ASTA has announced that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Cyber Security & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has updated its guidance on essential workers. In a change from the previous version, the new DHS/CISA Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers Guidance 2.0 explicitly includes seed within the list of essential workers. Please visit ASTA's website for additional details. For the latest COVID-19 updates and policy impacting seed movement and availability, visit ASTA’s COVID-19 hub.
Seed & Grain Testing Under Illinois' Stay at Home Order
The laboratories of the Illinois Crop Improvement Association remain operational. Seed testing will continue for seed companies, regulators and farmers. Access to our facilities is limited. Most samples arrive by FedEx, UPS, USPS or drop-off. If you are unfamiliar with our drop off procedures or have a large number of samples for drop-off please call 217-359-4053 for more information. We ask for your patience and understanding as we continue to operate under the Agriculture exemption of Governor Pritzker's Stay at Home Order.
We understand that without laboratory services seed cannot be accurately labeled for sale. We understand that without trait testing the purity of herbicide-tolerant varieties and insect-resistant hybrids cannot be determined. We understand that without mycotoxin and composition tests the quality and safety factors important to commodity and specialty grains cannot be determined. We will continue to operate at the highest level of quality with a level of customer service consummate with the situation. We ask that you communicate your projected sample volume and testing priorities.
Please appreciate the fact that our employees are willing to serve as an essential part of agriculture during this difficult time. They are somewhat removed from the farming community by the seed companies and grain companies they provide services for. They are dedicated to the certification and quality-systems they support. We ask that you allow them to focus on testing by continuing to provide good samples and accurate information including electronic submission lists. (3/21/2020)
April is Seed Month!
April is Seed Month in Illinois. We proudly display our support of Seed as an essential part of Agriculture by displaying the Governor's Proclamation.
Cover Crop Seed
ASTA and AASCO have issued a flyer on cover crop seed. Intellectual property rights, labeling, and seed law provisions are discussed in Considerations when Purchasing Cover Crop Seed.
This past June Governor JB Pritzker issued the following proclamation in honor of AOSCA's 100th Anniversary.
WHEREAS, the abundance of crops in Illinois relies on fertile soil, diligent farmers, and high-quality seeds; and,
WHEREAS, early research at land grant universities identified the importance of producing pure, consistent and high-quality seed to be sold to farmers; and,
WHEREAS, in 1919, representatives from thirteen states and Canada met in Chicago and formed the International Crop Improvement Association to develop and administer uniform standards for seed certification across North America; and,
WHEREAS, the organization became registered as a not-for-profit corporation in Illinois and in 1968 changed its name to the Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies; and,
WHEREAS, the Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies offers a broad network of organizations to coordinate the delivery of services that enhance and certify the quality of seed and crop propagating materials; and,
WHEREAS, the Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies continues to advance uniform standards that are followed by plant breeders worldwide; and,
WHEREAS, agriculture and the seed industry significantly contribute to our state's economy with value-added products marketed throughout the world; and,
WHEREAS, the Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies is celebrating its 100th Anniversary in 2019;
THEREFORE, I, JB Pritzker, Governor of the State of Illinois, do hereby proclaim June 23-30, 2019 as SEED CERTIFICATION WEEK in Illinois and show our appreciation to the Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies for their 100 years of leadership in the production, identification, distribution and promotion of certified seed in Illinois, across the country and around the world.
Issued by the Governor June 18, 2019
Filed by the Secretary of State July 2, 2019
Cover Crop for Prevent Plant
ASTA's Follow-up Information on Intellectual Property Considerations for Prevent Plant:
As you all know we [ASTA] sent out an update on USDA Prevent Plant actions. We [ASTA] received the following question on planting corn and soybeans as a cover crop in a prevent plant situation:
Question: Can a farmer plant round-up ready soybeans that they have stored.
Growers are always encouraged to reach out to their seed suppliers to ask these kind of questions. Additionally. we asked the experts at the Seed Innovation & Protection Alliance (SIPA) and this is what they recommend. Please feel free to share.
SIPA reminds farmers that intend to use corn or soybeans as a cover crop or for sileage, to review their seed contract obligations as well as any patent or PVP rights associated with the seed. (The following is not legal advice).
In general, using bin run corn or soybean seed (previously harvested grain) for the planting of a cover crop or sileage would most likely be a contract violation as well as potentially a violation of patent and/or Plant Variety Protection (PVP) rights, if the original seed was obtained through a limited use license and/or has patent protection and/or PVP protection.
However, in the case where seed is only protected by PVP rights, if the grower intends to plant bin run seed from the grower’s own holdings, it may fall within the farm save seed carveout of PVP protection and may be used for a cover crop or sileage. However, a grower should still be mindful of any contract or patent rights also associated with the PVP protected seed.
In the case of prevented planting acres, if the seed that is planted for a cover crop or sileage is the same seed that was purchased and is not previously harvested seed, then the planting of a patented seed for a cover crop or sileage may be permitted, provided there are no contradictory contract terms.
VP, Government and Regulatory Affairs
American Seed Trade Association (July 2019)
Soybean Quality Update
Dicamba Damage to Seed Revisited
2017 research on the effects of dicamba on seed fields came from two groups. One research team looked at off-target movement during vegetative stages to R1 (Begin Flower) and the other looking more at the pod development stages such as R4 (Full Pod). Both made experimental applications simulating off target dicamba damage. Bryan Young at Purdue showed that germination rates were unaffected up until a yield reduction of around 50% was evident based on applications to susceptible soybeans up to R1. Work in Arkansas showed that reduced germination and leaf cupping could be seen with applications as low as 1/64 labeled rates during pod and seed development stages. Seed fields next to double crop dicamba tolerant soybeans might run the risk of off target movement during the critical seed development stages. But off target movement prior to R4 may not show up in the resulting off-spring. Again the answer to the question of damage to the resulting seed crop in the form of lower germination and leaf cupping on seedlings seems to be “no.” No, we did not see 2017 seed lots with issues as described by others who experimentally made low rate applications to susceptible soybeans. We can consider ourselves lucky to some degree and thankful that the timing of applications takes the majority of seed production out of the danger zone. The concern is still very real and higher doses around the reproductive stages remain a concern. If you have any questions please contact Doug Miller at 217-359-4053. (September 2018)
Just a friendly reminder that intellectual property rights are an important incentive for breeders to develop new and improved varieties. For example the Plant Variety Protection Act (PVPA) is a federal law that gives owners and developers of new varieties the exclusive right to control the production and marketing of those varieties for planting purposes. It was established to promote development of new varieties and allow breeders the ability to generate funds to use for future research and variety development. In general, there are two exemptions under the PVPA.
1) A research exemption to allow the use for breeding to develop a new variety; and 2) A right to save seed exemption to allow the saving of seed that was lawfully obtained for the sole use of replanting on one’s own land. Under provisions of the PVPA and its regulations growers and home gardeners can grow, and save seed for their own future planting, of any legally purchased protected variety they wish. However some protected varieties that are sold may have other limitations due to patents or contracts and may not be saved for future planting. It is best to review the seed package label carefully for restrictions that may apply. (August 2018)
Earlier this season we sent an e-update out to all subscribers advising seed growers to monitor soybean pod development if they suspected dicamba injury. Seed growers were also advised to consider storage issues and where replacement seed would come from if damage were to occur. Now that we are entering the testing season I would like to share again potential seed quality issues. Intentional applications of dicamba, at 1/64X and 1/256X rates, by Arkansas Extension showed that applications less than 1/256X may not have a significant effect on seed quality. Seed quality issues include reduced germination and leaf cupping in the next generation. Germination issues can occur for a host of different reasons other than herbicide damage. The smoking gun will be symptomology in the subsequent generation. Currently we feel that we will be able to see leaf cupping in our greenhouse growouts as well as our Puerto Rico growouts. The question is how many seed will make for an adequate growout? Personally the next question that comes to my mind is how many seedlings with cupped leaves can be tolerated by your customer? That is a question I don’t think anyone can really answer. Tom Barber, Arkansas Extension, feels that symptoms should be observable by V3 and if all indications are normal growth at V3 then dicamba exposure was negligible or non-existent during seed development the previous season. If you or your grower suspect dicamba may be an issue for your seed crop please contact us about growout options (number of seed to test) and pricing for larger growouts ($75-$170). A complete price list is provided at the end of this article. Illinois Crop strives to be a voice of reason, prudence and stability for the seed industry. The need for more weed control options is very real and will continue to grow as our body of knowledge on weed resistance grows. I have a quote that I picked up from one of the many books on leadership that I have read. It states that we must “confront and comprehend reality on a daily basis.” It may take some time to have a firm grip on reality as the facts are gathered. Technology always has a “state of the art” that represents the best we can do with the knowledge at hand. So once the facts have been determined the “state of the art” can be accurately and effectively updated. Let the “state of the art” prevail and resist the “art of the statement” to move science forward. (September 2017)
Dicamba Injury and Seed Quality Concerns
Tom Barber’s article Dicamba Effects on Soybean Seed and Off-spring is a must read for seed producers. According to Barber’s article “The interesting observation in regards to dicamba symptomology on soybean plants is that foliar symptoms are not apparent much past R3 or R4. In other words the dicamba in the plant is no longer being transported to the soybean leaves, but rather is all moving to the sink on the plant, which includes the pods and developing seed.” The article concludes with “The fact that late applications of dicamba can have an effect on seed quality the following season, seed producers should monitor production fields closely for late season dicamba symptomology on soybean pods.” Illinois Crop uses a “bean rake” constructed of dowel rods to push plants over during flower color inspections on Foundation soybeans. It is a homemade easy to make device that can be used to check pod development on fields where damage is suspected. Illinois Crop also offers accelerated aging, germination and greenhouse testing services for seed producers. (July 2017)
New Palmer Amaranth Test
Pat Tranel and graduate student Brent Murphy, University of Illinois, have developed a way to identify Palmer amaranth DNA from within a mixed seed sample without having to grow the plants or test individual amaranth seeds. The assay, which uses a method known as quantitative PCR, can detect genetic variations unique to Palmer amaranth even when flooded with samples from closely related species, including waterhemp. This type of testing brings the ability to test for Palmer amaranth to every stage of the seed cleaning process. It is not uncommon to find hundreds of amaranth (pigweed) seeds in an unclean or raw seed sample taken just after harvest. Testing of hundreds of individual seeds is expensive. This expense makes cleaning the lot prior to testing more attractive. After the lot is cleaned, packaged and ready for sale a sample is submitted and any remaining pigweed seeds can be tested. But with the new bulk method, testing prior to cleaning makes more sense. Diane Plewa and Elizabeth Phillippi at the U of I Extension Plant Clinic optimized the test for routine commercial use and up to 100 pigweed seed can be tested for $50. Doug Miller, CEO of the Illinois Crop Improvement Association, applauds the development of the test. “I would want to test all of the pigweed seeds found in the raw seed sample” says Miller, “in my opinion the raw sample would better represent what species were present in the seed producer’s field.” Miller goes on to say that 1 or 2 pigweed seeds from a sample drawn from a cleaned seed lot are survivors of a larger population originally in the seed lot. This finished sample is representative of the seed lot that is for sale, but with the new bulk test a more powerful test can be routinely used pre and post cleaning. The Illinois Crop Improvement Association created a blind sample set for final validation of the method. The Plant Clinic results were a 100% match, identifying Palmer amaranth from three different sources at different levels within each pigweed sample.
With that kind of detection ability the assay can also be used to estimate the percentage of pigweeds that are Palmer amaranth by using a statistical calculator such as SeedCalc. Two pools of 100 pigweed seeds each, one negative and one positive for Palmer amaranth, would indicate that Palmer amaranth is approximately 1.5% among the pigweed seed in the lot using a confidence level of 95%. The Illinois Crop Improvement Association will continue to offer the growout method as well as the option to outsource the single seed assay but suspects these methods will be eclipsed by the new bulk seed method. Samples for purity can be submitted to the Illinois Crop Improvement Association for separation of the pigweed seeds. Alternatively, previously separated pigweed seed samples can be submitted directly to the U of I Extension’s Plant Clinic. (July 2017)
Recognized Seed Testing Laboratory - Canada
Matt Raymond Registered Seed Technologist
Puerto Rico Farm Review
I recently visited the Illinois Crop Improvement Association Puerto Rico Research Farm with Doug Miller, Chief Executive Officer of ICIA. This was my first visit to the farm and as a Board member of ICIA, interested in learning more about the activities happening there.
Doug had a very full 3 day schedule prepared for us. Upon initial welcomes first thing in the morning, I was impressed with the extremely friendly staff at the site. During the morning staff meeting, it became very evident the desire to work together to meet the expectations of each and every research project on the farm. What a great team!
A visit to the lab gave an insight into the equipment used for evaluation of seed samples, plant diagnostics, and tissue sampling, handling, and drying requirements for clients.
As we traveled out to the production area, I noted how clean the plots were…excellent weed control, careful monitoring of irrigation activities, timely planting, spraying and harvesting, insect monitoring, and fungicide applications….all very professionally done. A lot of pride and “ownership” was evident as I visited with staff members about their activities. This is just what I would want if I had a project there!
Even though it was a short visit, I could see why ICIA has the client base and projects that are completed there. I heard numerous comments relating to clients being very pleased with the service, timeliness, updates, results and data collected for them. It was quite impressive, and the staff told me they were willing and ready to do more! What a great opportunity for new clients! Doug tells me that he has a standing invitation open to anyone who is interested in visiting the farm, whether for research or to just understand what ICIA has to offer. I would recommend contacting him and taking him up on the invite…you will be glad you did! - Dale Wehmeyer, Wehmeyer Seed Company (Feb 2017)
Seed ID for Palmer amaranth
It is a misnomer that Palmer amaranth can be definitively identified by visual analysis of the seed. The NRCS website lists 49 Amaranthus species. Other weedy members of the genus include smooth pigweed, prostrate pigweed and waterhemp. All amaranths have similar seed morphology requiring additional analysis to definitively differentiate seed to the species level.
However, seed analysts are being asked to analyze samples of feed, seed, and other agricultural commodities originating from areas where Palmer amaranth is common. Currently the seedling growout method is the most readily available technique for identification to the species level. Molecular testing of leaf tissue samples can be performed (University of Illinois) and the direct testing of Amaranthus seeds appears promising but is still under development (California Department of Food & Agriculture). Time, space and cost make any identification technique an added investment to seed testing. Click here for the rest of the article. (Oct 2016) Amaranth growout pricing here.
We are proud to report that corn growouts are in good shape this year. Hannah Hudson, Operations Manager, visited the farm last week and sent back good news along with the following pictures. For those of you that have been sharing with us stories of insect damage at your locations we ask that you not condemn the entire island. We have reason to be proud and are "tooting our own horn" so to speak.
Illinois Crop Improvement's Winter Farm is committed to delivering the best quality possible. And we are having another successful season of corn, sorghum, soybean, sunflower, peanut, dry bean and spring grains work on the island. As a member driven not-for-profit organization we strive to improve for the benefit of our customers. I am proud of the leadership the team has shown and I invite you to see for yourself what we can deliver. Click here to view photos of Puerto Rico's Winter Farm!
Our Winter Farm continues to impress customers, neighbors and visitors. Plantings are on schedule and growout readings started before Thanksgiving for customers with early growout requests. While on the farm I added more photos to my DropBox account so you can see for yourself the investments we have made in quality. Come see what I am talking about! Click here. (December 2014)
IL Crop Receives Continued Program Recognition in BRS BQMS Program
Illinois Crop Improvement Association, Inc. has been granted Continued Program Recognition in the USDA/APHIS Biotechnology Regulatory Services (BRS) Biotechnology Quality Management System (BQMS) Program. This was made possible through a BQMS surveillance audit report voluntarily submitted by Illinois Crop Improvement. The surveillance audit report is part of continuous improvement processes at Illinois Crop Improvement and all of the organizations successfully participating in the program. The BQMS Program helps organizations meet quality objectives by analyzing process control points, facilitating third party audits and providing clarity of expectations through training, guidelines, assessments and reviews. To learn more about the BQMS Program, visit the USDA/APHIS site here.(Oct. 2014)
U.S. Grains Council 2015/2016 Corn Harvest Quality Report
The US Grains Council posted the 2015-2016 Corn Harvest Quality Report (http://www.grains.org/).
Per the acknowledgement page of the report "The Council is indebted to the Illinois Crop Improvement Association’s Identity Preserved Grain Laboratory (IPG Lab) and Champaign-Danville Grain Inspection (CDGI) for providing the corn quality testing services." The following is a direct link to the report: here http://grains.org/sites/default/files/HarvestReport-20151216.pdf
Invitation to Winter Farm
Dear Seed Industry, I want to let you know how proud I am of our winter farm...see why here. (July 2014)
Call for Transparency Among National Plant Diagnostic Network Regions
Illinois Crop is asking for more transparency among the regions of the National Plant Diagnostic Network to ensure accurate diagnosis of submitted samples. This letter was forwarded today to the National Program leader by the Director of the Illinois Plant Clinic.
To Whom It May Concern,
The Illinois Crop Improvement Association is accredited under the USDA-APHIS National Seed Health System for the field inspection of seed crops during the growing season. Our accreditation is valid for all sites and locations throughout Illinois and Puerto Rico, where we have a winter farm and station. As part of our accreditation inspectors submit plant samples to the University of Illinois Plant Clinic or the University of Puerto Rico pathology lab.
When the pathologist at the University of Puerto Rico is out, due to travel and education duties, samples are sent under permit to the University of Illinois Laboratory. During a recent meeting at the University of Illinois Lab it came to my attention that the plant disease diagnostics network does not allow access to laboratory results outside of their region. While the diagnosis of diseases on corn and soybean samples from Puerto Rico has not yielded any exotic or unknown pests I believe it is important to allow regions to share pathology and pest information. There is an active shipping channel between the US Mainland, Puerto Rico, Hawaii and Florida during the fall and spring. Plant breeders and parent seed producers produce more than one generation of seed per calendar year using the afore mentioned winter locations.
It is counterintuitive to me to restrict access to data among regions with active exchange of seed. The lack of information could pose a risk to the corn and soybean industry for the US and around the world. I encourage the decision makers in this policy to consider opening the database among regions to address an active seed channel. Thank you. (Sept. 2014)
Doug Miller CEO, Illinois Crop Improvement Association
National Seed Health System Field Inspection Organization
Illinois Crop Improvement Continues Educational Tours
Local college students in and around the Champaign-Urbana area have long had the advantage of visiting Illinois Crop Improvement Association, Inc. located in Research Park. The history and purpose of the organization is first on the agenda followed by a tour of the various certification, lab and greenhouse facilities. “The only thing we can’t show them directly is our Puerto Rico Winter Farm” says CEO Doug Miller. Pictures of off-types, seed increases and sunshine pales in comparison to being just off the Caribbean Sea in January and February. Students are often surprised that Illinois Crop works in a tropical location with Illinois exotics such as cotton and peanut. The Directors of the Seed Lab, Field Services and Identity Preserved Grain Lab take turns discussing scientific procedures and rules for seed testing. It is a good experience for students and hosts. Students learn and the hosts learn how to present their role in the seed and grain industry. Some of the “tourists” come back as part-time student workers. “Ag kids are the best” says CEO Doug Miller, “dependable and eager to learn about different roles in agriculture.” It’s a win-win relationship.
According to Don Bergfield, Parkland College, “The reason I schedule a tour of Illinois Crop Improvement Association every semester is that I feel it is important that the students see the connection between seed production, seed quality, seed purity, genetic purity, grain quality and end use. With all the activity at Illinois Crop my students get a sense of the diversity of agriculture that is related to each seed and how important it is to agriculture! From germination to trait testing to field inspection to certification it all has a very important role in keeping agriculture strong. Students also have an opportunity to see the hands on testing and get an idea of possible careers related to the seed industry. I remember very well my trip as a student to Illinois Crop and with all the added services and activities going on now, 35 years later, it is just as relevant as it was then!”
For more information contact Illinois Crop Improvement CEO Doug Miller at 217-359-4053. (Sept. 2014)
AACCI Molecular Markers Technical Committee and ILSI Brasil Host Workshop on Sampling and Detection For Seed Production
Illinois Crop Improvement CEO Doug Miller attended the AACC International Molecular Markers Technical Committee and ILSI Brasil Workshop in May. The AACC International Molecular Markers Technical Committee joined forces with ILSI Brasil to deliver a workshop in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on sampling and detection for seed production. Read the two page article from Cereal Foods World August, 2014 here. (2014)
GMO Rice Testing Rule Change Proposal in Arkansas for 2014-2015
BQMS Recognition of Illinois Crop Improvement
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Biotechnology Regulatory Services (APHIS/BRS) has recognized one additional organization that has voluntarily established a Biotechnology Quality Management System (BQMS) to enhance compliance with the regulatory requirements for certain genetically engineered (GE) organisms. The organization is Illinois Crop Improvement Association, Inc., Juana Diaz, PR.
According to CEO Doug Miller “It is no small achievement and we are proud to have passed the BQMS audit.” The association’s management and staff understand that they are caretakers of their clients’ physical and intellectual property regardless of how it was developed. “Preserving and assuring the integrity of seeds, plants, and information” is what we do says Miller.
For a complete list of organizations that participate in the BQMS Program and have met program requirements visit: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/biotechnology/bqms_main.shtml
By voluntarily adopting a BQMS, an organization can improve the management of regulated imports, interstate movements, and field releases through the establishment of document and record control, effective training, and continuous improvement. The primary goal is to proactively facilitate compliance with APHIS regulations. Each organization’s BQMS has been verified through third-party audits as conforming to the BQMS Program Audit Standard. (see also Continued Program Recognition, 2014)
A Word on Cold Tests
Cold Tests, Saturated Cold Tests and Pericarp Damage results help predict how seed will perform in extremely adverse growing conditions. Keep in mind that these are vigor tests and are not covered under AOSA rules or the tolerances used for standard germination testing. Vigor results do not appear on seed labels and with good reason. The AOSA, Association of Official Seed Analyst, has recommended procedures for vigor testing that the IL Crop Seed Lab follows. However, these tests put seed under extreme stress that can be akin to breaking bones to determine how much milk you drink. There are variations in the soil or media used by each lab and seed that is on the lower spectrum of seedling vigor generally show more variation. Higher seed vigor generally produces less variation in results within and among labs. Therefore, vigor results may vary from laboratory to laboratory and even from sample to sample. Sampling is very important. It is crucial to obtain a sample that represents the entire lot of seed. There are many other factors that can play into variation in results such as, but not limited to, the environmental conditions during the growing season, seed handling, storage conditions, and even genetics. But this is why companies run these kinds of tests for marketing and shipping decisions.
The IL Crop Seed Lab has seen an overall decrease in the vigor testing result averages for the 2012 seed crop, specifically in the saturated cold test and pericarp damage test. The overall average on saturated cold tests that have been tested in our lab has decreased from 72.2% last season to 67.2% this season. We have seen an increase in the amount of seed with moderate to heavy damage in the pericarp damage test. Growing conditions in 2012 led to more round seeds compared to flat seeds, and it is common to see a higher level of mechanical damage in round seed.
With 2013 planting pushing into May as a result of all the rain that most of us have been experiencing, the concern over extreme adverse conditions should lessen. Germinations should be close to the rate indicated on the seed label. Once the seed germinates and establishes a stand the vigor tests and their results can be forgotten until the new crop of seed comes in and the race to plant early begins again in the spring of 2014.