Agricultural surveys important tools for farming industry

By Garry Breitkreuz

Over the next few weeks, a number of farmers – some from this area (Yorkton, Saskatchewan) – will be asked to take part in surveys conducted by Statistics Canada. Based on past phone calls received in my office from constituents, I understand that these agricultural surveys can seem long and cumbersome, but they are also very important.

Results from agricultural surveys are used by Agriculture and Agri-food Canada and other federal and provincial departments for economic research, to develop and administer agricultural policies, and for production and price analysis. Information is also used by other stakeholders in the agricultural industry.

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Combine photo

Farmers count cost of bumper global harvest

By Jane Craigie

The story is as clear in Iowa, the mega farming US state, as it is in Scotland – world commodity prices are worryingly low for arable farmers following a bumper world harvest this year.

Denny Friest and his son, Brent, farm 1,400 acres in northern Iowa. They grow corn (maize) and soya beans and have 225 breeding sows producing 6,000 fat pigs per year. At an average deadweight of 290lb (130kg), and what they regard as the buoyant current price of $1.08/lb (£1.48/kg), pigs will pay this year, but cropping won’t.

The Friests share the same stark reality as commodity crop growers around the world – they will have to make some big cost savings over the coming season if they are going to earn any return at all from corn and soya. “One month ago, soya was trading at $600 a tonne, it’s now $380 a tonne,” said Denny on his farm last week.

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2014 Grain Corn Ear Mould and Vomitoxin Survey

Greg Stewart, OMAFRA Corn Specialist; Albert Tenuta, OMAFRA Field Crop Pathologist

The OMAFRA Field Crops team has completed the survey of the 2014 Ontario corn crop to determine ear mould incidence and the occurrence of mycotoxins in the grain. These mycotoxins, particularly vomitoxin (DON) produced primarily by Gibberella/Fusarium ear moulds, are grading factors and can be disruptive when fed to livestock, especially hogs.
202 samples were collected from October 14 to October 17, 2014 from corn fields across the province. In each field, 2 random areas were selected: in each area 10 consecutive ears were hand harvested and bagged. In fields with several hybrids, representative samples were taken from two areas for each hybrid (maximum of 4 hybrids per field). The 20-ear samples were then immediately dried and shelled. The resultant sample was thoroughly mixed and a sub-sample provided to A&L Laboratories in London for vomitoxin (DON) analysis.

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CBO report sees tougher times ahead for ethanol & advanced biofuels | AgriPulse

WASHINGTON, Oct. 23,2014 – Responding to the fact that “some policymakers have proposed repealing or revising the Renewable Fuel Standard” which requires blending biofuels with gasoline, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reported Tuesday that it could be difficult to comply with the steadily increasing ethanol volumes which the law mandates.

The report points out the central problem with the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS): “a trade-off exists between the goal of limiting the cost of complying with the RFS (for example, by reducing the requirements for cellulosic biofuels) and the goal of providing a strong incentive for the development of better technologies for advanced biofuels.”

In other words, compliance costs drop if the EPA reduces its RFS volume requirements as it proposed last November. But even proposing to lower the requirements does exactly what has happened this year in the biofuels industry: investors flee, forcing companies to postpone or abandon plans for improving operations and building commercial-scale biorefineries.

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China to step up control on grain imports as stockpiles rise | Reuters

(Reuters) – China will strengthen control over grains imports and crack down on illegal activities like smuggling in a bid to cut oversupply, with record stockpiles creating storage problems for the new harvest, China’s vice premier said on Friday.

China’s stockpiling policy, under which it buys from farmers at inflated prices, has made cheaper overseas supplies more attractive for end-users like feed mills, forcing the government to take action to try to curb surging imports.

“We will strengthen import and export controls for grains while severely cracking down on irregularities like smuggling in order to stabilizes the domestic market,” vice premier Wang Yang said at a national conference.

China’s rejection of cheap U.S. corn cargoes on the grounds that it contained a genetically-modified strain not permitted for import was also seen as part of Beijing’s efforts curb cheap imports and support domestic corn prices.

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Harvesting Soybeans

What can be done to expedite soybean harvest operations? | MSU Extension

The advantages and disadvantages of various options for increasing soybean harvest efficiency.

According to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, 23 percent of Michigan’s soybean crop was harvested as of Oct. 19, 2014. The average harvest progress on this date for 2009 to 2013 is 60 percent. Because of this, soybean producers are looking for ways to expedite harvest operations. Below are several options for speeding up the 2014 soybean harvest.

Increase combine ground speed when possible

When conditions are suitable, increasing your ground speed may be an easy way to increase harvest capacity when faced with a short harvest window. Increasing harvest losses and plugging the combine are the biggest potential downsides of this option. Increasing combine ground speed increases the potential for gathering losses, threshing and cleaning losses. Gathering losses due to higher speeds occur when the cutter bar rides over plants before cutting them off, stripping pods from the plants or leaving them attached to the stubble. Frequent and careful “fine-tuning” of reel speed and position are necessary at higher ground speeds. Tall, uneven stubble and loose pods on the ground are indicators that ground speed is too fast. Threshing losses occur when the combine’s threshing/separating capacity is exceeded. Draper heads optimize combine capacity and minimize threshing losses by providing more uniform feeding than auger heads.

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Potassium deficiency in corn source:

Potassium is a key ingredient to producing quality crops

Potassium (K) levels have been declining in Ontario fields. Many fields that have been sampled have noticed a drop in their soil sample potassium levels from a few years ago. Simply said, growers are not applying enough fertilizer. In some cases fertilization is less than what the crop will remove causing a decrease in soil nutrient reserves. Potassium is one of the three nutrients needed in large quantities by plants. This essential nutrient could be a limiting factor in your crop yields if your soil is not maintained at adequate levels.

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October 2014 Market Analysis

USDA Report & Market Highlights

  • Corn Summary – A bit of a shock with the USDA coming in a ½ bpa below the trade average on yield and 200 K lower on harvested area. Still carry-out grew 80 million from last month. Higher feed/residual estimate supportable from larger crop; more so as average producer price estimate seems high relative to where the market is and the export outlook doesn’t look THAT promising—note Europe’s corn import demand is 9 MMT SMALLER TY!
  • Soybean Summary – The USDA’s 47.1 bpa yield estimate was a ½ bpa below the trade average and area harvested, 300 K fewer at 83.4 million. Lot of minor tweaking but carry-out is only 25 mbu lower at 450 and estimated ending 14/15 world stocks actually grew by a ½ MMT and are now forecast to be up in excess of 36%. Market is currently trading 8-9 lower and seems justified given the stocks outlook. Still, South America has to plant and grow a crop.
  • Wheat Summary – Slightly supportive on modest reductions in competitor crops and lower world ending stocks. FSU crop size was lowered 630,000 MT vs. September with exports reduced 1.0 MMT. Australia production declined 500,000 MT vs. last month with exports down a like amount. Crop size in Argentina was reduced 300,000 MT with exports also lowered 300,000. The net of these changes was a 25mbu increase in U.S. exports (HRS, +10; SRW, +10; and Durum, +5). Annual export forecast at 925mbu vs. 1176 a year ago. In addition, U.S. feed/residual was boosted 25mbu to 180. U.S. carryout at 654mbu, which was 50 million below the average trade guess. World ending stocks were lowered 3.8 MMT to 192.6, although that’s still up 4% from last year.

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