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Agribusiness Report for September 2, 2014

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — The markets, including the sheep and goat auction in Colfax, were closed over the weekend for the holiday.

Most of Iowa’s corn crop is in the dough stage.

Statewide it’s still behind on the dent stage, but that hasn’t stopped many field scouts predicting high corn yields across Iowa.

Last week, agribusiness reporter Brandon Blue and I visited some fields south of Des Moines to get a better picture of the crop.

Iowa State University field agronomist Mark Johnson who scouts fields of ten central Iowa counties was with us. He says calculating yields is a little more complex than just counting kernels.

“This was planted on May 10th, which in a normal year we’d like to be done by then with corn. But we had a lot of people out there right after pollination, doing yield estimates and coming up with incredible numbers. I was hearing over 300. The thing you got to keep in mind is: the number of kernels is part of the picture, but the depth in that kernel is very important, too. And how much we fill that, contributes a lot to the yield. And so, early on we had a time when the number around was determined. Then we had a time when the number ovals long was determined and then at pollination, we determined how many of those became kernels. And then for a brief time after that we could abort some back and then for all the rest of the time it’s how much can we pack into that kernel and we want to pack in there as much as we can. OK, and so what a lot of people do is they follow the milk line down, to see the progression. This is the great big germ, that’s going to be next year’s corn plant. As far as the plant is concerned. But this side, is behind the germ and so you can actually see the milk line there. That’ll just keep coming down as it gets closer to the end and that is physiological maturity. And then immediately after that, there’s an abscission layer. Where a layer of cells dies and compresses and it becomes black. And so, where we’ve had a lot of cool days, and we’re behind on heat units depending on where you are in the state. Anywhere from about five days behind to 12 or 15 days behind. And so then the concern is, can this milk line get all the way down and can we hit physiological maturity before frost.”

Johnson says insect and disease pressure has been very low this year in the counties he covers.

Based on sales, Sao-Paulo-based JBSSA is the largest food-processing company in the world, but just last month it was hit with a nearly million dollar fine for failing to meet cold-room recovery labor standards at one of its slaughterhouses.

In June a Brazilian judge investigated complaints that the recovery space for cold-room workers at the plant did not meet temperature and sound comfort levels mandated by law.

Following the investigation JBSSA was given 60 days to build an appropriate rest area for workers with necessary insulation.

The company says it will appeal the sentence.

JBSSA is easily the largest food company in Brazil, with revenue almost three times more than the nearest competitor.

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