Duxton’s Agri Bits and Pieces – Vol. 349
Posted on: September 8th, 2017


This week’s quote of the week comes from David Anderson, a livestock economist with Texas A&M, in regards to Hurricane Harvey’s impact on Texas’s agriculture industry.

“the total hay loss is going to be a big number and a hardship that’s going to hit ranchers long after the storm is gone…they’re estimating the damage by Harvey is going to be 400,000 bales…that’s a significant hit”

It’s unclear how much of the damages will come from the country’s third largest agricultural state, took in about $25 billion in 2016 and has an economic impact of $100 billion. Agricultural economists, government experts and farmers themselves say it’s much too early to tally the damage from Harvey, but it’s obvious the numbers will be big.


The French are on top and the Germans lagging behind as the European Union’s wheat crop draws to a close in a season of contrasts for the world’s biggest growing region. French farmers are celebrating a strong harvest, with good quality, thanks to hot June weather. Their counterparts from Spain to Germany and Romania suffered everything from frosts to heatwaves, and drought to downpours.

Total output for the 28-nation trading bloc will rise 3.8 percent to 141million metric tons in the season that started in July, compared with an 11 percent slump the previous year, according to consultancy Strategie Grains. That’s still below the 151.9 million tons collected two years earlier.

Strategie Grains President Andree Defois said “the total effect is a higher crop, with good quality and better volume in France but some reduction in central EU and quality problems in northern EU.”

France began harvesting earlier than usual after a warm June sped up wheat development. The EU’s biggest grains producer expects a 34% jump in output this season. Quality is very good, with the latest survey showing two thirds of the harvest containing at least 12% protein content.

It’s a different story for the EU’s second-largest grower, Germany. A dry spring and a heatwave in June affected grain development, while downpours in the past few weeks delayed harvesting. Crop gathering was difficult and farmers had to gather grain with higher humidity levels to avoid further quality losses. As a result, Germany will have a greater amount of lesser-quality grain more suitable for animal feed. Wheat output will drop to 24 million tons this season, the lowest since 2012.

While the U.K. also saw rain and needed to dry harvested grain, overall yields are slightly above the five year average and quality is good so far, with a forecasted production of 13.9 million tons. The U.K. is expected to be a net imported for a second straight season.

Storms and downpours saw Polish farmers push back harvests and lowered grain quality. While good crops in the south mean output is set to rise this season, exports are poised to fall this year as prices are too high to compete with the likes of Russia and the Baltic states. Romanian production will fall to 7.8 million tons in the season, due to smaller planted acreage following last year’s bumper crops.


Farming practices that keep roots in the soil year-round can increase resilience to flooding and droughts.

Droughts are expected to worsen and intense storms to become more frequent across much of the country (USA) in coming decades as the planet warms, but their impact on agriculture could be blunted if American farmers focus on their roots.

A study, examines the benefits of cover cropping boosting practices used around the world. The study determined that farmers could help their land better withstand some of the effects of a warming climate by making their soil more ‘spongy’.

Andrea Basche, the study’s author and a Kendall Science Fellow in the Union of Concerned Scientists Food and Environment Program. “Spongy soil holds more water…what we found to be the most effective and consistent way to get more porous soil is keeping roots there.”

Certain practices help build soil health, including cover-cropping or no-till, has long been understood in agriculture. As little as 2% of growers in the Mississippi River basin plant cover crops.

Basche looked at 150 experiments across six continents and found that nearly two-thirds showed that soil held water better if any of a number of soil-building practices were used, of those practices, she found that maintaining “containing living cover” – by growing cover crops or perennial crops – proved the best strategy for improving soil’s ability to absorb water. “This improvement is likely related to the creation of continuous root systems in the soil, which contribute to topsoil retention, increased levels of soil carbon, enhanced biological activity, and reduced water loss from runoff…this is a novel scientific finding that can help prioritise the practices that help reduce climate risks.”



This week’s chart of the week comes from Bloomberg’s France Stands Out as Germans Lag at End of Europe Wheat Harvest, which highlights the bloc’s biggest winners and lowers among the top wheat growers.






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