Not exactly investment related, but this was first I heard of it.
By Wendy Pugh
June 11 (Bloomberg) -- The worst locust plague in more than two decades is threatening to strike Australia, the world’s fourth-largest wheat exporter, after rainfall boosted egg-laying by the insects in major crop growing regions.
“There are hundreds of millions of dollars worth of crops and pastures that are potentially at risk,” Chris Adriaansen, director at the Canberra-based Australian Plague Locust Commission said in an interview by phone. “Tens of millions of dollars” will be spent during the southern hemisphere spring to reduce the affects of the infestation, he said.
The forecast plague could cost Victoria’s agriculture sector A$2 billion ($1.7 billion) if left untreated, the state government said today. Widespread egg-laying across south- eastern Australia has set the scene for the biggest hatching for at least 25 years, according to the commission, which describes locusts as the nation’s most serious pest species.
“The advice of leading scientists indicates the scale of the coming spring’s outbreak could be as bad as we experienced in 1973 and 1974 when locusts swarmed through much of Victoria,” state premier John Brumby said today in a statement. “Prior to that, the last outbreak of this scale was in 1934, so we could be facing a once-in-a-lifetime locust plague with locusts swarming right across the state.”
Locusts are expected to hatch from August to October in Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia states, according to the commission. The first-generation spring hatching alone could occur over a total area of 1.8 million hectares (4.4 million acres), the commission’s Adriaansen said.
And how about some news from Canada
Wheat Jumps Most in Five Weeks as Canada Harvest May Decline
By Tony C. Dreibus and Jeff Wilson
June 11 (Bloomberg) -- Wheat rose the most in five weeks after farmers in western Canada planted the fewest acres since 1971, reducing yield prospects for the world’s biggest exporter of the grain behind the U.S.
Spring-wheat acreage is expected to fall 9 percent from last year and durum seeding may fall 40 percent because of low prices and excessive rain, saidBruce Burnett, the director of weather and market analysis at the Canadian Wheat Board. Western Canada, the nation’s biggest growing region, mayproduce 22 percent this year at 18.9 million tons, Burnett said today.
“Reduced production could increase U.S. exports,” said Terry Reilly, a market analyst for CitiGroup Global Markets in Chicago. “The acreage losses may be higher,” because rains continue to delay planting in Canada, Reilly said.
Wheat futures for July delivery jumped 7.5 cents, or 1.7 percent, to $4.4075 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade, the biggest gain since May 4. The commodity gained 1.1 percent this week, the first advance in three weeks. The most-active contract has fallen 19 percent this year because of reduced demand for U.S. grain and rising global stockpiles.
Futures also gained on speculation that low prices and declining inventories of corn will boost demand for wheat in feed rations for U.S. livestock.
Corn inventories will total 1.603 billion bushels on Aug. 31, the lowest level for that time of year since 2007, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said yesterday. As corn stockpiles decline and prices rise, feedlot managers may turn to wheat, Reilly said.
Wheat used in livestock feed will rise to 200 million bushels in the marketing year that began June 1, up from 180 million last year, the USDA said this week.
“Wheat is cheap relative to corn,” Reilly said. “Wheat- feed use may rise to 230 million bushels.”
Wheat is the fourth-biggest U.S. crop, valued at $10.6 billion in 2009, behind corn, soybeans and hay, government data show.