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    Economic Depreciation for Farm Equipment and Machinery

    In 2013, strong US commodity prices, relatively low interest rates, and enhanced tax deductions led to robust sales of new farm machinery and equipment. According to the Association of Equipment Manufacturers’ February 2014 Flash Report, retail sales of 2-4WD tractors and combines in 2013 were substantially higher than sales in 2011 and 2012, and greater than the five-year (09-13) average sales level.

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    Programs for Beginning Farmers and Ranchers from USDA and SDDA

    The average age of principal farm operators in the US increased from 54 years-of-age in 1997 to 57 years-of-age in 2007. Today, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, sixty percent of agricultural producers are age 55 or older. This general aging of US farmers and ranchers highlights the importance of programs that focus on educating and assisting the next generation of producers.

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    Conservation Programs in the 2014 Farm Bill

    Passage of the Agricultural Act of 2014 now permits USDA to develop rules and implement programs related to changes in the Conservation Title of the legislation. Although spending on conservation programs is predicted to surpass commodity program spending over the next ten years, conservation spending is cut by about $4 billion over this period.

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    Tax Topics: Income Averaging

    Farm and ranch income can vary greatly from one year to the next because of price volatility, extreme weather events, and other exogenous factors. Significantly higher income in any one year can push producers into a higher tax bracket in that particular year, resulting in a larger income tax payment.

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    Tax Topics: Depreciation

    All businesses, including those involved in production agriculture, use depreciation as an income tax deduction to recover the cost of qualifying assets. Careful consideration of how to report tax depreciation helps producers comply with IRS regulations and can result in a reduction of income taxes paid.

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    Tax Topics: Deferred Grain Sales

    Grain producers using a calendar tax year and the cash method of accounting often use deferred payment contracts to defer payment of grain sales into the following tax year. For example, producers who sold grain using these types of contracts in 2013 will not receive payment until 2014.

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    Tax Topics: Crop Insurance Proceeds

    Like other taxpayers, agricultural producers must report all taxable income to the IRS. Crop producers must include in their taxable income crop insurance indemnity payments received as a result of physical crop damage or destruction, or from a reduction in crop revenue. This also includes crop disaster proceeds received from the federal government. For most producers, these payments are generally reported on Schedule F (Form 1040), Profit or Loss from Farming.

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    Tax Topics: Section 179 Deduction

    In recent years, the federal government has allowed advanced depreciation and expensing elections for capital purchases made for business purposes. These provisions, including Section 179 expensing, provide tax relief to small businesses, including farms and ranches, by allowing the cost of qualifying purchases to be deducted from taxable income.

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    Tax Topics: Deadlines for Agriculture Producers

    Most tax payers have until April 15, 2014 to file their 2013 income tax return (Form 1040). Farmers and ranchers, though, must file their 2013 return and pay all of their taxes by March 3, 2014, unless they pay their estimated tax by January 15. Failure to file a return and pay taxes by March 3, or pay estimated tax by January 15, may result in a penalty.

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    Has it Been Cold Enough for Pathogens to Survive?

    It has been a long cold winter with record low temperatures. This has led to some growers wondering if they still have to worry about plant diseases this growing season. As cold as it has been this winter, it may not have been cold enough for plant pathogens to die. Fungal pathogens have survival structures that enable them withstand very harsh weather conditions.

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    Climate Outlook for May

    Area farmers and gardeners have been eagerly awaiting warmer weather this spring, as soil temperatures are still too cool in many areas to plant corn and backyard gardens.  Small grains, such as wheat and oats, are able to tolerate the cooler soil temperatures that currently measure in the 40F-50F range.  Soils are still frozen at deeper levels in the northeast, where the maximum frozen depths reached several feet below the surface this winter.

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    Early Season Crop Field Scouting

    Regular and planned field scouting can help growers improve pest management and crop performance throughout the growing season. Early season scouting should start with reviewing last year’s scouting records. Records for specific fields can alert growers or field scouts of potential pest concerns for the upcoming year.

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    Crop Rotation

    Historically farmers considered crop rotation a valuable part of their farm management. Crop rotations can be complicated or straightforward. In any given situation there are many factors that each farmer will need to weigh and consider as they find the right crop rotation for them. There are a few guidelines that can help producers with their planning.

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    How Late to Plant Spring Wheat?

    As of the April 14 USDA-NASS crop progress and condition report, 6% of the spring wheat had been planted in South Dakota. This puts us a little behind average progress according to historical records. Lack of snow cover and generally increasing air and soil temperatures has allowed many producers in the southern part of the state to get their crop planted. In the northern part of the state, where the majority of spring wheat is raised, planting has been delayed due to frost, low soil temperatures and/or snow cover until recently.

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    Crop Rotation in Farm Management

    Crop rotation has long been considered an important farm practice. In 2013 producers had to stray from their well thought out crop rotations when the winter wheat crop in South Dakota failed. This may still be affecting many producers in central and western South Dakota.

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    Glyphosate Resistant Summary

    In recent articles we have reviewed the four confirmed glyphosate resistant weeds in South Dakota: ragweed, horseweed, waterhemp and kochia. These four weeds make up 25 percent of the list of 16 confirmed weeds species that are resistant to glyphosate in the US. Three others on the list have a possibility of becoming resistant in South Dakota. The remaining seven are weeds that do not survive in South Dakota but have been found resistant somewhere else in the United States.

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    Glyphosate Resistant Waterhemp: A Growing Problem

    Among the four glyphosate resistant weeds in South Dakota, common waterhemp has the potential to have the highest impact areas where a corn-soybean rotation is the mainstay. Thirty years ago waterhemp was only found in the very southeast corner of the state. It was a tough weed to control then and still is.

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    Winter Wheat Variety Selection Tool

    Variety selection is one of the important decisions any crop producer makes, and one that is critical for successful winter wheat production. South Dakota State University conducts winter wheat Crop Performance Testing plots in several locations on an annual basis. Each year, currently grown varieties, along with emerging and experimental lines are planted in each of the trials. One or more older varieties are also included for check purposes.

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    Has it Been Cold Enough for Pathogens to Survive?

    It has been a long cold winter with record low temperatures. This has led to some growers wondering if they still have to worry about plant diseases this growing season. As cold as it has been this winter, it may not have been cold enough for plant pathogens to die. Fungal pathogens have survival structures that enable them withstand very harsh weather conditions.

    Read More »

    Glyphosate Resistant Summary

    In recent articles we have reviewed the four confirmed glyphosate resistant weeds in South Dakota: ragweed, horseweed, waterhemp and kochia. These four weeds make up 25 percent of the list of 16 confirmed weeds species that are resistant to glyphosate in the US. Three others on the list have a possibility of becoming resistant in South Dakota. The remaining seven are weeds that do not survive in South Dakota but have been found resistant somewhere else in the United States.

    Read More »

    Glyphosate Resistant Waterhemp: A Growing Problem

    Among the four glyphosate resistant weeds in South Dakota, common waterhemp has the potential to have the highest impact areas where a corn-soybean rotation is the mainstay. Thirty years ago waterhemp was only found in the very southeast corner of the state. It was a tough weed to control then and still is.

    Read More »

    Early Season Crop Field Scouting

    Regular and planned field scouting can help growers improve pest management and crop performance throughout the growing season. Early season scouting should start with reviewing last year’s scouting records. Records for specific fields can alert growers or field scouts of potential pest concerns for the upcoming year.

    Read More »

    Crop Rotation

    Historically farmers considered crop rotation a valuable part of their farm management. Crop rotations can be complicated or straightforward. In any given situation there are many factors that each farmer will need to weigh and consider as they find the right crop rotation for them. There are a few guidelines that can help producers with their planning.

    Read More »

    Nitrogen Additives

    Nitrogen (N) is very important in plant growth and development by providing the building blocks for plant cell structure, carbohydrate production and protein synthesis. The nitrogen cycle is complex and very leaky as nitrogen compound transformations are influenced by microbial activity, cropland management, and the environment.

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    Crop Rotation in Farm Management

    Crop rotation has long been considered an important farm practice. In 2013 producers had to stray from their well thought out crop rotations when the winter wheat crop in South Dakota failed. This may still be affecting many producers in central and western South Dakota.

    Read More »

    Black Snow

    Has anyone noticed the black snow in Eastern South Dakota? It seems there is more soil on top of the melting snow drifts than in previous years. Black snow is a regular occurrence in central Iowa along interstate 35 and other areas where snow piles up in drifts because of their widespread use of intensive fall tillage.

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    Building Soil Phosphorus?

    Lower phosphate fertilizer prices have generated some interest in building soil phosphorus (P) levels and questions concerning this practice. Why would someone want to build soil phosphorus levels? Soil phosphorus is relatively stable and will not be easily lost such as nitrogen which is mobile in the soil as nitrate-N.

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    Potassium Soil Testing

    Soil potassium (K) levels have been routinely tested for many years. Historically, K levels were quite high in most South Dakota fields and therefore crop producers paid little attention to K levels or fertilization. However, in the late 1990’s, crop K deficiency symptoms, especially in corn, were observed first in coarser textured soils in the northeast and east central part of the state.

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    The Web Soil Survey

    Among the too numerous to count, benefits, of having federal employees back at work, is that the many informative websites that they operate are also available once again. One of my favorites is the NRCS’ Web Soil Survey. Many landowners are probably familiar with the paper copies of soil surveys, which were available for each county in the US in years past.

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    Interpreting Soil Test Micronutrient Values

    Soil analyses prior to planting can be an invaluable tool in determining nutrient application rates and diagnosing potential in-season deficiencies. Overwhelmingly, the focus of these tests is on the primary or macronutrients – Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K). Typical soil tests often report essential micronutrient contents, termed for their trace amounts found in plants and soil, and these numbers should not be overlooked.

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    Fall Fertilizer Application Considerations

    Harvesting of soybeans and corn has just begun in South Dakota. Crop plans for next year will soon begin as producers choose hybrids, varieties, and determine crop nutrient inputs. Currently, the climate is trending to be very dry which could influence 2014 crop plans. Fertilizer purchased in the fall typically has been lower priced and therefore more attractive for crop budgets. There are other fall fertilization considerations as well.

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    How Late to Plant Spring Wheat?

    As of the April 14 USDA-NASS crop progress and condition report, 6% of the spring wheat had been planted in South Dakota. This puts us a little behind average progress according to historical records. Lack of snow cover and generally increasing air and soil temperatures has allowed many producers in the southern part of the state to get their crop planted. In the northern part of the state, where the majority of spring wheat is raised, planting has been delayed due to frost, low soil temperatures and/or snow cover until recently.

    Read More »

    Glyphosate Resistant Waterhemp: A Growing Problem

    Among the four glyphosate resistant weeds in South Dakota, common waterhemp has the potential to have the highest impact areas where a corn-soybean rotation is the mainstay. Thirty years ago waterhemp was only found in the very southeast corner of the state. It was a tough weed to control then and still is.

    Read More »

    Funding Opportunity Through the Great Plains Center for Agricultural Health

    The Great Plains Center for Agricultural Health (GPCAH) has issued a call for proposals from community-based organizations. This funding opportunity is to engage in outreach, education and using research-based evidence to prevent agricultural injury and illness. The GPCAH is particularly interested in projects that result in improved health and safety practices or enhanced service delivery by the applicant.

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    Glyphosate-Resistant Horseweed or Marestail

    In the early 1990’s, marestail resistant to f SU (sulfonylurea) or IMI (imidazolinone) began to develop. Marestail is a fall annual commonly found in No-Till systems, and thus became very hard to manage if soybeans were planted. The only chemicals available to control marestail in the nineties were SU types, which had fair to good control.

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