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Articles from 2009 In November


HERCULEX® XTRA Provides Insect Protection and Value Hybrids Eligible for Insurance Premium Reductions in 2010

INDIANAPOLIS — Nov. 30, 2009 — Growers looking to control damaging corn pests have many options as they ponder seed selections for 2010. The season-long protection of HERCULEX® XTRA Insect Protection continues to be a popular choice to guard corn yields from damaging insects, including European corn borer, black cutworm, western bean cutworm, corn rootworm and many others. HERCULEX XTRA also provides growers with herbicide choices and the potential to reduce insurance premiums — all at an economical cost per acre.

Through the Pilot Biotechnology Endorsement (BE) program, hybrids with HERCULEX® XTRA Insect Protection are again eligible for reduced insurance premiums1 in 2010. Participation in the program continues to increase as growers realize the benefits of planting hybrids with a BE-qualifying technology. In previous years, growers have saved more than $3 per acre2 on insurance premiums.

Additionally, growers who plant hybrids with HERCULEX XTRA have several herbicide options. While some HERCULEX XTRA hybrids are stacked with Roundup Ready® technology, others are available without Roundup Ready for more cost-effective weed control using IGNITE® herbicide with LibertyLink® technology, or a conventional herbicide program.

“It’s important for today’s farmers to have options when it comes to their corn hybrids,” says Duane Canfield, marketing specialist for HERCULEX Insect Protection. “By choosing the proven insect control of HERCULEX XTRA, growers are getting the maximum value for their purchase. Excellent insect protection, herbicide flexibility and an opportunity to save up to $3 per acre on insurance premiums are just a few of the ways that hybrids with HERCULEX benefit the grower’s bottom line.”

“I’ve been real satisfied with HERCULEX. I like the stalk quality, and because the corn is healthier, it stands better,” says Lyndell Echternacht, a corn grower from Leonard, Mo., who has been growing hybrids with HERCULEX since the trait was first available. ”We’re seeing a little yield increase with it, too, which is always a plus.”

To learn more about the value of hybrids with HERCULEX Insect Protection, visit www.HERCULEX.net.

Dow AgroSciences LLC, based in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA, is a top-tier agricultural company that combines the power of science and technology with the “Human Element” to constantly improve what is essential to human progress. Dow AgroSciences provides innovative technologies for crop protection, pest and vegetation management, seeds, traits, and agricultural biotechnology to serve the world's growing population. Global sales for Dow AgroSciences, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Company, are $4.5 billion. Learn more at www.dowagro.com.

BASF offers weed control plans

When faced with the challenge of preparing for next year’s crop, weed control planning done now can help growers get the most out of next year’s acre.

Weeds are still a grower’s No.1 enemy, bringing losses of around $95 billion a year in lost global food production. As the 2009 season comes to an end, now is an excellent time for growers to identify their weed control challenges and modify their weed control program for cleaner fields in 2010.

“Growers looking back on their 2009 season may note an increasing trend of more difficult to control broadleaf weeds and realize they need to make changes to their control program,” said Dan Westberg, BASF technical marketing manager.

New solutions, like the recently introduced Kixor herbicide technology http://www.kixorherbicide.com/ from BASF, are designed to control the toughest broadleaf weed control challenges facing growers today. The family of products powered by Kixor recently received federal registration by the Environmental Protection Agency, and will be available this coming spring in most states.

“Crops typically grow slowly in the spring due to cool, wet conditions making it a prime time for early emerging weeds to take over and threaten the crop’s ability to get firmly established,” said Westberg. “Treating early with a herbicide that offers fast, complete burndown, like a product in the Kixor family, means growers are able to control those weeds before they can threaten yield potential.”

Research published by Ohio State University in 2003 clearly demonstrates the need for treating early to protect crops. In corn, results show that weeds as little as four inches tall have the potential to cause a 4.5 bushel-per-acre yield loss.

According to Westberg, certain weeds, like glyphosate-resistant marestail, must be controlled prior to emergence of some crops, such as soybeans, where effective in-crop postemergence options are lacking. Failure to get complete burndown of marestail in soybeans may result in a mess for the rest of the season. Growers can control troublesome broadleaf weeds with preplant burndown applications using Kixor herbicide technology before they begin competing for valuable nutrients and threatening a grower’s yield potential.

Making sure a herbicide provides both rapid burndown and residual control is another step growers can take to control resistant weeds and manage their fields more efficiently. With Kixor herbicide, growers can expect control of tough broadleaf weeds three-to-five times faster than glyphosate and 2,4-D, allowing growers to plant quicker and manage their fields more effectively.

“Growers are very particular about having clean fields. Kixor helps control weeds fast and leaves fields looking clean, so growers can be confident and proud of the way they manage their farm,” said Westberg.

While rapid burndown can mean controlling weeds at a faster rate, using a herbicide such as Kixor that also provides residual control gives growers the peace of mind of knowing they have some level of protection in their field. This protection means fewer in-season postemergence applications that have to be timed around wind, rain and other scheduling conflicts.

“The rapid burndown and residual control offered by Kixor helps growers manage their fields more effectively and efficiently for a better return on investment,” said Westberg. “These are all benefits that growers may miss without a strong, early weed control program that includes an effective herbicide.”

As planning begins for growers to get the most out of every acre next season, they should consider the impact an effective early weed control program can have on maximizing yield potential and return on investment.

Further information can be found on the Web at http://agproducts.basf.us.

Louisiana parishes — disaster areas

USDA has designated 53 parishes in Louisiana as primary natural disaster areas because of losses caused by the combined effects of spring and summer drought followed by excessive rainfall that occurred during the period of April 1 through Oct. 30.

The 53 parishes are: Acadia, Ascension, Avoyelles, Beauregard, Bienville, Bossier, Caddo, Calcasieu, Caldwell, Cameron, Catahoula, Claiborne, Concordia,

DeSoto, East Baton Rouge, East Carroll, East Feliciana, Evangeline, Franklin, Grant, Iberia, Iberville,

Jefferson, Jefferson Davis, LaSalle, Lafayette, Livingston, Madison, Morehouse, Natchitoches, Orleans, Ouachita, Plaquemines, Pointe Coupee,

Rapides, Red River, Richland, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. Helena, St. James, St. John the Baptist, St. Landry, St. Martin, St. Tammany,

Tangipahoa, Tensas, Vermilion, Vernon, Washington, Webster, West Baton Rouge, and West Carroll.

“President Obama and I understand these conditions caused severe damage to the area and serious harm to farms in Louisiana and we want to help,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “This action will provide help to hundreds of farmers who suffered significant production losses to corn, cotton, rice, sorghum, soybeans, forage crops and sweet potatoes.”

Farm operators in the parishes listed below in Louisiana also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their parishes are contiguous. Those parishes are: Allen, Assumption, Jackson, Lafourche, Lincoln, Sabine, St. Mary, Union, Winn, and West Feliciana.

Farm operators in the counties listed below in the adjacent states of Arkansas, Mississippi and Texas also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous.

Arkansas: Ashley, Chicot, Columbia, Lafayette, Miller and Union.

Mississippi: Adams, Amite, Claiborne, Hancock, Issaquena, Jefferson, Marion, Pearl River, Pike, Walthall, Warren and Wilkinson.

Texas: Cass, Harrison, Jefferson, Marion, Newton, Orange, Panola and Shelby.

All parishes and counties listed above were designated natural disaster areas on Nov. 24, making all qualified farm operators in the designated areas eligible for low interest emergency loans from USDA’s Farm Service Agency, provided eligibility requirements are met.

Farmers in eligible parishes and counties have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for loans to help cover part of their actual losses.

FSA will consider each loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability.

FSA has a variety of programs, in addition to the EM loan program, to help eligible farmers recover from adversity.

USDA has also made other programs available to assist farmers and ranchers, including the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program (SURE), which was approved as part of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008; the Emergency Conservation Program; Federal Crop Insurance; and the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program. Interested farmers may contact their local USDA Service Centers for further information on eligibility requirements and application procedures for these and other programs. Additional information is also available online at: http://disaster.fsa.usda.gov.

Integra display

Two major precision ag companies recently have created an alliance to develop new precision products for farming. Ag Leader of Ames, IA, with its precision ag software and hardware will collaborate with AutoFarm, Fremont, CA, a company known for precision positioning and intelligent control systems.

One of the first new products developed by the two companies is the Integra display. The Integra, which features a 12.1-in., color, high-definition touch screen, manages all the operation controls in a tractor or vehicle. It includes a built-in steering and guidance system along with an on-screen lightbar. These features make the display an option for growers who want manual guidance but expect to upgrade in the future.

“Built-in manual guidance, full-screen mapping, planter and application control, yield monitoring, real-time data logging, and automated steering make up the core functionality of the new Integra display,” reports John Howard, Ag Leader product manager.

The Integra offers multiple map views to monitor applications. Four video camera inputs also are available on the display. It may be moved from vehicle to vehicle and is compatible with Ag Leader’s InSight and Edge displays.

The Integra display will operate with the new ParaDyme automated steering system with cellular communication for remote diagnostics. Price of the Integra display with Auto-Swath is about $4,750. Detailed pricing is available from Ag Leader dealers.

Contact AutoFarm at 877/947-7327. Or contact Ag Leader at 515/232-5363.

Keep The Thanksgiving Spirit Going

The entire country paused last week and gave thanks. People also ate a lot of food and watched football. Likely some of you shelled corn, if you had anything empty to put the corn into. This is another week - the week after Thanksgiving. But shouldn't we be thankful all year long?

 

I think so, and I believe nearly all farmers and ag people think so as well. There are plenty of challenges facing agriculture today, maybe no more than in the past, but the stakes seem higher. Whole industries are at stake. In spite of all of this, here a few things that might bring a feeling of thankfulness to the heart.

 

One. God granted us a late Indiana summer. On Halloween Day, it looked like many people would be combining soybeans in January, corn in February, on frozen ground. "My dad was already trying to tell me what to be ready for," one young farmer says. "He said we'd be pulling in, backing out when the combine broke through, bending snouts, and freezing all the while. I've never experienced it, and it doesn't sound like fun. It's not - and the Indiana summer stretch averted that for most people.

 

Two. Yields are better than expected for most people. Corn may be wet, but even corn planted as late as June 10 is yielding 150 to 220 bushels per acre. Dodging rain drops to finish June 10, it looked a whole lot more like a 100 to1 20 bushel per acre top yield year for some people.

 

Three. Cap and Trade was delayed until Spring - True, this one depends upon your point of view. But if you're an ag company that could be directly impacted by this law, such as Country Mark, any respite, even if it's a few months, could be helpful. Inside sources tell us that many improvements in the light of agriculture and consumers have been made in the bill since it was first introduced, even if there's a long way to go.

 

Four. Farm people help our own. Canned food drives have been stepped up this year. The Switzerland County FFA alone collected thousands of cans to feed the hungry in Vevay, Ind. This act has been repeated by others across the country.

 

Five. Farm people support troops. More than 16,000 Christmas trees were collected and distributed both here and abroad to brighten spirits for service men and women. The trees are donated by Christmas Tree growers, and Fed Ex supplies free shipping. But volunteers, many of them in rural areas, did the backbreaking work to get the trees from tree farms, like the Tom and Kerry Dull farm in Thorntown, Ind., to places they needed to be. The Dull farm was a collection point for trees in Indiana.

 

And on a personal note, I'm thankful that my daughter, Ashley, and first grandchild, Graham, are both healthy. Graham was born Oct. 30, some five-plus weeks early. Ashley had complications. The Lord above put them in the right hospital at the right time by a string of unusual circumstances.

 

God still answers prayer. Maybe that's the number one thing many of us can be thankful for. Ranking right behind that is the fact that we can still pray to the God we believe in here in this country. This is still America, despite all the challenges, and we need to act like Americans- thankful Americans.

Grain Markets Divorcing From Outside Markets

Grain Markets Divorcing From Outside Markets

Arlan Suderman says that fund buying is occurring despite weaker financial markets, which suggests that funds see some potential in the grains, feeling that they are undervalued relative to some of the other assets.

The Botched Christmas Tree Outing: Brought to Us by Harvest ‘09

For our family’s first 11 Christmases, shopping for the Christmas tree meant taking the bargain route. On the Friday after Thanksgiving, the local Farm King stores run a coupon in their sale flyer: Christmas trees for $9.99, if you spend $25 in the store. And who doesn’t need $25 worth of somethinaruther from Farm King? Some L.A. 200, a few ear tags, bolts, whatever – it wasn’t hard to come up with something for $25 and the bargain tree was ours.

 

And the trees weren’t so bad, if you don’t count that one that was actually painted green. (I’m not kidding – we thought it was awfully pretty. Then we saw the greenish spots on the trunk where it’d been green-washed. Mystery of the strangely beautiful tree solved.)  There were also the years when we chose the tree in the dark because that was the only time we could get there. And over time, picking out the best tree Farm King had to offer became a tradition of its own for us.

 

But not this year. We decided that with: A) children who were getting old enough to relish the tree farm experience, and B) a larger living room to accommodate a bigger tree, it was time to branch out. We were going for the experience this year – tromp about, choose The Tree, cut it down and bring it home. Cue the Christmas music.

 

This is where the “experience” ended.

 

Last Wednesday, as we compulsively checked the weather for signs of a return to harvest, it hit us that that day might be our only shot. It was still raining on Wednesday, off and on, but the weather was to clear the next day, on Thanksgiving, and be clear for the next week to 10 days. The tree farm obviously wasn’t open on Thanksgiving, and we’d be combining from Friday onward. That left us with Wednesday.

 

Hopes of clearing skies vanished as we drove to the tree farm. The sky had that overcast, completely gray look that gave away its ability to dump buckets of rain, with no foreseeable end in sight. Or in other words, it’d been raining for a long time and it wasn’t going to quit anytime soon. We arrived, with mudboots, raincoats and an umbrella to hold over the toddler. The tree farm folks looked at us like we were a little crazy. Clearly, they were a little right.

 

I couldn’t help but think - as I held an umbrella in one hand, a toddler in the other while attempting to convince her to leave her hat and mittens on – that this was just one more way the 2009 harvest has screwed up our lives. And I say that in the most loving way possible. But it’s true. Harvest is always enjoyable, at least at first. But that ended two months ago, and we’ve only been combining for six weeks. Economics be darned, this thing has drug on and drug on and everyone’s tired and cranky. Tired of the mud, tired of wet corn, tired of rain. We can’t even cut down a tree without Griswold-like proportions.

 

In the end, we did find a very nice (though very wet) tree, we stopped for pizza on the way home and 4-year-old Nathan learned that he can’t kneel down on wet, muddy ground to watch Dad cut down the tree without getting wet, muddy knees. Not that it will stop him next time. And Farm King? Not looking so bad after all…

 

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What Environmental Working Group doesn't want the public to know

There’s an underlying message behind those who slam commercial agriculture for its high-volume, high efficiency production model. They believe the world would be a more environmentally friendly place if we could return to the idyllic days of old, when all cattle roamed on grassy hills, people shopped at local markets supplied by local farmers and organic wasn’t organic, it was simply the way we were.

But a paper presented by Jude Capper, assistant professor of dairy sciences at Washington State University, at the 71st Cornell Nutrition Conference held in Syracuse, N.Y., indicates that the green solutions mentioned above are not as environmentally friendly as anti-commercial-ag groups like Oxfam, Environmental Working Group and Organic Exchange would have us believe.

Take, for example, the belief that returning to a local economy where goods are produced and sold locally would save huge amounts of petroleum because the goods would not have to be shipped from far distances.

Closer examination, however, tells us that efficiency trumps down-home simplicity. For example, Capper says that one dozen eggs, transported several hundred miles to a grocery store in a tractor-trailer that can carry 23,400 dozen eggs is a more fuel-efficient, eco-friendly option than a dozen eggs purchased at a farmers’ market (4.5 times more fuel used) or local farm (17.2 times more fuel used).

“The high-capacity vehicles used in modern transportation systems improve productivity, allowing food moved over long distances to be highly fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly compared to locally grown food,” Capper explains.

Another example is pasture- or grass-fed meat, promoted to be more eco-friendly than conventionally produced beef. But Capper’s study indicates that the time needed to grow a grass-fed animal to slaughter weight is nearly double that of animals fed corn. And energy use and greenhouse gas emissions per pound increase three-fold in grass-fed beef.

Also, finishing 9.8 million grass-fed animals would require an extra 60 million acres of land. That’s not the direction we need to go if the world is to feed an additional 3.5 billion people by 2050.

Organic groups argue that greenhouse gas emissions per cow have increased in modern times under modern methods. But Capper points out that greenhouse gas emissions per gallon of milk are actually 63 percent lower today than in the 1940s.

Capper adds that in 2007, the United States dairy industry produced 8.3 billion more gallons of milk than in 1944, but due to improved productivity, the carbon footprint of the entire dairy farm industry has been reduced by 41 percent over that time period.

The desire to protect the environment is admirable, notes Capper. But the bottom line is that there is a reason why today’s commercial agricultural models work — they’re highly efficient.

“Consumers might think they are making the responsible, virtuous food choices, when, in truth, they are supporting production practices that consume more natural resources, cause greater pollution and create a larger carbon footprint than more efficient, technology-driven, conventional methods,” Capper said.

e-mail: erobinson@farmpress.com

A moo, moo here, moo, moo there, virtual farming captivates the world

From the dawn of the computer age, games have been a staple of the programmer geeks who make computers run. In the process a lot of geeks founded software companies to make millions off the games.

But given the propensity of game developers toward rock ’em, sock ’em adventure, the mind boggles that in the four months since its introduction the most popular online computer game on the entire planet has been FarmVille.

While you were despairing of getting your corn, soybeans, cotton, and rice out of the fields during the late summer/fall monsoons, some 60 million people — from young kids to metropolitan sophisticates to senior citizens — were spending hours daily tending crops and livestock, and coping with the myriad of enterprises, crop failures, and other events in the virtual world of FarmVille.

And the game’s owners, a San Francisco startup company called Zynga, were raking in millions from advertising on the site and sales (for real money) of digital tractors, farmland, crops, livestock, and other assets. A 30-person staff is busily working to expand the game’s capabilities (and presumably, its profitability).

In a nutshell, FarmVille players are given a piece of land to farm as they wish. Money they earn from crops and livestock can be used to buy inputs, equipment, and other assets.

FarmVille is linked to the wildly popular social networking site Facebook, which makes it possible to work with (or compete against) friends. Players can also send each other “gifts” of trees, animals, and other assets.

The more people farming, the more bucks for Zynga. Although one can play the game for free, one can also spend hard cash to buy more equipment or inputs. “One recent success,” notes BusinessWeek, “was digital sweet potato seeds that cost $5 a packet (and) … pulled in more than $400,000 in three days.”

While one could quibble that real sweet potatoes aren’t grown from seeds, one can’t argue that 400 thou from imaginary yams sure beats four ways to Sunday growing the real thing.

The world’s media have been awash with stories about the addictive nature of the game. Articles have suggested, noted an LA Times piece, that FarmVille “is roughly as enslaving as heroin. Users report missing work, abandoning friends, and setting their alarms to wake up several times during the night so they can make the moves necessary to advance in the game.”

And this in a New York Times article: “I can’t hang out with my friends without talk of apple fields and rice paddies,” said (a University of California student). “I have to wait for my friends’ soybeans to grow, because we can’t chill until they’ve been harvested.”

In FAQs about the game, we are told a day in FarmVille “is currently 23 hours long” — just 1 hour shy of a real farmer’s workday.

e-mail: hbrandon@farmpress.com