As the influx of samples to the Seed Laboratory begins to slow and the end of the fiscal year nears, here is a recap of the past testing season and a look forward to the projects that we have planned for the summer.
Many of us faced new challenges this year due to the pandemic. The Seed Laboratory is accustomed to the support provided by student workers who are enrolled in the MAST International program. During the University of Minnesota campus closure, however, that help has not been readily available. Nonetheless, we tested approximately 2,800 samples this year. This number is the second highest since the lab reopened in 2016.
In general, overall sample quality was very high this year. Compared to the past few years, there were very few disease issues for small grains and soybeans. Ryegrass comprised the largest number of samples tested (775), followed by soybeans (527), wheat (439), oats (392), and corn (302). Predictably, March was the busiest month of the year with 570 samples tested.
The Seed Laboratory added a new service this year: We issued eight Canadian Seed Grade Reports for seed lots being exported to Canada. (Note: A Canadian Seed Grade Report is different than a Seed Certification Report for Export to Canada). This service was made possible by our accreditation through the USDA Accredited Seed Lab (ASL) program and meeting requirements to become an accredited seed grader.
We also recently completed the third year working on a project with University of Minnesota Associate Professor and Extension Agronomist Seth Naeve. Our task was to identify any seed contaminants present in soybean screenings that were grown from fields across the U.S. We identified over 47,600 contaminants in the 544 samples that we examined this year! This work is part of a larger program that aims to improve the quality of U.S. exports and help farmers manage herbicide-resistant weeds. More information on Seth Naeve’s work regarding managing foreign material in soybeans can be found on the UMN Extension website.
This summer, our primary focus will be on fulfilling accreditation requirements, such as calibrating equipment (thermometers, scales, dividers, etc.), updating controlled documents, testing for new control samples, conducting a customer satisfaction survey, completing vendor evaluations, and performing an internal audit. We have sent a customer satisfaction survey to our clients via email. Your participation in the survey will provide us with valuable information regarding the testing services MCIA offers.
Our other duties, outside the scope of accreditation, will include restocking testing supplies, purchasing new equipment, and disposing of samples from cold storage. In addition, evaluation of small grain and soybean grow-out plots will be conducted as part of our post-control measures.