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Sep 08

TSTA Weekly Update, 09/08/2022

Weekly Update from the Texas Seed Trade Association
Member News

GO Seed, the Leader in Turf, Forage, and Cover Crop Seeds, Hires Dr. Trent Tate as Plant Breeder

Distinguished Plant Breeder Adds to Collaborative Research Power


GO Seed is pleased to announce the hiring of Dr. Trent Tate as Plant Breeder.


“We are thrilled to add Dr. Tate to our research team,” said Jerry Hall, President of GO Seed. “His experience in both cool-season and warm-season grass breeding will prove to be a valuable addition to our research team. We look forward to involving him in our legume and forb breeding program as well. He brings a high attention to detail and an uncompromising ethic of delivering quality.”


“It is important that we continually invest and challenge ourselves when it comes to research. Our goal is to remain the leader in turf, forage, and cover crop breeding,” added Hall. “Seed distributors, farmers, and homeowners see GO Seed as the innovators in the seed marketplace and count on us to deliver novel solutions for their growing concerns.”


Dr. Tate brings a passion for plant breeding that started as an undergrad at the University of Georgia. This passion grew as he pursued his Master’s degree under the tutelage of noted warm-season grass breeder, Dr. Paul Raymer, who said of him “Trent did excellent did excellent and innovative research. I’m very proud of his work, and his accomplishments thus far and expect great things will come from him”. Under the advice of Dr. Raymer, he relocated to New Jersey to earn his PhD in Plant Biology with Dr. William Meyer where he received the prestigious Spencer Davis Research Award.


“I am excited to be part of such a progressive research team. The opportunity to develop new varieties and work with new species further reinforces my passion for plant breeding.” Said Dr. Tate. “The process of making selections, putting together a cross, ultimately resulting in the release of a unique and highly beneficial product is profoundly fulfilling.”


Editor's Note: GO Seed, in Salem, OR, is a valued member of the Texas Seed Trade Association.  Our thanks to Risa Demasi for passing this news to us.  

Western Seed Association will convene their annual meeting on Monday October 31 at the Westin Crown Center Hotel in Kansas City, MO.  The meeting begins with a reception Monday evening at 6:00PM and transitions into the ASTA Farm and Lawn Seed Conference on Wednesday November 2.  


Please visit for more information and to register for the event.  

ASTA’s largest event of the year, the CSS & Seed Expo 2022, will be opening soon for attendee registration, along with the new menu of sponsorship opportunities at all events for the coming fiscal year (July to June).

After 76 years, the CSS & Seed Expo returns to Chicago, IL for one last time this December 5-8, before the conference moves in 2023 to the Hyatt Regency Orlando for the foreseeable future.

With a theme of “Farewell Chicago,” the event’s website offers tools to submit your favorite conference memories for the many attendees who have been coming to Chicago each December year after year, many for over 30 years and counting.

Already featuring over 70 exhibitors, this year is anticipated to represent a return in full force after smaller numbers in 2021 due to the pandemic.

Visit ASTA Events at for more information.


Editor's Note: The Bears are going to Arlington Park and ASTA is headed to Florida. Please join us at the last Chicago CSS meeting!

Save the dates for the 34th Annual Texas Plant Protection Conference. December 6 & 7, 2022 at the Brazos Center in Bryan. Conference and Exhibitor/Sponsors registration is available on the TPPA website:


Don’t miss these outstanding presenters in the conference General Sessions:


“Global Markets Outlook & Impact on Texas Agriculture” - Dr. Mark

   Welch, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

The Pesticide Forecast—Innovation, Opportunity & Challenge” –              

Chris Novak, President & CEO, CropLife America

“Fertilizer - Supply & Pricing Outlook” - Toby Hlavinka, President &    

  CEO, American Plant Food Corporation

“ Weather Patterns Impact on Texas Agriculture” Eric Snodgrass,                         

    Nutrien Ag Solutions, Science Fellow and Principal Atmospheric Scientist

“Gossypol-free Cottonseed Could Help Solve World Hunger”, Dr.

   Keerti Rathore, Texas A & M University

“Stink Bug Control In Sorghum” Dalton Ludwick, Texas A&M AgriLife

   Extension Entomology Specialist  

“Carbon Credit Contracts” – Tiffany Lashmet, J.D., Texas A&M 

  AgriLife Extension Law Specialist 

“Federal Pesticide Policy Updates” – Rod Snyder, Senior Advisor for

  Agriculture to the EPA Administrator, Washington, DC

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!


9/8/22 - 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!

News Bits


The USDA's good to excellent ratings for corn and soybeans held last week. Conditions continue to vary widely, generally favoring eastern growing areas over those in the west.


54% of U.S. corn is in good to excellent shape, with 92% of the crop at the dough making stage, 63% dented, and 15% mature, all behind the respective five-year averages.


The USDA's first corn harvest estimate of the season is expected to be out next Monday.


57% of soybeans are called good to excellent, with 94% at the pod setting stage, compared to 96% on average, and 10% is dropping leaves, compared to 14% on average.


71% of spring wheat is harvested, compared to the normal rate of 83%.


3% of the winter wheat crop is planted, matching the five-year average.


35% of the cotton crop is rated good to excellent, 1% higher, with 97% setting bolls and 39% of bolls opening, both ahead of their typical paces.


72% of the rice crop is in good to excellent condition, up 2%, and 24% has been harvested, compared to 28% on average.


28% of U.S. pastures and rangelands are rated good to excellent, a week-to-week increase of 3%.


In a potential new milestone in agricultural biotechnology, a gene-edited tomato that's high in antioxidants believed to fight cancer and heart disease, has cleared a key hurdle. USDA has formally decided that the tomato doesn't warrant regulation because it isn't a plant pest risk.


The tomato is the result of research at the John Innes Centre and The Sainsbury Laboratory in England. The developers say the deep purple tomato contains high levels of anthocyanins, which are found in berries and other fruit.


To read more about the developer and technology click here.


A company that's a spinoff of the research has been working on breeding varieties suitable for production in the U.S.


Keep in mind: A report by Rabobank says products like this are why biotech fruits and vegetables are likely to take off in the market over the next several years.


To read more about the Rabobank report click here.


For a video synopsis of the Sri Lanka organic farming mandate debacle click here


In September and October Brazilian farmers will start to plant corn, soybeans and other crops. Forecasts show, if weather cooperates, the 2022/23 Brazilian crop harvest could be the largest ever, according to CONAB, the country's food supply and statistics agency.


For the upcoming crop season, CONAB forecasts Brazilian farmers will produce more than 300 million tons of soybeans, corn, cotton, rice, wheat and soybeans. That is 14% higher than last season, when Brazilian farmers harvested an estimated 271.4 million tons of grains - an all-time high.


The expected growth of the Brazilian crop is attributed to two factors, according to the University of Illinois' Joana Colussi, Gary Schnitkey and Nick Paulson. They include:


*2.5% jump in planted area


*11% higher yields versus 2022


Although production costs are expected to be higher in the coming season, Brazilian farmers will benefit from high commodity prices, robust global demand and a favorable exchange rate.


Colussi, Schnitkey and Paulson recently analyzed the CONAB data in a farmdoc daily piece: New Record Grain Production on Horizon for Brazil


20% Increase for Soybean Crop


Soybeans account for almost half of the total grain produced in Brazil. The 2022-23 soybean crop is projected to be 5.525 million bushels (equivalent to 150 million tons), an increase of 21% over the previous harvest 

Environmental activist irony: Anti-chemical campaigners end up promoting higher food prices with few farming or health benefits

Stuart Smyth

The Genetic Literacy Project


While food prices are rising, and with everyone from consumers to politicians in alarm mode, one segment of the public is actively (if inadvertently) campaigning for even higher prices: environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs) advocacy groups backed by the organic industry. Here’s what the ENGOs are proposing or have enacted in just the past two years:


  • In Europe, which is on the verge of passing a so-called Green Deal Farm to Fork policy, organic lobbyists have succeeded in convincing the EU to enact policies that will require a 50% reduction in the use of agricultural chemicals by 2030. 
  • In Germany, in 2021, the government confirmed that it will ban glyphosate by 2023, and is targeting to produce 30% of its food from organic production by 2030. ( This is in spite of the evidence that organic crops yield an average of 30% less than conventional production methods that rely on synthetic chemicals and up to 70% less for some vegetable crops.
  • In Mexico, in January 2021, the government announced it would ban the import of GM corn and phase out the use of the weedkiller glyphosate by the end of 2023. Greenpeace fully supports this decree, stating that production would be “maintained”. 
  • The USDA announced this past June that it will provide $300 million in subsidies for organic agriculture, claiming this would increase production and benefit consumers. 


ENGOs are the major force behind these legislative actions. One of the most aggressive, Pesticide Action Network, relentlessly calls for phase-outs and bans on chemicals in the production of food, regardless of whether countries are industrial, developed countries, transitioning economies, or low to middle-income countries. 


They cite “an alarming number of hazardous pesticides still in use, writing:

Highly Hazardous Pesticides contribute to the unacceptable situation that an estimated 385 million children, women and men suffer from unintended acute pesticide poisoning each year …. Brain damage, IQ-loss, cancer, autism – children are especially at risk ….

These increasingly powerful ENGOs proudly define themselves as chemical rejectionists, but that’s both self-serving and wrong; they target chemicals judged safe by independent global regulatory bodies, such as glyphosate, but have no interest in restricting some of the most dangerous chemicals—if they are used by their ideological partners in the organic industry. 


As it turns out, and surprisingly to many, the US and Canada—oft targeted by PAN and other activists for their embrace of conventional farming techniques, which often includes the judicious use of synthetic chemicals—use about half as much highly toxic chemicals per acre as precautionary-obsessed countries like Belgium and France. 


Why? Because European farming is awash in virtually unregulated ‘natural’ chemicals, particularly copper sulfate, widely used in wine-growing areas among other farming regions to control fungus. 


According to the National Pesticide Information Center at Oregon State University, “Copper sulfate can cause severe eye irritation. Eating large amounts of copper sulfate can lead to nausea, vomiting, and damage to body tissues, blood cells, the liver, and kidneys. With extreme exposures, shock and death can occur. Copper sulfate affects animals in a similar way.” 


The European Food Safety Authority has found that the non-degradable heavy metal accumulates in the soil and could bring risks to farm workers, birds, mammals, insects, and other soil organisms, as well as to the wider environment. EFSA was moving to recommend a ban before the European organic lobby stepped in, resulting in a postponing of a decision till this coming December. 


Organic and regenerative agriculture lobbyists have been spreading their science-rejectionist mantra around the world, with devasting consequences in recent years. Exhibit A is Sri Lanka. In the spring of 2021, at the urging and guidance of anti-biotechnology activist philosopher Vandana Shiva, Sri Lanka’s government banned the use of synthetic chemicals, stipulating that all crops had to be produced organically. 


The consequences of the policy shift were devastating. Before the chemical ban, this poor country was self-sufficient in rice production. Afterwards? “Catastrophe,” as Foreign Policy magazine characterized it. 


Farmers lost hundreds of millions in revenue as food production plummeted to such a degree that rice had to be imported for the first time in decades. The country is now in a steep, self-induced food-related recession. 


What’s the takeaway?

Will these politically-driven trends to ban many chemicals judged safe by scientists benefit farm production and promote health and safety, as many ENGOs claim?


The above list of actions and policies are almost certainly destined to reduce food production and increase food insecurity, without providing any substantial sustainability benefits as the world struggles to limit the impacts of climate change. 


Removing chemical use from food production and switching to organic production methods will require more land to be used for production. One assessment of the EU’s policy plan to restrict chemical use and require greater organic production will raise food prices by up to 20% and require up to an additional 3 million hectares of land for food production. 


Here’s agricultural science 101. To ensure their yields are as high as they can be, farmers require the best in terms of seed technology and new varieties, fertilizers to ensure proper nutrient availability for their crops and chemicals to control weeds, insects and plant diseases. When farmers reuse seeds from their previous crop to plant the following year, the germination rate of this seed often declines slightly year after year. One study found that after 5 years, germination rates varied from 73 – 92%.


And without proper crop nutrients, yields are reduced as the crops lack nutrients provided through fertilizers to reach peak yields. Yield reductions from reusing seed and insufficient nutrient availability are less than those that occur from chemical restrictions.


When farmers have chemical controls removed or restricted, yields are often quickly devastated. In the worst instances, weeds are capable of reducing yields by up to 80%. Depending on the crop, yield loss from weeds can be as high as 40%, but more typically range from 3-25%. 


In the sampling of yield loss literature, in the worst instances, at least 50% of crops would be lost for vegetables and wheat and complete crop failures with soy, corn, canola and rice production. ENGO activists routinely call for reductions and bans of synthetic agricultural chemicals, ignoring the impacts on food production and prices from their naïve ideas. 


The Pesticide Action Network has stated that Mexico’s ban on importing GM corn and banning glyphosate within its borders, “could potentially take its farming system in a more just direction, in favor of small farmers and decreasing dependence on imported food. The reality is that it’s going to cost Mexico more than $3 billion annually to import non-GM corn, with no health benefits.


Facing yield losses of up to 50% for sugar beets in France and rapeseed in the UK governments in France and the UK reversed bans on the use of neonicotinoid chemicals, provoking the Friends of the Earth to state, “this decision must not be repeated”. 


In October 2020, the FAO and CropLife International announced a partnership to increase the production of sustainable food and to enhance rural development, contributing to achieving the UN’s SDGs. This partnership was immediately attacked by many environmental NGOs. Pesticide Action Network stated that the FAO should not be entering into a partnership with “an industry that is devastating people and the planet”, adding, “[s]uch an alliance is dangerous for the future of our global food systems.” 


Arrogance of affluence?

The vast majority of these environmental campaigners live in industrial, food-secure countries, highlighting the hypocrisy of their advocacy. Although they undoubtedly believe their solutions to food insecurity are in the best interests of the planet and people, they are wrong on the science. The consequence is that if we follow their prescriptions, the food vulnerable in the poorest countries would no longer have access to many nutritious and inexpensive foods, while the more affluent in the rich countries would just absorb the price shocks and suffer few consequences.  


Farming and food are filled with tradeoffs. The judicious use of synthetic chemicals in the production of crops that feed us is essential. Without the ability to apply herbicides, insecticides and fungicides, the yield potential of important food crops would significantly decrease. As the climate changes, plant pathogens and fungal diseases could have an even greater detrimental impact on food production and food security. The use of chemicals provides the ability to offset the potential increase in yield loss from climate change. 


The time has come for societies to seriously question the motives of many ENGOs as they often don’t have the best interests of humanity in mind in their campaigns for restrictions and bans on agricultural chemicals. If we don’t challenge their recommendations with the science, hundreds of millions of people may soon annually die from a lack of nutritious food.


Stuart Smyth is an associate professor at University of Saskatchewan in the College of Agriculture and Bioresources. Stuart is also the Agri-Food Innovation & Sustainability Enhancement Chair at his school and writes about regulations, gene modification and supply chains. You can follow Stuart on Twitter @stuartsmyth66


Purdue University release

Source: Purdue/CME Ag Economy Barometer


Several Ag Economy Barometer survey's over the last two years have included questions regarding producers' exposure to and experience with companies offering payments for capturing carbon.


In this month's survey, 9 percent of respondents said they have engaged in discussions with companies offering payments for carbon capture. This is by far and away the highest percentage of respondents indicating they've engaged in carbon capture discussions with one or more companies.


In prior surveys, the percentage of producers talking to companies about receiving payments for carbon capture ranged from a low of just over 2% to less than 6%. Three-fourths of respondents said the payment rate per metric ton of carbon offered was less than $20. Just 1% of all respondents to the August barometer survey said they have signed a carbon contract.


The survey asked respondents who said they engaged in discussions but chose not to sign a carbon contract the minimum payment per acre they would accept to enroll their farm in a carbon capture program. Two-thirds of respondents said the payment rate needed to be at least $30 per acre, suggesting that payment rates need to rise to encourage more participation in carbon capture programs.


Editor's Note: We continue to be interested in carbon sequestration markets as it seems a good fit for a seed company partnership with either an active retailer or other customer base that thinks out of the box.  The bottom line is that farmers are making money using farming techniques designed to sequester carbon and the right crops/seeds is a big part of this system.

After deliberating less than an hour, Missouri county jury concludes glyphosate weedkiller did not cause plaintiff’s cancer, delivering Bayer/Monsanto 5th court victory in a row

Kevin Held | Fox St. Louis


A St. Louis County jury has determined Bayer and the former Monsanto should not be held liable in a lawsuit over the weed killer product Roundup.


Three plaintiffs in their 60s and 70s had claimed long-time exposure to Roundup—specifically the chemical glyphosate—gave them lymphoma and that Monsanto neglected to warn the public of its dangers. Monsanto said Roundup does not cause cancer.


Bayer released the following statement [September 1] after the jury’s ruling:

The jury’s verdict in favor of the company brings this trial to a successful conclusion and is consistent with the evidence in this multi-plaintiff case that Roundup™ was not responsible for the injuries alleged by the plaintiffs.
The jury’s conclusions are consistent with the assessments of expert regulators worldwide as well as the overwhelming evidence from four decades of scientific studies concluding that Roundup™ can be used safely and is not carcinogenic.
The company won the four preceding Roundup™ trials

In June 2020, Bayer agreed to pay $10.9 billion to settle approximately three-quarters of existing Roundup claims against its subsidiary—both filed and unfiled claims—at the time.


There remains some scientific debate over glyphosate as a cancer-causing agent. The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in 2015 identified glyphosate as a possible carcinogen. However, a WHO and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) joint committee on pesticides announced in 2016 that glyphosate did not pose a significant health risk to humans. The Environmental Protection Agency considers glyphosate as noncarcinogenic.


Editor's Note: Bayer is no longer seeking a lump-sum settlement to all Roundup health claims and says they will litigate each case.


Chemists make N₂ into NH₃ in most efficient electrochemical reaction ever

Electrochemical reaction with Li has higher yield and uses less energy than conventional methods 

Chemical & Engineering News, American Chemical Society


Ammonia is a crucial fertilizer for the world’s food production, and now scientists have figured out how to make it with nearly 100% efficiency, using nitrogen gas and electricity (Nature 2022, DOI: 10.1038/s41586-022-05108-y). This new process could be a greener alternative to current NH3 production processes, which consume about 1% of the world’s total energy.


Most of the NH3 in the world is made by the Haber-Bosch process, which takes hydrogen gas made from fossil-fuel feedstocks, and ultimately combines it with N2 to make NH3. In 2010, the process dumped about 451 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the air, according to the Institute for Industrial Productivity.


Alexandr Simonov, Douglas MacFarlane, and coworkers from Monash University improved on an electrochemical, lithium-mediated N2 reduction reaction to make NH3 at a rate 100 times as high as the rates of previous attempts. Simonov says changing the electrolyte increased the efficiency of the reaction in two ways: by increasing how much N2 is converted to NH3 and by improving what’s called the faradic efficiency. “It essentially means how much current is converted to the target product,” Simonov says.


In Li-mediated N2 electroreduction, a significant portion of the current causes other reactions, including the deposition of Li metal onto the electrode inside the electrochemical device and the reductive degradation of the electrolytes, MacFarlane says. By switching to a bis(trifluoromethylsulfonyl)imide electrolyte, the team created a system that shut off unwanted side reactions with Li metal and spit out mainly NH3. “So this is a big deal in these two aspects, not only making the process more efficient, more effective, but also making it much more stable because there is no mechanism now for it to degrade,” MacFarlane says.


The device for turning N2 into NH3 is small and portable, he says, which makes it ideal for farmers to have on-site. “The device doesn’t have to be Haber-Bosch, chemical plant size and producing thousands of tons a day. It can produce kilograms of NH3 per day, which is exactly what farmers want,” MacFarlane says. In addition, scientists think NH3 can be a renewable alternative for carbon-based fuels, as well as a way to store and move energy from one place to another. This research will likely make a stable, practical process for sustainable NH3 production a reality.


“Reaching near 100% electron-based selectivity is something that has felt out of reach, but this study gets the field there,” says Karthish Manthiram, a chemical engineer at the California Institute of Technology. “This would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.”


Editor's Note: This is, no doubt, a breakthrough, particularly if it can be scaled-up to truly commercial proportion.  It continues to intrigue us that anything powered by electricity is positioned as a "greener" alternative to whatever the standard is or was.  Surely that depends to a large extent to how that electrical energy is generated and at what cost.  

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