February WASDE

Dale Johnson, Farm Management Specialist
University of Maryland

Information from USDA WASDE report

Attached is a summary for the February WASDE published Tuesday. There was a 50 million bushel increase in the estimate of corn use for ethanol but this increase was offset by a 50 million decrease in the estimate of corn exports and so there was no change in supply, demand or ending stocks.

There was a significant 50 million bushel increase in the estimate for soybean exports. With all other supply and demand factors unchanged this decreased the stocks to use ratio from 11.9% to 10.5%. However, this was anticipated so there was no significant increase in Soybean futures on Tuesday.

There was a 25 million bushel increase in the estimates for wheat exports with all other supply and demand factors unchanged. However with the large ending stocks of wheat, this change was relatively insignificant.

2020 February WASDE


Call for Farmer participants in organic grain transitions project

Researchers at the University of Maryland are looking for farmers interested in partnering with them on a project to help develop strategies for transitioning to organic grain production. Please see the attached flier for details. Contact Dr. Ray Weil for additional information (rweil@umd.edu).

Organic Transitions1page announcement Jan2019

2020 Grain Marketing Workshop

Friday January 10, 2020 from 8:00am – 11:30am

This breakfast meeting will include speakers on various topics in grain marketing.  Come have breakfast and discuss this year’s strategies for marketing your grain. Speakers include marketing specialists, traders and more.  Topics include local and national grain outlook for 2020, tax considerations, crop insurance and the farm bill.


In person:

  • Chesapeake College, Wye Mills, MD Higher Education Center HES-110. Contact Shannon Dill, sdill@umd.edu or call 410-822-1244.

Broadcast to:

  • Charles County Extension, 9501 Crain Hwy, Bel Alton, MD 20611. Contact Alan Leslie, aleslie@umd.edu or call (301) 934-5403
  • Harford County Extension, 3525 Conowingo Rd., Suite 600, Street, MD 21154. Contact Andy Kness, akness@umd.edu or call (410) 638-3255
  • Somerset County Extension Office, 30730 Park Dr, Princess Anne, MD 21853. Contact: Sarah Hirsh, shirsh@umd.edu or call (410) 651-1350

Effects of Planting Population on Yield in Full Season Soybeans

Kelly Nichols, Agriculture Agent Associate & Matt Morris, Agriculture Agent
University of Maryland Extension, Frederick County

Soybean population plots were planted on two farms in Frederick County near Thurmont and Tuscarora on June 4 and 7, respectively. Planted populations were 80, 100, 120, 140, and 160 thousand plants per acre (ppa). The Thurmont plots were planted on 30-inch spacing with three replications. The Tuscarora plots were drilled on 7.5-inch spacing with four replications.

On July 1, initial population counts were taken at both farms. At the Thurmont farm, plots ranged from 79 to 88 percent germination. At the Tuscarora farm, plots ranged from 88 to 98 percent germination (Table 1). This is consistent with the germination percentage of the seed.

Plots were harvested on October 3 and October 24 at the Tuscarora and Thurmont farms, respectively. The average yield for each farm individually and combined were calculated (Table 2). Yield ranged from 61 to 70 bu/A. Overall, yield differences between the populations were within three bu/A. While a complete statistical analysis has not been conducted, the trend of the data indicates that planting at a lower population, such as 120,000 or 100,000, would allow for reduced seed costs while still maintaining optimum yield.

The variety used at the Thurmont farm was Pioneer P37A69, which retails for $71.00 per unit of 140,000 seeds. The variety used at the Tuscarora farm was Hubner 38-27R2X, which retails for $59.00 per unit of 140,000 seeds. (Note that these costs do not include any discounts or seed treatments.) At the time of harvest, soybeans were $9.51/bu on the Chicago Board. The net dollar amount was calculated by subtracting the seed cost from the gross amount per acre. At the Thurmont farm, the 100,000 planting population had the highest net per acre at $598.19, while the 140,000 and 160,000 populations had the lowest net, around $581/A (Table 2). At the Tuscarora farm, the 120,000 planting population had the highest net per acre at $560.13, while the 160,000 population had the lowest net at $515.76/A.

Planting at lower populations, around 100 to 120 thousand ppa, may not reduce yield or net per acre, indicating that this is a potential for cost savings on farms. We are planning to conduct this study again next year at more locations around the state. To stay up to date with this research project, visit https://go.umd.edu/FCagresearch.

Table 1. Initial Population Counts, July 1.


Thurmont Farm

Tuscarora Farm

Planted Population

(1000 plants per acre [ppa])

Initial Population (1000 ppa)

% Germination Initial Population (1000 ppa)

% Germination



79 71




85 88




79 117




88 124




84 153



Table 2. Average Yield at 13.5% Moisture and Net Profit in $/A.


Yield (bu/A)

Net $/A

Planted Population (1000 plants per acre)

Thurmont Farm

Tuscarora Farm

Both Farms

Thurmont Farm

Tuscarora Farm









63 65 598.19




64 66 595.33




63 66 581.39




61 65 581.71


Evaluation of the performance of a soy protein seed lubricant

Dr. Nicole Fiorellino, Extension Agronomist
University of Maryland, College Park

With the arrival of a new seed lubricant product (DUST, Low Mu Tech, Calamus, IA), we evaluated its performance against two common seed lubricants, Graphite and Fluency (Bayer Crop Science, USA), and untreated check (UTC) plots in both corn and soybeans in 2019 at Wye Research and Education Center in Queenstown, MD. DUST is a soy protein lubricant and is reported to contribute to early plant vigor as well as be a cleaner alternative to commonly available seed lubricants such as graphite, which can create a mess for users of the product. As such, we utilized a completely randomized design with five replicates and evaluated emergence and early season vigor at 7, 14, and 21 days after planting (DAP). Stand counts were reported as number of 1,000 plants per acre, with plants counted in a 30 ft length of one corn row and plants counted in an area the size of 1/1000 of an acre in soybean plots. Early season vigor was assessed through collection of normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) readings using a handheld Greenseeker sensor held approximately 1 m from the surface of the ground as the operator walked down the length of one corn or soybean row per plot. Corn was harvested when moisture approached 15% and yields are reported in bushels per acre corrected to 15% moisture.

Differences among seed lubricant treatments for plant population, early season vigor, and crop yield were analyzed using a mixed model analysis of variance using replication as a random variable using SAS 9.4 software. Coefficient of variation (CV%) are reported as a measure of variability at a test site and values less than 10% indicate enough precision existed to determine a significant difference.







Based on the measurements observed in 2019, the DUST soy protein seed lubricant is comparable to other seed lubricants commonly used in Maryland for corn and soybean planting. There were no differences in emergence or yield among the treatments for either corn, indicating all seed lubricants perform as well as each other and a control plot with no seed lubricant used. Additionally, there was no effect of seed lubricant on early season vigor, as indicated by the company. Additional extension reports will include soybean yield data and economic analysis of the products, as there is a difference in price and amount of product recommended for use and if product performance is similar, as indicated by these results, then product cost will be a deciding factor for use.

November WASDE

Dale Johnson, Farm Management Specialist
University of Maryland

Information from USDA November WASDE report

Attached is the summary for the November WASDE published on November 8. After months of volatile WASDE estimates caused by weather and political events, the changes in estimates for the November WASDE are fairly small. Corn yield/acre estimate was down 1.4 bushels/acre to 167 bushels/acre. But the estimates for all areas of demand were also down slightly. The net effect is ending stocks down 19 million bushel to 1,910 million bushel and a stocks to use ratio of 13.7%.

Production and supply estimates for Soybeans were unchanged. Crushings  were down slightly which increase the ending stocks 15 million bushel and a modest increase in the stocks to use ratio to 11.9%.

There were only slight changes in Wheat estimates.

October WASDE

Dale Johnson, Farm Management Specialist
University of Maryland

Information from USDA October WASDE report

Attached is the summary for the September World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) that was published on October 10. Corn harvested acres and yields were slightly adjusted. The estimate for beginning stocks were down 331 million bushels. Estimate for total use was down 90 million bushel. Other minor changes result in an estimate of endings stock 261 million bushel lower and a decrease in the estimate of Ending Stocks to Use Ratio from 15.5% in September to 13.8% in October.

Soybean harvested acres estimate decreased from 75.9 to 75.6 million acres. Yield estimate was adjusted up 1 bushel per acre. Beginning stock estimate was adjusted down and ending stocks estimate was down 180 million bushel, which significantly decreased the stocks-to-use ratio from 15.9% to 11.4%. In June, the estimated Stocks to Use Ratio was 24.9% and has been decreasing every month. But market prices have not responded significantly because of the uncertainty in the soybean market caused by the trade war.

There were only slight changes in Wheat estimates.

September WASDE

Dale Johnson, Farm Management Specialist
University of Maryland

Information from USDA September WASDE report

Attached is the summary for the September World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) that was published on September 12. Corn harvested acre estimate was unchanged but yield estimate was adjusted down 1.3 bushel per acre to 168. Other estimate adjustments were insignificant.

Soybean harvested acres estimate was unchanged but yield estimate was adjusted down 0.6 bushels per acre. Beginning stock estimate was adjusted down and ending stocks estimate was down a significant 115 million bushel which significantly decreased the stocks-to-use ration from 18.8% to 15.9% which gave a bump to market prices. Today, Friday 13, China announced exemptions for soybean and pork tariffs which should further help our situation. 

There were no changes in wheat estimates.

September 2019 WASDE table
Download the table here: September 2019 WASDE

Interseeding Cover Crops into Double-Crop Soybeans – Initial Findings

1,2Cara Peterson, 2Steven Mirsky, 1Kate Tully, 1,2Victoria Ackroyd
1Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, University of Maryland
2United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Beltsville

The mid-Atlantic region has the highest percentage of arable acreage in cover crops in the United States, with some reports placing Maryland and Delaware as the two states with the highest percentage of total cropland planted with cover crops (Wade et al., 2015; Hamilton et al., 2017). However, the majority of producers in the region are only using grass cover crops, since legumes require earlier planting dates in order to over-winter (Mirsky et al., 2011; Clark, 2012). Farmers in this region have success with legume cover crops when planting them after wheat harvest or frost-seeding in the spring. However, most mid-Atlantic crop rotations include double-crop soybeans planted after wheat, which limits opportunities for establishing a legume cover crop. Low legume adoption is particularly problematic as farmers could use this cover crop before corn to maximize the opportunity for nitrogen fixation benefits.

cover crop rotation schematic
Figure 1. (Top) A typical mid-Atlantic crop rotation, with double-crop soybeans in the field at the pivotal points for establishing a successful legume cover crop. (Bottom) Proposed crop rotation scheme for interseeding a cover crop between 30-inch soybeans. The cover crop over-winters and is terminated before corn planting in the spring.

Some farmers interseed cover crops into growing cash crops to overcome this timing challenge. Current options for planting cover crops into standing corn and soybean include both aerial broadcasting via airplane and adapted high-boy sprayers. However, these two techniques often result in poor establishment due to low seed-to-soil contact and seed predation by rodents and birds (Hively et al., 2001; Baker and Griffis, 2009; Wilson et al., 2013).

Figure 2. Interseeding cover crops with three planting units between 30-inch soybean rows.

To address the issue of planting cover crops into standing cash crops, our mid-Atlantic team ran numerous trials of an InterSeeder grain drill (InterSeeder Technologies, LLC; Fig. 2). Engineered by the Pennsylvania State University, this drill plants three rows of cover crops between 30-inch rows of standing cash crops. Field trials of this InterSeeder have been conducted in corn, as well as full-season soybeans, at various sites in the region with mixed results (Curran et al., 2018; Wallace et al. 2017). In Maryland, interseeding into full-season corn was moderately successful, whereas cover crops did not perform well in full season beans. However, exploratory research in Maryland identified wide-row double crop soybeans as a viable option for interseeding. The success of seeding grass-legume mixtures into 30-inch double-crop soybeans has led to an expanded on-station research program.

New Field Trials. Field trials with five different interseeded cover crop treatments were conducted to determine the optimal legume cover crop species to interseed in mixture with cereal rye and if interseeding a cover crop mixture affected wide-row double crop soybean yields. The five different cover crop treatments included: cereal rye alone, cereal rye independently mixed with four different legumes (hairy vetch, crimson clover, red clover, and winter pea), and a no cover crop control (Table 1).

Cover Crop Seeding Rates
Table 1. Interseeding Trial Cover Crop Seeding Rates

Double-crop soybeans planted in June were then interseeded with the cover crop treatments in early September 2017 and late August 2018. The double-crop soybeans were harvested in November for 2017 and later in 2018 (December) due to wet field conditions. The interseeded cover crop treatments grew throughout the winter and were terminated with herbicides in April 2017 and 2018 before planting corn.

In an ideal interseeding scenario, the cover crop is planted as the double-crop soybeans are beginning to reach full canopy in early September. That way, the cover crops only have to survive a few weeks under the low light conditions of a soybean canopy until leaf drop. Once the soybean canopy is gone, the cover crops continue to grow but do not interfere with soybean harvest.

Insights from Interseeding Trials

  • Cereal rye + crimson clover produced the highest average cover crop biomass. The cereal rye + crimson clover fall 2017 seeding produced an average of 4,980 lbs per acre of biomass while the 2018 seeding produced 3,950 lbs per acre by the spring of 2019. Cereal rye + hairy vetch and cereal rye + winter pea reached similar levels of biomass in two out of the three field sites where the cover crops survived under the soybean canopy.
  • Interseeding did not decrease yield. There was no pattern of soybean yield differences between the 30-inch wide row double-crop soybeans that had or hadn’t been interseeded. Likewise, there were very minimal differences in soybean yields between the cover crop treatments.
  • Interseeding did not affect soybean grain quality. Green cover crop plant material was not found in any soybean grain subsampling. Moisture levels remained consistent, with very slight variance across the field as expected in a normal cropping system.
  • Row orientation matters. Out of the five trial sites, two of the cover crop plantings did not survive under the soybean canopy. Interestingly, the three field sites with strong cover crop survival rates had rows oriented in roughly the same direction: East-West or Southeast-Northwest. The two field sites where the cover crops sprouted but did not survive under the soybean canopy in the fall were on a perpendicular row orientation of Northeast-Southwest. 

Row Spacing Considerations. The InterSeeder requires a 30-inch row spacing, while most double-crop soybean fields are planted in narrower rows of 15 inches or less. To account for the differing production practices, these field trials also included simple yield comparisons of 30- and 15-inch row double-crop soybeans. In the row spacing (15- vs 30-inches) trial, results were mixed. There was a yield penalty for wide row spacing in 2017, but not in 2018.

While the benefits of narrow row spacing have been well documented in full season beans, less is known about the potential advantages in double crop soybeans. We speculate that optimal production years enhance the effect of row spacing. For example, 2017 was a better soybean year compared to 2018 across the mid-Atlantic region. Higher levels of precipitation in 2018 than 2017 could have damaged yields. Previous research indicates that in lower yield years or for late-planted soybeans, the benefit of planting in 15 inch rows over 30 inch rows is lost (Alessi and Power, 1982; Hodges et al., 1983; Boquet, 1990; Weaver et al., 1990, Oplinger et al., 1992; Pederson and Lauer, 2003, Whaley et al., 2015).

Future Research. Nitrogen content analysis of the interseeded cover crop biomass is currently underway. Next, the research team will analyze how the following year’s corn crop responded to the interseeded cover crop mixtures.


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