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TheCropSite Newsletter - 25 September 2012

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The Crop Site

Tuesday 25th September 2012.

Sarah Mikesell - TheCropSite Senior Editor

Sarah Mikesell
Senior Editor

Editorial: Welcome to TheCropSite Newsletter

This past week I was invited by Bayer CropScience to attend their global press conference in Monheim, Germany. One of the topics covered during my two-day stay was honey bees.

In general, we know that we need honey bees to pollinate crops. But here's a bit of perspective…

The total economic value of pollination worldwide is estimated at $197 billion in 2005, which represents 9.5 per cent of the value of the world agricultural production used for human food that year.

It is estimated that about 1/3 of all plants or plant products eaten by humans are directly or indirectly dependent on insect pollination.

Bee Numbers Up or Down?

Well, it all depends on where you are in the world. Overall, the global number of bee colonies increased by about 45 per cent over the last half century, but Europe and North America have seen a decline.

  • Asia +426%
  • Africa +130%
  • South America +86%
  • Oceania +39%
  • Europe -26.5%
  • North America -49.5%

The decline in North America and Europe has been due to a number of factors including parasites, diseases, extreme climatic and environmental factors and also agricultural and beekeeping practices. However, Klemens J. Krieger, Bayer CropScience project manager bee health, said it is widely recognized that the Varroa mite, an external parasite, is the key threat to honey bee health. The Varroa mite weakens honey bees, multiplies rapidly and transmits pathogenic viruses to honey bees.

"Experts agree that the Varroa mite is the main cause of honey bee losses," Klemens said. "The media coverage has captured all the theories topic of bee loss - one year it was cell phone radiation, the next a virus, the next it was pesticide use. Finally, experts say it is the Varroa plus "X", and it's believed that "X" is a virus that enters the honey bee through lesions left by the Varroa mites. So if you eliminate the Varroa, you also eliminate the virus."

Having seen a lot of the press that Klemens mentioned, I was a little hesitant to believe that the Varroa was to blame for bee losses. So I did a little more research to see what other experts were saying about the Varroa mite and honey bees.

Dr. Keith S. Delaplane, professor at the University of Georgia, said the recent connection between Varroa and a region-wide bee decline was so plain to one group of authors that they put it in the title of their paper: "Varroa destructor is the main culprit for the death and reduced populations of overwintered honey bee (Apis mellifera) colonies in Ontario, Canada."

Delaplane also echoed the summation of Peter Rosenkranz and co-authors when they said, "No other pathogen [beside Varroa] has had a comparable impact on both bee-keeping and honey bee research during the long history of apiculture."

Delaplace said, "It is simply non-controversial among the world's practicing bee scientists that Varroa destructor is problem #1."

In the US, North Carolina State University says the Varroa mite (Varroa destructor) is the most serious pest of honey bee colonies worldwide. Virtually all feral (or "wild") honey bee colonies have been wiped out by these mites, and beekeepers continue to struggle with Varroa infestations in their hives.

I came across many research papers and university and private company sites that said the same. So my skepticism has been appeased.

I would also like to say thanks to the Bayer CropScience team in the US and Germany for their hospitality. Ninety members of the press from 20+ countries attended the press conference last Thursday. If you'd like to read more about the press conference, click here.

Have a great week!

Crop World Global 2012 - 6 & 7 November 2012

Competitive Factors in Brazil Affecting US, Brazilian Ag Sales in Selected Markets
A new report from the United States International Trade Commission (USITC) describes and analyses competitive factors in Brazil affecting US and Brazilian sales of agricultural goods - including grains, soybeans and meats - in third-country markets.

Screening Technique Uncovers 5 New Plant Activator Compounds
A new high-throughput screening technique developed by researchers at the RIKEN Plant Science Center (PSC) has been used to uncover five novel immune-priming compounds in Arabidopsis plants.

Economic Consequences of the Renewable Fuels Mandate
Under US law, US petroleum refiners and other so-called obligated parties must blend ever larger volumes of renewable fuels into the US gasoline and diesel fuel supply.

Researchers Launch 'Rust-Tracker' to Monitor Deadly Wheat Fungus
The world's top wheat experts have reported a breakthrough in their ability to track Ug99 and related strains of a deadly and rapidly mutating wheat pathogen called stem rust that threatens wheat fields from East Africa to South Asia. With data submitted by farmers and scientists from fields and laboratories, the creators of the "Rust-Tracker" say they now can monitor an unprecedented 42 million hectares of wheat in 27 developing countries in the path of a windborne disease so virulent it could quickly turn a healthy field of wheat into a black mass of twisted stems and dried-up grains.

How Much Sewage Sludge Should be Applied to Agricultural Soils?
New research has investigated the long-term effects of applying sewage sludge to Spanish soils. The results indicate that sludge enhances soil properties, but recommends a maximum dose of 40 tons per hectare, applied biannually. Above this level, it appears the soil properties will not improve and may even worsen.


Darling Downs Farmers Desperate for Rain
Wet Weather Brings Disease Worry for Queensland Wheat Growers
Agricultural Export Earnings to Remain Strong
Top of the Crop to be Celebrated


Government Prepares Rp 3.7 Mt/ha Compensation Due to Drought


China's Cotton Genomics Research Gains Leading Position Worldwide
China to Stop Releasing Cotton Reserve


French Govt Acts to Save Producers from Increasing Costs
International Coordination Stabilising Food Prices


Organic Rice and Cattle Farming get Boost

   United Kingdom

Big Questions in Agriculture Need Big Experiments
Deadline Extended for Cereals Development Programme Applications
Research into Reuse of Agricultural Waste
Pesticides Not Yet Proven Guilty of Causing Honeybee Decline
Rothamsted Scientists Identify Growing Threat to Cereal Crops
Scientists Unearth Soil’s Secret ‘DNA’ to Mark Biology Week

   United States

Call Renewed for RFS Waiver
Keeping the US the World's Most Reliable Supplier
Early Corn Harvest and September Stocks
CME: Corn Futures Finished Down Tuesday
Mississippi Rice Harvest, Yields High
Corn Harvest, Drying Challenging Again this Year
CME: Corn Futures Finish Up
Report Calls for Long Term Suspension of RFS
FDA Studies Arsenic Levels in Rice, After Investigation Reports Worrying Levels
What Price of Crude Oil Makes Ethanol Production Profitable?
Marketing System Ensures Safe Aflatoxin Levels in Corn Deliveries
Panhandle Irrigators Planning for Ongoing Drought
Smart Phone Application to Calculate Optimum Nitrogen Rates
USDA Expands Drought Assistance to 22 States
CME: Corn Futures Finish Down Thursday
Webinar to Provide Health Resources for Drought-Stressed Farmers
Farmdoc: Nearly All Illinois Counties in Disaster Area
Soybean Aphids a No-Show in 2012
CME: Corn Futures Closed Higher Friday
BASF to Strengthen Crop Protection Business with Becker Underwood
Green Weeds Complicate Early Corn, Soybean Harvest
Cover Crops help Retain Nitrate, Prepare for Future Crops
CME: Corn Futures Closed Lower Monday
NFU Participates in New York Climate Week
Soybean Prices Tumble, But There Are Some Positive Developments


Can the World Beat Global Food Price Spikes?
Farm Safety Must be a Priority
Safe Levels of GM Corn and Roundup Weedkiller Cause Harm
Agflation to Push Food Prices Up 15 Per Cent
Bayer CropScience Plans 7 Billion Euro Investment
CropWorld Global 2012 Gathers Pace
Support for Agriculture at Historic Low


Exports of Meat and Soy Increase in September


Algeria Eliminates Taxes, Duties on US Corn and Co-products


Government and Industry Seeks USGC Input on Biotechnology

   European Union

Sugar Quotas Dominate EU Farm Subsidy Talks
Young Farmers Ask for Financial Support under Farm Subsidies
Council Looks to Reform Agriculture and Fisheries Policies
EFSA Consults over Pesticides and Bees


Autumn Wheat Midge Survey
Harper Government Investing Strategically In Canola Sector
Manitoba Grain Growers Hurt in Puratone Fallout


Farmers Appeal to Retailers over Rising Costs

   Russian Federation

Russia Loses 4.3m Grain Hectares to Drought


Serbian Government Imposes Export Ban on Soybean, Sugar Beet


German Bioethanol Association Hits Back After Input Concern

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