FIELD CROP PRODUCTION – PACIFIC REGION

P1050311SUGARCANE: The 2014 production of sugarcane in Hawaii is forecast at 1.43 million tons, up 2 percent from the previous year, but unchanged from the August forecast. Harvested acreage is estimated at 19.0 thousand acres, up 7 percent from last year. Yield is forecast at 75.0 tons per acre.

The 2014 U.S. production of sugarcane for sugar and seed in 2014 is forecast at 29.4 million tons, down 4 percent from last year. Producers intend to harvest 883 thousand acres for sugar and seed during the 2014 crop year, down 28.3 thousand acres from last year. Expected yield for sugar and seed is forecast at 33.3 tons per acre, down 0.5 tons from 2013.

COTTON: California Upland cotton production in California is forecast at 215 thousand bales, down 35 percent from the 2013 crop. Harvested acreage is estimated at 59.0 thousand acres, down 35 percent from a year ago. Yield is forecast at 1,749 pounds per acre, up 1 percent from last year.

California American Pima cotton production is forecast at 510 thousand bales, down 16 percent from the 2013 crop. Harvested acreage is forecast at 154 thousand acres, down 17 percent from last year. Yield is forecast at 1,590 pounds per acre.

U.S. upland cotton production is forecast at 16.0 million 480-pound bales, up 30 percent from 2013. Harvested area is expected to total 9.69 million acres, down 4 percent from last month but up 32 percent from 2013.

The U.S. American Pima cotton production, forecast at 578 thousand bales, is down 9 percent from last year. Expected harvested area, at 189.4 thousand acres, is down 5 percent from 2013.

RICE: California’s 2014 rice crop forecast, at 36.8 million cwt., is down 23 percent from the previous year. The yield forecast is 8,600 pounds per acre, up 2 percent from last month and up 1 percent from last year. Planted and harvested acreages are forecast at 433 thousand and 428 thousand acres, respectively. As of September 1, nearly all of the rice acres had headed.

The 2014 U.S. rice production is forecast at 218 million cwt, down 5 percent from August, but up 15 percent from last year. Area for harvest is expected to total 2.91 million acres, down 4 percent from August, but 18 percent higher than 2013. Based on conditions as of September 1, the average United States yield is forecast at a record high 7,501 pounds per acre, down 59 pounds from August and down 193 pounds from last year.

Sugar imports soar

Sugar imports shot up exponentially in the 11 months through May upon expectations of a lenient government policy on refined sugar exports and the zero-duty status granted to raw sugar imports.

Imports rose 87 percent to 15.77 lakh tonnes in July-May from the same period a year earlier, according to Bangladesh Bank that compiles data on letters of credit settlement.

Golam Mostafa, chairman of Deshbandhu Sugar, however, suggests that the total volume of sugar imports could be even higher than the LC data imply as payments are typically deferred by six months.

Mostafa attributes the spike in imports to the processing capacity of refineries, which were expanded in anticipation of relaxation of government restrictions on refined sugar exports.

While ASM Mohiuddin Monem, secretary general of Bangladesh Sugar Refiners Association, attributes the surge in imports to the zero-duty import facility bestowed upon sugar — both raw and refined — imports.

“All parties reaped advantage of the policy and imported sugar as much as possible,” said Monem, also the deputy managing director of Abdul Monem Group which runs AM Sugar Refinery Ltd.

For instance, the state-run Bangladesh Sugar Food Industries Corporation and Trading Corporation of Bangladesh imported more than 150,000 tonnes of refined sugar in fiscal 2011-12.

Mostafa expects the sugar imports to hit the 17-18 lakh tonne-mark for the 2012 calendar year, a significant rise from the 14.79 lakh tonnes recorded for 2011.

Farm sector restructuring suggested

Thailand is being urged to restructure its agricultural sector, as the country’s primary farm products can no longer compete in the world market.

Experts say reforms should include controlling the supply of each commodity, creating cultivation zones for each crop, and adding value to farm output.

Zoning restrictions can help to control supplies and improve yield quality to meet demand in niche markets, resulting in higher value and more income to growers of such crops as organic Hom Mali rice and organic vegetables.

Arkhom Termpittayapaisith, secretary-general of the National Economic and Social Development Board, said adding value to farm products would foster sector sustainability.

Prices of local crops such as rice, rubber and sugar now depend on global markets and supply, prompting the government to intervene whenever prices plummet.

This year, agricultural prices dropped by 9.3% year-on-year in the second quarter alone on the slowdown in the world market, hurting local farm incomes.

Thailand now ranks second globally in exports of sugar.

Since most of this commodity is shipped as a primary product, the industry should find ways to increase value such as developing high-quality sugar tailored to particular markets.

Mr Arkhom said Thailand risks losing its status as a major rice exporter as more Asian countries become self-reliant in terms of the crop.

Vietnam has rapidly developed its agricultural sector and can beat Thailand’s rice prices.

Coffee buzz: Java drinkers live longer, big study finds; regular and decaf are equally good

MILWAUKEE — One of life’s simple pleasures just got a little sweeter. After years of waffling research on coffee and health, even some fear that java might raise the risk of heart disease, a big study finds the opposite: Coffee drinkers are a little more likely to live longer. Regular or decaf doesn’t matter.

The study of 400,000 people is the largest ever done on the issue, and the results should reassure any coffee lovers who think it’s a guilty pleasure that may do harm.

“Our study suggests that’s really not the case,” said lead researcher Neal Freedman of the National Cancer Institute. “There may actually be a modest benefit of coffee drinking.”

No one knows why. Coffee contains a thousand things that can affect health, from helpful antioxidants to tiny amounts of substances linked to cancer. The most widely studied ingredient — caffeine — didn’t play a role in the new study’s results.

It’s not that earlier studies were wrong. There is evidence that coffee can raise LDL, or bad cholesterol, and blood pressure at least short-term, and those in turn can raise the risk of heart disease.

Even in the new study, it first seemed that coffee drinkers were more likely to die at any given time. But they also tended to smoke, drink more alcohol, eat more red meat and exercise less than non-coffee-drinkers. Once researchers took those things into account, a clear pattern emerged: Each cup of coffee per day nudged up the chances of living longer.

The study was done by the National Institutes of Health and AARP. The results are published in Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine.

Careful, though — this doesn’t prove that coffee makes people live longer, only that the two seem related.

Health officials issue notice of violation for 2011 HC&S burn

WAILUKU – The state Department of Health Clean Air Branch has issued a notice of violation against Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. for an unauthorized burn last year.

According to a news release, HC&S was cited for burning around 25 acres on Nov. 4 without prior written approval from the department. The company has an agricultural burning permit with the Health Department, but the field that was burned was not among those that were listed on the permit. The violation was self-reported.

HC&S has been assessed a $2,400 fine for the violation.

In a statement issued Wednesday, HC&S General Manager Rick Volner Jr. said, “HC&S takes compliance with its agricultural burning permit very seriously and has instituted safeguards to prevent a recurrence of this incident.”

Volner said the Kahului field was not supposed to be harvested until 2012. But about half of the field was burned in a malicious fire, and the burned cane was harvested immediately.

Very little sweet news for sugar producers|Nation|chinadaily.com.cn

LINCANG, Yunnan – “I can’t expect any profit this year and I don’t know what to do next year,” said Li Xiuzhong, a 65-year-old sugarcane farmer in Lincang, Southwest China’s Yunnan province.

“We have 180 hectares of sugarcane last year and actually the beginning of the growing season was good due to sufficient rainfall,” he said. “But after June, things got worse so quickly and now there is no harvest in 30 hectares.”

His expectations have also dropped from five tons of crops for each hectare to three tons.

“These are already the best drought-resistant seeds and I have ploughed another 40 hectares for next year, hoping to earn more money,” he said. “But now, I have lost confidence in growing them under current weather conditions.”

He said he had grown sugarcane for more than 20 years and this year is the worst in terms of weather.

He is living on income from previous years.

Lincang used to be covered with thick forests and has rich water resources, but since the 2010 drought, its water conservation facilities have been under threat and agricultural production has been challenged.

Lincang’s sugar and tea industries are two pillars of its economy. Sixty percent of sugarcane crops were affected by the weather in 2010 and there was a conspicuous reduction of total production.

Ganhua Company is a major sugar factory in Yunxian county, and is experiencing a hard time with this year’s harvest.

According to Wei Xuehua, general director of the company, the scarcity of water has handed the company, as well as sugarcane farmers and delivery drivers, a total loss of 19 million yuan ($3 million) so far.

In addition, rats have also severely affected the production of sugarcane in the region as water can only be found in the plants.

Biofuels become a victim of own success – but not for long | Damian Carrington

Biofuels have become a victim of own success, it appears: for the first time in a decade global production has dropped. Production in 2011 dropped a touch from 1.822m barrels a day in 2010 to 1.819m in 2011, according to IEA statistics (p30) highlighted by the Financial Times.

The key reason has been the rising cost of the feedstock for most biofuels, corn, sugar and vegetable oil. And the main reason for the rising food prices is, many argue, the huge quantity consumed by biofuels. It’s a big business. The global biofuels business would, if a nation, rank 16th in the world for oil production, just above the UK and Libya and a bit below Norway and Nigeria, all major oil producers. In the US, 40% of the corn crop now gets diverted into fuel tanks, giving the US 50% of global biofuel production.

On top of the peaking of production, the US has just phased out some fat subsidies and tariffs protecting the domestic biofuel industry from international competition. So is the biofuels boom over?

In a word, no. The key driving factor is the price of ordinary oil. In the medium and long term, crude prices seem very likely to remain high and vulnerable to shocks, such as the current Iranian situation. “Once oil is over $70 a barrel, conventional and new generation biofuels become cost competitive, certainly with tar sands and shale, and with oil from much of the Middle East and Brazil’s new offshore fields,” said Jeremy Woods, at Imperial College, when I spoke to him in March. Today, Brent crude is at $113. The IEA predicts a 20% rise in biofuel production to 2.2m b/d by 2015, although that is a slower rise than in the past.

This brings us to the environmental crux. “The less biofuel you have the more gasoline you need,” Amrita Sen, oil analyst at Barclays Capital in London, told the FT.

Snubbed, MP farmers start engineering college

Engineering college
Frustrated by govt’s apathy towards their demands of an engineering college, the farmers of Burhanpur, pooled money for 10 years & finally have an engineering college of their own.
BHOPAL: Frustrated by government’s apathy towards their demands of an engineering college, the farmers of Burhanpur, a small district adjoining Maharashtra, refused to give up: they pooled money for 10 years and finally have an engineering college of their own. This Independence Day, aspiring engineering students of Burhnapur and nearby areas will no more have to trudge to distant places; they will get their own institute.

“Our children have the right to dream of becoming engineers,” said Virendra Kumar Singh, farmer and one of the directors of the Naval Singh Cooperative Sugar Mill Ltd. “We approached leaders of political parties to help realize our dream. But even our MPs and MLAs set-up their private engineering colleges in Indore and Khandwa and other places,” Singh said.

In the year 2000, the thousands of sugar farmers of the cooperative gave up on pleading with their political masters. They decided to donate just Re 1 per quintal of sugarcane and build the college which would give an engineering degree to their children.

Queensland’s sugar takes a foreign flavour in big industry shake-up

TWO of the biggest and most established sugar mills in north Queensland are set to pass into foreign ownership.

Proserpine was sold yesterday to a Singapore company and Tully looks as though it will be sold to Chinese interests.

Both mills have been owned by growers since they were established and the ownership change represents one of the biggest shake-ups in the sugar industry since it was deregulated in 2006.

Sugar mills are highly capital-intensive, and grower-owned mills have been stretched financially in the past year as cyclones have battered north Queensland and the sugar crop.

In these circumstances, large international companies have the capacity to gain synergies by combining sugar mills in a way that smaller individual mills cannot.

The Chinese government-owned China Oil & Food company increased its takeover bid for Tully Sugar yesterday to $44 a share, valuing the mill at $136 million, and the Tully Sugar board recommended it be accepted.

But the recommendation was made “in the absence of a superior proposal”, leaving the way open for either US agribusiness Bunge or French-backed Mackay Sugar to increase their offers.

But the endorsement is still significant, as previously the board has recommended to its shareholders that no action be taken.