The Buzz: wheat woes in Argentina; a nuclear approach to GM crops and Cheyenne County land.

There’s no doubt that the U.S. has plenty of competition when it comes to growing wheat: Australia, Canada, the former Soviet Union all grows prolific quantities of the world’s most consumed cereal grain. The thought that “Anyone can grow wheat”  has always been the bugaboo about wheat production – and one reason why it is such a competitive global market.

  • But we’ve also seen what can happen when politics intervene. Two years ago, Russian president Vladimir Putin embargoed wheat exports, thus wreaking havoc on the world wheat market and pushing prices higher. This year, Argentina farmers are considering drastic reductions in wheat plantings due to government meddling in wheat export quantities and destinations, according to Alistair Stewart’s column in DTN/Progressive Farmer
  • Argentina is the world’s sixth largest wheat producer, and exports most of its production to Brazil…
  • About half this nation’s annual wheat harvest is exported. Thus, a joint venture between the largest farm cooperatives in the U.S. and Japan could have a positive impact on wheat farmers here. Minnesota-based CHS owns 51% of a new deal with Japan’s Zen-Noh, the cooperatives said this week. The joint venture, called CZL, will supply to Japan, wheat and barley grown in the U.S., Canada and Australia…
  • The benefit comes from greater access to the growing Japan market by the U.S.; meanwhile, Japan gets a greater foothold into the U.S./Canada grain market which, by the way, is undergoing a tremendous amount of consolidation right now. This Reuters story has more…
  • When it comes to a realistic look at the future of crop production, The Economist is about as objective of any of the major news media, in so much that it recognizes genetic modification is necessary to feed a growing and hungry world. A brief in this week’s edition paints a fascinating picture about the use of nuclear physics to advance crop breeding. A scientist in Japan is using genetic modification to breed salt tolerance into Japanese rice strains…only she is using heavy-duty ‘particle acceleration’…
  • The Economist article correctly points out that, “…those who turn their noses up at ‘genetically modified’ food seldom seem to consider all crops are genetically modified…”
  • Last year, seven grain elevator employees perished in on-the-job accidents. Hutch News reporter Amy Bickel writes that grain handling is a dangerous business, but some Kansas elevators are taking precautions above and beyond OSHA requirements to ensure a safe workplace…
  • The KFSA, a Hutchinson-based company, has enrolled more than 60 grain elevator companies in advanced safety training…
  • Harvest is coming up quickly (we’re betting it will begin in earnest on May 25). If you’re curious what your wheat yield may be, use this yield formula, developed by Kansas Ag Statistics. It’s the same one used on the Wheat Quality Tour last week:
  1. Enter the field past the turn rows.
  2. Use a yard stick and count the number of heads per foot. Get at least 3 counts in random spots and average the number.
  3. Grab 3 heads randomly, some small, some big.
  4. Count the number of spikelets in each head and average.
  5. Count the number of kernels in each spikelet.  Usually 2-3. We used 2.3 in the formula in most cases.
  6. Enter your numbers in the yield formula below.

(Heads/Foot X number of spikelets X Kernels per spikelet.)  Divide that number by row width in inches. Multiply that number X 0.48. That equals the predicted yield.

  • Remember a few weeks ago when we talked about the “Wheat Harvest Movie?” Well, the creative staff behind that project have come up with a new name: Great American Harvest. They are already working on collecting footage of the 2012 harvest, and promotion of the project…
  • In this week’s Land Sale, we highlight 160 acres of top-quality land about four miles northeast of Bird City in Cheyenne County. The tract is all dryland, and had just come out of the Conservation Reserve Program. It had been worked and could have been ready for planting this spring; definitely by fall. Buyer gets one-half of the mineral rights. The tract is level, and considered to be very good land. It sold for $488,000 ($3,050 per acre)…
  • Folks at Shay Realty, St. Francis, said the seller was quite pleased at the result, which may have been a new high for dryland farmground in Cheyenne County. Land doesn’t change hands too often in that area, the auctioneers say.
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