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.