Keith Good, University of Illinois' FarmDoc project
DTN Managing Editor Anthony Greder reported yesterday that, "The 2023 U.S. corn harvest is slightly outpacing the five-year average so far as the crop continues to reach maturity ahead of normal, USDA NASS stated in its weekly Crop Progress report on Monday. Soybeans, too, continue to reach maturity ahead of the five-year average."
2023 Crop Progress and Conditions. Charts and Maps. USDA- National Agricultural Statistics Service (September 11, 2023).
"In its first national corn harvest report of the season, NASS estimated that 5% of the crop was harvested as of Sunday, equal to last year but slightly ahead of the five-year average of 4%," the DTN article said.
Greder pointed out that, "USDA said 52% of the corn crop was rated good to excellent as of Sept. 10, down 1 point from 53% last week and 1 point lower than a year ago.
"The good-to-excellent rating rose 1 point to 58% in Illinois, and Iowa fell 3 points to 46%, while Kansas and Missouri remain the worst-rated, at just 31% and 35% good to excellent, respectively,' noted DTN Senior Analyst Dana Mantini."
To read the entire report click here.
The 2023 U.S. corn harvest is underway.
The USDA says 5% of the crop is harvested, compared to the five-year average of 4%, with 97% at the dough making stage, 82% dented, and 34% mature, all also faster than average. 52% of U.S. corn is rated good to excellent, down 1% on the week.
52% of soybeans are in good to excellent condition, 1% less than last week, with 31% dropping leaves, compared to 25% normally in early to mid-September.
87% of spring wheat is harvested, matching the usual pace.
7% of winter wheat is planted, matching the five-year average.
98% of cotton is setting bolls, 43% of bolls are opening, and 8% is harvested, all ahead of the typical respective speeds, with 29% of the crop called good to excellent, a decrease of 2%.
45% of rice is harvested, compared to 35% on average, and 71% of the crop is in good to excellent shape, up 1%.
97% of sorghum has headed, 74% is coloring, 37% has reached maturity, and 21% is harvested, all close to normal, with 44% of the crop called good to excellent, unchanged.
33% of U.S. pastures and rangelands are reported as good to excellent, 3% lower.
The USDA's weekly crop progress and condition reports continue through November.
Your US EPA at work
The United States Environmental Protection Agency recently announced new standards for ozone and ozone depleting substances. The new rules are considered very harsh by US manufacturers and power suppliers who cite they are, and have, made substantial gains in reducing harmful emissions and new regs are largely unnecessary.
Industry and power providers say the new regs will jeopardize upwards of one million US jobs while accomplishing little for the environment. Naturally the increased cost of the proposed regulation will be passed along to consumers and customers.
In an interesting, and entirely political, move the EPA has decided to delay implementation of the new draconian rules until after the 2024 national elections. Environmental groups are decrying the delay saying it's simply all that much more air pollution added to the "climate crisis" and demanding implementation immediately. While all of the objective information we've digested concerning the new new regs certainly points to them being unnecessary; if one imagines them beneficial, as the US EPA claims, it's difficult to understand the delay.
There isn't any doubt the new rules will raise your cost of power and increase the price of virtually every item manufactured in the US using electricity. Delaying implementation until after the election, essentially delayed pain, is meant to remove the consequences of the new regs from voter's decision making criteria. Political (social) agendas being forced through regulation and government enforcement.
Your Securities & Exchange Commission at Work
Today, the US government does not require businesses to report their greenhouse gas emissions but the SEC is determined to change that.
Back in March of 2022 the SEC proposed rules that would require publicly traded companies to disclose the amount of greenhouse gasses they emit. The SEC is on record as saying that greenhouse gasses "have a very profound effect on society and that a measure of the total costs to society associated with carbon emissions is, on average, 44% of a company's profit before taxes." We have no idea where that number comes from (the SEC has not disclosed their calculus) and there's confidence the people who plan to use it for fines and penalty assessments don't know either - or care.
The SEC actually says that the "monetary equivalent of corporate carbon damage produced by the worst greenhouse gas emitting industries is 150% of profits before taxes." Agriculture, in a broad-brush sense, is cited by the US government as being "responsible" for a third of greenhouse gas production. My guess is that would include us in the worst greenhouse gas emitters as an industry.
Wow. If you're publicly traded get ready for tracking, and reporting, your total carbon emissions from all activities, and prepare to establish a baseline from whence you'll be evaluated for your changes in carbon emissions. And in the meantime add a new debit line for payment of penalties for the carbon you produce and the carbon your not reducing.
And if you think you'll get around this because you're not a publicly traded company just wait. Since when is the SEC charged with enforcing carbon emissions? Why is paying more taxes considered a solution to climate change?
National Association of State Departments of Agriculture news release
Cheyenne, WY - Today, at the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture's 2023 Annual Meeting, NASDA members advocated for standards that ensure clear and consistent labeling for cell-based meat products, also referred to as cultured meat.
In an action item approved today, NASDA members urged the establishment of regulatory frameworks for distinguished labeling of cell-based meat, poultry and seafood products and encouraged the U.S. Department of Agriculture, USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service and U.S. Food and Drug Administration to analyze the cellular and nutritional properties of these products and indicate the differences, via labeling, between cell-based and conventional products.
"NASDA members are responsible for ensuring agricultural businesses of all sizes and types can thrive, and we have learned, especially through the pandemic, the importance of diversity in agricultural production. Equally important, clarity and consumer confidence in ingredients and labeling must always be upheld, which is the goal of the action item adopted today," NASDA CEO Ted McKinney said. "NASDA encourages federal agencies to discuss and consider regulatory frameworks for these innovative products which accurately reflect differences between them and conventionally raised products."
In March 2019, USDA and FDA established a formal agreement on how cultured food products would be regulated. In June 2023, the organizations issued the first Grants of Inspection and label approvals to two companies to sell cell-based chicken.
"NASDA members stand ready to work collaboratively with federal agencies on cell-based meat labeling requirements to ensure shoppers can have confidence in what they buy at the grocery store," McKinney said.
What is the true origin of wheat?
Did you know that the wheat you eat today is not the same as that grown by the first farmers thousands of years ago? Wheat has undergone numerous transformations throughout history, the result of human intervention and adaptation to the environment.
from Muy Intresante
Several thousand centuries ago, modern humans emerged, Homo sapiens , and for most of the time, their populations were nomads, hunters and gatherers who obtained what they needed from their environment, without manipulating it. An important turning point in human history is associated with the emergence of agriculture , which enabled a sedentary lifestyle and, ultimately, was the origin of civilizations.
The history of wheat is intertwined with the future of humanity and its innovations. From the dawn of agriculture , about 10,000 years ago , to modern genetic improvement techniques, wheat has been a key witness and actor in the evolution of human nutrition. Frequently when talking about food, and wheat and its derivatives, one hears the adjective 'natural'. But the distinction between 'natural' and 'artificial' in agriculture is often meaningless . Agriculture is, ultimately, a manifestation of human intervention in natural processes. An artificial process, whose resulting products are also artificial. The wheat we eat today does not exist in nature .
A Journey of 10,000 years
Wheat ( genus Triticum ), native to the fertile Middle East, has undergone an epic journey through time and space. The evolution of wheat has been shaped by artificial selection, from the oldest known species , such as einkorn (Triticum monococcum ), farro ( T. dicoccum ) or spelled ( T. spelta ) , to the modern species of durum wheat ( T. durum ) and soft or baker's wheat ( T. aestivum ) . Early farmers learned to choose seeds with desirable characteristics, such as larger, more productive ears or more voluminous grains. ThisArtificial selection accelerated evolutionary changes with respect to natural rhythms.
Cultural and technological advances introduced the art of genetic improvement in wheat cultivation, but unlike what is usually thought, it is not a phenomenon of recent decades. Farmers learned to direct the evolution of plants based on their needs, through artificial selection, and later, hybridization , cloning and exposure to physical and chemical agents . The creation of wheat varieties with specific characteristics became a powerful tool for human nutrition long before the first transgenic organisms , gene editing or any other contemporary advances appeared.
Humanity has been manipulating wheat genes for ten thousand years , generating a rich variety of products in the process, from breads and cakes to pastas and processed foods.
From wild wheat to flour to make bread
One of the evolutionary ancestors of modern wheat can still be found in nature. A wild wheat , with a diploid chromosome set - the chromosomes distributed in pairs, specifically, 7 pairs -, which is called Triticum urartu . There are also other wild plants, very closely related to wheat, called goat grass , where two species stand out: Aegilops tauschii and A. speltoides . Both are also diploid, and are very important for their ability to hybridize with wild wheat.
Hybridization between wild wheat and A. speltoides can occur naturally, and the result is spelled or starchy wheat . This plant, which receives the scientific name Triticum dicoccoides , has a curiosity: unlike the usual reproduction, where father and mother transmit half of their chromosomes and their offspring thus obtain a complete set of pairs, in spelled, the plants parents transmit a complete paired game. Seven pairs of chromosomes per parent, which give offspring a plant with seven quartets of chromosomes—28 in total. A tetraploid plant.
It is at this point where humanity began to get its hand. Spelled was probably the first cultivated wheat, and based on artificial selection, farro was produced , the first variety of wheat created by humans.
At some point, a farmer mixed farro with that aforementioned goat weed, A. tauschii , and again, there was a polyploidy event. The tetraploid genome of farro wheat was united with the diploid genome of goat grass, and the result was a wheat with a hexaploid genome —chromosomes grouped in lots of 6—. This is spelled , which we still consume today.
Both farro and spelled are plants with allopolyploid genomes , that is, in addition to presenting the chromosomes in more numerous lots than the usual pairs, each pair of lots comes from a different species. Allopolyploidization accelerated the evolution of the wheat genome through gene loss, silencing, activation , and duplication ; and artificial selective pressure did the rest.
The most widely used modern wheats, durum wheat and soft or baker's wheat , have accumulated mutations that produce more open ears and more fragile hulls, making them easier to thresh . Both come from centuries of artificial selection; Durum wheat has its origin in farro and bread wheat in spelled. And only time knows what new varieties will be coming.
The transgenic challenge and climate resilience
The discussion about transgenic organisms frequently provokes controversy and fear. But the truth is that genetic engineering does not invent anything, it only channels and accelerates processes that nature already carries out, just as agriculture did ten millennia ago. Horizontal gene transfer is a natural process, which has given rise to genetic variations in many species; Genetic engineering only superimposes traditional genetic manipulation techniques, achieving better, more precise results and in less time . But it continues to arouse distrust.
In a world marked by climate change , the creation of resistant crops becomes essential to feed the growing world population. And, social distrust aside, current research in genomics, combined with high-precision phenotyping techniques, is transforming plant breeding. The identification of genes that control critical agronomic traits, together with gene editing, makes it possible to develop crops resilient to climate change more quickly . Using the genetic potential of wild relatives of crops and genome editing techniques drive the creation of species and varieties better adapted to changing conditions. Another issue is, of course,assess whether it is pertinent that this power falls only in the hands of a handful of large companies in a capitalist scenario .
If anything, the evolution of wheat is a testament to the human ability to understand and direct natural processes. From seed selection to genetic improvement and creating climate resilient crops, wheat has been like clay in the hands of a potter, humanity has applied its creativity to meet its food needs. Wheat is and will continue to be one of the most representative and versatile foods on the table, along with other cereals such as rice or corn.
- Aury, J.-M. et al. 2022. Long-read and chromosome-scale assembly of the hexaploid wheat genome achieves high resolution for research and breeding. GigaScience, 11 , giac034. DOI: 10.1093/gigascience/giac034
- de Sousa, T. et al. 2021. The 10,000-Year Success Story of Wheat! Foods, 10 (9), 2124. DOI: 10.3390/foods10092124
- Pourkheirandish, M. et al. 2020. Global Role of Crop Genomics in the Face of Climate Change. Frontiers in Plant Science, 11 , 922. DOI: 10.3389/fpls.2020.00922
Kansas State University lands $1M to boost grain sorghum research - Project will form network that aims to deliver sorghum seed trait technology for farmers
Kansas State University release
Kansas ranks No. 1 in U.S. grain sorghum production. The USDA recently awarded K-State $1 million to coordinate innovation in sorghum production.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded nearly $1 million to a Kansas State University program to lead research and innovation in sorghum production, boosting a crop that is grown more in Kansas than anywhere else in the United States.
Sarah Sexton-Bowser, director of the Center of Sorghum Improvement at K-State, said the award allows the university to build a network of public and private groups aiming to ease a bottleneck in sorghum technology, and develop even better seed traits in the future.
“K-State has invested capacity and infrastructure in sorghum crop research, and the crop is key to the state’s agriculture production,” Sexton-Bowser said. “Along with the farmers in Kansas and the greater sorghum community, our infrastructure has been identified by the USDA as leading coordinated innovation across public programs as well as private seed industry partnerships.”
According to Kansas Grain Sorghum, the state ranks No. 1 in production of grain sorghum. Most years, Kansas farmers grow more than 200 million bushels of the crop, or nearly half of all U.S. grain sorghum production. In dollars, production tops $1.8 billion, including more than $869 million in exports.
K-State molecular breeder Terry Felderhoff said the university’s research is critical in developing varieties resistant to emerging pests and diseases.
“One really good example of this was when we started working with sugarcane aphid resistance, which many people in the sorghum space know as a new pest on the scene a few years back,” he said. “We worked with international collaborators and identified resistance in exotic sorghum sources, and were able to identify the underlying genetics of stable resistance.”
With the USDA award, K-State will continue the work, according to Sexton-Bowser. Some of the early collaborators on the project include the United Sorghum Checkoff and the Kansas Grain Sorghum Commission; and private seed companies like Innovative Seed Solutions and Corteva AgriScience.
Sexton-Bowser noted that sorghum innovation typically occurs one of two ways: Individual researchers discover interesting genes and publish their work in research journals; or, seed developers (usually in private industry) develop high-yielding hybrids to market.
“You have these two great paths to innovation, but rarely do the two interact,” she said. “Terry (Felderhoff) does a great job at understanding the needs of both of those communities…not trying to copy them, but rather linking them together. Prior to our work in this area, that unique integration had not been occurring.”
More information on the grant and the partnerships working to improve grain sorghum production is available online from the Center for Sorghum Improvement.
“Improvement in sorghum is built on farmer leadership and land grant (university) leadership,” Sexton-Bowser said. “If not for the partnerships with Kansas farmers, we wouldn’t have this type of foundation to build from.”
Dutch Farmers Gaining Political Power
The Netherlands should negotiate an opt-out in the fields of nature and migration policy in case of a re-opening of the EU treaties, agrarian protest party Farmer-Citizen Movement (BBB) said in its concept election program published on Friday.
After landing a surprise landslide victory in the regional elections in March, the party – which enjoys broad support among Dutch farmers and the rural electorate for opposing the government’s nitrogen policy – has emerged as one of the leading parties in the polls for the country’s upcoming national elections.
In its election program, the party demands that “[w]hen opening European treaties, the Netherlands [should] negotiate an opt-out on migration and nature policy”.
While the party had previously been highly critical of the EU’s environmental policy – especially regarding the Dutch obligation to lower nitrogen emissions – its stance on migration was so far not as clear.
In its program, the party advocates for “implementing an asylum quota of 15,000 asylum seekers” per year, with all asylum seekers above this quota to be managed under the EU’s new migration deal, which was concluded in June.
BBB also advocates for the processing of asylum requests at the EU’s borders and gives more competencies to the EU border and coast guard agency Frontex.
The party also called on EU-front countries to cooperate by the Dublin Treaty, specifically regarding migrants applying for asylum in the first EU country they step foot in.
“Currently, we see that countries at the external borders do not comply with this regulation because it does not suit them. Strict compliance is necessary to properly work together,” the party states.
Regarding the EU’s nature policy, BBB remained critical towards legislation and initiatives such as the Nature Restoration Law and the Nature- and Habitat Directive.
“Before accepting the Nature Restoration Law, we will make an analysis of the socio-economic impact of this law, so that before its entry into force we have the opportunity to adjust our implementation to the negative effects of this law,” the party stated.
Meanwhile, the party called for a re-evaluation of “Natura 2000” nature protection areas, stating that current areas are too small and splintered which leads to “unnecessary and costly restrictions and unnecessary pressure on the adjacent environment”. Instead, the party “aims for Natura 2000 areas of such a size that they are large enough to be self-sustaining”.
Following the example of the Natura 2000 areas, the party demands the creation of so-called Food 2050 areas, which are slated to guarantee the EU’s food security.
“Under this, certain areas (cultivation and fishing grounds) are essential for food production. These areas are designated by the countries themselves and governments must protect these highly productive agricultural functions,” the party writes.
Furthermore, the Dutch agricultural sector and its food production should play a larger role i
n its foreign policy, according to BBB.
“Active cooperation within NATO and the EU [is necessary], with the realisation that our geopolitical position is unique, with our industry, agriculture and water management being crucial sectors. […] In a world where sanctions are increasing and international borders will close more often, the Netherlands, together with its surrounding countries, [form] the food and supply shed of the West,” the party said.
(Benedikt Stöckl | EURACTIV.com)
Editor's Note: You may remember our reporting earlier this year about Dutch farmers being ordered by their government to liquidate predetermined portions of privately held farm animal herds based on "nitrogen sensitivity" geographical determinations that seemed a bit arbitrary. Along with thinning, or eliminating their herds, Dutch farmers also were prohibited from using nitrogen fertilizers in many locations of their private farmland. Large "tractorcades" brought attention to their plight and the organizational skills of the Dutch agricultural sector is paying some dividends.
Ag News from France
France aims to bring 150,000 new farmers into the profession over the next 10 years to replace the many who will retire during that period while speeding up the sector’s ecological transition, French Agriculture Minister Marc Fesneau announced on Sunday.
With half of France’s farmers due to retire in the next 10 years, Fesneau said he wants the number of new farmers joining the profession to grow exponentially.
“We need to attract more young people, and also the not-so-young, to ensure the renewal of generations”, the minister said at the annual party of the Jeunes Agriculteurs (JA) union in Cambrai on Sunday.
To make the sector more attractive, a communication campaign aimed at schoolchildren will soon be launched, along with new opportunities for apprenticeships to discover the agricultural professions and the development of training.
The aim is to increase the number of apprentices by 30%, “so that there are enough jobs to go around”, said Fesneau.
To achieve these ambitions, the minister has pledged an additional €1 billion in 2024 – a 15% increase in the budget – and €2.5 billion for 2025 and 2026.
These funds will also enable us to support farmers in the environmental transition, such as reducing pesticide use, decarbonising the sector and adapting to global warming.
“I would sum up this horizon as continuing to regain our sovereignty through our capacity for resilience and therefore our ability to support the great transitions underway,” he stressed.
In a press release, Greenpeace regretted the absence of any commitment to the transition of the livestock sector, “although it is at the heart of the agri-food transition, which is extremely disappointing”.
The government is currently drafting a bill on the matter, which will be considered by parliament in December.
(Hugo Struna | EURACTIV.fr)