AgDay Daily Recap - December 5, 2011

December 5, 2011 08:54 AM

DECEMBER 5, 2011

On Friday the committee voted to subpoena MF Global CEO John Corzine to compel him to testify at a hearing this week about his role in the collapse of MF Global. The major commodities trader filed for bankruptcy, leaving a lot of uncertainty in the ag sector. Committee Chairman Representative Frank Lucas of Oklahoma says Corzine's testimony is essential to fulfill the house committee's objectives. Regulators are investigating whether MF Global used money from customers' accounts for its own purposes as its financial condition worsened. An estimated $1.2 billion or more may be missing from customer accounts

Those producers planning to plant grain sorghum or hay grazer may struggle to find seed. New reports out of the panhandle of Oklahoma and Texas say seed crops were severely damaged by drought. According to Rick Kochenower at Oklahoma State, seed for forage sorghums like hay grazer are extremely short. He says varieties are selling out.

While farmers begin their winter wait, cattlemen in parts of the drought stricken southern plains are still trying to hold on. A lack of rain kept pastures short as they enter winter dormancy. Luckily a few recent rains have kick started winter wheat. Oklahoma State experts say it looks like there's going to be more forage than producers expected.

While parts of Oklahoma may be getting some much needed rain, other parts of the country will continue to rely on hay. So what does that mean for the hay market in 2012? According leaders with the California Alfalfa and Forage Association the outlook for hay growers is positive. Hay and forage grower reports prices of supreme hay are predicted to fall between $2.70 and $2.80 dollars per ton.

In the southern plains, where hay is in heavy demand, drought has hurt production. That's why researchers at New Mexico State University are working new drought tolerant varieties. Scientists are using DNA markers to find drought tolerant genes. Those genes are then inserted into different varieties and the production yields studied. The current drought in New Mexico has actually benefited the research. So far yield improvements have averaged between 7-10% with one variety seeing a 15% improvement. Alfalfa works well in the southwest but farmers generally must irrigate to grow the crop. Researchers say their work should help producers save money on irrigating costs.

Last week, women from across the country turned up in Chicago for the first ever Executive Women in Agriculture Conference. Organized by Top Producer Magazine and Farm Journal Media, the event was specifically geared toward women and their ever increasing roles in America's agricultural landscape. According to the USDA more than 30% U.S. farm operators are women. Women from more than twenty states came to the event which covered everything from agronomics, marketing, to management. Participants say it’s nice have an event geared specifically toward them.

Mike Hogan

As holiday parties abound, many will be enjoying the sweet nectar of wine. But some folks want an alcohol-free wine. If that describes your household, you might consider muscadine juice. In fact, grape growers in Arkansas have found a niche market in China. Ken Moore has details in this report from the Arkansas Farm Bureau.

Meanwhile in neighboring Missouri, grape growers are finding success with their climate. But from time-to-time, they need some help. Viticulture experts at the university are trying to pin-point new cultivars that offer the best in both traits like disease resistance and taste when those grapes are transformed into wine. The research is currently in its third year of a 7-year study to evaluate 70 new varieties. They're dealing with Missouri's climate which can see both blistering heat and extreme cold. According to University of Missouri data, the state's wine and grape growers produced more than one-point-six billion dollars in total economic value to the state. That's almost triple the level in 2005. One of the big reasons of that success is due to Missouri's tourism industry. Still to come, a drink or two may help women prevent diabetes. New research on that and the staggering statistics of overweight kindergartners. Food and your family is next.

In food and your family we've all heard the statistics about the growing waistlines of Americans. A new study in the journal pediatrics says those problems are starting in grade school. A new study published in the Journal Pediatrics found nearly 40% of kindergartners are teetering on becoming overweight or obese. The Rand Corporation research looked at data from 6,000 kids. That 40% of kids had a BMI putting them in the 75th percentile for weight. They also found the largest percentage gains in BMI happened for school kids between first and 3rd grades.

And another study--this one from the Harvard School of Health--found that middle aged women who drank moderate amounts of alcohol cut their risk of type 2 diabetes by 3%. This information came from looking at data from more than 81,000 women. Moderate consumption is classified as about two drinks a week.

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