Down on the Farm 2018

August 16, 2018

August 16, 2018

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now for today’s commentary -

I am talking to you on the phone from our farm in Illinois. Our corn and soybeans are beautiful. I picked some ears. Most ears are 18 rows round – some are 16 rows. That is a good sign. Our early corn is starting to dent. I think the corn crop is made. A rain would not help the corn vey much but it sure would be good for the soybeans. The ground is dry. Soybeans could use some moisture to help fill the bean pods. Is this crop better than last year? I think so. 

The fact is – there are lots of good crops across the Midwest. The USDA is telling us that. We are cleaning out our grain bins and getting ready for the new crop. Farmers around here predict an early start at harvest. The hot weather has pushed the crop to dry. Today, we shipped a trailer load of market hogs. They will weigh at least 280 pounds each. They grow to 280 pounds in less than 6 months. I have raised pigs all my life and have never seen the herd health as perfect as ours is today. It is exciting to see the corn, soybeans, and hogs doing so well.

Our markets are another story. We can’t predict with any certainty what prices will look like through harvest and into next year. Most farmers have sold their old crop, but the new crop is of concern now. We have two things that weigh heavy on our prices – record size crop and trade war worries. One positive development is that wheat reserves are down. Russia and Ukraine had a bad crop. Keep in mind that Russia is the number one wheat exporter in the world. The European wheat crop wasn’t very good either. That should help to lift corn prices some.

The trade war talk has pushed prices down also. There is hope that we could reach a deal with Mexico – maybe Canada. That would fix NAFTA and then negotiate a deal with Europe. We need momentum toward resolution. That could give President Trump some leverage in Chinese talks. Unfortunately, I don’t expect a deal with China very soon. The reason is this – Trump is serious in pressing Chinese trade reforms and China is stubborn. I think our farm products will be in demand around the world. Somebody will want my corn, soybeans, and pork. It just might be somebody different this year. The trade dispute is shaking up trading relations. In the end, that might be a good thing, but for now – we worry. 

I went to the Illinois State Fair yesterday. Looking at all of the cattle and hogs reminded me of years ago when I showed my 4-H pigs at the fair.

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go online to

Until next week, I am John Block -- down on the farm.