Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Mutant Corn's Natural Defenses Enhanced

Genetically Enhanced Corn Natural Defenses

Using a plant gene from oregano which sends out a chemical call for help from the western corn rootworm (in reality a beetle), which studies show have proven to be effective deterrent when parasitic roundworms respond and start to kill the pests almost immediately.

Researchers say this could lead to solid corn harvests with less need for expensive pesticides.

How the research was conducted was regular corn was planted alongside the mutant corn and beetle larvae released among them. After that nematodes, or otherwise called roundworms were released as well, and results were the beetle larvae had been killed in three days.

As far as damage during that time, the genetically modified corn incurred far less damage than regular corn, and the numbers of beetle were 60 percent less on the mutant corn.

"As soon as the nematodes hit [the genetically modified plants]—within three days the larvae were killed," said study co-author Ted Turlings, a zoologist at the University of Neuch√Ętel in Switzerland.

It's postulated that the selective breeding used in the U.S. to produce faster-growing plants, along with pesticide use, may have slowly gnawed away at the natural defense mechanism in U.S. plants, in contrast to corn varieties used in Europe; although that's far from proven in any way.

Genetically Enhanced Corn Natural Defenses

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Corn Silking Behind 5-year Average

Corn Silking, doughing news

While corn silking improved by 24 points for the week, now standing 55 percent complete, which is equal to last year's silking, but far behind the 5-year corn silking average by 21 points.

The corn belt performed very well because conditions have remained ideal for corn silking, as 34 percent of the crop is at that stage in Minnesota and Iowa. Illinois corn silking came in at 27 percent.

Acroos the nation, 7 percent of corn acreage is beyond the dough stage, again, the same as last year at this time, but 10 points slower than the average.

North Carolina has the most advanced doughing stage, now standing at 80 percent complete, while Minnesota and Iowa haven't reached that stage yet, and neither has corn in other Great Lakes regions or Great Plains regions.

Appromimately 70 percent of all corn in the U.S. is rated as good to excellent in condition, a little down from last week, but still 4 points better than a year ago at this time.

Corn silking, doughing news

Friday, July 17, 2009

Cash for Corn Cobs?

Cash for corn cobs a stupid idea

Using tax payer money for subsidizing farmers even more than the outrageous levels they're already being subsidized at is outrageous and criminal.

We don't need any more subsidies of corn, as the artificial market created through the nonsensical ethanol policy are detrimental and misguided, as wheat production suffers, and the poor around the world as well. That won't stop the outrage until food riots start again though, as prices surge above market levels in the socialist induced artificial market for corn and now corn cobs.

Cobs, the refuse left behind after harvest, are now plowed back into fields. But companies from California and South Dakota plan to start changing that by building two plants in Iowa, one to turn the material into ethanol and another to produce fertilizer.

Boyer already sells most of the corn from his farm to a traditional ethanol plant. Most ethanol in the U.S. is made from corn kernels.

But a $200 million plant being built by Sioux Falls, S.D.-based Poet Energy will make cellulosic ethanol, which comes from plant material such as cobs, wood chips and switchgrass. About two dozen cellulosic ethanol projects are being developed or built around the country, according to the Renewable Fuels Association.

The projects vary by region, with companies using whatever local crop is available. Louisiana and Florida companies, for instance, are using sugar cane, while one based in Oregon plans to convert poplar tress and wood chips into ethanol.

In Iowa, it's corn, and a switch from regular to cellulosic could mean more kernels are available for human food and livestock feed.

The push for new ways to produce cellulosic ethanol comes as many ethanol makers are struggling to turn a profit. They've had to drop prices to remain competitive as gas prices have fallen, but the cost of corn used to make ethanol has remained relatively high, said David Swenson, a researcher at Iowa State University.

Some of the largest producers have declared bankruptcy or been sold.

Poet spokesman Nathan Schock said the company hasn't yet figured out how much it will pay farmers, but it could be $30 to $60 per ton for corn stover, which includes cobs and some stalk. An average acre in Iowa yields about 1.5 tons of corn stover.

The company's payments to farmers could be supplemented by the federal government through the Biomass Crop Assistance Program.

Poet's plant in Emmetsburg, about 120 miles northwest of Des Moines, is expected to produce about 25 million gallons of ethanol per year when it opens in 2011. It could generate as much as $10 million per year in extra income for farmers.

Meanwhile, San Francisco-based SynGest, Inc., plans to build an $80 million facility in Menlo, about 40 miles west of Des Moines, that will be the first to make ammonia fertilizer from corn cobs.

The plant, expected to be completed by fall 2011, will process 130,000 tons of cobs per year into 50,000 tons of fertilizer, or enough for 100,000 acres of corn, SynGest CEO Jack Oswald said. Farmers would get about $50 per ton of cobs.

The company plans to market ammonia fertilizer to nearby farms as alternative to nitrogen fertilizer, which is made from oil. More than half the nation's supply of nitrogen fertilizer is imported, which drives up the price to farmers, Oswald said.

Poet expects $100 million in federal and state aid to build its plant, while SynGest has applied for $40 million in federal aid and additional state help.

Farmers said they'd like to trade their trash for cash, but most lack equipment to easily scoop up cobs. Prototypes for such machines are being built, but they could cost more than the cobs bring in. Boyer said a lot of questions remain.

Clark Bredahl, who raises corn, soybeans and cattle 320 acres near Greenfield, also said he'd need to figure out whether selling his cobs made economic sense.

This farmer is right. This is a bunch of ridiculous nonsense initiated by those attempting to fleece more taxpayers of their hard earned money in order to shore up a very stupid socialist corn and energy fiasco.

Cash for corn cobs a stupid idea

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Slow Start to Kansas Corn

Kansas Corn Crop

The Kansas corn crop has been doing pretty good so far this year even though there was an very late planting, but its late start has made the crop especially vulnerable to damage.

If everything goes right, Kansas farmers plant their corn by the first week in April. But rain kept farmers out of fields at the usual planting time, so a lot of of the state's corn was planted in late May and early June.

What that means is the crop will be pollinating during the hot, dry Kansas summer months. Another potential problem is an early freeze before the corn is ready for harvest could be devastating.

This week's crop condition report showed 68 percent of the corn in good to excellent condition, with 25 percent rated as fair. Only 7 percent of the crop got a poor to very poor rating.

Kansas farmers put 3.8 million acres into corn this season, compared to 3.85 million acres a year earlier.

Acroos the nation, the corn acreage of 87 million acres was up 1 percent from 2008. It was the second largest planted corn acreage since 1946, behind 2007, which set the record.

But some analysts remain nervous at the crop's late planting dates in major growing regions.

When the Agriculture Department came out with its acreage report last week the numbers of corn acres were higher than expected, said Mike Woolverton, grain marketing economist at Kansas State University. The market had anticipated a reduction in acreage from a year ago.

"The acres are there," he said. "But - and here's the kicker - and that is that the corn was planted late. Very late, some of it, and it may not develop to full maturity before frost. So we may end up with a short corn crop this year."

Kansas Corn Crop

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Corn News | Corn Production and Ending Stocks Projections Lowered by Analysts

Corn News

Ahead of the soon to be released USDA supply and demand report, McHenry, Illinois based analysts Allendale Inc. expect the Ag Department to lower its production and new crop ending stocks estimates for corn.

Allendale sees 2009/10 corn stocks at 1.015 billion bushels and production at 11.935 billion bushels because of delayed planting. Allendale also sees the USDA cutting the average yield estimate by 2 bushels per acre. In May, the USDA put corn production at 12.090 billion bushels and new crop stocks at 1.145 billion bushels. Allendale pegs old crop corn ending stocks at 1.610 billion bushels, up 10 million from May.

Allendale expects USDA to leave the soybean production guess unchanged from May at 3.195 billion bushels, but sees old crop stocks at 99 million bushels due to strong demand; the USDA's May 2008/09 ending stocks estimate was 130 million bushels. Also, Allendale sees 2009/10 soybean stocks at 243 million bushels, compared to 230 million in May's update.

2009 U.S. wheat production is projected at 1.993 billion bushels, compared to May's estimate of 2.026 billion. Winter wheat is placed at 1.492 billion bushels, with hard red at 864 million, soft red at 417 million and white winter at 211 million. In May, the USDA had wheat production at a total of 2.026 billion bushels, with the winter crop at 1.502 billion, hard red at 871 million, soft red at 422 million and white at 208 million.

The USDA will also be issuing updated world supply and demand figures. The reports are due out Wednesday, June 10 at 7:30 AM Central.

Corn News

Friday, April 3, 2009

Corn | Jim Rogers Macquarie Agriculture Index Fund

Jim Rogers has been an agriculture bull for some time, and has now combined that favorite investment sector of his in a new commodities index fund also including China, along with agriculture. Rogers has partnered with with Australia's Macquarie Funds group to create the new Macquarie and Rogers China Agriculture Index.

Rogers' contention for some time has been that no matter what happens in the global economy, and what may be the demand for the near and far future, agriculture is going to play an increasingly big role in the world, and those investing in the sector will do well in the years ahead.

Put the expanding Chinese middle class together with the growing population and economy, and you see the potential the Macquarie and Rogers China Agriculture Index fund represents.

so even with the continuing challenges facing the global economy, agricultural commodities will continue to be in high demand, especially those targeting the Asian market.

Commodity investors will be glad to know the difference between the Macquarie and Rogers China Agriculture Index and other Indices. In this case, the agriculture index fund will focus on the actual consumption of food and the price fluctuations connected to that, rather than simply tracking production, which doesn't guarantee anything will be consumed or sold.

With the price of food being undoubtedly tied to the Chinese people, anything targeting that market should enjoy bellwhether status in relationship to global food prices, and so an index fund in relationship to Jim Rogers should do well in tracking the price fluctuations of food in the densely populated country. It should rank among one of the top hedge funds in the near and far future.

Another benefit to those marketing and managing financial products to invest in, is the ability to create innovative products linked to the overall focus of the commodity index fund. How that happens is the exchange-traded futures contracts or commodity ETF future contracts it uses on physical commodities.

This is a great opportunity for those who believe in the overall competence of Jim Rogers to get involved in something he's studied and watched closely, as well as believes in passionately. In that sense, connecting to a hot commodity market like China with a agricultural raw materials fund will be a great way to profit for those interested in investing in a commodity or commodity index fund or ETF.

As Jim Rogers has said over the last several years, we can count on the current commodity bull market to continue for years, and the existing economic crisis will only extend it longer, even if there is some short term pain and slowdown.

As Rogers continues to hammer home, food will be eaten and in demand no matter what else happens. And with that demand to be no larger than in China, it positions Rogers, commodity investors, and the Macquarie and Rogers China Agriculture Index for long term investing success.

We must keep watching commodity hedge funds and commodity etfs which specifically target agriculture. With agriculture prices plunging in 2008, they will turn around sooner or later, and investing in a commodity index fund like Macquarie and Rogers China Agriculture Index should provide a solid return when those prices start to climb again.

Demand for food isn't just going to climb linearily, it will climb exponentially, as even with population-control efforts, it continues to climb in the Asian region had significant pace. Food demand and prices will follow that continuing trend.

The primary strategy of the Macquarie and Rogers China Agriculture Index is to track consumer consumption patterns in China, and how food prices respond to them. That's the underlying foundation of the fund. This is what gives the fund an excellent chance of bringing a high level of return for those looking at the agricultural commodity sector.

As mentioned earlier, more than any other people in the world in the years ahead, the Chinese will more than anybody determine the food priorities and prices globally, and the new agriculture commodity fund from Jim Rogers should move up with that reality.

While we know that past success doesn't in any way guarantee future results, the past performance of Jim Rogers, especially when working with George Soros and the amazingly successful Quantum Fund, which gained about 4,200 percent over a ten-year-period, does give an indication that he knows what he's doing, and does his homework when it comes to supply and demand of raw materials.

And Rogers now sees agriculture as the major point of demand for probably decades, and so the fund was created.

The new Macquarie and Rogers China Agriculture Index fund should be an important investment vehicle in the hot commodities hedge fund arena.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Corn Futures in India Drop

Few buyers show up to by in the Indian corn spot market, driving corn futures in India down.

India corn futures ended lower on Friday on sudden absence of buying by local feedmakers and exporters in the spot market, analysts said.

"Both domestic feedmakers and export enquiries were not seen in the market today," said Rahimtullah, a trader in Nizamabad, a major trading hub.

Prices fell by 4 rupees to 820 rupees per 100 kg in Nizamabad spot market.

Prices showed some positive trend in the past one month as demand from local poultry feed-makers started to pick up recently after being tamped down in recent months by a bird flu outbreak.

Government agencies, another major group of buyers in the past one month, almost stopped buying in the last 3-4 days, a trader said.

February futures NMZG9 on the National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange ended at 848 rupees per 100 kg, down 1.39 percent.

India corn futures should rise going forward though, as government agencies and other big players come back to the table.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Corn: Is the Ethanol Party Over?

While some commodities in the precious metals sector will enjoy a banner year in 2009, grains, and specifically corn, won't be doing to well, as least in the first half the year, as corn futures drop below $4 a bushel.

Contrast that to last year when the sky seemed the limit when corn futures reached over $8 a bushel, and money was plentiful.

Even the drought in Argentina hasn't made an impact on corn prices, as similar to wheat, the harvest globally has been so good, that losing a significant amount like that hasn't made a dent in the price holding up at all.

One major reason for the downfall was the reliance on the taxpayer subsidized ethanol industry, which unsurprisingly has been hammered from the artificial industry, which doesn't have a chance of being successful, as most government hair brained ideas aren't.

The drop in oil prices has caused the ethanol industry to collapse, and even with subsidies, many have already filed for bankruptcy. While that will help silver producers with cost inputs, it evidently won't help the costly corn production process.

Corn farmers need to learn if they suck at the government teat, they're eventually going to get sour milk.

Only the gullible couldn't see the foolishness of the government ethanol program that already has been seen to be a failure. Oil would have to be well over $200 a barrel to make it sustainable, and there would be a consumer outcry if that were to happen.

Corn farmers are now looking to get out of a lot of their corn acreage this year, and revert to soybeans, which have much less costly inputs, and a much better chance at success than the heavily subsidized corn ethynal debacle.

Unfortunately for corn producers, they've become addicted to government entitlements, and then mistakenly follow their business advice which they have no expertise in. That's why it's better to rely on yourself and your own research than dipping your hand in the public till.

Because of the mismanaged and faulty ethanol hoax, farmers will now find it difficult to optain loans for planting and inputs, as the banking system is wary, and the harvests and corn markets very volatile.

So even though we love maize, not even the drought in a major corn exporting country like Argentina who had their corn outlet cut by over 25% could bring corn futures back up again.

As far as corn prices later in 2009, one thing that could eventually help, is the fact that there probably will be quite a few less acres planted in corn this year, especially in the U.S.

Much will depend on if that remains true in other parts of the world, In Argentina, this is the worst drought since 1971, so it's hard to picture them going through something like this again. So they should rebound and have a good corn harvest next year, which will have to be included in the corn price outlook going ahead.

One thing for sure, this year will be as unpredictable as it has ever been for corn farmers, and looking ahead it could be much better to plant acreage in a more predictable crop than toss the dice on seeding fields in the volatile corn market.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Corn Results | Wheat, Soybeans Pressuring Prices

Corn results today are wheat and soybeans pressuring the prices down, along with a stronger U.S. dollar.

Chicago Board of Trade corn futures succumbed to outside pressure Tuesday, ending lower amid falling wheat and soybean markets, traders said.

March corn ended down 7 1/2 cents to $3.83 1/2 per bushel, May corn ended down 7 cents to $3.94 3/4 and July corn ended down 7 cents to $4.05 1/2.

The market had been higher for much of the day despite lower wheat and soybeans, but corn sank as those markets extended their losses.

"Wheat and beans are slam-dunking corn," said Vic Lespinasse, analyst for grainanalyst.com.

Weak crude oil and a stronger dollar weighed on corn and other commodities, analysts said.

The market climbed in early trading on technical strength and follow-through from Friday's sharp gains, said Shawn McCambridge, senior grains analyst for Prudential Bache. But McCambridge and other analysts said the market does not have a good reason to rally sharply.

"I think we're going to have to have some kind of a fundamental backing in order to continue to extend these gains," McCambridge said.

The demand outlook remains weak, with exports, ethanol and feed demand all suffering.

Traders noted a continued unwinding of the corn-soybean spread due to concerns that corn is losing acres to soybeans. Those concerns flared again with Informa Economics acreage projection released on Friday, a trader said. Some analysts said concerns about corn losing acreage are overblown, however.

Corn climbed above $4 in the March contract overnight and again early Tuesday, but retreated each time.

A trader called $4 "massive resistance," although McCambridge called it "a psychological benchmark we continue to watch."

South American weather remains a key focus of both corn and soybeans, and continued dry weather in Argentina is fueling concerns about crop damage. But support from the continuing dry weather there was mitigated by beneficial rains in Brazil, traders said.

CBOT oats futures ended lower. March oats were down 8 1/2 cents to $2.14 per bushel and May oats were down 8 1/2 cents to $2.23 1/4.

Ethanol futures were unchanged to slightly lower. February ethanol ended flat at $1.612 per gallon and March ethanol ended down $0.013 to $1.617.

-By Ian Berry, Dow Jones Newswires; 312-341-5778; ian.berry@dowjones.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
01-20-09 1527ET
Copyright (c) 2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.


Results for corn will continue to push downward in conjunction with wheat and soybeans. Oil prices didn't help, also falling, neither did the U.S. dollar getting stronger today help.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Kenya Seeking $406 Million in Food Aid in the Midst of Corruption and Bad Policy

Kenya Prime Minister Raila Odinga

Kenya has asked the international community for $406 million in food aid, but they aren't receiving a friendly response.

At the outset that may seem cruel, but in reality much of this isn't related to the asserted drought, but by terrible planning and corruption within the country. No one wants to throw money or corn at a situation that will not do what it was meant to do.

For example, Prime Minister Raila Odinga deliberately blocked plans to expand the storage facilities for grain in the country, although he's in denial on it making things worse.

Terrible Kenyan policies like forcing farmers to sell grain only to the government, along with "targeted price controls," according to U.S. Ambassador Michael Ranneberger, have been significant factors in the alleged food crisis. Ranneberger added that it possibly could have been the impetus behind reports of corruption as well.

The problem is Kenya must get rid of its terrible policies, and from there develop more grain storage capacity in order to handle what may be sent to them.

Reports that some people have been selling large amounts of corn to nearby countries has also been acknowledged, although it's difficult to ascertain whether it's because of greed alone, or lack of storage is driving their actions. It's probably a little bit of both.

The bottom line is, how can countries send millions worth of aid in difficult economic times like these, when there's no guarantee it'll reach the people it was meant to help?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Dry Weather in Argentina Pushed Corn Prices Up Slightly

Dry weather in Argentina gave corn prices a boost today, after falling to their lowest level in a month yesterday. Argentina is only second behind the U.S. in exporting of corn.

Projections are the conditions in Argentina will continue, as expectations are that less than 1 inch of rain will fall in the major agricultural regions of Argentina over the next couple of weeks.

Corn responded by moving up as high as $3.695 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade in electronic trade, while closing at $3.66-1/2 a bushel.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Corn Plunges on Department of Agriculture's Projection of Larger Supplies

Corn fell to the lowest level allowd by the Chicago Board of Trade after the u.S Department of Agriculture said supply will be larger than originally projected in December.

Consequently corn futures dropped by the 30-cent limit to $3.8075 a bushel on the CBOT. That's closing in on the lowest price in two years experienced on December 5 of $3.055.

Corn inventories in the U.S. will come in at 1.79 billion bushels on August 31, a huge 21 percent more than the 1.474 billion bushels expected in December.

Estimates for the 2008 corn crop were also revised upward, adding another 0.7 percent to the total, while also cutting its projections for exports as well. As expected, production for animal feed and ethanol were also revised downward.

In 2007, corn in the U.S. was valued at $52.1 billion, the largest crop in the country.

Globally, corn levels will also increase from Decembers estimate, growing by 9.9 percent or 136 million tons.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Monsanto More than Doubles Profits in Fiscal-first Quarter

The fiscal-first quarter for Monsanto Co. (MON) couldn't have been much more profitable, as the biotechnology company more than doubled profits.

Most of that was driven by glyphosate-based weed killer "Roundup" sold in Latin America, along with overall corn seed sales.

Another factor in the solid profits was the pricing strategy implemented by Monsanto, as they increased corn seed prices by between 15% to 20% while looking to increase prices this year by up to 25%, said the company.

For Monsanto and other companies, the question becomes whether the price increases will be able to hold, as their original increases came before commodities got hit hard. If commodities don't come back fairly quickly, it'll be hard to maintain those increases in a soft market.

If that doesn't happen soon, management of costs will be a significant factor in Monsanto's profits going, as they may have to cut their projected price increases if farmers aren't able or willing to pay Monsanto's wanted price.

Another concern in the sector is the very real possibility of a worldwide seed pricing war, which according to Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant, they won't participate in, and will hold their projected pricing to maintain their margins.

The thought there is competitors will be forced to revert to increasing prices even if they gain some temporary market share, as it'll cut significantly into profits. That seems to be a risky strategy, but at the same time it's also risky for competitors over the long haul.

For the fiscal first quarter ending November 30, net income surged from $256 million last year to $556 million this year. Sales grew to $2.65 billion for a record first quarter, an increase of 29 percent.

The company also increased its guidance to a range of $4.40 to $4.50 from $4.20 to $4.40 on an ongoing basis.

Going forward, Monsanto is continuing on with its strategy of introducing its SmartStax corn seed, which include eight genetic changes, and developed to take the place of triple-stack corn seeds.

The drought-tolerant corn of Monsanto is also near the end of its research and development stage, and is awaiting approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Assuming approval from the USDA and targeted nations, seed is scheduled to be marketed in 2012.

Even with the great news of Monsanto's performance, the key going ahead is whether they can maintain their aggressive pricing without losing significant market share. Increased supply into the market and competitors' responding by lowering prices could put downward pressure on profits for the company.

Still, to perform like they have under these economic conditions is quite an accomplishment. Long term they seem to be a solid company to invest in.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

DJ CBOT Corn Review: Ends Higher On Crude; Unchanged On Week

CHICAGO, Jan 02, 2009 (Dow Jones Commodities News via Comtex) --
By Ian Berry

Higher crude oil and short-covering pushed Chicago Board of Trade corn futures higher Friday, as the market extended its rally from Wednesday, traders said.

March corn ended up 5 1/4 cents to $4.12 1/4 per bushel, May corn ended up 5 cents to $4.22 3/4 and July corn ended up 5 cents to $4.33.

The market was a penny or two higher for most of the day and gained a few more cents before the close. It remains firmly above key support at $4 as well as its 50-day moving average at $3.85.

"The market has given a clear indication -- not just corn, but wheat and soybeans -- that the Dec. 5 lows were fairly major," said Joel Karlin, analyst for Western Milling.

Higher crude oil and U.S. stocks set a supportive tone, although there was little fundamental news to boost the market, traders and analysts said. Weekly export sales of 269,900 metric tons were weak, traders added.

Traders and analysts add that the rally from a low of $2.90 in the nearby contract in December has been in light volume, much of it around the holidays. Many expect the market will give back some of its gains once traders return and activity gets back to normal next week.

Karlin said following the Jan. 12 crop report, the market will have "a renewed focus on fundamentals" including prospects for planted acreage this year.

Weak demand across all sectors continues to limit corn's gains, analysts say, and corn's recent gains will only hinder any rebound in demand.

Funds bought an estimated 1,000 contracts. Although the market closed higher for the third straight day, the March contract ended unchanged on the week.

CBOT oats ended slightly higher. March oats ended up 2 cents to $2.12 per bushel, May oats ended up 2 cents to $2.21 1/4 and July oats ended up 2 cents to $2.30 3/4.
Ethanol futures were mixed. January ethanol ended flat at $1.620 per gallon and March ethanol ended up $0.005 to $1.654.

-By Ian Berry, Dow Jones Newswires; 312-341-5778; ian.berry@dowjones.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
01-02-09 1543ET
Copyright (c) 2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.