Issue 84
Prairie Grains





Prairie Grains is the official publication of the Minnesota Association of Wheat Growers, North Dakota Grain Growers Association, Montana Grain Growers Association and South Dakota Wheat, Inc.

Copyright Prairie Grains Magazine
March 2007


Estão para trás!*

Ag PhD Goes to Brazil

America’s favorite tele-agronomists (not to be confused with tele-evangelists, who offer input for prayers, not inputs for sprayers) are back, broadcasting from Brazil…

Hi-de-ho there, prairie pals.  Darren, I bet our viewers are wondering “golly – what are you fellows doing on a sunny beach in red Speedos, and why doesn’t Darren have as much chest hair as Brian?”

Well smarty pants, or should I say, smarty Speedos, it’s not surprising these pecs are as smooth as silk.  As all the bikini babes would tell you, “grass doesn’t grow on a busy street.”

Ha! Good comeback, buckthorn buddy.

But the reason we’re not in our usual field scouting attire of Dockers and blue denim shirts emblazoned with the Hefty logo – which you too can wear, with points for purchases made through your local Hefty dealer – is because we’re in Rio, baby!

Rio de Janeiro, that is, which in Portuguese means “River of January.” Rio is Brazil’s second-largest city after São Paulo, and was the country’s capital until 1960, when Brasília took its place.

Brazil is the largest and most populous country in South America, Brian, and the fifth largest in the world in both area and population. The area was originally colonized by Portugal about 3 to 5 centuries ago. Brazil gained its independence in the 1800s, but today remains the only Portuguese-speaking country in the Americas.

Darren and I are here in Rio on some R&R after a week in the Brazilian countryside, learning about their agriculture. And we’ve picked up a little Portuguese along the way. For example, the Portuguese phrase “as mais melhores entradas da colheita no mundo estão disponíveis de seu negociante Hefty local” in English translates to “the best crop inputs in the world are available from your local Hefty dealer.”

If we’re lyin,’ we’re dyin,’ Brian!  In the past few decades, farming in Brazil has become king of the wild frontier.

You got that right, Davy Crockett. According to USDA, Brazil is a competitive exporter of poultry, beef, coffee, tobacco, sugar, and even frozen concentrated orange juice.  They also grow rice, corn, and cotton.  Brazil leads the world in sugarcane production, Brian, and uses much of it to produce ethanol.   In fact, Brazil is the world’s largest producer of sugar-based ethanol, producing on average about 4.4 billion gallons from sugarcane each year.

Holy schmoley, that’s a lot of sugar juice on the loose, deuce!  What we were really interested in seeing down here, however, is their bean scene.  In recent years Brazil has rivaled the U.S. for soybean production and exports. We toured Mato Grosso in the western portion of the country.

Darren and I found that soybeans here are grown annually, double cropped with a grain such as corn or sorghum.  We saw a lot of Group 7 and 8 beans, and there’s more Roundup Ready. It’s estimated that about half of the new 2006-07 crop is expected to be Roundup Ready, compared to about 25% the previous year. Average soybean yields in Brazil are typically between 50 - 60 bushels an acre.

Brian, while the Brazilians have cheap land and cheap labor, I think U.S. soybean growers can be more competitive, for a number of reasons.  We have a more diverse growing environment and cropping system. We have a much better transportation infrastructure.

Two thumbs up for better infrastructure, Darren. Go man go.

We have a better financial and risk management structure, better off-farm and alternative income opportunities, better soil productivity, better research and better technology.

Tell it like it is bro – testify!

But the key reason South American soybean growers will never be as competitive as U.S. soybean growers: they don’t have a local Hefty dealer.

That’s right, Darren, no Hefty dealer – sad, really.

Well, Brian, it’s come to that point of the show where we showcase the “Weed of the Week.”  This week’s weed is wild poinsettia, a dicot in the Euphorbiaceae family.  It’s an attractive plant with an attractive name, but this is no Christmas cookie.

No siree Bob.  In Brazil this weed infests both corn and soybeans, and is demonstrating resistance to glyphosate as well as other herbicide modes of action, including ALS inhibitors and PPO inhibitors. It’s going to take an integrated approach to manage this weed, Darren, including crop rotation, and measures to prevent seed set. They’ll also need to use more effective herbicide products, which for farmers in Brazil, as we pointed out, isn’t available through your local Hefty dealer.

That’s right. No Hefty dealer here, although some day, who knows? We might be the Starbucks of farm inputs. “Would you like a dicamba with a side order of surfactant?”

Ha! Good one.  Make mine a double, and throw in a drift retardant and some defoamer. OK folks, that’s all the time we have for this week’s show.  Don’t forget to check out all of our “Weeds Gone Wild” series of videos, including WGW Spring Break, WGW Off Label, WGW Nightshade, WGW Tankmixed, WGW Strip Till, WGW Cross Pollination and WGW Doin’ It In the Ditch – hubba hubba.

* Estão para trás – Portuguese for ‘They’re back!’ (Literal translation: ‘they are stops backwards’- close enough)… If you’re not already receiving Agphd TV, call your cable provider today and demand that it be carried (suggest replacing one of those CSI shows – CSI New York, CSI Miami, CSI Fargo, geez, enough already) see