Commodity Insider, April 28, 2017


Corn planting accelerated and soybeans were off to a quick start last week. But there are still a lot of wet fields and parked planters in the Midwest. A cold snap is also creating concerns in the upper Midwest - although the late planting will limit any frost damage to emerging plants.

Source: USDA

Source: USDA


Farmers Business Network has had a strong response to its seed relabeling study, receiving almost 2,000 tag pictures from farmers purchasing seed for corn, soybeans, popcorn, alfalfa, cotton and sunflowers. FBN estimates that over 70% of its members plant seeds from brands that relabel some of their seeds. One variety is being sold by at least 9 brands and farmers are paying up to $60 more for the same seed sold in their region. 


A length article in Fortune puts the spotlight on China's big moves into biotech, including ChemChina’s planned $43 billion cash takeover of Syngenta. Author Geoff Colvin makes the case that China's history of famines is largely behind it.  The worst famine in human history occurred in China from 1959 to 1961 when an estimated 34 million people starved to death. Hundreds of millions of Chinese people today, including most of China’s top leaders, survived that famine and have a strong predilection to food security in government and corporate policy. They have plenty of cash now, and appear to be intent on securing China's future food supply by acquiring and controlling ag technology. It is all part of a global race to consolidate ag tech into a small group of giant multinationals, assuming the Dow/DuPont and Bayer/Monsanto hookups are completed. Beyond the business reasons for the purchase, the ChemChina/Syngenta deal says a lot about China's growing interest in investing in innovation and intellectual property. The country has not had a good track record supporting and investing in IP. Will the compelling goals for food security change that?


A study at the University of Delaware sponsored by the US Poultry & Egg Assn. has provided more clues on the causes of Wooden Breast Disease (WBD) in broilers, a muscle-related disorder affecting up to 10% of all birds in some flocks. Researchers found the development of WBD is largely the result of damaged veins, characterized by inflammation of the veins and lipid deposition around the veins. This disruption of venous drainage and regional impairments of lipid metabolism precede the changes in the muscle tissue. The researchers studied broilers from day old to 49 days of age and found heavier birds from one week of age to the end of the experiment were more predisposed to the development of the disease compared to average size birds. They also found an early onset of WBD, which started as localized vasculitis (inflammation of vessels) of veins in the breast muscle tissue by one week of age. 


The latest survey from Biomin indicates increasing levels of mycotoxins in feedstuffs in most regions of the world in the first quarter of 2017. More than 14,000 analyses were conducted on 3,715 finished feed and raw commodity samples sourced from 54 countries, looking for aflatoxins (Afla), zearalenone (ZEN), deoxynivalenol (DON), fumonisins (FUM) T-2-toxin (T-2) and ochratoxin A (OTA). Biomin found a rise in mycotoxin contamination levels in corn, finished feed and soy. DON, detected in 80% of samples, is the most prevalent mycotoxin worldwide, followed by fumonisins (FUM), found in 71% of samples. Over three quarters of the samples contained two or more mycotoxins.


J.R. Simplot has hired Spensa Technologies to build its new Simplot Advisor Platform, a component of Simplot’s SmartFarm. The platform will collect and analyze digital data for zone management, scouting, trapping and imagery. Simplot crop advisors will use the data for their agronomy advice.  

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