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Agrium, K+S deepen cloud over potash sector

Agrium, K+S deepen cloud over potash sector | Crops |

The cloud over the potash sector deepened as Agrium unveiled a gloomy outlook, flagging the threat to fertilizer demand from lower Brazilian sowings of second-crop, while rival K+S saw its credit rating downgraded to junk.

Shares in K+S tumbled more than 4% in morning deals after Moody's cut its debt ratings on the potash group by two notches to Ba1, citing the German-based company's plans to expand in Canada at a time of "significant price uncertainty" in potash markets.

"K+S will likely need to raise additional debt" to fund its so-called Legacy potash mine development in Saskatchewan, "as a result of which the company's financial profile will be subject to sustained material deterioration", Moody's said.

"In addition, K+S will effectively need to suspend its existing financial policy guidance until 2017, when the company expects the Canadian project to start contributing to its cash flows."

"The rating also reflects that the Legacy greenfield project entails significant execution risks," the ratings agency added.

Potash price outlook

The comments follow the turmoil in the potash market, which has infected other fertilizer sectors, since Uralkali in July broke up the Belarusian Potash Company cartel, responsible for more than 40% of global trade in the nutrient, a break-up which provoked ideas of a tumble in prices of the nutrient.

Moody's said it was assuming a drop in potash prices, which stood at some $400 a tonne before BPC was dismantled, to about $350 a tonne, "with some downside risk to pricing levels in 2014".

Its comments came hours after Mosaic, the US-based fertilizer giant, forecast that its average potash sales price could drop below $300 a tonne in the current quarter for the first time in years, and talked of "cautious" buying behaviour backed late on Tuesday by Canada's Agrium.

'Fundamentals remain challenging'

"Significant uncertainty" in potash markets was "leading to reduced prices and cautious purchasing behaviour that has extended into the fourth [October-to-December] quarter in most international markets", Agrium said.

"Global potash fundamentals remain challenging entering the fourth quarter," the company added, citing "elevated inventories", with North American potash stocks ending September at some 2.7m tonnes, 42% above the five-year average, according to industry data.

Agrium also heighted forecasts that the pace of Brazilian potash imports, which have been a major support to the market, "may decline, given an expected reduction in the size of the second corn crop which is planted in January".

The decline in world corn prices is expected to provoke a sharp retreat in sowings of second, or safrinha, crop, which has grown to produce more than the main crop, and is the key source of Brazilian corn export supplies.

And, with corn a nutrient hungry crop, this dynamic is expected to affect nitrogen and phosphate markets too.

Profits fall

Agrium forecast that its earnings would reach $0.80-1.25 a share in the current quarter, well below market expectations of a $1.51-a-share result.

The guidance came as the group unveiled a 41% drop to $76m in earnings for the July-to-September period, equivalent to $0.50 a share excluding one-off effects, below Wall Street forecasts of a $0.57-a-share result.

The decline reflected outages at two Canadian nitrogen plants, Carseland and Redwater, besides "slower market demand" which fostered price declines of all major nutrients.

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Canada seen exporting more wheat to U.S. in 2013-14

Canada is expected to export more wheat to the U.S. this year than in 2012-13, Alex Bos of Louis Dreyfus Commodities said during a presentation at the Cereals North America global grain conference in Winnipeg.

"We only have about two months of data for the current marketing year, but we're already trending higher for wheat exports from Canada into the U.S.," said Bos.

According to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's supply and demand report from Oct. 16, Canada exported a total of 19.44 million tonnes of wheat in 2012-13. AAFC estimated 20.5 million tonnes would be exported in 2013-14.

Canada may also be able to increase its exports into Southern Hemisphere countries, including Colombia, Peru, Venezuela and others that would normally buy from the U.S., Bos added.

The U.S. spreadsheet looks tight due to increased feed use in the country because of tight corn supplies last year and strong export demand. The U.S. won't likely be able to take on much more export demand because of this, Bos added, and Canada could step in and absorb some of the extra demand.

Canada may also be able to enter the markets that would traditionally be buyers of U.S. hard red winter wheat because of a recent downturn in spring wheat prices making the Canadian product more attractive, he said.

He added that because of the huge Canadian wheat production seen this year (33.03 million tonnes, according to Statistics Canada), futures prices on the Minneapolis Grain Exchange (MGEX) have lost their premium over Kansas City Board of Trade (KCBT) wheat futures prices. Therefore, some buyers who have traditionally bought through KCBT are now looking at MGEX wheat.

The MGEX December wheat contract settled Wednesday at US$7.1225 per bushel, which compares with the December contract on the KCBT, which closed at US$7.165/bu.

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Jenny & Marc's curator insight, November 21, 2013 1:32 PM

Canada:Economic- I chose this article because it talks about the wheat production occurring in Canada, and how they are exporting their products. 

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Linking agronomics and economics

Linking agronomics and economics | Crops |

Agronomics is considered a cornerstone of best production practices, but having good agronomic research information and economics together is the best strategy. Dr. Ross McKenzie, Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development agronomy research scientist (retired) at Lethbridge, Alta., says it is important to link agronomics and economics in order to provide better information to farmers. 

“When we know the agronomic benefit of practice or input, then we can determine if it is economical,” explains McKenzie. “Without agronomic knowledge, you can’t do the economics to determine the financial benefits of an agronomic practice. For example, some of our good agronomy research around seeding rates and seeding dates has helped us understand the impacts. By increasing seeding rates, we found there was an increase in yield for four wheat types; malt, feed and barley silage; canola and flax, but only to a certain point and it was different for each individual crop. The same for delayed seeding, the timing affects different crops differently.” 

The results of a previous four-year study for irrigated crops in southern Alberta confirmed that seeding earlier was a benefit, but researchers were surprised by how great a benefit. The results clearly showed that seeding date significantly affected the yield of all cereal and oilseed crops. Although seeding in April usually didn’t show much variation, the yield potential significantly declined for every day after May 1 that seeding was delayed. Therefore, if farmers are seeding after May 1, then they may want to seed canola first, followed by wheat and barley then flax, to maximize the benefits of seeding early. McKenzie emphasizes that although this research has provided very good information for irrigated crops in southern Alberta, there is limited recent research information for the various agro-ecological areas across Alberta or the prairies for both dryland and irrigated crops. 

“We know that early seeding is often better, be we don’t know by how much or how it impacts different crops across the various agro-ecological areas,” he notes. “We have anecdotal information from crop insurance that shows that earlier seeding is better. However, their information covers several different varieties of wheat and canola, and a number of different farmer management practices that may be better than or not as good as, on average. Therefore, to really understand the impact of early seeding, research needs to be done uniformly with the same varieties, the same seeder type under the same conditions all at the same time in order to be able to compare apples to apples. We can’t determine the economics of an agronomic practice if we don’t have sound agronomic research information.”

Agronomics + economics = optimum crop production 
There are a number of different groups across Alberta and the prairies doing research, but McKenzie believes there is a need to co-ordinate and integrate agronomic research in the key agro-ecological areas in a much more organized approach. Farmers need to know which soil management practices, crop rotations, crop varieties and crop inputs are best for optimum crop yield for different crops across the various agro-ecological areas of the prairies.

“There is a need for the various research partners across Alberta to establish agronomy research centres to conduct applied and adaptive agronomic research,” says McKenzie. “Research agronomists, economists and farmers need technically advanced, unbiased crop production information. We also need highly skilled technical people and highly trained researchers, such as those who have master’s or PhD level research training, grew up on Canadian farms and understand western Canadian agricultural soil and crop conditions. Research agronomists and ag economists must work collectively to provide consistent, best management recommendations for Alberta farmers.”

McKenzie is concerned there are some people who want to be researchers, but are not educated and trained to conduct proper soil and crop field research. Their results, particularly from non-replicated field trials, provide mostly meaningless results, but the information is sometimes used to make “questionable” recommendations to farmers.

McKenzie cautions that not all research is equal and recommendations from questionable research are not always consistent or accurate. Farmers should carefully asses the information they are getting, determine if the sources are credible, and if the proper checks and balances have been put in place for a research project, before making an investment. Talk to the people doing the research, he says, to try to glean the essence of the results and how applicable they are. He believes there definitely is a place for both academic research and farm-scale applied research, but in order for the results to be meaningful the project must have followed proper research protocols including replications. An excellent understanding of soil variability is also a given.

“If farmers are interested in a new product or technology, give it a try but don’t spend a lot of money until you are sure it provides an economic return,” says McKenzie. “First look at the agronomy research and then trial it on a smaller scale in controlled test strips on your farm. To get meaningful results and account for field variability, you need to replicate the test strips.” 

For example, select three strips in a field as control, then use the new product or technology on three strips in adjacent, different parts of the field. Harvest each strip separately, record the yields and compare the results. If each strip of the new treatment/technology provides an increase of a few bushels, then there might be an economic return. However, if one strip of the new treatment yields higher and two yield slightly lower, then it likely tells you there isn’t enough difference to be economical.  

“By jointly linking both disciplines of agronomics and economics, research agronomists and ag economists can provide technically advanced, unbiased crop production economic and extension information to farmers,” says McKenzie. “With a co-ordinated and integrated agronomic research effort across the uniquely different agro-ecological areas of Alberta and the prairies, then you can do the economics to extend reliable and consistent crop production recommendations for farmers.”

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Kernel Holding bucks Russia, Ukraine grain export trend

Kernel Holding bucks Russia, Ukraine grain export trend | Crops |

Kernel Holding revealed it had bucked the trend of former Soviet Union grain exports so far in 2013-14 by seeing booming shipments from Russia - thanks to a takeover - while its Ukraine operations saw "comparably slower" volumes.

Ukraine's overall grain exports have grown faster than Russia's so far in 2013-14, rising by 13.1% to 7.40m tonnes as of October 14.

Russian grain exports for the July-to-September period grew by 9.1% to 9.04m tonnes.

However, Kernel reported the opposite dynamics at its own operations, which in Ukraine are based in the main at Transbulkterminal, Ukraine's second largest grain export terminal, with a capacity of 4m tonnes a year.

In Russia, the group last year bought a terminal at Russia's Taman port in a joint venture with Glencore.

Russia vs Ukraine

Kernel for the July-to-September period reported a 5.1% increase to 778,164 tonnes in crop volumes being handled by its export terminals, which it attributed to the Taman deal, "largely offset by the lower pace of grain exports from Ukraine".

The group's own grain sales, volumes soared 74% to 884,838 tonne, again a rise Kernel said was "driven by the ramp up of grain exports from Russia through the port of Taman, while the pace of exports was comparably slower."

Taman is in fact one of Russia's fastest growing ports, growing from capacity of 1m tonnes in 2011 to 2.5m tonnes this year, and viewed ultimately as a potential competitor in grains to Novorossiysk, which has capacity for some 11.5m tonnes of grains.

One of Taman's big disadvantages is a lack of rail access.

'Lagging harvest'

However, Kernel said that its Ukraine volumes were being held back in part by a "lagging" harvest of autumn crops, such as corn, thanks to persistent rains.

Ukraine's corn exports, at 995,000 tonnes so far in 2013-14, are actually running at half the pace of last season, with increases in barley and wheat responsible for the rise in overall grain shipments.

Furthermore, farmers were showing "unwillingness to accept low grain prices", with "anticipation of the VAT reimbursement on grain exports" due to begin at the start of 2014 an extra drag.

Ukraine's failure to hand back money owed on VAT on grain exports has reduced shipments by some 1m-1.5m tonnes a year, according to the Ukraine Grain Association.

Weaker crush

The comments came as Kernel, in a trading update, unveiled a hit too to its sunflower operations from the Ukraine's slow autumn harvest, which has delayed the replenishing of supplies left thin at the close of 2012-13 thanks to a weak crop last year.

The group's sunflower crushing volumes slumped by 49% to 232,249 tonnes, a factor reflected in a halving to 98,710 tonnes in bulk oil sales.

However, the group's yields from its own autumn-harvested showed strong growth, rising 25% to 2.1 tonnes per hectare for sunflowers and 29% to 4.4 tonnes per hectare for corn.

Kernel shares, which are listed in Warsaw, closed down 2.6% at 50.70 zloty.

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Urea, Potash Prices Slide Again

Urea, Potash Prices Slide Again | Crops |

OMAHA (DTN) -- Once again retail fertilizer prices have moved lower, according to DTN's weekly survey of fertilizer retailers nationwide. DTN's national average potash prices are running 19% below year-ago levels and are approaching a five-year low. (DTN chart) All eight of the major fertilizers registered considerably lower prices compared to the same period last month. For the second week of October, urea plunged 9% compared to last month while potash was down 8%; DAP, 10-34-0 and UAN28 were all down 7%. Urea had average price of $442/ton, potash $493/ton, DAP $524/ton, 10-34-0 $523/ton and UAN28 $323/ton. Potash is now only $24/ton away from its five-year low of $469/ton made the fifth week of Aug. 2010, according to DTN records. A year ago it sold for a national average of $618/ton. Anhydrous and UAN32 were down 6% compared to last month while MAP was 5% lower. Anhydrous had an average price of $654/ton, UAN32 $369/ton and MAP $567/ton. On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.48/lb.N, anhydrous $0.40/lb.N, UAN28 $0.58/lb.N and UAN32 $0.58/lb.N. As one might expect, lower retail fertilizer prices have farmers holding off on purchases. Pre-order too soon and you may miss out on lower prices still to come, their thinking goes. However, if you wait too long prices could turn around and climb higher. The good news is prices are certainly not rising. The rapidly approaching fall fertilizer applications season is getting closer, which may cause some farmers to pull the trigger soon on purchasing fertilizer. Bob Birdsell, a farmer from Stanberry, Mo., told DTN that lower fertilizer prices have not changed his plan on his fall fertilizer needs. "We buy as needed," Birdsell said. Pete Bardole, a farmer from Jefferson, Iowa, said while he has not purchased any of his fertilizer needs yet, this plan may be changing. "We could make some purchases soon," Bardole said. Phil Carter, a farmer from New Era, Mich., does not apply fall fertilizer. Late harvest in his region and sandy soils which cannot hold nutrients throughout the winter months do not allow for application in the period right after harvest. Despite this fact, he is keeping a close eye on retail fertilizer prices. "If I pre-buy fertilizer it normally isn't until January or February but I am seriously considering it (earlier) and I am watching prices closely," Carter said. All eight of the major fertilizers are now double digits lower in price compared to October of 2012. UAN32 is now down 13%; MAP, 10-34-0 and UAN28 are 15% less expensive; DAP is 16% lower; potash is 19% less expensive; anhydrous is 23% lower and urea is 25% less expensive compared to last year.

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Evaluating corn silage hybrids for feed quality -

Evaluating corn silage hybrids for feed quality - | Crops |
Evaluating corn silage hybrids for feed quality "The goal of this project is to provide recommendations on what hybrids South Dakota corn growers should grow to produce high quality corn silage for livestock production," said...
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Wheat Near One-Month High as U.S. Sales, China Demand May Climb

Wheat Near One-Month High as U.S. Sales, China Demand May Climb | Crops |

Wheat traded near the highest level in a month on speculation that exports from the U.S., the biggest supplier, rose and record gains in domestic prices in China will boost demand.

The contract for December delivery added as much as 0.6 percent to $6.7425 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade and was at $6.74 by 2:49 p.m. in Singapore. Futures climbed to $6.75 yesterday, the highest level since Aug. 26, and are set for a 4.3 percent increase this week, the most since January.

Prices are heading for a 2.5 percent quarterly advance, the first such gain in a year, even as theU.S. Department of Agriculture predicts the global harvest will climb to a record in 2013-2014. U.S. exports probably reached 450,000 metric tons to 850,000 tons in the week ended Sept. 19 from 425,993 tons a year earlier, a Bloomberg survey showed before the USDA releases its report today. China’s purchases may more than triple, matching Egypt as the world’s biggest buyer, USDA data show.

“We’re starting to see a bit more of a focus on the demand side,” said Michael Pitts, a commodity sales director at National Australia Bank Ltd. in Sydney. “Shipments and sales have been very good over the last month or so.”

China may increase imports to boost stockpiles and help curb record gains in local prices, Shanghai JC Intelligence Co. said yesterday. Wheat traded in central Henan province, the country’s biggest growing region, climbed 3.4 percent this month to 2,760 yuan ($451) a ton, according to data by the China National Grain & Oils Information Center.

Corn for December delivery rose 0.2 percent to $4.5575 a bushel, set to drop 11 percent this quarter. Soybeans for delivery in November lost 0.5 percent to $13.1525 a bushel, up 5.1 percent this quarter.


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Weather extremes could cause corn ear molds | Corn content from Corn and Soybean Digest

Weather extremes could cause corn ear molds | Corn content from Corn and Soybean Digest | Crops |

.A growing season characterized by weather extremes, leading to crop stress during flowering and delayed maturity, has created favorable conditions for classic corn ear molds. DuPont Pioneer experts warn that the environment will become increasingly ideal for ear molds if the weather brings cooler temperatures and periodic rains as we head into corn harvest. In addition, drought stress and insect injury to the crop provide an avenue for fungi to enter, causing ear molds to establish and spread.


“The carryover of ear mold inoculum from last year’s drought environment is likely minimal; however, growers with a history of molds should carefully scout their fields,” says Bill Dolezal, DuPont Pioneer plant pathology research fellow. “While not significant, we have heard reports of ear molds in Indiana and Illinois, as well as Missouri and Tennessee, this year. Ear molds reduce yield potential, grain quality and feed value.”

While scouting, it is important to identify molds and determine if mycotoxins are present. If mold presence is greater than 10,000 cfu/gram and is of the Aspergillus, Fusarium, Gibberella or Penicillium strains, a mycotoxin screening should be completed. Many crop insurance policies require that you contact your crop insurance agent as samples must be pulled from the field by a loss adjuster prior to the grain being placed in storage. The representative sample must be sent to university plant pathology labs for proper mycotoxin screening and identification.

If 10% or more of the ears in the field have a significant amount of mold present on greater than 25% of the ear, harvest as soon as possible. The best way to prevent further growth and toxin development is to harvest at or above 20% moisture and then dry the corn to 15% moisture or less.

Read more from DuPont Pioneer about the risk of ear molds this year.

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Rapid Spread of Resistant Weeds

Rapid Spread of Resistant Weeds | Crops |


As ag retailer agronomists and crop consultants try to convince their clients to make changes to their herbicide programs to avoid herbicide-resistant weeds, those agronomists and consultants have had limited ammunition to prove that resistance on a farm is maybe only one growing season away.

“The normal response by many farmers in the past has been to not worry about weed resistance until it is costing them an economic hardship,” said Bill Johnson, Ph.D., professor of weed science at Purdue University. “A resistant weed could be in a neighbor’s field, and they didn’t seem to care. It is my neighbor’s problem; I don’t have it. Usually, the only way that they are going to put some kind of a management program in place is when they have resistance, and it has caused them some problems.”

It is hard to convince many farmers to be proactive in preventing weed resistance to the farming program they have become comfortable using. And if weeds haven’t been identified as a problem in their county, then the farmer figures he still has time to react next season.

The search and discovery of herbicide-resistant weeds in the U.S. has been very unsystematic over the years. Methods and resource investment to identify (ID) resistant weeds has mainly been left to individual state funding and private investment. But even announcing that a specific weed is resistant to a specific herbicide mode of action and has been found in a state doesn’t seem to impress a lot of farmers.

Indiana has been acknowledged as a state that has taken the lead in identifying resistant weeds so that its farmers could turn the tide on the spread of weeds during the past decade.

Surveying and sampling has occurred as new weed problems have emerged. Johnson noted that from about 2003 through 2008 the focus was on marestail/horseweed. Ragweeds became the focus from about 2005 to 2010. And today the focus is on Palmer amaranth and waterhemp.

“When we got started, I was much more concerned about waterhemp than I was Palmer amaranth, but as we went out and did some scouting of waterhemp, we kind of stumbled on the fact that we had a lot of Palmer amaranth out there,” Johnson explained.

“Palmer amaranth is a weed that I think people in the North have misidentified; they have assumed it is waterhemp,” said Les Glasgow, Ph.D., chairman of the North American Herbicide Resistance Action Committee and technical product lead in charge of herbicide resistance management strategy for Syngenta. “It well could be that there is a large number of undetected Palmer amaranth populations. It is an amazing weed considering that it started out in the desert Southwest and can be happy all the way into Michigan.”

The spread of Palmer amaranth and waterhemp has been astonishing, and it continues at a rapid pace because those surviving are usually resistant to glyphosate and herbicides with other modes of action.

“A Palmer amaranth plant can produce a million seeds and is very competitive. It is a phenomenal species, and waterhemp is not far behind in seed production. Both are spread by seed and pollen. These two weeds have both male and female plants, and, therefore, are obligate outcrossers. Outcrossing allows genetic mixing and increased biodiversity of the species from which resistant individuals can be selected,” explained Glasgow.


Late spring burndown herbicide application definitely requires a combination of different mode of action herbicides to counter any resistant weeds, especially with the size of weeds being treated. Weed species characteristics along with the use of one herbicide over and over leads to weed resistance.

The U.S. easily tops the list of countries with the most herbicide-resistant weeds at 144, according to the International Survey of Herbicide Resistant Weeds. Next most is Australia with 62 herbicide-resistant weeds followed by Canada.

All three countries have focused attention on herbicide resistance with university Extension or equivalent, commodity crop associations, the crop protection industry and others determined to identify weeds resistant to specific herbicides and then provide solutions to assist growers in combating resistant weeds while economically producing high-yield crops.

We hear much less about the e_ orts to assist growers, but rather more about banning herbicides, by the next level of countries with herbicide-resistant weeds: China, 34; France 35; Germany, 33; Spain, 33; and Brazil 31. And it wouldn’t be a farfetched assumption that some countries with many fewer herbicide-resistant weeds either haven’t been using as many modern intensive farming techniques, including herbicides, or really haven’t focused on identification of resistant weeds.

Worldwide, 24 weeds have been identified as resistant to glyphosate, and 14 of them are in one or more states of the U.S. Also worldwide, glyphosate ties for tenth for the number of weeds that are resistant to it. Atrazine leads the list with 64 resistant weed species identified worldwide.

Second internationally is imazethapyr with 39 resistant species. In descending order, the herbicides with number of species resistant are tribenuron-methyl, 35; imazamox, 33; chlorsulfuron, 31; simazine, 31; fenoxaprop-P-ethyl, 28; metsulfuron-methyl, 26; paraquat 26; bensulfuron-methyl, 24; _ uazifop-P-butyl, 24.

As known in the industry, weeds can become resistant to ALS-inhibitor herbicides quite quickly when they are used

continuously. Weed resistance to ALS-inhibitors should be widespread inside and outside the U.S. because this mode of action has 54 registered active herbicides in its group.


The rapid increase in discovery of herbicide-resistant weeds makes it likely that more weeds are resistant than those included in the International Survey of Herbicide Resistant Weeds, even though weeds are constantly being added, such as the July listing of smallflower umbrella sedge in California being resistant to ureas and amides.

Taking the discovery of herbicide-resistant weeds to the local level, lower than state level in the U.S., is extremely hard. In most states, the onus lands on the individual farmers.

Resistant weeds being discovered often is the result of growers finding weeds they have not been able to control.

“A farmer will find a weed or a patch of weeds in a field that he is not able to control and will call in a epresentative from the company who supplied the product applied or will check with his local university Extension service,” noted Glasgow.

“The international survey defines what should be done to prove that it is a resistant weed. There is some pretty stringent testing that needs to go on, especially when a new weed species is suspected to be resistant or the first time that a herbicide is showing lack of control of a previously sensitive species,” he added.

Therefore, the listing of weeds is usually behind the curve on what is happening in the real world to some degree. A farmer shouldn’t wait until a weed shows up on the list as resistant to the herbicide mode of action before altering a weed management program.


Julian Smith, Ph.D., director of discovery and innovation with Brandt located in central Illinois, provides a concise thought about management programs that are driving weed resistance. “Farming is more intensive than it was in the past. We tend to have more monoculture environments than we ever had before. Although there still are a multitude of rotations, monocultures are more common. And I think another piece is that there are not as many tillage operations carried out on farms as there used to be. Pre and post tillage used to be a pretty valuable mechanical means of weed control.”

Palmer amaranth and waterhemp are both prolific seed and pollen producers. Smith isn’t saying he is favoring more tillage or against continuous corn and soybean cropping. He simply noted that continuous use of one herbicide with minimum tillage sets the stage for weeds to adapt or for those that thrive in specific management programs to thrive.

An example of what Smith noted is why marestail has become a major problem in some places. Glasgow said, “It is a winter annual and can get established in the fall. It starts out as a small rosette on the surface of the soil, and you can probably manage it with some herbicides then, but once it gets any size, it becomes a really difficult one to control. And it is also a prolific seed producer with seed that has characteristics to float long distances in the air.”

Researchers point to the major problems and spread of a few herbicide-resistant weeds causing the biggest concern at the moment. In the Midwest, it is Palmer amaranth, waterhemp, common ragweed, giant ragweed, marestail, and in the West, it is kochia.


As noted earlier, relying on individual states to run their own ID program for resistant weeds has not always worked to help warn farmers as the menace of these weeds and others approach, let alone ways to proactively try to stop the forward movement.

Perhaps the most important program to be initiated recently was one that Johnson has established through the United Soybean Board.

“A year and a half ago, the United Soybean Board (USB), where soybean checkoff money goes, had concern about the spread of herbicide-resistant weeds. So, they approached us about doing a project to encompass as many soybean states as we could include for their funding. So, they’ve had funding in place last year and they funded us again this year for Extension services to raise awareness about the prevalence of herbicideresistant weeds and management programs,” Johnson said.

Only a couple states with at least 2 million acres of soybeans are not participating in this project, he noted.

Part of the project in some states is to get farmers to be aware that resistant weeds are spreading into their farming region and they need to take action before it is too late.

Why aren’t there maps with confirmed resistance found in these counties and suspected resistance in these counties by weed and herbicide? As Johnson noted, the challenges are too much to expect every state to search for these situations and have everything verified. It is impossible to make guesses about weeds resistant to various herbicides due to the nature of weeds, the number of herbicides to which weeds could be resistant and the many variables in farming and environment.

Johnson does send graduate students into the fields to collect samples from areas of the state where certain weeds have not  been identified, such as Palmer amaranth, and then also to have them take samples of weeds to see if they are resistant to specific herbicides.


Having farmers aware that there are resistant weeds in their fields or their neighbors’ fields that will probably invade their fields eventually leads to the switching of different herbicide programs, of which there is at least one per crop protection company offered as a solution or partial solution. Methods can also include mechanical control and hand weeding that went by the wayside in recent years.

Smith is a proponent of helping plants fight for their share of light, nutrients and water in low-level weed infestations and notes that the use of multiple modes of action herbicide programs put stress on the crop plants.

He notes that stress mitigation is important because the plant has to metabolize each herbicide molecule into a non-toxic form.

“In so doing, it takes resources within the plant that may manifest itself in a transient nutrient deficiency such as manganese or zinc … But this can be overcome through the use of micronutrients along with the herbicide spray,” Smith said.  

He noted the problem with resistant weeds in a nutshell. “It is not like a resistant weed turns bright red and says here I am. It takes a lot of vigilance on the part of the growers, crop advisors and Extension service to identify resistant weeds.”

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India corn exports to plummet in wake of rain damage

SINGAPORE/MUMBAI, Aug 16 (Reuters) - India's corn exports could plummet by around 40 percent in the next marketing year, with buyers turning to cheaper supplies from South America after a rain-damaged crop pushed up Indian prices and shook confidence in the grain. India's winter-planted corn was hit by untimely rains during harvest across its eastern crop belt in May, prompting key buyers in Southeast Asia to shift to imports from Argentina and Brazil, which have been aggressively marketing bumper crops. The setback to Indian shipments comes as global corn stockpiles are set to rebound in 2013/14 after three years of tight supplies. Importers are getting choosy as benchmark U.S. futures hover around their lowest in three years and producers rush to sell their crops. "It's a double-whammy, Indian corn is overpriced and consumers for the time being have lost confidence in it because of quality issues," said a Singapore-based trader who sells feed grain in Asia. "Where can India sell its corn right now? In my opinion nowhere." Corn exports from Asia's top supplier could drop to under 3 million tonnes in the year to October, 2014 from 4.8 million tonnes in 2012/13, traders said. That is a far steeper decline than the 27-percent fall in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) latest estimate. Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam have already covered most of their demand for the grain until December with cargoes from Argentina and Brazil. They paid between $260 and $280 a tonne, including cost and freight (C&F), for Argentine corn compared with Indian cargoes quoted at $310-$315 a tonne. Feed millers usually take Indian corn only when it has $10-$15 discount to rival South American cargoes. And competition is set to heat up with the United States, the world's top exporter, on track for a record harvest and Ukraine offering grain as low as $235 a tonne, C&F, in Asia for November and December shipment. U.S. new-crop December corn slid to a three-year low this week and has lost almost a quarter of its value in 2013. REPUTATIONAL DAMAGE "Export demand is weak because the quality of Indian produce is not up to the mark," said Neelkanth Thakkar, a trader at grains exporter Vijaya Enterprises in Mumbai, referring to the winter-sown crop. Although any exports from that harvest would be part of the 2012/13 total, fallout in terms of reputational damage will hit hard in the following crop year, traders said. India produces two corn crops a year with supplies from the winter-sown variety hitting the market in April and May, and harvest for the summer crop starting in mid-September. Traders in Singapore said there are large volumes of rain-damaged corn still held up in destination markets as feed millers have been unable to use the moisture-laden grain. With dwindling exports and expectations of a record harvest later in September and October, India will have a corn glut that is likely to weigh on domestic prices. Some estimated prices would fall 20 percent from $300 a tonne quoted free on board in Mumbai. India is estimated to produce an all-time high crop of 22.5 million tonnes in 2013/14, according to the USDA, up marginally from 22.2 million tonnes a year ago. But even with lower prices after October, Indian corn exports will continue to struggle, traders said. It will not be able to sell much in its peak marketing months of November and December as buyers have already covered supplies. In order to reach total exports of 3 million tonnes in 2013/14 it needs to ship 300,000 tonnes a month, which is unlikely as the bigger global surplus means more competition. "There are going to be a whole lot of restrictions imposed on Indian corn even if it is cheaper," the Singapore trader said. "Quality issues are going to make it difficult to trade Indian corn." Poultry and meat producers, who suffered due to record grain prices last year, are hoping to benefit as the cost of raising animals drops. "The cost of production in poultry could drop by around 5 percent," said Sanjeev Chintawar, business manager at the National Egg Coordination Committee in the southern city of Hyderabad. (Reporting by Naveen Thukral; Editing by Joseph Radford)

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World needs more soybeans relative to corn, analyst says

World needs more soybeans relative to corn, analyst says | Crops |

Despite a large U.S. soybean crop, the global ratio of corn to soybeans is still wide -- meaning South America needs to produce a strong crop this season.

"The world needs more soybeans relative to corn," Karl Skold of Bunge North America told the Cereals North America global grain conference in Winnipeg. "We need to get back to the normal relationship between corn and beans."

Looking at the U.S. soybean crop, Skold said bean yields were consistently good in most areas and there is currently strong demand for the U.S. product.

U.S. soybeans are in good condition in the eastern U.S. Corn Belt; the only places with below-average beans are in the western U.S. Corn Belt, he said, noting soybean sales have been up 43 per cent from last year due to strong Chinese import demand.

"I'm surprised how strong demand is this fall for beans," he said, but noted the Chinese "are smart buyers who want food security. It's been a pretty strong start for China."

However, U.S. soybeans only tell one half of the story. South America is the world's other major producer and production is expected to be much bigger this year because of the strong soybean prices compared to corn.

"Planting numbers will go up in Brazil," Skold said. "In Argentina, rains have also stabilized bean ideas."

It's expected Paraguay, the U.S., Brazil and Argentina will produce a record amount of soybeans by the time harvest is completed in South America in 2014, Skold said, adding that ending stocks will be "rebuilt."

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China to increase grain imports this year

China is expected to increase its grain imports this year compared to 2012, according to economist Yang Weilu.

Weilu, the senior economist and deputy director with the China National Grain and Oils Information Center, noted that expectation while speaking at the Cereals North America global grain conference in Winnipeg.

China will continue to import grains from Canada, including wheat and canola, said Weilu, adding that a large amount of the canola it imports comes from Canada.

China is also expected to increase imports of soybeans in 2013 from 2012. Weilu expects the country to import around 60 million tonnes of soybeans in 2013, up from 59 million in 2012.

But corn imports are expected to decline in the country, he said, adding that China will likely bring in fewer than five million tonnes of corn from other places this year. In 2012, China imported 5.2 million tonnes of corn.

Some analysts and trade officials speculated that China would continue to increase its corn imports, he added, because of the large amount it brought in last year -- but he doesn't expect that to happen.

"China's corn output has increased substantially in recent years," he said, adding that "China's market demand does not support large imports."

Of China's four major crops (rice, corn, wheat, soybeans), corn is the only crop that has seen production increase sharply in recent years. Weilu noted output of corn in China will total 215 million tonnes in 2013-14, up from 205 million in 2012-13.

The country is also expecting to continue increasing its output of grains going forward, as it moves toward reaching their goal of becoming self-sufficient in grain production, Weilu said.

Strong domestic prices compared to the rest of the world and good state support will help China eventually reach that stated goal, he added.

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US farmland price - US farmland price growth slowest since 2010

US farmland price - US farmland price growth slowest since 2010 | Crops |

Growth in US farmland prices fell to its lowest in more than three years, sapped by weaker crop prices, which are prompting farmers to cut back on machinery purchases too.

A farmland price index compiled by Nebraska-based Creighton University fell to 50.9 this month, the lowest reading since January 2010.

The figure, down from 54.0 in September, was only just above the 50.0 level which indicates no growth at all, with figures below that meaning falling prices, and comes as the market enters its key autumn sales period.

Prices are already falling in some major agricultural states, including Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska and North Dakota, which suffered a particularly steep decline in its farmland market.

However, values are still rising – albeit at relatively slow rates - in the likes of Missouri and Iowa, the top corn and soybean producing state, where 80 acres of land sold last week for $17,600 an acre, which Hardin County Savings Bank claims is a record.

'Major impact'

Ernie Goss, the Creighton economist behind the survey, attributed the market's deceleration to "weaker agriculture commodity prices", with "poor weather" contributing to fall-offs in states such as North and South Dakota, where early snowfalls are viewed "likely to spill over into the broader economies".

Todd Douglas, chief executive of a South Dakota bank, said that the "record snowfall in the western part of the state is estimated to have caused up to 25,000 cattle deaths which will have a major impact on producers in the areas hit hardest by the storm".

The pullback in agriculture sector prosperity was also evident in an index figure for agriculture machinery which came in at 44.6, its lowest since March 2010, and indicating market shrinkage.

"[Machinery] sales are declining and inventories are growing as farmers pull back on their purchases of big ticket items," Professor Goss said.

'Much slower pace'

Professor Goss forecast continued softness in the farmland market compared with 2011 and 2012, when annual price growth reached 20-30%.

"Clearly, farmland price growth and cash rent expansions in the months ahead will not be as healthy as has been experienced in the past couple of years," he said.

Indeed, bankers questioned by the university forecast rises of 2.5% in farmland cash rents over the next 12 months, down from an expectation of 9.3% when surveyed six months ago.

"Bankers clearly expect farmland prices and rents to grow at a much slower pace over the next year," he said.

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Record Soybean Acreage Forecast for 2014 » Blog Archive

Record Soybean Acreage Forecast for 2014 » Blog Archive | Crops |

Farmers will plant 7 million more acres to soybeans in 2014 than they did in 2013, private analytical firm Informa Economics forecasts. If realized, Informa’s estimate of 83.9 million soybean acres would be a record.

Using a “trend-type” yield of 44.5 bushels per acre, next year’s soybean production could swell to 3.7 billion bushels, Informa’s report stated.

Corn acreage is expected to fall 4.3 million acres next year to 91.7 ma as corn’s potential net revenue per acre falls below soybeans’ prospects. Informa estimates that U.S. growers will produce 13.7 bb of corn in 2014 using a “trend-type” yield of 163 bpa.


The early forecasts for row crops are based on an analysis of the economic prospects for each crop and assume normal spring planting conditions. Its wheat estimates, which put all-wheat acreage up 1.6 ma at 57.7 ma, are based on economic prospects as well as Informa’s survey of winter wheat planting intentions.

Informa said its survey indicated 42.8 ma will be planted to winter wheat, with hard red winter wheat acreage estimated at 29.6 ma and soft red winter wheat acreage at 9.8 ma. The firm estimates that winter wheat will yield 48 bpa and spring wheat will yield 43 bpa. All wheat production is pegged at 2.3 bb.

“Informa’s early estimate of planted acres in 2014 is reasonable and headed in the right direction, but it should be remembered that we are still a long way away from planting corn and soybeans in 2014,” DTN Analyst Todd Hultman said. He said the slight increase in wheat acres is in line with recent gains in wheat prices.

Compared to last year, the incentive to plant corn is much lower. Soybeans have the highest implied net revenue return, and Informa expects that most acres leaving corn will likely go into soybean production. Some acres may also switch to cotton. That calculation uses historical and expected prices, trend yields and USDA’s Economic Research Services variable cost of production estimates for 2014.

When planting economics are evaluated by looking at 2014 new-crop futures contracts, corn has a higher net return per acre, but its premium over soybeans is substantially lower than in recent years, dropping to $41 per acre compared to 2013′s $104 per acre premium and 2012′s $132 per acre premium.

The premium is more in line with 2008, 2009 and 2010, Informa said, adding that in each of those years, corn acreage dropped below 90 ma.

“Yes, soybean prices are currently more profitable for producers than corn, so we are likely to see a reduction in corn plantings in 2014 and more soybeans,” Hultman said.

“EPA’s decision on whether or not to reduce the 2014 corn-based ethanol mandate will be an important factor in next spring’s planting decision. If EPA does reduce the mandate to 13.0 billion gallons as the recently leaked document suggests, it may bring about an even larger move from corn to soybeans than Friday’s Informa report estimates,” Hultman said.

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First U.S. Sorghum Shipment Unloaded in China

First U.S. Sorghum Shipment Unloaded in China | Crops |

October 18, 2013, is a day that will go down in history as the first-ever bulk shipment of U.S. sorghum to China berthed and began unloading at the Guangzhou Port Facility. U.S Grains Council staff, representatives of buyers and sellers, port officials and a U.S. government representative arrived on the scene to celebrate the unloading and witness this historical event in the growing U.S.-China agricultural trade relationship.

The shipment of 60,000 metric tons (2.36 million bushels) is designated for animal feed and demonstrates the continuing modernization of China’s feed industry.

“China’s sophisticated feed industry has the capacity to explore different feed ingredients and evaluate their effectiveness in a highly competitive environment,” said Bryan Lohmar, USGC director in China. “The Council believes U.S. sorghum has significant potential to become a regular feed ingredient in China. Sorghum imports from the United States can help keep food prices low and improve China’s overall food security.”


With several more cargos on the way, Council sources indicate China could purchase a significant share of the 2013 U.S. crop.

“As of this month there are approximately 20 Panamax vessels sold of U.S. sorghum to China, which represents around 1.1 to 1.2 million tons (43.3 to 47.2 million bushels),” said Alvaro Cordero, USGC manager of global trade. “Traders estimate that the 2013/14 crop year should register sales of 1.6 million tons (63 million bushels) or more.”

Restrictions on corn imports through China’s tariff rate quota are providing a prime opportunity for the Council to help China’s feed industry and livestock producers seek a wider variety of options, including U.S. sorghum.

In September, the Council, along with the United Sorghum Checkoff Program, provided technical seminars and assistance to help the industry understand the nutritional value of sorghum, how to incorporate it into feed formulations and the potential for future sorghum export supplies from the United States.

One local Chinese trader said in an interview this week that these programs are directly attributable to the rapid development of the sorghum market in China.

“With China’s meat consumption growing and subsequent growth in feed demand, the United States is in a unique position, both in its capacity to produce and its variety of products, to respond and meet China’s feed grain needs,” said Julius Schaaf, USGC chairman.


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Ukraine denies reported huge land deal with China

KIEV, Sept 24 (Reuters) – Ukrainian agricultural firm KSG Agro said on Tuesday it had no plans to sell millions of acres of Ukrainian farm land to a Chinese state firm, contradicting weekend Chinese media reports.

The South China Morning Post reported on Sunday that the Asian firm was to buy 7.4 million acres of Ukrainian farmland. That represents about 10 percent of the former Soviet republic’s overall arable area.

The newspaper said China’s official Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps had signed an agreement with KSG Agro, which would see Ukraine provide 250,000 acres to China. This would eventually rise to 7.4 million acres, it said.

“The news published in the media about a Xinjiang corporation and KSG Agro does not reflect reality. KSG Agro does not intend or have any right to sell land to foreigners, including the Chinese,” the Ukrainian firm said in a statement.

It said that according to a letter of intention, signed on May 31, the two sides are working on a contract for cooperation in a project aimed at installing irrigation systems over an area of 7,400 acres in Ukraine next year.

Ukraine cultivates about 74 million acres of agricultural land, including about 39.5 million used to grow grains. Ukrainian legislation bars the buying or selling of agricultural land under a moratorium.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Ukraine may become the world’s second largest exporter of grain this season with shipments of about 30 million tonnes.

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Ethanol : Price Surge on Tighter Supplies

Ethanol : Price Surge on Tighter Supplies | Crops |

Lower corn prices Tuesday led to prices falling in the ethanol markets. However, sharp gains redeveloped Wednesday. The announcement that ethanol inventory levels fell over 25 million gallons in the last week has shocked the market back into a sharp rally.

This shift in supply is 3.5% less than previous week levels, and 18.9% under year-ago levels. Ethanol production declined 252,000 gallons per day according to the report, but the biggest movement was the increase in blender and refiner demand.

The lower corn prices over the last two months did very little to spark ethanol production beyond marginal levels. Ethanol production is currently over year-ago levels, but this is not likely to help to build supplies over the coming weeks.

It is uncertain just how much follow-through support will develop through the end of the week, given the up-and-down shifts in prices in the last couple of days.

Rick Kment can be reached at


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High Ear Counts Bolster USDA

High Ear Counts Bolster USDA | Crops |
The average yield forecast is also much higher than feared by some based on the generally very dry conditions in August. Meanwhile, dry weather reduced per-acre soybean pod counts.

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Africa Agriculture Status Report: Focus on Staple Crops | AGRA

Africa Agriculture Status Report: Focus on Staple Crops | AGRA | Crops |

The Africa Agriculture Status Report: Focus on Staple 2013 Crops was inspired by the need to have an accessible and reliable resource publication depicting the status and trends of African agriculture. - See more at:

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