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Aug 24

TSTA Weekly Update, 08/24/2023

Weekly Update from the Texas Seed Trade Association

Member News


Our Amarillo Sod Poodles rain-out last month has been rescheduled! Friday September 15, dinner at 6:30PM to 7:30PM. Your Sod Poodles take on the Frisco Roughriders at 7:05PM. The Sod Poodles are HOT right now and look like they are going to stay hot so plan on attending with your fellow seed professionals.


We were, originally, scheduled for a club box when our game was rained out last month. Unfortunately all the boxes are booked the reminder of the year so we've moved to the picnic area. This area is "outside" but is shaded and should be very comfortable. The good news is we went from being able to accommodate 25 people to 35 people. This is first reserved - first dibs so please let the TSTA staff know your intentions. Plan to bring some of your own people and meet with your friendly competitors at this fun event!


TSTA staff will be unable to join you but we scarcely think that will dampen anything and we're hopeful Mother Nature won't dampen anything this time either. Food is included and the first 35 get free admission to the game. We're working on getting your first couple of drinks covered by the association at the game. Looks like we're going to be able to do that!


Reserve your spot(s) today! It's pretty easy; reply to this email or call 512-944-5052. There is still space available!


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. 


You don't want to miss this year. Make plans now to join us in Orlando and bring the family along too, for their own special options!

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!


8/24/2023 - 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!

Your association's public comments. Recently the Texas Seed Trade Association was provided a draft strategic plan from the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) concerning their plans for regulatory enforcement for a variety of programs for the fiscal year 2024. Among the programs outlined are the seed programs.


Public comments are a particularly interesting practice common to constitutionally-based governments whereby the people affected by rule-making are free to comment on proposed plans as a matter of the public record. Sometimes public comment is specifically solicited and sometimes one must peruse the federal, or Texas, record on a regular basis to glean opportunities to make comments. If you miss something and it was posted "publicly" as in a regularly published "record" then you have little recourse. As it is a chore at times to keep up with comment opportunities, this is, we suppose, one of those parts of government function that "depend on an informed electorate." In the case of the recent draft strategic plan for TDA's regulatory operations next year, the TSTA membership in the Texas Ag Council was beneficial in ensuring we knew about the opportunity. We subsequently knew about it from a variety of other sources but it's surely good to have friends in allied industries.


Public comments were due by last Friday and ours were received the previous Tuesday. As is generally the case with public comments one can never be certain they are distributed and read much less contemplated in the spirit with which they were composed. It is a requirement that agencies publish rule-making plans and accept comments. It is not, as far as we are aware, a requirement that they read and comprehend them. Over the course of our stewardship of the TSTA office we have received feedback from an agency concerning our public comment exactly once. We have submitted well over 200 public comments on behalf of the TSTA.


Nevertheless is it important to submit public comments as is provides the only method of input on most processes of rule-making. It also serves as a record of interest or concern that may result in a seat at the table should one be available or necessary later on. One thing is for certain; if you register discontent about a regulation and failed to submit a comment during the appropriate period you can find yourself with very little "standing" on the issue. Essentially it allows for follow-up on regulation that an entity would otherwise be lacking.


Given TDA's budget is relatively small, and sourced from fees, the design and scope of seed program(s) enforcement appears reasonable for the upcoming year - no surprises and no major changes. We encourage you to take a look at the draft strategic plan from TDA. It includes several other programs in addition to seed and we thought the proposals appropriate for seed program enforcement. However, there continues to be an omission we feel is critically important.


This oversight is what our public comments are all about. See them here. You should read them as they are submitted in your name.


As a bit of background, your executive V.P. met with the Texas Grain & Feed Association's Board of Directors in April of this year to discuss the transfer of variety not stated (VNS) seed from elevators to farmers who intending to plant the "grain" as seed. Most expressed surprise that they were in violation of Texas State Seed Law when they knowingly sold bin-run wheat for use as planting seed. It's not "just" a plant variety protection act violation. Selling "seed" without a seed sellers permit number and complying with quarterly bag-tag fees is a violation of state statute. None of the elevator operators we speak with seem anxious to subject themselves to additional TDA regulation and it hardly represents a sufficiently large portion of their business to take such risks. We simply have to do a better job of getting the word out.


We spend a lot of time and effort trying to educate farmers why they shouldn't be planting VNS, bin-run, brown-bagged seed and it doesn't seem to advance the cause much. Perhaps we need to turn our attention to those providing that VNS, bin-run, brown-bagged seed. TDA can, and we feel should, play a critical role in making elevators aware they are taking unnecessary risks and are probably in violation of state law.


The "bag-holder" in this case is Texas A&M AgriLife as they, ultimately, get shortchanged the most. Following closely are the law-abiding members of the Texas Seed Trade Association who license the proprietary seed, certify it, pay all their fees, and lose sales every time an elevator sells grain for planting seed. As mentioned above, we simply must do a better job of getting the word out and TDA assistance in the way of regulatory enforcement would help a great deal.

News Bits


There were minor changes to the USDA's national corn and soybean condition ratings. That followed a week of general beneficial weather in much of the Midwest and Plains ahead of a shift to extremely hot temperatures in most of the region that will show up in next week's report.


As of Sunday, 58% of U.S. corn is in good to excellent shape, 1% lower than a week ago, with 78% at the dough making stage and 35% dented, both ahead of the respective five-year averages, and 4% mature, matching that average.


59% of U.S. soybeans are called good to excellent, unchanged, but with 1% falling from good to excellent, while 96% of the crop is blooming and 86% is at the pod setting stage, close to normal.


42% of spring wheat is in good to excellent condition, a drop of 4%, and 39% has been harvested, compared to 46% on average.


96% of the winter wheat crop has been harvested, in line with the usual pace.


33% of U.S. cotton is reported as good to excellent, a decrease of 3%, with 81% of the crop setting bolls and 18% of bolls opening, both behind typical rates.


68% of rice is in good to excellent shape, 1% higher, while 94% has headed and 18% has been harvested, just ahead of the five-year averages.


51% of sorghum is good to excellent, down 3%, with 81% headed, 38% coloring, and 18% mature, all slower than normal.


37% of U.S. pastures and rangelands are in good to excellent condition, 3% less than last week.


The USDA's weekly crop progress and condition reports run through the end of November.


Placements of cattle into U.S. feedlots fell 8% from July 2022 to July 2023.


The USDA says the monthly placements total was 1.618 million head, with that year-to-year decline tied to lower feed prices, better pasture conditions, and generally tighter numbers after aggressive marketings earlier in this year. That decrease was despite heavy U.S. feeder cattle imports from Mexico boosting supplies. These cattle will mostly head to market during the first quarter of 2024.


Marketings during July were 5% below last year at 1.727 million head because of tighter ready numbers, while the total number of cattle on feed in the U.S. on August 1st was 2% lower at 11.03 million head.


The numbers could be supportive for cash, wholesale, and futures prices, but that will also depend on beef demand.


Europe Patent Office: Gene-edited plants will be patented under GMO rules

By Gerardo Fortuna |


The recent European Commission proposal to boost the marketing uptake of gene-edited crops will not affect how patents for these innovative technologies are granted, according to the organisation protecting inventions across Europe.


A new legislative initiative presented by the EU executive in early July aims to loosen rules on certain new genomic techniques (NGTs) used to genetically engineer certain traits into plants, including drought and pest resistance.


However, the Commission decided not to deal with intellectual property (IP) rights, leaving the issues of patentability for plants obtained by these new methods unanswered.


For the European Patent Office (EPO), this means that, in practice, patent applications for NGTs will be examined under the same criteria genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have been assessed so far.


“NGTs is not a term for us. What is relevant for us is whether there is a question of technical invention or not,” Heli Pihlajamaa, EPO’s principal director for patent law and procedures, told EURACTIV in an interview.


The relevant framework for the assessment of a patent application is the 1998 directive on the legal protection of biotechnological interventions which was incorporated already in 1999 in the set of rules on which EPO’s practice is based.


“The EPO was the first one to implement that directive, way before the contracting states,” she said, adding that only in case there are modifications in the 1998 directive, this will have an impact on the legal framework used by the EPO to grant patents.


She mentioned that, for instance, in 2017 the Commission put forward a new interpretative notice about the Biotech directive that immediately led to a change in EPO’s implementing regulations.

But despite the proposed new rules for NGTs, the overarching legal framework for biotechnologies has remained unchanged.


“The Biotech directive remains as it is, so the European Patent Convention and the implementing regulations of this directive stay as they are,” explained Pihlajamaa.


An EU official already confirmed to EURACTIV at the time of the proposal’s presentation that NGTs still fall under the definition of GMOs and that the new rules “largely rel[ies] on the current architecture of the GMO framework”.


Conventional v. technical breeding innovation


The Munich-based European Patent Office is a body of the organisation set up by 39 contracting states to grant patents in Europe after having assessed the applications for intellectual protections on inventions.


Although all 27 EU member states are also signatories of the European Patent Convention, the EPO is independent from the EU and its cooperation with the Commission, in particular, is regulated by a memorandum of understanding.


“When we look at plant related to patent applications, we can see that a very large majority [since the 1998 Biotech directive] have been filed for genetically modified plants, products or processes,” she said.


Precisely, for roughly 9,000 patent applications for GMOs, about 3,000 patents have been granted. “That means about one-third of these applications have led to a grant of a patent,” she continued.


The reason why only applications for GMOs are de facto filed to the EPO is that conventionally-bred plants are excluded from patentability.


In 2015, the EPO opened to the possibility of registering plants obtained by essentially biological processes but after a longstanding legal saga which drew the ire of both the Commission and the European Parliament the office excluded this ‘dynamic interpretation’ of the exception of patentability.


“We moved on from this. The whole situation has been solved with the case law that has followed since then,” said an EPO spokesperson.


The first task of the EPO is then to check if the invention is actually patentable, meaning that it is not a plant variety obtained by conventional breeding.


“Then we look at whether it’s ‘inventive’ and whether it fulfils the other requirements of patentability,” explained Pihlajamaa.


Novelty is one of these patentability requirements. “If it’s a known trait, then it’s not new. One has to see all these patentability requirements in one and cannot just single out the question of whether is a technical or a conventional breeding method,” she concluded.

Crop Testing Data Available


Katrina Horn, Crop Testing Program Coordinator,

Texas A&M AgriLife Research has graciously supplied some results of her program's hybrid sorghum testing at Driscoll and at Rosenberg.


Remember when looking over the information the exclusion of a company's hybrids may mean they were not entered in the crop testing program rather than didn't make the top grade.


Interesting information and we sincerely appreciate Katrina and her crew's efforts. They work hard and do a great job!


Access the info here for Driscoll


And here for Rosenberg



See the results of the Texas A&M AgriLife wheat variety trials here.


Source: National Corn Growers Association news release


National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) President Tom Haag testified today before an Environmental Protection Agency Scientific Advisory Panel about the importance of atrazine to corn farmers.


"NCGA commends the scientific and risk-based analysis and conclusions of the EPA in this reevaluation of the 11 atrazine studies identified by the 2012 Scientific Advisory Panel as calling for further review to assess the effects to aquatic plant communities," Haag noted in the testimony. "NCGA points to the conclusions in the white paper, which continue to affirm scientific evidence which supports the safe use of atrazine while protecting the vital aquatic plant communities and their related ecosystems."


The purpose of the SAP is to seek feedback on the draft white paper, Examination of the Microcosm/Mesocosm Studies for Evaluating the Effects of Atrazine on Aquatic Plant Communities, which is being submitted to the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act SAP for peer review.


During the hearing, Haag touched on the positive environmental benefits of using atrazine.


"Effective management of weeds and their resistance to herbicides is a constant challenge to corn farmers," he said. "Access to atrazine puts an important tool in the hands of U.S. corn growers to effectively adopt conservation practices while managing destructive weeds and delivering an abundant and quality crop. NCGA advocated for EPA to hold this SAP because atrazine is critical to thousands of farmers and millions of acres, it is imperative that EPA fully reviews the complete library of science related to atrazine and the aquatic plant community."


EPA expects to receive the SAP's report in late November.


Editor's Note: It is impossible to calculate how much time and energy has been spent on the years-long effort to keep atrazine on the market. Every year activist groups file hundreds of lawsuits and registrants must defend the product which, slowly but surely, is going away.


Mexico won't make any further changes to a decree on genetically modified (GM) corn ahead of a dispute settlement panel requested by the United States through the USMCA trade pact, Mexican economy minister, Raquel Buenrostro, told Reuters on Monday.


Buenrostro's comments come after the United States last week escalated its objections to the restrictions imposed by Mexico on imports of GM corn and requested a dispute settlement panel under the North American trade pact, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.


Mexico in mid-February modified an end-2020 ban on GM corn, issuing a decree to allow its use in animal feed and the making of consumer products like cosmetics, textiles and paper.


The new decree maintained a ban on GM corn for human consumption, specifically in the use of making flour for tortillas, which are a staple of the Mexican diet.

"It's already written ... it's already in the decree," Buenrostro said, referring to allowing GM corn in animal feed, a key concern for U.S. and Mexican industrialists.





by Keith Good, University of Illinois FarmDoc project


In its monthly Wheat Outlook report earlier this week, the USDA's Economic Research Service (ERS) indicated that, "U.S. all-wheat exports are lowered 25 million bushels to 700 million bushels, the lowest since 1971/72.


"Despite an increase in Hard Red Winter (HRW) production, exports for HRW are cut 25 million bushels to 165 million, the lowest level since by-class supply and utilization records began in 1973/74. U.S. exports of HRW remain uncompetitive on the global market as shown in shipment and sales data.


HRW exports in June 2023 were 10 million bushels, down from 19.2 million bushels in June 2022. Using data from the USDA, Foreign Agricultural Service's Export Sales Reporting, all-wheat U.S. total commitments (the sum of accumulated exports and outstanding sales) are about 6.4 million metric tons as of August 3, down 26 percent from the same point last year and 37 percent below the recent 10-year average at this point (2013/14-2022/23).


HRW total commitments are down 53 percent compared with last year as shipments from Russia and the European Union remain competitive internationally."


This week's update added that, "Wheat prices reached historic highs in May 2022. Since then, U.S. and global wheat prices have cooled as supply concerns in many key wheat exporting countries subsided.


Wheat export prices for the United States, Russia, and France in July 2023 are well below the peaks observed in May 2022 after Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.


"Large exportable supplies in Russia and France have contributed to low prices for those exporters. Russia's total is forecast above 100 million metric tons (MMT) for the second consecutive year, despite lower production in 2023/24 due to large carryover stocks. Wheat production for France in 2023/24 is forecast to recover from the dry condition in 2022/23."


The ERS report also noted that, "Global ending stocks are lowered 0.9 MMT to 265.6 MMT largely driven by lower ending stocks for China--down 2.2 MMT to 134.9 MMT on reduced production. Major exporters ending stocks are raised 1.2 MMT to 55.9 MMT."


To read the entire report click here.

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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.