Corn Dry Miller's Conference

NAMA, USDA Co-Host Virtual CDMC

More than 40 industry professionals tuned in to the virtual Corn Dry Milling Conference on August 24 to hear from experts on a variety of topics impacting the supply chain. Speakers included Dan Dyer (Farmers Business Roundtable), Doug Miller (Illinois Crop Improvement Association), Dr. Emily Whiston (EnviroLogix), Jon Doggett (National Corn Growers Association), and Bob Vandedrinck (Vyncke). Register to view the archived presentations here. Thanks again to the presenters, attendees, and co-sponsor, USDA’s National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research (NCAUR).

 APHIS Continues To Accept Electronic Documents

To help facilitate the clearance of imported plants and plant products during the COVID-19 pandemic, APHIS Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will continue to accept electronically produced versions of phytosanitary certificates through June 30, 2021. For more information about plant or plant product imports, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 1-877-770-5990. For questions about plant or plant product exports, contact your local export certification specialist or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. (12/22/2020)

Unsolicited Seed Shipments

Unsolicited mass mailings of small packages of seeds from foreign sources have been in the news lately. Illinois Officials have shared the following statement.

“We are currently working with USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to address reports of unsolicited shipments of seeds from foreign countries. Anyone who receives unordered seeds in the mail should contact the Illinois Department of Agriculture by emailing the following information to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. :First and Last Name, Phone Number and the number of packages received. Do not open the package, plant the seeds, or throw them out. Please keep all seeds unopened and with their original packaging and labels, including mailing labels, until further instruction is provided.”

Illinois residents can also contact the USDA APHIS PPQ State Plant Health Directors Office phone line or email. USDA is working closely with the state of Illinois to ensure every inquiry receives proper follow-up, the seeds are safeguarded, properly identified if necessary, and destroyed properly.

For those outside Illinois please see the following statement from ASTA (7/28/2020)

ASTA Statement on Unsolicited Seed Shipments

ASTA is coordinating with USDA's Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and state departments of agriculture to determine the type and origin of seeds that have illegally entered the U.S. from China. If you receive unsolicited seeds, do not open the package or plant the seeds. Limit your contact with the seed package, and immediately contact your State plant regulatory official or APHIS State plant health director. Seeds of unknown origin may constitute agricultural smuggling, be invasive, introduce pathogens, toxins, or plant and animal diseases, and could pose a threat to plant, animal, and human health. For more information, see the statement from APHIS. (7/28/2020)

COVID-19 Operations Statement

The laboratories of the Illinois Crop Improvement Association remain operational. Seasonal field inspection services, seed certification, and Puerto Rico Winter Farm services are available. 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 appreciate your business. Thank you. (5/21/2020)

2019 Hemp Numbers

The Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) has released final harvest numbers from the 2019 hemp growing season. IDOA issued 651 Hemp Growers licenses for the 2019 season. Farmers reported harvesting 1,482,489 pounds of Biomass, 595,128 pounds of flower, 65,489 pounds of seed and 15,107 pounds of stalk. Biomass and flower are typically used for their CBD oil, stalks for industrial uses, and seed will be planted this year or used for hemp seed oil. For more detailed information see the full news release here

Seed Essential

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.

Seed Week

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.

Jane DeMarchi
VP, Government and Regulatory Affairs
American Seed Trade Association (July 2019)

Soybean Quality Update

Treating soybeans for phomopsis is going to be a must for selected seed lots this season. But we would like to point out that we have seen samples with as much as 86% phomopsis infection. Trying to rescue a seed lot with an infection rate of 20% or more is not recommended. Research has shown that Phomopsis longicolla penetrates and colonizes the seed coat. Once the seed coat has been penetrated the fungus can continue to grow into the seed invading and breaking down the embryo and endosperm. This damage can continue until seed moisture is below 19%. The breakdown of these tissues obviously affects quality. Even with some dieback of the fungus under dry storage conditions the damage may have already been done. Damage to the embryo and endosperm can affect both viability and vigor. There are simply too many variables to move away from our recommendation that you make decisions on a lot by lot and treatment by treatment basis. The Illinois Crop Seed Lab has been treating samples with customer supplied seed treatments as well as using in-house fungicide treatments. The Crop Protection Network has a soybean seed treatment guide available at . If you have any questions or would like to talk about the different treatment options, please contact Steve Beals at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 217-359-4053.

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)

Saving Seed

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)

Dicamba Update

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 Pricing.png

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

Illinois Crop Improvement is proud to announce that as of January 27, 2017 it will be listed as an officially-recognized seed lab by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Congratulations to the Seed Lab (Recognized foreign laboratory number 3010) and RST Steve Beals for achieving the recognition and for continuing to expand the services we can offer our customers. Contact Steve Beals directly for more information at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Click here to view our authorization letter. (March 2017)

Matt Raymond Registered Seed Technologist

Congratulations to Matt Raymond, Field Services Director, for completing the written and practical tests necessary to become a Registered Genetic Technologist through the Society of Commercial Seed Technologist. Matt was already a Certified Genetic Technologist and has now achieved the Registered status with the SCST. Contact Matt Raymond directly for all of your genetic testing needs at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. (March 2017)

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!

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 (

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

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

Arkansas GMO Rice testing regulations continue to evolve. The October 2014 Rice Certification Rule Change Proposal includes information regarding testing, lot information, validation reports, out of state documents and bulk transfers. A copy of the current regulations is available on the Plant Board web page (specifically pages 44-46) here. For more information contact Scott Bray, Director, Plant Industry Division, Arkansas State Plant Board (501) 225-1598, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.,or James Chastain, Seed Certification Manager, Arkansas State Plant Board (501) 219-6346, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. (Oct. 2014)

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:

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.

If you have any questions, or would like to talk more about vigor testing, please feel free to contact me, Steve Beals – IL Crop Seed Lab Director at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. (May 2013)

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