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Who’s to blame for high food prices?

As prices continue to climb on the grocery store shelves, upset consumers are looking for someone to blame.

“Though several factors contribute to increased food costs, farm commodities continually receive the blame, but farm products represent only 19% of retail food prices. Prices of many agricultural commodities are still less than the levels that sparked 2008 food riots and real food prices have decreased 75% since 1950,” said Dwayne Siekman, CEO of the Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association. “Yes, grain prices are at increased levels. So, too, are the costs of supplementary root causes of increased grocery store prices including labor, energy, product marketing/packaging/shipping and speculation of the commodity markets. In fact, producer prices increased 3.6% throughout the past 12 months, according to a recent Bloomberg story. It also noted that growing economies in Asia and Latin America are boosting global demand for oil and other imported commodities, which increases input costs for American businesses.”

Siekman points to the high oil prices and higher prices for imported food due to the weak dollar on the world market as other significant factors causing higher food prices. … Continue reading

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Who's to blame for high food prices?

As prices continue to climb on the grocery store shelves, upset consumers are looking for someone to blame.

“Though several factors contribute to increased food costs, farm commodities continually receive the blame, but farm products represent only 19% of retail food prices. Prices of many agricultural commodities are still less than the levels that sparked 2008 food riots and real food prices have decreased 75% since 1950,” said Dwayne Siekman, CEO of the Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association. “Yes, grain prices are at increased levels. So, too, are the costs of supplementary root causes of increased grocery store prices including labor, energy, product marketing/packaging/shipping and speculation of the commodity markets. In fact, producer prices increased 3.6% throughout the past 12 months, according to a recent Bloomberg story. It also noted that growing economies in Asia and Latin America are boosting global demand for oil and other imported commodities, which increases input costs for American businesses.”

Siekman points to the high oil prices and higher prices for imported food due to the weak dollar on the world market as other significant factors causing higher food prices. … Continue reading

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Corn and soybean prices: mission accomplished?

In the Jan. 18 Weekly Outlook, it was suggested that corn and soybean prices had the dual objectives of (1) allocating old-crop supplies so as to maintain pipeline supplies at the end of the year and (2) directing spring planting decisions.

“Specifically, these prices needed to ensure an increase in corn acreage and maintain soybean acreage at the 2010 level,” said University of Illinois economist Darrel Good.

For soybeans, the declining pace of both the domestic crush and exports, along with the prospects for a large increase in double-cropped acreage in 2011, suggested that soybean prices had increased enough by mid-January to accomplish the dual price objectives.

“That conclusion was reinforced by the improving condition of the Brazilian soybean crop and prospects for a record harvest in 2011. The USDA confirmed prospects for a record large Brazilian soybean crop last week,” he said.

Soybean prices increased another 40 cents from Jan.… Continue reading

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OCWGA shapes national policy

The Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association (OCWGA) delegates went to the Commodity Classic with a purpose of establishing a national set of guiding principles for policy development that will address changes to ethanol and farm policy. The OCWGA delegates introduced language during the Corn Congress for the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) as well as during committee meetings for the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG). OCWGA has affiliation with both national trade organizations.

In addition to the specific policy pieces, OCWGA introduced a resolution for both national organizations to adopt as a core belief. The resolution stated, we believe the U.S. Government should balance the budget by reducing spending resulting in a reduction of the federal debt. NCGA delegates approved the language as part of the organization’s ‘What We Stand For’ section. NAWG has currently tabled the resolution in order for member states to allow for discussion at the state level across the country.… Continue reading

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What’s new from Commodity Classic

By Matt Reese

Commodity Classic provides a great opportunity for all of the major players in crop production to highlight new products on the horizon. Here are some highlights from the trade show at Commodity Classic.

BASF

BASF Crop Protection unveiled a new active ingredient called Xemium. This proprietary substance is the next generation fungicide of the chemical class of carboxamides, also known as SDH (Succinate Dehydrogenase) inhibitors, which describes their mode of action. Field trials show Xemium to be a highly effective and selective fungicide against major diseases in cereals, soybeans, corn, oilseed rape and specialty crops including grapes and potatoes.

Depending on regulatory approval, first market introductions are planned for 2012 in North and South-America as well as in Europe.

“Our years of experience with carboxamides enabled us to discover Xemium, which is a perfect extension of our current fungicide portfolio. The unique mobility in the plant and the high inhibition of fungal target enzymes deliver excellent disease control,” said Christoph Wegner, head of Research and Development at BASF’s Crop Protection division.… Continue reading

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Cold winter weather will probably not slow western bean cutworm

Corn farmers who might have hoped that a new insect threat would be slowed by this winter’s frigid temperatures could be disappointed, says a Purdue University Extension entomologist.

The western bean cutworm is likely to emerge from winter in numbers capable of exacting a toll on the corn crop this summer, said Christian Krupke.

“A question I’ve gotten a lot from farmers is, with the colder-than-average winter will we have a lot of mortality of the overwintering larvae?” Krupke said. “The answer is probably not. That’s not because of the temperature of the air; it’s more because we’ve had so much snow and relatively few days without snow.”

Snow cover insulates crop fields and “keeps the temperature in the soil higher than it would be if the soil were bare, which actually helps the larvae survive,” he said.

Fortunately, timely scouting of fields, insecticide treatments and some biotech (Bt) corn varieties have proved successful in controlling the bug.… Continue reading

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USDA crop report fairly uneventful

The biggest news in a somewhat uneventful Crop Report from the Agriculture Department is the drop in projected U.S. wheat exports and the subsequent bump in stocks, according to Bob Young, chief economist for the American Farm Bureau Federation.

“Most traders expected little change in today’s report and that’s pretty much what happened,” Young said. “The big report to look at will be USDA’s planting intentions report that will be released March 31. USDA still sees very tight global grain stocks, and we are going to need to see big U.S. and world grain crops to make up the balance.”

USDA’s March World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates or WASDE report showed no changes in corn or soybean stocks, but USDA did lower projections for U.S. wheat exports for the 2010-2011 marketing year by 25 million bushels from the February estimates. USDA forecasts increased global supplies of wheat, particularly in Australia, and a slower than expected pace of shipments into the final quarter of the wheat marketing year that ends May 31.… Continue reading

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EU renewable energy policy is a concern for ag trade

The American Soybean Association (ASA), joined by other U.S. oilseed producer and industry organizations, has expressed serious concerns to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Ron Kirk about the requirements of the European Union’s (EU) Renewable Energy Directive (RED), and with the impact the RED is having on access for U.S. agricultural products to EU markets.

In a letter delivered to Secretary Vilsack and Ambassador Kirk, the group is requesting a meeting with USDA and USTR to consider options for responding to trade barriers resulting from and influenced by the RED. The letter asks USDA and USTR to place an immediate priority on seeking to initiate bilateral negotiations between governments. Further, the group asks USDA and USTR to communicate with third country governments regarding the implications of and needed response to the RED. ASA believes a highly coordinated effort is needed to identify and respond to the immediate, as well as longer-term, market threats resulting from RED implementation.… Continue reading

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10 tips for getting the most out of your sprayer

By Erdal Ozkan, Ohio State University Extension

Spraying season is just around the corner. Just take a moment to review some common sense ideas I will mention here to get the most out of those expensive pesticides you will be spraying. The following “Top Ten” list will help you improve the performance of your sprayer and keep it from failing you:

1)  Applying chemicals with a sprayer that is not calibrated and operated accurately could cause insufficient weed, insect or disease control which can lead to reduced yields. Check the gallon per acre application rate of the sprayer. This can only be determined by a thorough calibration of the sprayer. Use clean water while calibrating to reduce the risk of contact with chemicals. Read OSU Extension Publication AEX-520 for an easy calibration method (http://ohioline.osu.edu/aex-fact/0520.html).

2)  How the chemical is deposited on the target is as important as the amount applied.… Continue reading

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Ohio State’s Overholt Drainage School set for late March

Ohio State University’s Overholt Drainage School, March 21-25 in Northwest Ohio, will feature the latest developments in soil and water management.

The comprehensive training program provides continuing education for farmers, land improvement contractors, soil and water conservation technicians, engineers, consultants, sanitarians and others interested in learning more about the purpose, design, layout, construction and management of soil and water conservation systems.

It will be held at the Fulton County Junior Fair Building, 8514 State Rt. 108,Wauseon — not far from the Michigan and Indiana borders.

“The emphasis for the school is proper drainage on existing cropland, with a focus on balancing food production, economic and environmental goals,” said Larry Brown, a professor in Ohio State’s Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering (FABE). “Improved drainage is quite beneficial on Ohio’s poorly drained soils for increased and sustained crop yields. And with improved corn and soybean prices the past four years, the potential for yield increases to cover the costs of new or improved subsurface drainage is much greater than in the past.”

Brown pointed out that proper subsurface drainage can lead to a 27- to 37-percent yield increase for rotation corn, based on 25 years of plot data from the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center’s (OARDC) Northwest Agricultural Research Station in Hoytville, Ohio.… Continue reading

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Ohio State's Overholt Drainage School set for late March

Ohio State University’s Overholt Drainage School, March 21-25 in Northwest Ohio, will feature the latest developments in soil and water management.

The comprehensive training program provides continuing education for farmers, land improvement contractors, soil and water conservation technicians, engineers, consultants, sanitarians and others interested in learning more about the purpose, design, layout, construction and management of soil and water conservation systems.

It will be held at the Fulton County Junior Fair Building, 8514 State Rt. 108,Wauseon — not far from the Michigan and Indiana borders.

“The emphasis for the school is proper drainage on existing cropland, with a focus on balancing food production, economic and environmental goals,” said Larry Brown, a professor in Ohio State’s Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering (FABE). “Improved drainage is quite beneficial on Ohio’s poorly drained soils for increased and sustained crop yields. And with improved corn and soybean prices the past four years, the potential for yield increases to cover the costs of new or improved subsurface drainage is much greater than in the past.”

Brown pointed out that proper subsurface drainage can lead to a 27- to 37-percent yield increase for rotation corn, based on 25 years of plot data from the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center’s (OARDC) Northwest Agricultural Research Station in Hoytville, Ohio.… Continue reading

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Sifting through the glyphosate (mis)information

There have been some whispers in the back corners of winter meetings, conversations amongst friends in the coffee shops and an occasional bold outright assertion that the use (and over-use) of glyphosate is resulting in unintended consequences. Animal health concerns, plant disease development, nutrient deficiencies and a myriad of other glyphosate conspiracy theories have surfaced in recent months. The fantastic team at Ohio State University has done some investigation into these concerns and compiled several articles in the most recent C.O.R.N. Newsletter. Here is one of them written by Mark Loux, Robert Mullen and Anne Dorrance.

Recent claims about the possible negative impacts of glyphosate have many growers asking whether they are overusing this herbicide and causing deleterious effects to their crops. Extension specialists across the Midwest have been asked about these claims for the past year or so, and have responded in part with newsletter articles and similar pieces recently to address the issue.… Continue reading

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March 1 corn and soybean stocks worth discussion

On March 31, the USDA will release two important reports, the Prospective Plantings and March 1 Grain Stocks reports. A lot of discussion has focused on the Prospective Plantings report and the importance of farmers’ intentions for total planted acreage and the acreage of individual crops. There has been less discussion of the estimate of March 1 grain stocks, said University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good.

“Expectations for very small inventories of corn and soybeans at the end of the current marketing year put additional importance on the mid-year stocks estimate. The estimates will provide an opportunity to evaluate the pace of consumption that can be supported during the last half of the 2010-11 marketing year,” he said.

Forming expectations about the level of March 1 inventories is limited by incomplete data on the consumption categories that are reported on a weekly or monthly basis and the lack of any ongoing estimates of feed and residual use of corn.… Continue reading

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ASA sets policy at Commodity Classic

Soybean producers from all U.S. soybean growing regions gathered in Tampa, Fla., last week to review and revise the policy direction of the American Soybean Association (ASA). One hundred thirty two producers from ASA’s 26 state affiliates served as Voting Delegates in this annual process that guides the ASA as it pursues future initiatives to improve U.S. soybean farmer profitability.

The voting delegates session was held on Saturday, March 5, following conclusion of the annual Commodity Classic Convention and Trade Show. What follows are some of the most significant additions and modifications covering a variety of important soybean issues.

Tariffs and Trade

ASA strongly supports swift Congressional passage of the pending Colombia, Panama, and South Korea Free Trade Agreements. ASA supports free trade agreements that help to increase soybean and meat exports.

ASA opposes actions by Congress to impose greater tariffs on Chinese products without multi-lateral agreements. ASA believes that unilateral Chinese currency legislation by Congress would create retaliatory actions that would negatively affect soybean trade with China.… Continue reading

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Study determining best practices to manage burcucumber in corn

Burcucumber can be one of the most difficult weeds to manage in corn. It can emerge well into the growing season and its vines can spread up to 25 feet and twine around corn plants.

“It can drag down the corn and make it difficult to harvest, impacting yields,” said Mark Loux, weed scientist for the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center.

Loux is in the middle of a two-year study to determine the most effective way to manage burcucumber in corn.

“While we previously had an idea of the relative effectiveness of various pre- and post-emergent herbicides, we weren’t sure what would be the most effective combinations of herbicides and application timings to provide the most consistently effective late-season control,” said Loux, who is also a weed science specialist for Ohio State University Extension. “Late-season emergence varies from year to year based on rainfall patterns and other factors, but when burcucumber emerges in big numbers after post-emergent herbicides have been applied, it can create a mess.”

Loux’s research compares the effectiveness of various residual pre- and post-emergent herbicides and the timing of their application.… Continue reading

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Examine wheat and forages for ice damage

Farmers should examine winter wheat and forages as the crops emerge from dormancy to determine if they have been damaged from the recent sleet and ice storms, two Purdue Extension specialists say.

“The snow that fell was not the normal, powdery snow but a combination of ice and rain acting as a natural concrete,” he said.

Ice can surround the crown of alfalfa plants and allow toxic metabolites to build up, preventing the natural exchange of carbon dioxide and oxygen during respiration – essentially smothering the plant.

Wheat specialist Shaun Casteel said ice in wheat can permanently damage the crown or kill the plant.

Farmers won’t know whether ice caused winter damage to their crops until they go out and check their fields, Johnson said.

“As a good management practice, producers should always check plants when crops break winter dormancy,” he said. “Farmers who delay a field check until mid-April because they assume everything is okay can go into panic mode when they discover a winter-damaged crop.… Continue reading

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Commodity Classic kicks off in Tampa

Soybean, corn, wheat and sorghum growers from around the country have gathered at Commodity Classic in Tampa, Fla., for an experience that will educate, enlighten and entertain. It’s an event that provides benefits for a grower’s farm operation and profitability for years to come.
The 16th Annual Commodity Classic will help growers set sail for a successful 2011 by offering educational sessions on topics such as the new pesticide application permits, crop insurance and sustainability.
“There is no better time to improve one’s marketing skills then now with record commodity price levels,” said Commodity Classic Co-chair Charles Cannatella. “Growers can increase their profitability from attending one of the marketing sessions during Commodity Classic.”
In addition to educational opportunities, attendees will enjoy exhibits from over 220 companies in 870 booths at the trade show. Escape the winter blues and embrace the sun while learning from ag industry experts, networking with fellow growers, and attending association banquets and events.… Continue reading

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New growth inhibitors more effective in plants, less toxic to people

A Purdue University scientist and researchers in Japan have produced a new class of improved plant growth regulators that are expected to be less toxic to humans.
Angus Murphy, a professor of horticulture, said the growth inhibitors block the transport of auxin, a plant hormone that, when transported throughout the plant, controls growth processes. Current growth regulators that inhibit auxin transport are inefficient because they also have hormonelike activity or affect other important plant processes. Current growth inhibitors also are often toxic.
Growth regulators are important in ornamental plants and horticultural crops that would require labor-intensive manipulation and pruning. The inhibitors are used to keep plants a desired size and shape and control fruit formation.
“These regulators would be used primarily on ornamental plants, flowers and trees that aren’t going to be genetically changed easily,” Murphy said. “Growth regulators are used regularly on this type of plant. Inhibition of auxin transport with these new compounds is also an alternative to the use of more toxic regulators like 2,4-D.”
The toxicity of growth regulators can be an environmental concern and add safety and monitoring costs to commercial growing operations.… Continue reading

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More than 150 grassroots groups oppose House budget cuts to sustainable agriculture programs

The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) was one of more than 150 organizations to sign on to a letter to the U.S. Senate in opposition to a House budget bill (H.R.1) that would cut more than $60 billion dollars from the federal budget over the remainder of this fiscal year. H.R. 1 slashes a disproportional amount from the agriculture budget (22 %) relative to other budget sections. Worse, it unfairly targets programs that serve sustainable, organic, beginning, and minority farmers.
H.R. 1 makes deep cuts to conservation and renewable energy funding provided by the 2008 Farm Bill—a combined $500 million would be cut under the House bill from programs including the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), and Wetland Reserve Program (WRP).
While Conservation, Renewable Energy, Farm Services Agency direct farm lending, and feeding programs for low income families took big hits, no cuts were proposed for commodity payments or crop insurance, two of the biggest line items in the agriculture budget after nutrition programs.… Continue reading

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Nematodes in corn

By Pierce Paul and Anne Dorrance, Ohio State University Extension

Over the last few years, interest in nematodes and the use of nematicide seed treatments in corn have increased among producers all across the Midwest. When present and in high numbers, nematodes can indeed cause considerable yield loss in corn, and quite often these losses may go undetected or may be attributed to other causes. In corn, nematode problems are usually very difficult to detect because these pathogens usually cause uneven growth, without any clear above-ground symptoms. Uneven growth could be the result of several factors including other soil borne pathogens, poor drainage, soil compaction, and herbicide carry over; nematodes are rarely ever considered the cause of such a problem.
Several different types of nematode can attack corn including spiral, lesion, cyst (this is not the soybean cyst), stubby root, needle, lance, and dagger nematodes, and the level of damage and yield loss depend on the type of nematode present and the population level.… Continue reading

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