IN BRIEF – for Jun. 7, 2010

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Ug99 rust stain continues to spread

The devastating Ug99 stem rust has spread to South Africa, Nature magazine reported May 26.

It quoted a study saying that the two South African forms of the disease are able to overcome the effects of two resistance genes in wheat that normally prevent stem rust from taking hold.

Named because of its discovery in Uganda in 1999, Ug99 can overcome resistance in about 90 per cent of the world’s wheat varieties. It has since spread to Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, Yemen and Iran and scientists expect it to continue moving west and eventually to North America. The spread could be even quicker due to “the 747 effect” – inadvertent transmission by travellers. The fungus can devastate harvests: for example, farmers in the Narok region of Kenya lost up to 80 per cent of their wheat crop due to Ug99 in 2007.

Viterra buys U.S. processor

STAFF

Viterra said June 27 that it will buy 21st Century Grain Processing in a $90.5-million cash deal that brings it an oat mill and wheat mill in the United States. The oat mill in South Sioux City, Nebraska, can store four million bushels and process up to 295 tonnes of commercial oat products a day. The mill also makes coated grains and clusters used in granola bars and breakfast cereals.

The wheat mill near Amarillo, Texas, can store three million bushels and process up to 225 tonnes of flour per day. It also makes products such as whole-wheat, bakery and tortilla flour.

“(The acquisition) will position our company to better compete in this industry and meet the continued growth in demand for healthy food products in North America,” said Karl Gerrand, Viterra’s senior vice-president of processing. Viterra last year dramatically expanded its reach by acquiring Australia’s ABB Grain. Earlier last month it purchased Dakota Growers Pasta Co.

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