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Australian farmers hold back wheat sales, might miss the boat

Australian farmers are holding back new-crop wheat sales on fears an El Nino weather pattern will slash yields, though their cautious approach means they risk losing sales to aggressive European rivals in Asian markets.

Russia and Ukraine are making inroads in countries such as Indonesia, which is traditionally dominated by Australia, while a big global crop could push prices even lower by the time Australia’s new wheat marketing season starts in September.

Despite the best start to an Australian season for many years, the country’s farmers have shied away from exports — selling only about 10 percent of the new crop forward compared with a typical 30 percent in a good year.

Growers have been hurt in the past by selling grains forward, but then not being able to deliver wheat in the right amount or to the correct specification because of bad weather. This can lead to contract defaults and financial penalties.

“If you commit and forward sell and you can’t meet that physical delivery, you can’t just unwind it. It happened in 2008 and it can get very, very ugly,” says Dan Cooper, a grain farmer in Caragabal, 250 miles west of Sydney.

Drought can wreak havoc with wheat output in Australia, the world’s third-largest exporter. Production slumped to just 9.74 million metric tons in 2006 and 2007 from 25 million metric tons a year earlier, according to Australian government data.

“Australian growers in the last 12 years have gone through three or four droughts, so they are very wary of an El Nino situation when the rain stops,” says a Sydney-based grains trader.

The chance of an El Nino developing this year remains at least 70 percent, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology says, adding to growing global fears of the weather pattern that can bring severe drought across much of Asia.

Price spread widens

The world, meanwhile, is well supplied with wheat.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture this week raised its forecast for global wheat output to 701.6 million metric tons, which would make it the second-biggest crop on record after last year’s 714 million metric tons.

Wheat prices hit a one-year high at $7.35 a bushel on May 6, but have since fallen 20 percent on the prospect of plentiful global supplies and as Northern Hemisphere growers have rushed to market a near record harvest.

Don Campbell, head of trading at Australia’s largest exporter CBH Group, said Russian wheat was being aggressively offered, widening the price spread between Australia and Black Sea origins.

At this time of year, Australian new-crop wheat is quoted at $10 to $20 a metric ton higher than U.S. soft red winter wheat, including cost and freight into China. The spread between similar varieties of Russian and Australian wheat offered in Southeast Asia is much bigger at $50 per metric ton.

With Australian wheat unable to compete at present, millers were switching to Russian grain, which would continue until new-crop Australian supplies come into the market, Campbell says.

Flour millers in Indonesia, Asia’s biggest wheat buyer and Australia’s top customer, have already bought around 325,000 metric tons of Russian wheat in recent deals for shipment in August and September, well above normal levels.

Indonesia typically buys about 7 million metric tons of wheat a year, with about 70 percent coming from Australia.

“The Black Sea region has ample supply this year,” says a Singapore-based trader who sells Australian and U.S. wheat into Asia. “We see stiff competition right from August when Black Sea crops enter the market and continuing through the end of the year when the Australian harvest starts.”

The big unknown is El Nino, despite a strong start to the Australian growing season.

Most areas, including top exporting Western Australia state, have had ample soil moisture and benign temperatures to aid crop development, although Queensland and northern parts of New South Wales have remained dry.

“For the country as a whole, I think it is fair to say the best start in at least 10 years,” the Sydney-based trader says.

Australia currently expects a crop of about 24.6 million metric tons, which would be the sixth biggest on record, but has warned that dry conditions are affecting yields and output could fall further if an El Nino forms.

Tags:
crops, agribusiness, updates


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Sailing robots ply Vallejo waters

U.S. Naval Academy graduate Beatrice Cayaban, left, uses a remote control device to operate her teams unmanned boat in the SailBot 2014

It’s like the America’s Cup, but for robots.

That’s one way to describe the international robotic sailing competition this week at California Maritime in Vallejo.

The friendly competition features collegiate teams from the United States, Canada and Wales trying to outdo each other with unmanned, two-meter-long “sailbots” that navigate through a variety of challenges with limited, if any, human control.

The winners take home a trophy, and bragging rights.

Unlike other sailing competitions, the SailBot 2014 International Robotic Sailing Regatta spotlights emerging trends in oceanic fields involving autonomous vessels with no need for a crew.

Ensign Paco Yerkes-Medina checks whether the epoxy has set attaching the anemometer mast on the robotic sailboat entry by the Naval Academy, the quot;$ea

“The technology is leading us in that direction,” said Cal Maritime faculty member Michael Kazek, who helped bring this year’s week-long event to the school. “Just like the drones in the sky, we’ll be able to operate ships on the sea without being on board.”

This year’s competition is sponsored by the California State University school and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, which is hosting its 33rd International Conference on Ocean, Offshore and Arctic Engineering this week in San Francisco.

This year’s teams hail from Aberystwyth University in Wales, Virginia Tech, the U.S. Naval Academy, the University of British Columbia, Memorial University of Newfoundland and Tufts University.

Kurtis Harms, a member of the University of British Columbia team, said the contest — now in its eighth year — challenges students to apply engineering, mechanical, electrical and software skills to solve a variety of problems.

“I think the interesting thing about our team is it caters to everyone,” said Harms, a computer science student. “We have engineers and computer science students on our team. And students from other faculties who are just really interested in sailing.”

Aaron Dougherty, Paco Yerkes-Medina and Beatrice Cayaban carry the U.S. Naval Academy entry, the quot;$ea Quest,quot; down to the water Monday as they

His teammate, Josh Andrews, added, “I think the cross disciplines are quite interesting, the ability to make something that’s not been done before very well. I can’t really think of any people who are making autonomous sailboats, so being able to get into a new field like that is quite an interesting challenge … we have to come up with all the solutions on our own.”

British Columbia has momentum coming into this year’s competition after placing first in 2012 and 2013. But the U.S. Naval Academy showed promise in Monday’s opening fleet race, finishing second behind the Canadian team.

“We spent all first semester designing the keel, rudder and sails,” said Paco Yerkes-Medina, who graduated from the academy this year with a degree in naval architecture. “Then we spent the second semester building it.”

Showing its sense of humor, the team named its low-budget craft the “$ea Quester,” in reference to last year’s government shutdown that caused the Naval Academy to cancel some classes.

“We always pick funny names for our boats,” Yerkes-Medina said.

This week’s competition consists of five parts:

• Fleet racing (manual, radio-control rudder and/or sail control incurs no points penalty).

• Station keeping (vessels must remain in a 40 meter by 40 meter area for five minutes using GPS and wind sensors).

• Autonomous navigation contest (no manual control allowed).

• Design competition.

• Long distance race (points deducted for use of manual remote control).

The competition continues today with more fleet racing from about 11 a.m. to noon and a navigation challenge from 1 to 5 p.m. The event is open to the public.

Information about parking is available at www.csum.edu/web/about/parking.

For more information about Sailbot 2014, visit www.sailbot.org.

Contact Tony Burchyns at 707-553-6831.

If you go:

What: SailBot 2014 International Robotic Sailing Regatta

Where: California Maritime Academy, 200 Maritime Academy Drive, Vallejo

When: 11 a.m. to noon, 1 to 5 p.m. today

Parking: Information about parking on campus is available at www.csum.edu/web/about/parking


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Australian farmers hold back wheat sales, may miss the boat


SINGAPORE/SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australian farmers are holding back new-crop wheat sales on fears an El Nino weather pattern will slash yields, though their cautious approach means they risk losing sales to aggressive European rivals in Asian markets.

Russia and Ukraine are making inroads in countries such as Indonesia, which is traditionally dominated by Australia, while a big global crop could push prices even lower by the time Australia’s new wheat marketing season starts in September.

Despite the best start to an Australian season for many years, the country’s farmers have shied away from exports – selling only about 10 percent of the new crop forward compared with a typical 30 percent in a good year.

Growers have been hurt in the past by selling grains forward, but then not being able to deliver wheat in the right amount or to the correct specification due to bad weather. This can lead to contract defaults and financial penalties.

“If you commit and forward sell and you can’t meet that physical delivery, you can’t just unwind it. It happened in 2008 and it can get very, very ugly,” said Dan Cooper, a grain farmer in Caragabal, 400 kilometers (250 miles) west of Sydney.

Drought can wreak havoc with wheat output in Australia, the world’s third-largest exporter. Production slumped to just 9.74 million tonnes in 2006/07 from 25 million tonnes a year earlier, according to Australian government data.

“Australian growers in the last 12 years have gone through three or four droughts, so they are very wary of an El Nino situation when the rain stops,” said a Sydney-based grains trader.

The chance of an El Nino developing this year remains at least 70 percent, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology said last week, adding to growing global fears of the weather pattern that can bring severe drought across much of Asia.

PRICE SPREAD WIDENS

The world, meanwhile, is well supplied with wheat.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture this week raised its forecast for global wheat output to 701.6 million tonnes, which would make it the second-biggest crop on record after last year’s 714 million tonnes.

Wheat prices hit a one-year high at $7.35 a bushel on May 6, but have since fallen 20 percent on the prospect of plentiful global supplies and as Northern Hemisphere growers have rushed to market a near record harvest.

Don Campbell, head of trading at Australia’s largest exporter CBH Group, said Russian wheat was being aggressively offered, widening the price spread between Australia and Black Sea origins.

At this time of year, Australian new-crop wheat is quoted at $10-$20 a tonne higher than U.S. soft red winter wheat, including cost and freight into China. The spread between similar varieties of Russian and Australian wheat offered in Southeast Asia is much bigger at $50 a tonne.

With Australian wheat unable to compete at present, millers were switching to Russian grain, which would continue until new-crop Australian supplies come into the market, Campbell said.

Flour millers in Indonesia, Asia’s biggest wheat buyer and Australia’s top customer, have already bought around 325,000 tonnes of Russian wheat in recent deals for shipment in August and September, well above normal levels.

Indonesia typically buys about 7 million tonnes of wheat a year, with about 70 percent coming from Australia.

“The Black Sea region has ample supply this year,” said a Singapore-based trader who sells Australian and U.S. wheat into Asia. “We see stiff competition right from August when Black Sea crops enter the market and continuing through the end of the year when the Australian harvest starts.”

The big unknown is El Nino, despite a strong start to the Australian growing season.

Most areas, including top exporting Western Australia state, have had ample soil moisture and benign temperatures to aid crop development, although Queensland and northern parts of New South Wales have remained dry.

“For the country as a whole, I think it is fair to say the best start in at least 10 years,” the Sydney-based trader said.

Australia currently expects a crop of about 24.6 million tonnes, which would be the sixth biggest on record, but has warned that dry conditions are affecting yields and output could fall further if an El Nino forms.

(Reporting by Naveen Thukral; Editing by Richard Pullin)


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Oman Sail teams take part in Normandy Sailing Week

(MENAFN – Muscat Daily) Two Oman Sail squads onboard the J80 and M34 boats are taking part in the Normandy Sailing Week, which began off the harbour of Le Havre in France on Monday.

While the M34 team under Sidney Gavignet will use the event as the final preparation ahead of the Tour de France a la Voile (TDV) from July 4-28, the J80 crew, which comprises mainly women sailors, will hope to gain experience by competing in a fleet of 250 boats at the French J80 Cup.

The Oman Sail M34 crew comprises Omani and European sailors and is competing against a top-class line-up that includes Groupama Team, Courrier Dunkerque 3, Nantes-Saint Nazaire, Tpm-Coych and Credit Mutuel Bretagne Elite.

The seven teams also competed in a training race on Monday. Nantes Saint-Nazaire bagged the top spot, Oman Sail took the second place and Groupama completed the podium. For the J80 crew, the action begins on Friday.

After the participation in Normandy that concludes on Sunday, the team will take part in the J80 European Championships in Barcelona, Spain from June 27-July 4.


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Bishop Stang Sailing wins International Regatta

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DARTMOUTH — Bishop Stang High School, a diocesan, co-educational, college preparatory school located on the Southcoast, announced its high school varsity sailing team took first place in the Figawi Invitational.

“We are incredibly proud of Bishop Stang sailing, and Chloe Kelleher and Caroline Downey, that brought home the trophy for first place from the Figawi Invitational,” said Bishop Stang Sailing Coach Jon Pope. “It is an incredibly competitive event and our Bishop Stang sailors proved their skills again as the defending champions.”

The 43rd annual Figawi Race Weekend is recognized as a top sailing event not only on the east coast but is known nationally as well as internationally. Figawi Race Weekend kicks off the Cape Cod and Nantucket summer season. Entries include sailors from several states 240+ boats (including 30 power boats) and over 3,000 sailors and visitors, as well as locals, attend this event.

The regatta hosts the Figawi Invitational where high school sailing teams from across the Cape and Islands are brought to Nantucket by Figawi Inc to compete for the coveted Figawi Jr. Trophy. The races take place off the docks of Nantucket Boat Basin. The kids race in double handed, one design boats called 420s.

The success of the Bishop Stang sailing team has created some exciting collegiate sailing opportunities. Alum Katherine Downey is competing in the Nationals; she currently sails for Boston College. Two Bishop Stang graduates just finished sailing their freshman season for Rogers Williams University (JJ Pope) and University of Rhode Island (Cam Tougus). Recent grads have also sailed for Salve Regina, Tufts, University of Vermont, Boston College and George Washington.


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Boating industry rebounding

Don Daly

Don Daly

Don Daly, owner of Eagle Lake Marine, drives a tritoon boat on Eagle Lake in Edwardsburg. This tri-pontoon boat is a big seller this spring. (SBT Photo/GREG SWIERCZ)

Pontoon boat

Pontoon boat

This Sweetwater pontoon boat is made by Nautic Global Group, one of four manufacturers in the Elkhart County area. (SBT Photo/GREG SWIERCZ)

Tri-pontoon boat

Tri-pontoon boat

Don Daly, owner of Eagle Lake Marine, drives a tritoon boat on Eagle Lake in Edwardsburg. This tri-pontoon boat is a big seller this spring. (SBT Photo/GREG SWIERCZ)



Boat builders

Locally the following companies make boats:

  • Bennington Marine in Elkhart

  • Nautic Global Group in Elkhart and Syracuse

  • Forest River Marine in Middlebury

  • Smoker Craft in New Paris

Posted: Sunday, June 15, 2014 6:46 am
|


Updated: 8:14 am, Sun Jun 15, 2014.

Boating industry rebounding

JIM MEENAN
South Bend Tribune
jmeenan@sbtinfo.com

SouthBendTribune.com

A good winter forecast has proven accurate in the boating industry.

Though the waters were a tad choppy earlier this spring, it has been pretty much a glasslike surface for sales since the weather turned pleasant.

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on

Sunday, June 15, 2014 6:46 am.

Updated: 8:14 am.


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