April 5 Agriculture Briefs

By 
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Winter wheat, soil moisture in decent shape in South Dakota

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota’s winter wheat crop remains mostly in fair condition. The federal Agriculture Department says in its weekly crop report that 67 percent of the wheat crop is rated fair, with another 17 percent in good condition. Only 16 percent is rated poor or very poor. Topsoil moisture supplies statewide are rated nearly three-fourths adequate to surplus, with a little more than half of the subsoil moisture in that category.

Chinese national sentenced in engineered rice theft in Kansas

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Chinese national who lived in Manhattan, Kansas, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for conspiring to steal proprietary rice seeds developed in the U.S. and giving them to visitors from China. Federal prosecutors on Wednesday announced 51-yearold Weiqiang Zhang’s sentence on two counts of conspiracy and one count of interstate transportation of stolen property. He was convicted in February 2017. Zhang was a rice breeder for Ventria Bioscience in Junction City, Kansas, which developed genetically engineered rice for therapeutic and medical fields. Prosecutors said Zhang stored hundreds of seeds from Ventria at his home. In 2013, Zhang toured facilities in the Midwest with officials from a crop research institute in China. Federal officials found Ventria seeds in the visitors’ luggage as they prepared to return to China.

North Dakota expects record soybean, canola, chickpea crops

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota farmers are expected to plant 7.1 million acres of soybeans this year, matching last year’s record. Meanwhile, they’re expected to plant 11 percent fewer acres of corn, at about 3.1 million. That mirrors the national trend. The federal Agriculture Department says in its annual prospective plantings report that U.S. farmers will seed more soybeans than corn for the first time in 35 years, due primarily to profitability. Acres of North Dakota’s staple spring wheat crop are expected to be up 20 percent this year, to 6.4 million. Sugar beet acres are pegged at 199,100, down 7 percent. Canola and chickpea acres are forecast at record highs. Sunflower acres also are expected to be up. Other crops with projected declines in acres are durum wheat, barley, dry beans, dry peas, lentils, flaxseed and oats.

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