Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Debts of the Spenders: Early August Crop Outlook

Disappointing news for agriculture bulls. For soybeans, hurricane winds have not spread the fungal spores far enough inland and away from the Gulf Coast. But that might change as August is cyclically the busiest month of the year for hurricanes. As for wheat, I agree w/the analyses that an early frost is unlikely to occur in September.

Soybean Rust Damage Fears Could Be A 2009 Bust

Asian soybean rust appears to be a bust once again in 2009, representing the fifth consecutive season in which the plant disease has failed to cause appreciable damage to the top U.S. oilseed crop. The airborne fungus - which has been known to produce yield losses of 10% to 90% in other parts of the world via premature defoliation - has been found in 33 U.S. counties from Texas to Florida this season. That’s up from 27 as of early August 2008.

“There are more positive sites in the central Gulf area this year, but you should be aware that the disease is progressing very slowly,” said University of Kentucky plant pathologist Dr. Don Hershman. “The lack of tropical weather systems so far this summer has helped to keep soybean rust in check. There is little cause for alarm until soybean rust begins a northward trend.” Hurricane winds are suspected as the vehicle which originally carried rust spores to the continental U.S. from infected South American fields in late 2004.

Anne Dorrance, an Ohio State University plant pathologist, said hot temperatures which dominated the Deep South earlier this summer have also helped to keep the disease bottled up in Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Florida and Georgia.

“At this point it doesn’t look like anything is going to happen on the soybean rust front over the next few weeks during the critical time of flowering and pod setting,” said Dorrance. “If rust comes in at the end of August, it’s not going to have a yield impact, because it’s just coming into the state too late.”

Forecasts Bode Well For US Spring Wheat As Harvest Nears

Forecasts that call for rain in the northern U.S. Plains during the first half of August and minimize the risk of an early freeze bode well for U.S. spring wheat, meteorologists and crop specialists said. Hard red spring wheat, used to make bread, has the potential to produce a record average yield this year thanks to a wet spring and cool summer, according to results from the Wheat Quality Council’s annual crop tour. The tour, which surveyed fields across North Dakota last week, calculated the average 2009 HRS wheat yield at 46.2 bushels per acre, up from the 2008 average of 37.7 bushels.

Producers were cautiously optimistic about the projection, as cutting won’t begin for a few weeks due to late planting. Rain at harvest or an early freeze could still reduce yield or quality, they said. However, “the chances are pretty low” of having a frost or freeze in early September, said Mike Tannura, meteorologist and commodity analyst for T-Storm Weather. North Dakota, the largest spring wheat-growing state, only sees a freeze by Sept. 15 about one year out of 10, he said.

Instead, the crop should benefit from warm, wet weather during the first half of August, Tannura said. Scouts on the wheat tour said plants could use another shot of moisture, and Tannura said warmth will help with development.

Source CME News For Tomorrow
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