Hot Commodities

Corn Crop

There was something profoundly different about the 2007 Commodity Classic show. For the first time since the start of the 21st century, low commodity prices were not a major point of discussion at the event among the more than 4,000 attendees. With corn, soybeans, and wheat all enjoying healthy bumps in per-bushel prices since the beginning of the year, talk at the Tampa Convention Center instead turned to other key issues, many of which will undoubtedly shape the marketplace for retailers and their grower-customers throughout the balance of the year.

In this special on-the-scene report, CropLife® looks at the top areas of interest from this year’s Commodity Classic.

•  More Corn, Of Course

Perhaps the biggest buzz at the 2007 Commodity Classic centered on the unprecedented demand for corn. Depending upon whose projections you believe, there will be somewhere between 6 million and 12 million more corn acres planted in 2007 than in 2006. In addition, many researchers foresee many grower-customers embracing a continuous corn planting model from this point forward to take advantage of higher corn prices instead of relying on the traditional corn-soybean-corn rotation.

Not surprisingly, a number of Commodity Classic exhibitors took this news of predicted corn acres to heart. As result, several companies promoted the ability of their particular crop input to help boost corn yields. According to Dan Froehlich, U.S. agronomy manager for The Mosaic Co., there are six fertility implications that producers should consider and factor into their management plans when working with a continuous corn model. These include performing soil tests to accurately determine the soil’s needs, increasing nitrogen (N) applications by 30 to 50 pounds per acre since corn residues tie up more N than soybeans, using more starter fertilizers, adding micronutrients such as sulfur and zinc to the mix, tracking N application timing, and applying more phosphorous (P) and potassium (K).

“If that soybean crop is now to be corn, it’s quite likely that there simply won’t be enough nutrients for the corn crop,” said Froehlich.

In a similar vein, EMD Crop BioScience touted the ability of its Optimize LCO Promoter Technology to help increase corn yield in fields that had previously grown soybeans. According to the company, four replicated trials conducted by an independent researcher found a 4.9-bushel per acre increase in corn yield when it was rotated from a soybean field previously treated with Optimize.

Since one of the factors in rising corn prices ties to the growth of the ethanol business, a few companies were busy working on corn hybrids specifically targeting this market. At Monsanto Co., the company is introducing Processor Preferred High Fermentable Corn (HFC) products in more than 90 of its seed offerings. According to Troy Hobbs, corn biofuels strategy lead for Monsanto, Processor Preferred HFC seeds can provide 2% to 4% more ethanol per bushel compared with average seed.

Not to be outdone, Syngenta Seeds is working on a variety of corn hybrid that incorporates an alpha amylase enzyme into high yield seed traits, elevating the crop’s ethanol production capacity above that for regular corn. According to the company, this hybrid should be available in time for the 2008 growing season.

•  Remembering Soybeans

Although corn received the lion’s share of discussion, soybeans weren’t completely ignored. Perhaps most significantly, the United Soybean Board unveiled its Soy 2020 initiative. With the objective to create a vision for the future of U.S. soybeans with an eye toward a global leadership role, Soy 2020 seeks to bring together all companies and growers with a vested interest in soybeans with a common goal — making the U.S. soybean value-chain as a whole successful. Initial sponsors of the plan include Monsanto and John Deere.

“It’s important for everyone to understand that this is an absolutely inclusive vision,” said Eric Niemann, United Soybean Board chairman. “It’s not meant to single out just soybean farmers or just seed companies or just end-users. Everyone will have their role in making this a reality.”

In other soybean news from the Commodity Classic, the quest for healthier foods is apparently catching on. For this reason, Monsanto is expanding the availability of its Vistive low-linolenic soybeans in 2007 to 10 states, including Iowa, Illinois, and parts of Indiana. The trait is offered in 28 different seed varieties from the company.

•  More Proof Of Plant Health

In a special press briefing, BASF provided attendees with more evidence that its corporate Plant Health campaign works. According to Andy Lee, company director of business operations, U.S. crop protection products Andy Lee, on-farm field trials in 2006 found that the use of BASF’s Headline fungicide increased average yields in corn by 12 bushels to 15 bushels per acre and 4 bushels to 8 bushels per acre in soybeans. These kinds of increases are important in a world hungry for biofuels, he added.

“We can no longer afford to wait,” said Lee. “The growing demand for ethanol and biodiesel necessitates an increase in production, and technology is helping make that happen today.”

As an added bonus, BASF research also found that the use of Headline can help protect crops from frost conditions. According to Dr. Gary Fellows, technical marketing manager for corn and soybean fungicides and herbicides at the company, Headline-treated corn at the one-leaf stage (3 inches to 4 inches) had a 70% survival rate after three hours of freezing conditions. This compared with a survival rate of only 45% for untreated corn plants.

•  Expanding Seed Types

For the 2007 growing season, Monsanto is introducing its new YieldGard VT seed variety. The first product in the line is YieldGard VT Triple, which contains the second generation of the YieldGard rootworm trait, the YieldGard corn borer trait, and Roundup Ready 2 technology.

According to Dion McBay, Monsanto’s corn trait marketing manager for YieldGard products, YieldGard VT technology combines the traits into a single DNA-insertion process called Vector-stack transformation. In this way, two or more genes are inserted together, side-by-side, into plant chromosome, which speeds up the development process.

“Because we enhanced the trait integration process for producing stacks, growers can get elite germplasm with better, higher yielding traits six to 12 months faster,” said McBay.

In 2007, Monsanto plans a limited launch of YieldGard VT planting on more than 1 million acres, mostly in the central Corn Belt states of Iowa and Illinois.

•  More Precision Advances On The Way

With the expected increase in acres for corn and wheat, John Deere is borrowing a page from its earlier work with cotton. Utilizing precision agriculture technology, digital mapping, and variable-rate systems, the company is launching its OptiGro System to help optimize yields and improve nitrogen (N) and crop input use in corn and wheat. It can also slow populations of weeds, making control treatment programs more effective, said John Mann, vice president, strategic marketing for John Deere Agri-Services.

“The whole system starts when the grower contacts an authorized reseller such as an ag retailer,” said Mann. “The adviser then helps to set field boundaries and to order special imagery through the Internet.”

Digital photographs from an airplane are then taken of the corn or wheat fields and information is relayed back to the adviser on line. Special software — the OptiGro Zone Maker program — translates the images into management zones with similar plant characteristics, based on reflected light.

“The adviser then checks the zones and scouts the fields to determine crop needs and writes a prescription for each zone,” said Mann. “The digital information can then be captured and shared with an applicator with variable-rate capabilities to apply the product.”

Meanwhile, keeping its eye on automatic steering growth, Trimble displayed its new EZ-Guide 500 system to attendees. The unit features a 7-inch LCD display, data logging functions, and multiple accuracy options. It can be installed on any type of ag equipment, said the company, including sprayers and fertilizer applicators.

•  Basics: Pumped About Their Pipelines

Not so long ago, it seemed like commodity growers would be able to ride the wave of biotech insect and weed protection traits for many years to come. Today, the threat of weed resistance, new insect pressures, and the increasing potential payoff for higher yields in row crops has all the research-based crop protection and seed manufacturers talking about their brightest long-term product development pipelines. From DuPont‘s development of its Optimum GAT (glyphosate- and ALS-tolerant) trait to Monsanto’s pursuit of drought tolerance in corn, there’s a lot of chatter now about longer term development ranging from 24 months out to more than 5 years from all the basics.

While talking pipeline is nothing new for the basics, the discussion is, in our estimation, more than a demonstration to retailers and growers of their long-term commitment to agriculture. It provides evidence why a retailer should choose a given company as a true marketing partner.

•  Summing Up: Nervous Excitement

Going into the event, we had hoped that the Commodity Classic might provide some clarity about the 2007 season. But talking to dozens of people in Tampa only presented more questions. It seemed as if everyone wanted to get on with the season and stop speculating. Practically everyone expects to see corn around $4 at the end of the year, but already there are people lobbing doomsday scenarios. For example, one expert told us that if corn acreage approaches 90 million and the weather is favorable, “corn could crap out at $2.50.”

A horrible thought, to be sure. But then again, no one said agriculture was easy …

Topics:

Leave a Reply

Crop Inputs Stories
Crop InputsPlatform Specialty Products To Acquire Arysta LifeScience
October 20, 2014
Once the acquisition is complete, Platform Specialty Products will combine Arysta LifeScience with previously acquired companies Agriphar and Chemtura Crop Solutions. Read More
MicronutrientsMicronutrients Going Macro
September 9, 2014
Between 2014’s fantastic growing conditions and a heightened awareness on plant nutrition, the major players in micronutrients are gearing up for another big year. Read More
FertilizerFall Fertility 2014: Forecasting Fertilizer Use
September 7, 2014
Great crops this year have tapped the soil, and fall work is definitely called for, but how challenging will that get? Read More
FungicidesSudden Death Syndrome, Brown Stem Rot Reported In Indiana Soybeans
September 3, 2014
Farmers and retailers should be watching for symptoms of these two diseases over the next few weeks as they are best managed through preventative methods. Read More
Top 100 Articles
CropLife 100Wheat Growers, North Central Farmers Elevator Pursue Merger
March 3, 2015
Two CropLife 100 retailers — South Dakota Wheat Growers (ranked No. 11) and North Central Farmers Elevator (No. 19) — have entered into a Letter of Intent to unify the two companies into a newly named cooperative. Read More
Growmark Group
CropLife 100GROWMARK In 2015: Back, To The Future
March 2, 2015
The nation’s third largest ag retail organization is simultaneously moving forward while remembering its past. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Expands Sanders Brand In The South
February 27, 2015
Pinnacle has acquired Hopkins Seed and Chemical in Qulin, MO, which expands the company's Sanders brand to nine Southern states. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Launches New Providence Agriculture Location In Indiana
February 27, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings — ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100 — has established a new retail location in New Castle, IN, which will operate as part of Pinnacle's Providence Agriculture brand. Read More
CropLife 100Cooperative CHS Returns $518 Million To Owners
February 23, 2015
The 2015 cash return to owners is based on CHS net income of $1.1 billion, the company's second highest on record. Read More
corn field
CropLife 100The Andersons’ Humic DG Now Available In Canada
February 13, 2015
The Andersons, Inc. Turf & Specialty Group has announced its Humic DG product is now available to customers in the Canadian turf, agriculture and horticulture markets. Read More
Latest News
CropLife 100Wheat Growers, North Central Farmers Elevator Pursue Me…
March 3, 2015
Two CropLife 100 retailers — South Dakota Wheat Growers (ranked No. 11) and North Central Farmers Elevator (No. 19) — have entered into a Letter of Intent to unify the two companies into a newly named cooperative. Read More
Equipment10 Tips for Spring Planter Preparation
March 3, 2015
Kinze Manufacturing offers advice on how to ensure your planter is ready before you hit the field. Read More
Industry NewsOABA 2015 LAUNCH Program Recognizes 20 New Graduates
March 3, 2015
Twenty Ohio agribusiness leaders are being recognized as the latest graduates of Ohio AgriBusiness Association’s LAUNCH program. Read More
EquipmentNew AGCO Website Helps Customers Shop For Certified Pre…
March 3, 2015
RoGator sprayers are among the wide range of CPO equipment available through AGCO's site. Read More
Enlist spray Demo
HerbicidesGuiding New Herbicide Systems’ Launches
March 3, 2015
Under careful watch, the new 2,4-D- and dicamba-tolerant crops hit more acres this season. Read More
Eric SfiligojCommodity Classic 2015: Playing The Waiting Game
March 2, 2015
There was plenty of future-talk at this year’s event as companies (and growers) are largely in a holding pattern of sorts. Read More
Industry NewsHighway Equipment Appoints New Director Of Business Dev…
March 2, 2015
Cory Venable, who joined Highway Equipment Company (HECO) in 2013 as OEM Account Manager, has been promoted to Director of Business Development. Read More
Prairieland FS employees
Eric SfiligojWorkforce Worries
March 2, 2015
Finding good employees almost always ranks as the No. 1 or No. 2 problem for ag retailers in our annual CropLife 100 survey. Read More
Growmark Group
CropLife 100GROWMARK In 2015: Back, To The Future
March 2, 2015
The nation’s third largest ag retail organization is simultaneously moving forward while remembering its past. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Expands Sanders Brand In The South
February 27, 2015
Pinnacle has acquired Hopkins Seed and Chemical in Qulin, MO, which expands the company's Sanders brand to nine Southern states. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Launches New Providence Agriculture Location I…
February 27, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings — ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100 — has established a new retail location in New Castle, IN, which will operate as part of Pinnacle's Providence Agriculture brand. Read More
2,4-D Celebrates 70 Years; GROWMARK Uses Super Bowl Ad To Share Positive Message
Management2,4-D Celebrates 70 Years; GROWMARK Uses Super Bowl Ad …
February 27, 2015
Jim Gray, executive director of the 2,4-D Research Task Force, lays out planned activities to mark the chemistry’s 70th anniversary. Read More
HerbicidesUniversity Of Arkansas Flag The Technology Program Adds…
February 27, 2015
Started in 2010, the Flag the Technology program provides a visual reference for applicators to distinguish between fields planted with different herbicide-tolerant trait technologies. Read More
Luckey Farmers, Inc.’s Berkey Farm Center
Industry NewsLuckey Farmers’ Berkey Branch Certified In 4R Nut…
February 26, 2015
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program has announced Luckey Farmers Inc.’s Berkey Farm Center in northwest Ohio has been added to its growing list of nutrient service providers to achieve certified status. Read More
Crop InputsWinField Unveiling NutriVision Technology, Ascend Dry F…
February 24, 2015
New for 2015 are NutriVision Technology, a unique tool for monitoring in-season plant nutrient availability, and Ascend WSG plant growth regulator, a new dry formulation of Ascend plant growth regulator. Read More
FertilizerNew Formulation Of NutriSphere-N Protects High Volume U…
February 24, 2015
Verdesian Life Sciences is launching NutriSphere-N HVTM, a new polymer formulation of the proven NutriSphere-N Nitrogen Fertilizer Manager that protects high-volume applications of UAN. Read More
EquipmentIowa Ag Secretary Northey Names Hagie Water Quality Lea…
February 24, 2015
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey has named Hagie Mfg. as a recipient of the Secretary’s Water Quality Initiative (WQI) Leader Award. Read More
FungicidesEvito Fungicide Gives Canadian Wheat Growers New Diseas…
February 24, 2015
EVITO fungicide from Arysta LifeScience North America gives Canadian wheat and barley growers a new option for disease control. Read More