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Rice gene identified that boosts number of flowers when inactivatedRice gene identified that boosts number of flowers when inactivated
Mar 30

TSTA Weekly Update, 03/30/2023

Weekly Update from the Texas Seed Trade Association

Member News


TSTA legislative update

TSTA staff


The Texas AgriLIfe Research’s appropriations request to repair and reconstruct the Vernon facility has been added to the House/Senate supplemental appropriation bill that passed out of House Appropriations. The $15 million one-time request is part of legislation to include a number of spending requests that are not included in the primary appropriation bill but considered important to the state and within the available surplus that Texas has accrued. We have provided information and support for this funding to House Appropriations Committee and Senate Finance Committee members and will continue to follow its progress. The substitute legislation was sent to the House Calendars Committee yesterday for scheduling to be considered by the full House.membership. For this item to successfully make it through the process, after passage, the budget must be certified by the Comptroller; surplus funding confirmed; and the bill signed by Governor Abbott. Editor's Note: This was the status yesterday and the bill has already moved. The bill went to Calendars Committee and has since been placed on an Emergency Calendar and is scheduled for a vote on the House floor Thursday April 6.


There are several pieces of legislation to protect the Right-to-Farm and preemption statutes this session. Municipalities throughout the state have passed ordinances that limit agricultural production within their city limits. Regulating height of plants grown, use of agrochemicals and agricultural practices whether or not the operation was established before incorporation into the governing entity. As the state’s urban, suburban and rural areas overlap residents who want to live farther away from city centers do not always appreciate all aspects of farming and ranching. Legislators are recognizing that the 3rd largest industry in the state should be protected from over regulation and overreach by local political whims. Senator Charles Perry (R-Lubbock), chairman of Senate Water, Agriculture, and Rural Affairs Committee and Representative DeWayne Burns (R-Cleburne), chairman of House Land & Resource Management, have the most comprehensive bills to address Right-to-Farm protections and have begun to move through the process.

Growout invoices were mailed in late January. If you have not already returned payment for the winter growouts please remit soon. We've paid all the bills for land rent, TDA expenses, seed shipment, phytosanitaries, local transportation and the cash flow would be very helpful. Thank you!

Time to let us know if you want to attend the Sod Poodles game! On June 2, the Texas Seed Trade Association will host a gathering at the Amarillo Sod Poodles, a Double A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Poodles are playing the Springfield Cardinals that evening, an affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals baseball club. We've got a box reserved and it'll be a great time for a lucky 25 of us. It's $25 to reserve a place and we'll book the first 25 that respond and send in their hard-earned cash. Please contact Drew Morano at Tri-Cal Superior Forages or Brett Bamert at Bamert Seeds if you're interested in playing some golf that morning or afternoon. You can respond to either the Sod Poodles or golf event via return email to this newsletter. If you need a hotel room we can furnish that information.

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!


3/30/2023 - 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 U.S. Grains Council (USGC) released its 2022/23 Sorghum Quality Report today and for the fourth year in a row, U.S. sorghum was, on average, graded above the necessary requirements for U.S. No. 1 certification.


“This detailed data provides in-depth information about the U.S. sorghum crop and better equips buyers around the world by showing them trends in sorghum crops year over year,” said USGC Chairman Josh Miller. “We hope this year’s report helps give our valued trade partners even more confidence in the continued reliability and quality of U.S. sorghum.”


The report, funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service Agricultural Trade Promotion (USDA-FAS) program and the United Sorghum Checkoff Program (USCP), provides international customers and other interested parties accurate, unbiased information about the 2022/23 U.S. sorghum crop.


To generate the report’s findings, a total of 97 samples were collected from 15 participating elevators and one participating farmer in the central and southern regions of the U.S., which represents nearly 100 percent of all U.S. sorghum exports, between Aug. 9, 2022, and Mar. 8, 2023.


The samples were analyzed by the Amarillo Grain Exchange and the Cereal Quality Lab at Texas A&M University, where scientists calculated averages and standard deviations for each quality factor tested and reported results for the U.S. aggregate.


The Shanghai Stock Exchange has cancelled a hearing to review Swiss agrichemicals and seeds group Syngenta's initial share offering (IPO) plan, a filing posted on the exchange showed.


Syngenta, which planned to raise 65 billion yuan ($9.44 billion) in its Shanghai flotation, was bought for $43 billion by ChemChina in 2017 and folded into Sinochem Holdings Corp in 2021.


The company declined to comment on the development on Tuesday.


Heartwood Partners LLC is pleased to announce the acquisition of NativeSeed Group (the "Company") from Victor Schaff, a pioneer of the native seed industry. Mr. Schaff founded S&S Seeds nearly 50-years ago and grew the business organically and via acquisition. The management team that was assembled by Mr. Schaff will continue to lead the Company.

Rice gene identified that boosts number of flowers when inactivated

Milan, Italy and Wageningen, the Netherlands


An international research team, led by the University of Milan, has identified a gene in rice that, when blocked, boosts the number of inflorescence branches and flowers. In the study, research company KeyGene identified three plants, each having a small mutation in the gene, allowing for the study of the gene’s role in flowering. Follow-up research is aimed at using variations in the gene for innovations in plant breeding in rice and other cereals as more flowers can potentially lead to a higher grain yield. The findings are published in Nature Plants today.




Just over a century ago, two American researchers, Garner and Allard, while studying the flowering time of tobacco and other cultivated species, understood that plants have a sophisticated system to measure the relative length of day and night, discovering a sophisticated system of seasonal time measurement. With this mechanism, plants can align growth and development with the seasons and start flowering (and therefore reproduction) at the most useful moment for the propagation of the species. In 1936, a Russian scientist, Mikhail Chailakhyan, demonstrated the existence of a mobile signal produced in the leaves during the part of the season that is favourable for flowering, and able to move along the veins to reach the shoot. Here, the mobile signal served as a trigger for flower production. Chailakhyan, coined the term florigen (flower generator) to describe this signal.

It took another 70 years to discover the molecular nature of the elusive mobile signal. In 2007, a study demonstrated that florigens are small proteins that function as regulators of gene expression, turning genes on or off. Once they reach the top of the shoot, the apex, the proteins switch on the genes needed to form flowers.


Non-classical florigen


From the discovery of the molecular nature of the florigen, it has been observed that many plant species produce them in the leaves. However, a novel study published in Nature Plants shows that rice, a model system for studying cereals, has a peculiar florigen that violates some of the characteristics defined by over 100 years of studies. The research group led by scientists at the University of Milan demonstrated the existence of a florigen produced directly in the shoot apical meristem, the region of the plant containing stem cells and responsible for the formation of the inflorescence. Therefore this new florigen is not produced in the leaves and is not transmitted over long distances in the plant. Furthermore, its contribution to flowering time is marginal. Its main function is to define the number of branches of the inflorescence.

Picture of the 3D structure of the protein that is coded by the gene that boosts the number of rice flowers when the gene is blocked. KeyGene identified three rice plants with three different mutations that lead to changes in the protein, indicated in the picture.


Induced desired variation


The research team was supported by KeyGene scientists who raised and identified three rice plants having different chemically induced mutations in the studied gene. Using the offspring of these plants, the team was able to demonstrate that blocking the gene in the plant causes a significant increase in the number of inflorescence branches, leading to an increase in the number of flowers.


This change in plant development is particularly important for plant breeding, as a greater number of flowers can lead to a greater number of seeds and therefore to increased yields. Furthermore, the discovered mechanism proves to be conserved in other cereals than rice, where it may be exploited to improve production too. Efforts are now aimed at converting this basic discovery into an effective tool for the improvement of rice and other crops.


Researchers from three Departments of the University of Milan participated in the study as well as international collaborators from Japan, China, the United States, Germany, and the Netherlands. A decisive contribution also came from the seed company Lugano Leonardo (Italy). This collaboration has made it possible to carry out experiments under field conditions.




Giaume et al. Two florigens and a florigen-like protein form a triple regulatory module at the shoot apical meristem to promote reproductive transitions in rice. Nature Plants,


By Jim Wiesmeyer,


The EPA's new definition of Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) takes effect Monday. It will be a key topic Wednesday when EPA Administrator Michael Regan appears before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.


Naysayers to the Biden WOTUS approach should take heart because as usual, EPA will take longer than most expect to implement it.


WOTUS Background


Biden's EPA action would replace the Trump-era WOTUS rule with a new regulation that would expand federal protections for certain bodies of water.


The proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on Sept. 3, 2021, and is known as the "Definition of Waters of the United States" rule. Under the proposed rule, the following bodies of water would be considered WOTUS and therefore subject to federal regulation:


Traditional navigable waters


• Tributaries that contribute perennial or intermittent flow to such waters


• Certain ditches that meet specific criteria related to flow and function


• Certain lakes and ponds


• Impoundments of otherwise jurisdictional waters


• Wetlands that are adjacent to jurisdictional waters


To read the entire article click here.


Source: Iowa State University news release


Ames, Iowa - The Graduate Program in Seed Technology and Business (STB), housed at the Iowa State University (ISU) Seed Science Center (SSC), is offering a week of free webinars addressing current special topics in seed industry business and management.


"We're very excited to offer this year's Seed Business Management webinar series again," says Lori Youngberg, STB Program Coordinator. "We worked with our industry experts to ensure we're discussing hot topics those in the seed sector will find valuable."


The week of webinars is available free of charge to anyone interested in participating. Seed industry professionals and anyone interested in learning more about what is going on in the industry are encouraged to register.


Topics for this year's Seed Business Management webinar series include:


Treated Seed Policy in Transition presented by Pat Miller, Director of State Affairs at American Seed Trade Association (ASTA)


The Biologicals Use Case for Agriculture: Meeting Farmer Needs and Societal Expectations presented by Dr. Keri Carstens, Chief Executive Officer of Jord BioScience, and Dr. Alex Cochran, Chief Technology Officer of DPH Biologicals


Seed Exports in 2022 presented by Dr. Tracy Bruns, Plant Protection and Quarantine as a Commodity Specialist for Seeds at United State Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS)


Advanced Breeding Tools for Controlled Environment Agriculture presented by Dr. John Purcell, Chief Strategy Officer of Unfold Bio


Supply Chain Management: Challenges with Logistics and Transportation in Agriculture presented by Dr. Bobby Martens, Associate Professor at Iowa State University Department of Economics


The webinars will take place daily at 12:00 noon CSDT from April 17-21, 2023. To register or learn more visit Attendees need to only register once to receive access to the full week of webinars.


About the Seed Science Center:


The Seed Science Center at Iowa State University is a center of excellence nationally and internationally in seed research, education, technology transfer and international seed programs.


About the Graduate Program in Seed Technology and Business:


The Seed Technology and Business Graduate Program at Iowa State University is an exclusively online-only graduate program focused on preparing students for seed-related management roles. The program is designed specifically for professionals working in the seed sector and aims to offer fresh perspectives on how seed delivers values to users and society.


USDA release


In the United States, peanuts are grown mainly in the South, where the climate is warmer and growing seasons are longer than in northern zones. Most U.S. peanut production comes from six States: Georgia, Florida, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas.


According to USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), the U.S. peanut crop in 2022 was estimated at 5.57 billion pounds. Accounting for more than 50 percent of all U.S. peanut production, Georgia produced the most peanuts of any State, with a 2022 peanut crop estimated at 2.9 billion pounds. With production of 559 million pounds in 2022, Alabama's peanut harvest was a distant second to Georgia, followed closely by Florida with 554 million pounds.


The 2022 U.S. peanut crop was nearly 13 percent smaller than in 2021 because of lower acreage and yields. Smaller crops were estimated in all States except North Carolina, where production was pegged at 510 million pounds, a 3-percent increase from 2021. Production for Georgia was affected by a 9-percent year-to-year reduction in planted area that combined with reduced peanut yields because of an outbreak of the tomato spotted wilt virus.


Moreover, NASS's Weekly Crop Report indicated peanut growers in Texas and Oklahoma experienced above-average temperatures and below-average rainfall in the critical development months of June, July, and August that negatively impacted yield and harvested area.


TSTA staff


Bloomberg writers Aine Quinn and Anuradha Raghu reported today that, "Russia said top agricultural commodities trader Cargill Inc. will stop exporting its grain, the strongest move yet by a major Western crop merchant to pull back from the country.


"As the biggest wheat exporter, Russian shipments are vital to global crop trade and food supplies. A bumper harvest there last year helped wheat futures drop more than 40% from a record reached just after Moscow's invasion of Ukraine. While Cargill is a big exporter of Russian wheat, the government said the firm's decision shouldn't affect overall shipments out of the country.


"The companies that buy, sell and ship the world's natural resources have reaped massive profits from the supply disruptions caused by the war, but are having to navigate a growing web of sanctions and other curbs as Western governments wrestle with the challenge of ensuring the flow of vital commodities without benefiting Russia. Russian crops aren't under any sanctions, but trade can be complicated by restrictions on Russian banks and state companies."


To read the entire article click here.


We generally look far and wide to provide interesting content for the Weekly Update because we know your time is valuable, you have businesses to run, and you like to be informed. It's one of the reasons the TSTA Weekly Update was one of the very first "weekly" e-newsletters in the ag industry. Every so often we run across news items that beg for comment and we loathe for anything to go begging. So here's a go at some of the items we ran across this week with some questions and/or comments that naturally sprang to mind.




This particular press release states the 73% of American adults believe not passing a farm bill would have a significant effect on the country - among other things. We are not advised on how this survey was conducted, however, we have reservations that 73% of American adults have any idea whatsoever of what a farm bill is, much less how the lack of one would affect them.


An excerpt from another article we ran across


Today, FDA Commissioner Robert Califf testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies. During the hearing, Rep. Julia Letlow (R-LA) asked the Commissioner how the agency plans to coordinate with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on pre-market consultation for reviewing cell cultured chicken products. In his answer, Commissioner Califf referenced climate change and the need for additional cell cultured research as a way to mitigate the impact of climate change.


Under a memorandum of understanding signed in 2019, USDA and FDA have joint jurisdiction over fake meat products, with USDA taking the lead on enforcing accurate labeling and food safety. This memorandum was supported by ____ because of USDA's expertise in food inspections and labeling.


Obviously upset by what appears to be government support for fake meat, the authors of this release hold what we believe is the unofficial record of alternatively praising, and lambasting, the Biden administration. Next week we half expect a release on how they are "looking forward to working with the Biden administration" on fixing this. The lesson here is that every time this administration makes you happy the euphoria seems to be short-lived.


Another of perhaps a more insidious nature


The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced that beginning in April it will provide approximately $123 million in additional, automatic financial assistance for qualifying farm loan program borrowers who are facing financial risk, as part of the $3.1 billion to help distressed farm loan borrowers that was provided through Section 22006 of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). The announcement builds on financial assistance offered to borrowers through the same program in October 2022.


The IRA directed USDA to expedite assistance to distressed borrowers of direct or guaranteed loans administered by USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) whose operations face financial risk. For example, in the October payments, farmers that were 60 days delinquent due to challenges like natural disasters, the pandemic or other unexpected situations were brought current and had their next installment paid to give them breathing room.


The headline on this release was "USDA ANNOUNCES ADDITIONAL ASSISTANCE FOR DISTRESSED FARMERS FACING FINANCIAL RISK" and, frankly, we aren't sure there's another kind of farmer. But careful reading of the program language reveals a new, another, way to create dependence on the federal government. As if there are insufficient demographics in this situation already. It's not a ton of money by government standards, though it's a follow-up to $3.1B, we sincerely hope only the truly needy benefit.


And one more


As the Biden administration and Congress consider taking action to allow continued sales of lower-cost E15 this summer, a new poll shows overwhelming support among voters for ensuring the popular fuel blend remains available year-round and nationwide.


With retail gas prices remaining elevated, nearly 70 percent of poll respondents support increasing the availability of E15 to help lower fuel prices and support energy independence. Just 13 percent of those surveyed did not support expanded availability of E15. Meanwhile, 62 percent support recently introduced bipartisan legislation that would allow the lower-carbon E15 blend to be sold year-round nationwide. Only 15 percent of respondents do not support the legislation, while 23 percent had no opinion.


The Texas Seed Trade Association is a strong supporter of renewable fuels. We advocate for renewable fuels. We have not found that 70% of the folks we talk to about renewable fuels know what E15 is.


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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.