Showing posts from February, 2014

China May Be Unhappy with Ukraine Grain Deal

There are reports China is unhappy with Ukraine. The two nation's struck a $3 billion 'Grain-for-Loan' deal in 2012. Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying, at a regular press conference held February 27, 2014, when questioned on the issue said, "We have seen relevant reports. China is willing to further its strategic partnership with Ukraine. On the already signed agreements, we hope that the Ukrainian side will ensure the effective implementation. As to the specific issue you raised, to my knowledge, relevant reports are inconsistent with facts."

The reports suggest China is suing for return of its $3 billion loan because Ukraine did not ship agricultural products to China according to contract terms.

You may read from the official report here.

Team Converts Sugarcane to Cold-Tolerant Oil-Producing Crop

Urbana, Illinois — A team of researchers led by the University of Illinois reports that it can increase sugarcane’s geographic range, boost its photosynthetic rate by 30 percent, and turn it into an oil-producing crop for biodiesel production. These are only the first steps in a bigger initiative that will turn sugarcane and sorghum – two of the most productive crop plants known – into even more productive, oil-generating plants. “Biodiesel is attractive because, for example, with soybean, once you’ve pressed the oil out it’s fairly easy to convert it to diesel,” said Stephen P. Long, a University of Illinois plant biology researcher and leader of the initiative. “You could do it in your kitchen.”

But soybean isn’t productive enough to meet the nation’s need for renewable diesel fuels, Long said. “Sugarcane and sorghum are exceptionally productive plants, and if you could make them accumulate oil in their stems instead of sugar, this would give yoau much more oil per acre,” he said. Working first with the laboratory-friendly plant Arabidopsis and later with sugarcane, the team introduced genes that boost natural oil production in the plant. They increased oil production in sugarcane stems to about 1.5 percent. “That doesn’t sound like a lot, but at 1.5 percent, a sugarcane field in Florida would produce about 50 percent more oil per acre than a soybean field,” Long said. “There’s enough oil to make it worth harvesting."

The team hopes to increase the oil content of sugarcane stems to about 20 percent, he said. Using genetic engineering, the researchers increased photosynthetic efficiency in sugarcane and sorghum by 30 percent, Long said. And to boost cold tolerance, researchers are crossing sugarcane with Miscanthus, a related perennial grass that can grow as far north as Canada. The new hybrid is more cold-tolerant than sugarcane, but further crosses are needed to restore the other attributes of sugarcane while preserving its cold-tolerance, Long said. Ultimately, the team hopes to integrate all of these new attributes into sugarcane, he said. “Our goal is to make sugarcane produce more oil, be more productive with more photosynthesis, and be more cold-tolerant,” he said.

The team presented its latest findings this week at the U.S. Department of Energy’s ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit in Washington, D.C. The research team, led by the U of I, includes scientists from Brookhaven National Laboratory, the University of Florida, and the University of Nebraska. Long is an affiliate of the Institute for Genomic Biology at the U of I.

Controlling Costs with Lower Crop Revenue: Cash Rents

by Gary Schnitkey, Extension Ag Economist, University of Illinois

Current projections put corn and soybean prices at much lower levels compared to prices between 2010 and 2012. Non-land costs are not projected to come down by the same amounts as revenues have declined. Current projections place operator and farmland returns below average cash rents, leading to the need to adjust cash rents down.

Palmer Amaranth: A Weed on the Move in Illinois

The bane of the south is making its way northward.

The question at hand says University of Illinois Extension Weed Scientist Aaron Hager is not if, but when and where Palmer Amaranth will show up in Illinois fields. Maybe more importantly, how much damage will it do to the yield of a growing crop. He wrote about it in The Bulletin online. “The Bulletin” is ILLINOIS’ crop science and extension outreach webpage.

Hager notes research done by Adam Davis, USDA-ARS plant ecologist at the University of Illinois, has examined these questions.  Results demonstrate there are few landscape-level barriers to the

A Very Robust Demand Base for Corn & Soybeans

Livestock and ethanol are the goto users of commodities like corn and soybeans. As you'll hear these two sectors have now created a very robust domestic demand base for the crops.

Sampling Errors Associated with Grain Stocks

USDA tallies the amount of corn available in the United States quarterly. It does this through a survey. However the Grain Stocks report that is developed from the survey data has been suspect for a few years.   Listen to a short piece with Scott Irwin to learn more on the sampling errors associated with the amount of corn on hand or watch the longer form unedited video interview.

Learn more on the farmdocdaily website.

2012 Ag Census Infographic by University of Illinois Extension