucks racing at peak performance, so it ties into something the fans understand.”

The grant funds were primarily used to install 782 E15 blender pumps throughout Texas at businesses such as H-E-B, along with storage tanks and infrastructure.

Austin Wayne Self speaks to TGSP and delegate body during their annual meeting in Austin.

Round Six of NAFTA Renegotiation Concludes—This week, negotiators from Canada, Mexico and the United States wrapped up the sixth formal round of talks for renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement in Montreal, Canada. The negotiations, which began in August of 2017, have often been tense and gridlocked, with each of the member nation’s respective political circumstances casting outsize shadows on the proceedings.

Although the ideology of President Donald Trump was the impetus driving renegotiation in the first place, Mexican presidential politics are beginning to guide the 2018 rounds of negotiation. Mexican negotiators are anxious to reach a conclusion before their presidential election this summer in order to improve the incumbent Institutional Revolutionary party’s standing, particularly in regards to avowed anti-NAFTA challenger Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

As far as agriculture is concerned, progress is being made towards a final agreement, but many hurdles remain to be cleared. Texts relating to sanitary and phytosanitary regulations on the border and the alignment of each country’s biotechnology regulations were nearly completed in this sixth round. These subjects, along with digital trade and other technological-based measures, have been considered the easiest to negotiate and so their advanced progress is to be expected.

Negotiations regarding thornier agriculture subjects, like market access for agricultural products and regulations on seasonal produce, still lag behind, with no country expressing improved optimism for their expedient resolution. There have also been discussions about attaching enforceable labor standards for Mexico to the agreement; Mexico insists that they are already progressing towards more humane standards and therefore no NAFTA benefits ought to be tethered to additional requirements.

The seventh round of negotiations is set for the end of February in Mexico City. The hosts hope to make substantial progress at this round ahead of their aforementioned presidential election. At least two more rounds are expected after that, but some pessimistic trade analysts are already predicting talks will linger into 2019. No matter how long they last, TGSA will continue to monitor and report developments in the negotiations.

Leadership Sorghum— The Sorghum Checkoff is accepting applications for Leadership Sorghum Class IV, a program designed to develop the next generation of sorghum leaders. Eligible applicants must be farmers actively engaged in sorghum production in the United States. Fifteen growers will be accepted into the program’s fourth class. The application for the program as well as more information is available at LeadSorghum.com. Deadline is 5:00 p.m. on March 16, 2018. 

Applications Available for Young Farmer Grants—The Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) is now accepting applications for Young Farmer Grant (YFG), a program under the direction of Texas Agricultural Finance Authority (TAFA). The purpose of this program is to provide financial assistance in the form of dollar-for-dollar matching grant funds to individuals between the age of 18 and 46 years old who are engaged or will be engaged in creating or expanding an agricultural business in Texas. Additional details, instructions and the 2018 Round 2 application materials can be found here. Applications are due by the close of business Thursday, March 22, 2018.   

Export Report –Export sales were firm again last week with China and Korea committing to purchase 6.5 million bushels of sorghum. Total commitments now stand at 194 million bushels. Shipments were also strong with China and Mexico taking delivery of 8.6 million bushels. Price stayed strong with Gulf premiums for sorghum at 27 percent. The northern plains was firm, as well.

January 19, 2018

2018 Planting Decisions—The following information was provided by USCP’s Director of Agronomy, Brent Bean. As growers begin to make planting decisions here are some things to think about when considering planting grain sorghum:

  • Sorghum export prices continue to soar. Most recently, based on Market Perspectives Information Report from January 11, 2018, FOB sorghum export bids reflect a 25.6 percent premium above FOB corn export bids. These high sorghum bids continue to show exports remain strong, and prices are encouraging sorghum to be pulled from the interior countryside. 
  • Much of the historical grain sorghum regions of the U.S. are suffering from drought. Unfortunately, the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Centeris predicting hotter and drier conditions for much of this region for the next few months. Although sorghum responds positively to good moisture conditions, it has a well deserved reputation as a drought tolerant crop.
  • Sugarcane aphid was much less of a problem in 2017 than in the past. Although it is impossible to predict at this point what 2018 will bring, there are reasons to be optimistic. The planting of more tolerant hybrids, coupled with better management practices that include timely insecticide application are making a significant difference. In addition, beneficial insect populations that prey on the sugarcane aphid are adapting to the presence of the aphid and appeared in increasing numbers in 2017. There is no reason to think that this will not continue in 2018.
  • Sorghum has long been recognized as a good rotation crop for broadleaf crops such as cotton and soybean.  However, sorghum is often not talked about as a rotational crop with corn. Below is a study conducted by Rick Kochenower, when at the Oklahoma State Experiment Station, near Goodwell.  On average, corn yields were 26 bushels higher when following sorghum compared to continuous corn.

  • Under irrigation, grain sorghum makes a good companion crop with other crops where circles are split in half. Planting dates can be manipulated in a way that provides irrigation water during the key development stages of each crop. This has the effect of maximizing water use efficiency for the cropping system.

Campaign Finance Reports Due as March Primary Draws Nearer—Campaign finance reports detailing the fundraising, expenditure, and outstanding loan totals for all candidates seeking public office in Texas and in the Texas congressional delegation were due on Tuesday January 16. Since 2000, these semi-annual reports, designed to increase campaign transparency by documenting the names, occupations, and amounts given for all contributions of greater than $100, are made public as they are filed. You can review the financials of any candidate here by selecting “By Filer Name,” and entering the last name of the candidate.

Some notable financial information made available this week:

  • The Agriculture Commissioner Republican primary between incumbent Sid Miller and Austin-based ethics lobbyist Trey Blocker has been widely considered to be the most contentious of all statewide elections in 2018, and the financial reporting backs up that assessment. Miller raised $106,000 from July to December, while Blocker (who formally announced his candidacy in November) raised $50,000. Each of these candidates have loaned themselves hundreds of thousands of dollars. Blocker reported having a net amount of $487,000 cash on hand, slightly higher than Miller’s $402,000 cash on hand.
  • Incumbents Governor Greg Abbott and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick are in much better positions relative to their challengers than Commissioner Miller. Abbott raised $9,000,000 from July to December, bringing his total cash on hand to $43,300,000, the most cash on hand ever reported by a Texas politician. Patrick brought in $2,700,000 in this period for a total of $18,000,000 cash on hand. None of the Governor or Lieutenant Governor’s challengers – in either party – reported raising more than $250,000 in this six month period.
  • Senator Kel Seliger in Senate District 31 (stretching from parts of Midland/Odessa up to Amarillo) reported revenue of $528,000 for a total of $1,700,000 cash on hand. His main challenger, former Midland Mayor Michael Canon, reported raising $107,000 for a total of $170,000. Senator Seliger’s race is notable as he was the only Republican state senator to not endorse Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick after the two frequently clashed over Seliger’s staunch support for public schools in rural Texas.

If you have any questions about the finances or state of upcoming elections, please reach out to Patrick Wade at Patrick@texassorghum.org.

Export Report—Export sales were very strong again last week with China committing to purchase 6.7 million bushels. This brings total commitments for the year to 180 million bushels or 69 percent of the USDA export target. Shipments were also strong as China and Mexico took delivery of 2.1 million bushels. Prices remain strong with central South Dakota sorghum priced at 111 percent of corn, central Kansas sorghum priced at 116 percent of corn and Gulf sorghum for export priced at $4.98 per bushel or 123 percent of corn.

January 8, 2018

Evaluating Best Use Scenarios for Insecticides Targeting Sugarcane Aphid— Based on small plot trials, normal use rates of Transform 1-1.5 oz/ac and Sivanto 4-5 fl-oz/ac continued to provide adequate control of SCA. Low rates, Transform 0.75 oz and Sivanto 2.5 fl-oz (below labelled rate) may have a fit late season near harvest on low SCA populations when lengthy residual control is not necessary. We did not see any benefit from tank mixing either Transform or Sivanto with Lorsban. The new insecticide being developed by BASF, BAS 440I, appears to be a good candidate as an additional product for SCA management. Based on our data, it appears to be slower acting than Transform and Sivanto, and appears most active at rates of 6 fl-oz or more. Residual control from BAS440I appears to be around 21 days; better than Transform but not as long as Sivanto. Because of low SCA numbers we were not able to draw many conclusions regarding the activity of Sivanto applied infurrow at planting. Bioassay data suggests that Sivanto at 4 fl-oz/ac infurrow results in significant SCA mortality at 30 DAP, but very little at 38 DAP. However, we do not think this necessarily reflects inactivity at 38 DAP, but may indicate that the mode of activity may be primarily due to preventing reproduction or killing new born aphids rather than killing adult aphids. Large plot demonstration trials suggest that there is typically not a great deal of difference between the activity of Transform or Sivanto applied via aerial application or by ground, and that standard use rates, Transform at 1 oz/ac or Sivanto at 4 fl-oz/ac will usually suffice. 
Principal investigator: David Kerns; Other Investigators: Katelyn Kesheimer, Blayne Reed, John David Gonzales, Kerry Siders, Xandra Morris, Scott Strawn

Figure 1: Efficacy of Sivanto and Transform at high, normal and low rates on SCA

Figure 2: Efficacy of Sivanto and Transform mixed with Lorsban to SCA

Figure 3: Efficacy of BAS440 relative to varied rates of Sivanto and Transform to SCA

If you would like additional charts or information regarding this study, email katelyn@texassorghum.org

 

EPA Proposes Grain Sorghum Oil Pathway –The Environmental Protection Agency issued a Proposed Rule in the Federal Register today on the life-cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with biofuels that are produced from grain sorghum oil extracted at dry-mill ethanol plants.

EPA is seeking comment for 30 days on its proposed assessment that using distillers sorghum oil as a feedstock results in no significant agricultural sector GHG emissions. Through EPA analysis, biodiesel produced from distillers sorghum meets the lifecycle GHG emissions reduction threshold of 50 percent required for advanced biofuels, and biomass-based diesel under the Renewable Fuel Standard program.

“After almost four years of work by National Sorghum Producers industry partners and staff, we are excited to see this proposed rule in the Federal Register, putting us one step closer to sorghum oil filling biodiesel production needs,” said John Duff, NSP Strategic Business Director. “This is significant positive news for sorghum producers and ethanol plants in the Sorghum Belt as it provides more opportunities and better returns producing ethanol from sorghum.”

The proposed rule is a result of a petition filed by NSP and extensive work with the EPA providing data and analysis during the rule making process. A pathway approval will allow the production of biodiesel and heating oil from distillers sorghum oil, and renewable diesel, jet fuel, heating oil, naphtha, and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) produced from distillers sorghum oil.

“This news is much anticipated, and we sincerely appreciate the help of our renewable energy partners, ethanol plants and producer leaders,” NSP CEO Tim Lust said. “We are also grateful for all the congressional leaders who signed a supporting letter and Senator Jerry Moran, Congressman Roger Marshall and Congressman Jodey Arrington who made calls to the EPA supporting the pathway, as well.”

For more information click here.


FSA State Committee Appointees Announced—
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced a slate of FSA State Committee Appointees. State committees are selected by the Secretary, serve at the pleasure of the Secretary, and are responsible for carrying out FSA’s farm programs within delegated authorities.

The appointees from Texas are below, to view members from each state, click here.

  • Committee Chair Jerry Harris – Dawson/Gaines County
  • Juan Garcia – Willacy County
  • Rodney Schronk – Hillsboro
  • Michael Skalicky – Ganado
  • Linda G. Williams – Dumas

 
2018 District 11 Texas Crop and Livestock Budgets— 2018 budgets from Texas AgriLife are available here.


MidTex Farm, Ranch and Garden Show–
Visit us in Waco this week! 

December 18, 2017

Filing Deadline Passes for Texas Candidates—Evening on Monday, December 11 marked the end of the one month period in which candidates for Texas offices – from statewide elected officials to state lawmakers to congressional members – must formally file the paperwork to be on the ballot in the 2018 elections. Controversies over elected officials’ misconduct and a staunchly partisan political environment resulted in a large number of candidates pursuing offices across the state and in Washington.

The Democratic Party is running candidates for all 36 Texas congressional seats, 14 of the 15 state Senate seats, and 133 of the 150 state House seats, as well as ten candidates in the Democratic primary for Governor. Across the statewide races, some late noteworthy additions were:

  • Former Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson announced he would be challenging George P. Bush for his old office
  • 2014 Texas Agriculture Commissioner Democratic nominee Jim Hogan announced he would be joining Austin-based lobbyist Trey Blocker in a Republican primary challenge to incumbent Sid Miller

Only two Texas statewide officials, Comptroller Glenn Hegar and Attorney General Ken Paxton, did not draw any primary opponents.

Although it is difficult for most of these Democratic challengers to win statewide elections, many of the Republican primaries are expected to be contentious. One race that is particularly important will be the 27th Congressional District, now that incumbent Blake Farenthold announced he would no longer seek reelection following a series of sexual harassment accusations. Former Texas Water Development Board Chairman Bech Bruun is the most notable challenger in what is shaping up to be a crowded Republican primary race for the seat.  

Below is a link to a spreadsheet compiled by Texas Tribune reporter Patrick Svitek that documents every seat (state and congressional) and the candidates who formally filed to run for them. If you are interested or involved in races in your area, or have questions about the races that TGSA is monitoring closest, please reach out to Patrick Wade at Patrick@texassorghum.org.

2018 Candidates – Filed

Dicamba Update—Dicamba tolerant cotton and soybean varieties were brought to the market in 2015 and 2016, respectively, and were followed in 2017 by the newly registered dicamba herbicides formulated specifically to have lower volatility.  Following a challenging launch in 2017 of these newly registered herbicides in some states, the EPA worked with companies registering the new dicamba formulations to make revisions to those product labels in an effort to reduce incidence of off-target movement during application.  In mid-October, revised labels for XtendiMax® with VaporGrip® Technology, Fexapan Plus VaporGrip® Technology, and Engenia® herbicide were approved and released by the EPA and the corresponding companies, Monsanto, DuPont and BASF, respectively.

Notable revisions include the addition of new restrictions as well as clarifications to previous label language.  New restrictions include the following:

  1. Classification of these three products as Restricted Use Pesticides
  2. Required record keeping of all applications for 2 years
  3. Annual mandatory auxin-specific training for every person that will be applying the product to any crop.

While restricted use classification and record keeping are currently in effect for these products in Texas, the mandatory auxin-specific training for all applicators is a new change that applies to not only those with an applicators license but also to those making applications under someone else’s license.  This requires awareness for all applicators to ensure their ability to use these herbicides in 2018 and in subsequent years.

Clarifications to label language include but are not limited to what qualifies as a “susceptible” or “sensitive” crop, requiring the use of downwind buffers, clarification around temperature inversions and restricting the application time to only include sunrise to sunset, tightening the windspeed window from 3-15mph down to 3-10mph, and amplifying the language on sprayer cleanout to prevent cross-contamination.

The Texas Department of Agriculture has approved the auxin-specific herbicide training for applicators that will be provided through Texas A&M AgriLife Extension and Allied Industry. This training aims to educate applicators on the requirements and practices for keeping these dicamba based products on-target and will satisfy the newly mandated auxin-specific training requirement.

Trainings started the first week of December and will be delivered in various 2017/2018 winter meetings and via video presentation(s) by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, BASF, and Monsanto.  The specific times and locations of these training opportunities will be announced over the next months.  Please contact your local County Extension Office for available training in your area. This article first appeared in Texas Row Crop Newsletter

Charles Ray Huddleston Sworn in as USCP Board Member—Five Sorghum Checkoff board directors were sworn in during the December 13, 2017, board meeting in Lubbock, Texas.

Returning to the board are Verity Ulibarri of McAlister, New Mexico, and Carlton Bridgeforth of Tanner, Alabama. Newly appointed to the board are Klint G. Stewart, of Columbus, Nebraska; Shayne C. Suppes of Scott City, Kansas; and Charles Ray Huddleston of Celina, Texas.

The newly sworn in board members were appointed by the U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue in December and will serve a three-year term.

“We are pleased to welcome both the new and returning directors to the Sorghum Checkoff,” said Sorghum Checkoff Executive Director Florentino Lopez. “The board of directors are crucial in our efforts to create producer profitability, expand market opportunities and increase demand for sorghum, and we look forward to working with the appointed board of directors in creating success for our farmers.”

Ag Census In Progress –The USDA Census of Agriculture conducts a comprehensive analysis of all U.S. farms and ranches every five years. The 2017 census is an opportunity for producers, researchers, policy makers and others to have consistent, impartial information that impacts the future of agriculture. Important trends that shape farm programs and other agricultural developments are justified by the census data. As Congress creates the 2018 Farm Bill the upcoming census data will provide insight to the changes in the U.S. farm economy. The USDA began sending surveys earlier this month and expects to collect responses by Feb. 5. Read more about the 2017 Census of Agriculture here

Export Report—Export sales were very strong again last week with China and South Korea committing to purchase 12.5 million bushels. These commitments bring total sales to 141 million bushels or 54 percent of the new USDA export target (in the latest World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report, USDA raised this target to 260 million bushels from 210 million bushels). Shipments were also strong with China, Mexico and South Korea taking delivery of 4.0 million bushels. Total shipments now stand at 52.7 million bushels. Basis remained strong with Gulf bids at 121 percent of corn or $4.84 per bushel. Interior basis continues to firm as well, and central Kansas terminal bids (March delivery) stand at 111 percent of corn or $3.28 per bushel.

Merry Christmas 
Texas Sorghum staff wishes you and yours a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year! We are grateful for the producers, colleagues and members we are able to call friends!

December 1, 2017

Senator Cornyn Holds NAFTA Hearing with Industry Leaders—On Monday November 20, Senator John Cornyn convened a hearing of the Senate Finance committee in San Antonio to provide industry leaders the opportunity to address their respective concerns about the ongoing renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The hearing was attended by Senator Cornyn, General Counsel for the United States Trade Representative Stephen Vaughn, Texas Farm Bureau President Russell Boening, Texas Oil & Gas Association President (and former Texas Agriculture Commissioner) Todd Staples, and other representatives from the automobile and business industries.

Senator Cornyn opened the hearing by expressing his belief that NAFTA has fundamentally worked for Texas and that the operative consideration for American negotiators ought to be “do no harm.” Then, after a brief opening statement by Mr. Vaughn, Senator Cornyn and the General Counsel took part in an extended question and answer series in which the Senator asked tough, and often vaguely answered, questions of Mr. Vaughn. Mr. Vaughn reassured the Senator and those in attendance that the administration still had the nation’s best interests at heart in the renegotiation process, but trade deficits with Canada and especially Mexico were symptomatic of market distortions that must be remedied.

Mr. Vaughn explained the blistering pace of these negotiations – with less time between negotiating rounds than any trade deal in recent history – as part of the administration’s commitment to “resolve uncertainty.” He then, however, went on to justify a proposed five-year sunset on NAFTA – a potential source of extreme uncertainty – as nothing more than a normal “performance evaluation.”

Mr. Boening delivered testimony on behalf of Texas Farm Bureau, articulating the success NAFTA has had in establishing consistent foreign markets for Texas food and fiber. Agricultural exports to Canada and Mexico under NAFTA have quadrupled, from $8.9 billion in 1993 to $38 billion today. Mr. Boening also spoke to the current state of the farm economy, suggesting that this would be a particularly damaging time to withdraw from two of our top three foreign markets for agricultural products.

As NAFTA negotiations continue through the rest of 2017, TGSA will keep you up-to-date on developments as well as provide you with opportunities to offer your opinions. If you would like to discuss this issue more, please contact Patrick Wade at Patrick@texassorghum.org.

Scholarship deadline TODAY—Applications for the National Sorghum Foundation-BASF Joint Scholarship closes toady. The scholarship will include a tuition award for the 2018-2019 school year as well as cover recipients’ cost to attend the 2018 Commodity Classic in Anaheim, California. Applicants must be pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree in an agriculturally related curriculum. Students must be a child or grandchild of an NSP member, and undergraduates must be entering at least their second year of study by the 2018-2019 academic year. 

Click here to download the application. For questions or to submit application materials, please contact Debra Lloyd at debral@sorghumgrowers.com or 806-749-3478.

TDA Policy Regarding New Dicamba Labeling—In response to EPA mandated label amendments requiring all applicators to complete dicamba or auxin-specific training prior to application of these products, TDA is providing its Texas specific policy regarding applicator training requirements. Interested parties should note that the aforementioned products are now federally Restricted Use Pesticides (RUP), in addition to the State Limited Use Pesticide designation under Texas Law.

TDA regulations do not require auxin or dicamba specific training. However, in order to satisfy the training requirements established by the new EPA mandated label requirements, TDA will acknowledge approved training provided by either: 1) Texas A&M AgriLIfe Extension Service or, 2) a registrant for the product approved for in-crop use on the dicamba-tolerant or auxin-tolerant crop.

The training must be approved by TDA and meet the following course content requirements:

  1. Application Timing
  2. Nozzle Requirements/Selection
  3. Wind Speed
  4. Ground Speed
  5. Boom Height
  6. Tank Cleanout
  7. Sensitive Crops and Buffer Zones
  8. Weather Conditions
  9. Drift, Volatility and Inversion
  10. Other Labeling Restrictions

The training must be a minimum of 50 minutes in length. Licensed applicators will be awarded 1 CEU in Laws and Regulations upon verified completion of the TDA approved training course. Applicators that are working under the supervision of a licensed applicator will not be given CEU credit for attending the training. Each participant who completes the training must be given a certificate of completing which must be retained by the participant in the participant’s records for two years. Course providers must follow the procedures set fourth in the Texas Pesticide Recertification Course Accreditation Guide. The training must be attended once every year. For more information click here or here.

EPA proposes 2-year delay of 2015 WOTUS rule.  The EPA and Corps of Engineers have proposed a rule that would delay implementation of the 2015 WOTUS rule for two years.  Currently, the 2015 rule is stayed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and the EPA is currently working through the required process to rescind the 2015 rule altogether.  Why, then, does the EPA want a 2-year delay?  They say they want to provide certainty to landowners that the 2015 rule will not go into effect if, for example, the 6th Circuit stay is lifted.  Of course, this proposal will have to undergo a comment period before it can be published in the Federal Register.  Meanwhile, the two-step rulemaking process to rescind and replace the 2015 rule altogether will continue.  [Read article here.] This article first appeared in Texas Ag Law

Export Report— SorghumNet sales of 328,000 MT for 2017/2018–marketing-year high–were up 2 percent from the previous week and 26 percent from the prior 4-week average. Increases were reported for China (262,000 MT, including decreases of 3,000 MT) and unknown destinations (66,000 MT). Exports of 217,100 MT–a marketing-year high–were up noticeably from the previous week and from the prior 4-week average. The destinations were China (204,900 MT), Japan (10,500 MT), and Mexico (1,700 MT).

November 14, 2017

China’s Trade Rumors Confirmed—Confirming trade rumors, China has eliminated the 11 percent value added tax (VAT) on U.S. dried distillers grains (DDG). The move comes in the wake of President Donald Trump’s trip to China and is seen as positive for ethanol profitability because it will help increase demand for DDG in the country. It is important to note while this does lower the price of U.S. DDG for Chinese feed buyers, anti-dumping measures are still in place, and these remain significant barriers for U.S. DDG in China. 

FSA County Committee Elections Begin—Acting State FSA Executive Director for Texas, Erasmo (Eddie) Trevino, recently announced USDA began mailing ballots Monday, Nov. 6, to eligible farmers and ranchers for the 2017 FSA County Committee elections. Producers must return ballots to their local FSA office by Dec. 4, 2017, to ensure their vote is counted. Trevino said producers must participate or cooperate in an FSA program to be eligible to vote in the county committee election.  Farmers and ranchers who supervise and conduct the farming operations of an entire farm, but are not of legal voting age, also may be eligible to vote. Ballots include the names of candidates running for the local committee election. Voters who did not receive a ballot can pick one up at their local FSA office. Newly elected committee members will take office Jan. 1, 2018.

New Study Shows NAFTA’s Impact on Grain Exports-  A new study led by the U.S. Grains Council and the National Corn Growers Association and conducted by Informa Economics has quantified the benefits of NAFTA to the U.S. grains industry.  In 2015 alone, U.S. feed and grain exports totaled $18.9 billion, supporting $55.5 billion in economic output and nearly 262,000 jobs. It was also reported that 46,000 jobs and $2.6 billion in GDP may be adversely impacted at the farm, ethanol and meat production levels if this trade is disrupted.  Read more on trades impact on the farm sector here and here.  

Export Report—Last week recorded one of the largest ever commitments to U.S. sorghum with China purchasing 12 million bushels and bringing total commitments to 82 million just two months into the marketing year. China and Mexico also took deliveries of a significant 4.1 million bushels bringing total shipments to 23 million bushels. This maintains the pace needed to reach one billion bushels shipped to China by early spring 2018. Basis was steady on this strength. It should be noted Chinese buyers continue to express strong interest in sorghum for delivery beyond the 2017 crop year and producers should be mindful of future opportunities as they make plans for 2018 spring planting.

October 27, 2017

Texas House Speaker Joe Straus Announces He Will Not Seek Re-election—In a shocking announcement Wednesday morning, Speaker of the House Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) revealed that he would not be seeking reelection in 2018, neither for his House seat nor his Speakership. The move came as a massive surprise to everyone in Austin, from Straus’s peers to political foes. Just last month, Speaker Straus had adamantly expressed his interest in pursuing a record sixth consecutive term as Speaker of the House.

Speaker Straus came into the spotlight this past legislative session for his numerous public spats with Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick over Patrick’s prioritization of the anti-transgender bathroom bill, private school vouchers, and sanctuary cities. During the interim, the House Freedom Caucus, who are ideologically aligned with Lt. Governor Patrick, had been exploring ways to limit Speaker Straus’s power. Speaker Straus leaves a legacy as a divisive speaker: the hard-right representatives saw Straus as an obstacle to their agenda; whereas the more moderate, business-oriented republicans felt he was their trusted champion. There has been a buzz of speculation in recent days about what is next for Straus, but at the time all he has committed to is remaining an active participant in his allies’ 2018 campaigns.

Last month, Representative Phil King (R-Weatherford) announced he would challenge Straus for Speakership in the 86th Session in 2019. Just an hour after Straus announced he would be stepping down, Dr. John Zerwas (R-Katy) announced he too would pursue the Speakership next session. Dr. Zerwas was a close ally of Speaker Straus this past session, and chaired the powerful House Appropriations committee, which authored the budget. There are likely to be many more representatives to throw their hats into the ring in the coming months, and TGSA will continue to report that information to you.

EPA Makes Changes to Labels for Popular New Dicamba Herbicides for 2018 Crop Year—On the heels of significant complaints of drift damage involving the herbicide Dicamba, the EPA has announced changes to the label for Monsanto’s XtendiMax, BASF’s Engenia, and DuPont Pioneer’s FeXapan.  Specifically, these products will now be restricted use only, requiring users to be certified applicators and requiring specific Dicamba training. Additionally, top wind speeds allowed for application will decrease from 15 mph to 10 mph, applications may be made only from sunrise to sunset, and additional rules regarding tank clean out and recordkeeping will apply. [Read EPA News Release here and article here.]  This article first appeared in Texas Ag Law.

USDA Withdraws GIPSA Rules—The USDA withdrew two rules under the Farmer Fair Practices Rules of the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stock Yards Act last week.  The first was an interim final rule, set to go into effect on October 19, addressing harm to competition.  The second was a proposed rule addressing unfair practices and undue preferences.  Agricultural trade groups and legislators from agricultural states come down on both sides of the fence, some praising the withdrawal and others sharing their disappointment. [Read article here.] This article first appeared in Texas Ag Law.

Texas Interim Charges Announced—This past week, both the Texas House and Senate released the list of issues for committees to research over the interim. Last month, each chamber released a limited set of charges related to Hurricane Harvey. This new round of charges touches on a wide range of issues, and you can read the House’s full list here and the Senate’s here and here. If you are interested in being politically active, I encourage you to read through these charges and reach out to Patrick Wade if you have any questions. For an issue to be formally acknowledged in the list of interim charges means it will almost certainly be discussed during the 2019 session.

Below is a (paraphrased) selection of charges that pertain to agriculture:

  • House
    • Assess viability of a crop improvement association replacing Texas Department of Agriculture on seed certification
    • Further research declining migratory species such as monarch butterflies and bees
    • Review state of infrastructure on ports and identify impediments to international trade
    • Examine Texas eminent domain laws and make recommendations to improve accountability
    • Evaluate the progress of aquifer-wide management and permitting practices in groundwater management planning
  • Senate
    • Review viability of streamlining permitting process for surface water rights
    • Make recommendations for state licenses and fees that could be reduced, repealed, or transitioned to private-sector enforcement
    • Review funding of state ports and make recommendations for future investment

Export Report—Export commitments moderated this week after a historic start to the marketing year. Shipments continued to be strong, though, with China and Mexico taking delivery of 2.8 million bushels. At this pace, total shipments to China will reach one billion bushels by spring 2018. Price continued to be firm in the interior as well as on the Gulf Coast where bids for delivery to the vessel maintained a large premium to corn.

October 16, 2017

Association to Host South Texas PAC EventsThis week TGSA and NSP will host a series of joint PAC fundraisers in South Texas. The Sorghum PAC and Texas SorGo PAC help elect and re-elect Members of Congress and members of the Texas Legislature who support sorghum producers and a strong, effective sorghum industry. Events being tomorrow and are listed below. Everyone is invited to attend, please keep in mind contributions must come from personal accounts, contributions from corporate accounts cannot be accepted.  

 Events:

Tuesday, Oct 17—Lunch, noon 
Butter Churn 
207 W Sinton St
Sinton, TX 78387

Tuesday, Oct. 17—Dinner, 7 p.m.
Rio Farms 
25601 FM 88
Monte Alto, TX 78538

Wednesday, Oct. 18—Dinner, 7 p.m.
Jim Massey Barn
2827 CR 27
Robstown TX 78380

PLC Payments Issued—Beginning this month, farmers and ranchers across the country will be receiving more than $8 billion in payments through the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) and Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) programs for the 2016 crop year. PLC and ARC programs were authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill and offer a safety net to producers when there is a substantial drop in revenue or prices for covered commodities. Over a quarter million producers will receive PLC payments for 2016 crops, including sorghum growers. Sorghum growers across the country will receive $1.16 per bushel for a total of $373 million and a national average payment of $59.72 per acre. 

House Passes Disaster Relief Funding Package—On Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an emergency disaster relief bill that called for $36.5 billion in funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Flood Insurance Program. Hurricanes, flooding, and wildfires have caused significant damage across the country in recent months, and these agencies have incurred massive costs in their initial relief efforts.

Leadership in the House sought to make it clear, however, that this $36.5 billion was only an initial replenishing of the coffers, and that more money would be specifically designated for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in Texas. This clarification came after Texas Governor Greg Abbott accused the Texas delegation to the House of “lacking a stiff spine” in negotiating relief for Texans. Governor Abbott, who has vociferously advocated for federal dollars to aid in the rebuilding of homes and businesses affected by Harvey, had hoped the House would take up Texas’s $19 billion relief request with this emergency disaster relief funding. House leadership assured the Governor that this bill was only concerned with keeping federal agencies open, but that they would take up the $19 billion request within the next month.

Texas Senate Schedules Interim Hearing on Harvey—The Texas Senate Committee on Agriculture, Water & Rural Affairs announced it would be holding a hearing in New Caney next week aimed at evaluating water infrastructure and regional flood management projects. In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, the Texas Legislature has issued a number of water and flood-related interim charges.

The New Caney hearing has two charges:

1) Study and identify ways to improve the capacity and maintain the structure of the Addicks and Barker Reservoirs. Report on mechanisms that would ensure the public has access to timely and transparent release figures from reservoirs across the state. 

2) Evaluate current state data-sharing standards for rainfall and stream gauges and whether regional flood management projects and flood warnings should be hosted in a centralized location, such as a state agency web page. Determine whether a statewide real-time flood warning system could be developed and coordinated through mobile devices, TxDOT electronic signage, communication devices and whether existing local and regional forecasting infrastructure could be integrated into a centralized inclement weather forecasting system.

If you have any suggestions for the state legislature regarding subjects it should study for hurricane relief – whether it relates to agriculture relief or rural community relief – please reach out to TGSA and we will pass them along.

WASDE Report Raises Sorghum Forecast—The most recent World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report has projected the national average sorghum yield at 72.2 bushels per acre, up from 69.8 bushels per acre in the September report. This is the third year in a row the national average will be above 70 bushels per acre. Until 2015-2017, the national average had never been above 70 bushels per acre in two consecutive years. This illustrates the significant strides made in sorghum production practices and genetics over the past decade. 

September 29, 2017

Texas Sorghum, Ethanol find NASCAR Spotlight—Today, Austin Wayne Self a Texas native and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver will attend the State Fair of Texas to kick off the three-week festival in Dallas. As ethanol continues to have a larger presence on the NASCAR stage, Self was drawn to a partnership with Go Texan, an organization that proudly promotes the use of ethanol in fuel. Last year, Texas Sorghums worked with TDA and Go Texan to implement the Biofuels Infrastructure Partnership, a $17 million project placing 782 additional E15 blender pumps at fueling stations across Texas. Self will make appearances at the Go Texan Pavilion with his NASCAR truck, which uses an E15 blend and features Texas Sorghum’s logo through October. To read the entire article, click here.

Texas State Fair Truck

Austin Wayne Self’s NASCAR truck features TGSB’s logo. The truck will be on display at the Go Texan Pavilion during the State Fair of Texas.

Round Three of NAFTA Renegotiation Concludes—On Wednesday, representatives from the United States, Mexico, and Canada concluded the third round of negotiations on the modernization of the North American Free Trade Agreement. This round was held in Ottawa, Canada, following rounds held in Washington DC and Mexico City, respectively.

Upon completion of this round, negotiators released a trilateral statement that said, in part:

“Negotiators made significant progress in several areas through the consolidation of text proposals, narrowing gaps and agreeing to elements of the negotiating text.  Negotiators are now working from consolidated texts in most areas, demonstrating a commitment from all parties to advance discussions in the near term.”

The statement went on to note that progress was made in the specific fields of “telecommunications, competition policy, digital trade, good regulatory practices, and customs and trade facilitation.”

Negotiators again indicated their mutual commitment to finish negotiations on “an accelerated timeline,” which is understood to still mean by the end of this calendar year. Originally, only three rounds of negotiations were scheduled, however there are now fourth and fifth rounds planned. The fourth round will take place in Washington DC from October 11-15. The fifth round is expected to occur in Mexico City shortly after. TGSA staff are scheduled to participate in debriefs of the third round in coming days, and will continue to relay to you any developments that affect agricultural trade across the continent.

SCA Update—Sugarcane aphid infestations remain somewhat variable throughout the main growing areas of the High Plains, but it has certainly picked up over the last two weeks. The degree of infestation depends on the region, and even within a region there remains a lot of field-to-field variability. In Texas, the most infested region appears to be around the Lubbock area and south and west of Amarillo. North of Amarillo, infestations are variable with some fields needing to be sprayed while others remain close to aphid free. Headworms have been an issue in many areas, and growers are encouraged to check their fields. Headworms can affect yield from the grain milk stage through soft dough. Once the grain becomes hard it is much more difficult for the headworms to consume. Information provided by Brent Bean, USCP Director of Agronomy

Harvest Aid Tip—There is a lot of variability in the maturity level of sorghum throughout the High Plains depending on planting date. Some fields have reached maturity while others that were planted late are only just now flowering. The warm weather the last few weeks has helped speed up the development of some late-planted sorghum. Below is a chart that gives the approximate number of days it takes sorghum to reach different stages of maturity. This will vary to some degree depending on daily temperature. As sorghum approaches maturity, many growers may be considering a harvest aid. A common misconception is that a harvest aid will speed up the drying process of the grain. This is generally not the case, but may marginally help with sorghum that has the stay green characteristic.  A discussion on the use of harvest aids can be found in the agronomy library of the United Sorghum Checkoff website.

Screen Shot 2017-09-28 at 10.05.00 PM

An excellent study on the use of harvest aids and the control of sugarcane aphids was funded by the Sorghum Checkoff last year and conducted by Ed Bynum, Ph.D., Texas AgriLife Extension Entomologist in Amarillo.  Bynum compared the use of glyphosate and Defol (sodium chlorate) applied with and without insecticides for control of sugarcane aphids and their potential effect on crop harvestability.  Key findings of the study were as follows:

  • The glyphosate-only treatment had no effect on sugarcane aphid numbers on the upper leaves or in the sorghum head. The amount of honeydew present was unaffected.
  • Defol reduced sugarcane aphid numbers by about 40 percent at 4, 6 and 11 days after treatment. However, aphid numbers remained high at above 1,000 aphids on the upper leaves. Aphid numbers actually went up significantly in the head 4 days after treatment.
  • Malathion at 1.5 pt/acre reduced sugarcane aphids over 50 percent 4 days after treatment. However, numbers began to rebound after 6 days.  Other trials have also found that sugarcane aphid numbers can be reduced by 50 percent with malathion.  This may provide sufficient control if aphid numbers are modest at the time of application.
  • Sivanto Prime was applied at a reduced rate of 2.5 oz/acre. This treatment was the most effective at reducing sugarcane aphids prior to sorghum harvest. Aphid numbers were reduced from 1,800 per leaf in the untreated plants to about 300 per leaf 6 days after treatment.  This control was maintained for 11 days when the trial was terminated. It should be noted that the lowest labeled rate for Sivanto Prime is 4 oz/acre. It would be expected that Transform at 0.75 oz/acre would give a similar control of sugarcane aphids prior to harvest.
  • Both the Sivanto Prime and malathion treatments significantly reduced honeydew levels in the sorghum head.

There seems to be some confusion on the pre-harvest interval for Sivanto Prime (24c label) and Transform. In most states, the pre-harvest interval is 14 days.  Glyphosate and malathion are both 7 days, and there is no pre-harvest interval for Defol. Information provided by Brent Bean, USCP Director of Agronomy

Fumonisin and Sprouting Concerns–There have been some concerns expressed about the ability for sorghum to develop fumonisin. We have spoke to experts, and Dr. Gary N. Odvody, Texas A&M professor in corn and sorghum diseases, says fumonisin is a rare and unlikely issue in grain sorghum. Growers should properly dry their grain sorghum and avoid pockets of wet grain. Care should be taken to avoid cross-contamination of grain sorghum by storing or hauling grain is containers previously occupied by contaminated corn.

There have also been some concerns about sprouting in the Panhandle with recent rainfall. According to Dr. Larry Lambright, National Sorghum Foundation director and former plant breeder for Dekalb and Sorghum Partners, sorghum is unlikely to sprout when temperatures are below 70 degrees.

Export Report—Export commitments were strong this week with China and Japan committing to purchase 2.4 million bushels. This brings total commitments to 47 million, 22 percent of the USDA export target just three weeks into the marketing year. Price has begun to respond to this demand with interior terminal bids from central Kansas to central south Dakota nearing or equaling corn. Western plains basis has seen strengthening, as well. Gulf basis remains firm with sorghum bids for November delivery at 117 percent of corn or $4.75 per bushel.

 

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