CEO Report by Doug Miller
During the past year the Puerto Rico farm business continued its recovery and added additional crops and services. Sunflower growouts returned in a big way, after taking a year off due to Hurricane Maria, helping the bottom line significantly. Spring grains, such as wheat and rye, also returned. Mung beans and dry beans were added as new crops. While the majority of our customers continue to be from North America and South America we have also added clients from Europe.
In Champaign the Seed Lab also continued to add to its list of crops tested. From Alfalfa to Zucchini the seed lab now tests over eight-hundred (800) kinds and operates throughout the year. The greenhouse temporarily broke its seasonal pattern by conducting a soybean crossing project during the summer of 2018. November 2018 to March 2019 was also one of the busiest on record for the greenhouse. Much of the greenhouse’s increase in business is attributed to new soybean traits and a spike in adventitious presence testing where molecular techniques were not yet available.
Road to Recovery
Puerto Rico Winter Farm Report by Lizandro Perez – Station Manager
2018-19 was a good season for the farm. In terms of weather no storms affected the island. While part of the island had abnormally dry weather or moderate drought we received what we needed in the way of rains by late May. Most of the farm's available acreage was planted. New crops and new projects were also planted and a couple of new clients started using our farm services. New crops included mung beans and cowpeas. New projects were sorghum growouts and sunflower nursery requiring emasculation.
Seed Lab Report by Steve Beals, RST – Seed Lab Director
Germination results for the 2018 seed corn crop were excellent and in the range that we have been seeing over the past few years. Soybean germination results showed a significant amount of disease pressure (Phomopsis) due to the 2018 harvest conditions. Seed producers turned to fungicide seed treatments looking for a cure. As a result of testing various fungicide products and utilizing several testing methods, no "cure-all" was identified. Determining the best course of action was done on a lot by lot, case by case, basis. In some cases, where fungi were controlled by seed treatments, signs of mechanical damage were revealed as an additional complication. This year's soybean seed quality challenges prompted Prairie Farmer Magazine to contact me for an interview to discuss the issues that we had seen in the lab. I was also contacted by RFD-TV for an interview which aired on Wednesday, February 6. I was truly honored to be interviewed and to have the opportunity to promote the IL Crop Improvement Seed Laboratory.
Field Services Report Report
Field Services Report Report by Matt Raymond, RGT – Field Services Director
The Field Services department serves two different aspects of the seed industry, field inspections and trait testing. During the traditional crop growing season field inspections compose the majority of the services. Traditional inspections provide an assessment of the purity of the field that is used to help determine the quality of the crop, while phytosanitary inspections are performed to assess fields for diseases and are utilized for moving seed internationally. After harvest, the inspection season comes to an end and trait testing begins in the lab and greenhouse. The testing covers a wide range of methods that are used to assess the trait purity of seed lots or GMO contamination levels in grain and seed.