By Fawad Shah, President/CEO
Back in 2017, I gave a talk at my alma mater, the University of Agriculture Faisalabad, Pakistan, regarding the U.S. seed certification system. During the Q&A, I was asked, Since seed companies already have stringent crop and seed quality standards, why is there still an interest in completing seed certification? My response was that the seed certification system is based on meeting international field and seed standards. The standards are regularly updated, while new standards are added to meet changes in seed production. And, finally, seed certifying agencies act as third-party, unbiased verifiers. For over a century, seed certification has played a significant role in supporting the future of agriculture by verifying that varieties are kept true to type.
To no one’s surprise, agriculture is a weather-dependent enterprise. Today, more variable weather has become the norm. The severe drought of summer 2021 was particularly harsh for seed production. Our Minnesota farmers managed to endure. With a few pockets of rain showers, some had better luck than others. Even so, there was a valid concern about whether seed supplies would be adequate for the current production year. The 2021 winter was prolonged, with record snowfall and cold temperatures. For 2022, it is safe to say that we moved from winter to summer without spring in between.
This late in the season, we are still observing Minnesota rollercoaster weather; that is, a short duration of warm and hot weather followed by relatively prolonged cold and damp conditions. The weather continues to be a challenge for crop planting, especially in the northern part of the state, with multiple snowstorms and unusually wet conditions resulting in flooding in some areas. On May 19, there was a heavy hailstorm in the Cities. We will have to wait to see if crops were damaged. Continued wet conditions, statewide, kept a majority of farmers from getting into the field for a normal start to planting.
The delay in planting is causing worry that the optimum window for planting small grains crops is closing. The timeline for corn and soybean production is threatened as well. Delaying planting can negatively impact yields. However, some of the yield loss could be recovered with ideal growing conditions. According to Dan Lofthus, State Statistician, USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, wet conditions are affecting farms across much of the state. “You know, sometimes we’ll have a real wet spring in a certain part of the state where the rest of the state is not experiencing those conditions,” said Lofthus. “This year, it’s pretty general across the state, I would say, and even beyond Minnesota. So, we’re not alone.”
As of May 8, Minnesota’s corn planting was 9 percent complete, compared to the five-year average of 81 percent, according to the USDA. Soybean planting was only 2 percent complete. In these challenging times, MCIA has extended inspection application deadlines with no late fees. This is one of things that MCIA can do to support producers, the future of seed production, and agriculture.