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Biotech wheat support; CN breaks grain transporting record; LCI SMETA certified; US corn on track, wheat lagging; grain analyzer approved in Austria

By Maggie Hennessy

- Last updated on GMT

GM wheat: Farm and wheat groups back progress saying it will create better products and sustainable production
GM wheat: Farm and wheat groups back progress saying it will create better products and sustainable production

Related tags: Winter wheat, Wheat

Wheat groups support commercial biotech wheat, Canadian National Railway moving record grain ahead of regulatory moves, LCI secures ethical trade certification, USDA crop updates, and Austria approves use of IM 9500. 

Wheat groups support commercialization of biotech wheat

Sixteen farm and wheat organizations in Australia, Canada and the United States publicly reaffirmed their support for the future commercialization of biotechnology as part of a strategy to foster innovation. Currently, there are no commercially approved GM wheat varieties.

According to the groups, advanced breeding and biotechnology will help protect the continued availability of wheat foods and "ultimately offers the promise of improved products, more sustainable production and environmental benefits."

The groups signed a joint statement – replacing an original document singed five years ago. The pledge adds support from groups representing the broader farm industry, including the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Farmers Union.

Signatories include: American Farm Bureau Federation, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Farmers Union, North American Millers' Association, US Wheat Associates, Canadian National Millers Association, Cereals Canada, Grain Farmers of Ontario, Grain Growers of Canada, Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association, AgForce Queensland, Grain Growers Limited, Grain Producers Australia, Grain Producers SA, Pastoral and Graziers Association of Western Australia, and Victorian Farmers Federations Grains Group.

CN transporting record levels of Canadian grain

Canadian National Railway Co. has surpassed its prior historical record for transportation of Western Canadian grain in the 2013-2014 crop year.

CN's hopper car deliveries to Western Canadian grain elevators in May are expected to average 5,500 carloads per week—50% more than the eight-year historical average, and 38% more than the best May on record. The record haul came a month before the Canadian government’s order-in-council, requiring railways to move specific volumes, is set to take effect.

Crop year-to-date, CN's grain volumes are 4% better than its previous best and 13% above average performance. CN CEO Mongeau noted that the volumes would have been closer to 10% above the prior record if “it hadn't been for grain companies failing to use available rail capacity last August and early September when it was becoming clear that Canadian grain growers would harvest a huge crop".

CN is now aiming to move close to 6,000 hopper cars of grain weekly during this summer with its recently-introduced customer fleet integration plan, and the deployment in Canada of its temporarily surplus fleet of hopper cars used in US service during the next three months.

"Assuming grain elevator companies are capable of consistently unloading this increased volume, these plans should propel us into even greater record territory by the end of the crop-year in early August,” ​Mongeau said.

LCI SMETA certified for milling, flour sites

Limagrain Céréales Ingrédients (LCI) has obtained Sedex Members Ethical Trade Audit (SMETA) accreditation for all four of its production facilities: a maize mill, pellets factory, functional flours facility and bakery ingredients site.

LCI, a subsidiary of leading EU seed group Groupe Limagrain, has consistently upheld the five commitments inherent to its ESR strategy, the firm says. The LCI Societal Responsibility policy document sets out all the rules of conduct relating to economics, ethics and governance, the environment, social and societal concerns.

“We are members of Sedex, a secure collaborative platform for supply-chain ethical information exchanges, supporting efficient, simplified management of our ethical and socially responsible practices,”​ said Patricia Panel, marketing manager at LCI, adding that the ingredient supplier can share supply chain information for customers that request it. “Sedex reduces the number of audits required, promoting a shared focus on improvements to be made,”​ she noted.

US corn nearly planted, red winter wheat dragging

US corn planting advanced to 95% as of June 1, up from 88% a week earlier and one point ahead of the five-year average, according to the latest crop report from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The 80% of corn that was emerged was rated 63% good to excellent, USDA said. Meanwhile, spring wheat was 88% planted and 67% emerged, compared to the averages of 88% and 72%. North Dakota, the top producer, advanced to 83% planted and 51% emerged, compared with the averages of 81% and 61%.

Condition of winter wheat in the central and southern Plains was roughly unchanged, with 5% rated excellent, 25% good, 26% fair, 22% poor and 22% very poor, versus 6%, 24%, 26%, 22%, and 22% the previous week. Wheat in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas continued to struggle, with Texas wheat rated 64% poor to very poor, Oklahoma 78%, and Kansas 62%.

Soft red winter wheat has fared better than hard red winter with Illinois wheat at 67% good to excellent, Indiana at 70%, and Ohio at 64%. 

USDA did not issue a harvest report on winter wheat, but overall, 79% of the winter wheat was headed, versus the 78% average.

Inframatic 9500 approved in Austria

The IM 9500 NIR Grain Analyzer has been officially approved by the BEV (Bundesamt für Eich- und Vermessungswesen), the national metrology institute providing scientific and technical services in Austria.

After evaluation of the IM 9500, BEV concluded that it meets the requirements for official determination of moisture. With this approval, number 3904/2013, the IM 9500 can be used for moisture testing in commercial grain trading in Austria. The IM 9500 analyzes a wide range of grains and oilseeds for moisture, protein, oil and various other parameters in less than a minute. The optional Flour Module also enables it to determine moisture, protein and ash in wheat flour.

“The IM 9500 is officially approved in many markets, including countries such as the USA, Australia and Germany,” said Henrik Andr​én, business area manager for grain at Perten. “With the approval from BEV our Austrian customers can benefit from the improved performance and ease of use that the IM 9500 brings.”

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