Production briefs

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Strongest El Nino 
in nearly 20 years

SYDNEY, Australia (Reuters) — The strongest El Nino in nearly 20 years, which damaged crop production in Asia and in the Southern Hemisphere, has ended, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology said.

Climate indicators associated with El Nino, which emerged in 2015, have now returned to neutral levels, the BOM said.

The latest El Nino resulted in sea temperatures rising to the highest levels in 19 years, causing drier than average weather in Asia and Australia, which resulted in a fall in production of wheat, palm oil and rice.

In the Northern Hemisphere, the event failed to live up expectations and did not deliver enough rainfall to alleviate the crippling drought in California.

On the Canadian Prairies, El Nino brought one of the warmest winters on record.

China may cultivate pest resistant corn

BEIJING, China (Reuters) — China, the world’s second-largest corn consumer, may allow commercial cultivation of pest-resistant genetically modified corn within the next five years, said an agriculture ministry official recently.

“We will push forward the commercial process of new strains of pest-resistant cotton and pest-resistant corn among other key crops,” during the 13th Five Year Plan (2016-2020), Liao Xiyuan, a department director with the ministry told a press conference.

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For staple grains rice and wheat, the country will focus on research and efforts to be the global leader in GM rice technology rather than commercial growing, said Liao.

Beijing has delayed commercial cultivation of its own GM corn and rice even after it gave safety approval in 2009 due to public concern over the safety of the technology.

India expected to plant fewer soybeans

MUMBAI, India (Reuters) — Indian farmers are set to seed fewer soybeans in response to falling prices.

Soybean is the main summer-seeded oilseed crop for the world’s biggest importer of edible oil, but prices have dropped 10 percent in the past two years, while the prices of pulses such as red gram have nearly tripled over the same period. Estimates say area seeded to soybeans could fall 10 percent as a result.

“In the last two-three years soybeans have given lower returns than competing crops like pulses,” said K. N. Rahiman, chief research officer at Ruchi Soya, the country’s biggest edible oil refiner.

Farmers planted 28.60 million acres with soybean in 2015-16.

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