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Designing Roots to Reach New Soil DepthsDesigning Roots to Reach New Soil Depths
Jul 28

TSTA Weekly Update, 07/28/2022

Weekly Update from the Texas Seed Trade Association
Member News
ASTA’s largest event of the year, the CSS & Seed Expo 2022, will be opening soon for attendee registration, along with the new menu of sponsorship opportunities at all events for the coming fiscal year (July to June).
After 76 years, the CSS & Seed Expo returns to Chicago, IL for one last time this December 5-8, before the conference moves in 2023 to the Hyatt Regency Orlando for the foreseeable future.
With a theme of “Farewell Chicago,” the event’s website offers tools to submit your favorite conference memories for the many attendees who have been coming to Chicago each December year after year, many for over 30 years and counting.
Already featuring over 70 exhibitors, this year is anticipated to represent a return in full force after smaller numbers in 2021 due to the pandemic.
Visit ASTA Events at for more information.
Editor's Note: Not a good week for Chicago. The Bears are going to Arlington Park and now ASTA is headed to Florida. Please join us at the last Chicago CSS meeting!
In an effort to update and maintain our membership records we request you take a few moments and fill out the very brief info request at the following link.
The link is secure and the information will be used internally by the Texas Seed Trade Association and never shared without your permission. This request is on behalf of your association's board of directors and officers and we greatly appreciate your cooperation. Thank you!
7/28/22 - If you have not updated your information please take a moment and do so now. We appreciate it! We continue to update this database and need your input!
The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service will host the 24th annual Wheatheart Wheat Conference on Aug. 11 at the Ochiltree County Expo Center, 402 Expo Drive in Perryton.
On the agenda
The following topics will be addressed:
  • Wheat Market Outlook and Marketing Strategies, Mark Welch, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension economist-grain marketing in the Department of Agricultural Economics, Bryan-College Station.
  • Utilizing Wheat Resources in Cow-Calf Operations, Jason Smith, AgriLife Extension beef cattle specialist in the Department of Animal Science, Amarillo.
  • Variety Selection and Management for High Grain and Forage Yields, Jourdan Bell, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension agronomist in the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, Amarillo.
  • Update from Texas Wheat Producers Board and Association, Darby Campsey, Texas Wheat Producers director of communications and producer relations, Amarillo.
  • Rainfall Insurance for Wheat Forage—The Basics, Jason Schickedanz, Broken Arrow Crop Insurance, Perryton.
For more information, contact Strawn at 806-435-4501.
News Bits
U.S. corn and soybean good to excellent ratings fell last week and development is slower than average. Crop quality and development have been hampered by a recent hot, dry pattern in much of the region and while a more mild pattern has settled in, weekend rainfall totals were below expectations in some areas and most forecasts have a return to higher, drier conditions next week.
The USDA says 61% of U.S. corn rated good to excellent, 3% lower than last week, with 62% of the crop silking, compared to the five-year average of 70%, and 13% at the dough making stage, compared to 15% on average.
59% of soybeans are called good to excellent, down 2%, with 64% of the crop blooming, compared to 69% normally in late July, and 26% at the pod setting stage, compared to 34% on average.
77% of the U.S. winter wheat crop has been harvested, compared to the five-year average of 80%.
68% of spring wheat is in good to excellent shape, a decline of 3%, with 86% of the crop headed, compared to 96% on average.
34% of cotton is reported as good to excellent, 4% below a week ago, while 80% is squaring, matching the typical rate, and 48% is setting bolls, compared to 38% on average.
75% of U.S. rice is in good to excellent condition, up 3%, with 39% headed, compared to 44% on average.
25% of U.S. pastures and rangelands are seen as good to excellent, 1% lower, with 25% rated as fair and the remaining 50% in poor to very poor shape.
The National Corn Growers Association has launched a call-to-action asking advocates to submit comments to EPA in response to the recent announcement that they are revising the registration for atrazine.
On June 30, The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that they are amending the registration of this well-studied herbicide that allows farmers to do more with less. The new level of concern for atrazine will vastly reduce the herbicide's effectiveness, hindering farmers' ability to utilize this critical tool.
"Corn growers know the value of atrazine, and it is time again that we tell EPA the value of this product to our operations," said Iowa Farmer and NCGA President Chris Edgington. "In 2016, we came together to submit 10,000 comments to the EPA, and we need that same momentum again."
Comments can be submitted to EPA here, and advocates are encouraged to include information about how the proposed level of concern would impact their individual operations.
The comment period closes on Tuesday, September 6.
The ink was barely dry on a deal to allow shipments of grain stuck in Ukrainian ports when Russia unleashed a missile attack that has jeopardized the agreement.
Turkey, which worked with the United Nations to help broker the deal, said the bombing does not necessarily mean the grain shipment deal is dead, even as Russia alleged military targets were hit in the Odesa strike, which claimed a grain silo.
However, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Saturday the attack "casts serious doubt on the credibility of Russia's commitment to yesterday's deal and undermines the work of the UN, Turkey, and Ukraine to get critical food to world markets. Russia bears responsibility for deepening the global food crisis and must stop its aggression and fully implement the deal to which it has agreed."
Lessons and Parallels; Regulation of Food Production to Achieve Political Agendas - Hold the Science
TSTA staff
The ancient Chinese glad-tidings wish of "May you live in interesting times" has come true for all presently paying attention to national and world events. Of particular interest has been the public's shrinking confidence in science evidenced by several recent polls documenting the public's diminished faith in virtually all scientific disciplines. This seems an unfortunate result of Covid-19, or rather, our collective political reaction(s) to the "pandemic." In our opinion the two most unfortunate long-term paradigm shifts resulting from addressing the pandemic have been the politicization of science and the increasing proclivity to impose our will on others - telling others what they should, or must, do.
Science has been justifiably bashed because too many "scientists" allowed themselves to be useful tools advancing a political agenda rather than sticking to the facts as they are/were known. I'm not a virologist but did enjoy microbiology and electron microscopy courses in college. My recollection of observing and measuring viruses and comparisons to fabrics in N95 face masks made the analogy of denying mosquitos entrance to your backyard with cyclone fencing remarkably apt. We think the hit on the sanctity of science is a wound that will heal slowly and have unfortunate consequences. Perhaps some of those consequences are already being manifested
Telling others what to do, and how to do it, and ignoring real science for political science is exactly what happened in Sri Lanka in early 2021. The Sri Lankan government mandated agricultural production without synthetic fertilizers and crop protection products essentially converting the county's food production to organic with zero phase-in period. The results were predictable. The president of Sri Lanka, who mandated this "reform" is now in forced exile and the country is slowly on the road to recovery from widespread famine and malnutrition.
One can argue Sri Lanka is a small country with an emerging economy therefore something like this would never happen in a "first world" country. This ignores that first world countries helped the government of Sri Lanka come to the conclusion telling their farmers how to farm was a good idea. Do not underestimate the European Union's willingness to force their "feel good" will on others.
The Netherlands is very much a first world country with a vibrant and large economy. Holland is the most densely populated country in Europe and has been a net exporter of food for all their recorded history; in fact the Netherlands is the number two exporter of agricultural commodities, by value, in the world behind the US. No European country exceeds the industriousness, ambition, and productivity of the Dutch. A third of the cropland, and country, would be under the North Sea if they took a day off work.
The Dutch government has decided they need to pare back their contributions to global warming by curtailing their nitrogen emissions - most of which the government claims come from animal agriculture. Direct ties (real data) to global warming from farm animal waste are a bit hard to come by but no matter. The majority of rationalization for demands to significantly cull farm animals actually refers to nitrogen deposition in soils - keep in mind 78% of the air you're breathing right now is nitrogen - and the concern is for nitrous oxides in the air. Complicating matters gaseous nitrous oxides from incorporated nitrogen fertilizers have not been demonstrated to cause significant greenhouse gas problems.
Dutch biochemists and soil chemists have challenged the government ruling as nonsensical and "different" from previous justifications for rule-making. Treating farmers as polluters without taking the benefits of their activities into account represents new decision making criteria and is forcing farmers to liquidate animal stocks by as much as 95% on some farms (30% overall). As you might imagine Dutch farmers, some the best and most efficient in the world, are not happy. Dutch and other European consumers are about to be unhappy, too, when the price of milk, cheese, eggs, and meat increases substantially.
The Dutch government says the nitrogen "load" in dunes, bogs, heathlands, which are homes to species adapted to low nitrogen environments, has increased to the extent that nitrogen loving grasses, shrubs, and trees are moving in. Dutch scientists, and farmers, respond by asking "So what?" Is change in biodiversity bad or just change? Couple this with the fact there is virtually no public land in Holland and soil nitrogen has not been shown to contribute to greenhouse gas increases. No one is positive of the Dutch government's motivation to destroy such a vibrant and important part of their economy.
I once traveled frequently in Holland for work and came to respect the business acumen of the Dutch people and their hard work ethic. It is a sure thing Dutch farmers are already doing everything possible with modern technology to reduce every kind of emission. The Dutch government is liberal but not remotely socialist and Holland is home to some of the best universities in the world including the planet's top rated agricultural college (Wageningen University). Science is not driving this policy.
It seems Dutch regulators aren't the most recent to embrace mandated fertilizer rationing to curb greenhouse gas. Canada announced late last week that they are instituting a very similar regulation as the Dutch.
The revelation came following a Friday meeting between Trudeau and Canadian provincial ministers, where the prime minister unexpectedly announced his decision to cap fertilizer emissions by unilaterally targeting the country’s agricultural sector.
(As appears in The Federalist) “Fertilizer emissions reduction was not even a topic on the agenda of the annual meeting of Federal-Provincial-Territorial ministers of agriculture,” a joint Alberta-Saskatchewan government press release reads. “Provinces pushed the federal government to discuss this important topic, but were disappointed to learn that the target is already set. The commitment to future consultations are only to determine how to meet the target that Prime Minister Trudeau and Minister Bibeau have already unilaterally imposed on this industry, not to consult on what is achievable or attainable.”
As referenced in the press release, the targets set by the federal government include a bid “to reduce absolute levels of [greenhouse gas] emissions arising from fertilizer application by 30% below 2020 levels by 2030,” which the Trudeau administration previously announced in December 2020. While Trudeau has not publicly released specific mandates, the provincial governments of Alberta and Saskatchewan are blasting the prime minister for advancing the policy.
“We’re really concerned with this arbitrary goal,” said Saskatchewan Minister of Agriculture David Marit. “The Trudeau government has apparently moved on from their attack on the oil and gas industry and set their sights on Saskatchewan farmers.”
Alberta Minister of Agriculture Nate Horner echoed similar sentiments, saying that “[t]he world is looking for Canada to increase production and be a solution to global food shortages” and that the “Federal government needs to display that they understand this.”
“We cannot feed the growing world population with a reduction in fertilizer,” the two governments added.
Although the Canadian government has previously implied that it wishes to reach the 30 percent reduction target “while not compromising crop yields,” such a policy prescription would seemingly do just that. According to a 2021 analysis by Fertilizer Canada, Trudeau’s “short-sighted approach to reducing emissions will result in the need to reduce nitrogen fertilizer use and will have considerable impact on Canadian farmers’ incomes” and livelihoods.
“It is estimated that a 30% absolute emission reduction for … a farmer with 1000 acres of canola and 1000 acres of wheat, stands to have their profit reduced by approximately $38,000 – $40,500/annually,” the report estimates. “In 2020, Western Canadian farmers planted approximately 20.8 million acres of canola. Using these values, cumulatively farm revenues from canola could be reduced by $396M – $441M on an annual basis. Wheat farmers could experience a reduction of $400M.” (Our thanks to Shawn Fleetwood for the report on Canada.)
Think it can't happen here?
Sometimes disasters are obvious and happen fast and sometimes they are more insidious. The current U.S. administration has done some things farmers like and some things farmers do not like during their first two years running the executive branch's regulatory agencies. Offering the largest incentives ever to convert from production agriculture to organic agriculture seems counterintuitive during a time when even the U.S. government warns of, and acknowledges, food shortages and higher prices. Articulating a party policy to eliminate fossil fuel use is also interesting given how important fossil fuel use is to modern food production. The U.S. government officially recognizes electric vehicles as "zero emissions" when everyone knows that is, at best, word trickery, and at worst, a complete lie. Emission reductions can be tough when you're competing against an artificial zero.
Inviting environmental activists to bring lawsuits so a policy-advancing U.S. court of appeals can order the US EPA to re-evaluate glyphosate's health status is likewise interesting. Apparently the science used by the EPA during the previous administration was faulty and needs re-evaluation to (likely) provide the politically desired results rather than the current scientifically accepted results. Scratch interesting; this is troubling. Science (real science) is apparently acceptable only when the process yields the politically expedient result.
Likewise the revision to unrealistic residue tolerances, near the very detection limit, for atrazine seems politically motivated to rid us, once and for all, of this heinous chemical which has proved one of the most valuable and useful crop protection products of all time. Indeed, banning atrazine outright is the stated goal of the activist groups leading the effort. Atrazine, a suspected endocrine disruptor, was blamed for reptilian gender confusion years ago and has since been cleared of this allegation. Atrazine was commercialized in 1958. If it was causing the kinds of problems claimed by activists they wouldn't have to tell us about it.
The U.S. government has more tools at their disposal than the Dutch or Canadians when it comes to ridding farmers of essential inputs. Our executive branch has authority over federal regulatory agencies so it's convenient to use them to forward political decisions saving executive orders for the really big issues. And then there's the courts - where politics are blamed only when decisions are inconsistent with the progressive agenda.
Glyphosate and atrazine amount to political sacrifices; bones thrown to the progressive base supporting the current administration. We have a little ways to go before we experience what Dutch livestock farmers are going through, or grain farmers in Western Canada, but it seems we're on our way and finding the trip tolerable. If you're not content to enjoy the ride towards what the administration has called "transforming American agriculture" then let your representatives know - today. The NCGA has a call-to-action for atrazine - visit their website and support your industry (see our last article today below). Ask your Bayer rep what you can do to protest the EPA's current "re-review of a re-review" aimed at "finding" glyphosate a "suspected carcinogen". Volunteer to participate in the next ASTA Storm the Hill event when we call you.
We live in interesting times.
New chromosomal section effective against diseases in oats discovered​​​
American Phytopathological Society release
Whether you opt for a crunchy granola bar, mushy bowl of oatmeal, or smooth glass of oat milk, it is clear oats are gaining popularity—both with consumers and breeders. Oats provide a naturally gluten-free source of nutrition, with proven health benefits for humans and livestock.
However, oats have long produced smaller yield gains compared to other cereal grains. Oat production is primarily affected by diseases such as crown rust and powdery mildew, which occur in most oat-producing countries. Use of fungicides is not economically feasible and may also develop resistance in the pathogen population.
Consequently, developing host resistance is recommended. While over 100 genes effective against crown rust exist, few chromosomal locations, or quantitative trait loci (QTL), are known. According to this article's corresponding author Dr. Belayneh Admassu Yimer of the University of Idaho, the information gap has “limited the utilization of genomic tools in oat breeding and caused difficulty when determining the novelty of newly identified QTL."
Regarding powdery mildew in oats, only 11 effective genes exist, but none prove effective to all powdery mildew isolates. This study identified multiple genes, including novel powdery mildew QTL, that are effective against multiple diseases in one oat line. The same oat populations were screened for crown rust resistance in Aberdeen, Idaho and for powdery mildew at the University of Aberystwyth in the United Kingdom.
This discovery will broaden and diversify resistance sources. “In general, the novel powdery mildew QTL and molecular markers identified in our study will facilitate the development of oat varieties with durable resistance to crown rust and powdery mildew diseases," said Admassu Yimer.
The research of Admassu Yimer and colleagues, in a collaboration that crossed the Atlantic, widens our understanding of host-pathogen interactions at the molecular level, which will positively impact oat genomics, breeding, and pathology, especially regarding disease resistance. This new study fills some of those gaps, which excites the researchers most.
Find more details about this study in Volume 112, Number 6, June 2022 of Phytopathology.
IntraFi news release
A staggering 96% of community bank leaders expect a recession to hit within the next 18 months, according to a new survey by IntraFi, a leading fintech that runs the largest bank deposit network.
Bank CEOs, presidents, COOs, and CFOs from 388 unique institutions nationwide were evenly split between those who saw a recession by the end of this year and those who said it would begin sometime in 2023. Roughly half said that if a recession occurs, the primary fault will lie with the Federal Reserve for raising rates too high and too quickly since the beginning of this year.
"Bankers have become less confident in the Fed's ability to curb inflation while guiding the economy to a soft landing," said Mark Jacobsen, CEO and Cofounder of IntraFi. "To a degree greater than reflected in the equity markets today, most banks do not believe the Fed can constrain inflation without triggering a recession."
The Fed has raised interest rates three times so far this year, including a 75-basis-point hike in June, the largest since 1994. Many analysts anticipate the central bank will raise rates by another 75 basis points at its July meeting this week.
In all, 62% of bank leaders surveyed at the end of the second quarter said the Fed is overcorrecting for inflation, 10 percentage points higher than those who said the same in IntraFi's first quarter survey. Another 18% believe the Fed is not raising rates fast and high enough, while 21% said the Fed is on the right track.
While 51% said the primary reason for a recession would be the Fed's overcorrection, another 25% said it would happen due to ongoing supply chain problems. Sixteen percent cited other issues, including a combination of factors.
Banks have also been impacted by the current tight labor market and the so-called "Great Resignation," which has seen workers retiring early or otherwise leaving the workforce. Sixty percent of bankers responded that they have had difficulty in finding employees who are qualified for open positions.
While the top strategy to address this issue has been higher compensation (66%), less than a third of banks have utilized flexible and remote work options to attract and retain employees (31%). Almost 60% of bank leaders said remote work is not an option at their financial institution for any positions, either senior or lower level. Only 21% said remote workers are a viable option for any position, while 15% said it's an option for mid- or lower-level jobs.
Bankers are anticipating-or already experiencing-other challenges, too. The number of bankers who predicted deposit competition will tighten in the year ahead jumped 46 points, to 77%, compared to the second quarter survey of 2021. Meanwhile, 54% of bankers are seeing higher funding costs, an increase of 49 percentage points from the same point last year.
Almost half of bankers predicted loan demand will decline next year, a jump of 22 points from the first quarter survey. More than three quarters of banks said they have experienced no change in access to capital, with 67% anticipating it will stay the same over the next 12 months.
This survey was conducted online over the course of two weeks from June 21 to June 30.
To read the report in its entirety click here.
Editor's Note: It is official; the news was out late yesterday and this morning. The United States is in a recession. Two consecutive quarters of decreased GDP. This has been the standard measure of recession for a long, long time and trying to redefine it doesn't make what's happening any less of a recession.
Designing roots to reach new depths could help carbon storage in soil
University of Nottingham news release
X-ray micro-computed tomography scan image of Morex (wild-type) and egt1 (mutant) roots in soil, showing major differences in seminal root growth angle. Mutant roots show steeper root phenotype compared to the wild-type - Credit: Dr. Riccardo Fusi, University of Nottingham.
Scientists have discovered how to potentially design root systems to grow deeper by altering their angle growth to be steeper and reach the nutrients they need to grow, a discovery that could also help develop new ways to capture carbon in soil.
Researchers from the University of Nottingham and Bologna have discovered a key gene in barley and wheat that controls the angle of root growth. Steeper root angle helps bury carbon deeper in soil as well as improving resilience in crops to drought stress. Their findings have been published today in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The Nottingham team have discovered how a new gene (called Enhanced Gravitropism 1 or EGT1) normally controls root angle by stiffening the core of growing root tips, making it more difficult to bend downwards. However, after this gene is disrupted, the team used X-ray micro CT imaging to reveal that every different type of root has a steeper angle.
Root angle controls how efficiently plants can capture water and nutrients. For instance, shallow roots best capture phosphate which accumulates in the top-soil region, while steeper roots are better for foraging for water and nitrate in deeper soil layers. Steeper roots are also important for helping bury carbon deeper into soil. Discovering genes like EGT1 and how they control root angle is critical for developing novel future crop varieties better able to capture nutrients and carbon.
Rahul Bhosale, Assistant Professor from the School of Biosciences and the Future Food Beacon
The international team includes researchers from the University of Adelaide, University of Bologna and Penn State University. The Nottingham team was funded by ARPA-E, BBSRC Discovery Fellowship, European Research Council, Royal Society and University of Nottingham Future Food Beacon awards.
Triazine Network release
Deviating from its finalized 2020 decision, EPA is now proposing it would enforce a flawed 3.4 ppb CE-LOC utilizing a new prediction model. Using this new model, 72 percent of all U.S. corn acres will exceed the proposed threshold. Farmers in those areas will be required to use lower application rates as well as implement one or more mitigation methods, reducing weed control and sustainability practices while increasing input and production costs. Purple indicates predicted levels of 3.4 ppb to 9.8 ppb. Teal indicates over 9.8 ppb, which would require greater mitigation.
When EPA announced its June 30 proposed rule on atrazine, farmers took immediate notice of EPA's ultra-low level for atrazine. After examining the extensive documentation posted to the docket, the scenario has gone from bad to worse for growers of corn, grain sorghum, sugar cane, fruits, vegetables, and other crops that rely on atrazine. If adopted, the proposal would place severe restrictions on most farmers who have safely used the popular herbicide for more than 60 years.
In a published decision that concluded the registration review of atrazine in 2020, EPA set the aquatic level of concern (CE-LOC) at 15 parts per billion (ppb). If the proposed rule is adopted, over 72 percent of U.S. corn acres would be out of compliance based on a model used to predict which areas would exceed the new strict atrazine limits.
According to agency documents, 23 percent of acres would exceed the ultra-low 3.4 ppb aquatic CE-LOC, and an astounding 49 percent of corn acres would be over 9.8 ppb. Areas predicted to exceed the limit would then be required to implement and document one or more mitigation practices from a "picklist" and use a lower rate of atrazine.
"It's bad enough EPA is playing politics by reopening the finalized reregistration for atrazine with proposed levels not supported by credible science. Now we learn the agency would enforce restrictions using an unbelievable modeling system that would put 72 percent of all U.S. corn acres out of compliance," said Greg Krissek, Triazine Network co-chairman and Kansas Corn Growers Association CEO. "This is clearly a case of agency overreach."
Even in flat areas with little or no runoff, EPA's radical prediction model would require growers to use mitigation practices like adding buffer strips and terraces. Meanwhile, with no input from USDA, other viable options like split applications were not included on the proposed picklist.
"Farmers were mad a few weeks ago when they saw the ridiculous proposed level," said Triazine Network Co-Chairman Gary Marshall of Missouri. "But when you look at all the details, you realize EPA is determined to eliminate the effective use of atrazine. That's going to cause all kinds of problems, from loss of no-till acres to herbicide resistance in weeds. It will also be a big hit when input costs are already at an all-time high and a major loss for sustainable farming."
Additionally, EPA is proposing label changes that reduce atrazine application rates by 20 percent, ban application within 48 hours of a predicted rain event that could produce runoff, and also aerial applications.
"What is frustrating is that none of this is based on credible science. In fact, EPA is ignoring new studies and using discredited studies that were thrown out by its own Scientific Advisory Panels," Krissek said.
"EPA has committed to farmers and members of the media that it will convene a formal Scientific Advisory Panel to review the data with full transparency. But that is not reflected in the agency's official documents. Growers deserve written confirmation from EPA that the agency will follow the law and base all decisions on credible research as determined by an unbiased scientific panel. Anything less is unacceptable."
The Triazine Network is a coalition of agricultural organizations and their growers concerned with regulatory actions relating to triazine herbicides, including atrazine.
Editor's Note: A part per billion is one second in 32 years, one cent in $10M dollars. Not much. And good luck convening that unbiased scientific panel - you have our support.
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