July 5, 2013 — Because the growing season is so intertwined with the calendar, the July 4th holiday is one of those dates that not only serves as a reminder of important events in our history, but also has become a barometer to measure crop progress, often foretelling feed supplies and costs for dairy farmers.
DairyBusines Update’s Dave Natzke joined us on Friday’s DairyLine to check on the calendar and the crops:
I can remember vividly the years when my grandfather and father would talk about the corn crop in our fields here in Wisconsin being “knee high by the fourth of July,” and comparing it to memorable years of the past. And, in many years, my brothers and I would be in the marching band in the July 4th parade, then go home and trade our band uniforms for jeans and T-shirts and help harvest a second-cutting of alfalfa hay.
We’ll probably have to throw the cropping calendar out of the window this year. In my part of the country, at least, the wet, heavy soils delayed planting and growing seasons, leaving corn only “knee-high to a grasshopper” on this July 4th, and many producers struggling to get a hay crop harvested.
Thankfully, USDA’s weekly Crop Progress report indicates things are getting better. As of June 30, both the U.S. corn and soybean crops in the 18 major grain producing states were rated good to excellent, a slight improvement from the week before. And, last week’s Crop Acreage report estimated both 2013 corn and soybean acreage will be a record high. Even alfalfa hay acreage, which has been on the decline, is expected to rebound slightly.
In contrast, USDA’s Grain Stocks report estimated current supplies of corn and soybeans continue to be tight.
The feed markets reacted as expected this past week, with near-term prices pushing higher due to tight supplies, but the higher acreage and anticipated harvest estimates helping drive futures prices lower. With a good July and August growing season, that could mean dairy farmers will see some feed price relief as the 2013 harvest season develops.