Weekly Update from the Texas Seed Trade Association
Upcoming Texas Seed Trade Association Regional Opportunity
The events scheduled for September 6, this week, in Amarillo, have been cancelled and will be rescheduled for a later date.
We did not have a sufficient number of participants confirmed by last Friday when the association would have incurred significant charges for a hotel meeting room and for later recreation at the ball park. We trust you understand and hope those who desired to participate, and more, will respond when we announce the rescheduled events.
Western Seed Association will convene their annual meeting on Monday October 31 at the Westin Crown Center Hotel in Kansas City, MO. The meeting begins with a reception Monday evening at 6:00PM and transitions into the ASTA Farm and Lawn Seed Conference on Wednesday November 2.
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.
Editor's Note: The Bears are going to Arlington Park and ASTA is headed to Florida. Please join us at the last Chicago CSS meeting!
Save the dates for the 34th Annual Texas Plant Protection Conference. December 6 & 7, 2022 at the Brazos Center in Bryan. Conference and Exhibitor/Sponsors registration is available on the TPPA website: www.texasplantprotection.com
Don’t miss these outstanding presenters in the conference General Sessions:
“Global Markets Outlook & Impact on Texas Agriculture” - Dr. Mark
Welch, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service
“The Pesticide Forecast—Innovation, Opportunity & Challenge” –
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!
9/1/22 - 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 USDA's national corn condition rating dipped a little bit again last week, while soybeans held steady after another widely mixed week for weather in the Midwest and Plains.
As of Sunday, 54% of U.S. corn is called good to excellent, 1% less than last week, with 86% of the crop at the dough making stage, 46% dented, and 8% mature, all behind their respective five-year averages.
57% of soybeans are rated good to excellent, unchanged, with 91% at the pod setting stage and 4% dropping leaves, both a little bit slower than normal.
68% of spring wheat is in good to excellent shape, 4% more than a week ago, and 50% of the crop is harvested, compared to 71% on average.
34% of cotton is reported as good to excellent, 3% higher, with 94% of the crop setting bolls and 24% of those bolls opening, faster than the respective typical paces.
70% of rice is in good to excellent shape, down 2%, with 96% headed, compared to the five-year average of 98%, and 18% harvested, compared to 21% on average.
25% of U.S. pastures and rangelands are called good to excellent, a week-to-week increase of 2%.
Sara Schafer, AgWeb.com
In September and October Brazilian farmers will start to plant corn, soybeans and other crops. Forecasts show, if weather cooperates, the 2022/23 Brazilian crop harvest could be the largest ever, according to CONAB, the country's food supply and statistics agency.
For the upcoming crop season, CONAB forecasts Brazilian farmers will produce more than 300 million tons of soybeans, corn, cotton, rice, wheat and soybeans. That is 14% higher than last season, when Brazilian farmers harvested an estimated 271.4 million tons of grains - an all-time high.
The expected growth of the Brazilian crop is attributed to two factors, according to the University of Illinois' Joana Colussi, Gary Schnitkey and Nick Paulson. They include:
*2.5% jump in planted area
*11% higher yields versus 2022
Although production costs are expected to be higher in the coming season, Brazilian farmers will benefit from high commodity prices, robust global demand and a favorable exchange rate.
Soybeans account for almost half of the total grain produced in Brazil. The 2022-23 soybean crop is projected to be 5.525 million bushels (equivalent to 150 million tons), an increase of 21% over the previous harvest.
Land O'Lakes, Inc., one of America's largest farmer-owned cooperatives, is encouraging more farmers to adopt regenerative farming practices by working to remove one of the biggest barriers - fear of lost profitability and productivity of their acres.
This effort is made possible because of the synergies of its businesses and the strength of its ag retail network. With Truterra's work in supporting farmers with sustainable practices, WinField United's scientific approach to crop management and the expertise of local ag retailers, the Land O'Lakes cooperative system is ready to help mitigate the risk associated with converting to more climate smart practices.
Feed & Grain Times reports
Ukraine is on course to ship nearly as much grain this month as it did before the Russian invasion in February, a U.S. official told AFP News Agency on August 23.
"Thanks to intensive international cooperation, Ukraine is on track to export as much as four million metric tons of agricultural products in August," a senior U.S. State Department official said.
The country exported 3 million metric tonnes in July.
In July, Ukraine and Russia reached an agreement through the mediation of Turkey and the United Nations, with guarantees for grain ships to leave Ukraine's Black Sea ports.
According to reports, more than 720,000 tons of grain onboard 33 ships have left Ukraine over the past several weeks.
In addition to the vessels that have already left Ukraine, the Ukrainian agriculture ministry said a further 18 were now loading or waiting for permission to leave Ukrainian ports.
In a separate statement, the ministry said exports of key Ukrainian agricultural commodities had fallen by almost half since the start of the Russian invasion compared to the same period in 2021.
By Gregg Hilyer, Progressive Farmer Editor-in-Chief
Brian Buford fondly recalls accompanying his dad while delivering seed corn each spring. They would arrive at the customer's farm in a weighted-down truck with multiple bags of seed. The routine was nearly always the same: Chat for a bit and hand the farmer a fresh new cap, a bag of sweet corn for the family's garden and a planting guide before returning home for the next load.
Fast-forward 20-some years later, and the role of the seed dealer has evolved beyond just someone who peddles hybrids and varieties, and sports the company logo. Many farmer-customers demand much more as the risks and costs associated with growing a crop continue to increase. They want a dealer not only knowledgeable in the myriad trait packages and seed treatments available, but also well-versed in agronomic principles such as fertility, soils and weed/insect/disease control.
DEALER BECOMES ADVISER
Seed companies have responded by revamping their dealer networks. Originally, full-time farmers filled their ranks, working part-time to earn extra income during their off-season when they weren't in the field. Many companies transitioned to full-time seed professionals and/or seed advisers who provide services and support to customers throughout the growing season. Firms also started selling seed through retail outlets. And, while retailers today account for about 30 to 35% of all sales, the seed dealer model remains the primary go-to market channel for most seed companies.
"Farmers have so much at stake on every acre," points out Nate Miller, vice president, U.S. Southern Commercial Unit at Corteva. "We believed we needed a full-time professional who was dedicated to deliver the service and support required to represent the Pioneer brand.
"The most important decision within that one cropping year is going to be the hybrid or variety they place on that acre," he continues. "They need a trusted partner -- their dealer -- that's going to bring our technology to life on the farm and make the recommendations the farmer needs to maximize the productivity of that acre."
Trust has always been the foundation for a strong relationship between the dealer and grower. That's even more important today, as seed-buying decisions have grown in complexity, and farmers adopt agronomic practices that influence the performance of that seed and, ultimately, profits.
"Farmers want someone who can advise them and help them be better with their farming operation," stresses Eric Boeck, regional director, North America Seeds at Syngenta. "It goes back to that seed adviser really knowing his customer and helping that customer make decisions to be successful. It requires the dealer to work with and advise the farmer year-round. That requires trust."
Buford's dad was a Burrus Seed dealer for 25 years in northeast Missouri. He followed in his father's footsteps, selling the Burrus brands for five years before switching exclusively to Golden Harvest in 2013. Five years ago, Buford added Wyffels Hybrids to his seed dealership, and it now represents the majority of what he sells.
"Selling multiple brands allows me to gather more information on what is happening throughout the seed industry and hopefully bring those resources back to my customers," he says.
The 34-year-old also farms full-time, contrary to the model embraced by many in the industry. Buford believes his dual role gives him added credibility with customers.
"I take things a bit more personally because I'm in their shoes," he says. "There's a lot more on the line today than there was 30 years ago. It's rewarding when the hybrids and varieties I recommend result in their success, and you also feel responsible when they don't have success."
Buford's curiosity on how to get more out of a crop fits well with the added demands from his seed customers. He likes the challenge of putting together the pieces of the puzzle that increase yield and shares what he learns on his own farm with customers. "I try to emphasize my recommendations based on facts, data and experience, not on sales," Buford stresses. "I make my living farming, and I also sell seed. I'm not going to recommend a hybrid, variety or production practice without the grower's best interest in mind."
All seed companies strive for their dealers to have that same level of commitment and trust with their customers. "Farmers still rely on a dealer that can help them grow their business. They want somebody that cares about them and their business," notes Scott Greenfield, DeKalb Asgrow Deltapine distribution manager. "And, while the scope of knowledge, service and support a dealer provides has changed tremendously, the part that really hasn't changed is the value of that relationship and the trust that goes with it. That's earned."
Kevin Ross agrees. "Everybody has good hybrids," points out the Kahoka, Missouri, farmer. "It goes back to the dealer. It's who you trust. Who is going to do a good job for you and go to bat for you?"
Buford is one of two seed dealers upon which Ross relies. Ross looks for someone who sells a quality product that performs well in his soils and growing environment, and is available to provide advice throughout the growing season.
"Brian is constantly checking with us and monitoring our crops' progress," Ross explains. "He's out scouting his own fields for potential problems. If he sees an issue, he alerts us and is out in our fields to determine if any action is required. We also rely on his knowledge on whether certain hybrids respond to extra nitrogen or a fungicide, for example, to help us decide if an application will pay."
Adding value beyond the seed in the bag is important to Buford. He says that value comes in many forms such as advice on planting population, specialized technology, soils, crop protection, equipment, data analysis and marketing.
"I feel like it's my responsibility as their seed supplier to pool as many resources as possible relative to what issues may arise during the growing season," Buford says. "Staying ahead of potential challenges is the best way to ensure that both myself and my customers have success."
Providing dealers with that level of expertise and knowledge is a high priority for seed companies. Training and education come in many forms, ranging from field days to see firsthand product performance; sessions with company agronomists to learn about the latest crop-production and management practices; deep dives on the launch of new traits and seed numbers; updates during the growing season on potential crop problems and more.
"What we're trying to do is enable our seed dealers and our seed sellers, regardless of the channel they participate in, to be informed to help their farmer customers. We want to empower them to anticipate questions from farmers and any hybrid and variety performance issues that may arise," Corteva's Miller points out.
DEALER OF THE FUTURE
In the highly competitive seed industry, those ever-changing questions challenge companies to constantly look for ways for their dealers to better serve farmers.
"There is going to be a much larger need for farmers to get even better information from their dealers as well as the seed companies," Bayer's Greenfield explains. "That will include greater transparency in areas like logistics so they can track their own seed order and delivery dates. Dealers will need to integrate more data to not only help farmers make the right seed choices but also all the other crop inputs to optimize performance."
Syngenta's Boeck agrees. "Dealers will need to be able to communicate with the farmer in their digital ecosystem. The digital revolution offers every farmer layers of data. Dealers will need to understand that data and provide insights and solutions on not only the seed growers select, but the entire agronomic spectrum on every acre."
Ross looks for those same insights from Buford on his Missouri farm. But, he also knows his success begins with the basics. "You essentially get one shot to get it right each year, and it starts with the seed. Brian is not only our dealer but also a trusted partner and friend. For me, the relationship and trust are everything."
SIX TIPS TO GET THE MOST FROM SEED DEALERS
1. Don't be reluctant to let them be problem-solvers. Look for dealers knowledgeable on agronomic principles and the latest weed, insect and disease threats to crops. They should also be well-versed in trait technology.
2. Maintain accurate field maps of where problems exist so they can custom-fit hybrids and varieties. Accurate data is essential for them to provide the proper recommendations and to have a good understanding of your fields and your management/production practices.
3. Ask what services they provide beyond selling seed (tissue testing, soil tests, etc.).
4. Think beyond traits. Defense mechanisms may not be included in the latest and greatest trait technology.
5. Realize they are selling something. Verify (if possible) results against independent testing.
6. Be sure they have a vested interest in your business. Your success is their success.
-- Write Gregg Hillyer, 2204 Lakeshore Dr., Suite 415, Birmingham, AL 35209, email , or follow Gregg on Twitter @GreggHillyer
Colorado State University offers new clues to how plants retain healthy genomes, avoid mitochondrial disease
The mechanics of these diseases, which can lead to poor growth, muscle weakness, neurological problems and more, lie in the genes inside mitochondria, which are the cellular organelles that produce the cell’s energy. Mitochondrial genomes, which are inherited only from the mother, are separate from the nuclear genomes we tend to think of and that are inherited equally from the mother and father.
In humans and other animals, mitochondrial genomes have extremely high mutation rates, and these mutations are passed from mother to child very easily. Scientists are eager to learn more about why these high mutation rates occur and what could be done to stop them, so that mitochondrial disease can become a thing of the past.
Colorado State University biologists are funded by the National Institutes of Health to seek answers to these very questions, but they’re not medical researchers – they’re plant biologists. It turns out humans have a lot to learn from plants, from a genetic standpoint, of how to keep our mitochondrial genomes free from mutations that cause disease.
How do plants experience mitochondrial mutations?
Amanda Broz, a research scientist in the lab of Dan Sloan, associate professor in the Department of Biology, led a recent study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that sheds new light on how plants, however rarely, experience mutations in their mitochondrial genomes. Unlike humans, plants are able to quickly fix these mutations, and more importantly, not pass them on to their progeny.
In previous work, Sloan and his lab members hypothesized that genes responsible for DNA replication, recombination and repair in plant organelles like mitochondria and chloroplasts might be involved in keeping these organelles healthy and mutation-free. They honed in on a gene called MutS homolog 1, or MSH1 for short, which is found in plants but not humans. Generating plants in the lab with mutations in this gene, they found evidence that this gene is critical for keeping mitochondrial mutation rates low in plants.
A more detailed analysis followed, as they sought to understand how mutations in the genomes of both mitochondria and chloroplasts spread, both within the plant and across generations. What they found, and is detailed in their new paper, was that plants are very good at sorting normal (good) and mutant (diseased) DNA. Once the sorting process has happened, natural selection takes over: offspring that inherit diseased DNA are less likely to survive, so the mutation is not passed on to progeny.
In contrast, the diseased DNA in humans tends to stay mixed up with the good, and gets passed down through generations, because this sorting ability is much less effective. In more technical terms, plants remove heteroplasmy – the presence of both mutant and non-mutant DNA – from their cellular compartments much faster and more efficiently than their animal and human counterparts.
The researchers tracked the mitochondrial mutations they identified in a species called Arabidopsis over time and space using a sensitive technique called digital droplet PCR. This technique allowed them to analyze the amount of mutant versus normal mitochondrial DNA in these plants.
And, back to that special gene: Using the mutant plants they grew in the lab, the CSU biologists found that functional copies of MSH1 are what accelerate that DNA sorting process in plant mitochondria. They think that MSH1 is responsible for first identifying mutations in mitochondrial DNA, and fixing them. However, if a mutation persists for one reason or another, MSH1 can also work to quickly sort that mutation away from normal DNA.
MSH1 repairs organelle DNA. The MSH1 protein slides along a DNA strand until it detects mutations. Then MSH1 cuts both strands of DNA. The DNA repair machinery in the cell uses homologous DNA (DNA of the same sequence) as a template to fix the mutation. B) MSH1 increases sorting of organelle DNA. A population of green (normal) and blue (mutant) organelle DNA molecules is shown. When functional MSH1 is present, it homogenizes copies of DNA, and the resulting populations contain either normal or mutant DNA. When MSH1 is absent, the DNA types remain mixed.
“Something that is really cool about our work is that it illustrates how nature has devised multiple ways of dealing with mutations in organelle genomes,” Broz said. “We know that mitochondrial mutations are one of the key factors leading to aging and disease in humans. Knowing how plants and other organisms maintain such low mitochondrial mutation rates can give us a better understanding of how this process goes awry in humans, and potentially how it can be remedied.”
The researchers have much more to learn from their mutant plants. They are next creating a mathematical model that attempts to understand what cellular forces are responsible for the different rates of organelle DNA sorting they observed in plants, and what role MSH1 plays in the process. That part of the project is being led by collaborators at the University of Bergen in Norway. They are also looking to investigate whether MSH1 has the same impact on sorting mitochondrial DNA in other plant types besides Arabidopsis, such as trees that have very different development patterns.
Single Species Cover Crops vs. Mixtures: Which Delivers Better Weed Suppression?
Weed Science Society of America
Cover crops can be a valuable tool for weed suppression. They compete with weeds for light, water, nutrients and space and reduce the ability of weeds to germinate, grow and reproduce. But which is better – planting a single cover crop or using one of the new cover crop mixtures that are now readily available?
In field research featured in the journal Weed Science, a team from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada set out to answer that question. They compared 19 monoculture cover crops from four taxonomic groups (brassica, forb, grass and legume) with 19 mixtures that contained from one to three cover crop species.
They determined that cover crop diversity does indeed have a positive effect of on weed suppression. However, monocultures of buckwheat, oat, pearl millet or sorghum sudangrass were typically more productive and more weed suppressive than any of the mixtures. This result was consistent across regions, seasons, mixture composition and functional diversity.
The bottom line: If weed suppression is the primary goal, a single cover crop may be the most effective option.