The Andersons plans its biggest acquisition

MAUMEE, Ohio — The Andersons Inc. has agreed to buy most of the grain and agronomy assets of Green Plains Grain Co. in a deal The Andersons called "the largest acquisition in our company's 65-year history."

The transaction involves the purchase of seven facilities in Iowa and five in Tennessee, according to a release from The Andersons.

Those facilities would have a combined grain storage capacity of about 32 million bushels, 12,000 tons of nutrient storage and more than 130 employees.

The Andersons, based in Maumee, Ohio, already has grain terminals in Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Nebraska. Locally, it has grain handling and storage facilities in Champaign and Mansfield.

This acquisition "enables us to push further to the west and south, increasing our presence in Iowa and entering Tennessee," said Denny Addis, president of the The Andersons' Grain Group.

The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter.

Researchers study ozone's effect on soybeans

URBANA — University of Illinois researchers say ozone pollution can cut into soybean yields.

A research group led by Lisa Ainsworth, UI associate professor of crop sciences, spent two years studying the effect on ozone on plants at the UI's Soybean Free Air Concentration Enrichment facility.

They monitored the response of soybeans to eight levels of ozone concentration ranging from ambient levels of 38 parts per billion up to 200 parts per billion.

They found that any increase above the ambient concentration reduced seed yields by half a bushel per acre for each additional part per billion.

"This is significant," said Ainsworth, also a plant molecular biologist for the U.S. Agricultural Research Service.

Background concentrations of ozone vary year to year, anywhere from 38 to 62 parts per billion.

"That can be 15 bushels per acre from one year to the next that farmers are losing to ozone," she said.

Potential increases in background ozone are predicted to increase soybean yield losses by 9 percent to 19 percent by 2030, according to a UI news release.

This year, ozone levels were particularly high, with peaks on many days exceeding 80 parts per billion, the release stated.

Lower cattle numbers point to higher prices

URBANA — Cattle prices could hit a record high next year, a Purdue University Extension economist said.

Chris Hurt said it looks as though per-capita beef supplies will be reduced about 3 percent through the first half of 2013, according to a University of Illinois news release.

As a result, cattle prices are expected to be near $125 for the final quarter of 2012, reach $130 in the first quarter of 2013 and peak in the higher $130s in the spring.

"Record-high cattle prices will be in store for 2013 with prices now expected to average in the very low $130s (for the year), compared to an expected record this year near $122," Hurt said.

Drought and its effect on pasture land resulted in fewer cattle being placed into feed lots during July, August and September.

"When dryness causes wide stretches of land to be unable to support cow grazing, producers have to buy feed or send the cows to town," Hurt said.

Although East Central Illinois is now categorized as "abnormally dry" rather than in drought, vast stretches of Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, South Dakota, Colorado, Oklahoma and Wyoming are in "extreme" or "exceptional" drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

These states represent 30 percent of the nation's beef cows, the release stated.

Hurt said forecasts call for the drought to continue and possibly intensify into the winter for areas west of a line from Chicago to Lubbock, Texas.

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