China Is Pushing Public To Accept GMOs

China  recently carried out a nationwide poll to test the public’s acceptance of genetically-modified food, a technology the government says would boost yields and sustainable agriculture in a country that’s seen consumption soar. The poll, sponsored by the government, was carried out by a couple of China’s most prestigious Universities. Alongside, they have been running a campaign on social media to broadcast basic knowledge on GMO technology, which is widely misunderstood in the country. China is the world’s fourth-largest grower of GMO cotton and the top importer of soybeans, most of which are genetically modified and used for cooking oil and animal feed for pigs and chickens. But public concern over food safety issues and skepticism about the effects of consuming GMO foods have made the government reluctant to introduce the technology for staple crops. If you remember back to the 2012 incident with Golden Rice — a yellow GMO variant of the grain that produces beta-carotene — which caused a public storm after reports that the rice was fed to children without the parents being aware that it was genetically modified. From what I am hearing, many people still believe GMO food can cause cancer and impair childbirth, due to misleading reports in newspapers and social media. The government is hoping the national survey will help them discover what exactly the public’s concerns are so that they can assuage them. Understand, China itself has spent billions on research of its own GMO technology over the past decade, but has not allowed commercial production of grains, with scientists citing public resistance as part of the reason for the delay. Despite this, China is turning the page and announced they would allow commercial production of modified corn and soybeans by 2020. There’s no greater sign of China’s commitment to GMOs then the state-run China National Chemical Corp.’s purchase of Swiss agribusiness and GMO seed corn-giant Syngenta. The Chinese state-owned company is expected to complete the $43 billion deal this month. This is why the government needs the public to change their minds on this food technology. Like I said, Chinese officials have set a timeframe of 2020 for commercial production of GMO corn and soybeans. They are hoping GMO technology will allow Chinese producers to meet the nearly 20% growth in corn consumption estimated in the coming decade as demand for protein-rich meat and dairy products are on the rise in one of the largest populations in the world. (Source: Bloomberg)

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Corn Moisture Levels At Harvest Could Be A Concern For Many This Year

As we well know, “moisture content” is an important factor when it comes time to pull the crop out of the field. Wetter grain at harvest increases the need for artificial drying, and in turn increases production costs. With low prices and a weak basis this is clearly an expense many producers are not wanting to think about. Black layer usually occurs at about 30% to 33% moisture content and depends on variety, weather, soil types, moisture, and production practices. Corn will shell with a combine at about 30% moisture content with somer kernel damage, so question becomes, when should you get ether corn out of the field? Several studies from the Midwest indicate combine losses are least when corn reaches 26% moisture (about 1 to 3 percent losses are typical). Combine losses increase as the grain moisture dries. Losses of 10% to 15% are fairly common with corn at 15 percent moisture. Midsouth growers’ believe that initial corn harvest should begin as the corn field dries to 18% to 20% moisture, where as Midwest data strongly suggest beginning harvest at 25% moisture content, based primarily on long-term weather and machine loss data. I remember hearing from a producer a couple of years back who went into his field and started harvesting corn at between 25% and 27% moisture, adjusted to dry bushels it was yielding north of +200 bushels per acre. He decided he didn’t want the huge expense of drying it all down, so he decided to jump over to harvest soybeans. There was also some early frost concerns that helped him make the decision to jump form corn to soybeans. Regardless, when he returned to finish the corn, it had dried down to about 16% just like he had hoped, but it only yielded about 185 to 190 bushels per acre. Here we are again this year. We’ve had some heavy rains and good moisture in many locations, and prices are extremely low. Our natural thoughts are to reduce expenses and let the corn sit in the field a bit longer to help dry itself down and reduce drying expenses. The question is will we be doing more harm than good? Will we lose more in yield than we save in drying expenses? There’s obviously a ton of debate about the subject, but I remember reading one study by Perdue that proved a yield loss of 0.6% to 1.6% per point of moisture can occur in corn drying in the field. From everything I hear “yield loss” can be even worse if corn dries down, then is hit again with more moisture in the field by rain and humid weather, as it can then then start sprouting which hurts overall quality, testweight and even overall yield. We could also start to see more stalk and root lodging at the combine which will create more losses. Also keep in mind it’s normally cheaper to dry corn down in late-september or early-October than mid to late-November, since you don’t have to heat up the outside air as much. the folks at SuccessfulFarming ran an interesting article a couple of years back, and estimated that If the elevator charges 3¢ per point of moisture per bushel (plus shrink), it would cost 21¢ per bushel to dry corn from 22 percent to 15 percent which is $42/acre at 200 bushel corn. At $3.25/bushel corn price it takes 13 bushels to pay for drying. It is very likely in this scenario that you could lose 10+ B.U./A. bushels per acre by letting the corn dry in the field. Further reasoning to justify harvest at 25-20 percent moisture can be made by considering adverse weather/wind/rain during this time along with the other benefits that come with a timely harvest. The University of Mississippi, says drying off 10% of grain moisture (25 to 15 percent) requires removing 7.47 pounds of water. And will require about 15,000 btu of heat in a drying system with the normal efficiencies in the Midsouth (about 2000 btu per pound of water removed). Understand, moisture content and the amount of drying required will also affect stress cracks, breakage, and germination. Extremely wet grain may be a precursor to high mold damage later in storage or transport. While the weather during the growing season affects yield, grain composition, and the development of the grain kernels, grain harvest moisture is influenced largely by crop maturation, the timing of harvest, and harvest weather conditions. General moisture storage guidelines suggest that 14% is the maximum moisture content for storage up to 6 to 12 months for good quality, clean corn under typical U.S. corn-belt conditions; and 13% or lower moisture content is recommended for storage of more than one year. I wanted to share with you the only national data I could find on average corn moisture levels over the past few harvest seasons in the U.S. This is good information that may give us an indication of the quality of this year’s crop in comparison. This data is gathered by the U.S. Grains Council and found in their post-harvest, annual Corn Harvest Quality Report 2016/17. I also included some other helpful tips. (Source: Perdue Corn Harvest Decision ToolUniversity of Mississippi)

Late-Maturing Fields Could Take Much Longer to Dry Down: The folks atChannel Seed report, “ideal harvest moisture content for corn is between 22 to 25 percent. Corn drydown is linked to growing degree units (GDUs). Under ideal weather conditions, corn may lose up to one point of moisture per day. As the days get cooler, GDU accumulation per day decreases and grain drying slows. As a rule of thumb, 30 GDUs per moisture content point are required to lower the grain moisture content from 30 to 25 percent and 45 GDUs per point are required from 25 to 20 percent. This means that late-maturing fields may take two to three times longer to dry in the field. Research from The Ohio State University indicated no additional in-field grain drydown occurred after early- to mid-November.

Moisture Variation With Each Ear: Within ears of corn, it’s very common for the kernels to vary in moisture content due to the amount of exposure the kernels have had to sunlight. Typically the top kernels have lower moisture, while kernels at the bottom of the ear have high moisture. The research team at IntelliFarms University found that there is approximately a 5-8% moisture variation between top and bottom kernels in ears of corn.

Be Careful Not To Lose Yield: The folks at Pioneer report, “a bushel of corn is traded on the basis of 56 lbs. per bushel. A bushel of corn at 15.5% moisture contains 47.32 lbs. of dry matter and 8.68 lbs. of water. This is an important concept to remember because as corn becomes drier you are actually delivering more dry matter to the market and less water weight. While delivering bushels to the market at optimum moisture is important, it is only one of the factors determining moisture levels of corn going into storage. Overdrying corn can lead to significant dollars lost due to added expense and less bushels to sell in the market. At 15.5% moisture and a market price of $3, a bushel of corn is worth 6.34 cents per lb. of dry matter. This same corn at $5 per bushel is worth 10.57 cents per lb. of dry matter. If your goal is to store and market corn at 14.5% moisture and it is inadvertently dried 1 point less (13.5%) you have given up 3.8 cents/bu in today’s market (corn at $3.25 /bu). The drying cost for the extra point would be 0.02 gallons of propane. In other words, it takes about 0.02 gallons of propane to remove 1 point of moisture per bushel of corn.”

Field Drying vs. Bin Drying: Our friends at Wyffels Hybrids report, “Grain drydown on wet, cool days will be 0 to 0.3 percent moisture loss per day. On the other hand, moisture loss can be as high as 1 percent on hot, dry days. Grain drydown rates this year should range from 0.4 to 0.6 percent per day. However, corn that doesn’t reach black layer until late September or early October will have slower dry down. They include a few things to consider when deciding to harvest or leave in the field to dry down: Harvest loss of lodged corn can be high, and will increase the longer the corn is left in the field. Plan to harvest these fields as soon as possible; Each ¾ pound ear in 1/100th of an acre represents a loss of 1 bu/Ac. Consider the high number of unharvestable ears in a lodged field; Two lost kernels per square foot equals a loss of 1 bu/Ac. Properly adjusted combines can pay big dividend; An Iowa State survey indicated that the average mechanical harvest loss was 5.8%; Mechanical harvest loss increases as corn dries below 25%. One study demonstrated harvest losses increasing from 3.6% for 25% moisture corn to 12.3% for 17% moisture corn. Fields with poor stalk quality are at a higher risk of harvest loss. And the risk increases the longer harvest is delayed. Plan to harvest these fields as soon as possible.

Average U.S. aggregate moisture content recorded at the elevator in 2016 samples was 16.1%, which was higher than 2015 (15.7%), lower than 2014 (16.6%), and the same as 5YA (16.1%).

Gulf corn moisture was reported to average 16.2%, which was slightly higher than corn leaving the Pacific Northwest at 15.9%, and the Southern Rail at 15.7%. Average moisture levels for the Gulf ECA were highest or tied for highest among all ECAs for 2016, 2015, 2014, and 5YA. Samples from the Gulf usually contain higher moisture content values as a result of weather and harvest conditions.

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Texas Leads the U.S. in Foreign Bought Ag Land

Texas leads the nation when it comes to cattle, cotton and hay production and also boasts more farms and ranches than any other state in the union. But Texas agriculture has another distinction: over the last ten years, Texas also leads the nation when it comes to foreign purchases of its agricultural land. Foreign companies and individuals have bought 1.7 million acres of farm, timber and pastureland in Texas over the last decade, far more than in any other state. The foreign-owned land is worth about $3.3 billion. Overall, about 600,000 acres of Texas ag land bought by foreign entities in the last decade is classified as cropland or pastureland. Transaction and appraisal district records show that agricultural land has been scooped up by foreign wind energy firms, solar power companies and real estate investment consortiums. Most of the Texas land was bought by North American and European entities, according to the data compiled by the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting. Canadian firms bought more than 800,000 acres over the last decade, much of it in timber-rich areas of East Texas. Entities from the Netherlands, Germany and Portugal bought a combined 600,000 acres. Other countries with a stake in Texas agriculture include Indonesia, Mexico, India and Malaysia. China has purchased the 10th most Texas agricultural land — 21,000 acres worth nearly $10 million, over the last decade. But the 2013 purchase of pork processing giant Smithfield Foods by a Chinese corporation, which included 1,500 acres in the Texas Panhandle town of Pampa, helped spark concerns in the U.S. about foreign control over food production. Foreign purchases mirror an increase across the country, which has spurred calls to tighten regulations on foreign investment in the agricultural sector. Citing potential threats to the nation’s food security, both the U.S. Senate and House are contemplating bills that would increase scrutiny of agricultural land deals involving foreign buyers to make sure they don’t endanger the nation’s access to a reliable food supply. (Source: Investigate Midwest)

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Buyer Beware Of Flood Damaged Cars & Equipment

In the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, experts are warning that flood damaged cars and equipment may soon be swamping the marketplace. It’s estimated that between 500,000 and 1 million vehicles were flooded in the Houston area alone. “Those cars are going to end up being sold in online sales and at unscrupulous dealers,” said Jerry Allen, a special agent with the National Insurance Crime Bureau. “In most cases, they’re not going to tell [buyers] the truth on a flooded car.” If the seller never reports the flood damage to their insurance company, a vehicle history report won’t have the damage listed either. Flood damaged cars should be sold for parts only. The Bureau advises buyers to “be particularly careful in the coming weeks and months as thousands of damaged vehicles may reappear for sale in their areas” across the nation, a problem that also occurred in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. That disaster led the bureau to create the free VINCheck database, which lets vehicle shoppers check a vehicle identification number to see if the car or truck was deemed “salvage” by an insurance company because of flood or accident or if it was reported stolen. Uninsured vehicles, however, would escape the insurance industry’s scrutiny. The Bureau recommends that buyers have a used car checked by a mechanic before shelling out any cash. There are thing that buyers themselves can look for as well. (Sources: AAA, Consumer Reports, Weather.com)

Inspect The Car Interior: A musty, mildew odor is a dead giveaway that a car has been compromised by floodwater, according to Carfax. “Be alert for damp and musty odors,” Mariam Ali, a spokesperson for the American Automobile Association said. “There will be dirt build-up in unusual places like underneath the dashboard.” The AAA also suggests pulling back car carpeting for signs of staining. Potential buyers should also check inside the glove compartment or in-between the seats for the appearance of residual sludge or debris. Sellers will sometimes try to conceal flood-damage by making aesthetic upgrades such as a brand new interior fabric or masking scents with excessive car deodorizer or shampooed carpeting. These should raise red flags!

Check Out The Headlights: Consumer Reports notes that a “visible water line may still show on the lens or reflector.” Moisture beads and fog can build up in light fixtures from flooding and is hard to remove by those attempting to resell.

Investigate Wiring: The National Automobile Dealers Association advises consumers to check “electrical wiring for rusted components, water residue or suspicious corrosion.”

Look For Rust: Taking a look underneath the vehicle and spotting any kind of rust is also a good way to tell if the vehicle has been damaged by floodwater. “Corrosion is uncommon in new vehicles and those that are owned and operated in warmer climate areas,” the AAA said in a statement to the press.

Inspect The Drain Plugs: Consumer Reports also recommends checking the rubber drain plugs — located under vehicles and under doors — and if they appear as if they’ve been recently removed that should raise suspicions that they were fiddled with to drain floodwater.

Good Things Happen When You Dump 1,000 Truckloads Of Orange Peels On The Land

Twenty years ago, orange juice producer Del Oro, dumped thousands of tons of orange peels and pulp onto a barren section of a Costa Rican national park. The plan was part of a deal worked out between the company and The Area de Conservación Guanacaste (ACG),a World Heritage-listed and government-managed conservation area in northwestern Costa Rica. As I understand it, a deal was signed allowing Del Oro to dump 12,000 metric tons of orange pulp and peels into a newly designated conservation area that was “overgrazed”. It was hoped that the food waste would energize the nutrient poor and rocky soil. After the initial results yielded rich, black soils, and a variety of broadleaf herbs, a follow-up deal between ACG and Del Oro allowed the juice company to dump 1,000 truckloads of waste over a 20 year period. But before any more peels were delivered to the site, a rival juice company, Ticofruit filed and won a lawsuit claiming that the dumping of orange peels was “sullying a national park.” Interestingly, the original peels were left on-site and no one returned to the area for 15 years. It wasn’t until Princeton graduate student Timothy Treuer was on the hunt for research topics and found himself talking to one of the original ecologists who worked on the ACG project. Together they agreed a proper follow-up study was never done on the effects the orange peels would have on the land. So in 2013 Truer traveled to the site and found it completely overgrown with trees and vines. I’m told it even took teams a couple of years to find a seven-foot sign that was left on site and stood only feet off the main road. What is amazing is the difference in the accelerated growth of the orange peel dump site and the untouched control site on the other side of the road. I should mention that as well as a three-fold increase in the richness of woody plant species, the team calculated a +176% increase in aboveground woody biomass compared to the control area. Also, deep in the soil, the team identified significantly elevated levels of macro and micronutrients. Unfortunately, Truer’s team haven’t as yet determined why the transformation took place but he hopes the success of the old dump site will inspire other conservation projects. Truer believes we can do more about all the nutrient starved degraded lands considering all the nutrient-rich waste streams food production creates. I would agree there that their lies some business opportunities for those who choose to step in with solutions that revitalize lands. I suspect that this blueprint for success will gain traction in the future. See the results of the study HERE.(Source: Sciencealert, Smithsonian)

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