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Sep 21

TSTA Weekly Update, 09/21/2023

Weekly Update from the Texas Seed Trade Association

Member News


Membership renewals for 2023-2024 have been mailed, please look for them!


Growout season is almost here! Please download a growout intention survey here and return it to the TSTA office via email attachment. It's important to have a reasonable idea of the acreage we'll be needing this winter.


Last year's growouts in Costa Rica were the best ever and the Gan Eden Farm in Puerto Rico does a great job year after year. Send your seed to either, or both, locations with confidence.


Please note that the TSTA Board of Directors has approved a policy whereby no company's seed may be entered into growouts if the invoice for that company's previous year's entries has not been satisfactorily settled.


Join the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) this December 5 - 8, 2023 at our NEW venue, the Hyatt Regency Orlando, for the Field Crop Seed Convention, an unparalleled seed business networking and educational opportunity. Gathering over 2,000 attendees from 36 countries, the Field Crop Seed Convention (formerly known as the CSS & Seed Expo) is THE place to see and be seen amongst the global community of companies working in all field crops, from corn and soybean, to wheat, rice, cotton, sorghum and so much more. Now in Orlando, after 77 years in Chicago, our new venue offers any and all seed industry stakeholders a wealth of new opportunities, in a central hub of exhibits, sessions and private meeting rooms all in one combined meeting space area. 

Visit the conference home page to learn more


The 35th Annual Texas Plant Protection Conference will be December 5 & 6 at the Brazos Center in Bryan, Texas. Click here for more info and to register


The Western Seed Association annual meeting is now accepting registrations. Click here to register.

A new wheat variety available for licensing.


TX17D2337 comes from the cross between LA04041D-63 (AGS2060/GA951079A25) and NC09-22206 (NC00-16203 // P26R24 / NC96-13965). TX17D2337 is a medium maturity, awned, white-glumed soft red winter wheat (SRWW) and is a below average height line with semi-erect early growth. It has a green color and semi-erect heads at maturity. The seed are red and soft-textured. TX17D2337 is medium maturing SRWW (106 d) in the 2021-2022 Texas A&M Soft Wheat Variety Trial similar to ‘Dyna-Gro 9811’ and ‘AGS 2055’ but was later than ‘GW 6000’ and earlier then ‘WB 2606’. TX17D2337 is a semi-dwarf wheat with below average height at 28.6 inches tall. AGS 2055 is taller while WB 2606 is shorter.


Please click here for more information and a request for proposals from Texas A&M AgriLife Foundation Seed.

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!


9/21/2023 - 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!


News Bits


The American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) welcomes Martha Malapi as Director, Seed Health & Trade. Martha transitions into the role as Ric Dunkle prepares for retirement after more than 15 years with ASTA and 35 years handling phytosanitary issues in state and federal government. 


Martha joins ASTA today after 10 years at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), in a number of roles, including Branch Chief of APHIS Biotechnology Regulatory Services, where she worked on assessing potential plant pest risk and environmental impacts of genetically engineered microbes on the human environment. Prior to serving as Branch Chief, Martha was the Lead Plant Pathologist and Program Manager of APHIS Plant Protection and Quarantine - Plant Germplasm Quarantine Program, where she implemented the genomics program for the identification of quarantine pathogens.


Martha completed her postdoctoral specialization at USDA-ARS, where she used different genomics and bioinformatics tools to study novel and emergent pathogens. She holds an M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Plant Pathology from the University of Tennessee and Texas A&M University. Originally from Lima, Peru, Martha now calls Washington, D.C., home.


As Director, Seed Health & Trade, Martha will serve as the lead technical and policy expert for ASTA's nearly 700 members on phytosanitary issues impacting the global movement of seed in a wide range of economically important species, including row crops, vegetables, flowers, forages, and grasses.


Keith Good, University of Illinois' FarmDoc program


In its monthly Wheat Outlook report yesterday, the USDA's Economic Research Service (ERS) indicated that, "U.S. Hard Red Winter (HRW) exports are forecast down 10 million bushels this month to 155 million bushels, the lowest since records started in 1973/74. HRW supplies have seen a long-term downturn in U.S. acreage as corn and soy have gained acreage in many locations. At the same time, international wheat competition has surged, resulting in exports of this class being less competitive on the global market.


"Recently, U.S. HRW supplies have been affected by drought in consecutive years, which has dented crop prospects and contributed to exports of this class being uncompetitive with other suppliers such as Russia and the European Union (EU). Historically, HRW was the leading class of U.S. exports, but in this season, it is forecast as the third largest class of U.S. exports, being surpassed by both Hard Red Spring (HRS) and White wheat. Production of HRS and White are down year-over-year with lower yields, but drought has not affected those classes to the same extent as HRW."


ERS pointed out that, "U.S. exports continue to be priced uncompetitively on the global market, resulting in a slow pace of sales. U.S. export sales, as reported in the USDA, Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) U.S. Export Sales report, are well behind last year's pace through August 31. Total U.S. commitments (the sum of accumulated exports and outstanding sales) are at 7.9 million metric tons as of August 31, down 21 percent from the same point last year.


To read entire report, Click Here


Apples are a fall staple, showing up in lunch boxes, pies, cobblers, crisps, and cider. In 2021, 45.9 pounds of apples per person were available for domestic consumption, according to USDA, Economic Research Service's (ERS) Food Availability data product.


Fifty-two percent of the available apples for U.S. domestic use (23.7 pounds per person) was in the form of juice or cider, or about 2 gallons per person. Fresh apples accounted for 34 percent (15.8 pounds per person). Canned, frozen, dried, and other forms made up the remaining 14 percent of apple availability in 2021.


Over the last 10 years, per-person apple availability reached a high of 49.2 pounds per person in 2016. Much of the decrease since 2016 was because of declining availability of fresh apples. In 2016, fresh apple availability was 19.3 pounds per person.


USDA Release


Total research and development (R&D) spending on crop improvement by the seven largest seed companies (as well as their legacy companies) increased from less than $2 billion in 1990 to more than $6.5 billion by 2021, closely tracking with increases in company revenues from seed and agrichemical sales.


Intellectual property rights protections for new seed innovations--especially genetically modified seeds--allow seed companies to set prices for their products with a temporary legal monopoly. The profits earned are a return for R&D investments and costs to commercialize the inventions.


These profits also allowed seed companies to spend more on crop R&D, accelerate the rate of new variety introductions with higher productivity potential, and charge higher prices reflecting the value of improved seeds.


Collectively, these 7 companies have invested about 10 percent of their agricultural revenues in R&D.

The cloning of the first genic dominant male sterility gene in rice may revolutionize breeding processes

Science China Press


The red colour indicates an up-regulation response involved in the sterility process, and blue indicates a down-regulation response. - Credit: Science China Press


Male sterility in plants provides valuable breeding tools in germplasm innovation and hybrid crop production. However, genetic resources for dominant genic male sterility, which holds great promise to facilitate breeding processes, are extremely rare in natural germplasm. The Sanming Dominant Genic Male Sterile (SDGMS) Rice was first found by the Sanming Institute of Agricultural Science in 2001, and it shows stable complete male sterility and is practically unaffected by the environment, which is highly useful in breeding. However, the gene leading to SDGMS is still uncharted.


Scientists from Huazhong Agriculture University and Sanming Institute of Agriculture Sciences identified this dominant male sterility gene SDGMS in rice using a map-based cloning approach and demonstrated the mechanism causing dominant male sterility. In fertile plants, the sdgms gene was barely expressed in young panicles and spikelets, whereas in sterile plants, a 1978-bp retrotransposon was translocated to the promoter region of SDGMS and activates its specific expression in tapetal cells.


SDGMS encodes a ribosome-inactivating protein that inhibits protein translation at the translational level, activates the defense response in rice anthers, and triggers the hypersensitive response and programmed cell death in tapetal cells, causing male sterility. This study provides a fresh example that TE movement is an ongoing process in genome evolution, and SDGMS rice provides a very powerful tool to facilitate outcrossing, which eliminates the need for hand emasculation and will fundamentally improve the efficiency of breeding programs.


This study was led by Dr. Qifa Zhang, Dr. Yidan Ouyang (National Key Laboratory of Crop Genetic Improvement and National Centre of Plant Gene Research (Wuhan), Hubei Hongshan Laboratory, Huazhong Agricultural University) and Dr. Xianbo Huang (Sanming Institute of Agricultural Sciences).


Spontaneous movement of a retrotransposon generated genic dominant male sterility providing a useful tool for rice breeding

National Science Review



Some International News


Ukraine files WTO lawsuit against Poland, Slovakia, Hungary over agri import ban

By Natasha Foote |


Ukraine has filed lawsuits at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) against Poland, Slovakia and Hungary following their decision to unilaterally impose a ban on Ukrainian agricultural goods.

“It is fundamentally important for us to prove that individual member states cannot ban the import of Ukrainian goods,” Ukrainian deputy Prime Minister and economy minister, Yuliya Svyridenko, said in a statement announcing the decision on Monday (18 September).


The decision follows Poland, Slovakia and Hungary’s decision to unilaterally impose restrictions on Ukrainian grain imports on Friday (15 September) after the European Commission decided not to extend its temporary ban on imports into Ukraine’s five EU neighbours.


The EU ban – which covered wheat, maize, rapeseed, and sunflower seeds – was originally put in place to appease frontline countries facing an influx of Ukrainian agricultural products. The influx, which put local farmers under pressure by driving prices down, led to the countries unilaterally imposing their own trade restrictions back in April.


For Ukraine, Friday’s action by the three EU countries is a “violation of international obligations”, according to the statement, which called the unilateral actions of EU member states in the field of trade “unacceptable”.


“All member states of the bloc should coordinate and agree on trade policy, as it belongs to the exclusive competence of the EU,” the statement reads. 


“That is why we file lawsuits against them in the WTO,” Svyridenko said, adding that, at the same time, Ukraine “hope[s] that these states will lift their restrictions and we will not have to clarify the relationship in the courts for a long time”.


According to the Svyridenko, the ban has left its mark on Ukraine’s agricultural sector. 


“Domestic exporters have already suffered and continue to suffer significant losses due to downtime, additional costs and the impossibility of fulfilling foreign economic agreements,” the statement reads. 


“We need solidarity with them and protection of farmers’ interests,” it stresses, adding that the steps Ukraine has taken and the pressure of the European Commission and other member states will “help restore normal trade between Ukraine and neighbouring countries, as well as show solidarity between us”.


Collapse of coordination platform?


The news comes as the Polish Press Agency (PAP) reports that Poland, Slovakia and Hungary have pulled out of the joint coordination platform, a gathering of EU frontline countries together with representatives from the Commission and Ukraine who have been regularly discussing the issue of the ban over the past few months. 


While he did not confirm the rumours, speaking to journalists at the meeting of EU agriculture ministers on Monday (18 September), Poland’s agriculture minister Robert Telus suggested that it might be “dangerous” to continue participation with the platform amid concerns of lawsuits. 


“If we are on this platform and if the Ukrainian side says that it wants to cite us to the WTO, then any statement we make on this platform can be used against [us],” he said, adding that, until Ukraine “backs down” on its threat to bring the case to the WTO, it is “dangerous for us to continue to participate there”.


Editor's Note: The way we understand this is since Russia is severely curtailing Ukraine's ability to export agricultural commodities, Ukraine is left to transport "locally" selling agricultural goods for less to their neighboring country's farmers can. Ag commodities are just about the only thing Ukraine has left to barter for the cash necessary to conduct their war against Russia. Ukraine's neighbors are sympathetic towards the Russian invasion but not altogether happy about under-priced commodities making it across their borders.


Then there's the Bulgarians - to the rescue

(Krassen Nikolov |


The problem with the import of Ukrainian grain into Bulgaria was created by Russian propaganda, Transport Minister Todor Gvozdeykov said on Monday after Bulgarian grain producers – who have been demanding a ban on the import of agricultural products from Ukraine – blocked off key roads in the country.


He reiterated that there is a decision of the EU Commission and the Bulgarian parliament to allow Ukrainian imports.


“When imports were allowed in 2022, Bulgarian grain producers made a profit of more than €1.25 billion. In 2021, the profit is smaller, but this protest now has a political purpose. They are trying to destabilise the clear (pro-EU geopolitical) direction of Bulgaria,” Gvozdeikov told bTV.


“Bulgaria has nothing to lose. We provide a corridor of solidarity, a port through which grain from Ukraine can be exported. And Bulgaria will benefit from this,” the minister added.


A strong disinformation campaign was launched on social networks, directed against Ukrainian agricultural production in Bulgaria. The most popular fake news was that Ukrainian food was contaminated with heavy metals and even uranium. The Bulgarian authorities have carried out hundreds of inspections of Ukrainian grain and food but have not found any such issue.

Prime Minister Nikolay Denkov announced on Sunday evening that there is no real problem with Ukrainian agricultural imports, as Bulgaria has the right to determine what quantities it wants to accept.


The grain producers’ protest was triggered by the falling prices of sunflower seeds on world markets, while they insist that local processing plants buy their produce at prices 15-20% higher than the market value. However, this will lead to higher prices for the oil produced, which will effectively become unsellable.


The disinformation campaign was continued on Sunday by the National Union of Bakers and Confectioners chairwoman, Mariana Kukusheva. She explained to Nova TV that Ukrainian wheat can only be used for feed because it contains chemical compounds of “heavy metals”.


This caused the reaction of the Bulgarian Food Safety Agency, which announced that there are no heavy metals in Ukrainian wheat.


The Food Agency announced that there is increased control and a sample was taken from every shipment from Ukraine. To date, 575 samples of Ukrainian products have been taken and not a single deviation from safety standards has been found.


Editor's Note: Romania has also concluded a favorable bilateral trade agreement with Ukraine allowing agricultural imports.


Many politicians vying for seats in the Slovak parliament have shown a distinct lack of enthusiasm for greening the EU’s agricultural policy on GMOs, pesticides and unproductive land as the 30 September election looms.

(Barbara Zmušková |


Of the nine major parties in the mix, only three – Progressive Slovakia (PS), KDH and OĽANO – appear to embrace the concept of a more environmentally friendly transformation of agriculture. While environmental concerns within the sector are not disputed, many of these parties remain skeptical about the European approach to addressing them.


But with Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine, the target of making EU agriculture has become more contentious, with member states and parts of the European Parliament now harboring heightened concerns regarding food security and the welfare of farmers.


“We reject various ill-considered (European) ‘green plans’ that do not meet the basic technical criteria of technical feasibility, economic sustainability or ecological efficiency,” the far-right Republic Party writes in its election programe.


As for Smer, which is currently leading in the polls, said it will only support greening that does not “drastically endanger” and reduce the competitiveness of the European and Slovak economies.


Regarding the European Commission’s proposal to relax restrictions on certain genomic techniques used in plant genetic engineering to improve traits such as resistance to insects and drought, for example, all political parties consulted expressed their opposition.


Opinion was further divided on the Commission’s target to reduce the use of pesticides. While most parties disagree with the target of halving the use of chemical pesticides in pest control by 2030, PS and OĽANO do not.


As for the EU’s Nature Restoration Law, which proposes that a tenth of agricultural land should be kept in an unproductive state and which MEPs approved in a close vote this summer, all parties oppose it. Only the PS has come out in favour of setting aside more unproductive land for this purpose.


Editor's Note: This is interesting because it represents yet another example of people dabbling in agriculture who have no understanding of the discipline. Cutting any input by one-half by a certain date represents arbitrary decision making on a grand scale. Never mind the consequences. Are there consequences? Besides saving Mother Earth obviously? And by the way, do it without resources that infer genetic resistance to crop pests - no GMO and no gene editing. At least there seems to be real opposition to this nonsense.


Don't think for a moment this is happening in Slovakia and couldn't happen here. That would be an error. Other than a select few state legislatures our government is generally more insidious than simply mandating these kind of arbitrary decisions. (So far it's mostly in the form of banning fossil fueled vehicles beyond an arbitrary date.)


The USDA just announced a $12.5M pot available for grants towards halving fertilizer inputs and pesticides in agricultural production. So far it's an incentive and not a directive but most experienced policy experts believe these kinds of incentives are the tip of the regulatory iceberg. The grant applications, by the way, don't mention anything specific about maintaining high levels of production; just halving the politically unpopular inputs.



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The articles, views, and opinions expressed in the Weekly Update do not necessarily reflect the policies of the Texas Seed Trade Association or the opinions of its members.