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Articles from 2018 In July

Canada, Mexico and US Flag Puzzle Pieces, conceptual image for NAFTA agreement Marc Bruxelle/ThinkstockPhotos

U.S. isolates Canada from NAFTA talks

by Jenny Leonard and Eric Martin 

Canada has been rebuffed in recent attempts to engage on NAFTA with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer amid talks between the Trump administration and Mexico, according to three people with knowledge of the negotiations.

The Canadian negotiating team, led by Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, has been told that Lighthizer is focusing on negotiations with Mexico and isn’t interested in engaging with Canada at the moment, according to the people, who asked not to be named discussing private conversations. The situation was first reported by the National Post newspaper.

Freeland traveled to Mexico last week, and the trip was motivated in part by the U.S. decision to isolate Canada from the talks, according to one of the people. While Mexico and Canada have repeatedly emphasized the need to keep the deal between all three countries, negotiating with Mexico and then Canada would be in keeping with President Donald Trump’s preference for striking bilateral agreements.

“The Trump administration has clear frustrations with the Canadian government’s approach to the NAFTA modernization, and we’re now seeing it play out in front of our faces,” Adam Taylor, principal and co-founder at trade advisory firm Export Action Global, said by phone from Ottawa. “We’ve seen virtually overnight Mexico and the U.S. are moving forward and Canada looks left behind and then forced into a position where it has to make a significant set of concessions just to be readmitted to the talks, it seems.”

Alex Lawrence, a spokesman for Freeland, said Canada is committed to modernizing NAFTA while standing up for Canadian interests. “We will continue to work toward a good deal for Canada,” he said by email.

While Trump in the past year repeatedly talked about how difficult Canada and Mexico have been since negotiations began last August, he has had more positive things to say about Mexico recently.

Although the three nations remain far apart on a few major points, Trump said earlier this month he’s heading toward a “dramatic” deal with Mexico and that he may prioritize a bilateral deal with America’s southern neighbor over Canada. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Monday negotiations with Mexico are going well and may be close to wrapping up. 

Lighthizer told a U.S. Senate committee last week that the U.S. is in the closing stages of finishing a new NAFTA deal with Mexico next month, and said that would spark Canada to sign on to the agreement. 

“My hope is that we will before very long have a conclusion with respect to Mexico and that as a result of that Canada will come in and begin to compromise. I don’t believe that they’ve compromised the same way the United States has or Mexico has,” Lighthizer told senators.

Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo will be in Washington for more meetings with Lighthizer on Thursday and Friday following up on a trip last week. Freeland traveled to Mexico July 25 but hasn’t met with Lighthizer since mid June. She’s due to be in Singapore this week for annual Association of Southeast Asian Nations meetings, according to a statement from her office. Lawrence said the trip has been “long planned and is an important part of Canada’s focus on deepening ties with our Asian trade and security partners.”

Press offices for the Mexican economy ministry and the U.S. Trade Representative’s office didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

To contact the reporters on this story: Jenny Leonard in Washington at ;Eric Martin in Mexico City at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Vivianne Rodrigues at Chris Fournier, Stephen Wicary

© 2018 Bloomberg L.P

What's new in ag? July 30-Aug. 3

In this week's edition of what's new in ag, we take a look at several new updates for the 2019 John Deere combines, plus a new agricultural tire brand is introduced. And Kugler announces a new app to help with the timing of fertilizer product applications. Check out all of these and more in this week's galllery. 

Jamie Johansson
California Farm Bureau Federation president Jamie Johansson speaks at a media event to highlight the effects of foreign tariffs on the state's farm goods in April. He says a long-term resolution to the U.S.' trade disputes is still urgent.

Group: USDA's tariff relief falls short for citrus

The USDA's plans to provide up to $12 billion in relief for agricultural producers facing market disruption because of newly imposed foreign tariffs won't meet the needs of California citrus growers who export about 25 percent of their product, a commodity group says.

The two programs intended to support specialty crop producers involve purchasing excess inventory and trade promotion activities to help redirect volume that's normally exported to China and other destinations, California Citrus Mutual explains.

The commodity purchase program historically pays reduced prices for products not viable for domestic or export markets, the group adds.

"The potential revenue that could be generated via this program for growers is far less than export revenues, thus to assume it is a viable alternative would be incorrect," CCM president Joel Nelsen said in a statement. "A quick survey of the industry indicates that growers and shippers do not generally utilize this distribution channel."

The citrus industry is familiar with the Market Access Program (MAP), but MAP is typically limited to specific marketing campaigns aimed at spurring demand in a new market in which the product isn't well known, CCM explains in a news release. That means MAP funds are used in the offshore markets, not as payment to growers or shippers.

"While MAP does provide value to an industry over time, the benefits to growers are not instantaneous and would not necessarily provide immediate relief," Nelsen says. "For MAP to be beneficial in the context of trade mitigation, it would have to be modified so that fruit currently or soon to be in the market can be redirected, potentially to numerous destinations, immediately. We are talking about considerable tonnage and to assume one market, unless it is the domestic market, could absorb that tonnage is just wrong."

USDA is listening

CCM officials say they've asked how the fruit and sector losses could be rectified, and USDA officials have said they're eager to hear how specific modifications could benefit industries.

A USDA spokesperson told Western Farm Press in an email that the agency "is reaching out to grower groups to try to tailor our purchase program to the products most affected by trade retaliation."

Citrus Mutual's board reviewed the proposal from President Donald Trump's administration last week and called it "a noble effort to satisfy the president's statement that U.S. farmers will not be negatively impacted by his trade policies."

Likewise, California Farm Bureau Federation president Jamie Johannessen said in a statement that members "appreciate how USDA has worked to assemble this package quickly at a time of market uncertainty for farmers and ranchers." He says he hopes the USDA's bonus purchases of fruits, vegetables, nuts, meats and other products for food banks and other food aid programs will provide some immediate relief for farmers and ranchers.

However, while the package may provide some short-term relief, finding a long-term resolution to the U.S.  trade disputes remains urgent, he says.

"Ultimately, farmers and ranchers want what we have always wanted: to trade on a fair basis with customers around the world who want to buy our products," Johannessen says. "We will continue to urge the administration and our congressional delegation to resolve the trade disputes as quickly as possible."

Max Armstrong's Daily Updates

MIDDAY Midwest Digest, July 31, 2018

There were some nervous residents and first responders when a grain elevator exploded in central Illinois. There were no injuries.

Crop conditions for corn and soybeans are still in good shape, overall. The best corn is in North Dakota, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Illinois.

How will the Oshkosh, Wis., airshow top this year's performance? The 49th EAA AirVenture was nearly perfect on all fronts. 

Cotton field sunrise FARM PRESS PHOTO

Aug. 31 is deadline for High Cotton nominations

The deadline is nearing for nominations for the Farm Press/Cotton Foundation High Cotton Awards for 2019. This will mark the 25thanniversary of the program that was conceived to recognize U.S. cotton farmers who do an outstanding job of producing consistently high quality cotton while utilizing practices that demonstrate a concern for the environment.
“Since the inception of the High Cotton Award a quarter-century ago, Sunbelt growers have experienced monumental changes in growing cotton,” says Greg Frey, Farm Press publisher and senior vice president of operations for Farm Progress.
“Each of the almost 100 High Cotton award winners during that time has come from highly diversified backgrounds and unique life experiences. In addition to being topnotch cotton growers, they have an overriding concern for preserving their land and resources for generations to come.
“Jack Burns, a High Cotton Award winner, said it best during his acceptance speech more than a decade ago: ‘The land is our livelihood, so we take care of it. We want our land to thrive so we can pass it on to the next generation of growers.’
“As we begin the process of selecting the 2019 High Cotton Award winners,” Frey says, “we continue to be impressed with the ability of U.S. growers to constantly adopt new practices and technologies to more efficiently produce world class cotton fiber.”

FARM PRESS PHOTO2018 High Cotton winners

Farm Press/Cotton Foundation High Cotton winners for 2018 were, from left, Merlin Schantz, Hydro, Okla., Southwest states; Ron Rayner, Goodyear, Ariz., western states; Joe and Jack Huerkamp, Macon, Miss., Mid-South states; and Nick McMichen, Centre, Ala., Southeast states. They were honored at an awards breakfast in conjunction with the Mid-South Farm and Gin Show at Memphis.

The deadline for nominations for the 2019 High Cotton Awards is Aug. 31. A winner will be chosen from the Southeast states, Mid-South states, Southwest states, and Western states. Winners will be honored at an awards breakfast in conjunction with the Mid-South Farm and Gin Show at Memphis, Tenn., March 1-2, 2019.
A goal of the program is to identify top cotton producers in each major growing region and to share their successful production methods with the readers of Southeast Farm Press, Delta Farm Press, Southwest Farm Press, and Western Farm Press.
Nominees will be cotton growers who meet three important criteria: 1. The nominee must be a full-time grower who gets a profitable return from producing cotton in one of the four cotton belt regions; (2) must produce cotton of consistently high quality, and (3) must use environmentally sound production methods. Finalists will be chosen on the basis of their success in growing cotton, the consistent quality of their cotton, and their environmental stewardship. A grower’s contributions to his/her community and the cotton industry will also be a consideration.
“This is not a yield contest,” Frey notes. “Unlike other ‘contests,’ we aren’t interested in the quantity of material provided about the grower. Rather, we’re looking for a basic narrative about what the nominee has done to improve the environmental aspects of his farming operation, while producing a high quality, profitable cotton crop.”
Nomination forms may be obtained from Sandy Perry at Farm Press, phone 800-253-3160 or e-mail

International trade talk still dominating soybean markets

International trade talk still dominating soybean markets

Soybean prices are higher to start the day, knocking on the door of $9.00 per bushel. Bulls are talking about a little weather uncertainty in parts of the U.S., and continued strength in U.S. demand, despite lack of Chinese buying.

The USDA’s most recent weekly export inspections showed +740,000 MT's for last week, which is up about +50% from last year. Bulls are also talking about Argentine crushers looking to purchase more U.S. soybeans. There's been some talk inside the trade that Argentina will actually become the world's second largest importer of soybeans in 2018, behind only China.

This is the game changer the bulls were discussing a few months back, when the trade first learned of the weather complications and production hiccups in Argentina this past growing season. As I mentioned, eventually that bird has to come to roost. We are now starting to see those headlines recirculate and actually offset some of the uncertainties and negativity surrounding trade conflicts. Technically, the trade continues to believe the $9.00 to $9.20 area will be tougher ground for the bulls to move beyond.

Here at home, the trade is also trying to debate and determine U.S. yield. Similar to corn, there are some bulls who are surprised to see the crop-condition estimate left "unchanged" on the week at 70% rated "Good-to-Excellent".

States where conditions deteriorated: Tennessee -10%; Louisiana and Missouri -8%; Arkansas and Kentucky -5%; Illinois, Kansas and Ohio -3%; North Dakota and Wisconsin; Minnesota -1%. States where conditions have improved: North Carolina +9%; Mississippi +5%; South Dakota +4%; Michigan +3%; and Iowa +1%.





University of Missouri Extension plant pathologist Kaitlyn Bissonnette University of Missouri/Linda Geist
University of Missouri Extension plant pathologist Kaitlyn Bissonnette shows soybean farmers how to scout for disease during a recent scouting school.

Plant pathologist: Don’t treat all soybean diseases with fungicides

Not all soybean diseases require a fungicide application, says University of Missouri Extension plant pathologist Kaitlyn Bissonnette.

Knowing if and when to spray fungicides saves money and reduces concerns about fungicide resistance, Bissonnette says.

She shares information about soybean diseases in a series of sessions on disease scouting throughout the state. Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council and MU Extension sponsor the sessions.

Timing, method and rate of application determine fungicide efficacy, says Bissonnette. Many common diseases don’t affect yield and don’t warrant treatment.

Always follow label instructions for best results. Fungicides applied too early often lack efficacy, Bissonnette says. Little fungicide may remain on leaves by the time disease shows. Most disease does not require a fungicide application before early pod development (R3 growth stage).

Bissonnette says farmers should check weather patterns and the disease-resistance level of their varieties when making fungicide application decisions. Regular scouting of the field, starting at the edges and walking to the interior areas, provides early detection of pests. Know your diseases. Some are easily identified while others are harder to distinguish from other types of crop damage, she says. An integrated pest management system that includes crop rotation and the use of resistant varieties is always the best approach.

Some require little treatment

Bissonnette gives a brief overview of diseases that seldom require foliar fungicide treatment:

  • Septoria brown spot shows as brown spots in the lower canopy of soybean. It often appears early in the season. The disease causes leaves to yellow and drop prematurely but does not generally affect yield. It thrives during warm, wet weather and in continuous soybean fields. Rotate fields to avoid.
  • Bacterial leaf spot appears in the upper canopy as small brown or light green spots surrounded by yellow halos. Both it and septoria brown spot appear around the same time and can be confused. It also does not affect yield and requires no treatment.
  • Downy mildew first appears as pale green or light yellow blotches on the upper surface of young leaves. On the underside of the leaf, a gray, fuzzy growth appears after heavy dews. Fungicides are not recommended to control downy mildew. Crop rotation and clean seed are the best management options.
  • Sudden death syndrome (SDS) often looks like other diseases such as stem canker or brown stem rot. Unlike those diseases, however, the stems of soybean infected with the SDS fungus remain green. First symptoms of SDS are yellowing (chlorosis) and tissue death (necrosis) between leaf veins resulting from the movement of a toxin from the roots into the leaves. Because infection is in the roots, the disease will not respond to foliar fungicide. Choose resistant seed varieties and rotate crops between soybean and small grains or other non-host crops. Plant into warm soils and improve soil drainage.
  • Soybean cyst nematode (SCN). This microscopic roundworm historically has been controlled with resistant varieties, most of which contain genes from the PI 88788 resistance source. However, the nematode has begun to develop resistance to these genes. In Missouri, two other resistant sources are available: Peking and Hartwig. Bissonnette suggests testing soil for SCN nematode numbers. Test in the fall after harvest or in the spring before planting.

“Know your number,” she says. “Testing tells how many eggs are in the soil and provides insight for future management needs.” In a single season, three to six generations of SCN can appear, with each female containing around 250 eggs. To test for SCN, submit samples to MU’s SCN Diagnostic Lab. Visit for more information. Rotating resistant varieties as well as non-host crops such as wheat and corn is suggested to manage SCN.

  • Charcoal rot. This late-season disease appears in dry years. It overwinters in the soil, so it is important to scout fields with a known history of charcoal rot. Light gray discoloration and premature yellowing of the leaves occurs. Leaves also are smaller than normal. Fungicides do not help.

Frogeye leaf spot

Bissonnette says frogeye leaf spot (FLS) has been verified in parts of Missouri recently. FLS, which can reduce yield by up to 35 percent, is one disease that can benefit from fungicide treatment. It generally appears in the middle of the growing season. FLS can be anywhere in the soybean canopy, but infection begins in newer leaves. The fungus that causes FLS survives in infected seed and soybean residue. It favors warm, humid weather. Rotate crops and select resistant varieties.

If applying a fungicide to control FLS, Bissonnette recommends using one with multiple modes of action. Before you spray, know if your soybean variety has resistance to FLS and scout for the disease. Ask agronomists in your area if FLS has been reported. Spray when soybean are at the R3 growth stage. “Preventative is always better than curative,” she says.

Agronomists at county MU Extension centers are available to help. You may also send plant samples to the MU Plant Diagnostic Clinic. Call (573) 882-3019 or visit for more information.

Bissonnette also recommends the publication “Determining Fungicide Efficacy” from the United Soybean Board. The publication gives research-based information from several university plant pathologists on the efficacy of many commercially available fungicides toward common soybean diseases. Download at

Max Armstrong's Daily Updates

MORNING Midwest Digest, July 31, 2018

The Missouri attorney general has opened a criminal investigation into the duck boat accident. It came within two civil lawsuits being filed.

The corn and soybean crops remain in great shape, overall. Both crop conditions held steady from a week ago. However, some fields in Missouri, Kansas and Michigan look dismal.

Authorities in Iowa will give an update on the hunt for a college student. The woman went for a run on July 18 in Brooklyn, Iowa. Her disappearance has gained national attention as investigators check data from her Fitbit and social media accounts.

A Michigan man was bitten by his pet cobra two weeks ago and is still in the hospital. Doctors struggled to find the correct anti-venom. The man is on the road to recovery. 

Charlie-Cahoon-Milan-DFP-Brobb Brad Robb
North Carolina State University’s Dr. Charlie Cahoon talked about the latest in resistant management at the 2018 Milan No-Till Field Day in Milan, Tenn.

Escaped pigweed could be the lottery winner

The 30th annual Milan No-Till Field Day was the perfect place for Charlie Cahoon to talk about herbicide resistance — despite his being over 600 miles from home. Cahoon knows that widespread adoption of no-till was facilitated in large part by the introduction of herbicides coupled with herbicide-resistant traits like Roundup Ready.

They also proliferated the conservation of soil and water. “If we want to preserve no-till, we must do everything we can to get a handle on herbicide resistance,” says Cahoon, assistant professor and Extension weed specialist: corn and cotton, North Carolina State University. “If we can’t control weeds with herbicides or other tactics, we’ll have to revert back to tillage to control weeds and we will lose the benefits of no-till.”

Cahoon used the odds of winning the lottery (1 in 292 million) to illustrate the initial frequency of a herbicide-resistant weed within a population.

“You may think, like your odds of winning the lottery, your odds of having that herbicide-resistant weed are low; however, one surviving female pigweed per-acre producing 450,000 seeds per-plant with a 5 percent germination rate the following year across a 1,000-acre farm, can mean you would have to deal with 22.5 million plants,” says Cahoon. “My father-in-law says I’ll never win the lottery because I’m too cheap to buy a $2 lottery ticket, but if this scenario comes to fruition on your farm, you essentially just bought $22.5 million in lottery tickets. Your odds at hitting the herbicide-resistant lottery are better than you think.”

Development of Resistance

How can you tell resistance is developing? Cahoon says there are at least four ways:

  • When performance or control is poor on one species while another species is being controlled
  • When the product that once controlled the weed is no longer providing control
  • When, at least initially, poor control is confined to spots in the field
  • (This is the big one.) When you have weeds in the field in close proximity that were similar in size when they were sprayed, and a few of them were controlled and the others were not

In a research project under the direction of Dr. Jason Norsworthy at the University of Arkansas, scientists selected for resistance in a greenhouse by cutting dicamba rates on pigweed. “They wanted to see how fast resistance could occur,” says Cahoon.

“After using sub-lethal rates on two generations, the third generation was resistant to the full rate of dicamba,” says Cahoon. “That proves Mother Nature will win. Dicamba resistance can and will occur, especially if we abuse the technology.”

See also: No-till milestone celebrated at Milan Field Day

Farmers have no control over the genetic mutation that occurs naturally in weed species populations, but they do have control over the “selection” pressure, which is the application of a specific herbicide or herbicides with the same mode of action. For herbicide resistance to occur, a resistant plant must be present in the population, and selection pressure must be placed on that plant. “How long that will take to occur depends on several factors,” adds Cahoon.

How effective is the herbicide? If it is a residual herbicide, how long will it remain in the soil? “The frequency of resistance comes into play. It might not be 1 in 200 million. It might be 1 in a million, which increases the odds of resistance development,” says Cahoon. “Biological factors of the weed also come into play. Palmer amaranth has a lot of genetic diversity and is a prolific seed producer which increases the chances of resistance.”

Integrated Weed Management

The weed science discipline is moving toward a systems approach to weed control. From reducing the intensity of herbicide use (especially those with the same modes of action), to combining chemical control with cultural and mechanical tactics, these options will reduce the chances for resistance development.

“I encourage all growers to maximize crop competition by increasing seed density or changing row spacings to get that canopy closed quickly,” explains Cahoon.

Rotating crops will allow the use of other herbicide portfolios and allow producers to rotate modes of action. Cahoon knows a healthier crop is more able to compete against weeds. Place fertilizers where the crop can benefit from it and not the weeds.

“I know we’re at a no-till field day, but mechanical control could play a vital role if needed,” adds Cahoon.

Many times, weed seeds mature when the crop matures and during harvest they are slung out the back of a combine. Cahoon talked about a relatively new machine, The Integrated Harrington Seed Destructor (iHSD), ( designed by an Australian wheat farmer. It provides harvest-time weed control by grinding weed seeds into a fine powder, preventing germination the next season.

The iHSD is attached to the back of a combine and takes in the chaff stream. “It’s actually a cage mill that crushes weed seeds on-the-go while harvesting,” says Cahoon. “Eventually, these machines will be offered as an integrated unit within the combine.”

Diversity, Reducing and Mixing

“Rotating modes of action and reducing the overall dependence on herbicides is where we can make up the most ground when battling resistance. Always consider diversity in your mode of action choices.

“Rotating crops is great, but you’re not accomplishing anything if you use the same herbicides on corn or beans that you’re using on cotton,” emphasizes Cahoon. “If you rotate to corn from cotton where you used Liberty, use atrazine or HPP inhibitors.”

It is also important to use tank mix partners with overlapping spectrums of control. “If you have Roundup-resistant pigweed in your soybeans and you’re spraying Roundup and dicamba, then you’re relying solely on dicamba to control those resistant weeds,” says Cahoon. “However, if we put out dicamba plus a PPO herbicide (and if PPOs still work on your pigweed), now you’ll have two products in the tank that effectively control Palmer pigweed. That drives our chances of resistance-development way down.”

Cahoon reminds producers to use full rates when spraying small weeds. Using a full-rate on a big weed is the same thing as using a cut-rate on a small weed. “Remember, that’s how they selected for dicamba resistance in that University of Arkansas study,” says Cahoon. “If we abuse it, we will lose it!”

Start clean, stay clean was the take home message Cahoon stressed. Start with a preplant burndown, a post-emergence, plus a residual. A post-emergence at or around planting with a residual again is advised.

“I always get asked, ‘Why do I need a residual at burndown and at planting?’ If it turns off dry after planting and my pre-emergence herbicide applied behind the planter isn’t activated, I’ve got that residual I applied at burndown to carry me a few weeks into the growing season,” says Cahoon. “It’s like hedging when you market your crop.”

Always be willing to pull up a pigweed no matter how far it is out in the field. “If it’s late in the day, you’re tired and you just want to go home, just remember, that pigweed could be the lottery winner,” concludes Cahoon.

Max Armstrong's Daily Updates

Farm Progress America, July 31, 2018

Max Armstrong shares that consumers want more information on the chicken they buy and eat. They want that label on the package. Max notes that the red meat industry has been dealing with the issue for some time. A poultry industry survey shows a growing need for that information.

Farm Progress America is a daily look at key issues in agriculture. It is produced and presented by Max Armstrong, veteran farm broadcaster and host of This Week in Agribusiness.

Photo: VLG/iStock/Getty Images Plus