The Promise And The Peril

Weeds Soybeans Sprayed Glyphosate

These are exciting times for the agriculture marketplace. Grower and ag retail income is up, commodity prices have stayed relatively strong, and manufacturers are looking to expand their offerings. Despite these positive developments, however, there are still a few issues that could threaten the industry’s continued prosperity.

This was the message delivered to attendees of the 2008 Syngenta Media Summit, held Oct. 1-3 by Syngenta Crop Protection in Orlando, FL. In general, things have never been better for the agriculture marketplace. According to Valdemar Fischer, president/regional head of NAFTA crop protection for the company, the agribusiness industry was valued at $60 billion in 2007, and is on pace to stay in this range once the final numbers for 2008 are tallied. In particular, sales of fungicides have been extremely positive, recording a 29% revenue increase vs. 2007.

“Growers all over the world are demanding fungicides to increase their yields,” said Fischer.

Travis Dickinson, head of marketing, agreed with this assessment. Furthermore, he pointed out the positives and negatives that impacted the industry this year. “On the good side, there was sustained customer profitability, an increased focus on yield, and no Farm Bill hiccups,” said Dickinson.

On the “bad” side for agriculture, there was significant flooding in the nation’s Heartland, drought conditions in the West and Southeast, and an escalation of input costs. “For 2009, there is probably more volatility to come,” he added. “In particular, getting capital to run the business could have a big impact on market conditions.”

Seed Money

In the seed arena, Syngenta is experiencing similar market conditions and growth. According to Bruce Howison, vice president, marketing, 2008 was a “dynamic year” for seed revenues, with a strong demand by customers for new genetics and traits to help boost yields. Particularly popular was the company’s NK Soybeans. “Based upon our data, one in two soybean fields in the U.S. today grows NK Soybeans,” said Howison.

Going forward, Syngenta will focus much of its seed attention in 2009 on corn. First up from the company will be Agrisure 3000GT. According to Tracy Mader, Agrisure traits brand manager for Syngenta Seeds, Agrisure 3000GT is a triple-stacked product offering herbicide tolerance to glyphosate and glufosinate as well as insect protection to corn borer and corn rootworm.

In addition, Syngenta is testing a new insect control corn trait called MIR162. “This product offers superior control of a broad spectrum of above-ground corn insect pests,” said Mader. “This will make it effective against such pests as corn earworm, fall armyworm, and common stalk borer.”

If all the testing goes according to plan, she added, MIR162 should have its commercial introduction during the 2010 planting season.

Managing Weeds

One key challenge for all of agriculture to address, said numerous speakers, was the growing number of herbicide-resistant weeds. According to Chuck Foresman, manager of weed resistance strategies for Syngenta, there were only two known resistant weed types in 2003. Today, there are nine. Of these, 40% are marestail and 20% are waterhemp varieties.

In many cases, added Fores­man, growers and applicators have made the situation worse through their application methods. “Many users have not sprayed these weeds at full rates to try to save some money, but that’s making things worse,” he said. “We will ruin our chemical options out there if we don’t use full rates. Anything less will cause many more mutations that are resistant to thrive.”

Kevin Bradley, assistant professor and Extension weed scientist for the University of Missouri, agreed with Foresman’s market analysis. He added the time was rapidly approaching when agriculture will be forced to face this challenge.

“Glyphosate has allowed growers to farm more acres with less equipment and less labor, but widespread glyphosate-resistant weeds will change how we do business,” said Bradley. “With more and more resistant weeds, we will move from a system that is simple to one that is more complex, which growers don’t seem to want anymore. There will be reluctance to do this, but it is inevitable.”

To combat this problem, Syngenta is planning to release a pair of herbicides in the next few years, one preemergence and one postemergence. The preemergence brand, called Prefix, features a formulation of s-metolachlor and fomesafen to offer grass and broadleaf control in soybeans.

“Prefix provides five weeks of residual control,” said Scott Langkamp, head, herbicide brand management. “This product will see a limited launch in 2009.”

On the postemergence side, Syn­genta is preparing an as-yet unnamed herbicide which blends fomesafen and glyphosate.

“This product is designed specifically for use on soybean acres with weeds that have developed or are likely to develop resistance to glyphosate and/or ALS inhibitors,” said Langkamp.

The Big Picture

Looking at a more 30,000-foot view of the upcoming years, Carroll Moseley, mesotrione brand manager for Syngenta, said that projections show U.S. corn exports declining 2 billion bushels in 2009, with feed use dropping by 850 million bushels. “These declines should be overcome by the demand for corn used for ethanol production,” said Moseley. “Total corn use is forecast at 12.65 billion bushels, which is much higher than production. This shortage will challenge U.S. corn producers to maximize their yield potential on every acre.”

Besides these issues, agriculture will have to deal with a host of higher costs across the boards. According to Moseley, fertilizer costs are projected to be $215 per acre, up almost $100 from 2008, non-land production costs will increase to $530 per acre, and glyphosate, fuel, crop insurance, and power costs will remain high.

“These higher production costs will have a significant impact on the breakeven prices for corn crops,” he said. “These are projected to be at $3.82 per bushel, up from approximately $2.40 per bushel this year.”

Leave a Reply

Crop Inputs Stories

Soybean field
FungicidesFour Arysta Fungicide Formulations Given FIFRA Approvals For Seed Treatments
February 8, 2016
Arysta LifeScience North America recently announced the issuance of Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) Section 2(ee) Recommendations for Read More
FungicidesAgri-Fos Systemic Fungicide Plus Receives EPA Registration
February 8, 2016
Vivid Life Sciences has announced the EPA registration of Agri-Fos Systemic Fungicide Plus, a highly concentrated active ingredient phosphite fungicide, Read More
Crop InputsBayer Contests EPA’s Decision On Valuable Insecticide For Farmers
February 5, 2016
Crop Science, a division of Bayer, has announced it has refused a request by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to Read More
Wheat Field North Dakota
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Wins Seed Fraud Suit Against South Dakota Growers
February 5, 2016
Syngenta has obtained a $25,000 settlement from Paul and John Mayclin, Mayclin Farms, Plankinton, SD, in response to their Plant Read More
Top 100 Articles
Elburn Cooperative
CropLife 100Elburn Cooperative Members Vote To Join CHS
December 28, 2015
With 81% of eligible producers voting, 94% cast an affirmative ballot for Elburn Cooperative, a diversified agricultural retailer based out Read More
West Central Cooperative, Jefferson, IA
CropLife 100Farmers Cooperative-West Central Merger Approved
December 21, 2015
The members of Farmers Cooperative Co. (FC), Ames, IA, and West Central Cooperative, Ralston, IA, have both approved the merger Read More
Wheat Growers Innovation Center, Bath, SD
CropLife 100Wheat Growers Opens Innovation Center
December 21, 2015
Wheat Growers’ commitment in providing its farmer-owners with the latest in technological advancements now has a one-of-a-kind focal point, as Read More
CropLife 100ARA Selects The Andersons As 2015 Retailer Of The Year
December 9, 2015
The Agricultural Retailers Association today named Maumee, OH-based The Andersons as its Retailer of the Year for 2015. The award Read More
CPS Washington Court House John Deere Sprayer
CropLife 100Application Equipment Report: It Is Easy Being Green For Top 100 Ag Retailers
December 5, 2015
On The Muppets television show, Kermit the Frog is famous for singing a song about the troubles he encounters in Read More
Fertilizer Bin
CropLife 100Fertilizer Sales: Another Down Year For Top 100 Ag Retailers
December 4, 2015
In pure number terms, the fertilizer category still dominates all crop inputs/services among CropLife 100 ag retailers. In 2015, for Read More
Latest News
Soybean field
FungicidesFour Arysta Fungicide Formulations Given FIFRA Approval…
February 8, 2016
Arysta LifeScience North America recently announced the issuance of Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) Section 2(ee) Recommendations for Read More
FungicidesAgri-Fos Systemic Fungicide Plus Receives EPA Registrat…
February 8, 2016
Vivid Life Sciences has announced the EPA registration of Agri-Fos Systemic Fungicide Plus, a highly concentrated active ingredient phosphite fungicide, Read More
Crop InputsBayer Contests EPA’s Decision On Valuable Insecticide F…
February 5, 2016
Crop Science, a division of Bayer, has announced it has refused a request by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to Read More
Wheat Field North Dakota
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Wins Seed Fraud Suit Against South Dakota Grow…
February 5, 2016
Syngenta has obtained a $25,000 settlement from Paul and John Mayclin, Mayclin Farms, Plankinton, SD, in response to their Plant Read More
ManagementOABA Annual Conference Wraps Up In Columbus
February 5, 2016
More than 300 Ohio AgriBusiness Association (OABA) members and industry professionals were on hand to engage in collaborative learning and Read More
Crop InputsBayer To Contest EPA Flubendiamide Decision
February 5, 2016
Crop Science, a division of Bayer, announced today it has refused a request by EPA to voluntarily cancel the uses Read More
Syngenta
Seed/BiotechNot So Fast: ChemChina Syngenta Takeover Could Draw Nat…
February 5, 2016
State-owned China National Chemical Corp. (ChemChina), which plans to buy Swiss seeds and pesticide maker Syngenta, will promptly start preparations Read More
Rendering of Syngenta Seedcare Institute expansion
Seed/BiotechExpansion Of Syngenta’s North America Seedcare In…
February 4, 2016
As demand for seed treatment knowledge and products grows among farmers, retailers and others in the seed industry, Syngenta is Read More
Soybean Field
Industry NewsArysta LifeScience Strengthens Sales Team
February 4, 2016
Arysta LifeScience North America recently announced three new personnel additions: Jake Cook and Peter White are Territory Sales Managers for Read More
Davor Pisk Syngenta COO
Crop InputsSyngenta COO: Why ChemChina Offer Beat Monsanto’s
February 4, 2016
Syngenta Chief Operating Officer Davor Pisk says he is confident the proposed acquisition by ChemChina will ultimately help preserve choice Read More
Young corn plants in soil
Crop InputsKoch Biological Solutions Invests In Pathway Biologic
February 4, 2016
An affiliate of Koch Biological Solutions, LLC has acquired a minority equity position in, and entered into collaboration with, Pathway Read More
Crop InputsABG: China Signs Off On Monsanto’s Roundup Ready …
February 3, 2016
Monsanto Co. on Wednesday announced it plans to launch its Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans in time for the 2016 Read More
Syngenta headquarters in Basel, Switzerland
Crop Inputs6 Things To Know About The ChemChina-Syngenta Deal
February 3, 2016
After months of rumors and speculation, Syngenta has announced that ChemChina has offered to acquire the Swiss-based company. “In making Read More
FertilizerPhosphorus: Is Band Or Broadcast Application The Better…
February 3, 2016
Is band or broadcast application the better method when it comes to phosphorus? The answer to this question depends mostly Read More
Syngenta Sign
Crop InputsChemChina Nearing Deal To Buy Syngenta For Record $43 B…
February 3, 2016
China National Chemical Corp. is nearing an agreement to buy Swiss pesticide-and-seeds-maker Syngenta AG for about 43.7 billion francs ($42.8 Read More
Herbicides2015 ASA Trials Demonstrate Valent Fierce XLT Herbicide…
February 2, 2016
Valent U.S.A. today announced that new Fierce XLT Soybean Herbicide ranks in the top tier among growers for length of Read More
Crop Protection Products in storage
Paul SchrimpfCrop Input Selling: Return Of The Price List
February 2, 2016
It was a good 15 years ago, shortly after I first started writing for this esteemed publication, that it all Read More
Potash storage at Growmark
FertilizerThe Phosphate And Potash Outlook For 2016
February 2, 2016
Like other commodities, prices of the leading plant nutrient products dropped sharply in 2015. At this writing, the price of Read More