Will there be enough corn?

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Will there be enough corn?

Agricultural economists across the country are pondering this question.

“With the 2011 corn crop not likely big enough to meet demand and as prices continue to rise, livestock producers soon might be facing a critical decision: whether they should reduce their use of corn for feed,” said Chris Hurt, a noted economist at Purdue University.

For the pork industry specifically, Hurt said producers could pay, on average, about $6.85 per bushel for corn and still meet other operating costs.

Livestock producers will compete for short corn supplies with other users, such as biofuels and export markets, Hurt said.

His analysis is in line with other experts who see ethanol as the largest competitor for corn in the coming year, estimated at 5.1 billion bushels. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 4.7 billion bushels or close to 39 percent of the 2011 corn crop will go to ethanol production to meet the mandated Domestic Renewable Fuels standards set by the federal Environmental Protection Agency. Another 400 million bushels of corn will be used for the ethanol export market.

This competition in the market for animal feed is troublesome to the livestock and poultry industries. Livestock production severely could be curtailed because of the high price of corn. The price consumers pay for food in supermarkets will continue to rise.

Hurt and others predict the short supply also increases the odds that some end users, including the animal agriculture industries, will appeal to the Environmental Protection Agency to reduce ethanol mandates for 2012. If EPA mandates aren’t reduced, the cutback in corn usage will have to come from non-fuel sectors, such as animal agriculture and corn exports.

Potential soybean pests

The county has a good number of soybean acres planted late that might become susceptible to soybeans aphids later than usual this season. Ron Hammond, OSU Extension entomologist, said some fields have been sprayed for soybean aphids.

Because of how late the soybeans are, now actually is the time we should see aphid activity. OSUE recommends growers consider spraying for soybean aphids when a field averages 250 aphids per plant, which is the economic threshold for spraying.

Hammond also suggested looking for second generation bean leaf beetles a pod-feeding insect, which are starting to come out.

“There’s going to be so many soybean fields that are still green when the second generation comes out, they should really disperse themselves,” Hammond said. “That means we’ll either have very few fields at risk because we’ll see low concentrations of insects in any given field, or we’ll have a lot of fields at risk because the fields are staying green longer.”

Paul Golden is an extension educator for agriculture and natural resources with the Ohio State University Extension in Coshocton County.

Source: Coshocton Tribune Online>>

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