“30-10-2014: Nitrogen is an essential component of all living systems, playing important roles in everything from proteins and nucleic acids to vitamins. It is the most abundant element in Earth’s atmosphere and is literally all around us, but in its gaseous state, N2,, it is inert and useless to most organisms. Something has to convert, or “fix,” that nitrogen into a metabolically usable form, such as ammonia. Until about 100 years ago when an industrial-scale technique called the Haber-Bosch process was developed, bacteria were almost wholly responsible for all nitrogen fixation on Earth (lightning and volcanoes fix a small amount of nitrogen). Bacteria accomplish this important chemical conversion using an enzyme called nitrogenase.
“For decades, we have been trying to understand how nitrogenase can interact with this inert gas and carry out this transformation,” says Doug Rees, Caltech’s Roscoe Gilkey Dickinson Professor of Chemistry and an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). To fix nitrogen in the laboratory, the Haber-Bosch process requires extremely high temperatures and pressures, yet bacteria are able to complete the conversion under physiological conditions. “We’d love to understand how they do this,” he says. “It’s a great chemical mystery.”
Pesticide Action Network
“Independent scientists have been saying it for a while now: neonicotinoid pesticides aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. And finally, scientists and economists at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are showing signs that they’re listening to the science.
Last Thursday, EPA released preliminary findings on neonic-coated soybeans — a small part of the agency’s broader review of neonicotinoids. EPA’s headline finding? Neonicotinoid seed treatments “provide negligible overall benefits to soybean production in most situations.”
We know neonics are harmful to bees and other pollinators; a growing body of science has been pointing to these pesticides as a key factor in dramatically declining populations for years. But pesticidemakers like Bayer and Syngenta have continued to claim that neonicotinoid products are essential for farmers’ success.”
It is pretty easy to write this piece when your goal in live is to ban all pesticides. There are more than several places where neonicotinoids are of use to farmers and pet owners. On the crop side, we probably wouldn’t have a potato industry in North America without neonics. That used was pushed early on in Canada. It was to the point that Colorado Potato Beetle were taking over the world. I can remember seeing them one early April down in Leamington Ontario, with the adults crawling out of the hedgerow to chew on recently planted potato seed pieces. They weren’t so good against wireworms, but were pushed in to push out Lindane seed treatments. They really were on the only soil insecticide, until recently.
In early September we received a notice from the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) asking for a review to be done in 45 days on a significant list of standards that have to do with pesticide exposure. The intent of this document was very good: they want to show us that their standards (numbers) were the same as or close to the same as what are used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
On the surface, it would appear that all is well. I suspect that most folks who simply peruse the document will think we are now well-harmonized. Unfortunately, they may have missed the most important facts that are contained therein, albeit well-hidden.
Exposure to pesticides is a concern for everyone. They are ubiquitous in our lives, our environment and around the world. This matters not if the levels found are insignificant, or while significant, are at a level that does no harm. (The same holds true for medications, caffeine, household cleaners, and industrial products). All of these are the result of our ever more industrialized way of life. We cannot go back, any more than we can live in caves and slaughter food animals and scavenge plants to exist. However, it is extremely important to manage the levels of exposure, and to get those as low as possible.
A good review by Craig Hunter of how safety factors are applied to potential pesticide exposure calculations. “Fun with numbers, 101.” The differences between the US EPA approach and the Canadian PMRA calculations are breath taking.
“Princeton, Ontario – For 37 years, potatoes have been a staple for Streef Produce Ltd., but this year, they grew a new root vegetable: sweet potatoes. Sixty acres sounds like a big gamble, but with strong demand signals, president Jack Streef expects that genetic research will improve his stake.
A spiral washer, part of the new packing line, gently handles sweet potatoes.
Jack Streef inspects a bin of sweet potatoes that have been cured and are ready for packing.
“We’re concerned that we don’t have enough to supply customer demand,” explains Streef. The well-known family has a commission house at the Ontario Food Terminal. Reading the pulse of the market, brother Pete Streef could see that demand is growing for sweet potatoes, while demand for conventional potatoes is shrinking.
Their market intuition is backed up by statistics from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. In 2012, Canadian retailers imported 60,000 tonnes of sweet potatoes from the U.S. worth $40 million. That’s to keep up to Canadian tastes for the antioxidant-rich superfood. Promoted by both nutritionists and celebrity chefs, sweet potatoes have found a sweet spot with consumers who have doubled consumption in the last five years.
Sweet potatoes are truly a minor use crop in Canada with a paltry 1,500 acres. The opportunity is for another 6,000 acres to displace imports and to satisfy retailers’ penchant for local produce – as long as there is quality and consistent supply.”
If you can find a ‘new crop’ and learn to grow it well before all your neighbours do, you are on to something.
Ontario’s garlic industry is thriving, to the point that the distribution of clean seed was overwhelming the propagation unit in New Liskeard.
“We’re not set up as a catalogue business,” say Becky Hughes, head of the Northern Horticultural Research/SPUD unit. “It’s very labour-intensive to fulfill small orders of roundels.”
Roundels, single cloves of clean seed garlic, are developed at the research unit at New Liskeard, Ontario. Photo courtesy of Becky Hughes.
Warren Ham says: The largest single complaint received in the grocery stores, and not just the produce section is: “we want to buy local garlic.”
The Garlic Growers of Ontario accepted a proposal from Warren Ham, Augusts Harvest, to handle the distribution service on a commercial basis, ensuring stability of the clean seed program.
“Protocols for growing from clean seed ensure consistent yields,” says Ham. “At Augusts Harvest, we are attempting to replicate those protocols and produce foundation seed stock for this crop with such great potential.”
Speaking of wonderful, new crops, I can’t think of any place that grows better garlic than Ontario, which easily bests China (yuck) and even Gilroy California, the home of the garlic festival.
“There is a problem, there isn’t a problem. This is the problem, that is the problem. I have read and heard these words in regards to bee health so many times it leads me to believe one thing: we don’t know what the problem is or if there is one.
Bees have a direct role in more than one third of our diet — that’s a lot of food. Without bees our diet would be far less nutritious. The livelihood of thousands of farmers depends on the health of bee populations in Canada. The importance of bee health cannot be overstated and must be monitored. Millions of bees are moved across Canada every year to pollinate apples, blueberries and more than a hundred different fruits and vegetables. The work of bees is integral to horticulture in Canada.
There have been so many studies and media reports on bee health that it has become impossible to keep up with the latest “facts and figures.” If you have tried, you will have noticed that the majority of these reports is indicating that the bee population is in huge decline and that we are on the verge of a major crisis in our food supply.
The numbers from the pollinator industry are contrary to what is being reported in the media. Canada’s bee population has been growing steadily. There is no shortage of beehives to pollinate our crops and the cost to have hives delivered to our orchards and fields has not risen outside of normal increases. If there was a shortfall in beehives, supply and demand would be influencing the price and we would be seeing large increases in the cost of pollinators. According to Statistics Canada the honeybee population has increased by 37 per cent since 2003 in Ontario.”
The prevalence of happy bees is a good news story, for everyone.
Harrow, Ontario –Today’s worldwide shortage of rootstock should be motivating apple and tender fruit growers to review order catalogues for plantings three, if not, four years out.
“Growers have to think about 2017 now,” urges Rob Haynes, general manager, Mori Essex Nurseries, which has farms in Harrow and Niagara-on-the-Lake. Demand is so strong that the propagator is now planting more than a million trees per year. That’s exponential growth from 200,000 trees just five years ago.
Mori Essex Nurseries employ 85 staff, mostly seasonal, to plant cuttings. These workers are preparing cuttings with rooting hormone before placing in pots under mistlines. Once established in six weeks, they will be transferred to the field or greenhouse depending on the season. Photos by Glenn Lowson.
Several trends are driving that demand, not the least of which is transformation of apple orchards to high-density plantings. This production system requires up to 1,300 trees per acre and higher. Mori Essex Nurseries also supply rootstock for the Prunus genus: peaches, cherries, apricots, nectarines and plums.
“The warming climate has helped us,” says Haynes. “A plan has commenced this year to plant up to 3,000 acres of apples in Prince Edward Island by a group of foreign investors. And we’re now seeing agricultural entrepreneurs from around the world looking for tens of thousands of acres of land suitable for apples across Canada. There are opportunities for apple exports in the future.”
Most people who aren’t in the fruit business think nothing of the lowly rootstock, the foundation of all fruit trees. It’s good to see that foreign investors think their is a future in the fruit business in Canada. What about locals?
“Commodity News Service Canada — Canola basis levels in Western Canada are already looking better than year-ago levels, but they’re expected to continue improving, Bruce Burnett said during a presentation at the Cereals of North America conference in Winnipeg.
Ending stocks in 2014/15 are predicted at around 911,000 tonnes by CWB, as demand remains strong and production is expected to drop from last year. At the end of 2013/14, stocks of canola were at 2.363 million tonnes, Statistics Canada data shows.
CWB predicted exports of canola at 8.7 million tonnes for 2014/15 and estimated Canadian canola production at 14.863 million tonnes, below the current Statistics Canada estimate of 14.080 million tonnes. In 2013/14, 17.966 million tonnes of canola were grown in Canada.
The relatively tight fundamental situation won’t necessarily be reflected in the ICE Futures Canada market for canola, as the U.S. is expecting to produce a record large soybean crop this year.”
“Soy meal futures jumped six percent higher Wednesday and dragged canola, soybeans, corn and wheat higher.
It is the same story that played out repeatedly this week.
There is good demand for soy meal but American farmers are not rushing to deliver. Also, rail congestion is slowing the movement of soybeans to crushers and to export points.”
Crop Protection News
“Bunge, unveiling lower-than-expected results, blamed the spread of slow farmer crop selling to Brazil from Argentina, amid growing concerns that Dilma Rousseff’s re-election as president may encourage grain hoarding.
The agricultural trading house, one of the sector’s big four with Archer Daniels Midland, Cargill and Louis Dreyfus, revealed earnings of $284m for the July-to-September quarter, compared with an after-tax loss of $165m a year before.
However, on an underlying basis, Bunge’s earnings per share of $1.31 fell below the $1.89 per share a year before, and below market forecasts too.
The decline reflected a 43% slump to $186m in operating profits from the core agribusiness arm, responsible for more than 70% of group revenues, which was hurt by the impact of lower crop prices in cutting the value of inventories, and in provoking “very slow farmer selling”.
• Slowest farmer selling in recent memory
• Questions about Brazils reliability
• Bunge prospects
Next year will be a “challenging” one for farmers, DuPont said, flagging headwinds to its own prospects from reduced farm prosperity – although the downturn has not dulled the group’s appetite for ag-sector deals.
“We do anticipate 2015 will be a dynamic, challenging year for farmers,” DuPont spokesman Greg Friedman told investors, citing “reduced net cash income” prospects, as bumper world harvests depress crop prices.
And Mr Friedman noted an “increasingly challenging environment” for DuPont itself, the owner of the Pioneer seeds business, thanks to weaker farm earnings and to “pressure across the globe” on sowings of corn, a big earner for seed groups.
Prices of corn seed fell in Brazil in the July-to-September quarter, fuelling a 4% drop to $1.56bn in the group’s ag sector sales, and are expected to continue lower in the current October-to-December period, offsetting growth in the agrichemicals market.
“We expect the weaker environment in ag to continue,” said Ellen Kullman, the DuPont chair and chief executive.”
• Market share losses
• Appetite for acquisitions
• ‘Actively engaged’
“Intrepid Potash unveiled its third loss in four quarters, hurt by torrential rains which deprived the group’s mines of power and prompted the temporary shutdown of some of its capacity.
The US-based potash group unveiled a net loss of $1.24m for the July-to-September period, compared with earnings of $1.68m a year before.
The loss, equivalent to $0.02 per share, compared with market expectations of the company reporting earnings of $0.05 per share.
And it reflected a dent to its performance from rains last month in New Mexico, where it mines potash, and which state-wide received nearly twice its average September rainfall.”
• ‘Unprecedented rainfall’
• ‘Solid demand’
“Soymeal maintained its upward run, rising back over $400 a short ton, but failed this time to have quite the impact in lifting grains higher too.
Sure, the story of tight US soymeal supplies – squeezed by a combination of the low stocks of soybeans left before harvest, the slow pace of harvest, US logistical overloads and strong export demand – remained alive.
“Rail logistics seem to be squeezing the soymeal market higher, along with limited soybeans available to soybean processors,” said CHS Hedging.
Indeed, the “take-home point” for ag investors is that “autumn transportation issues are exerting an oversized impact on ag price discovery,” said Richard Feltes at RJ O’Brien.”
• ‘Poor turnaround times’
• Brazil factors
• ‘Playing the grain markets’
• End of QE3
• ‘Limits on next year’s production’
• ‘Fighting weather’
• ‘The most interesting story’
Mosaic voiced “high expectations” for its phosphates business even as it forecast a fall in sales volumes and prices, in the face of a world market being undermined by a switch to compound fertilizers.
The US-based group, the world’s biggest phosphate fertilizer producer, said that its revenues from the nutrient rose 16.8% to $1.66bn in the latest quarter, lifted by a jump of some 600,000 tonnes to 3.3m tonnes in sales volumes.
The average selling price of diammonium phosphate (DAP), a benchmark product, fell 9.3% to $461 a tonne, showed a decline on that in the June-to-September quarter too, although Mosaic achieved a rise in sales prices of phosphate blends.
Gross margin in phosphates soared by $101m to $294m.
“Despite increasing raw material costs, logistical issues and lower grain prices, Mosaic sold more tonnes at higher prices with a notably improved margin per tonne,” said Jim Prokopanko, the Mosaic chief executive.
“We have high expectations for our phosphates business.”
• ‘Production curtailment’
• Potash outlook
• Rising profits
Well, I’m sure the shareholder do have high expectations as well, but neither may be met.
“Bayer CropScience and DuPont Crop Protection announced the signing of an agreement for Bayer to purchase certain DuPont Crop Protection Land Management assets in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand. Closing of the transaction is expected in the fourth quarter 2014, subject to customary regulatory approvals. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
This acquisition will enable Bayer’s Environmental Science business unit to offer a comprehensive portfolio of products for effective weed control for Industrial Vegetation Management (IVM). Furthermore the company will gain access to the growing Forestry and Range & Pasture business segments in North America. Under the agreement, DuPont will continue to sell its Land Management products outside the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand and its range and pasture products in Mexico and Latin America.
“We are a leader in the professional environmental science market globally and the planned acquisition underlines our ambition to further grow this position in the years to come,” said Bayer CropScience CEO Liam Condon. “It allows us to provide our customers with first-choice solutions to protect and care for the environment in which we live, work and play. Keeping our railways, railroads and infrastructure clean and safe and forestry plantations more productive is part of our mission – Bayer: Science for A Better Life.”
“This agreement is another step in the execution of our DuPont Crop Protection business growth strategy,” said Rik Miller, president of DuPont Crop Protection. “We continue to focus on delivering our science and innovative new offerings to the market that drives profitable growth both today and over the long-term.”
Bayer CropScience provides industry-leading risk management solutions to professionals that are responsible for reducing risks posed by uncontrolled vegetation in industrial, forestry and natural areas. Risks include for example reduced access and visibility along transportation corridors, transmission line hazards, wildfires, reduced lifespans of infrastructure like road surfaces and railways as well as decreased productivity of forestry plantations.”
- Top 20 Chinese agrochemical firms: glyphosate taking the lead
- Dominant product backing up sales
- Stringent environmental requirement to benefit large companies
“For reasons like the rigid demand for agrochemicals at home and abroad, industry restructuring, decreased inventories and the more stringent environmental compliance regulation, Chinese agrochemicals business started to resume in 2012 and market was apparently improved in 2013. According to the list of 2013 top 20 Chinese agrochemicals companies published by AgroPages, the 2013 top 20 achieved total sales of Yuan 47.60 billion, 25% up year on year. Meanwhile the entry level on the list has risen to 1.38 billion from the Yuan 1.21 billion of 2012; nearly 2/3 of the top 20 have achieved growth rate of more than 20%.
Among the AgroPages 2012 top 20, only 1 company achieved sales of over Yuan 3 billion while the top 20 of 2013 shows that the top5 companies all achieved sales of Yuan 3 billion – Zhejiang Wynca Chemical, Zhejiang Jinfanda Biochemical, Huapont-Nutrichem, Sichuan Leshan Fuhua Tongda Agro-chemical Technology and Jiangsu Yangnong Chemical. Of the above Wynca Chemical achieved the No.1 sales with Yuan 3.55 billion, followed by the No.2 Jinfanda Biochemical with Yuan 3.54 billion, No.3 Huapont-Nutrichem with Yuan 3.53 billion and No.4 Fuhua Tongda Agro-chemical Technology with Yuan 3.4 billion. It is noted that the above 4 companies were also on the list of 2013 top 20 published by AgroPages, ranking respectively No.14, No.15, No.16 and No.17.”
[Picture Here Sales of top 20]
Glyphosate drives the Chinese agrochemical sector.
8. Valent launches ProGibb LV Plus Plant Growth Regulator-Valent, plant growth regulator, ProGibb LV Plus, launch, gibberellic acid
“Valent U.S.A. Corporation announced the launch of ProGibb LV Plus Plant Growth Regulator, a high-potency, liquid gibberellic acid (GA3) formulation designed to comply with California’s new air quality standards for high volatile organic compound (VOC) agricultural products. ProGibb LV Plus offers the same efficacy and flexibility growers learned to rely on with ProGibb 4% without the environmental and safety issues associated with a VOC product.
“Volatile organic compounds contribute to the formation of ozone, a major air pollutant in the valley,” said James Hansen, product manager for ProGibb LV Plus. “This new formulation makes it easier for major food production areas like the San Joaquin Valley to mitigate its contribution to the ozone challenge while still improving crop quality and value.”
In addition to lower emissions, ProGibb LV Plus contains twice the concentration of active material compared to ProGibb 4%. Also, ProGibb LV Plus has the lowest emission potential percentage (EP%) of available liquid low-VOC products and is non-flammable, which makes it safer to store and handle.”
This change would be entirely driven by Cal-EPA. This is a tiny product.
US News, Policy and Politics
Agricultural Economy- Trade
“Reuters News reported yesterday that, “U.S. businesses urged President Barack Obama on Wednesday to make a case for fast-track authority on trade agreements before his upcoming trip to Asia, which is seen as an opportunity to push a Pacific trade deal.
“Myron Brilliant, head of international affairs for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said Obama should send a signal about trade in the time between mid-term U.S. elections on Nov. 4 and an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in China on Nov. 10-11.”
“Reuters writer Carey Gillam reported yesterday that, “With less than a week before voters in two U.S. states weigh measures to require labeling of foods made with genetically modified ingredients, labeling supporters were hoping for victory but planning for defeat.
“Fresh polling showed support for the Oregon GMO labeling law waning in the face of a well-funded onslaught of advertising from labeling opponents, and pro-labeling Colorado campaigners still could not muster enough money for television ads to counter thousands of ads by labeling opponents.”
“A news release yesterday from USDA stated that, “Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, speaking at the National Milk Producers Federation annual meeting, today announced extended deadlines for the dairy Margin Protection Program. Farmers now have until Dec. 5, 2014, to enroll in the voluntary program, established by the 2014 Farm Bill. The program provides financial assistance to participating farmers when the margin – the difference between the price of milk and feed costs – falls below the coverage level selected by the farmer.”
“Cristina Marcos reported yesterday at The Hill Online that, “The House will vote on legislation preventing the Environmental Protection Agency from issuing regulations, unless all scientific data to support implementation is publicly available.”
“House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) did not specify when the House would vote, saying only that it would be ‘soon.’ The House will return to Washington on Nov. 12.”
“With the exception of a few showers in parts of the region — some of which added up to an inch of rain — the harvest weather window in the central third of the U.S. remains open, keeping corn and soybean harvest progress running along well, while the end of winter wheat planting edges closer in the Plains.
Rain has fallen in the first half of the week, with most of it isolated to the southeastern portion of the Corn Belt, namely southern Indiana where up to 1 inch of rain fell Tuesday, according to Freese-Notis Weather, Inc., meteorologist Wayne Ellis. However, a combination of warm temperatures in that same region and an outlook favoring drier conditions will likely keep any weather delays minimal. Beyond the weekend, most of the Midwest will see average or below-average rain — or snowfall — totals.”
“DAUPHIN, Man. — If the stars line up just right in the U.S. midterm elections, Canada’s drawn-out battle over country-of-origin labeling may finally be resolved, says the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association trade expert.
Americans vote Nov. 4 in mid-term elections, and polls suggest the Republican Party may win a majority of seats in the Senate.
If that happens, there may be sufficient political will in Washington to fix COOL through legislation, said John Masswohl, the CCA’s director of government and international relations.
“What it does in Washington is it changes the gatekeepers. It changes the people who get to decide what the Senate works on and what the Congress works on,” Masswohl said yesterday at a CCA town hall meeting in Dauphin, Man.
“The people who have been there at the gates like COOL the way it is.”
Recent projections have already foreshadowed the likelihood of higher returns for soybeans than corn next year. Now, the numbers are pointing to that same scenario much quicker than the 2015 crop.
Based on projected costs and the median prices projected in USDA’s World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report earlier this month, soybeans will net more per-acre revenue than corn this fall, says University of Illinois Extension ag economist Gary Schnitkey.
Neither crop will light the world on fire this fall, returns-wise, but the cost side of the equation will likely make soybeans the winner, provided yields wind up where the latest estimates have them.
“Unlike most years, soybeans are projected to be more profitable than corn in 2014. Those farms raising more soybeans this year will tend to be more profitable than those raising more corn,” Schnitkey says in a university report.
“Total costs equal $588 per acre for corn and $372 per acre for soybeans. Operator and land return equals gross revenue minus total costs and represents a return to both the farmer and landowner. Operator and land return equals $210 per acre for corn and $328 per acre for soybeans. Soybeans are projected to have a $118 per acre higher return than corn.”
The economist projects, for the highest productivity land in his home state, gross revenue will be about $100 higher per acre for corn, but costs for that crop will exceed those for soybeans by more than $200 based on 2014 crop budgets and a 50-50 rotation between the two crops.