Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Whenever someone asks me about being on the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour, I always start by answering, ‘Don’t tell my wife, but that is one of the best weeks of the year’!Yes, being away from the family for a week is trying, but traveling with a group of people that are crazy enough to scout hundreds of corn and soybean fields across the Corn Belt makes the week fly by.After USDA’s crop estimates came out earlier this month, many farmers all over the country (and some analysts) didn’t believe the record numbers that were released. Some said if USDA would have gone a little further into the fields they would have had much different calculations.So, what is really out there in the corn and soybean fields of the Heartland? Will Illinois and Iowa have corn ears the size of baseball bats? Will there be so many pods on a soybean plant that we scouts may start hyperventilating trying to count so high a number?Nearly 40 teams of 4 will venture out into the great unknown. As we spider-web our way from Ohio west and from the Dakotas east, covering 80% of the corn and soybean regions of the U.S., we will dig a little deeper into the nearly harvest-ready corn fields and the soybean fields working on filling out those last few pods.If you have to see it to believe it when it comes to the 2016 crops, get ready to ride along with me as I share what I am seeing all week long on my 5th journey in a row on the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour!You can follow my coverage at OhioAgNet.com and on Facebook and Twitter with #PFTour16.
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zoomIllustration; Source: Pxhere under CC0 Creative Commons license Despite a temperamental global trading climate and the uncertainties created by Brexit, UK port operators witnessed a steady year in 2018.According to a UK Port Freight Statistics report, the data for 2018 showed stable port freight tonnages overall, with only a 0.1% difference on the previous year at 483.3 million tonnes. However, overall unit load traffic declined, likely due to a drop of port traffic in passenger cars and new trade cars.During 2018, the UK continued to import more than it exports as a total of 252.4 million tonnes were imported, compared to 130.5 million tonnes exported.Additionally, the EU remained the country’s largest trade partner as more goods were moved between UK major ports and the EU than any other region in 2018, accounting for 44%, or 206.2 million tonnes, of total major port traffic.Liquid bulk goods, which account for 39% of total tonnage, decreased 5% overall, while unitised traffic fell to 23.9 million units, after five consecutive years of growth. Container units increased to a record high of 6 million, however, overall roll-on roll-off traffic fell by 1% to 17.9 million units passing through UK major ports.“Overall port freight figures remain constant although there is plenty of port capacity in the dry bulks, project cargo and particularly in the container sectors, meaning shipping companies have plenty of choice. This means competition between ports, which drives efficiencies and innovation,” Phoebe Warneford-Thomson, Policy and Economic Analyst at the British Ports Association, said.Statistics for the fourth quarter of port freight tonnage showed a growth of 6% to 121.8 million tonnes, which is consistent with suggestions that UK manufacturers were “stockpiling” inventory ahead of expected trade disruptions in the first and second quarters of 2019.