Agriculture news from week 49

USA and Canada

Rows of Soybeans in the morning light of farm in Missouri. Converted from RAW file with 16 bit processing.

New soybean varieties for 2022

Western Canadian Prairie farmers who want to try a new soybean variety in 2022 will have lots to choose from with 31 soybean options being rolled out for the coming growing season. Here’s a look at what’s on tap from Dekalb, Corteva, Croplan, Maizex, NorthStar Genetics, Proven Seed, SeCan, Sevita International, Syngenta and Thunder Seed. Keep in mind, this list only includes brand new soybean offerings for 2022.

Corteva: Brevant

B0012RX is a Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybean with a relative maturity of 00.1 or 2300 CHU that maintains a medium plant height across variable environments. A consistent performer in fields with heavy soil texture, this variety matures slightly later than B0011RX but yields 4.6 bushels more per acre. B0012RX has Rps6 and Rps1k genes for protection against phytophthora root rot (PRR) along with an above-average rating for iron deficiency chlorosis (IDC) tolerance.

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sunflowers-north Manitoba

Manitoba crops down across the board: StatCan

Manitoba farmers reported a decrease in production of spring wheat, canola, soybeans, corn for grain, oats, barley, dry beans and sunflower seeds.

The 2021 estimates come from a StatCan survey of 3,133 Manitoba farmers conducted from October 8 to November 12.

Spring wheat

Total spring wheat production fell 29.2 per cent to 3.7 million tonnes in 2021. Farmers reported a decline in harvested area, down 9.2 per cent to 2.8 million acres, while average yield decreased 22.1 per cent to 47.9 bushels per acre.

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Steep Prices Trim U.S. Grain, Oilseed Exports Despite Healthy Demand

Global agriculture demand has been respectable even as shrinking supplies have pushed prices to multiyear or even record highs, but the recent shortfalls in some key U.S. exports are a prime example of how U.S. products have been frequently priced out of the market when costs soar.

U.S. farm exports recently hit new highs in terms of value, but wheat, soybean oil and cotton volumes in particular have lagged. Current U.S. government export estimates largely capture these weaknesses for now, but improvements may be less likely the longer high prices stick around.

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Hot, dry or both?Crop physiology under stress

What exactly happens to an individual plant in your field when Mother Nature turns up the thermostat and the dehumidifier at the same time?

It kills. In fact, it is a long and painful death for the plant, and there’s nothing we can do except hope for rain. That was the theme of Rosalind Buekert’s on-line presentation at the 2021 Saskatchewan Agronomy update. The presentation was titled “Dry, Hot, or Both? Crop Physiology Under Stress.”

Buekert, a plant physiologist at the University of Saskatchewan, said that to understand the intensity of heat and drought, it’s first necessary to know how hot and for how long.

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fertiliser cost

How to Balance Agronomic Decisions Against High Fertilizer Costs

The high cost of fall fertilizer is likely to have a long tail on U.S. corn production. Issues with natural gas availability globally is stoking concerns about a shortage of nitrogen (N) fertilizer. Plus, fertilizer prices continue to spike in the last few months of the year.


Despite higher grain prices, farmers will likely pull back on N applications in 2022, says Gary Schnitkey, agricultural economist at the University of Illinois.

Most decision aids will indicate farmers should drop N rates due to higher fertilizer prices, he says. In mid-November, he ran the “Maximum Return to Nitrogen” tool developed by Midwest land- grant universities for $5 corn.

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New Zealand


Fonterra’s Hurrell says New Zealand milk is the most valuable in the world 

New Zealand’s grass-fed farming model makes the country’s milk the most valuable in the world, Fonterra chief executive Miles Hurrell told farmers at the co-operative’s annual meeting in Invercargill.

Since taking over from Theo Spierings, Hurrell has moved Fonterra away from expanding its milk pools overseas, and brought the focus back to getting more value from the “white gold” produced by New Zealand farmers. His shift in strategy comes at a time when consumers are wanting to know more about where their food comes from and the environmental impact it leaves.

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Dairy prices hit 7-year high on Global Dairy Trade auction as tight milk supply underpins demand

Dairy prices rose at the global auction overnight, surpassing their March peak to touch a fresh seven-year high, as tight milk supply underpins demand for New Zealand’s biggest export commodity.

The Global Dairy Trade price index increased 1.4 per cent at the latest auction, to touch its highest level since March 2014. The index has been on a march higher since August.

Global dairy prices have been supported this season by weaker milk production in New Zealand and overseas due to poor weather and higher feed costs. Fonterra’s New Zealand milk supply is down about 3 per cent on the same time last season and is expected to end the season down 0.9 per cent. That’s prompted the co-operative to forecast a record farmgate milk price for its suppliers this season.

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Shipping delays and staff shortages bite the meat industry

Farmers are starting to struggle to get stock killed because staff shortages and shipping woes are causing major issues in the meat industry.

Ben Dooley, a farmer from Mimihau in Southland, said he had 200 ewes booked in with Alliance Group next week, but he was worried about finding more space for stock in the coming months.

“It’s definitely concerning. If this shipping container issue doesn’t get sorted out then we’re going to have some big problems in the next few months.”

The Alliance Group and Silver Fern Farms both say chronic labour shortages and global supply chain issues were causing problems.

SFF general manager supply chain Dan Boulton said the company was about 550 people short across its network.

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The pandemic has changed the world, but livestock farming not so much. But there has been preparation, innovation, and adoption of different ways to do farming business

COVID continues to cause problems including in New Zealand. Supply chains continue to be disrupted, tourism is a dead duck and since the pandemic first closed our borders, 90,000 jobs have been lost in the tourism sector and many billions of dollars in revenue.

Aside from supply chain issues, by in large farmers lives have not changed a huge amount; they are out there getting the job done supplying food. But what happens if COVID makes it’s way inside the farmgate?

They key is to create a plan. Talk to staff, family and anyone else who could be impacted, including contractors and neighbours. How will stock be managed and cared for should key people contract COVID and become ill. These are all things you should be planning, discussing and documenting should the worst happen.

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covid agriculture

Covid-19: More border exemptions for crucial agricultural workers

Relief could be in sight for agricultural contractors with up to 200 heavy machinery operators able to enter New Zealand under a border class exemption.

On Sunday, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor​ said the exemption would support key autumn harvest requirements and relieve workforce pressures created by Covid-19.

Pre-pandemic, more than 1000 skilled machinery operators, trained to drive specialised heavy agricultural machinery, came to New Zealand every year to meet seasonal demand.

However, most of those had been shut out since the borders closed early last year, leaving contractors severely short-staffed.

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prices of fertiliser

Rising prices could dictate nitrogen use

WITH fertiliser prices still sky high, growers are weighing up whether they will use less nitrogen in 2022, even though it would likely reduce yield potential.

High fertiliser prices are front of mind for growers right now and need to be managed properly, however many are holding out and hoping for prices to drop.

WAFarmers grains section president Mic Fels said he hadn’t priced his urea yet and was hoping the market would settle down before he has to.

“The issue is going to be whether the market corrects itself in time for when we need our urea next year,” Mr Fels said.

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grain price

Grain prices steady as farmers assess rain damage to crops

East coast Australian grain prices steadied last week as farmers and buyers assess impacts of the recent flooding rains across NSW.

Fortunately, Queensland grain farmers had finished most winter crop harvesting when eastern Australia was inundated by 75 millimetres to more than 150mm of rain in less than 48-hours.

NSW farmers at the epicentre of the torrential rain event are assessing quality losses as they gradually get machinery into paddocks. It will be weeks before farmers will be able to access lower lying country, were in some cases crops were completely submerged.

Initial indications have revealed significant and widespread downgrading of grain quality.

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partnership of soil constrains

Partnership to overcome soil constraints

A PARTNERSHIP between one of the world’s leading silicon fertiliser companies, Agripower, and the Australian government-backed Co-operative Research Centre for High Performance Soils (Soil CRC) was announced last week.

The agreement will see the organisations focus on increasing farming productivity, sustainability and profitability was also announced.

In partnership, the companies will undertake tests, trials and product development to deliver solutions to overcome consequential constraints the agriculture industry is facing.

More than 60 per cent of the 20 million hectares of cropping soils in Australia have subsoil constraints, including acidity, salinity and sodicity.

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Downgrading issues lead to calls for better stocks info

THE RECENT rain and associated downgrading of unharvested grain has reignited calls from the grain production sector for a more equitable system of stocks reporting.

Grain Producers Australia director and long-time advocate for stocks information reporting Andrew Weidemann said grain growers were currently flying blind when making their marketing decisions.

“Everyone is trying to get a handle on how much grain is downgraded, but only the bulk handlers have access to that information at a meaningful level,” Mr Weidemann said.

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dairy australia

Plant-based products should not be allowed to misuse and leverage dairy terms, senate hearing told

The Australian Dairy Industry Council also called for the government to stop plant-based products misrepresenting dairy nutrition.

“The issue of plant-based products falsely leveraging the dairy industry is a long-standing problem in this country,” ADIC chair Rick Gladigau said.

At a public hearing for the Senate inquiry into the definitions of meat and other animal products, ADIC representatives called on government to support measures to address this market failure.

Mr Gladigau said the Australian dairy industry had extremely strict standards of identity to be able to call a product milk, cheese or yoghurt.

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South America


Brazil’s FOB soybean oil basis lower than Argentina’s on biodiesel cut

Brazilian FOB soybean oil port differentials had an unusual start for December, lower than Argentinian levels, amid a cut in the mandatory mixture of biodiesel into diesel for 2022.

From Nov. 30 to Dec. 7, the Brazilian FOB Paranagua soybean oil premium for January loading was assessed as lower as 30 points compared to Argentina’s FOB Up River, according to S&P Global Platts. By this time last year, in contrast, Brazilian FOB Paranagua basis was as higher as 100 points than the reported in Argentina.

The Brazilian FOB Paranagua basis for January shipment was assessed Dec. 7 at plus 480 points to CBOT, from plus 640 points by this time in 2020.

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chile cherry

ASOEX Remains Bullish on China as Cherry Season Picks Up Steam

The Chilean Fruit Exporters Association (ASOEX) remains optimistic about the long-term prospects for exports of Chilean fresh fruit to China and expects to continue significant annual investments to develop the China market and solidify Chile’s position as a top supplier of fruit to China, according to recent remarks by an ASOEX representative during the Chile Week in China event series held in Beijing and Shanghai from Nov. 25 to Dec. 3 and organized by Chile’s export promotion bureau, ProChile.

On Dec. 2, Patrick Xiao, ASOEX’s marketing manager for China, took to the stage in Shanghai as part of the Chile Week in China Innovation and Food Safety Seminar to discuss “Opportunities and Challenges for Exporting to the Chinese Market.” In 2020, China imported over 6.3 million tons of fresh fruit from around the world with a total value in excess of $10 billion.

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Brazil’s Soybean Planting Hits 94%, But Southern States Face Drought Risk

Sao Paulo, BR (Reuters) — The planting of Brazil’s 2021/22 soybean crop had reached 94% of the estimated area as of Thursday (Dec. 2) and is progressing well in most of the country, although a recent lack of rains has put farmers on alert in some southern states, agribusiness consultancy AgRural said today (Dec. 6).

According to AgRural, national planting was up 4 percentage points from the previous week and remains ahead of the 90% that was planted at the same juncture in 2020/21.

Fieldwork in southern states, such as Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina, however, is being affected by drought, it said, adding that the states of Mato Grosso do Sul and Sao Paulo face the risk of potential losses due to the drier weather.

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Food Updates

Nutrition is an economic issue as much as a health issue

Too often, nutrition is seen only to be a health issue affecting individuals alone. But by the time the signs of malnutrition emerge, significant – and sometimes irreversible – damage is already done, costing wider society an estimated $3.5 trillion a year.

By stunting their growth, poor diets have set back the physical and cognitive development of as many as 150 million pre-school children around the world, while the 40 million overweight are already at greater risk of non-communicable diseases.

These impairments also impact the economy at large. Companies lose up to $38 billion every year in reduced productivity because workers are underweight, while obesity dents productivity to the tune of an estimated $27 billion.


Cargill commits to removing iFTAs from its edible oils
Global ingredients manufacturer Cargill has committed to removing iFTAs to comply with a World Health Organization initiative to reduce the amount of iFTAs in the global food supply chain.As food manufacturers seek ways to help improve consumer diets, Cargill has committed to removing industrially produced trans-fatty acids (iTFAs) from its entire global edible oils portfolio. Cargill says this will help both it and its customers comply with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommended standard of a maximum two grams of iTFA per 100 grams fats/oils by the end of 2023.

The WHO’s REPLACE initiative provides a guide for governments and industry to implement a best practice on iTFA in the global food supply chain to address related health concerns. Cargill claims it is the first edible oils supplier to make this commitment, joining many of the world’s largest food companies and members of the International Food and Beverage Alliance (IFBA) who have committed to the WHO goal.

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Will consumers accept insect-fed chicken?
Despite shifts towards vegan and vegetarian diets in Western cultures, the demand for animal protein persists. It’s clear that at least some adoption of alternative feedstuffs will be required to nourish the growing world population without compromising on sustainability, but how will consumers respond to insect-fed chicken for example?Researchers at the University of Göttingen and the University of Alberta, Canada. Specifically, the researchers looked at the effect of information regarding algae and insects in the food chain, with the results published in the journal Food Policy.

The researchers photographed chicken breasts from animals fed with spirulina (a type of algae) or insect meal and rendered the photos to imitate market-ready products. The chicken breast products were labelled with health or sustainability claims to further understand preference motivation for alternative feedstuffs.

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Binge drinking increases among older US men

New research has found that binge drinking increased among older men but not older women, with separation and divorce often associated with a higher risk of binge drinking among older men.

Binge drinking has increased in recent years among older US men but not among older women, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

The study included 18,794 adults aged 65 years and older who participated in the 2015–2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Binge drinking was defined as consuming five or more drinks on the same occasion for men and four or more drinks for women.

Binge drinking among older men increased from 12.8 percent in 2015 to 15.7 percent in 2019 but remained stable among older women (7.6 to 7.3 percent).

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Increasing the global rice bowl without harming the planet
The new research has released that there is till scope to increase yields in some of the world’s most important rice-growing areas without causing significant damage to the environment.Rice is the main food staple for more than half of the global population, and as the population grows, demand for rice is expected to grow, too.

But increasing global rice production is not a simple prospect.

“Global rice production is challenged now due to the negative environmental impact, water scarcity, labour shortage and slowing yield increases in many parts of the world,” said Shen Yuan, a postdoctoral research associate at Huazhong Agricultural University in China who spent two years as a visiting scholar at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

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