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High soy-to-corn price ratio 'encouraging US investment'

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Tempting oilseed prices are encouraging traditionally corn-focused US farmers to seek out a technological edge in soybean production, Plant Impact boss John Brubaker said, as the company makes its first foray into the North American market.

Plant Impact this month launched its soybean crop-enhancement spray Fortalis into the US market, to be sold for the upcoming summer crop campaign, after making its first sales in Argentina, Paraguay and Bolivia last year.

"American farmers [have been seen as] corn growers who grow soybeans when they can't grow corn," Mr Brubaker said. "That mind-set is changing."

High soybean price-ratio

The reason for this shift is the higher returns being offered by soybean crops, with the closely watched ratio between November soybean futures to December corn futures in Chicago is currently at about 2.57.

A ratio above 2.5 is seen as a strong signal to start planting soybeans, as reflected in the area forecasts released by the USDA saw month, with forecast record-large US soybean plantings, at 88.0m acres.

And as well as encouraging larger plantings, farmers are also ready to invest in more technical solutions for soybean crops.

"Farmers are figuring out how to make money in soybeans," Mr Brubaker said.

Mr Brubaker said that this trend was good for input and technology companies offering new solutions for soybeans.

"It's about making an investment in soybeans when you can't grow corn," he said.

Swing to net-loss

Plant Impact reported rising revenues and gross profit, thanks to rising returns from its core market of Brazil.

Revenues rose 17%, to £4.9m, assisted by a weaker pound, while the company's gross profits rose 18% to £3.9m, over the six months to January 31.

But the company made a pre-tax loss of £984,000 over the period, compared to a pretax profit of £185,000 in the same period a year earlier, thanks to the higher costs during the expansion into Argentina and the US, as well as an ongoing push into the West African cocoa sector.

The company expects costs to continue to increase, thanks to investment in these new markets, as well as research for new products.

Plant Impact shares were down 3.5% in afternoon deals in London, at 48.72 pence.

Plant Impact chairman David Jones will be a keynote speaker at the AgrimoneyLIVE event, taking place in London on May 23-25.

By William Clarke

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