We sometimes forget that the stuff we buy requires its own inputs, and some of those are very basic materials. Even as glyphosate prices plunge again - it's $15/gal at my local farm store- (yeah, I know it's Chinese, but glyphosate is glyphosate) - Monsanto is trying to keep the pipeline full.
[BTW - the rumor at my dealer is the Roundup price is going down big-time]
As it races to replenish phosphate supplies for its weed-killing cash machine Roundup, Monsanto Co. insists its history of polluting southeastern Idaho's high country shouldn't prevent it from digging fresh open pits here.
Three of the St. Louis-based chemical company's previous mines in this region of broad valleys and forested ridges are under federal Superfund authority; a fourth is now violating federal clean water laws. In all, several companies are responsible for polluting at least 17 sites southwest of Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks.
With its current mine in the region nearly played out, Monsanto now wants federal regulators to let the company open a new one by 2011, contending safeguards on the project will keep poisons out of the Blackfoot River. The trout stream just a few hundred yards away is among 15 southeastern Idaho waterways where selenium that leaked from mines exceeds legal state levels.
David Farnsworth, Monsanto mining manager, walked the 1,400-acre Blackfoot Bridge site in late July, describing a liner meant to stop pollution. Even if it fails, he said, vast containment ponds below will keep poisons out of rivers downstream. [More]
Meanwhile, the scuttlebutt I'm hearing from seed industry contacts is a strong "meh" on hyper-stacked seed with $300+ per bag prices. In working on my budgets, it takes a significantly higher yield bump to justify top-line seed corn at $3.50/bushel, and I'm not sure our farm will demonstrate that value this year.
In fact, if we are in for a series of wet years here in the Eastern Cornbelt, "fiple-stacks" may just be expensive overkill. Indeed, weather may be the big factor.
In sum, this research provided strong evidence that precipitation, temperature, and a
linear time trend to represent technological improvement explained all but a small portion of the variation in corn and soybean yields in the U.S. Corn Belt. An especially important finding was that relatively benign weather for the development of corn since the mid-1990s should not be discounted as an explanation for seemingly “high” yields. The potential impact of this finding on the agricultural sector is noteworthy. Trend yield forecasts based on perceptions of a rapid increase in technology may eventually lead to poor forecasts. Unfavorable weather in the future may lead to unexpectedly low corn yields that leave producers, market participants, and policy- makers wondering how such low yields could have occurred despite technological improvements. [More]
We're about to enter into the treacherous waters of reducing our input costs. Seed corn has made itself a big target by breathtaking price increases. If the past yield jumps were one-off or weather flukes, that will soon become clear to growers.
It could be corn traits will deliver the goods, but I am growing more suspicious that genetics and weather will be the deciding factors.