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Agrimarketing : October 2012
October 2012 Agri Marketing 35 First, the seed. For emphasis, let's add a couple of words: "First, and most importantly, the seed." Seed is the foundation of life as we know it, from the food we eat to the clothes we wear, and thousands of products in between ... from corn, soybeans, cotton, wheat, barley, canola, sunflower, flax, vegetables and flowers. The delivery mechanism bringing together genetics and traits is the seed ... a living plant in a package ... that literally brings life to the world's growing population. Demand continues to increase with experts predicting that between 2015 and 2030, the world's population with grow by over 1.86 billion people. Much of the growth will come from areas where resources are scarce, putting additional need for increased production right here at home to help feed and clothe the world's people. And it all starts with seed. To really grasp the enormous progress that's been made in the seed industry, it may be useful to look back more than 50 years. In 1866, average corn yields were about 30 bushels/ acre from open pollinated varieties. With the advent of double-cross hybrids spanning the years from 1925 to 1964, average yields more than doubled moving to 70 bushels/acre. Single-cross hybrids came on the scene in a big way starting in 1965 with average yields moving to over the 130 bushel mark. Then in 1996 with the introduction of single cross hybrids with biotech traits, average yields ramped up to 147 bushels per acre in 2011. And we know the potential is there for much higher yields with many individual farmers today routinely exceeding 200-250 bushels/acre. U.S. CORN AT A GLANCE, 2011: 91.9 MILLION acres planted 84.0 MILLION acres harvested 12.4 BILLION bushels produced $76.62 BILLION corn crop value $6.20 average price per bushel While soybean yield improvement has been less spectacular than corn, consistent growth has occurred since 1985 with average yields increasing from 34 bushels/acre to 44 bushels/acre in 2010. Acreage has moved upward from 63 million to 77 million over that time frame. Soybean producers have seen the value of their crop skyrocket from $11 billion in 1985 to nearly $39 billion in 2010. Cotton producers have seen similar yield improvement. In 1965, when 14 million acres were planted, the yield average was 527 lbs/acre. In 2011, when a similar 14 million acres were planted, yields had increased 33% over that 46 year period to an average of 794 lbs./acre. Cotton acreage has fluctuated significantly over those years, ranging from a low of 7,926,000 in 1983, to a high of 16,931,000 in 1995. Biotechnology has also played a key role in cotton production: Bollgard, a Bt event, was registered in October 1995. Roundup Ready cotton was first sold in 1997 by the Deltapine brands. The Bollgard-Roundup Ready stack was first sold in 1998. In 2004, the cotton seed industry moved to standardized seed count bags replacing 50 lb. bags. Roundup Ready Flex was introduced in 2006 allowing farmers to spray over the cotton plant. Monsanto announced in December 2007 that it will not get an extension on Bollgard registration OVERVIEW OF THE SEED INDUSTRY by Gene Kronberg, Kronberg Consulting (more on next page 36) PLANTED ACRES U.S. CORN YIELDS (1866-2012)
November December 2012