Background Image

news Post

Research Reveals Lack of Consumer Awareness about the Contributions of Science in Food and AgricultureResearch Reveals Lack of Consumer Awareness about the Contributions of Science in Food and Agriculture
Jul 14

TSTA Weekly Update, 07/14/2022

Weekly Update from the Texas Seed Trade Association
Member News
The TSTA Board of Directors will hold a meeting beginning July 18, at Horseshoe Bay Resort. Among agenda items is updating the TSTA strategic plan, review of staff performance, Review of board performance, membership outreach & engagement, and winter growouts. If you have items you feel need to be considered by the board please contact a board member or reply to this issue of the Weekly Update and TSTA staff will pass them along.
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!
7/14/22 - 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!
If you are a certified wheat seed producer and have an interest in participating in re-certification procedures this season please contact Jerrett Stork, Certified Seed Coordinator, Texas Department of Agriculture, at the Giddings Seed Lab as soon as possible. Jarrett can be reached at 979-542-3691. Plan on contacting your local TDA inspector concurrently as it may expedite the process.
Also you will need permission from the intellectual property owner or breeder to complete the recertification process. This may, or may not, involve royalty payments.
Currently the status of a certified wheat seed availability seems dependent on whom we ask, where they are located, and specific varieties.
Weed zapping - Do electrocution treatments have a place in weed control?
Weed Science Society of America
Researchers from the University of Missouri recently conducted two field studies to explore the effectiveness of electricity in weed control. They used a tractor attachment called The Weed Zapper™ to electrocute eight types of weeds common in soybean crops, including herbicide-resistant waterhemp.
The first study showed that control was more effective in the later stages of weed growth and was most closely related to plant height and the moisture in the plant at the time of electrocution. Once the weeds had set seed, the treatments reduced viability by 54 to 80 percent across the weed species evaluated. A second study showed electrocution reduced late-season, herbicide-resistant waterhemp plants by 51 to 97 percent.
At some stages of growth, the soybean crops exhibited yield losses of 11 to 26 percent following electrocution treatments – though researchers say those results likely represent a worst-case scenario. In late-season treatments, for example, the clear height differential between waterhemp and the soybean canopy means the electrocution device can treat the weed without sustained contact with the crop.
The net takeaway: When used as part of an integrated control program, electrocution can eliminate many late-season, herbicide-resistant weed escapes in soybean crops and reduce the number and viability of weed seeds that return to the soil seedbank. 
Want to know more? Read the article “The Impact of Electrocution Treatments on Weed Control and Weed Seed Viability in Soybean” featured in the latest edition of the journal Weed Technology. You can access the article HERE
News Bits
The USDA's good to excellent rating on corn held steady last week, while the soybean rating moved lower. Last week was another mixed week of weather across the Midwest and Plains and that's going to continue to be a focus of farmers as corn and beans move into and through key development phases.
The USDA says 64% of U.S. corn is rated good to excellent, steady from a week ago, with 15% of the crop silking, compared to the five-year average of 25%, and 2% at the dough making stage, compared to 3% on average.
62% of U.S. soybeans are called good to excellent, down 1%, with 32% blooming, compared to 38% normally this time of year, and 6% at the pod setting stage, compared to 9% on average.
63% of U.S. winter wheat is harvested, compared to the usual rate of 61%.
70% of spring wheat is in good to excellent shape, a week-to-week improvement of 4%, with 44% of the crop headed, compared to 77% on average.
39% of cotton is in good to excellent condition, 3% above a week ago, with 57% of the crop squaring, compared to 58% on average, and 22% setting bolls, compared to 18% on average.
77% of the rice crop is reported as good to excellent, up 1%, with 21% headed, compared to the five-year average of 22%.
28% of U.S. pastures and rangelands are good to excellent, 3% less than last week.
The Surface Transportation Board has directed the Union Pacific Railroad Company to prioritize shipments to two Foster Poultry Farm facilities in California that say the railroad has not been shipping livestock feed to them on time.
Both facilities, one located in Traver and the other in Turlock, ran out of corn supplies on June 17 and had to cut off feed for dairy cattle. Union Pacific told the farm that it would deliver three of the company's expected shipments that weekend, but only one came in.
Lance Fritz, Union Pacific's CEO, acknowledged in a letter to the board that the company had "failed to provide adequate service" to the farm. The board, tasked with resolving rail disputes, issued an emergency service order calling for Union Pacific to fulfill its promise of restoring service to the farm and extended it on July 1
The annual Fiber Hemp Field Day will be July 22 at the Stiles Farm Foundation in Thrall. The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service field day will discuss the merits of different hemp varieties in Central Texas. Participants can also view hemp varieties in the field.
The event will run from 9 a.m.-noon at the Stiles Farm Foundation headquarters, 5700 Farm-to-Market Road 1063.
Cost is $15. Register for this event at Participants may bring a lawn chair for their comfort.
“2022 marks our second year of the field day and our third planting of some of the most promising hemp fiber and grain cultivars for the southern Texas Blackland,” said Calvin Trostle, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension state hemp specialist, Lubbock.
Gary Pastushok, AgriLife Extension agriculture and natural resources agent for Williamson County, will host the morning portion of the event. The speakers will guide participants through the wants, needs, progress and future developments of industrial hemp.
Speakers include Trostle; Russell Jessup, Ph.D., Texas A&M AgriLife Research industrial hemp breeder, Bryan-College Station; Randy Rivera, Texas Department of Agriculture director of ag commodity programs, Austin; and Lucas Evans, Founder of E3 Industries, hemp farmer/processor, Georgetown.
Research Reveals Lack of Consumer Awareness about the Contributions of Science in Food and Agriculture
Photo Source: Science for Sustainable Agriculture
How natural is our food, and what does ‘natural' mean anyway? Science for Sustainable Agriculture asked this important question to consumers to understand their perception of key issues about the use of science in food and agriculture. The independent survey was designed and conducted by consumer research agency England Marketing Ltd.
The highlights of the report include the following:
  • Consumers consider themselves well-informed about the meaning of “natural” and “sustainable” in reference to food production; however, they are clearly not aware of the level of scientific intervention that supports the supply of fresh produce and base ingredients, which they think as unaffected by human intervention.
  • A small percentage of the consumers were aware that none of the common food crops planted on British farms are native to the country. Most of them assumed that food crops including wheat, barley, oats, sugar beet, and potatoes were native to Britain, but in reality, these crops came from different parts of the world.
  • Many respondents said they were “blinded by science” in terms of food and agricultural innovations because of the highly scientific and technical terms used and the lack of accessible information about such topics.
  • Trust is a vital element in consumers' acceptance of scientific innovation. Only 11% reported that they trust the Government as a source of information. Farmers and public sector/academic scientists were more trustworthy, with 68% and 59% of consumers respectively claiming that they trust them as sources of information about the use of science in agriculture and food production.
According to agricultural economist Graham Brookes, a member of the Science for Sustainable Agriculture advisory group, the study highlights the deficiency in knowledge about the real origin of many common food crops and the transformation they went through to be available in the UK. “This raises questions about the validity of current public discussions around issues such as precision breeding when most consumers appear unaware of the level of scientific intervention which has already gone into the development of our everyday foods,” he added.
Read the press release and the full report for more details.
Proof that Mendel discovered the laws of inheritance decades ahead of his time
John Innes Center & KeyGene, NV
Gregor Mendel, the Moravian monk, was indeed “decades ahead of his time and truly deserves the title of ‘founder of genetics.’” So concludes an international team of scientists as the 200th birthday of Mendel approaches on 20 July. 
The team, from KeyGene in the Netherlands and the John Innes Centre in the UK, draw on newly-discovered historical information to conclude that, when his proposals are viewed in the light of what was known of cells in the mid-19th century, Mendel was decades ahead of his time.  
“Uncovering hidden details about Mendel has helped to build a picture of the scientific and intellectual environment in which he worked. At the outset Mendel knew nothing about Genetics and had to deduce it all for himself. How he went about this is highly instructive,” said Dr Noel Ellis from the John Innes Centre, one of the contributors to the study.
The new information shows that Mendel began his work with the practical objectives of a plant breeder, before he became interested in the underlying biological processes that condition the heritable differences between organisms. It also shows that Mendel recognised the importance of understanding the formation of reproductive cells and the process of fertilisation.  
A small but rich inheritance 
Mendel’s work and ideas have been studied by many, even though material describing his work is limited. Where Darwin left thousands of letters, for Mendel only a few are known.  
Mendel’s work started to receive significant recognition 34 years after its publication and 16 years after his death. No notes relating to this work have been found. All that was left was a pair of scientific papers, one of which is the famous ‘Experiments on Plant Hybrids’ published in German in 1866. This paper remains the basis of what children at school learn about genetics today. 
Newspaper articles from Mendel’s time have been digitised  
Thanks to modern technology, the authors were able to extract valuable information from 19th-century newspaper articles, proceedings, and yearbooks that have recently been digitised. These show how advanced the ideas and work of Mendel were as he used cell biological theory to come to conclusions on how traits of plants are transmitted from parents to their offspring. 
Mendel’s Elemente: what we know as genes 
Mendel noted that pea plants must maintain and transmit the ‘code’ for the appearance of a trait, we now call these coding instructions genes, Mendel called them ‘Elemente.’ 
For many traits, two different Elemente or ‘Elements’ are present, for example to code for flower colour in peas, one which conditions purple and an alternative for white flower colour. 
Mendel proposed that in the male and female parts of the flower, reproductive cells are formed that only contain one type of Element, and these single Elements are transmitted to a daughter plant, one from the male and another from the female.  
We now know that only half of the number of chromosomes is transmitted to egg cells in the female flower parts and pollen in the male flower parts, thanks to the division that occurs during meiosis at the formation of gametes. 
Two centuries on from his birth this remarkable scientific life is still offering up new insights. 
The article, How did Mendel arrive at his discoveries? appears in Nature Genetics 
Link to the paper in Nature Genetics (open source):
Source: USDA news release
Farming activities in the United States accounted for 11.2 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2020. From 2019 to 2020, agricultural greenhouse gas emissions declined from 699 to 670 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent but increased from 10.6 percent to 11.2 percent as a share of the U.S. economy.
The Environmental Protection Agency estimated that in 2020 agriculture produced 5.6 percent as nitrous oxide (N2O), 4.2 percent as methane (CH4), 0.8 percent as on-farm carbon dioxide (CO2), and 0.6 percent emitted indirectly through the electricity that agriculture consumes. Emissions come from cropping activities that emit nitrous oxide, such as fertilizer application and manure storage and management, and enteric fermentation (a normal digestive process in animals), which produces methane.
Of the economic sectors in the United States defined by the Energy Information Administration, industry (excluding agricultural emissions) accounted for the largest portion of total greenhouse gas emissions (30.3 percent), followed by transportation, residential, commercial, agriculture, and U.S. territories (no specific consumption data can be attributed within the territories, so they are listed as a group).
Editor's Note: This article is included for two reasons in this issue of the Weekly Update. Firstly we should all be aware of what the federal government is saying about our business sector and the numbers that will be used to apportion responsibility, and remediation expectations, to save the planet from our contribution to the current peril. Secondly you should know these numbers are based solely on "estimates" as "real" numbers and data are quite hard to come by within this particular subject matter. We looked around and were unable to find the methodology of how the US EPA arrived at these numbers though we're confident some bureaucrats worked very hard to come up with them. We simply have little confidence in "data" for which there is no published materials and methods. Of special note are references to nitrous oxides. If you have not been keeping up with what is going on in Holland, relative to the Dutch government's stated efforts to curtail nitrous oxide emissions, please do so. The Dutch government is forcing the liquidation of livestock and some crop acreage by Dutch farmers and the farmers are none too keen on the idea.
Source: USDA news release
WASHINGTON, - Today, the Biden Administration announced additional steps it's taking to support U.S. farmers in their work to stabilize food prices and feed Americans and the world amidst continuing challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic, supply chain disruptions, and the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is reducing the economic risk of raising two crops on the same land in one year, making it easier for U.S. farmers to grow food in America, increase food supply, and lower food costs for American families. This action is part of a broader set of commitments made earlier this year by President Biden and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to increase domestic food production amid potential global food shortages related to the invasion of Ukraine.
To reduce the risk of raising two crops on the same land in one year - a practice known as double cropping - USDA's Risk Management Agency (RMA) is expanding double crop insurance opportunities in nearly 1,500 counties where double cropping is viable.
"In May, I joined President Biden at the O'Connor farm in Kankakee, Illinois to announce a series of actions to help farmers do what they do - grow food for American families and the rest of the world. Today, USDA is making good on one of those commitments and making it easier to plant double crops and sharing some of the financial risk by making crop insurance more available in over 1,500 counties," said Secretary Vilsack. "We live in a challenging time, but I put my trust in the American farmer and U.S. agriculture to help keep the food we need affordable and available. The Biden administration and USDA will continue to find ways to ease burdens on American farmers and lower costs for American families such as expanded double crop options through crop insurance."
Improvements include:
· For soybeans, double crop coverage will be expanded to or streamlined in at least 681 counties, including all of those that were initially targeted for review. While some additional counties were permanently added to be double crop counties, the majority of expansion removed barriers such as requiring production records and streamlined the process to get personalized coverage through a written agreement.
· For grain sorghum, double crop coverage will be expanded to or streamlined in at least 870 counties that were initially targeted for review. Similar to soybeans, most of these changes included streamlining the administrative burden and requirements to obtain written agreements. Written agreements provide the producer with the maximum flexibility by allowing them to obtain crop insurance coverage, but not requiring the coverage of both the spring and winter crops as in permanent double crop counties.
· RMA will also work with the crop insurance industry and farm organizations to highlight the availability and improvements in written agreements as an option for any farmer that grows a crop outside the area where a policy is automatically offered.
This expansion of coverage was guided by extensive outreach to nearly 70 grower groups covering 28 states. This includes a wide array of stakeholders such as producers, agents, university extension and other agricultural experts, commodity associations, state departments of agriculture and insurance companies. USDA may add additional counties as it explores these options with farmers this summer, with the final rules being locked in by the fall. Since farmers need to plan ahead for adding a winter crop to a rotation, USDA wanted to make sure they had time to consider this option and consult with local extension and agriculture experts and their crop insurance agent.
Additional resources released today by USDA include frequently asked questions as well as the Helping Farmers Address Global Food Insecurity webpage on
Crop insurance is sold and delivered solely through private crop insurance agents. A list of crop insurance agents is available at all USDA Service Centers and online at the RMA Agent Locater Producers can learn more about crop insurance and the modern farm safety net at
USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America's food system and lowering food prices for Americans by focusing on more resilient local and regional food production, encouraging fairer markets for all producers, and ensuring access to safe, healthy, and nutritious food in all communities. USDA has also prioritized building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, has made historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and is committed to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit
Editor's Note: The final paragraph is a fairly new communications addition from the USDA; we'd be interested in your thoughts on a "fact check." Not sure "transforming America's food system" is working terribly well thus far - ask the cattle producers. Seems that when a government agency feels compelled to tell you what they're doing for you it's because it's not abundantly clear what's in it for you.
It is interesting to note the same administration that has brought several new economic incentive programs forward rewarding entry into organic production is, at the same time, investing in double cropping insurance aimed at "conventional" producers. We guess it may be an example of hedging your bets but it's hard to argue these are "consistent" initiatives.
Nevertheless we are appreciative of the expansion double-crop crop insurance.
Source: House Committee On Agriculture-Republicans news release
WASHINGTON, DC - Yesterday, Republican Leader of the House Agriculture Committee, Rep. Glenn "GT" Thompson (R-PA), and Republican Leader of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, Senator John Boozman (R-AR), sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) about the concerning trend of disregarding scientifically-sound, risk-based regulatory processes, and unilaterally denying access to a range of crop protection tools.
In the letter Thompson and Boozman write, "Russia's war in Ukraine has sent shockwaves through the global food system resulting in increased energy prices, fertilizer cost spikes and shortages, and worsening food shortages in developing countries. As the world faces an emerging food crisis due to this conflict, our policies should be focused on supporting American production instead of creating further burden and ambiguity for our farmers and ranchers."
Thompson and Boozman continue, "We once again seek your assurances and commitment to ensure this Administration and EPA cease the politicization of critical crop protection tools, adhere to a science-based and transparent regulatory process required under FIFRA, and defend the work of its career scientists to overcome these misguided decisions from the Ninth Circuit. Such actions would provide farmers and ranchers a consistent and predictable regulatory process necessary for U.S. producers to continue to feed, fuel, and clothe the world."
BACKGROUND: The letter follows a previous bicameral letter led by Thompson and Boozman on November 19, 2021, which called on the EPA to rescind its decision to revoke all food tolerances for chlorpyrifos and ensure its future actions related to the registration or registration review of crop protection tools are consistent with the science-based, regulatory process required under EPA's congressionally mandated authorities. To date, that letter has gone unanswered.
To read yesterday's letter in its entirety, click here
Texas Seed Trade Association |