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Aug 10

TSTA Weekly Update, 08/10/2023

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.


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. More info to come as the dates approaches.


This morning Governor Abbott signed the "Right to Farm" bill that will appear on ballots this fall as a proposed Texas Constitutional Amendment. By luck of the draw the proposed Right to Farm amendment will be listed first on the ballot! The TSTA Board of Directors has approved our association's support for the amendment and we request that our members, and all people concerned about the future of Texas agriculture, please consider voting "for" this important amendment protecting farming and ranching in Texas.

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!


8/10/2023 - 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


Today, the National FFA Organization has a record-high student membership of 945,988, an increase of 11 percent from last year. In addition, the number of FFA chapters continues to grow -- increasing by 168 this year, resulting in 9,163 chapters in the U.S., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.


Source: Fagen Wasanni Technologies


The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is preparing to construct a new Center for Applied Artificial Intelligence in Wimauma, a rural area in Hillsborough County. The project, which is estimated to cost around $20 million, aims to enhance the use of artificial intelligence in agriculture. The proposed 34,000 square-foot facility will feature office, research, and meeting space, as well as accommodation for approximately 32 graduate students.


The center will include a state-of-the-art research shop equipped with the necessary tools and equipment for the design and development of robotic technologies for agriculture. It will also serve as a central hub for training in artificial intelligence and robotic technologies, with designated meeting areas, offices, and open concept workspaces.


Robert Gilbert, the dean for research at UF/IFAS, expressed his vision for the facility as part of their mission to become a recognized leader in the application of artificial intelligence in agriculture. The center, along with its associated faculty, will focus on developing programs in robotics, precision agriculture, and plant breeding.


These initiatives aim to accelerate agricultural technologies not only for the strawberry and tomato industries in the region but also for diverse agricultural enterprises across the state.


To read the entire article click here.


Ann Reus, Feed & Grain


California's Proposition 12 will have significant implications and create challenges and uncertainty for the U.S. pork industry and beyond, according to a report from the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC).


To read the in-depth report click here.


In its report, NPPC said that, based on estimates from building contractors and producers, the cost of constructing pig barns that are compliant with Prop 12 is at least US$3,400 to $4,000 per sow.


"This is about 25% more expensive than conventional group housing and 40% more than individual stall housing with the same number of animals," the report said.


In National Pork Producers Council v. Ross, the NPPC had challenged the constitutionality of the law. In May, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the law, which prohibits the sale in the state of pork from hogs that don't meet certain production standards. Prop 12, which was approved by voters in 2018, establishes minimum space requirements based on square feet for breeding pigs, veal calves and egg-laying hens and, beginning January 1, 2022, would ban the sale of meat and eggs from those animals when they are raised in a way that does not comply with the minimum requirements.


"The Supreme Court's decision sets a precedent that could result in a patchwork of 50 different state regulations," NPPC said. "The burden of complying with California's regulations will fall on pig farmers outside the state, and increased costs will likely lead to much higher pork prices for consumers.


"Many farms do not have the capital available to make costly investments, especially in the midst of high production costs and other financial pressures. Prop 12 threatens to drive small- and medium-sized producers out of the market while disrupting the entire pork supply chain."


To read the entire report click here.

Gene grants powerful resistance to resurging plant disease

American Phytopathological Society


While wrapping oneself in 100% Egyptian cotton bedsheets is a delightful luxury on a warm summer night, cotton provides much more than breathable, soft fabric. In addition to textiles, the cotton plant is grown for food, fuel, and daily-use consumer products—such as coffee filters, currency, and moisturizers. However, a resurging plant disease called bacterial blight is currently threatening cotton production worldwide.


Bacterial blight is best controlled through natural, genetic resistance. Although several genes for natural resistance to bacterial blight of cotton were discovered in northeast Africa during the mid-twentieth century, one of these genes, found in Egyptian cotton, had been overlooked until a team of researchers led by Margaret Essenberg from Oklahoma State University began studying the gene. One of their recent studies, published by the American Phytopathological Society in a special focus issue of its journal Phytopathology, unveiled that gene B5 confers powerful resistance to bacterial blight.


Essenberg and colleagues observed puzzling behavior from gene B5 after it was crossed into the DNA of upland cotton—a variety used in most clothing fabrics—as it did not appear to follow typical Mendelian genetics. Further investigation revealed an explanation for this peculiarity: upland cotton (AcB5) appears to carry gene B5 at two locations in its genome versus the typical single location. Under Oklahoma field conditions, the gene at either location enabled strong resistance to bacterial blight. In the lab, AcB5 exhibited resistance to the predominant and widely virulent strain of the disease’s causal pathogen, race 18, in addition to nine other pathogen races.


These findings have positive implications for bacterial blight resistance in agriculture. “Natural, heritable disease resistance is an economical and environmentally safe means of maintaining plant health,” corresponding author Melanie Bayles explains. “Resistance genes trigger synthesis of natural defense chemicals at sites of infection. AcB5 cotton is a champion in this activity; it accumulated at least ten-fold more defense chemicals than cotton lines with four other single resistance genes.”


Because pathogens often evolve to overcome such resistance, relying only on a single gene for disease resistance is precarious. The researchers propose that plant breeders combine this valuable B5 gene with other strong, broadly specific genes, such as B12, to develop durable resistance to bacterial blight.


In addition to plant breeding, Bayles states that this research can benefit disciplines such as molecular plant-microbe interactions and phytochemistry, since the “signal transduction pathways of five different major genes for bacterial disease resistance in cotton are shown to lead in part to production of the same set of defense chemicals.” AcB5 is available for other researchers to use, along with a near-isogenic susceptible parent line.


Essenberg and colleagues’ new, quick method for estimating amounts of defense chemicals in cotton plants, reported in Phytopathology, offers a “blight bulb” idea for improving resistance to this prevalent disease.


For further details, read Gene B5 in Cotton Confers High and Broad Resistance to Bacterial Blight and Conditions High Amounts of Sesquiterpenoid Phytoalexins, published in the Phytopathology Focus Issue “Plant Disease Resistance at the Dawn of the New Era”—Volume 113, Number 5 / May 2023.



Gene B5 in Cotton Confers High and Broad Resistance to Bacterial Blight and Conditions High Amounts of Sesquiterpenoid Phytoalexins


DOI: 10.1094/PHYTO-08-22-0310-FI 

Publication date: 29-Jun-2023

Exclusive: Mexican official says US refuses to cooperate on GM corn studies

By Adriana Barrera and Cassandra Garrison



The United States has denied a request by Mexico to jointly conduct scientific research on the health impact of genetically-modified corn, a Mexican government official said, a sign the two sides could be inching closer to a formal trade dispute.


Mexico has repeatedly called on the U.S. to work together on scientific studies amid a conflict over the Latin American country's plans to limit the use of GM corn. Mexico buys about $5 billion worth of corn from its trade partner annually, most of which is GM yellow corn used for livestock feed.


The U.S., however, denied this request and made it clear it will not participate in new scientific studies with Mexico, Mexican Deputy Agriculture Minister Victor Suarez said in an interview with Reuters.


The two countries discussed Mexico's request, including during a visit by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, but the U.S. will not oblige, Suarez said.


"They did not want to establish a period in which the two parties agree to carry out impact studies on animal health and human health," Suarez said at his office on Wednesday.


"Their science is the Word of God. That is not science, that is ideology," he added.


When asked to comment on what Suarez said, the U.S. Department of Agriculture referred Reuters to previous remarks by Vilsack stating that the U.S. "fundamentally disagrees" with Mexico's position on biotechnology.


Mexico wants to ban GM corn for human consumption in the food staple tortilla, which is mostly made of white corn, and eventually replace GM yellow corn used for livestock feed, arguing that biotech corn harms native varieties and may have adverse health effects.


The U.S. has argued that Mexico's plan is not based on science and will hurt U.S. farmers.


In June, Washington requested a new round of trade dispute settlement consultations with Mexico under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which are underway. If the two sides cannot resolve the conflict within 75 days, which falls on Aug. 16, the U.S. can request a dispute settlement panel to decide the case. Canada also joined the consultations.


Suarez said the U.S. does not have the evidence to support its argument in a panel, but that Mexico would be ready.


"If they establish the panel, we will defend ourselves. And if we defend ourselves, we think we are going to win," Suarez said, adding that Mexico's policy has no commercial impact on the United States.


Suarez estimated that between 10% and 15% of foreign corn purchases could be substituted by domestic production by the end of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's mandate in 2024.


The government is buying 1.5 million metric tons of white corn from producers in Sinaloa state at 6,965 pesos per ton ($409) after the country saw major unrest in the sector prompted by a drop in international grains prices. The state government will also buy half a million metric tons at that price.


Suarez said the price is based on a calculation of production costs and seeks to revalue the Mexican white grain and separate it from the "commodity" price of yellow corn on the Chicago grains exchange.

"This breaks the price link with Chicago," Suarez said, adding that the program would soon expand to other states.


Editor's Note: It is a fact that there has not been a substantiated, science-based, concern about the safety of GM organisms and/or the food derived from them. The science is never "settled" but given the current state of the art there is no scientifically valid reason for banning GM derived foodstuffs. Thus we conclude the reason Mexico is moving forward with their ban is based on one of the several artificial (non-science) barriers so frequently used. Pandering to a base of fear mongers that in some way profit from a GM ban, nonsense and ignorance, or a simple excuse for a trade barrier.




Genetically modified (GM) varieties of corn, soybeans, and cotton were introduced in the United States in 1996, and they became the dominant seed choice among farmers within a few years.


Later, GM varieties were widely adopted for canola and sugar beets. By 2020 (the most recent year for which data are available), about 55 percent of the total harvested cropland in the United States was grown with varieties having at least one GM trait. The most prevalent GM traits are herbicide tolerance and insect resistance.


Private seed companies lead the development of GM traits--a shift away from public institutions--stimulated by judicial rulings that created protections for intellectual property in crop genetics and other biological inventions. Advances in biotechnology provided a new means of improving crops by allowing genes with specific, inheritable traits to be transferred to distant crop varieties. GM seed use also is catching on in alfalfa, potatoes, papaya, squash, and apples.


We have some fresh evidence of the continued strength of the U.S. farm economy. The average value of U.S. cropland jumped more than 8% this year, with several states such as Kansas and Nebraska seeing increases well in the double digits, according to USDA's latest report on farmland values.


Average U.S. cropland values were relatively stagnant from 2014 through 2020, a period of relatively low commodity prices. Since then, the average value has risen by about 33% to $5,460 an acre. In Iowa, the average value topped $10,000 an acre this year.


To read Agri-Pulse's full report click here.


An American Phytopathological Society (APS) seed pathology course will be offered this fall: "Seed Pathology Fundamentals: Regional to Global Implications"


Live virtual sessions will be held every Tuesday, September 19 – December 5, 2023, 9:00 – 10:15 AM Central Time. Gain a high-level perspective on seeds and seed pathology, including knowledge needed to address rapid technological advances, phytosanitary concerns, and the evolution of seed trade policies.

In this 12-week virtual course, seed pathology experts will discuss:

  • The importance of seed movement for global food security & health
  • Disease management in seed production
  • Seed health testing principles and processes
  • International phytosanitary regulations
  • And much more!

Course instructors include:

  • Lindsey du Toit, Washington State University
  • Ric Dunkle, American Seed Trade Association
  • Gary Munkvold, Iowa State University
  • Gerbert Hiddink, Enza Zaden

Learn more and register at 

Registration Rates

  • APS Member                                      $129
  • Nonmember                                       $219
  • Registration + APS Membership     $199
  • Student APS Member                       $59
  • Developing Economy Rate*             $15



Aug. 10, 2023


Source: Soil Health Institute (SHI), National Association of Conservation Districts and USDA joint news release


MORRISVILLE, N.C. - Today, the Soil Health Institute and National Association of Conservation Districts announced the results of a nationwide study that demonstrates how improving soil health can help farmers build resilience and improve profitability across a diversity of soil types, geographies, and cropping systems.


"We know practices like cover crops and no-till benefit the environment by storing soil carbon, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and improving water quality," said Dr. Wayne Honeycutt, President and CEO of the Soil Health Institute. "However, investing in soil health is also a business decision. This project provides farmers with the economic information they need to feel confident when making that decision."


This multi-year and data-driven collaboration among the Soil Health Institute (SHI), the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD), and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) assessed the economics of soil health management systems (SHMS) for a range of crops including canola, chickpea, corn, cotton, dried bean, grain sorghum, millet, pea, peanut, rye, soybean, sunflower, walnut, and wheat. Some of the operations also raised dairy cows, beef cattle, chickens, and hogs.


SHI and NACD conducted extensive interviews with 30 farmers with an established history of successful implementation of a wide range of SHMS, including cover crops, no-till, reduced till, strip till, planting green, rotational grazing, livestock integration, and manure incorporation across 20 states. Interviews were designed to learn about farmers' experiences with adopting those systems and to evaluate their economics by comparing the costs and benefits before and after practice adoption.


"Increasing the efficiency as well as resilience of farms and farm communities has never been more important," said Jeremy Peters, NACD Chief Executive Officer. "We recognize that farmers must weigh the costs, risks, and overall benefits when introducing new practices into their operations. This project shows that soil health management systems are both feasible and profitable.


"Conservation Districts can provide hands-on technical assistance to producers to design a system of practices that make sense for their land, while helping enroll producers into programs that offer financial incentives that fit their business model."


Key findings include:


*Across 29 farms, SHMS increased net farm income by an average of $65/acre (1 organic farm was excluded due to high revenue from price premiums).


*On average, when implementing SHMS, it cost producers $14/acre less to grow corn, $7/acre less to grow soybean and $16/acre less to grow all other crops.


*Yield increases due to SHMS were reported for 42% of farms growing corn, 32% of farms growing soybean, and 35% of farms growing other crops.


*Farmers also reported additional benefits of adopting SHMS, such as decreased erosion and soil compaction, earlier access to fields in wet years, and increased resilience to extreme weather.


"Soil health management practices help producers increase profits, reduce costs, and limit risks while conserving our nation's resources," said NRCS Chief Terry Cosby. "The results experienced by these 30 diverse farmers from across the country show the financial benefits of implementing soil health management systems across many different production systems, and highlight how critical voluntary conservation programs are to the viability of U.S. agriculture."


Individual farmer videos, 2-page economic factsheets, and 1-page narratives have been created for each of the 30 farmers interviewed to support soil health education and outreach. Results from the wide range of farms, production systems, and geographies included in this national study indicate that many more farmers may also benefit economically from adopting SHMS, thereby expanding the associated on-farm and environmental benefits for farmers and society.


For more information about the economic case studies, including videos, producer narratives and fact sheets, 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.