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Foundation Seed Sales Drop as Crop Prices Rise

Foundation seed sales, 2017–2021.

The rising price of corn and soybeans is good for most farmers, but it may not have been good for small grain seed sales. Several producers of certified wheat and oat seed indicated reduced sales, during the spring of 2021, as farmers planted more acres of soybeans and corn. In turn, demand for foundation seed of wheat and oats was also slow.

The lack of a new wheat variety and lower demand had foundation wheat seed sales falling to levels not seen since the early 1970s. Overall wheat sales totaled just under 4,200 bushels. MN-Torgy, the 2020 new release, was well received and demand for foundation seed was very strong.

Oat sales were good with nearly 6,000 bushels sold this year, the third highest total since 2015. However, the previous two years were very strong and overall foundation oat seed sales declined in 2021. MN-Pearl and Deon continue to be the most popular varieties. Foundation barley seed sales increased, although the total sales amount to only 480 bushels.

Soybean sales are made up largely of food-grade types. Over 2,300 units were sold, the majority of which were purchased from other states or produced under contract.

Overall foundation seed sales in 2021 were lower than anticipated. We expected a slight decline due to the lack of a new variety. However, it is difficult to predict the impact of other factors such as commodity prices. The table included here summarizes the last five years of foundation seed sales.

Please visit MCIA’s Foundation Seed Services for more information on this topic.


Selena Nelson Joins Certification Services

Administration and Certification Assistant Selena Nelson.

Minnesota Crop Improvement Association welcomes Selena Nelson to our staff! In May, Selena started work as Certification Services’ new administration and certification assistant.

Selena holds an associate of arts degree from Inver Grove Hills Community College. Her professional experience includes more than five years as an office manager and lots of administrative and business operations work. She was also employed for several years as a nursing assistant in home care.

Selena is interested in biology and chemistry and learning more about agriculture. Outside of work, she is a patio gardener and has a great passion for games and all things nerdy, including Dungeons and Dragons.


Options for Managing Seed Inventory

Image by Kai Pilger from Pixabay.

Various weather conditions, such as frost, drought, or excessive rains may affect seed production locally and regionally. MCIA members still have some options to help manage their seed inventory. Growers who need to add certified seed acres may apply for field inspection at any time prior to harvest or within the inspection window. Late fees will be charged for late applications.

Growers may also carryover all certified seed classes; this includes conditioned and unconditioned seed. For conditioned seed that has previously been tested, a new germination test would be needed next winter. For unconditioned carryover seed, standard testing would be needed after conditioning has been completed. Growers with carryover seed inventory may also submit their information to MCIA so the seed can be listed in the 2022 MCIA Directory.

If you anticipate having excess seed inventory, it may be worthwhile to contact potential customers or approved seed facilities outside your traditional customer area and into neighboring states.

If you have any questions, contact your MCIA field supervisor. We will gladly work with you to help address your needs.


Spring Wheat Growers Surveyed

Photo © Regents of the University of Minnesota.

The Minnesota Wheat Research and Promotion Council is conducting their annual Spring Wheat Survey. The information gathered from the survey will help Dr. Jim Anderson, University of Minnesota Spring Wheat Breeder, with his selection of new varieties. If you grow spring wheat in Minnesota, you are encouraged to complete the survey.

The combined results will be put into a report that shows each variety as a percentage of all wheat acres in the state and regions of the state. The final report will be published in the fall issue of Prairie Grains magazine.

The survey can be completed online here.


UMN Extension Announces Small Grain Plot Tours

Photo courtesy UMN Extension.

The University of Minnesota Extension will be offering Small Grain Summer Plot Tours in several Minnesota locations from late June through July. The tours will provide farmers and crop consultants with the tools to make small grain production successful and profitable.

Small grain specialists and educators will present information on production agronomics, variety selection, pest identification and management, and fungicide use.

These programs are interactive with hands-on demonstrations of genetics, pests, and growth stages. They feature tours of current research plots as well as discussions of on-farm experiences. Attendees are welcome to bring field samples for diagnosis or discussion!

For the full schedule of events, visit the UMN Extension website, here. The events are also listed on the MCIA calendar, here.


Palmer Amaranth Found in Polk County

Palmer amaranth has long flowering spikes that are spiny. The plant can produce hundreds of thousands of seeds in a short time frame. Seeds mature within 10-12 days after pollination. Photo: MDA.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) has positively identified the invasive weed Palmer amaranth in Polk County. The confirmation came after the MDA inspected a field being used for the disposal of agricultural screenings.

The MDA collected a sample of the screenings material and determined by genetic testing that it was contaminated with Palmer amaranth seed. The field was scouted, and MDA staff found several dead Palmer amaranth plants on the field’s edge remaining from last year, suggesting the plants had grown and matured.

The landowner is working with the department to eradicate any of the weeds moving forward. At this time, the MDA believes the issue is isolated to only one field. The field and the surrounding area will be a priority for MDA field scouting this summer.

Since it was first discovered in the state in 2016, Palmer amaranth has been found in ten Minnesota counties, including Polk County. Most of the sites have been successfully eradicated and the remaining are being closely monitored.

In Minnesota, Palmer amaranth is listed as a noxious weed and a prohibited weed seed. This means no Palmer amaranth is allowed in any seed offered for sale in Minnesota.

Palmer amaranth is resistant to multiple herbicides, can cause substantial yield losses, and greatly increase weed management costs in soybeans and corn.

MDA’s full press release on this topic can be found online, here. Find more information about Palmer amaranth on the MDA’s website, here.


U.S. Organic Sales Soar to New High

Driven by a swing to home cooking during the pandemic, U.S. organic sales soared to new highs in 2020, jumping by a record 12.4 percent to $61.9 billion. It marked the first time that total sales of organic food and non-food products have surpassed $60 billion. This growth rate is more than twice the 2019 pace of 5 percent, according to the 2021 Organic Industry Survey released Tuesday by the Organic Trade Association.

In almost every organic food category, demand jumped by near-record levels, propelling U.S. organic food sales in 2020 up a record 12.8 percent to a new high of $56.4 billion. In 2020, almost 6 percent of the food sold in the United States was certified organic.

The Covid-19 pandemic caused consumer dollars to shift almost overnight from restaurants and carry-out to groceries, with traditional staples and pantry and freezer items flying off the shelves.

Leading the way was fresh organic produce, with sales rising by nearly 11 percent in 2020. Frozen and canned fruits and vegetables also jumped with frozen sales alone rising by more than 28 percent. Including frozen, canned, and dried products, total sales of organic fruit and vegetables in 2020 were $20.4 billion. More than 15 percent of the fruits and vegetables sold in this country now are organic.

Pantry stocking was overwhelmingly the main growth driver in 2020. Sales of organic flours and baked goods grew by 30 percent.

Consumers also turned to “meal support” products to help them in the kitchen. Sales of sauces and spices pushed the $2.4 billion condiments category to a growth rate of 31 percent, and organic spice sales jumped by 51 percent, more than triple the growth rate of 15 percent in 2019.

Meat, poultry & fish, the smallest of the organic categories at $1.7 billion, had the second highest growth rate of nearly 25 percent.

While the growth in organic food sales is not expected to continue at 2020’s fast rate, organic food sales are expected to stay on a strong growth path in 2021. It is anticipated that the grocery industry at large will get a lasting lift from the pandemic as many consumers continue to cook more at home.

“We’ve seen a great many changes during the pandemic, and some of them are here to stay,” said Laura Batcha, CEO and Executive Director of the Organic Trade Association. “What’s come out of COVID is a renewed awareness of the importance of maintaining our health, and the important role of nutritious food. For more and more consumers, that means organic. We’ll be eating in restaurants again, but many of us will also be eating and cooking more at home. We’ll see more organic everywhere—in the stores and on our plates.”

This year’s 2021 Organic Industry Survey was conducted from January through March 2021. Nearly 200 companies participated. To purchase the full report, visit the Organic Trade Association website. OTA’s full press release on this topic can be found online here. For more information about organic certification, visit MCIA Organic Services.


Field Inspection Application Deadlines

Image by Hojun Kang from Pixabay.

Please note these dates to avoid late fees:

  • June 7: Small grains, corn, and sunflowers
  • June 7 or 3 weeks after planting (whichever is first): Soybean post-spray inspections
  • June 7: Soybean bloom inspections
  • July 15: Soybeans (pre-harvest inspection only)
  • Year of seeding: Perennials
  • 4 weeks prior to each cutting for noxious weed seed–free forage and mulch
  • Within 18 months of the year established for native grasses and forbs

Information packets for Field Inspection Applications will be mailed to enrolled MCIA members in May. Application forms and instructions are also available on the Client Resources page of the MCIA website. If you have any questions, please contact your field supervisor. (Field supervisor contact information is listed on the Staff page of the MCIA website.)


Fee Schedule Changes for 2021

Image by Сергей Игнацевич from Pixabay.

MCIA members are advised of the following changes to program fee schedules, effective June 1, 2021:

  • Forage and Mulch: Shipping costs (USPS Priority, UPS, etc.) for certification tags
  • Native Seed: Field inspection fee revisions
  • QA and FI: Shipping costs (USPS Priority, UPS, FedEx) for QA tags, sample bags, and Sampling Report books
  • Seed Certification: Reporting fee revisions, shipping costs (USPS Priority, UPS, etc.) for certification tags, bulk certificates, sample bags, and Sampling Reports books
  • Sod: Added minimum fee on final fees

Fee schedules will be included in the field inspection application mailings sent to MCIA members. Current fee schedules specific to each program are also available on the Client Resources page of the MCIA website.


USDA Approves Minnesota’s Hemp Plan

Image by NickyPe from Pixabay.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has approved the state of Minnesota’s revised hemp production plan. The plan governs the production and regulation of hemp in Minnesota and needed federal approval as part of USDA’s U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program. 

This will be the first year Minnesota’s program will be operating under a new, federally-approved state plan that governs production and regulation.

Some changes in the revised plan include:

  • A hemp crop must be tested no more than 30 days before harvest to ensure the plants fall below the 0.3% total tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) level. This is an increase from the previous 15-day testing window.
  • Random sampling of fields will now be based on risk factors of the crop, allowing for more inspection flexibility.
  • Remediation is allowed if hemp plants exceed the 0.3% total THC threshold but test under 1% total THC.

A grower cannot be assessed more than one negligent violation in a year. The previous plan allowed an unlimited number of assessed violations. The penalty for violations is unchanged. Those with three negligent violations in five years will be ineligible for a license for five years.

A license from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is required for individuals and businesses to grow, process, research, or breed hemp in the state. Questions about the MDA’s Industrial Hemp Program should be sent to hemp.mda@state.mn.us or 651-201-6600. MDA’s full press release on this topic can be found online here.