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We are looking forward to 2022! There is a story behind why 2022 is the 100th annual meeting of the Illinois Crop Improvement Association. You can learn about the details of that story as you read on.
February 23 IL-IN Seed Conditioning Workshop – Holiday Inn Champaign IL: On February 23 in Champaign, IL, please join us for the 36th Annual IL-IN Seed Conditioning Workshop! We have a schedule filled with expert speakers who will help you with plant maintenance, supply chain issues, treater use, safety, seed testing, and more. View the workshop program on our Calendar of Events (ilcrop.com) page.
June 15th & 16th Illinois Crop Improvement 100th Annual meeting -– I-Hotel Champaign IL: Please help us celebrate a milestone as we honor the past, recognize the present and look towards the future. Support the Illinois Seed Trade Association’s scholarship program through their annual golf outing on June 15. Illinois Crop will host a reception for all attendees on June 15 at 6 pm. June 16 starts coffee and memorabilia at 10 am, Luncheon Program at noon, and Annual Meetings at 1:30 pm. More information will be posted on our Calendar of Events (ilcrop.com) page as it becomes available.
2022 Industry Events: We look forward to seeing you at the following events. Look us up or contact us ahead of time to arrange a meeting. Please be sure to check with the host organization for information on the following events.
- IPSA Annual Conference & Corn Belt Seed Conference* – January 24-28
- ASTA Vegetable & Flower* – Jan 28-Feb 1
- IL-IN Seed Conditioning Workshop – February 23
- AOSA/SCST Annual Meetings- June 4-9
- IL Crop & ISTA Annual Meetings – June 15 & 16
- AOSCA Annual Meeting- June 19-22
- ASTA Leadership Summit-June 25-29
- ASTA Farm and Lawn & Western Seed Association*
- ASTA CSS & Seed Expo* – December (Chicago IL – Last Year in Chicago)
- For more information on these meeting see our Calendar of Events (ilcrop.com) page.
President Lowe Cancels Annual Meeting – 1945: “Mr. L. L. Lowe was an early grower of hybrid corn and developed the Lowe Hybrid Seed Corn Company, Aroma Park, Illinois, into a large and successful seed company. He was appointed to the Board of Directors in 1938 and served on many committees until elected president in 1943. Mr. Lowe had to direct the destiny of ICIA through the trying years of World War II and in 1945 had to call off the annual meeting of the Association because of Federal restrictions of meetings and other activities using needed resources. During this time, the annual meeting of the Association was changed from February to June, and Mr. Lowe served as president until June 1946.” – Fifty Years of Service – A History of Seed Certification in Illinois 1922-1972.
Looking back, you may ask why there were Federal restrictions in place. The war was over in 1945. VE Day was May 8 and VJ Day was August 15. Doing our best to exclude the knowledge that the end of World War 2 was near, we should imagine the winter of 1944-45. From December 16 to January 25, the Battle of the Bulge saw the small town of Bastogne as the only thing standing in the way of losing the port of Antwerp. In the Pacific, Allied forces initiated a return to the Philippines. An invasion of Japan was still in the planning stages. The world was still a very dark place and the eventual victory, less than a year away, was far from certain.While 2022 marks 100 years of service this should be our 101st annual meeting. Circumstances beyond our control may alter our day-to-day plans but our core values are what sustain us. I hope we can look back on the winter of 2021-22 as the beginning of the end of the war against COVID. So, with a fraction of the optimism needed for a world war, please mark your calendar and make plans to join us! We look forward to a healthier 2022.
Illinois Seed Trade Association Golf Outing by Richard Denhart – Executive Secretary-Treasurer
The Burlison Award is presented annually to an outstanding graduate student in the College of Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois. As you are well aware the support mechanism for this important investment in our future has been canceled for 2020.
At our annual meeting, held virtually on June 25th, the Illinois Seed Trade Association (ISTA) awarded Connor Sible the Burlison Award. Connor spoke of his research and served as a glimpse of a promising future for all of us.
We hope to have a golf outing in 2021 and continue supporting graduate students without interruption or with reductions in the award. Therefore, in lieu of this year’s golf outing, we are asking for donations to help support Illinois Seed Trade’s investment in the future. If you budgeted an amount for the golf outing please consider donating the same. By sending a check or calling Melanie with a credit card payment you can help support future students dedicating themselves to Burlison’s legacy.
Thank you for your kind consideration of this important matter. Your support is greatly appreciated.
WILLIAM L. BURLSION (1882-1958)William L. Burlison (1882-1958) was a professor of agronomy at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) from 1915 to 1951 and head of the department from 1920 to 1951. He was a researcher of crop production, soybeans, and soil conservation.
William Leonidas Burlison (1882-1958) was born in Harrison, Arkansas, on September 3, 1882 to William Washington and Amanda Ercila (Pettit) Burlison. After earning a BS at Oklahoma Agricultural & Mechanical College in 1905, Burlison received his Master’s degree in 1908 and his PhD in 1915, both in Agronomy at UIUC. Burlison was hired as associate professor in the Agronomy Department at UIUC in 1915. In 1918, he advanced to full professor and served as the Head of the Agronomy Department from 1920 until his retirement in 1951. He married Miss Flossy B. Lewis in 1909 and they had four children.His classes and research focused on topics such as crop production, soybeans, soil conservation, cereal crops, corn, soil surveys, and wartime crop production. Burlison published bulletins, circulars, and scientific and popular articles, including one book, Farm Crop Projects (1930).
The Illinois Crop Improvement Association has had another successful year of providing essential services in support of agriculture. Our Puerto Rico based winter services provide critical data and seed to plant breeders and seed producers. The broader seed and grain industry relies on our laboratory services to make critical quality and processing decisions.
In July of 2019 the laboratories of the Illinois Crop Improvement Association transitioned to the newest version of the ISO standard designed specifically for testing laboratories. ISO/IEC 17025 is an International Standard that includes quality management requirements along with technical requirements to ensure accuracy and repeatability in testing. Since 2008 the accreditation has served as a foundational element of our relationship with our customers and our customer’s customers as well as regulators and researchers. Intra-laboratory comparisons such as proficiency-programs and referees, continue as a major factor in the new standard.
In 2019 the Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies (AOSCA) celebrated its 100th anniversary. I would like to thank AgriMaxx, Illinois Foundation Seeds Inc., and Syngenta for financially supporting the Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies’ 100th annual meeting in 2019. AOSCA’s founding principles still serve as the core procedures for maintaining the identity and purity of seed and specialty grains. Since its inception in 1922, the Illinois Crop Improvement Association has provided field inspections and seed testing as part of a system designed to maintain the purity and identity of improved crop varieties and hybrids. Seed certification in Illinois still serves members exporting seed corn and producing small grains. Field inspection only and Quality Assurance (QA) inspections continue to monitor the core seed production practices established over a century ago. The seed lab, as well as other laboratories and programs, continue to support the process of varietal purity and identity that serves as the core of seed certification and a cornerstone of our association.
The financial condition of the association remains stable. Twenty (20) years into the new century and Illinois Crop Improvement looks forward to continuing its service to the seed and grain industries. New technologies are emerging and advances in genetics are breathtaking. In 2022 the association will celebrate its 100th anniversary. We look forward to the next century of service.
Seed Lab Annual Report by Steve Beals – Director
The lab continues to add to the accreditations of its staff. Brittany Whitsitt, RST, attended a Canadian Seed Grader Workshop training and testing session that was held in July 2019. Brittany passed all 6 seed categories and was granted accreditation by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency administered through the USDA-AMS. Brittany is US-Accredited Canadian Seed Grader No. 7034. Eunsoo Choe, PhD attended the Federal Seed Lab Seed School that was held in August 2019. At the conclusion of the seed school, Eunsoo took the Registered Seed Technologist exams.
Eunsoo was informed in early October 2019 that she had successfully passed the exams and was an official RST. The IL Crop Seed Lab currently has 3 Registered Seed Technologists on staff. The lab has had several staffing changes over the past year. Gary Cook, Chief Analyst, retired in August 2019 and Mary Jo Edmison, Sample Data Entry, retired in February 2020. We wish Gary and Mary Jo very happy retirements. Along with the retirements, we added several new full-time employees. Dawn Gerling was hired as full-time in July 2019. Dawn had worked part-time in the lab since August 2016. Alex Chenoweth was hired as full-time in July 2019. Alex had worked part-time in the lab since August 2014. Katie Reagan was hired as full-time in August 2019. Katie had worked part-time in the lab since May 2019. In March 2020 the lab added a new role of Purity Coordinator. Seed Analyst Kelly Redmon, focusing on Purity, was promoted into the new role. The lab continues to look for additional employees and additional roles to help manage the vast array of seed samples that are submitted for testing.
The quality of the 2019 soybean crop-year was much better than the prior crop-year. The 2019 crop-year soybean germination average is approximately 6% higher than last season with an average of 90.5% across all testing regions. The increase in germination averages is due in part to the much improved environmental conditions during the 2019 growing season. The amount of Phomopsis infection was greatly reduced in the 2019 crop-year. The average amount of Phomopsis infection was 0.98% across all testing regions. This was a decrease of nearly 3.2% from last season. The quality of the 2019 corn crop-year was very good this past testing season with the average germinations in the range that we have been seeing over the past few years. The corn germination average was 94.2% across all regions.
Our Laboratories continue to offer “an honest assessment of purity, composition, viability and vigor where and when it counts”. Through our accreditations and high level of participation in the seed and grain testing community, we apply standards and methods without bias or undue influence. Our ISO 17025 accreditation is a cornerstone of being a third party service provider.
Puerto Rico Winter Farm Annual Report by Lizandro Perez – Station Manager
Winter nursery services over the last few years have been very dynamic and challenging. Changes in customer requests, hurricane María, earthquakes and the pandemic have impacted our operations.
We received an unusual amount of sorghum requests for the 2019-20 season. We were unable to accept all of the requests due to the isolation requirements for parent seed production in sorghum. Other changes included an increase in corn and soybean coupled with a big acreage drop in sunflowers. Acreage dropped from 40 acres planted the previous year to less than one acre planted in fiscal year 19-20. Crops such as spring grains, dry bean, mung bean and others remained the same as the previous year. Total acreage was around 15% less than previous year but 13.5 acres were used by a neighboring farm for corn nursery. As part of the corn nursery agreement we provide the land along with irrigation, field destruction and tape removal.
Overall the farm had a successful season providing both seed and data to its customers. Data from growouts are still an important part of the seed industry due to the number of plants that can be evaluated as well as the phenotypic characteristics that can be seen. The phenotype is what the seed customer or farmer sees. While molecular techniques are robust and powerful they may not reveal exactly what a plant will look like. The statistical power of an evaluation still rests on the number of seed tested and in many cases a growout is still the best value and opportunity to see what a hybrid or variety will look like. Producing seed, for plant breeders and seed producers, is also an important service we provide. The genetic gain of an extra generation, with two generations for some crops, is what accelerates breeding programs working in temperate zones. Seed producers can also fast-forward new genetics for sale or further production with small hybrid and variety increases during the winter. We have tried several new crops and continue to gain knowledge and resiliency as a service provider. We are ready for future challenges and always looking for ways to improve our services and to produce the best data and seed possible.
Puerto Rico Winter Farm Report by Lizandro Perez
The Winter Farm has had several visitors starting with returning customers visiting their growouts and nurseries here in Puerto Rico. A few corn nurseries were planted relatively early this year resulting in two visitors in November ahead of the usual December and January. A group of north-central region department heads, agronomy and soil science, also toured the farm on Jan 8th.
Dr. Adam Davis, Department Head of Crop Sciences at the University of Illinois requested the tour as part of their meetings and shared with our CEO Doug Miller the following. “I want to thank Lizandro and the Illinois Crop Improvement Association for an excellent tour of the winter nursery facility on Wed. afternoon. The group of north-central region department heads (Agronomy & Soil Science departments) was very impressed with the scope of the projects and the finesse with which they are run.” We greatly appreciate the opportunity to showcase our services and we will be seeing several visitors over the next few months as they travel to the island to make pollinations, selections, readings and harvest inspections. Chris Lusvardi from Seed Today also traveled to the farm to visit. We hope to see an article from Chris in the second quarter of Seed Today.
For early nurseries and project submissions, we are already shipping seed or replanting for another generation prior to spring plantings on the mainland. We continue to offer a wide range of services for several crops including new additions such as hybrid canola. We have also trialed guar and chickpea with the latter being very susceptible to the tropical environment and disease. We are willing to try new things and in the interest of all concerned will be honest with the results of the trial.
As we head into the second half of our winter season please keep us in mind for any soybean, dry bean and similar crops for another generation. There is still time for another generation and another growout if you have lines, hybrids or materials you want to evaluate. On the breeding side, we have experienced staff for making soybean pollinations as well as corn, sorghum and sunflower.
Last but not least earthquakes have visited the island causing damage and one fatality. No damage occurred at the farm and all of our employees and families are okay. We were closed for the holiday on Jan 6th and decided to be closed on Jan 7th. Jan 8th we reopened and on Friday power was restored from the grid. Numerous termors and aftershocks occurred and on Saturday another earthquake occurred. We continue to operate and customers have continued to come down for work. Our hearts and prayers go out to those affected by the earthquakes. If you have any questions about the effects of the earthquakes on our area please feel free to contact us.
North Central Department Heads
Field Services Annual Report by Matt Raymond – Director
The Field Services department covers a broad range of seed and grain services. Under our various accreditations, we conduct field inspections for certification, phytosanitary, and weed-free forage programs during the growing season. After inspections end in autumn we move to the greenhouse and lab and spend our time conducting trait purity and adventitious presence testing.
In addition to the daily inspection and testing routines, we also take part in voluntary and required training sessions, conduct proficiency testing to maintain our lab status, and keep an eye on emerging trends in the industry.
During the past year, IL Crop inspectors walked over 1,300 fields totaling over 65,000 acres. Crops inspected included corn, soybeans, wheat, oats, barley, popcorn, and sweetcorn. Much of our work is done in collaboration with other organizations. For our phytosanitary field inspections performed under the National Seed Health System, the University of Illinois Plant Clinic conducts the disease analysis on tissue samples submitted by field inspectors. Suzanne Bissonnette retired at the end of April 2019 and Diane Plewa took over as the new Director of the Plant Clinic. The transition has been excellent and we look forward to continuing our collaboration with the University of Illinois Plant Clinic. We wish Suzanne all the best in retirement and thank her for her excellent service and leadership.
Hemp has rapidly become one of the most inquired about topics in the past year, and it is a fast-evolving and changing industry. To keep abreast of this trend I attended an Industrial Hemp Tour in Colorado sponsored by the Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies (AOSCA) in July 2019 and the Illinois Hemp Summit hosted by the IL Department of Agriculture in December. The Colorado tour focused on hemp production related to certification and I visited fields grown for seed, fiber, CBD and research. The Illinois Hemp Summit was set up as a large conference and discussed the State’s first-year hemp crop data, current policy requirements and possible upcoming regulatory changes. Discussion panels were set up for growers, processors and researchers. Each panel discussed the high and low points from the previous growing seasons and answered audience questions. Both of these events were beneficial, but since this industry is still so young there were many details that were still in flux and will require follow-up down the line.
The greenhouse and trait lab continue to offer accurate and timely results. Herbicide bioassays, enzyme linked immunosorbent assays, and lateral flow strip tests make up the majority of the seed tests and we are looking into expanding into new technologies. Sample volumes were similar to past seasons and have kept the staff busy. Aaron Reed, Field Services Technician, attended the Society of Commercial Seed Technologist Genetic Workshop this winter to broaden his testing knowledge and his goal of gaining his genetic technologist accreditation. We continually strive to improve our knowledge, practices and policies and are looking forward to another inspection and testing season in the year ahead.
Puerto Rico Winter Farm Report – by Lizandro Perez, Station Manager
Two years after Hurricane Maria and I can say that most things are back to normal with the exception of some families that are still using tarps on their roofs because they have not had the chance or the resources to fix their houses. Some of the island infrastructures are pending repairs or the repairs are in progress. We are on the peak of the hurricane season and the farm area is still under a severe drought, but it may change soon because the farm received some rain and we are expecting more rain during the month of September. 60% of the island is under normal weather conditions. The water we use for irrigation is from deep wells and the levels are normal.
Crops planted at the farm are corn growouts, sorghum increases, soybean crossing blocks, soybean generation advances and sunflowers growouts. We are currently doing a chickpea trial to evaluate it for possible chickpea plantings. Crop conditions are good to excellent. We are in the process of getting ready for our main season which is winter. All the fences on the farm were checked and repaired. All of the irrigation lines were removed from the fields and the ground was subsoiled and disc. Now we are keeping the fields clean with herbicide or the cultivator. Farm equipment is being checked and the farm made some equipment purchases which include a new spray tank to be used mostly for herbicide spraying and a used fork lift. The main trailer office received new DC Inverter air conditioners. Crops that we should be planting during our winter season are corn, cowpeas, barley, dry beans, peanuts, sorghum, soybeans, sunflowers, tobacco and wheat. A new crop at the farm this year is going to be canola. For insect control on corn and soybeans we are planning to keep using the windows program (using different mode of action every two months) with the goal of creating a wide insecticide resistance management strategy for fall armyworm and earworm on corn as well as cabbage looper and soybean looper on soybeans. This approach is been used by most of the companies working with corn and soybeans on the island.
Some of you may have watched the news about the resignation of the governor of Puerto Rico. The secretary of justice is the governor now and just wants to let you know that the government is stable. So far is doing a good job making the necessary changes to keep the government stable while dealing with the islands economic situation.
For any specific information about our services just let us know. If our regular services do not fit your needs we can work together developing special projects.