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
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
Milan Kucerak, president/CEO, West Central
CropLife 100West Central Cooperative And Its New President Are A Match Made In Deviation
June 29, 2015
To appreciate just how unique West Central Cooperative is in the world of ag retail, an observer need only consider Read More
Winter Wheat
CropLife 100South Dakota Co-op Member Owners Vote No On Unification
June 26, 2015
The Boards of Directors for North Central Farmers Elevator (NCFE) and Wheat Growers (WG) have announced that member-owners have voted Read More
CropLife 100The Andersons Acquires South Dakota Plant Nutrient Manufacturer Kay-Flo
May 20, 2015
The Andersons, Inc., ranked No. 22 on the CropLife 100, has purchased Kay Flo Industries of North Sioux City, SD. “This Read More
CropLife 100AgGateway’s Barcoding Initiative Progressing Nicely
May 8, 2015
According to legend (or Wikipedia), the first step towards modern bar codes came back in 1948, when Bernard Silver, a Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Agriculture Acquires Minnesota Retailer
April 14, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings, LLC, ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100,  has successfully acquired Liebl Ag, LLC in Ada, MN.  Read More
CropLife 100CHS, Aurora Cooperative Complete Fertilizer Storage, Grain Shuttle Loading Facility
April 13, 2015
CHS Inc., the nation’s leading cooperative and ranked No. 5 on the CropLife 100, and Aurora Cooperative (ranked No. 21) Read More
Latest News
FertilizerVerdesian Announces Central America Plant Nutrition Exp…
July 7, 2015
Verdesian Life Sciences has signed a commercial agreement with Agroalfa in Central America to bring the company’s patented polymer technology to Read More
Chesapeake Bay
ManagementCourt Decision Protects Chesapeake Bay’s Water, Wildlif…
July 7, 2015
Today, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the historic clean-up plan for the Chesapeake Bay. Collin O’Mara, president and Read More
Agworld Apple Watch Farm Management
EquipmentAussie Data Management Software Company Making Its Mark…
July 4, 2015
Western-Australia-based Agworld — having fully launched its data management software system stateside last year after a 2013 soft launch — Read More
Topcon AGI-4 on MF Planter
EquipmentAutosteer: Compatibility, Accuracy Remain Top Of Mind
July 3, 2015
The world of automatic steering solutions in agriculture has evolved rapidly in the last few years. From after-market add-ons that Read More
ManagementUnited Suppliers/Land ‘O Lakes Merger & Crop Update
July 2, 2015
CropLife’s Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about the reasons behind the United Suppliers/Land ‘O Lakes merger and USDA’s recent Read More
Industry NewsBioSafe Adds To Sales Force
July 2, 2015
BioSafe Systems has announced the hire of two new members for its service team. David Britt recently joined the team Read More
Chesapeake Bay
ManagementChesapeake Bay Clean-Up Gets Renewed Attention
July 2, 2015
The Chesapeake Bay has been called one of the most biologically productive ecosystems in the world. It’s also one of Read More
Measuring Bulk Tanks
ManagementBulk Pesticide Compliance: Top 10 Areas Of Improvement …
July 1, 2015
  In honor of the 33-year run of David Letterman’s Late Show, the American Agronomic Stewardship Alliance (AASA) is happy Read More
Industry NewsArysta North America Hires Midwest Sales Manager
July 1, 2015
Arysta LifeScience North America recently announced the hiring of Brian Battles as the Senior Technical Sales Manager for the Midwest Read More
Farmer on tablet
Eric SfiligojThe Never-Ending Battle Against Modern Agriculture
July 1, 2015
In the world of comic books, the character of Superman often refers to the fight to save the world as Read More
Retail FacilitiesBuilding Up Ag Retail
July 1, 2015
In the oftentimes unpredictable world we live in, it’s nice to know some things can be reliably countered on to Read More
Retail FacilitiesMaple River Grain And Agronomy Phases In Site Developme…
July 1, 2015
Marcus Construction helped Maple River Grain and Agronomy in Casselton, ND, with the design-build of its dry fertilizer, liquid chemical/seed Read More
Retail FacilitiesA&B Welding Builds A New Liquid Terminal Hub For Br…
July 1, 2015
To build its new hub facility, Briggs Crop Nutrients enlisted the help of A&B Welding. The result, an efficient facility Read More
Edon Farmers Co-op
Retail FacilitiesNew Marcus Facility At Edon Farmers Co-op Provides More…
July 1, 2015
Edon Farmers Co-Op in Edon, OH, needed a new facility to consolidate outdated locations. Marcus Construction was able to design Read More
Retail FacilitiesKinder Morgan Expands Its Storage With A New Dome Barre…
July 1, 2015
Kinder Morgan wanted additional covered storage at its Dakota Bulk Terminal on the Mississippi River in St. Paul, MN. With Read More
Retail FacilitiesHeartland Tank Protects Fertilizer From Extreme Cold At…
July 1, 2015
The Arthur Companies in Harvey, ND, enlisted the help of Heartland Tank Companies to develop a new liquid fertilizer facility Read More
The McGregor Co. fertilizer loadout
Retail FacilitiesThe McGregor Co. Partners With Kahler Automation To Cre…
June 30, 2015
Kahler Automation helped The McGregor Co. expand its Clarkston, WA, operation with unstaffed loadout technology that enables customers to pick Read More
Dry and Liquid Plant
Retail FacilitiesKahler Automation Helps CHS Dakota Ag Cooperative Build…
June 30, 2015
CHS Dakota Ag Cooperative in Mooreton, ND, wanted a liquid/dry blender system that could meet the needs of its customers Read More