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Corn+Soybean Digest

Roundup Ready Corn: New Kid On The Block

Roundup Ready Corn, introduced exclusively last spring by Dekalb, is being watched more closely than the late-night visitors list at the White House.

Several other companies will offer Roundup Ready corn for 1999.

"Between 800,000 and 900,000 acres were planted this year," reports Dekalb's Vernon Benes.

Farmers and weed scientists alike are indicating favorable initial results.

"On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd give the Roundup Ready corn a 10 for both weed control and crop tolerance," says Jeff Ward, Mankato, MN. "It looked fabulous."

Ward planted 250 acres of it, primarily in fields with patches of tough-to-kill perennial weeds. He applied a half-rate of Harness pre-emergence, followed by 16 or 24 oz of Roundup Ultra when corn was 12" tall. Because growing conditions were favorable and he plants in 20" rows, he had a good early canopy.

"We got complete weed control at both rates of Roundup," Ward reports. "Results could be different another year, but this year looks great."

Dekalb's Benes claims research has shown that Roundup Ready corn is tolerant to Roundup even at twice the labeled rate. He also points out that, statistically, those hybrids and the same hybrids without the Roundup Ready gene have had the same yields in research trials.

Wayne Stevenson, professional farm manager with Farmcraft Service, Oxford, IN, planted Roundup Ready corn on a new farm with heavy weed pressure. Like Ward, he applied Harness pre-emergence to get early and residual activity.

"The Harness controlled grasses and most broadleaf weeds well enough that we were able to wait until the latest possible time for applying Roundup Ultra and therefore get more of the late-germinating weeds," Stevenson notes.

In the future, he hopes to combine another product with Roundup Ultra to pick up weeds on which it's not very strong, such as velvetleaf, morningglories and yellow nutsedge.

Southern Illinois University weed scientist George Kapusta has been evaluating Roundup Ready corn for three years.

"Although Monsanto's own application tips suggest that Roundup Ready corn doesn't have the tolerance of its soybean counterpart, we have not seen a tolerance problem," he says.

Grasses are more susceptible to Roundup than are broadleaf weeds, according to Kapusta.

"Until now, we have had only two good postemergence herbicides that control grass in corn and each costs $15 to $20 per acre," he points out. "Roundup costs $10 or less and also gets many broadleaf weeds the others don't."

There has been concern about volunteer Roundup Ready corn in the following year's soybean crop. But Monsanto's Norm Probst says that shouldn't be a problem.

"There are effective herbicides that can control volunteer corn in soybeans," he says.

Weed control options for Roundup Ready corn likely will be expanded for '99, says Probst.

"Hopefully, we will have approval for three choices."

The first option would be a pre-emergence herbicide followed by Roundup for weed escapes. The second would be Roundup plus a product with residual activity, applied when weeds are 4" tall. The third, pending EPA approval, would be a sequential program with Roundup only.

Corn+Soybean Digest

New Research Shows: Soybeans Pack Powerful Health Punch

Saving the world isn't just for superheros anymore - now soybean growers have their shot at it.

What's their weapon? Soy-based vitamin E, a dietary supplement that can:

* Reduce the risk of heart disease, lowering chances of a heart attack by as much as 75%.

* Lessen the likelihood of developing prostate cancer by 30% - and chances of dying from it by 40%.

* Significantly cut menopausal symptoms without the use of hormones.

* Aid in the control of diabetes and its complications.

* Improve immune systems, particularly in people over age 65 - boosting antibodies by 65%.

* Lower chances of developing cataracts.

* Decrease the risk of colon cancer by 75%.

* Protect against the development of Parkinson's disease.

* Slow some Alzheimer's deterioration by 25%.

These are findings of numerous studies around the world - from the Mayo Clinic, National Cancer Institute, Harvard University and many others.

"We are enormously excited to discover that vitamin E really is as beneficial as we had all hoped," confirms Morris Brown, leader of the University of Cambridge antioxidant study.

Vitamin E is found naturally in vegetables, nuts, some fish - and soybeans.

Companies like ADM are extracting oil from soybeans and using it as a natural source of this powerful antioxidant.

It takes the oil portion of 1.5 billion bushels of soybeans to meet the production capacity of ADM's vitamin E plant.

Natural-source vitamin E is 36% more potent than its synthetic counterpart, say experts.

The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin E is 12 international units (IU) for women or 15 IU for men and pregnant or nursing women.

Health professionals generally agree that you get plenty of vitamins within a balanced diet. And, while most people do get enough vitamin E through foods to fulfill the RDA, that may not be enough.

"Vitamin E is a different story," advises Clare Hasler, executive director of the University of Illinois' Functional Foods for Health Program. "The amount that has been shown to be protective against heart disease is much higher than can be achieved by food."

Most researchers used doses of 50 IU or more to achieve their results. Trying to consume those levels through food alone would provide a diet too high in fats.

Supplements of 100-400 IU are commonly recommended. Before taking higher doses, consult your physician.

Corn+Soybean Digest

New Coalition Launches All-Out Assault On SCN

A ground-breaking partnership of state soybean checkoff boards and land grant universities from 10 North Central states has formed the Soybean Cyst Nematode (SCN) Coalition.

The coalition's goal: to get soybean growers to test for SCN, and if they find they have it, take the necessary steps to manage the problem - which ranks No. 1 as a profit stealer.

The coalition's slogan, which you will hear and see a lot in the next year is, "Take the test. Beat the pest."

The massive coalition effort is being largely underwritten by the North Central Soybean Research Program. That's an alliance created by 10 state soybean checkoff boards.

Cooperating states include: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

In addition to grower checkoff funds, the coalition is getting financial backing from several seed companies and ag cooperatives.

Industry partners, besides the American Soybean Association and the United Soybean Board, include Asgrow Seed Co., Cargill Hybrid Seeds, Cenex/Land O'Lakes, Dekalb Genetics, Growmark/Countrymark, Mycogen Seeds, Novartis Seeds and Pioneer Hi-Bred International.

Besides extension and research scientists at each of the North Central land grant universities, representatives from seed companies, farm cooperatives, crop consulting firms and ag media will be involved in executing the regional umbrella program.

SCN has spread so that it has now been identified in virtually every state where soybeans are grown. It has also been written about and talked about in educational efforts.

So why is such a special, all-out effort needed now?

The answer is simple, says Bryan Hieser, an Illinois soybean grower and chairman of the North Central Soybean Research Program: It's volume.

"We feel the urgency of our message wasn't reaching the grower," he declares. "By enlisting partners from state soybean boards and private industry, we could reach more growers and have greater impact with our key messages of testing soils for SCN and using the management tools available to prevent further damage, if you have the problem."

There's another reason - and it's a very key one, notes Greg Tylka, Iowa State University nematologist and coalition leader for the scientists cooperating in this regional effort.

"This whole idea of having significant yield loss without seeing any above-ground symptoms," he emphasizes, "is a concept that obviously hasn't been getting through to growers and needs to be pushed."

Now it will be. So, the next move is up to soybean growers.

Corn+Soybean Digest

John Deere Unveils Next Generation Of No-Till Drills

John Deere's highly popular 750 No-Till Drill has been retired in favor of its new 1560 No-Till Drill. Also, a new 1860 No-Till Air Drill is replacing its 1850 model.

Besides new looks and capacities, these new drills boast a flock of new improvements, according to Deere officials.

For starters, the new models feature enhanced depth gauging, no-tools-required opener adjustment and all-till capability.

One of the most noteworthy features on both new models, say Deere engineers, is the new opener. Designed and manufactured by John Deere, it has more precise depth gauging, with 13 depth settings in 1/4" increments. That compares with 7/16" increments on the previous opener.

The new design also provides 2" of vertical float before "active" hydraulic down-pressure and opener spring force are applied. This enables the opener to follow rolling terrain and run in mellow soil conditions without applying excessive down force.

Opener down-pressure can be adjusted from a minimum of 165 lbs up to 450 lbs (depending on the model). The result is accurate depth control in any seedbed conditions.

A choice of either steel or smooth-sided gauge wheels is available to match soil conditions.

Seed flow to the furrow is enhanced by a 25% larger steel seed tube inserted into the seed boot. A new two-piece seed boot with replaceable bottom portion helps cut maintenance time and cost.

The opener hub also features a sealed double-row ball bearing design that reduces maintenance. Adjusting the new opener for peak performance has never been easier, note the engineers.

In addition to the new opener, the plain-grain version of the 1560 model has a new look and capacity, the result of a new box shape. It also fills and empties more easily.

The 1560 model comes in 10, 15 and 20' working widths, and 7 or 10" row spacing.

The 1860 no-till model combines the advantages of the new no-till opener with a 30, 36 or 42 1/2' working width for seeding a lot of acres in all types of conditions, quickly.

Ample clearance enables the units to handle a wide range of no-till residue.

With convenient fold-and-go design, the 30 and 36' models transport at 14',4" the largest model at 18',4".

Corn+Soybean Digest

Biotechnology Battle Continues In Europe

Two steps forward and three steps back. At times, that seems to describe the progress that the U.S. is making in winning Europeans' acceptance of genetically modified crops.

With genetically modified crops growing on nearly 40% of this year's cotton acreage, over one-third of all soybean acreage and about 20% of the corn acreage, it's no wonder that government agencies, commodity organizations and chemical companies are waging a diligent campaign for full acceptance of transgenic crops abroad.

"The more information we can give people about biotechnology, the more familiar they become with it and the less resistance there is," says Jim Hershey, the American Soybean Association's (ASA) director for Europe, CIS, the Middle East and Africa.

After Roundup Ready soybeans got European Union approval, ASA launched an educational campaign at food and feed manufacturers and processors in Germany.

The crux of the program was to give positive, accurate information to leery consumers to alleviate their concerns, explains Hershey.

"Most people in the government and the industry will tell you now there's movement - albeit slow - toward the acceptance of biotechnology in Germany," he says.

While progress is being made, misinformation about biotechnology still abounds. For example, a June 1998 Greenpeace news release stated: "Plants engineered for herbicide tolerance, such as Monsanto's Roundup Ready crops, could spread their genes to weedy relatives, creating uncontrollable super weeds. Crops that produce their own insecticides can similarly lead to super bugs whose tolerance demands massive use of toxic pesticides."

A recent survey of 950 Britons by Market & Opinion Research International, a London polling firm, found that 58% oppose the introduction of genetically modified food, up from 51% in a 1996 survey.

ASA, in cooperation with USDA and the Foreign Agricultural Service, has turned its attention to quelling the concerns about transgenic crops in Great Britain.

"We take hope in the example of Germany," says Hershey. "If you keep funneling information into the market, hopefully the curve will start to shift. We have science and truth on our side."

Monsanto is spending about $5 million this summer on ads in British and French newspapers to promote dialogue and the benefits of transgenic crops, reports the Wall Street Journal. The ads tout such potential benefits as higher-yielding crops to feed the world's swelling population and naturally colored cotton to eliminate harmful dyes.

The European Commission (EC) recently passed a law requiring that all food products be labeled if they may contain transgenic crops.

"It's unfortunate and, in our opinion, it's not right. But they've done it and we have to live with it," says Hershey.

As most transgenic and traditional crops are not segregated at the farm, not all food products with soy- or corn-based ingredients contain transgenic plant material. Regardless, they must be labeled, explains Karen Marshall, Monsanto's director of public relations.

Questions remain as to how the EC-mandated label is going to be worded.

"The really important thing is that the labels are not misleading and that they don't insinuate that one type of product - genetically modified vs. non-modified - is better than the other," stresses Marshall.

In the Netherlands, labeling has been required on a countrywide level for over a year on all products containing ingredients with Roundup Ready soybeans.

"Our market research shows that the labels have no effect on sales," she says.

Corn+Soybean Digest

Companies Head Off Biotech-Seed Pirates

Biotech seeds are drawing more attention, and not just from growers. Seed companies have stepped up efforts to enforce various "no-saved-seed restrictions" in soybeans and cotton.

"We've given the program a high profile in the media," asserts Monsanto spokesperson Karen Marshall. "We're trying to make it so obvious that, even if a grower did not sign an agreement at the time he purchased one of our patented varieties, he would know that replanting that seed would be illegal. Our goal is to keep it from happening."

Marshall says the company estimates the incidence of brown bagging, or pirating, of genetically altered seed has been very small to date.

Murray Robinson, president of Delta & Pine Land Co., Scott, MS, says that cotton seed historically has not been pirated as broadly as soybeans, "with the exception of the High Plains region. It's more of a habit in some areas. We've done some messaging to warn producers about the risk-reward ratio.

"Seed input is a relatively small percentage of expense compared to the value of the crop," says Robinson. "The farmer who buys it from the mom-and-pop delinter is taking a real risk. He never knows if what he is getting is the real thing. And if he kills his crop, there's no professional seed company to stand behind it."

Mark Schmidt, soybean product manager at Novartis Seeds, Golden Valley, MN, says saved seed is an issue, and farmers need to consider the cost of saving seed (cleaning, storage, etc.).

"I'm sure some producers may be considering it, but better growers want the quality backing of a reputable seed company - higher germination standards and improved yields," Schmidt comments.

Monsanto has been the most aggressive in thwarting seed pirates. The company prefers not to prosecute, and tries to negotiate cash settlements and legal fees that can run upwards of $500 an acre. Pirates can also be subjected to on-farm and business inspections.

Those who get caught are usually turned in by a neighbor concerned about unfair competition, though seed dealers and even seed conditioners are getting into the act. Some companies have even hired private investigators when seed and money have changed hands, though Marshall says, "We would only use an investigator to check out appropriately strong reports."

Corn+Soybean Digest

Brazil's Bean Acreage May Drop

Each year, every year, the first order of business for a Brazilian corn and soybean grower is to line up financing. (That's just one similarity many U.S. producers share with their South American counterparts.)

In Brazil, however, a vast majority of the financing comes from the Brazilian government. In recent years, the country's fragile economic and political situation made it difficult for corn growers to bank on getting the government loans in time to maximize production potential by maximizing inputs.

That's not the case for the 1998-99 crop.

The reason isn't a sudden change in attitude toward growers or a new push to increase corn production. The reason is much more simple than economic - it's political.

The Brazilian presidential elections will be held in October, and the man currently holding the office has attempted to lock in the farm vote early. It's a tight race between the incumbent and a populist labor leader. Making farm funding available early was the current government's way of convincing the ag sector that it's committed to agricultural improvement.

By early July, the Brazilian government had announced R$11 billion reals (Brazilian currency) will be made available for Brazilian agriculture for the 1998-99 growing season. That's a 35% increase over the R$8 billion made available for the 1997-98 season. An increase in funding was fully expected, but this substantial increase surprised market-watchers.

Most importantly, R$10 billion of the funding is already available. The early availability could change growers' cropping decisions - and change them significantly.

Despite a thriving and growing beef industry in Brazil, corn production has fallen out of favor ever since the Japanese first financed soybean production in the country back in the '70s. The lack of advancement in corn production and expanding domestic consumption turned Brazil into a corn-import-dependent country. But the domestic Brazilian corn market is now providing price incentive to producers to up their corn acreage.

Corn acres in Brazil were expected to increase between 8% and 12% for the 1998-99 growing season. About half those acres were expected to be "stolen" from soybean production. But the early availability of the funds may make the corn acreage increase even bigger.

Here's why: In the past, intergovernmental bickering delayed the funding until September or even October - past the optimum planting time for corn. The delayed funding made it impossible for growers to put the resources into corn production needed to shoot for big yields.

As a result, corn yields have barely reached yields seen in soybean fields and soybeans have taken over the Brazilian countryside over the last few years. For the 1998-99 crop season, Brazilian producers have the ability and the incentive to change the trend.

The availability of operating funds isn't the only factor that may make 1998-99 the year for Brazilian growers to switch to corn. As mentioned earlier, Brazil's domestic corn demand is growing annually - and with increased demand comes higher prices. If growers see an opportunity to make a bigger buck from corn production, they'll switch from soybeans in a heartbeat.

The overriding issue that determines soybean area is the U.S. price of soybeans during August and September. That's when Brazilian producers are making purchases for the October-through-December planting season. If U.S. soybean futures fall to the $5.50 area around September, planted soybean acres in Brazil could be down as much as 10%. If soybean futures hold above $6, Brazilian bean acreage will be steady to down 5% from 1997-98 levels.

And, finally, don't forget about the weather. By July, La Nina was getting a foothold in the Pacific, threatening to bring less-than-ideal growing conditions to South America. With production risk at higher-than-normal levels, many Brazilian growers may look to cut their risk by growing a crop with lower input costs - corn.

Bottom line: Don't believe all the talk you'll hear this fall about expanding soybean acres in Brazil. In fact, odds now favor at least a slight reduction in bean acres, tightening global supplies and potentially lifting the global bean price floor.

Corn+Soybean Digest

Corn Rootworms Die For Watermelon

Corn rootworms will gorge on juice from bitter watermelon. Now USDA-ARS scientists are taking advantage of that fact.

They identified the melon ingredient that rootworms desire and developed a process to extract it along with the juice. Then they combined it with a dye that's deadly for rootworms but safe for people and animals.

The lethal dye is D&C Red Dye No. 28, which is approved by FDA for use in drugs and cosmetics.

In field tests, the watermelon-dye combination had killed 85% of adult rootworms three days after application compared with 65 and 70% for two other pesticide-bait combinations.

Corn rootworms cost U.S. farmers an estimated $1 billion annually in lost crops and control measures.

The researchers were looking for an environmentally safe control that would also keep rootworms from developing insecticide resistance.

ARS entomologist Robert Schroder and colleagues have applied for a patent on their formulation.

Corn+Soybean Digest

Marketing Patterns Have Changed

At a recent seminar in eastern Illinois, a producer commented that a lot of the old marketing rules don't seem to work anymore and asked what growers need to do differently.

This question comes up frequently, especially from those who stored too much '97 crop into this summer, then watched new-crop corn and bean bids drop close to loan levels in the western Corn Belt.

I called several friends who have traded grain for over 20 years and put together this list of important factors that have changed grain price patterns. I also have a list of suggestions on how you need to change your marketing plans to adapt to this new marketing era.

The first factor that has changed is market information. Farmers and global grain buyers have taken advantage of the information that is now readily available.

Think back to 20 years ago when growers received much of their market news by listening to farm radio reports or stopping in at the local elevator. Most grain elevators had a clerk who did nothing but answer the phone and tell customers where the grain market was trading. No one used a fax machine or email and the Internet was unheard of. Market-quote machines were expensive and only available in some areas.

Today, 90% of our customers have DTN or Farm Data machines and a growing number have Internet access. Growers are very aware of weather in South America and economic changes in Southeast Asia. Farmers have jumped into the information age. The old evolving bull market that would lead prices higher over three to five weeks now evolves in three to five days.

The second factor is commodity fund trading. Twenty years ago, three groups usually were trading in the grain futures markets: commercial grain companies, locals who traded in the pits, and small retail speculators. Commodity funds were just beginning to put together money to trade.

Commercial grain companies then and now tend to be value traders. By that I mean, on most days, these companies are scale-down buyers, scale-up sellers. This tends to lead to more orderly markets as large buy orders help hold prices together on the down days and large sell orders above the market limit gains when futures rally.

Commodity funds are momentum traders. They buy on strength and sell on weakness. As the amount of money in commodity funds has increased, so has the short-term trade volatility. Short-term trading patterns used to average 10 to 12 days low-to-low. Now the average is 6 to 8 days. It seems like the rally has just started and it's over!

The third factor is the evolution of the global marketplace. With the GATT and NAFTA agreements in place and more global free-trade proposals likely soon, grain prices will be influenced by events all over the world. The slowdown in Asian demand and large crops in China were global fundamentals that lowered prices at your local elevator this year. World supply-demand fundamentals are as important to know as the U.S. figures.

Here are three changes that I believe you should consider in this new marketing environment: First, make more sales to spread out your risk. In the late '70s, I usually recommended that growers make four sales. I now recommend 10 sales of 10% each. By making more scale-up sales of a smaller percentage, you'll usually end up with a better average price.

The second change is to use the merchandising tools that are available.

Most growers usually start with forward contracts on 20-40% of their production. The next sales of 20-30% usually should be made with futures hedges or hedge-to-arrive contracts. The latter are a great marketing tool as long as you hedge a reasonable percentage and place the hedge into the proper month.

The last change is the use of put options. These will give you the downside risk protection you need without making a delivery commitment.

By using these three tools you can get price protection on 80-100% of your crop, yet still have a lot of flexibility.

Corn+Soybean Digest

Asian Slump To Last At Least Two Years

Don't look for significant improvements in the seriously eroded Pacific Rim corn and soybean market anytime soon.

Fact is, it will take at least six months for the least-affected countries to stabilize their economies, and probably a lot longer for the most depressed countries.

A few experts believe conditions may get worse before they get better in some countries.

The upshot is, unless a major weather problem hits China, it will be at least two years and possibly as many as five years before we see grain imports in the Pacific Rim anywhere near what they've been the past two years.

And, with increasing competition in oilseed and feed-grain production around the world, affected countries may not return to the U.S. for the volume of corn and soybeans they previously bought.

Bob Wisner, an Iowa State University extension ag economist, points out that U.S. exports and outstanding unshipped sales from Sept. 1, 1997, through March 26, 1998, were down 24% from what he calls "disappointing exports" the previous year.

Because roughly half of U.S. ag exports (including corn, wheat, soybeans, beef and pork) end up in the Pacific Rim, Mark Holder, a Chicago Board of Trade economist, expects weak demand there to weigh down U.S. commodity prices for some time.

For example, Korean imports of U.S. corn are down more than two-thirds from the previous year's level, says Susan Keith, senior director of public policy for the National Corn Growers Association.

"In 1997, Korea was our third- largest corn customer and in 1996 it was our second-largest customer," says Keith. "It's been a serious loss for us."

The Asian economic downturn also affected Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Burma, and to a lesser extent, Taiwan and Japan. China, too, appears to be rethinking corn use plans within the country and may become a bigger exporter than had been expected earlier.

After a trip to Japan, where he visited grain users and importers, Wisner believes that exporting to the Pacific Rim region could get tougher. One reason: Livestock and poultry cutbacks in nearly all Asian countries will free up some grain and vegetable oils for export. Increased imports from South America and Europe are another factor.

"A major Japanese corn buyer said his firm has purchased corn from Hungary and Romania for the first time and that the quality was excellent and the price was below that of corn purchased from the U.S.," Wisner reports.

The buyer also told Wisner that new-crop Argentine corn is less expensive than U.S. corn, and he has been bringing in barley and rye from Canada for feed.

Darrel Good, extension economist at the University of Illinois, says U.S. export credits have helped in moving some corn to South Korea.

The latest numbers show corn sales to the Pacific Rim are 7 million tons (11%) below 1997 levels. In dollars, that's $1.2 billion.

Most experts agree that corn prices will be hit hardest by the Asian situation. Good says a big U.S. crop this year will add more downward pressure.

"Troublesome weather this summer could reverse sliding corn prices, but that could cause different problems for corn producers," he comments.

The demand picture isn't quite as bearish for soybeans as for soybean meal and corn, due to the relatively strong worldwide demand for vegetable oils, including soybean oil.

With increased supplies available from South America, though, soybean prices currently are down about 30% from last year's highs of over $9/bu, and meal prices are already down 45%. Just since last summer, soybean oil has advanced from near 28% of the combined value of soybean oil and meal to over 45%.

It could easily exceed 50% of the total product value in the next 6-12 months, predicts David Keefe, a vice president at Prudential Securities Inc., Chicago.

"It's unusual that oil is responsible for such a large share of the combined product value," says Keefe.

Indonesia is partly responsible for this increased demand for soybean oil. Its national currency fell heavily (70-80%) against the U.S. dollar in the initial months of the economic crisis. With the high worldwide demand for vegetable oils, there was incentive to export palm oil to earn U.S. dollars, which were needed to pay off some of the country's dollar-denominated loans.

The high volume of palm oil going into the export market drove up domestic prices. On top of that, it was feared that an El Nino-induced drought in Indonesia would result in domestic oil shortages and even higher prices.

In response to both these pressures, the Indonesian government banned further palm oil exports.

Malaysia, the largest palm oil producer in the area, saw its 1997-98 oil production cut about 6% by drought. While this has helped strengthen soybean oil prices, it now appears Malaysian and Indonesian production has recovered and experts expect ample supplies and more stable prices for this year.

Assuming supplies materialize, the Indonesian ban on palm oil exports will be lifted soon.

For just 1998, it appears that the Asian crisis, when totaled up, will cost U.S. crop and livestock producers, processors and exporters about $2.1 billion.

While it will take time for exports to Pacific Rim countries to come back, Wisner says long-term prospects are quite positive.

"Severely depressed exchange rates will make industrial products from several countries in the region very competitive in western Europe and the U.S.," he says. "This should help the Asian economy work out of its current problems."

Wisner and others believe Asia's developing economies still represent a growth market for U.S. ag exports.