Sunday, April 20, 2014
Cross Pollination

Alfalfa for Biofuel
“It seems as though alfalfa is treated as the ‘red-headed step child’ when it comes to cellulosic biofuel feedstocks,” said Beth Nelson, president of the National Alfalfa and Forage Alliance, in a press release. “We’re demonstrating that not only does alfalfa make an attractive option as a cellulosic biofuel feedstock, but actually provides many advantages over some of the other options being widely discussed.” Seeking to abolish concerns of using food for fuel and to demonstrate alfalfa’s potential for cellulosic ethanol production, particularly in rotations with corn, NAFA and the National Corn Growers Association recently hosted the Alfalfa/Corn Rotations for Sustainable Cellulosic Biofuels Production conference. Forage and corn agronomists, researchers, industry representatives and producers gathered to take in presentations by experts in agronomy and biofuels production who extolled the advantages an alfalfa/corn rotation has as a biofuel production system.


Red Hot Tomato
“If I had a million dollars, I’d start a seed company tomorrow,” said Zachary Lippman in a recent New York Times article, referring to his hunch that the world is looking for higher yielding tomatoes. He is in the second phase of his discovery of a genetic intervention that turns the average tomato plant into a higher yielding, sweeter tasting one. An international patent is pending.


Fruit and Veggie Consumption by State
A recent report by the Centers for Disease Control shows American adults’ consumption of fruits and vegetables falls way below the modest goals set forth in the Healthy People 2010 initiative—despite that initiative’s efforts to encourage more consumption of those foods. In short, the report found that “in 2009, an estimated 32.5 percent of adults consumed fruit two or more times per day and 26.3 percent consumed vegetables three or more times per day, far short of the national targets.” The highest percentage of fruit consumption was in Washington state (40.2%) and the lowest was in Oklahoma (18.1%). The highest percentage of vegetable consumption was in Tennessee (33.0%) and the lowest was in South Dakota (19.6%).


Where’s the Cotton?
“You’ve never seen such a hectic rise. It has broken the rules,” said Kantilal Shah, chairman and managing director of trading company Gill and Co., referring to last month’s jump in cotton prices above the $1 a pound level, for only the second time since the United States Civil War. Prices have skyrocketed to their highest levels in more than a decade, surging more than 62 percent in the past year, due to tight global supplies, a long-term shift by farmers into more profitable crops and excess rain in China and floods in Pakistan, which have damaged crops. The global stockpiles-to-usage ratio is forecast by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to decline to the lowest since 1994. “Everybody is looking out for cotton because everybody is short,” said Shah, referring to mills that don’t have enough of the raw material. “Supplies all over the world are tight.”


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