Man looking up at the eclipse with eclipse glasses

The Harvest & the Eclipse: In Review

An Update from VP of Operations Heath Harrison

In 2017, the Thresher Artisan Wheat harvest season was extended due to weather that had caused delays in spring planting. Despite the delays, our merchandising and field staff continued to work diligently to sample producer’s fields, check moisture levels and check proteins that allowed for Thresher to maximize bin space at each facility. At the same time, this minimized downtime for producers by forecasting which fields they could harvest next. Thresher employees and management believe that in safety “zero is possible,” and it was demonstrated with all the field work completed without any injuries throughout our service area.

Within Thresher’s service area, the Newdale plant handled 24 percent more bushels this year with the new facility and bagger systems in place and at full operation. Idaho Falls, Blackfoot, Moreland, Rockford and American Falls overcame regional storage shortages by moving grain and directing it to facilities that could accommodate, which allowed for all our producers to find a place for their grain. Last year, Thresher experimented with grain bagging and successfully bagged just under 400k bushels of wheat. This year the baggers enabled our crew to pack away just under 750k bushels. This helped the region create additional storage for grain that otherwise would have gone to waste due to the storage shortage created by the malt industry.]

Along with unexpected delays, the 2017 harvest season even battled an eclipse. The eclipse was expected to draw 350k to 500k people to Thresher’s service area in the form of tourists, vendors, and even NASA crews. It was feared that this anticipated influx of people would bring harvesting to a standstill. Thresher ensured producers that no delay decisions would be made until August 21, 2017, the day of the event. With producers wanting to continue harvesting, Thresher kept all facilities throughout the valley open for business. Thresher remained committed to customer service and serviced the region in a responsible manner, even pausing with “eclipse glasses” to enjoy the rare event.

Thresher values your opinion to continue to improve service to producers. Please share any feedback or thoughts on the 2017 harvest season with your local Thresher facility.

Tractor and planter in the field

Upgraded Seed Treatment Facility to Begin With Syngenta Partnership

Beginning in November, the seed treatment facilities at Thresher’s Blackfoot and Idaho Falls plants will be obtaining an upgrade. The construction process is estimated to take two weeks, followed by one full day of training at each location by equipment representatives. Once completed, Thresher will have two state-of-the-art seed treatment lines with industry leading-quality, accuracy, efficiency and worker safety.

Thresher’s seed sales manager, Brett Wilken, learned of the new automated NOVO Mix System and knew it would benefit Thresher and area growers. The NOVO system is an automated hands-free mixing system that will substantially increase seed treatment accuracy and take away the chance of human error while mixing seed treatment batches. Seed treatments are very expensive and typically run between $150–$600 per gallon. Even slight errors have large impacts. Measuring and applying chemicals at rates down to 1/10 of an ounce per hundred pounds of seed makes accuracy very important. Thresher doesn’t want to overapply, and farmers want to make sure they are getting what they paid for. The NOVO system will generate a report detailing the pounds of seed treated and the amount of seed treatment used. This will verify for farmers that they are getting what they paid for.

Seed treatment speed will also be increased at both locations as part of the upgrade. Our older USC seed treaters will be replaced with USC LPV HI Capacity seed treaters, with capacity up to 3,000 lbs. per minute. Blackfoot currently treats seed at 1,300 lbs. per minute. After the upgrade, we are targeting 2,500 lbs. per minute. Idaho Falls treats at 2,000 lbs. per minute. After the upgrade, we will be striving for 2,500–3,000 lbs. per minute. This will improve turnaround times to and from the field and reduce loading times at these locations.

Syngenta partnered with Thresher back in 2010 to bring in the first new seed treatment system since 1970. Therefore, Thresher looked again to partner with a quality company like Syngenta to make this upgrade a reality. Syngenta District Seedcare Specialist Tony Severa states, “We at Syngenta are proud to have a working partnership with Agspring (Thresher Artisan Wheat). Our companies have some similar values of customer focus, innovation and one of the closely held values, quality. This is why we at Syngenta have teamed with Thresher Artisan Wheat to help with their Seedcare equipment needs to ensure each grower is receiving a quality end-use product. This starts with certified clean seed, industry-leading Seedcare products like our Cruisermaxx .33 and Vibrance Extreme, and uniform seed coverage with the newest and best seed treating equipment. We at Syngenta work hard for Thresher Artisan’s business and truly appreciate the level of commitment to quality they bring to the industry.”

Line graph

Market Update Brought to You by the VP of Merchandising, Mark Hanson

In combination with the poor demand for high-protein wheat and the ongoing trend of bearish USDA reports, the wheat markets continue to struggle to gain any upward momentum. With a higher than expected stock report at the end of September, the USDA increased the carry-in stocks by 3 million bushels. The USDA also added to the bearish outlook with a feed use decrease of roughly 30 million bushels. Cheap corn values and more than ample supplies available have been the common theme to the feed wheat demand. While some exports have recently occurred, the overall stocks are more than adequate, which is holding the wheat futures on the lower end of the trading range. Currently, the U.S. ending stocks equates to a stock surplus of 166 days. In other words, if U.S. producers did not harvest another bushel this year, we would have enough to cover almost 6 months of usage. Worldwide, there is a surplus of 132 days. With roughly three seasonal harvest periods throughout the world each year, this surplus is more than adequate and keeps the supply risk very low for the end users.

The supply concerns for DNS and durum have subsided tremendously over the past couple of months. The board spreads significantly widening out between Kansas City wheat and Minneapolis wheat last summer have led to a major demand shift to the lower-protein segment. This has resulted to some basis appreciation to the mid-protein market and some basis deterioration to the DNS market. This trend will likely continue through the next few weeks, but it is unknown at this point whether it will continue throughout the year. The export demand for DNS has moved to Canada and the Black Sea Region due to strong U.S. DNS values. Strong values also limit interest domestically for DNS. With the bulk of the row crop harvest now taking place, limited wheat supplies are expected to move over the next few weeks. This could lead to some basis volatility but should not, given the ample supplies throughout the pipeline.

Seasonally, the wheat markets tend to be negative through January. Since much of the negative action has already taken place, an environment for major rallies will be difficult to achieve. Below are the 5-year, 15-year and 30-year trends on the March Chicago futures:

Technically, the Chicago continuous charts are trying to figure themselves out. Using the Sept. 16 low – July 17 high, the WZ held the 61 percent retracement. That the market held despite the negative data shows that more fuel is needed to break that level. The key is whether corn will hold its value over the next few weeks. If additional pressure takes place in corn, it is very possible WZ will look at testing the $4.00 mark again. Likewise, technically and fundamentally, breaking through the $4.50 resistance will be difficult unless there is help from a fundamental factor.

In general, wheat is caught in a continued bearish fundamental trend. As all bullish periods end at some point, so will this bearish period, but it continues to appear that it will take additional time for this to develop. Demand will be more focused on top-quality supplies with the current market pattern and ample stock, therefore the lower-quality supplies will be the most difficult to market for the foreseeable future.

Market Update by Mark Hanson, VP Merchandising

Market Update August 2, 2017

The market will decipher corn, beans and wheat production as July has come to a close and we continue into August. Analysts are becoming less enthused about the yield prospects for corn after much of the western belt experienced limited rain and warmer temperatures during the key pollination period. Ahead of the August crop report, FC Stone lowered their estimates to 162.8 bu/acre from the current USDA estimate of 170.7. With the USDA currently projecting a comfortable 16.2 percent stocks to use, the market has had limited ability to draw in support given that the potential lowering of yields could decrease the ending stocks by as much as 661 million bushels. This decline would cause the stocks-to-use ratio to reach a much more bullish level of 11.5 percent.

In considering wheat, it is important to understand the corn dynamics as much of the lower protein HRW and SWW wheat has competed against corn in the feed markets recently. If the corn tightens up, the feed wheat markets should begin to see more life after two tough years. With the strong dollar resulting in a poor export market, the domestic feed market has been the main outlet for much of the SWW and lower protein HRW in PNW region.

Mills have loaded up on the cheap SWW supplies with the HRW harvest across the southern plains; farmers in that region are estimated to be selling 70 to 75 percent. This is a large percentage sold relative to this time of year. The DNS market led the drive upward due to the drought that hit much of the northern plains. Production is estimated to be half of last year as the market rallied over $2/bushel. Given the DNS/HRW spread that is currently $2.50/bu, many mixes are switching to cheaper HRW wheat. That coupled with a flush of old crop supplies that hit the market during the rally has oversaturated the DNS market. While the production issues are still a concern and likely will have longer-term effects to the markets, the short term appears bleak at this time.

Given current supplies, mills and feed sectors will continue to keep themselves full at lower price levels. The pipeline is expected to tighten slightly, which could yield a potential upside later in the crop year. It is currently uncertain if this could happen in 2017 or in the first or second quarter of 2018, but it appears there may be some additional excitement in store for wheat. While this is supportive, the balance sheets for wheat still show comfortable stocks and the upside may be a bit more tempered than past years, but at least it appears that we finally may have seen the end of two years of a bear market.

Seasonally, KC wheat tends to gain on Minneapolis as we get into August. Below is a chart showing that seasonal trend:

August wheat market graph

While the wheat charts are still evolving, we may be reaching a near-term bottom. So much can happen, but looking at seasonal trends, we suspect we will remain rangebound until we get through harvest.

Grower Software on iPad

New Grower Software Helps Increase Operation Results: Industry reports, sustainability data, weather condition updates and more

Agrible® and Thresher Artisan Wheat are teaming up to help growers make more informed decisions to drive results for their operations. Thresher is offering Agrible’s value-added tools for southeast Idaho producers through Agrible’s Morning Farm Report® software. With many Idaho wheat producers curious about how the long heat snap affected the crop this year, it’s important to have access to tools like Yield Engine within the Morning Farm Report Software.

“Top yield will be taken off but producers don’t know by how much,” says Todd Weitekamp, Product Line Manager for Agrible. “Our wheat modeling takes into account both water and temperature stress which can give growers an idea of what impact it might have on their final yield.”

As part of the suite of tools, growers with Thresher Artisan Wheat get access to Agrible’s Sustainable Sourcing feature.

Thresher grower Nick Benson says, “Sustainability is going to play a major role in my son’s generation. I try to teach him sustainable practices now because it is going to be a much bigger deal when he is my age.”

The software helps growers measure their sustainability impact with industry-approved metrics and, together with Agrible’s agronomic insights, gives growers the ability to farm even smarter. Agrible’s tools help growers tell their sustainability story by ensuring consumers have more information about how their food is grown.

Benson also uses Agrible’s Morning Farm Report technology to help him save money. “The most useful information for me from Morning Farm Report is water availability. I can save about $1,500 a day by shutting off all six of my irrigation pumps,” he says.

Agrible’s Morning Farm Report software delivers field-specific information on weather forecasts, soil conditions, nutrient availability forecasts, yield forecasts, and much more. Using the best science available, Morning Farm Report gives growers easy access to record keeping, predictive analytics, scouting, and sustainability metrics through laptop and mobile devices.

To learn more about the program and how to sign up from your local Thresher team, contact Brett Wilkins at bwilken@thresherwheat.com.

Field Days 2017

Continuing Success in the Field

Field Days 2017 Event

[Newdale, American Falls, Idaho Falls, and Blackfoot]

On July 11-14, Thresher brought together valued growers for the annual Field Days events. Each year, the Field Days events serve to keep growers updated on current market happenings and provide them the opportunity to hear from other leaders in the industry. The 2017 Field Days events had strong attendance and provided growers with several helpful resources and new ideas to help ensure their continued success in the field.

Thresher kicked off the featured presentation with a quick market update, discussed strides in safety and offered helpful tips on storing product. Thresher’s seed program will offer the same continued varieties from 2016 and is excited to announce the addition of three more to support Thresher’s dedication to providing consistent and high quality product. The following seed varieties are now available:

  • Assure – Soft White
  • LCS Jet – HRW
  • WB 4623CLP – Clearfield Hard red winter

Thresher Fall 2017 Seed Varieties:

  • SWW
  • WB 1529
  • WB 456
  • SY Ovation
  • Assure, new! Higher TW than Ovation, excellent yield potential, limited supply
  • Brundage

Blended varieties are also available. Seed Sales Manager Brett Wilken states that last year WB 1529/ SY Ovation and WB 456/ SY Ovation were popular blends among growers. The test weight and quality of WestBred wheat with the high yield potential of SY Ovation offer a blend that includes the best of both varieties. To learn more, click here.

Syngenta will be expanding their leadership in the sustainability field through the AgriEdge program. AgriEdge is linked to their Land.db technology and helps growers track and record their sustainability efforts while finding the bottom line. Syngenta offers to pay $1 per acre, for up to 1,500 acres, for sustainability data offered by growers.

One of WestBred’s growers, Terry Wilcox of Idaho, was the second-place winner of the last National Wheat Yield Contest. WestBred encourages growers to enter in contests and will pay for contest entry fees.

Grain Craft detailed their expertise in food safety. They are focused on helping growers to get their product approved and, with the help of Thresher, will check your product to see if it is subject to being rejected. Anyone concerned about COFO wheat (chemical residue) or the correct grain protectant to use for storing this year’s grain crop should contact their local Thresher manager or Heath Harrison or Brett Wilkin for further details.

Seed Days

Planting the Seeds of Success

On February 14, Thresher hosted our annual crop planning event, Seed Days, in Fort Hall. The goal for every Thresher event is to provide useful insights on the agronomic and grain market trends of most use to our growers, and Seed Days 2017 was no exception.

Bradford Warner, vice president of marketing at parent company Agspring, and Thresher CEO Don Wille opened the event. Wille encouraged growers to work with their local grain elevator managers to ensure they choose their seed varieties wisely in the current market. “We don’t take our relationships with you lightly, and we will continue to find ways to better your business,” said Wille.

The vendor portion of the event kicked off with each of the 16 vendors at Seed Days giving a brief overview of what they had to offer. Growers were encouraged to stop by the vendor booths to discuss what products and services could help their operations.

The Heart of the Event

The meat of Seed Days 2017 consisted of our informative panel discussions. The panels featured impressive lineups of experts discussing issues such as irrigation strategies, financial game plans and the current wheat market.

Panel 1: Saving Water and Improving Yields with Technology – Moderated by Bradford Warner

Presenters:

  • Bill Marek, irrigation researcher – Marek’s presentation, “Prevailing Wind and the Yield Impacts,” featured 2016 research on 33 pivots (potatoes and peas) that found that prevailing wind does impact yields. His percentile difference assessment found that growers are best served and will receive the biggest return in the shortest amount of time by extending efforts to make the poorest performing parts of the field do better.
  • Jeff Peters, director of sustainability and partnerships at Agrible – Peters spoke about the benefits of Agrible’s Morning Farm Report ®, a tool that takes field-level insights and gives you the power to make the best decisions.
  • Howard Neibling, associate professor at University of Idaho – Neibling walked through the recent LESA study on irrigation for dry bean, alfalfa, grain and potato production. The LESA work was funded by three years of grant support from Bonneville Power Administration and one year from AB.

Panel 2: Best Practices and Research Update from the 200 Bushel Club – Moderated by Brett Wilken, Founder, 200 Bushel Club & Thresher Idaho Seed Manager

Panel members included members of the 200 Bushel Club: Juliet Marshall, associate professor, plant pathologist at University of Idaho; Gary Farmer, agronomist at Bingham Co-op; Mike Erickson, seed treatment specialist at McGregor Co.; Dale Clark, director of research at Northern Seed; Kirk Jacobs, Silver K Farms; Cathy Wilson, director of research collaboration at Idaho Wheat Commission; Dr. Greg Blaser, senior agronomy professor at BYU-Idaho (retired).

200 Bushel Club Findings – In 2016, the 200 Bushel Club examined five field sites. Using Lemken and John Deere drilling implements, the club came to some unusual conclusions considering the variability of the field and in-season visual differences. The club determined that the unusual results were due to:

  • Seeds being planted into a dry seed bed
  • Spring rains missed the fields
  • There were seven weeks between planting and the first irrigation
  • Water was the limiting factor and restricted the crop’s production capabilities

Panel 3: Impact of the Markets and Managing Your P&L

Presenters:

  • Warren Preston, deputy chief economist at USDA – Preston previewed the 2017 agricultural outlook. The USDA has projected a flat farm income and a competitive trading environment.
  • Mike O’Dea, risk management consultant, INTL FCStone – O’Dea gave growers a forward look on wheat. According to FCStone, the U.S. will continue to be the residual supplier to the world since the U.S. has the capacity to store the world’s surplus supply.
  • Jennifer Shaw, Ph.D., head of sustainability North America at Syngenta – Shaw discussed the importance of knowing your bottom line. Shaw says that farm management software is the foundation so growers can visualize the operation and easily determine their break-even points.

Panel 4: Seed Performance and the Best Varieties for 2017
Presenters:

  • Trenton Stanger, WestBred representative – Stanger gave comparative information about WestBred’s leading seed varieties for all the wheat classes, including hard red, hard white, soft white wheat and Alzada durum.
  • Tony Severa, Syngenta – Severa discussed Syngenta’s industry-leading hard white wheat varieties, “Bullseye” hard red spring and two new varieties for 2018.
  • Mike Erickson, McGregor Co. – Erickson presented some compelling research supporting the class-leading seed treatments offered by Thresher. For instance, Cruisermaxx .33 showed three-bushel yield gains over the next closest rival in the McGregor 2016 seed treatment trials.
  • Ryan Webber, WestBred – Webber announced the National Wheat Yield winners who grew Thresher seed. Terry Wilcox took second place nationally, growing WB 9668. Brad Parks placed second in Idaho, growing WB 9411. Both used WestBred hard red spring wheats.

Grand Prize Winners

Seed Days 2017 attendees received some wonderful prizes thanks to key sponsors like Agrible, AquaSpy, McGregor, WestBred, Syngenta, Wilbur-Ellis, Lemken and Rain for Rent.
2017 grand prize winners:

  • Brad Baker won a drone kit donated by Agrible
  • Jeff VanOrden won the AquaSpy Probe Kit donated by AquaSpy
  • Chevy Bingham won an Old Town Canoe donated by McGregor
  • Brad Reed won a Milwaukee drill set donated by WestBred

We want to thank everyone for coming to this year’s Seed Days! To download the panel presentations, click here. For more information on Thresher events, please call the Blackfoot office at (208) 785-4460, or contact your local grain elevator manager.
Click HERE to download all the 2017 Seed Days presentations.

 

Questioning the Right Date: Collaborating to influence the best RMA Wheat planting date change

Thresher Seed Manager Brett Wilken has led the charge to help get the fall planting date for wheat moved back in the interest of our producers. Wilken started the process back in July by requesting the Idaho Wheat Commission look into extending the fall-planted wheat insurance cutoff dates in Idaho.

A combination of climate factors affect fall-planted wheat and other crops in diverse ways. Barley yellow dwarf virus (BYDV) is one disease that is beginning to thrive in fall-planted winter wheat because of the later arrival of cooler weather. As our scientific advisers have shown, BYDV reduces yields and quality of the crop.

The Thresher team believed the company should take a proactive stance and not ignore the problem. Wilken had asked about changing the winter wheat cutoff dates in past years because of the local demand for hard red winter wheat (HRW) by important customers. It is preferred to plant HRW following potato harvest because potato fields need the most fertile ground and will generally get a better protein level when planted earlier than when they follow other crops. Wilken was told that changing the date would very difficult, but that did not deter him.

Currently the insurance cutoff date for Bingham County is October 15; however, the Thresher team has seen producers plant successfully until November 1 for more than a decade. With our changing climate and disease threat, planting too early appears to be a larger insurance/farm risk than planting late or after the current cutoff date and not being covered under federal crop insurance.

Now with the recent emergences of BYDV, Thresher recommends farmers delay planting at least 2 weeks confirmed by research that shows it is better to plant after October 1. Logistically, the Thresher team wondered, how an average or large farm would plant winter wheat if they are only given 2 weeks, especially considering that most farmers in our area are also harvesting potatoes in that same time frame.

When producers communicated to Thresher managers that they were going to plant as they always have and hope insurance will cover them, Wilken recognized this was not a good scenario for anyone: the Idaho Wheat Commission, input retailers, Thresher, or our downstream customers.

“Working with the 200 Bushel Club, Thresher strives to help improve wheat yields through best practices and newest technology to make sure wheat stays as a viable lead crop in Eastern Idaho,” said Wilken. “Optimal planting dates remain a critical part of the yield equation and they needed to be adjusted to provide producers the best scenario for success with winter wheat.”

Over the ensuing weeks, members of the 200 Bushel Club, Idaho Wheat Commission, Barley Commission and Idaho Grain Producers Association (IGPA) responded agreeing that the date change was needed. Wilken scheduled a conference call with interested parties and discussed the best path for moving forward despite being told that there was no way to get the date change implemented for planting in the fall of 2016. Stacey Satterlee with IGPA took the lead on pushing the request through and contacted RMA about the date change. IGPA included the fall planting date cutoff discussion at the district meetings held throughout the state in October to gather feedback from their grower base. Positive input from these meetings has helped push the change closer to realization.

The RMA internal deadline to initiate the change is at the end of March, and the team worked to finalize the request at the IGPA board meeting in October so it could be shared and considered at Tri-State Grain Growers Convention in November. Thresher will strive to keep producers up-to-date on the final resolution next year.

Market Update by Mark Hanson, VP Merchandising

Generally speaking, the wheat markets have been trading range bound since the middle of September after testing the support levels in late August.  Speculators accumulated sizable short positions to reach those lows but with this pressure, it discouraged the amount of spot selling during the latter part of harvest.  Lacking that fuel, the market bounced back as the speculators evened up their positions.  While a bounce occurred, the supplies continue to be a concern.  The combination of burdensome wheat carryouts both in the US and the world, very comfortable corn stocks and no major production concerns overall have limited the upside potential for wheat.

The PNW export market for this fall continues to be focused on the corn and soybean potential since the wheat demand is still rather disappointing.  Some of the traditional users of US wheat did execute some purchases during the lows but US values continue to be priced at a premium compared to the Black Sea region and Australia.  The US Dollar continues to trade on the top side of the market since it made the surge against other currencies beginning in mid-2014.  Below is the US Dollar index chart over the past 5 years:

Now that the election is complete, the market finally has settled down.  Initially, the market was quite volatile given the surprise outcome of the election.  Optimism continues to grow for the US economy with the latest GDP growth outlook from the OECD projection growth of 2.3% in 2017 and 3.0 for 2018.  This is having a major impact on the US Dollar strength with is at a 5 year high.  This strength is making US wheat less competitive in the world marketplace so most of the demand will be centered on having the best quality wheat in the world.

Technically, there is not much to be excited about.  While the downside seems to be fortified for now at $3.62 the Chicago Wheat, we are seeing good resistance at the 38% retracement at $4.25. If that resistance does break, there is only another 20 cents of upside.  Something more fundamental needs to occur before the market can go up further than this.  Since demand is rather tempered, this likely will have to come from Southern Hemisphere weather concerns.  Below is the latest chart analysis:

Looking at the 15-seasonal, there are also some challenges for the upside potential.  With plenty of stocks at this moment and demand lagging, the remainder of the crop year could be difficult to attract support.  Below is the seasonal action.  While I feel the downside targets on these charts are too negative, I do believe these challenges are rational given the current market environment.

Welcome to the New Producer Portal

Thresher is dedicated to grower needs. Thus, we are excited to announce the new Producer Portal. It’s an all-purpose gateway for growers to easily access real-time account information including:

  • General Account
  • Information Contracts
  • Tickets
  • Payments and Invoices Settlements

In addition, valuable resources like current news, DTN feeds and market information can also be found on this site. For more information and to sign up, contact Chelsea Chavez at 208-522-2413 or email cchavez@thresherwheat.com. When signing up, please be prepared to provide the following information:

  • Farm owner’s first and last name
  • Contract email
  • Farm name to associate
  • Name of anyone who can view the account (receptionist, farm manager, etc.) Please note there will be only one account created.