AgFax Grain Review: Hershey Questions Corn Syrup; Increased Farm Storage Helps Prices

Markets/Trade

  • Candice Choi of the Associated Press reports on ABCNews.com that Hershey has announced it will “explore” shifting away from high fructose corn syrup in some of its products in favor of sugar, due in part to consumer views of corn syrup being less healthy than regular sugar. Choi notes that that there is currently insufficient scientific evidence to show that corn syrup is any worse than regular sugar despite the negative opinion among consumers, and that while Hershey has announced the possibility of phasing out corn syrup in some of its products it has not announced any timetable for the transition.
  • Jacob Bunge and Jesse Newman report for the Wall Street Journal that a 16% rise in on farm storage since 2000 has given grain farmers more control over market prices as it allows farmers better control of how much supply is available to the market while also waiting for better prices. Many farmers have even expanded the use of nontraditional grain storage options such as using huge plastic bags capable of holding up to 14,000 bushels each of corn, wheat, or soybeans. In fact corn futures have climbed 15% and soybean futures 10% since September, a period when prices typically remain fairly stagnant or move lower as the new crop hits the market. (Link requires subscription)

Production

  • Shawn Conley of the University of Wisconsin reports on Ohio’s Country Journal that while soybean growers in the northern growing regions have been shifting to later maturing varieties over the last decade, a newly released research study shows that maturity group should take a back seat to individual variety genetics when making seed choice for the 2015 season. While the study showed growing areas saw optimal yields with certain maturity groups, there was a substantial range in which yield losses were 10% or less and that seed genetics could easily make up for the yield difference. Conley’s advice is that “As seed decisions are made for 2015, it is fine to keep the relative maturity rating on your check list, just don’t have it near the top!”

EARLIER IN THE WEEK

Lawsuits

  • A Des Moines Register article on AgriMarketing.com reports that a Chinese woman charged as part of a conspiracy to steal patented GMO corn seeds from test fields was denied a request to visit her family in China ahead of her trial. The woman’s attorney urged that the case against her as a member of the conspiracy was weak and that she could be assured to return for trial to prove her innocence rather than face the risk of receiving an international warrant. The judge in charge of the trial deemed she was too much of a flight risk, particularly as the U.S. and China do not have an extradition agreement which makes it impossible for U.S. officials to retrieve her if she failed to return for trial.
  • Jonathan Menard reports for the St. Charles Herald-Guide that Archer Daniels Midland Co. has joined the ranks of lawsuits filed against Syngenta for financial losses as a result of ongoing trade debacle caused by Syngenta’s unapproved GMO corn variety.

Markets/Trade

  • Reuters reports that China will begin the 7th year of its corn stockpiling program this week, with procurement prices unchanged from last year and current estimates predicting purchases of 40 million tonnes, down 20 million tonnes from last year. Large government are being blamed for the increased scrutiny of import officials that has resulted in the rejection of numerous shipments of U.S. corn for containing unapproved GMO varieties.
  • AgriMoney.com reports that the Brazilian bureau of the USDA has cut forecasts for Brazil’s soybean crop to 92 million tonnes, joining a string of analysts and commentators in reducing the country’s soybean prospects. The U.S. estimate, while 2 million tonnes lower than the official USDA forecast, would still be a record high. The official USDA estimate is up for revision in next week’s reports. Most commentators retain forecasts in the 91-94 million tonne range.
  • AgriMoney.com also reports that the U.S. forecast for Argentina’s soybean crop was raised to a record 57 million tonnes, 2 million tonnes higher than the official USDA forecast also up for revision next week. The increase comes despite economic uncertainty in the country and the use of lower quality seeds, as farmers are expected to increase sowing area with the “sole aim … to survive the production cycle.”

Production

  • Gil Gullickson reports for Agriculture.com that corn growers should consider 6 questions to prepare for the 2015 season, from seed availability and prices to what diseases to watch for and how to manage them.



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