From MSU ANR 10/01/07


EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Weather has not been kind to farmers this growing season, and though late summer rain has improved dry conditions, soybean producers should take extra precautions to reduce harvest losses this year as the beans and pods are very dry.

“Dry pods are often brittle and that increases the potential for shatter losses at the header,” says Mike Staton, Michigan State University (MSU) Extension educator and Soybean 2010 coordinator. “Shattering accounts for most of the losses that occur during harvest operations and make up as much as 75 percent of total harvest losses.”

Harvest losses of 10 percent of the total yield can easily occur and can reach 15 percent if combine operators don’t pay close attention to equipment adjustments and operation. With careful management, harvest losses can be held to 3 percent or less.

“The best way to prevent shatter losses is to harvest as much of your crop as possible before the moisture level in the beans falls below 13 percent,” Staton says. “When soybeans undergo repeated wetting and drying cycles after initially drying below 13 percent moisture, the pods become more brittle and shatter easily.”

Mechanical damage and split beans are also more likely this year due to the low moisture levels in the beans. Check the clean grain hopper on the combine frequently, and make adjustments as necessary to reduce splits. The following recommendations will help you harvest and market more of your 2007 soybean crop.

  • Keep knife sections sharp and tight and make sure that all guards, wear plates and hold-down clips are in good condition and properly adjusted. Consider replacing standard knife sections with narrow knife sections to reduce shatter losses.


  • Operate the cutter bar as close to the ground as possible.


  • Keep the ground speed at three to four miles per hour or less.


  • Adjust reel to run about 25 percent faster than ground speed. For a 42-inch diameter reel, this is about 10 to 11 revolutions per minute per mile per hour of ground speed (i.e. 30 rpm for 3 mph).


  • If the crop is standing well, position the reel axis about 6 to 9 inches ahead of the cutter bar, and adjust the reel height so that the tips of the fingers operate about 12 inches above the ground. If the plants are tangled or lodged, position the reel axis about 9 to 12 inches ahead of the cutter bar, and adjust the height so that the reel runs about 1 inch above the ground. Raise the reel if plants are riding over the top of the reel.


  • Take advantage of conditions that create damp pods, such as dew, light rains or high humidity to reduce shattering.


  • Maintain the slowest cylinder speed possible that produces complete threshing.


  • Remember that you are losing one bushel per acre for every four beans per square foot you find on the ground.


For more information about improving Michigan’s soybean crop, visit the Soybean 2010 Web page at http://web1.msue.msu.edu/soybean2010/. Soybean 2010 was developed to help Michigan growers increase soybean yields and farm profitability by 2010. Funding is provided by MSU Extension; Project GREEEN (Generating Research and Extension to meet Economic and Environmental Needs), the plant industry initiative at MSU; and the Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee.

Adverse weather conditions ranging from floods to droughts are forcing Europe's livestock and feeders and food processors to increase their imports of feed grains, the U.S. Grains Council reports. The floods come on top of less than ideal growing conditions that resulted in a poor harvest last year. The latter has reduced Europe's feed grain stocks to unusually low levels, according to the USGC. "In Western Europe, farmers are encountering flooding and in the eastern areas they are being hit with extreme drought conditions," said Chris Corry, U.S. Grains Council director of international operations. "This is coupled with the fact that Europe has depleted their interventions stocks, most of which was wheat and barley." - Forrest Laws, Farm Press Editorial Staff



5.  Incompatible Standards May Keep African Organics Out of Europe. By Sue Scott, Inter Press Service, September 21,2007.

http://www.climatecrisiscoalition.org/blog/   Climate Crisis Coalition News Archive.

“The newly launched East Africa Organic Standards designed to boost exports to Europe, could fall at the first hurdle if the largest licensing body in the UK decides in November that air-freighted produce no longer qualifies as organic. African farmers have been highly critical… Despite the fact that less than 1 percent of all UK food comes by air, campaigners argue that it is responsible for 11 percent of carbon emissions and therefore at odds with organic principles. [Yet], soon-to-be-published research commissioned by the United Nation’s International Trade Centre… will reveal that as many as 15,000 people in Kenya and Ghana — the biggest exporters to the UK — would see their livelihoods hindered… ‘These exporters are tearing their hair out,’ said Alexander Kasterine, senior market development advisor for the ITC. ‘It’s created a lot of uncertainty and is deterring new entrants to the market. One exporter told us… they’d invested in training and bought processing machinery. Now the Soil Association (SA) may turn round and say ‘you can’t use our logo.’’ [The SA is] responsible for certifying more than 70 percent of retail organic produce [in the UK], making it the best known mark with consumers and the one most sought after by exporters…Naturland in Germany is considering a similar gold plating of its standards. Kasterine said the SA had the wrong target. ‘There are much bigger contributors to climate change than air freight, for example energy intensive UK agriculture. If you’re an African farmer living on 3 percent of Lord Melchett’s (policy director of the SA) income, you might wonder why he is cutting off your market in the name of reducing climate change,’ he said. The East Africa Organic Standard covers produce from Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda. It is the first of three to be developed by the IFOAM, International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements, which is also working on regional standards for West Africa and the South Pacific.”

6.  Jane Goodall Says Biofuel Crops Hurt Rain Forests. By Timothy Gardner, Reuters, September 26, 2007. From:  http://www.climatecrisiscoalition.org/blog/   Climate Crisis Coalition News Archive.

“Primate scientist Jane Goodall said on Wednesday the race to grow crops for vehicle fuels is damaging rain forests in Asia, Africa and South America and adding to the emissions blamed for global warming. ‘We’re cutting down forests now to grow sugarcane and palm oil for biofuels and our forests are being hacked into by so many interests that it makes them more and more important to save now,’ Goodall said on the sidelines of the Clinton Global Initiative, former U.S. President Bill Clinton’s annual philanthropic meeting… Goodall said the problem is especially bad in the Indonesian rain forest where large amounts of palm nut oil is being made. Growers in Uganda — where her nonprofit group works to conserve Great Apes — are also looking to buy large parcels of rain forest and cut them down to grow sugar cane, while in Brazil, forest is cleared to grow sugar cane. The Goodall Institute is working with a recently formed group of eight rain forest nations called the Forest Eight, or F8, led by Indonesia. The group wants to create a system where rich countries would pay them not to chop down rain forests and hopes to unveil the plan at climate talks in Bali in December.”


7.  Concern about wheat supplies lifts prices

Sep 28, 2007 9:43 AM, By Elton Robinson
Farm Press Editorial Staff


Deteriorating crop conditions in Australia, lower than expected production in Europe and strong global demand set the stage for aggressive buying by end users in mid-September, which pushed wheat prices close to $9 a bushel.

When asked how big of an acreage response to prices might be expected for next season, market analyst Jonah Ford, speaking at the Minneapolis Grain Exchange September press briefing said, “A whole bunch. I can’t give you a hard number this early in the season. But with the profits farmers can expect to see at these prices, you’re going to see a pretty big shift. The shift has already been priced in, if you look at July 2008 futures.”

At one point in mid-September, December wheat futures at the Chicago Board of Trade were around $8.50 a bushel, with July 2008 coming in around $5.87.

One surprise in USDA’s Sept. 12 world supply and demand estimates was the agency’s projection for Australian wheat production of 21 million metric tons. Most in the trade believe production is actually closer to 15 million metric tons to 19 million metric tons, due to dry weather.

“Most of the Australians are fairly pessimistic on their production, thinking it’s closer to 14 million metric tons to 16 million metric tons,” said Ford, who is senior analyst for Great Pacific Trading Company.

According to a CBOT report, Pakistan may import a million metric tons of wheat this year. In addition, France has revised its total production downward by 1.25 million metric tons to 31.65 million tons.

The upshot is that there is growing end user concern with the price of wheat, according to Ford. “Obviously those who did not get hedged earlier this year are paying a pretty severe price.

“Without fundamental shifts — whether taking millions of acres out of conservation or just having prices so high that it stimulates global production — trendline yields and world production are not keeping up with the expansion of the global economy.”

The situation should carry over to other crops, too, noted Ford. “Those in the soybean business are going to be looking around for acreage next year, and it would probably be a good idea for them to lock in prices on oil and meal.”

Ford did add that if land is taken out of the Conservation Reserve Program and committed to wheat production, “you’ll probably see a knee-jerk reaction initially. Looking at the global supply situation, it may shave 10 percent or 15 percent off respective prices. World demand is still strong and understated by the market.”

The impact of wheat prices on consumer food prices could become a big story next year, too.

Corn prices, while weaker by comparison, will most likely start to improve by March, according to Ford, a situation which should benefit producers with storage capacity. “The demand in corn is still there. Worse case scenario, we’re down to $3.15 to $3.25 on December futures.”

Short-term for corn, “we could be in a sideways trading range for the next few months,” Ford said. “Nonetheless, if we do get upwards of $10 wheat and $10 beans, there will be as much substitution as the world will allow. And that’s going to keep corn prices above $3 and perhaps stimulate a rally going into next year as well.”

While USDA lowered its estimate of ethanol use in the United States, Ford doesn’t see a letup in the expansion of ethanol production capacity “as long as we’re anywhere near $80 crude prices, which is where we are now. Ethanol is going to keep rolling along until we get to a point where prices exceed what people are willing to pay. And I don’t think we’re there by a long shot.”




If you would like to access a searchable archive of the all the previous Mich-Organic listserv postings copy this URL and paste in your browser address field http://list.msu.edu/archives/mich-organic.html