Agriculture news from week 28

USA and Canada

Minnesota wheat overcoming late start, showing potential

CAMPBELL, Minn. — Just like a lot of the farmers he works with, Jochum Wiersma wasn’t sure what kind of crop would come from wheat fields planted well past normal this spring.

But as he tours the state in July, the University of Minnesota Extension agronomist is seeing the makings of a decent crop.

“Right now, with the weather that we have, I am more optimistic about the yield potential of that crop than I was at planting time,” Jochum said during a tour of a test plot south of Fergus Falls on Tuesday, July 12.

He said the wheat that was planted in the last two weeks of May is well-tillered, with decent head size and clean canopies, with very few aphids to be found.

Jochum was visiting test plots at the farm of John Walkup, who also was feeling more optimistic.

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Demand for US soybeans seen falling with strong South American yields

WASHINGTON — Demand for U.S. soybeans is falling as bumper crops in South America eat into U.S. export prospects, the U.S. government said Tuesday, July 12.

The large harvests in Brazil and Argentina also will cause U.S. processors to cut back on their expected pace of soy crushing as overseas buyers look for alternative suppliers to meet their soymeal needs, the U.S. Agriculture Department said Tuesday.

The bearish demand view pushed soybean futures to session lows, with the most-active contract trading down 4.3% around midday. Lower crop prices could help ease food costs that have been fueling inflation.

“The negative-ism is coming from the fact that USDA is cutting demand back,” said Jack Scoville, analyst with The Price Group.

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Nebraska Sorghum Producers Buck National Trend in 2022

Tuesday’s WASDE Report showed U.S. sorghum production was down 9 million bushels from June at 372 million bushels.  That’s also down from last year’s 448 million bushel crop.  It’s a result of 1 million fewer acres being planted this spring and drought in key producing states. 

However, Nebraska bucked the trend as farmers planted more acres than 2021.  And so far the crop is holding up at 55% good to excellent, despite areas of drought.  Nate Blum, Nebraska Sorghum Producers Association Executive Director, says, “Yeah the sorghum crop actually looks really good across the state.  Now in southwest Nebraska is where we have the bulk of our crop and of course we could use a little more rain. It’s always dry here.  But sorghum does really well in those conditions.  But even over the eastern part of the state sorghum is looking pretty good.”

USDA’s June Acreage report showed 280,000 acres of sorghum in Nebraska will be harvested for grain, which is up 50,000 acres from 2021.  Blum says that is a reflection of the strong market. 

 Read more…

Feature: Canadian spring wheat market confronts new crop quality questions, low old crop sales

With more Canadian wheat acres planted and higher yields of Canada Western Red Spring likely, questions are arising on what’s ahead for the market amid concerns about the quality of the new crop and as farmers hold back on old crop sales because of falling futures.

Early last week, Statistics Canada put total wheat planted at 25.4 million acres, 8.7% higher year on year and the highest level since 2013, when spring wheat gained 10.5% on the year to 18.2 million mt. The increases in planting on the year have been credited to better growing conditions from last season’s drought-stricken crop. Increases in the CWRS planting area could be the result of higher-than-average global wheat prices and global wheat demand.

Also, in its World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report July 12, the US Department of Agriculture projected Canadian wheat production at 34 million mt, 1 million mt higher following the Statistics Canada survey.

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Corn, Soybeans
Row Crop Product Innovations Announced by Corteva

New Zealand

Apple and kiwifruit growers tell thousands on jobseeker support during harvest: ‘we want workers’

During peak harvest while apple growers across Hawke’s Bay were crying out for workers, there were up to 4000 people of working age on unemployment benefits in the region.

As the kiwifruit vines continued to ripen and the next harvest event rolled round a few weeks later, there were another 3000 across Bay of Plenty.

Ministry of Social Development figures detailthe number of working age people in Hawke’s Bay and Western Bay of Plenty on the Jobseeker Support Work Ready scheme between January 15 and May 15.

It found there were 4113 people on the scheme in Hawke’s Bay in January, dropping to 3684 by May. In Bay of Plenty, there were 3315 in January, dropping to 3177 by May.

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NZ export
NZ should process locally, not export then re-import, say food industry experts
  • A lot of homegrown produce is exported to be processed and then reimported back to NZ
  • Processing at home would create a smaller carbon footprint
  • It would also create jobs and create better deals for consumers and farmers, food experts say

If New Zealand could process more homegrown products at local facilities it would benefit local farmers and consumers, and the environment, say food industry experts.

The industry reaction came after a $6 million government investment in a Southland oat milk factory which will help New Zealand Functional Foods produce up to 80 million litres of plant-based milk per year.

Industry representatives said such facilities needed to be built years ago. Currently, locally grown oats were exported to Europe to be turned into oat milk before being sent back to New Zealand.

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New Zealand misses out on any ‘innovation awards’ at Global Dairy Congress, as Chinese companies scoop the pool. NZ Govt. funds rich-lister’s equity projects. Synlait’s payout matches Fonterra

Last month the dairy industry conducted the 15th Global Dairy Congress which was hosted in Laval, France.

Fonterra was represented by Kelvin Wickham, Chief Executive Officer AMENA (Africa, the Middle East, Europe, North Asia and the Americas). Wickham facilitated a session on moving dairying to being more sustainable, (practical steps towards net zero). Looking at the attendees list it appears that all the big players attended.

The items highlighted from the Congress in particular are the “Innovation Awards”. Unfortunately, I can’t say that New Zealand featured, however, ‘we’ did have a connection. Yili who have Westland and Oceania (making then #3 in size in New Zealand) in their stable did feature with six innovation awards, the most of any one company. One judge commented that “Yili have their finger on the pulse when it comes to identifying gaps in the market and creating brilliant innovative products that both taste and look great while simultaneously serving a purpose.”

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NZ climate change
Dr Harry Clark assesses where HWEN fits in to the changing societal demand for change, even when NZ agriculture has a leading position responding to the climate challenges. Prescriptive regulation delivers worse outcomes than agreed partnership programs

Dr Harry Clark is a Director at the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre, and we talked about his views on the He Waka Eke Noa program.

He has some interesting perspectives in the wake of the Climate Change Commissions advice to not recognise sequestration via the He Waka Eke Noa program.

Is the He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) program is the right pathway for our farmers? Clark said; “I think in general pathways that rely, not on regulation, but on voluntary action, are better in concept.”

He said that if through the HWEN program there can be this agreement that there was a successful outcome from this joint government industry approach that comes up with the tools needed for farmers to estimate their emissions, encourages, and reaches its goals with on farm plans, which will include individual farm written plans as to how you get their emissions down. He said he supported the first approach where the industry and government are trying to achieve the desired outcome. 

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Australian oats win new fans in US

AUSTRALIAN food manufacturer Openway Food Co. is bringing local oat products to the United States after securing multimillion dollar deals with top health food chain Sprouts Farmers Market and leading grocery retailers Kroger and Albertson Safeway.

This is the payoff for three years of work building its brand and making connections in one of the world’s largest and most competitive health food markets.

Openway director Kane Fetterplace said he was on an emotional rollercoaster when the deals came through.

“I went from really excited to calm as the plan had come together, to cautious because we now had to deliver and the global supply chain is challenged this year,” Mr Fetterplace said.

Openway Food Co. was formed to bring five health food brands under one company.

Read more here

letils australia
Chickpea exports jump in May, lentils steady

AUSTRALIA exported 34,941 tonnes of chickpeas and 93,076t of lentils in April, according to the latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

The chickpea figure is 28 per cent up from the April total of 27,245t, while the lentil figure is up 1pc on the month from 92,312t.

Bangladesh on 16,783t followed by Pakistan on 6371t and Nepal on 4354t were the biggest markets for chickpeas.

On lentils, Bangladesh was also the largest destination on 47,064t, followed by India on 32,439t and Sri Lanka on 9019t.

Australia’s May 2022 chickpea exports are 35pc below the 53,477t shipped in May 202.

On lentils, the May 2022 figure is up 46pc from the 63,684t shipped in May 2021.

Read mpore here…

Australian Sorghum
May feed barley, sorghum exports up, malting halves

The malting figure is down 48 per cent from the April total of 139,387t, while feed barley exports for May are up 2pc from the 624,130t shipped in April.

Sorghum exports in May jumped 53pc from the April total of 198,800t.

Mexico accounted for 87pc of Australia’s malting exports in May, while Saudi Arabia on 269,234t was the major destination for feed barley shipments, taking 42pc of the total.

Kuwait on 123,916t and Japan on 100,332t were the second and third-biggest destinations for Australia’s May-shipped feed barley.

China continues as the volume buyer of Australian sorghum, and was the destination for 231,315t, or 76pc, of May shipments, with Japan on 65,031t the other major bulk customer for the month.

Flexi Grain pool manager Sam Roache said May saw malting barley shipments back off the big April number and return to around the average monthly figure for the year.

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Australian pulses
Pulse Update: Canada cooks Aussie lentil market

PROMPT prices for Australian lentils have dropped around 10 per cent in the past month as Canadian exporters offer new-crop cargoes at competitive prices.

Trade in current-crop chickpeas remains thin and depressed, but new-crop trade is starting to shape up as the market comes to terms with the small crop in the ground this year.

In the absence of bulk export demand, domestic feedmillers are the major buyers for prompt faba beans and field peas, and the last of the current-crop mungbean business is being priced at slightly firmer levels.


Containerised freight into South Asia continues to be expensive and difficult, and coupled with New South Wales’ rail-freight woes, new business on current crop remains thin.

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South America

Argentina targeting export industries, facilitates the import of fertilizers

Argentina has eased conditions for importers of fertilizers and crops’ protection products, among other issues by facilitating access to much scarce foreign currency. The Central Bank has increased restrictions on sumptuary imports, traveling, and overseas purchases given the lack of sufficient dollar reserves for the purchase of industry imports.

However flexibilization of essential imports, mainly for industries and agriculture which are the main sources of foreign currency, have also seen the term of access cut from 90 to 60 days. The Central bank “also reduced from 365 to 60 days the term for access to the foreign exchange market to pay for inputs used for the local production of export goods”.

Argentina plays an important international role as a global supplier and exporter of soybeans, wheat, corn and other food commodities but is undergoing a long term debilitating political situation, creating a scenario of extreme instability which reflects in the lack of business confidence, inflation and a country risk above 2,500 points.

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Brazil 2022 soybean exports remain flat but processed oilseed has climbed

Brazil expects soybean exports to reach 76.8 million tons in 2022, a 200,000-ton decrease from the estimate released in June, while oilseed processing in the country was adjusted upwards, with good margins for the production of bran and oil, according to Abiove, the Brazilian Association of Vegetable Oil Industries

Abiove updates its forecasts monthly, and the July numbers are following a similar pattern to those recorded in June, with an increase in the projections of soy processing in the country and a reduction in the estimate of grain exports after drought led to a poor harvest in 2022.

The soybean crop in Brazil, the world’s largest producer and exporter of the oilseed, has its harvest almost complete, totaling 125.8 million tons, 300,000 more than the previous estimate. However, this volume is 9.4% below the 2021 record, points out Abiove.

As a result, grain exports are expected to fall by 9.3 million tons compared to the historic level seen in 2021, 86.1 million tons.

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brazilian soybean
Brazilian record corn crop stored in the open; 11 million tons of soybeans remain unsold

Warehouses in Brazil are still full of soybeans, harvested just a few months before corn. In the state of Mato Grosso, soybean production was high this season, but at the same time sales are slower than usual, leaving warehouses with no space for corn, according to Cleiton Gauer, superintendent of the Mato Grosso Institute of Agricultural Economics (IMEA).

While it is not uncommon for crops to be stored in the open air when indoor capacity is to the brim, this has not been seen on such a scale for at least two years. As Mato Grosso’s massive corn harvest progresses, farmers and operators face a lack of space.

The buildup threatens to put further pressure on corn and soybean prices, which are already falling in Chicago futures markets amid promising weather in US croplands. Corn prices have fallen to their lowest level since before Russia invaded Ukraine. Likewise, soybeans fell to the lowest level since January.

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Inflation at 64% has Argentine soy farmers hoarding all they can

In Argentina, the top exporter of soybean products, farmers are hanging on to more of their crops than normal to defend against rampant inflation in yet another blow to global food supplies.

Growers have long used hoarding to shield against Argentina’s notoriously volatile economy, especially gyrations in currency and export taxes. But this year, spiraling inflation is exacerbating the dynamic. They’ve sold just 46 percent of the soy harvest, compared with 57 percent at the same stage last year, an analysis of government and grain exchange data shows.

The bigger-than-normal stockpiles of soybeans, often held on fields in giant sausage-shaped silobags, speak to farmers’ battle with rates of inflation that are among the highest in the world – consumer prices rose 64 percent in June from a year earlier, with increases forecast to quicken. 

More hoarding signals slower shipments of soy oil and soy meal at a time when food supply chains are already heavily disrupted by the lingering impact of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. It also curtails hard currency flows to Argentine coffers, exacerbating debt woes.

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Food Updates

Covid in food
SARS-CoV-2 could survive on food for up to 30 days

In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a concern that the SARS-CoV-2 virus would be able to survive on food, but that fear was quickly allayed.  

But now, new research from Campbell University and the American Society for Microbiology has suggested SARS-CoV-2 surrogates can survive on meat products in the refrigerator or the freezer, for up to 30 days.

The research was conducted using chicken, beef, pork and salmon, and surrogate viruses with spikes similar to those on SARS-CoV-2, as surrogates, said first author Emily S. Bailey, PhD. The investigators stored the products at both refrigeration (4oC, or 39.2oF) and freezer temperatures (-20oC, or -4oF). 

“Although you might not store meat in the fridge for 30 days, you might store it in the freezer for that long,” said Bailey, Assistant Professor, Department of Public Health, College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Campbell University, North Carolina.   

Read more here

research food
New research could hand growers the keys to pollination

With rising global temperatures and dwindling pollinator populations, food production has become increasingly difficult for the world’s growers.

A new study from researchers at the University of Maryland’s Department of Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics addresses this issue, providing insight into exactly how flowering plants develop fruits and seeds.

“Understanding this process is especially important because common food crops—such as peanuts, corn, rice and strawberries—are all fruits and seeds derived from flowers,” said Zhongchi Liu, the study’s senior author and a professor of cell biology and molecular genetics at UMD.

“Knowing how plants ‘decide’ to turn part of their flowers into fruit and seed is crucial to agriculture and our food supply.”

In the study, Liu and her team aimed to discover how fertilisation—or pollination—triggers a flowering plant to start the fruit development process.

Read more here

A coalition call to ban nitrites from our meat

Professor Chris Elliott urges the UK to follow France in a move that would see the use of nitrates – which have been linked to cancer and arguably have no real purpose in production – prohibited in red meats such as bacon.

A large and impressive coalition has launched over the weekend (9-10 July 2022) calling for a ban on nitrites in process meats in the UK. The group, which includes leading figures from all four political parties, a former World Health Organisation professor and myself, want the UK to follow France in legislating against the dangerous chemicals that are present in much of the processed meats we purchase.

Emmanuel Macron’s governing party is leading efforts in France to restrict industrial bacon producers from adding chemicals which have been linked to cancer during their production process. Earlier this year, the French Parliament passed a bill to further limit the use of nitrites in cured meats like bacon and ham. This is a hugely significant moment in time and I hope will kick start not only a UK ban but action across the world.  

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food pollution
Would supporting bees drive down food prices?

Supporting and enhancing pollinators could help stabilise the production of important crops like oilseeds and fruit, reducing the sort of uncertainty that causes food price spikesnew research has shown.

Scientists at the University of Reading analysed years of data on the poorly understood effect of pollinators on crop yield stability. They found there was 32 percent less variation in the yields of plants visited by bees and other pollinators than those grown in absence of pollinators.

The study, published in the journal Ecology Letters, suggests that pollinators can help to mitigate supply issues and market shocks that cause global price spikes, like those being seen this year, by holding food supplies steady.

The publication marks the start of Bees’ Needs Week (18-24 July), a UK Government-led initiative championing pollinators and their benefits, and this year encouraging people to take five simple actions to support pollinators.

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edible QR code
Edible QR code could eliminate counterfeit whiskey

Taking a shot at fake whiskey, a team of researchers have developed an edible tag featuring a scannable code which could help to identify and deter fraudulent whiskey in the future.

Eighteen percent of adults in the UK have experienced purchasing counterfeit alcoholic spirits, but the days of fake whiskey could be numbered following the creation of an edible fluorescent silk tag.

The tag created by a team of biomedical engineers from Purdue University and National Institute of Agricultural Sciences in South Korea features a code, equivalent to a barcode or QR code, but so small it’s not visible to the naked eye.

The idea is that the tag would be placed into bottles of whiskey as an anticounterfeiting technology, with customers/consumers then able to scan the code with a smartphone to ensure its genuine.

As the tags are safe to consume, it won’t matter if it’s swallowed in the drink – and according to the creators, will have no impact on the taste.