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

Pam Marrone
Crop InputsMarrone Bio Innovations Enters Biostimulants Market With Launch Of Haven Anti-Transpirant
March 23, 2017
Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc. is expanding beyond biopesticides and crop protection and into the biostimulant market by commercially launching Haven Read More
Nutrients for Life Foundation Teacher
FertilizerNutrients For Life Foundation Celebrates 10 Years Teaching Fertilizer Education
March 23, 2017
Those in agriculture know fertilizer is a vital ingredient to grow strong, productive crops. In fact, fertilizer is responsible for Read More
Corn Field
Crop InputsUltra Yield Micronutrients Acquires Kronos Micronutrients
March 16, 2017
Ultra Yield Micronutrients, Inc. ”Ultra”, an affiliate of Cameron Chemicals, Inc., is pleased to announce that it has acquired the Read More
Soybean Field
Seed/BiotechBayer Invests $8.1 million In Soybean Advancement In The Midwest
March 16, 2017
Growers in Illinois and across the Midwest now have the added benefit of a state-of-the-art soybean research facility, increasing accessibility Read More
Trending Articles
AdjuvantsA New Weed-Control Era Begins: But First, One Last Obstacle
March 4, 2017
There is trepidation, there is reluctance, and there is excitement. Ag retailers feel it all about the new dicamba and Read More
LIFT Academy video screenshot
Crop InputsLIFT Agriculture Academy: A Q&A With West Central Distribution’s Dean Hendrickson
March 1, 2017
West Central Distribution recently launched its LIFT Agriculture Academy, a new, premiere training and professional development resource for West Central’s ag Read More
Farmer and aptop
Matt Hopkins10 Warning Signs Your Website Is Grossly Outdated
February 8, 2017
Your Website is often a visitor’s first impression of your ag retail business. A positive first impression can set the Read More
AgriSync
Matt Hopkins17 Agriculture Apps That Will Help You Farm Smarter In 2017
December 9, 2016
Ag professionals are working smarter, not harder, than ever before. Smart farming technologies have enabled them to reduce costs, maximize Read More
R4023 Sprayer, John Deere
CropLife 100Ag Retail Equipment Report: The Green Party Continues
December 7, 2016
In the annual race for sales in the ag retail equipment marketplace, the color schemes for participants are a little Read More
Mike Stern
Precision AgClimate Corp. CEO Talks Retailer Support For Digital Ag
December 1, 2016
CropLife Magazine’s sister publication, AgriBusiness Global, recently sat down with Mike Stern, CEO of The Climate Corp., following the Monsanto subsidiary’s Read More
Latest News
UncategorizedPrecision Ag, Iowa Water, and GM Corn Updates
March 24, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj look at the state of precision agriculture, the dismissal of the Des Moines Water Read More
Pam Marrone
Crop InputsMarrone Bio Innovations Enters Biostimulants Market Wit…
March 23, 2017
Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc. is expanding beyond biopesticides and crop protection and into the biostimulant market by commercially launching Haven Read More
Nutrients for Life Foundation Teacher
FertilizerNutrients For Life Foundation Celebrates 10 Years Teach…
March 23, 2017
Those in agriculture know fertilizer is a vital ingredient to grow strong, productive crops. In fact, fertilizer is responsible for Read More
ManagementThink You Know Water? Take WinField United’s R…
March 22, 2017
Water is among our most precious resources, and arguably the hardest working, with just one percent available for human use, Read More
Corn Field
LegislationTFI Hopes Court Dismissal Is ‘Final Chapter’…
March 20, 2017
The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) released the following statement from President, Chris Jahn on the March 17, 2017, federal court dismissal Read More
Wheat Growers
Industry NewsWheat Growers CEO Dale Locken To Retire
March 20, 2017
CEO Dale Locken has announced that he plans to retire from Wheat Growers. Locken has served almost 15 years as Read More
Bayer Monsanto
Eric SfiligojBayer-Monsanto: Life, LibertyLink, And The Pursuit Of R…
March 20, 2017
As the calendar officially turns to spring, life is in full renewal mode. Flowers are blooming, birds are singing, and Read More
Corn Field
Crop InputsUltra Yield Micronutrients Acquires Kronos Micronutrien…
March 16, 2017
Ultra Yield Micronutrients, Inc. ”Ultra”, an affiliate of Cameron Chemicals, Inc., is pleased to announce that it has acquired the Read More
ManagementSnowstorms, Asset Sales, and Soybeans Prices
March 16, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss the weather, precision ag, crop protection company mergers, and commodity prices in this Read More
Soybean Field
Seed/BiotechBayer Invests $8.1 million In Soybean Advancement In Th…
March 16, 2017
Growers in Illinois and across the Midwest now have the added benefit of a state-of-the-art soybean research facility, increasing accessibility Read More
CHS
CropLife 100CHS Acquires Western Co-op Transport Association
March 16, 2017
CHS Inc., North America’s leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grains and foods company, has purchased Western Co-op Transport Read More
Young corn plants in soil
HerbicidesBest Management Practices To Control PPO-Resistant Weed…
March 14, 2017
Weeds resistant to the class of herbicides called protoporphyrinogen oxidase (PPO) inhibitors are spreading at a faster rate than weed Read More
Photo credit: The United Soybean Board/The Soybean Checkoff.
Eric SfiligojFungicide Resistance On The Horizon
March 13, 2017
For many years now, the agricultural market has struggled to keep ahead of an ever-growing number of herbicide-resistant weeds. According Read More
Management2017 Commodity Classic Review
March 10, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss what happened at the recent Commodity Classic in San Antonio. Read More
Farmer using AgriSync
ManagementMajor AgriSync Update Aims To Extend Ag Experts’ Power …
March 10, 2017
AgriSync announced a major update to its leading collaboration and service management tool for professional ag advisors and their farmer Read More
Agrible Pocket Spray Smart App
EquipmentNew Agrible Pocket Spray Smart App Alleviates Spraying …
March 10, 2017
There’s a new app to help farmers decide when to spray their fields. Pocket Spray Smart is a free iOS Read More
BPIA logo
Crop InputsBiological Products Trade Association Changes Name, Exp…
March 9, 2017
The Biological Products Industry Alliance (BPIA), formerly the BioPesticide Industry Alliance, is the new name of the rapidly growing U.S.-based Read More
BBI MagnaSpread Salford BBI
Equipment14 Fertilizer Spreaders For 2017
March 9, 2017
Application equipment manufacturers stressed flexibility and accuracy with this year’s crop of fertilizer spreaders. From AGCO’s TerraGator TG9300B and Case IH’s 810 Read More