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Articles from 2005 In June


Asian Soybean Rust confirmed in Alabama sentinel plots, found in Leon County, Fla.

Asian Soybean Rust has been confirmed in several southern Alabama sentinel plots, according to Extension specialists with Auburn University.

“A graduate student found Asian Soybean Rust on Tuesday afternoon (June 28) in sentinel plots around Fair Hope, Ala.,” said Ed Sikora, Extension plant pathologist with Auburn. “That’s in Baldwin County, across the bay from Mobile.”

Rust was found on two plants with “roughly 10 leaves on each plant showing symptoms in the lower canopy — typical lesion formations. The samples were brought to Auburn yesterday. We confirmed the rust through several tests.”

Two sentinel plots were planted in the area — one late; one earlier. “One of the infected plants was found in the older sentinel plot where beans were at R-6. The other plant was found on the neighboring sentinel plot at R-1/R-2.

“We also have Syngenta spore traps — slides covered with petroleum jelly — in the area,” said Sikora. “On Monday, we found four spores that look like Asian rust spores in one of those traps.”

Sikora is advising producers in south and south-central Alabama to “strongly consider a tank-mix or a pre-mix of a triazole and strobilurin. We just don’t know how far it’s moved up.”

Rust has also been found in Leon County, Fla. The USDA Web site that monitors Asian Soybean Rust highlights Leon County, Fla. The rust was expected to be confirmed.

Leon County is located in the Panhandle.

If confirmed, Leon County would be added to the list of counties in Florida with rust. The others are Dade, Hernando, Pasco and Marion.

Seminole County in Georgia has also been confirmed to have Asian Soybean Rust.

In Mississippi, Extension Soybean Specialist Alan Blaine said most of the state’s crop is at a stage where “we normally spray a fungicide for things other than Asian Soybean Rust. The decision for producers is whether to spray a (triazole/strobilurin) as well. At this point, I don’t think we have (Asian rust).”

Blaine’s belief is bolstered by two factors: weather and scouting.

“You have to consider where the rust was found in Alabama. They found it north of Gulf Shores on the coast — it rains there frequently. I can assure you we haven’t had rain frequently in the soybean-growing areas of Mississippi. Based on that, I’m not going to change my plans for our test fields yet. Even if it is spreading, it doesn’t appear there’s a whole lot of innoculum out there.”

Currently, an Extension crew is in south Mississippi looking for rust.

“Since yesterday afternoon, they’ve checked soybeans around Jackson, Ala., and in Mississippi they’ve been all around Lucedale, Poplarville, and Tylertown,” said Blaine. “We’re on the way to check fields in Meadville and Natchez now. We’ll be in the Delta scouting tomorrow. As of 11 a.m. today, (June 30) we haven’t found anything suspicious.”

e-mail: dbennett@primediabusiness.com

Asian soybean rust confirmed in Alabama sentinel plots

BALDWIN COUNTY, Ala. - Asian soybean rust has been confirmed in several southern Alabama sentinel plots, according to Extension specialists with Auburn University.

“A graduate student found Asian soybean rust on Tuesday afternoon in sentinel plots around Fair Hope, Ala.,” said Ed Sikora, Extension plant pathologist with Auburn. “That’s in Baldwin County, across the bay from Mobile.”

Rust was found on two plants with “roughly 10 leaves on each plant showing symptoms in the lower canopy – typical lesion formations. The samples were brought to Auburn yesterday. We confirmed the rust through several tests.”

Two sentinel plots were planted in the area – one late; one earlier. “One of the infected plants was found in the older sentinel plot where beans were at R-6. The other plant was found on the neighboring sentinel plot at R-1/R-2.

“We also have Syngenta spore traps – slides covered with petroleum jelly – in the area,” said Sikora. “On Monday, we found four spores that look like Asian rust spores in one of those traps.”

Sikora is advising producers in south and south-central Alabama to “strongly consider a tank-mix or a pre-mix of a triazole and strobilurin. We just don’t know how far it’s moved up.”

There’s no indication rust has spread in neighboring Georgia. Rust was found on volunteer soybeans in the extreme southwest part of the state two months ago. Thus far, it seems to be staying put.

“Our scout team has spent yesterday and today scouting our sentinel plots,” said Phil Jost, Georgia Extension soybean specialist on Thursday afternoon. “Up until 3 p.m. today, we haven’t found anything to worry about. The only soybean rust we’ve found remains in Seminole County on volunteer beans. I hope that remains the case.”

Conditions in Georgia have been conducive to soybean rust over the last week of June.

“If you wanted ideal conditions for rust to take off, Georgia has had them lately,” said Jost. “We’ve been very rainy and humid, especially on the eastern side of the state. Thankfully, so far, no rust is showing up.”

In neighboring Mississippi, Extension soybean specialist Alan Blaine said most of the state’s crop is at a stage where “we normally spray a fungicide for things other than Asian soybean rust. The decision for producers is whether to spray a (triazole/strobilurin) as well. At this point, I don’t think we have (Asian rust).”

Blaine’s belief is bolstered by two factors: weather and scouting.

“You have to consider where the rust was found in Alabama. They found it north of Gulf Shores on the coast – it rains there frequently. I can assure you we haven’t had rain frequently in the soybean-growing areas of Mississippi. Based on that, I’m not going to change my plans for our test fields yet. Even if it is spreading, it doesn’t appear there’s a whole lot of innoculum out there.”

Currently, an Extension crew is in south Mississippi looking for rust.

“Since yesterday afternoon, they’ve checked soybeans around Jackson, Ala., and in Mississippi they’ve been all around Lucedale, Poplarville, and Tylertown,” said Blaine. “We’re on the way to check fields in Meadville and Natchez now. We’ll be in the Delta scouting tomorrow. As of 11 a.m. today, we haven’t found anything suspicious.”

e-mail: dbennett@primediabusiness.com

Differentiate your product for enhanced returns

What can farmers do to give their commodity products a competitive edge and reap improved returns?

Make them somehow stand out from the competition, suggests Bruce A. Babcock, professor of economics and director of the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development at Iowa State University at Ames.

"Basically, you can make money by one of two ways: you can be the low-cost producer of whatever commodity you deal with, or you can create a differentiated product, have some control over quality and quantity, and try to behave like consumer-oriented firms worldwide," said Babcock.

A native Californian with a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, Babcock returned to familiar ground to address the Spring Outlook Conference of the California Chapter of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers (ASFM&RA) held recently in Sacramento. He was part of a panel dealing with valuing product attributes.

So just what is a differentiated product? From an economist’s view, he said, consider what happens if a product’s price is increased.

"If sales of the product fall to zero, there is no product differentiation." Consumers refuse to pay a penny more when they can buy the same product next door.

"But, if, in fact, you can raise your price a bit and sales don’t fall to zero, then there is some perceived difference in the product that some part of the population is willing to pay extra for," he explained.

The complete opposite is a commodity product sold for the same price from producer to producer, such as No. 2 yellow corn, hogs, soybeans, or gasoline, for which there are substitutes from other sources.

Examples of differentiated products are Frito-Lay’s Tostitos snacks chips labeled with "Zero Grams Trans Fat," catsup products made with low-fat formulations or packaged in inverted bottles, and wine appellations or sub-appellations based on microclimates. Another is Home Depot’s commitment to sell wood products from environmentally sustainable forests and flooring made from recycled materials.

Price takers

"Commodity producers are price takers. If your price is greater than the cost, you can make a profit. If your price is lower than the cost, you lose money.

"But with a differentiated product, you can gain a competitive edge by entering a new market sector that has differentiated standards, such as new animal-welfare standards adopted by the fast-food industry."

Consumers may be prepared to pay more for a product if they perceive it has superior or unique taste, has superior appearance, is healthy, or is good for the environment.

Keys to achieving acceptance for such products include creating a better product, investing in adequate marketing, controlling production costs, and maintaining superior quality.

But, he added, it is also important to develop credence among consumers willing to pay a premium for a dependable supply and quality or convincing certification, all the while keeping production costs in check.

Producers also must be vigilant to sustain the value they achieve with differentiated products. "Whenever you make money, imitators will come in to eat that margin away and drive profits to zero. So you have to create some kind of barrier to keep competitors away."

Barriers may be regulatory, such as the U.S. sugar industry’s barrier to imported sugar, or they can be technological with products fully traceable back to their source, or they can be marketing with brand identities.

EU approach

The European Union uses geographical barriers for beef, cheese, beer, and other products by allowing those products to be produced only in certain regions. Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and Kalamara olives are examples of these barriers Babcock said are intended to eventually wean producers from government subsidies.

A common route to product differentiation in the U.S. is branding for consumer loyalty, examples being Sun-Maid raisins, Sunkist citrus, or Ocean Spray cranberry products. Babcock noted, however, that creation and maintenance of a successful brand is expensive.

For another perspective on valuing product attributes, Jim and Mary Rickert of Fall River have differentiated their Prather Ranch beef operation in at Macdoel in Siskiyou County with a system based on a closed herd and slaughter of about 1,100 animals per year.

Key in the attributes are high-quality cuts of beef from animals identified with tags from birth to through processing and complete records to ensure traceability.

They also meet rigid standards to provide alternative products such as organs and hides for pharmaceutical raw materials and bone materials for surgical devices.

Tell ranch’s story

To make their products attractive to consumers, Jim Rickert said they have told their story of a sustainable, humane, environmentally friendly system based on employment of personnel trained in food safety and compensated for retention. "We think it is really important to emphasize in our promotional pieces the families that work to produce the food we supply."

Mary Rickert said they also grow their own high-test hay on the 21,500-acre, vertically integrated ranch. She said the 15-year effort to refine the system has been rewarding but required great diligence. "It is not for the faint of heart."

Another panelist, Roger Hancock, corporate director of food safety sanitation and quality for Albertson’s, Boise, Idaho, said value in the highly competitive retail food industry is, from the consumer’s perspective, of broader appeal than price alone.

"Food safety is a big concern and goes all the way back to the farm," Hancock said. "I urge you to work with regulatory authorities promote food safety to create value for your products.

"We want to differentiate ourselves as a retailer, so we look for what the farmers can provide. Consumers tell us the first thing they want is a clean store, and we handle food as if it were going to feed our own families."

Albertson’s is also alert to food security issues in light of potential terrorist attacks on the food production and distribution chain. He said those who secure their segment of the production chain will benefit tremendously because consumers are willing to pay for a broad array of safeguards.

He said his company is also quite sensitive to its role as "the public face" of the food industry in the minds of its customers. Despite the several stages between the farm and the retail store, the public tends to bring to the retailer their complaints about nationally branded products.

California Pecan Growers heralding new story

California’s pecan growers have quit trying to grow and process pecans like they do in the major U.S. pecan producing areas. The result has been higher yielding California orchards and a superior quality pecan that is in big demand. Last year it was worth almost 30 cents per pound more than the average U.S. pecan price.

Pecans have been grown in California for decades. However, compared to the big three California orchard nut crops -- almonds, walnuts and pistachios — producers have passed on pecans because until now yields have not produced economic returns equal to the major tree nut crops.

That has changed and the fledgling California Pecan Growers Association is working hard to tell the new story of California pecans to get more growers into the business and increase the supply for a demanding marketplace. Last year the association presented its case to tree nut producers in the Central Valley to hopefully entice new pecan orchard plantings.

July 14 meeting

This year the association will tell its story in the Sacramento Valley July 14 when it holds its annual meeting in Chico, Calif., at the Sierra Nevada Brewery. The conference and information seminar will be followed the next day by a tour of young and old pecan orchard plantings in the Sacramento Valley.

The association meeting on July 14 will begin at 2 p.m. with the following presentations scheduled:

-- Results of Temik verses Admire Study Conducted at Blain Farms, Tulare County, Calif.; John L. Perry Jr., market specialist, Bayer CropScience.

-- Evaluating Soil and Irrigation Water Suitable For Prospective Pecan Orchards, Allan Fulton / U.C. farm advisor, Red Bluff

-- 2005 Evaluation of Pecan Pollinators in Northern California, Bill Olson U.C. farm advisor, emeritus.

-- Common Mistakes Made In Pecan Orchard Establishment and Management, Bruce Woods, horticulturist, USDA-ARS, Byron, Ga.

-- Pecan Cultivars for the Western U.S., Tommy Thompson, research geneticist, USDA-ARS, Somerville Texas.

-- Profitability of Specific Pecan Varieties, Brian Blain/ Blain Farms, Tulare County, Calif.

Visit www.californiapecangrowers.org for registration information.

The orchard tour on July 15 will feature stops at five different farms to look at orchards ranging in age from 28 years to first leaf. The tour will also stop at a demonstration plot where Admire was shanked in to control aphids.

Honeydew deposits

Research by retired UC farm advisor Steve Sibbett that late season aphid honeydew deposits were reducing yields of a crop harvested in late fall by reducing photosynthesis is one reason for the yield breakthrough. The association has aggressively pursued aphid control strategies since Sibbett’s findings were released.

Garry Vance, Tehama County pecan grower and president of the association said California pecan producers have been told for years by producers in other U.S. pecan growing areas to "live with late season aphids." The Sibbett research has proven the deposits were reducing yields by reducing photosynthesis.

Vance said four years ago the association was successful in winning a 24C registration for Temik to control aphids.

"Two years ago we worked with John Perry of Bayer in getting a 24C for Admire shanked into the orchards and that has really made a difference," said Vance. Most California pecan orchards are flood irrigated, said Vance, explaining why Admire must be shanked into an orchard to be effective.

"Now pecan growers in other parts of the country are paying attention to what we are doing in California," added Vance. This has significantly increased yields, resulting in returns comparable to California walnut production.

Vance said return on pecans has "increased significantly over what it was six years ago since we quit trying to grow pecans like they do elsewhere and started growing pecans in California like we grow other tree crops," said Vance. "There is a different mentality in California where we can get 2,800 pounds per acre verses in places like Georgia where they get 600 pounds. There are more resources available to California pecan growers than elsewhere."

3,000 acres

There are only about 3,000 acres of pecans in California, but Vance is hopeful that will grow significantly in the next few years.

The demand for the product is there, he said.

"People now specify that they want California pecans, and we can market all we can get at good prices," Vance said.

The quality is no accident. California pecan growers handle their crop differently than other areas.

"California pecans do not have the flaws like other states because most of California pecans are shaken from the tree and taken to the dehydrator the same day. This results in a lighter colored nut that consumers want. It is a fresher product with a longer shelf life than pecans from other areas," said Vance.

Vance said there is a good market for pecans now. The pipeline is empty, partly because of hurricane damage last season to pecan orchards crops in Gulf Coast states.

This shortage resulted in an all-time high U.S. average price of $1.67 per pound for 2004 pecans. California pecans brought an average of $1.92 per pound.

Vance said it takers longer for pecans to reach economic production levels than almonds and the initial planting costs are higher because trees are more expensive. However, the trees produce economically viable yields much longer than almonds. Pecan orchards can remain productive for up to 50 years.

"As a U.S. industry, the lack of discipline in marketing is another big disadvantage. This is why we are developing a market for California pecans as superior to pecans from other areas of the U.S.," added Vance.

Vance said interest is growing in producing pecans.

e-mail:hcline@primediabusiness.com

Central Valley Weed School set July 19

"A workshop emphasizing field identification and management of weeds," is the title of the 2005 Central Valley Weed School to be held July 19 at the UC Kearney Agricultural Center, Parlier, Calif., with UC Extension, Fresno, cooperating.

The weed school schedule follows:

7:30 - 8:00 a.m. Sign-in and introductions. Trams and tours depart (8:05 a.m.).

Field Tours/Talks

8:10 - 10:30 Turf Weed Control Study (Michelle LeStrange and Pam Geisel); Plasticulture – Colored Plastics (Richard Molinar); Soil Solarization Techniques (Jim Stapleton); Weed ID - In The Field (Kurt Hembree, Anil Shrestha).

Break

Inside Presentations

10:45 - 12:50 Orchard/Vineyard ID and Control (Kurt Hembree); Pre-emergents – Activation, Residual (Steve Wright); Weed Seedling ID (Joe DiTomasso); IR-4 Testing for New Registration (IR-4 staff); Herbicide Drift in Fresno (Ron Vargas).

Lunch Included in Registration.

Five hours of CE applied for – PCA’s, QAC’s, QAL’s, and CCA’s.

When: July 19, 2005 (Tuesday).

Cost: $20 per person (Make check payable to UC Regents)

Send to: Weed School. UC Cooperative Extension 1720 S. Maple Ave. Fresno, CA 93702 (Registration deadline is July 4. No registration at the door accepted.)

Location: UC Kearney Research and Education Center, 9240 S. Riverbend Ave. Parlier, CA.

For more information, contact: Richard Molinar in the Cooperative Extension office at (559) 456-7555.

NOTE: Registration deadline is July 4. After that date, call the Cooperative Extension office to see if there is space left. No registration at the door.

Directions: Via Highway 99: Exit on Manning Avenue. Go east eight miles to Riverbend Avenue. Turn right and go one-quarter mile.

Per capita vegetable disappearance up slightly

Per capita disappearance (use) of all vegetables, melons, and pulses increased about 1 pound in 2004 to 447.8 pounds, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Per capita use of fresh-market vegetables (excluding melons, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and mushrooms) rose 4 percent to 144 pounds in 2004.

Including melons, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and mushrooms, fresh-market vegetable consumption totaled 226.6 pounds — up 1 percent from a year earlier. Per capita use rose for commodities such as spinach (up 17 percent), cauliflower (14 percent), onions (12 percent), cabbage (10 percent), and romaine and leaf lettuce (7 percent).

Per capita use of vegetables for processing (excluding potatoes, sweet potatoes, and mushrooms) increased 1 percent to 122.5 pounds.

Total vegetable use is forecast to remain steady in 2005, as expected increases in fresh crops are offset by reductions in potatoes and processing vegetables.

Contract acreage for the five leading processing vegetables (tomatoes, sweet corn, snap beans, green peas, and cucumbers) is expected to decline 1 percent from a year earlier to 1.21 million acres. Most of the acreage reduction will result from fewer contract acres for canned vegetables (down 2 percent) as area for freezing is expected to remain steady.

The import share of the U.S. potato supply increased to 7 percent in 2004 as import volume grew faster than projected production sold minus net exports. One of the largest gains in import share was in frozen french fries, now at more than 13 percent. Frozen fries make up nearly 60 percent of total U.S. potato import volume, 91 percent of which is shipped from Canada. The next largest potato import (by volume) is potato starch, which is more than twice that of other (non french fry) frozen potatoes.

Texas dry beans

USDA’s Prospective Plantings report indicated that 2005 seeded area of dry edible beans is expected to rise 23 percent from last year’s low of 1.35 million acres. Dry bean area is up largely because of a combination of shrinking dry bean stocks, higher U.S. dry bean prices, and lower prices for alternative crops such as soybeans (down 26 percent) and field corn (down 15 percent). Acreage is expected to rise or remain stable in all surveyed states with the exception of Texas.

According to the 2002 Census of Agriculture, 70 percent of U.S. tomato acreage is harvested for processed products. This acreage is harvested by 1,577 farms — just 8 percent of all U.S. farms producing tomatoes. About 45 percent of tomato area harvested for processed products comes from farms planting at least 1,000 acres of tomatoes.

According to a USDA food consumption survey, about a third of all processed tomato products are purchased away from home at various foodservice outlets (e.g., pizza parlors).

Farm Bureau supports Senate labeling legislation

A bill introduced in the U.S. Senate (the Meat Promotion Act of 2005) puts consumers and the marketplace in the driver’s seat regarding country-of-origin labeling for meat products, rather than the federal government.

According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, the bill’s voluntary labeling program for meat would add value throughout the food chain, including at the producer level, and the bill deserves Senate support.

“Senate introduction of this voluntary, market-based program would appeal to consumers, successfully increase market visibility for U.S. food products and let farmers produce food instead of paperwork,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman.

AFBF strongly supports the bipartisan Senate bill, introduced by Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.). The legislation is a companion bill to (H.R. 2068), introduced in the House. Both pieces of legislation would replace the mandatory country-of-origin labeling program for meat, which is scheduled to take effect on Sept. 30, 2006. The voluntary meat labeling bills would give producers added market value rather than a costly federal mandate, according to Stallman.

The Agriculture Department has estimated the costs of the current mandatory country-of-origin label program could be as much as $4 billion in the first year alone, with several hundred million dollars a year in recurring costs. Stallman said that USDA also has estimated that more than 60 percent of these costs would be borne directly by the U.S. meat and livestock industry.

“Mandatory country-of-origin labeling for meat would place significant new costs on beef, hog and sheep producers, with the largest impact falling on independent producers,” Stallman said. “This is clearly a marketing issue, not a food safety issue, and by approving a voluntary program, Congress would be placing control in the hands of consumers at the marketplace.”

According to Stallman, passage of the Meat Promotion Act legislation would “move the worthy concept of voluntary country-of-origin labeling forward and promote American-grown food products.”

“We believe consumers are willing to pay a premium for origin-verified meat products and it is up to the marketplace to meet that demand,” Stallman said. “This program can be modeled after similar USDA-certified programs that are already paying dividends for consumers and producers alike.”

Asian rust situation buoys hope

As of mid-June, Asian soybean rust hasn’t been detected in the Mid-South. After finding rust in the Southeast earlier this spring, there were fears a wave of spores was on its way westward. Although no rust movement has been detected in the weeks since, vigilance remains.

“There are 38 sentinel plots around the state and about that many kudzu locations are scouted,” said Cliff Coker, Arkansas Extension plant pathologist. “We’re scouting twice a week. If rust comes in, we want to know as early as possible.

“Right now, Asian soybean rust is in Florida and southwest Georgia. Those are the only locations it’s been found. It’s been in Georgia for around six weeks now. They’ve been checking closely, but it hasn’t moved. Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve had some strong winds. Folks thought rust would be picked up somewhere else by now. That hasn’t happened.”

Why no movement?

Many are interested in why the rust hasn’t moved.

“One big reason has to be the environment,” said David Lanclos, Louisiana Extension soybean specialist, after consulting with plant pathologists. “With the exception of the last couple of weeks in certain parts of south-central Louisiana, things just haven’t been conducive for rust. There has to be 10 to 12 hours of dew or moisture of some sort, and that’s just not happening.”

Louisiana currently has a heat index hovering around 105.

“That’s above the optimum temperature for the rust to get going,” said Lanclos. “Now, I’m not saying it won’t get going, but right now we’re very hot. If you consider the conditions needed for this rust to spread, the Midwest should be more nervous.”

Following a recent tropical storm that hit Florida, Coker had many anxious phone calls. “Producers were worried this would carry rust to us. At this point, I don’t think (Arkansas) will see anything from that storm. There are reasons I say that: we’re dry and we’re a little on the warm side. The weather isn’t right for rust here.

“Also, it takes a tremendous spore load to be picked up and moved by a front. It hasn’t even spread in Georgia. It just isn’t a super threat to Arkansas at this time. It’s a potential threat, of course, but I’m not overly concerned.”

A later arrival?

Will rust develop later in the year?

“It’s possible,” Coker said at an Extension-sponsored producer meeting near Noble Lake, Ark., on June 14. “But it’s also possible a hail storm will come through this evening and take out the cotton crop. I hope neither thing happens.”

Coker isn’t overly worried about rust arriving in October when conditions are friendlier for it. “Our crop will be made by then. It’s true we have some late-planted soybeans, and I’d be concerned about them. But, considering what we’re seeing now out of rust, I’d be more concerned about frost damage.”

How late do producers have to worry about rust?

“An R-7 growth stage — perhaps a very late R-6 — is what you’re looking for,” said Lanclos. “At that point, you don’t need anymore moisture, and the plant is drying down. Producers who’re putting out a fungicide at R-3 must realize if rust comes in, they could still be looking at another application.”

Fungicides

Ignoring rust, Coker said if soybeans are at R-4 and the yield potential is good, a fungicide can be justified. “With a 50-bushel potential, I wouldn’t hesitate to use Quadris or Headline. And that’s spraying for diseases we normally have — I’m not even talking about rust.

“But as far as putting rust protection on beans currently: don’t do it. It would be a waste of money because the best products we have for rust will do no good on diseases we normally have like frogeye, cercospora, anthracnose and the rest. Instead, use that money for irrigation or save it in case we have to fight rust later in the ballgame.”

A fungicide will last about two weeks.

“Most growers have one fungicide bullet in the gun, maybe two if they stretch it,” said Coker. “So, at most, you’re looking at two applications. That’ll cost around $30. You don’t want to spend any more than that on soybeans. So I’d keep those bullets in my pocket.

“If you need to use them later, we’re likely to get plenty of word in advance. If rust is on the move, we’ll know it. And just in case, we’ll continue to scout our sentinel plots vigorously.”

Louisiana’s earliest soybean crop is at the R-3/R-4 stage. Farmers there are still planting soybeans, primarily in the south-central region. In many locations, soils were too dry to plant early before heavy rains arrived.

“We’re just now dry enough to plant in some places,” said Lanclos. “Thus far, I’m guessing we have planted about 725,000 acres.”

Thousands of soybean acres in Louisiana are being sprayed with fungicides. Spraying probably will continue through June. Lanclos said there are questions regarding exactly what’s available to producers.

“Headline SBR — Headline plus Folicur — is being marketed only as a co-pack. So if a farmer wants to buy Headline alone, as opposed to Quadris, his only option is the co-pack. He’ll have some rust protection because of the Folicur. Many producers will be using that because it’s traditionally a bit cheaper than a Quadris/Topsin application.

“There is some concern in deep south-central Louisiana with Headline SBR specifically on cercospora. I’ve spoken with growers and consultants who plan to put out Headline SBR now and follow it up with a tank-mix of insecticides spiked with Topsin at about a half-pound. I think that will be a common treatment.”

e-mail: dbennett@primediabusiness.com

Agribusiness: The Seam expands to trade peanut inventories

Agriculture’s largest online commodity market, The Seam, has announced that the company has officially launched trading of the USDA's Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) peanut inventories. This arrangement establishes the first electronic exchange of any type for peanuts and marks the first time the U.S. Government has had the ability to market peanuts directly to buyers through a neutral third-party Internet-based company.

Bert Farrish, deputy vice-president of USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), explained that marketing CCC-owned peanuts online improves efficiency by providing buyers with a convenient and safe electronic sales transaction.

“We have a great deal of confidence in The Seam’s role in servicing sales of CCC-owned peanuts,” explained Farrish. “Over the past two years, they have exhibited a very successful market oriented performance with the servicing of cotton sales for CCC. This arrangement may also benefit peanut growers and other sectors of the peanut industry in the areas of price discovery and price transparency, particularly if other sellers of in-shell peanuts choose to market through The Seam.”

Based on industry experience, The Seam’s online marketplace will provide the entire peanut industry with the opportunity to begin moving its business into a broader marketplace. By going online, CCC’s peanut inventories are now consolidated and viewed by the widest possible audience, assuring the best bid on any given day.

Transactions are handled entirely online, with The Seam handling all of the details, including the transfer of funds and title. Although The Seam accommodates all forms of title, electronic warehouse receipts (ewrs) are fast becoming the currency of agriculture. Electronic receipts enable producers to use a third party, such as The Seam or a bank, as an escrow agent to insure that their commodity is not delivered until the buyer has transferred the necessary funds.

“We are delighted to add peanuts to our growing list of products and services here at The Seam,” said Phillip C. Burnett, president and CEO of The Seam. “Since our launch four years ago, our goal has been to extend the benefits of our technology to other commodities and sectors of the farm economy. In this instance we have partnered with The U.S. Department of Agriculture to build a secure, risk-free market place for the peanut industry.”

“We are confident,” continued Burnett, “that The Seam’s proven technology and successful online international trading model will create new opportunities for the entire peanut industry as it continues to transition into a new federally mandated market driven program.”

According to Burnett, discussions are under way by The Seam with other commodity groups and other industries that see the company’s proven technology as applicable to their businesses.

The Seam is a totally neutral Internet-based global marketplace for the buying and selling of cotton and other commodities. Users of The Seam increase their profits through improved transaction process efficiencies, expanded exposure to potential customers and suppliers, constant access to real-time market information, and guaranteed domestic trades.

For more information and detailed explanation of The Seam technology visit the company’s web site, www.theseam.com, or call 1-901-374-0374.