Agriculture news from week 29

USA and Canada

Palmer amaranth found in another North Dakota county

BISMARCK, N.D. — The North Dakota Agriculture Department has confirmed that two plants on the side of the road in Traill County have been determined to be Palmer amaranth.

Palmer amaranth is a fast-growing noxious weed known to significantly hurt yields of crops. The weed is considered a major threat to cropland, with populations of the weed known to be resistant to every major category of chemical typically used on soybeans and resistant to many chemicals used on corn.

The Traill County plants were found “very close to an existing infestation just over the county line in Cass County,” the department said in a statement. Though a sample of the plants was taken, “verification of the exact location by a local weed control officer was unable to be completed.”

The sample was submitted for DNA analysis to the National Agricultural Genotyping Center, where it was confirmed as Palmer amaranth.

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USDA Crop Progress report shows Iowa corn taking off

WASHINGTON — Iowa’s corn crop took a large leap in silking in the week ending July 17.

The weekly U.S. Crop Progress report showed Iowa corn at 31% silking up from 7% the previous week. That still lags the five-year average of 50% silking for the state.

Nationally, the corn crop ticked up slightly now with 13% rated excellent, up 1% from week before in the report released Monday, July 18, by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

However, South Dakota’s corn crop dropped from 18% excellent to 11% excellent.

On soybeans nationally, the percentage of the crop in good condition was down 1% to 51% good; the excellent rating still was at 10%. North Dakota’s soybeans did drop from 63% good to 57% good.

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Markets see a change in weather pressure, more concerns from inflation

Even though weather continues to be the biggest influencer on the grains, July 13 Consumer Price Index announcement caused a bit of a stir. The report put inflations at 9.1% versus expectations of 8.8%. The significance of inflation at 9.1%, the highest in over 41 years, is that it will give the Federal Reserve the ammo it needs to increase interest rates another 0.75% or possibly 1%, which would send the market into a tailspin.

Corn saw pressure from reports that China will soon be signing an agreement with Brazil that will allow for Brazil corn to be imported into China. Wheat was also pressured by reports of production increases for Russia. But losses were trimmed July 13 by a much better than expected export sales estimate for wheat, which came in at the highest single week sales estimate in over 10 years.

The July 20 Drought Monitor confirmed why corn’s crop condition rating stabilized last week. The Drought Monitor map showed a decent reduction in area affected by drought in Illinois and Indiana, which are now rated with 52% of Illinois in some stage of drought while Indiana has 79% of the state in some stage of drought.

 Read more…

Did This Week’s Heat Knock the Possibility of a New U.S. Record Corn Yield Off the Table?

Forecasts predicting extreme heat would creep farther north and east came true this week. Triple-digit temperatures remain parked along the Southern Plains, but now the majority of the western Corn Belt is starting at a worst-case weather scenario for crops now pollinating. Yet, the markets traded lower for much of the week. 

The weather in the western Corn Belt could be causing some of the crop to lose yield. However, the heat wasn’t extreme in eastern Iowa, and recent rains mean the crop has the fuel it needs to grow.

“I actually think the heat here in Iowa, where we have plentiful soil moisture, a lot of the areas are benefiting the crop,” says Brian Grete, editor of Pro Farmer. “Now the areas in northwestern part of the state, southwestern part of the state where it’s drier, they’re going to see some of their crops hurt.”

Could Iowa Have a Record Corn Crop?

Grete will lead a team of scouts next month for the annual Pro Farmer Crop Tour, which will be the first “boots in the field” scouting of this year’s crop on a large scale. 

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Australi grain
Canada working to help move grain from Ukraine, but faith in Russia ‘nil,’ says Trudeau

New Zealand

NZ horticulture
Rosy government data does not show farm challenges, grower says

Government data on industry successes does not always reflect what is happening on farms, says a fruit grower and industry body.

Cromwell cherry grower Alan Smith​ said there were colossal differences between what government data showed was happening in the primary industries and what was actually happening on farms.

Smith was responding after a Ministry for Primary Industries report showed the average export price of cherries rose to $24 per kilogram, and that cherry exports increased by 40.5% to $77.8 million with both higher volumes and prices contributing. The report also forecast horticulture export revenue to increase by 2% to $6.7 billion for the year.

Growers did not receive anything near $24 per kilogram, Smith said.

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Dairy prices suffer a big slide at auction overnight

Dairy prices suffered a big drop at the global auction overnight, with declines across the board including a 2% decline for butter.

The global dairy trade (GDT) price index was down 5% on the last auction for an average price of US$4166 a tonne.

The whole milk powder price index dropped 5.1%, with the average price for all contracts now sitting below US$4,000 (NZ$6691.91) a tonne. The average winning price of whole milk powder decreased to US$3757/t.

NZX Dairy insights manager Stuart Davidson said the auction outcome was unsurprising, “albeit a little hard for Kiwi farmers to swallow at this point in the season.

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It may be winter here, but Guy Trafford can’t help but notice Northern Hemisphere heat waves and he wonders what our summer may have in store

Given that we are in the pits pf winter it seems somewhat premature to the thinking about what summer may bring us in five or six months. However, given the steady media diet of heat waves and wildfires coming out of the Northern Hemisphere plus floods from across in Australia, the weather patterns are hard to ignore.

Just because Europe and others are experiencing record temperatures does not necessarily mean that we are in for the same here. Last year for many kiwis the weather was dominated by rainfall rather than extreme heat or drought, Southland being the exception.

So, what are the experts predicting for this coming summer?

Firstly, a lot can change in forecasts between now and then, however they seem to agree and with ‘high degrees’ of confidence on one thing, it is going to be warmer than average.

Read More here… 

Don’t put all your avos in one basket

In a new report Rabobank says the majority of New Zealand’s avocado exports currently head to Australia and development of other export markets will be essential to ensure sustainable growth opportunities for the country’s producers as production climbs.

The Australian & New Zealand Avocado Outlook 2022 states that New Zealand’s avocado production is forecast to grow by an average 6% annually for the next five years, reaching 57,000 tonnes by 2026 — up from 44,000 tonnes in 2021.

“We expect the majority of this production growth will come from the Northland and Bay of Plenty regions,” says the report’s author, Rabobank associate analyst Pia Piggott.

“And while the general production trend will be in an upwards direction, we also anticipate this growth will be highly variable on an annual basis due to ‘alternate bearing’ which results in irregular crop loads from one season to the next.”

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Oilseeds show surprising promise in North Qld

A THREE-YEAR project has shown that several oilseed crops produce the same or better yields in tropical Queensland compared to trials in temperate climates, de-bunking decades of industry assumptions.

Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia (CRCNA) and Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) sponsored the research which was undertaken by Farmacist and Savannah Ag Consulting agronomists.

The trials were conducted from Emerald in Central Queensland to as far north as Laura in Far North Queensland.

They featured oilseed crops including canola, Indian mustard, carinata, soybeans, linseed, nigella, sunflower, camelina, safflower and black sesame.

Other than soybeans, none of the crops trialed are currently widely grown in northern Queensland.

Read more here

crop grain
GrainCorp, MUA at odds in Newcastle

MARITIME Union of Australia (MUA) members are not ruling out possible strike action at the GrainCorp Newcastle Port terminal as reports emerge that the company is preparing a scab workforce to takeover in the event of a stoppage.

Negotiations remain at a stalemate between both parties who are in talks about the pay and conditions for the about 60 staff at the site.

GrainCorp and MUA representatives have been negotiating over new agreements since April with employees calling for a 5 per cent pay increase as well as several operational changes, including overlapping shifts purportedly to increase loading efficiencies.

According to reports, GrainCorp brought in contract labour hire company MCC World International through the Newcastle terminal on Tuesday to assess the suitability for a takeover by a scab workforce.

Read mpore here…

Feedgrain Focus: South firms, north steadies

SOUTHERN markets for wheat and barley firmed this week on renewed competition from container packers, while northern markets were mostly steady, despite some sell-side pressure.

A squeeze in the Sydney market tied to rail outages has now abated with the reopening of the Hunter and second Main South line.

Waterlogging remains an issue for some winter crops in southern Queensland and New South Wales, both of which had a mostly dry week which has enabled top-dressing and weed spraying to take place where paddocks are dry enough to allow field work.

Most of Western Australia’s growing areas had a welcome 15-30 millimetres of rain in the past week, and parts of Victoria and South Australia had a handy 5-10mm.

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WA project yields wheat lines resistant to yellow spot

WESTERN Australian grains researchers have wrapped up a ground-breaking project resulting in
11 new wheat lines with very high levels of resistance to yellow spot.

The genetic material, which will help make future wheat varieties less susceptible to the damaging fungal pathogen, is the result of more than a decade of work led by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD).

The research was co-funded by the Grains Research and Development Corporation and conducted in collaboration with the University of Adelaide, Agriculture Victoria and University of
Southern Queensland.

Yellow spot is prevalent across the WA grainbelt, leading to yield losses of up to 50 per cent and costing growers up to $30 per hectare in lost production and control costs annually.

In Australia, yellow spot is estimated to cause losses totalling $212 million per annum.

Read more here...

South America

Brazilian meat
Brazil diversifying protein markets, Britain and Egypt with Halal cuts

Brazil, one of the world’s largest exporters of beef is diversifying markets since its sales are concentrated in China and Hong Kong, a situation very similar to that of neighboring Mercosur partners, Uruguay and Argentina.

With this in mind Brazil is targeting Britain and Egypt among other market options. In the UK, Minerva one of Brazil’s leading beef exporter has reached a supply agreement with British Hilton Food Solutions, belonging to Hilton Food PLCs protein trading company.

Likewise Brazil in the first half of the year exported 71,000 tons of beef Halal rite, to Egypt, equivalent to US$ 274 million, representing volume and value increase of 232% and 268% respectively..

Minerva in a release said the agreement will allow expanding operations in the food service, processed food industry, and retail in the United Kingdom, which is a great opportunity to ”understand market dynamics, define the profile of local costumers, and expand our presence in the country,” said Fernando Queiroz, CEO of Minerva Foods.

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Summer landscape of wheat field. Ripe cereals field. Golden spikelets of ripe wheat close up
Argentina’s wheat planting forecast cut again, corn output steady

BUENOS AIRES — The forecast for Argentina’s wheat-planting area for the upcoming season was downwardly revised again on Thursday, according to a leading grains exchange, as the South American country grapples with fallout from unfavorable weather.

The key wheat crop is seen planted across 6.1 million hectares (15.1 million acres) during the 2022/2023 harvesting season, down from 6.2 million hectares estimated previously for the cycle, the Buenos Aires grains exchange said in a report released on Thursday.

Argentina is a major global grains exporter, including wheat and corn, both of which are mainstays of the country’s large agricultural sector.

The revised wheat area forecast for the 2022/2023 cycle marks the fifth cut from the exchange since its original 6.6 million hectare forecast in May as different crop-producing areas suffer persistent drought.

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Alberto Fernández warns rural producers they “will not twist” his arm

Argentine President Alberto Fernández Friday insisted that many of the country’s problems stemmed from the reluctance of agriculture exporters to liquidate the over US$ 20 billion they have collected from sales abroad over the past few months, out of speculation regarding the exchange rate between US currency and local pesos.

Fernández said he would rise to inflation and “to those who speculate with the dollar and to those who keep 20 billion dollars” off the official monetary circuit.

During a ceremony at the Casa Rosada Museum alongside Science Minister Daniel Filmus which was also attended virtually by some 16 provincial governors, the head of state insisted rural producers would not “twist his arm.”

“Argentina continues to grow in a context that poses other challenges: the challenge of facing inflation, of facing those who speculate with the dollar, and the challenge of facing those who keep 20 billion dollars in the countryside and do not liquidate them, hoping for a better profitability, when the country needs it,” Fernández stressed.

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Can South America reduce its methane emissions from livestock farming?

espite commitments made at COP26 last November, the adoption of measures to reduce methane emissions from livestock farming do not yet appear to be a central objective for South America. It is, at best, a nascent goal, involving short-range government plans, some field studies and research that is still in its early stages.

While there is a prevalent and persistent perception in some quarters of the industry that the activity can be environmentally neutral, there is a broad scientific consensus that livestock farming is one of the world’s leading sources of methane emissions. Livestock emissions from manure and gastroenteric releases are estimated to produce approximately 32% of human-driven methane emissions. In countries where the sector is more dominant, this percentage can be much higher.

Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay – all among the world’s top 15 beef producers – have a significant role to play in meeting the targets set at the last United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), where over 100 nations pledged to reduce methane emissions by 30% by 2030. Although all three countries are signatories to the pact, the outlook is complex, and there is still a long way to go.

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Food Updates

fresh food
Brits can’t afford to eat healthy, claims new research

Over 33.4 million Brits are cutting back on fresh fruit and vegetables and can no longer afford to eat as healthily because of the rising cost of living, new findings show.

The new survey of 2,000 UK adults carried out by Meatless Farm found four in five (84 percent) are concerned about the increasing cost of food and are having to significantly change their food shopping and eating habits with almost two thirds (62 percent) buying less fruit and vegetables, and lower quality food to get by. 

With 8 in 10 (80 percent) forced to make changes to how we shop and eat, the research reveals how the cost of living is shaping the nation’s shopping baskets – exotic fruits such as grapes, melon, pineapple, and mango top the poll of what’s most likely to get cut followed by avocados and berries.

Nearly half (44 percent) are worried about how they will afford to eat healthily with shoppers forced to lower their standards – two in five are making the swap to cheaper quality meat (40 percent), frozen (45 percent) and tinned (39 percent) food.

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Chick-fil-A most searched for fast food brand in 27 US states

Chick-fil-A was the most searched for brand in more than half of the 50 US states, while regionally-based fast food firms also did very well.

A third (32 percent) admit they will fill up on pasta and rice, followed by baked beans (26 percent) and potatoes (25 percent) instead of fresh fruit and vegetables.

Other changes include making better use of leftovers (32 percent), home cooking (30 percent), shopping at cheaper supermarkets (31 percent) or choosing own label and reduced food (35 percent) and cutting out “treats” such as chocolate and crisps (35 percent).  More than a third (38 percent) will also be enjoying fewer takeaways and meals out to reduce spending.

“Cutting down on fruit and veg and replacing this with carbohydrates and cheaper quality meat is not a viable option for the future of our nation’s health, and the findings in this study are concerning for both the nutrition of our nation and the environment,” Morten Toft Bech, Founder of Meatless Farm.

Read more here

Consumer trust in UK food falls as cost-of-living crisis bites

Consumer trust in UK food has dropped as the cost-of-living crisis continues to bite – that’s according to new research commissioned by YouGov and Red Tractor.

Trust in UK food fell from 81 percent in 2021 to 73 percent in 2022, while trust in other sectors such as gas and electricity supply fell even further from 70 percent to 36 percent. The research was conducted with more than 3,500 adults across the UK, who were asked to rate their trust in several British institutions.

The swings in trust come as shoppers are forced to change their buying habits because of the cost-of-living crisis. Almost half (46 per cent) of people said they are changing what they buy to feed their families.

In addition, 30 per cent of consumers are buying less meat, this increases to 35 per cent for those from lower income households.   

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Could coffee make you more likely to buy candles?

Everyone knows not to eat before heading to the shops, lest you make some less than prudent purchases. But what effect does drinking coffee on purchasing habits?

Well, researchers from University of South Florida, European University Viadrina, Louisiana State University, SKEMA Business School, and Neoma Business School have conducted research on this very issue.

“Understanding how and why caffeine consumption influences spending is important since caffeine is one of the most powerful stimulants that is both legal and widely available,” the researchers said.

More than 80 percent of Americans consume at least one caffeinated beverage every day with coffee being the primary source of caffeine, followed by tea and soda. Caffeine is also found in energy drinks, chocolate, and in many over the counter and prescription medications.

The study found that drinking a caffeinated beverage before shopping leads to more items purchased at the store and increased spending. 

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Why we must all turn to sustainable palm oil

At the beginning of this year, I was delighted to accept the position as President of the Italian Union for Sustainable Palm Oil. The Union was founded in 2015 by leading trade associations belonging to Confindustria and national and multinational companies active in product sectors that use palm oil. It is dedicated to promoting the use of sustainable palm oil by companies and aims to communicate activities designed to raise awareness among stakeholders.

We also organise events, conferences and campaigns, and promote and support scientific research and studies into sustainable palm oil. Furthermore, we encourage collaborations between players in the sustainable palm oil supply chain, with the support of a qualified Scientific and Technical Committee.

My efforts will be aimed at strengthening the association’s role as a privileged point of contact with key institutions and as an authoritative and accredited source of accurate information on a supply chain that, in recent years, has made substantial strides in terms of sustainability.