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In Brief… – for Dec. 9, 2010

Winter wheat breeder heads south:Francois Marais, a visiting scientist at Winnipeg’s federal Cereal Research Centre, has picked up a new post at North Dakota State University’s plant sciences department as a winter wheat breeder and geneticist. Marais, who has a doctorate in cereal technology from NDSU and degrees in genetics from South Africa’s Universiteit Stellenbosch, will be responsible for developing a winter wheat-breeding and genetics program at NDSU. Producers in North Dakota and Minnesota seeded over 600,000 acres to winter wheat in 2010, NDSU noted. Cold hits Russian winter grain:Nine per cent of Russia’s winter grain sowings have been damaged by cold weather but the overall crop is not threatened, Russia’s Hydrometcentre weather service said Dec. 2. “We do not expect the soil to deep freeze,” Hydrometcentre director Roman Vilfand said, adding temperatures of -14 to -16 C at a soil depth of three cm were damaging for winter crops. “They have not fallen below 10 yet,” he said. After a severe summer drought, winter grain sowings were at 15.5 million hectares, below the 18-million target. Storage boost for CBOT oats:The CME Group has proposed raising the maximum storage charge for Chicago Board of Trade oat futures starting this summer. Pending approval by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the maximum storage charge for CBOT oats would rise to 0.165 cent per bushel per day, or roughly five cents per bushel per month, from 0.15 cent per bushel per day, or roughly 4.5 cents per bushel per month. The increase would take effect July 1, 2011. CME Group said the new rate would better reflect cash market storage rates.

Hurry up and wait:Centronave,

Brazil’s national centre for navigation is calling for $23 billion in investments for the country’s port facilities, which have not kept up with the country’s boom in imports and exports. Ships that arrived at Brazilian ports from January through September waited a total of 8.2 years to load and unload goods, Centronave said. “It is an unacceptable absurdity,” said executive director Elias Gedeon. Demurrage costs run around $20,000 to $30,000 a day for a panamax-sized vessel waiting to load bulk goods. Bale truck, bale injure two separately:A 79-year-old Carmanarea man is in hospital after his Buick rear-ended a northbound semi-trailer carrying hay bales and turning off Highway 3 on the evening of Dec. 1. The trucker, a 54-year-old man from Rock Lake, N.D., later reported he assumed the jolt to be his load shifting, Carman RCMP said. While crews worked to free the seriously injured Buick driver, the trucker arrived unaware at his destination and began unloading bales, when one fell on him and caused serious but non-life-threatening injuries. RCMP said Friday they “continue to investigate.”

New CGC appointments:

Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz has announced the appointment of Murdoch MacKay of Winnipeg as commissioner, and the reappointment of Jim Smolik as assistant chief commissioner, of the Canadian Grain Commission (CGC), both for three-year terms. MacKay began his grain industry career with United Grain Growers in 1979 and from 2005 to 2007, was Agricore United’s vice-president of operations. Smolik has been assistant chief commissioner of the CGC since 2007 and previously co-owned and operated his family’s grain farm in Dawson Creek, B.C.

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