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In Brief… – for Sep. 22, 2011

Sask. harvest ahead of normal:Saskatchewan farmers had harvested 60 per cent of the overall 2011 crop as of Sept. 12, moving ahead of the five-year average of 47 per cent after a week of favourable weather, the provincial government said last Thursday in a weekly report. Harvest progress was the most advanced for this time of year in four years. Crop yields were generally average to above average except areas in the south and southeast that had excessive spring moisture, and quality was good on crop that has been combined. Industrial oilseed assistance:Linnaeus Plant Sciences of Saskatoon has received $1.2 million from Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) to advance production of green alternatives to petroleum oils. The grant will assist research into production of camelina and safflower-based oils as renewable feedstock that can substitute for petroleum in a variety of high-value, non-fuel applications including polymers, lubricants, surfactants and other valuable industrial materials. Linnaeus says the project will deliver two valuable new rotation crops to Canadian farmers.

Record China grain output:

China is likely to reap another bumper grain harvest this year, and output may rise three per cent from a year ago to a record of more than 560 million tonnes, a senior government official said. The country s total grain output may hit a record again, the eighth year with a bumper harvest, Zhang Xiaoqiang of the National Development and Reform Commission said at the World Economic Forum in Dalian. The good grain harvest would help boost supplies and ease rising food prices, which have helped drive up the country s inflation to a three-year high. Biofuel mandares distort prices:Cargill sees limited future growth of the biofuel industry and does not support the use of government mandates on bioethanol or biodiesel because such requirements distort prices. Our view on biofuels is they are here to stay but we probably won t see the growth we have seen in the last decade, Paul Conway, vice-chairman of Cargill, told Reuters. Conway said Cargill is strongly against the use of government mandates, which have been the basis for much of the expansion of the biofuel industry, particularly in the United States and Europe.

Concern grows in

Argentina:Crops in much of Argentina s No. 1 wheat-growing province are suffering from dry weather and the need for rain is becoming urgent in some districts, a report from the Agriculture Ministry said last Friday. There s real concern in the area and pessimism about future yields even if rains arrive in the next few days, the report said, referring to the Bahia Blanca district. Further north in the districts of Pergamino and Pigue, wheat crops are still in reasonable shape despite weeks of scant or nonexistent rainfall. High temps to dry soils in U.S.:Spotty showers last week improved soil moisture in some key growing areas of the parched U.S. Plains, but high temperatures could dry areas out again in the coming days, a private forecaster said Monday. It was good in some areas and not good in others, said Drew Lerner, senior agricultural meteorologist of World Weather Inc. My concern is that we are going to be very warm and dry so the heat will take away a lot of this moisture. No more rain was in the forecast to help break the drought that has plagued the region through the summer.

Hail season winding down:

In its last regular report of the season, the Canadian Crop Hail Association says that storms on Sept. 2 created a significant number of crop claims in Saskatchewan communities of Fenwood, Dysart, Lipton, Cupar, Markinch, Southey and Earl Grey. There were a few new claims in Manitoba from the same date due to a storm near Somerset. Damage is relatively light. A few claims have also been filed in Alberta from storm activity Sept. 2. A final report summarizing claim numbers and payout levels for the season will be released in late October. PepsiCo demo farms in China:PepsiCo Inc. says it plans to work with the Chinese government to promote sustainable farming and speed the development of China s rural areas, its latest effort to raise its profile in a growing market. PepsiCo said its memorandum of understanding with China calls for the company and the Ministry of Agriculture to build and operate demonstration farms and promote the best practices to China s farmers. The maker of Frito-Lay snacks, Quaker food and Tropicana orange juice said in 2010 it would invest $2.5 billion in China over three years.

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