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Texas House Hears Pair of Anti-Pesticide Bills—This week, committees in the Texas House of Representatives heard two bills that addressed the role of the state legislature in the regulation of pesticides. On Tuesday evening, the House committee on Public Health heard HB 3451, a bill by freshman Representative Lynn Stucky. The next day, the House committee on Agriculture & Livestock heard veteran lawmaker Jessica Farrar’s HB 1535. HB 3451 is a bill designed to delay the implementation of Warfarin (Kaput) for use on feral hogs, while HB 1535 is aimed at restricting the Texas Department of Transportation’s application of neonicotinoid products on highway and public road rights of way.
The Public Health hearing for HB 3451, marked by contentious debate between agricultural and environmental groups, ran late into Tuesday night. The bill requires that any pesticide intended to be used on feral hogs must undergo additional environmental impact studies that aren’t funded by industry before receiving approval for application. Although TGSA understands the initial reticence about repurposing a type of rat poison for feral hogs, we stood with Texas Farm Bureau and other agricultural organizations in opposition to the mandatory study. Agriculture groups disputed environmentalist assessments that Warfarin had not been studied thoroughly enough by maintaining that the product’s label was construed narrowly enough to prevent any unintended consequences. Tracy Tomascik delivered testimony on behalf of Texas Farm Bureau, urging members of the committee to appreciate the Environmental Protection Agency’s existing registration of Warfarin by insisting that, “we cannot pick and choose which EPA registrations we accept and which we do not.” Agriculture knows all too well how rigorous the EPA’s registration process is, so questioning the legitimacy of products that have already been approved may have disastrous consequences.
Kody Bessent, of Plains Cotton Growers, echoed Mr. Tomascik’s concerns by warning the committee of the slippery slope this bill would establish for future crop protection registrations. Should HB 3451 become law, it would allow for the state to interpolate itself into an already-laborious crop protection registration process. The introduction of greater regulatory burdens would stand in contrast to every stand the state has taken against the EPA on behalf of its growers. Despite these concerns, coupled with testimonies explaining the urgent need for expanded tools to combat the feral hogs, the committee is likely to vote the bill out. All members of the committee had already co-signed the bill before the hearing, joining over 120 (out of 150) House members in doing so.
On Wednesday, the House Agriculture & Livestock committee hosted a similar debate on the role of the state in regulating crop protection during a hearing for HB 1535. The bill targets the neonicotinoid class of pesticide for its purported threat to bee populations, seeking to prohibit TxDoT from applying any neonic on public road or highway rights of way. The hearing was comprised largely of environmental interest groups placing the blame for a recent decline in pollinator populations squarely on neonics. Texas A&M AgriLife provided a resource witness who helped dispel many of the oversimplifications pushed by these environmental groups, reminding members of the committee that the cause of pollinator population decline was far from settled and that recent trends in scientific literature suggest a complex intersection of environmental and biological stressors is more to blame than any one factor.
Since the Agriculture committee was less favorable to HB 1535 than Public Health was to HB 3451, Representative Farrar sought to sway them by trying to frame the bill as having a limited scope. Rep. Farrar went on, however, to say that the bill would be “an important first step” towards greater restrictions on the use of neonicotinoids. This attempted incrementalism is the main reason TGSA registered our opposition to the bill. We would be disheartened to see the Texas legislature adopt regulatory policies that are as unsubstantiated and grounded in emotion as the EPA policies we have opposed for years. We will continue to be your voice in Austin each and every day, and as always please reach out to Patrick Wade at Patrick@texassorghum.org for any questions or concerns you may have about the Texas Legislature.
Above: Jeff Nunley, South Texas Cotton and Grain – Executive Director, Kody Bessent – Plain Cotton Growers Vice-President of Legislative Affairs and Patrick Wade with TGSA discussing agricultural related bills in front of the Texas House of Representative chamber on Thursday prior to a committee hearing on the feral hog bill.
Assessing the Impact of Planting Date, Insecticide Seed Treatments, and Resistant Varieties of Sorghum on Timing and Severity of SCA Infestations in Texas High Plains— We evaluated how planting date (early – May 11, common – June 23), hybrids (susceptible – DKS44-20, and tolerant – DKS37-07), and insecticide seed treatments (with and without Poncho®) affected sugarcane aphid numbers and yield. We used the 50-125 aphids/leaf as threshold and foliar insecticide (Sivanto®, 4 oz/A) applications were triggered when aphids reached these numbers. We report that:
- Within 2 weeks of colonization, aphids on susceptible hybrids reached the threshold, while aphids on the tolerant hybrids reached threshold within 3 weeks.
- Aphids were successfully controlled for 3-4 weeks when foliar insecticides were applied at 50-125 aphids/leaf.
- Insecticide seed treatments lowered aphid numbers in sorghum planted at the common planting date, but not in early-planted sorghum.
- Seed treatments did not affect yield and yields of the tolerant hybrid were comparable to yields of the susceptible hybrids when aphids were sprayed. When aphids were not sprayed, the tolerant hybrid out-yielded the susceptible hybrid.
We conclude that intense scouting in late July and early August is very important and foliar insecticide treatments may be needed within 2 weeks of colonization for susceptible sorghum and within 3 weeks for tolerant hybrid. Aphid numbers in tolerant hybrid increased slower and this may be very helpful in timing foliar sprays before aphids start increasing exponentially, at which point it is nearly impossible to control them. Principal Investigator: Ada Szczepaniec; Other Investigators: Jourdan Bell, Pat Porter, Blayne Reed; Cooperator: Ed Bynum, Emi Kimura, Kay Ledbetter
EPA Denies Environmentalists’ Petition on Chlorpyrifos—On March 29, the Environmental Protection Agency, under the new direction of Scott Pruitt, denied a petition filed in 2007 by environmental groups calling for a ban on the pesticide Chlorpyrifos, a major win for the agricultural industry. The decision reverses a November 2016 EPA proposal that called for revoking the pesticide’s permitted tolerances. According to the agency’s notice, “further evaluation of the science during the remaining time for completion of registration review is warranted to achieve greater certainty as to whether the potential exists for adverse neurodevelopmental effects to occur from human exposures to Chlorpyrifos.” National Sorghum Producers has actively supported keeping Chlorpyrifos in the hands of sorghum producers and is encouraged by the EPA’s decision.
Market Perspectives—Sorghum: Net sales of 16,700 MT for 2016/2017 resulted as increases for China (62,600 MT, including 58,000 MT switched from unknown destinations and decreases of 200 MT) and Mexico (14,500 MT), were partially offset by reductions for unknown destinations (57,500 MT) and Japan (3,000 MT). Exports of 58,300 MT were up noticeably from the previous week, but down 20 percent from the prior 4-week average. The destinations were China (57,800 MT) and Mexico (500 MT).
TERP Explained—This Texas legislative session, a bill was filed in the Senate that challenges the role of ethanol in state-owned vehicles. The bill seeks to achieve this by modifying the Texas Emissions Reduction Program, known as TERP. As TGSA pushes back on this attempt to hinder the state’s ethanol industry, we thought it would be valuable to explain what TERP is and how it operates.
TERP was founded by the Texas Legislature in 2001 with the intent of establishing programs to provide financial incentives towards reducing polluting emissions from vehicles and equipment. TERP is contained within the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and derives its funding from a variety of sources:
- Contributions from firms in nonattainment areas (meaning areas that fail to meet federal Clean Air Act standards)
- Surcharges on equipment rentals and purchases
- Surcharges on large-sized diesel vehicle rentals and purchases
- Fees on car title purchases
- Surcharges on truck-tractor rentals and purchases
- Vehicle inspection fees
- Recapture on provided grants
These funds are dedicated to a wide range of programs designed to improve air quality in nonattainment areas by targeting the reduction of nitrogen oxide, particulate matter, or volatile organic compounds. For example, one of TERP’s first major forays was to provide grant money to offset the costs of retrofitting diesels to reduce emissions. Other projects that qualify for TERP assistance include, but are not limited to:
- Clean school bus programs
- Regional air monitoring systems
- Drayage truck incentive program
- Clean fleet program
- Alternative fueling stations
TERP also provides financial assistance for entities that purchase vehicles that are compatible with alternative fuels (biodiesel, natural gas, electricity, and – most pertinent to sorghum producers – ethanol). This has, in part, encouraged the state to predominately purchase ethanol-compatible vehicles and has helped grow the demand for ethanol in nonattainment areas. The legislation introduced this session that challenges ethanol’s role in reducing emissions seeks to do so by mandating that all qualifying state agencies replace their fleet with vehicles that use any kind of alternative fuel that is not ethanol. This “mandatory replacement” section is contained in a larger bill that broadly restructures the funding mechanisms for TERP. The alternative fuels section of TERP was up for review in 2017 regardless, but the mandatory nature of the replacement and the singling out of ethanol are cause for concern across the agriculture industry. TGSA will continue to keep you up-to-date on how you can help preserve the ethanol industry and push for better environmental policies.
Inzen Sorghum Update—Currently, it looks like the earliest Pioneer or Advanta will have Inzen sorghum seed commercially available will be 2019, and it is possible that it could be 2020. Dupont Crop Protection will be testing the technology with universities again in 2017. Most of the seed used in these trials will be provided by Advanta, but there will be a limited supply of Pioneer seed for use in Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma and Nebraska. There are two Advanta hybrids that will be used in these trials. Both are different from the hybrid used in 2016 trials. There are three Pioneer hybrids that will be tested depending on the location, with many more hybrids in the pipeline to be tested in future years. It is anticipated that it will still be several months before Canada gives plant novel trait (PNT) approval for Inzen sorghum. For this reason, any grain harvested MUST NOT be allowed into the grain export market. Similar to last year, Dupont will be giving investigators instructions on what to do with any harvested grain.
SCA Management Tips— The table below lists those sorghum hybrids that have been identified over the last two years that have tolerance to sugarcane aphid based on university and other independent trials. All of the hybrids listed are being marketed by their respective seed companies as sugarcane aphid tolerant. This is not a complete list and companies may be promoting additional hybrids as sugarcane aphid tolerant. Only those hybrids that have been identified as tolerant by a third party have been included here. Click here to see the entire list on USCP’s website. Research has shown that sugarcane aphids reproduce slower on tolerant hybrids and in some cases are able to withstand a higher sugarcane aphid population without a reduction in yield compared to susceptible hybrids. Tolerant hybrids have been shown to delay when sugarcane aphids may reach the economic threshold. Growers, however, should scout and apply and insecticide to tolerant hybrids if and when the economic threshold is reached. In some cases multiple applications of insecticide may be necessary. The Sorghum Checkoff also recently released eight videos on SCA management. The video series discusses topics such as sugarcane aphid biology, tolerant versus susceptible hybrids, insecticide rates and applications, control with other pests, late season control, integrated pest management and pre-planting decisions. Click here to watch any of the informational videos.
Filing Open Space or Agricultural Use Valuation Application—The deadline for filing open space, ag use, and wildlife management valuation applications is May 1. The Chief Appraiser may, for good cause, extend this deadline by up to 60 days, but obviously the more prudent route is to be sure and file applications by the May 1 deadline. [For more background on the differences between and requirements for open space, agricultural use, and wildlife management use valuation, click here.] This applies to landowners in several situations. First, if your property is qualified under “agricultural use” rather than “open space,” a yearly application must be filed by May 1. (Most land in TX now qualifies under the “open space” standard rather than the traditional “ag use” standard.) Second, if a landowner wishes to have his property qualified for open space valuation and it has not previously been considered as such, the one-time application must be filed by May 1. Third, if a landowner wishes to change the land from open space use to wildlife management use, he or she must notify the Chief appraiser of this desired change by May 1. Finally, a landowner who purchased property in the last year that previously had the open space valuation exemption is required to file a new application by May 1. For example, say Bill purchased ranch land in Texas in August 2016. The land has been used for cattle ranching for decades and has always been valued as open space land for property tax purposes since the prior owners filed their application years ago. If Bill wants to continue to have his taxes determined based upon the open space valuation approach, Bill will have to file an application with his County Appraisal District by May 1 this year. If he fails to do so, he will likely not receive the open space valuation appraisal and, instead, will pay taxes based on the fair market value of his land. This will almost always result in a significant tax increase. Recently, Braun & Gresham law firm published a great list of questions to ask when purchasing land in Texas. This story first ran in Texas Ag Law
Market Perspectives— Sorghum: Net sales of 16,000 MT for 2016/2017 were down 86 percent from the previous week and 82 percent from the prior 4-week average. Increases were for China (53,300 MT, including 51,300 MT switched from unknown destinations), Japan (13,300 MT, including 3,000 MT switched from unknown destinations and decreases of 900 MT), and Mexico (5,100 MT). Reductions were reported for unknown destinations (55,700 MT). Exports of 133,400 MT were up noticeably from the previous week and up 10 percent from the prior 4-week average. The destinations were China (103,300 MT), Japan (28,400 MT), and Mexico (1,700 MT).
This Week in the Legislature—This week, the House Committee on Natural Resources met for the first time to discuss committee rules and hear general testimony from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and the Texas Water Development Board. The rest of this week’s hearings in the House were primarily budget-related in nature. The Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Economic Development also met to discuss committee rules and hear general testimony from state agencies, but also to hear testimony on SB 26. SB 26 is a bill that reforms funding mechanisms for the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan (TERP), but also has language that may compromise elements of the ethanol industry in Texas. Earlier in the week, the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Water & Rural Affairs met for the first time to discuss committee rules and to discuss veterinary care in rural Texas now that the Texas Tech vet school plan has been halted. The legislature is now just a week away from being able to hold hearings for bills that were not designated as emergency items by leadership, so expect a significant uptick in committee activity in both the House and the Senate moving forward.
New Advancements in Sorghum Breeding Technology—A three-year research collaboration effort between the United Sorghum Checkoff Program and DuPont Pioneer has yielded a major new tool for sorghum improvement. DuPont Pioneer research scientists, led by Cleve Franks and Tanveer Hussain, discovered two sorghum haploid inducer lines. The first of its kind, these patent-pending inducer lines enable the creation of doubled haploid sorghum, which is the first step to significantly accelerating the sorghum breeding process. The United Sorghum Checkoff Program funded the Pioneer research as part of a three-year, $800,220 investment. The research, conducted in Texas, Kansas, Puerto Rico, Mexico and Iowa, leveraged the world-class, global breeding programs of Pioneer. The results and developments from the collaboration will be available for out licensing.
Demonstrating Grain Sorghum Potential in Texas: Using Best Management Practices to Maximize Yield and Economic Return—Grain sorghum yields overall in Texas have not increased much since the 1970’s. Yet, statewide data does not accurately describe sorghum potential in Texas. Using actual yield measurements from AgriLife trials, yield trends have increased in some regions but has not been equal across the state. Large yield increases (1.6 bu/acre/yr) have been observed in the High Plains region under irrigation while other regions have had little if any increase in yield. National Sorghum Yield Contest and other yield reports from regions with lower yield trends suggest that much greater yield potential does exist. Greater than 200 bu/acre was obtained in central Texas during 2014 while many growers are content with less than 100 bu/acre. Research/demonstration plots were established within three major sorghum production regions of Texas to compare production systems with varying yield goals and inputs. Best management practices were used to ensure adequate weed, insect and disease control. Increasing nitrogen fertilizer rates were used to determine optimum yield potential. Environmental conditions were a major constraint for grain yield during 2016 across all three regions. Excessive rainfall reduced tiller production and limited grain yield. Furthermore, residual soil nitrogen (N) at all sites reduced N fertilizer response and lowered economic return for added N fertilizer. Ultimately, unusual weather conditions limited yield potential precluding the demonstration of true sorghum yield potential. Principal Investigator: Ronnie Schnell, Other Investigators: T. Provin, J. Mowrer
Market Perspectives–Sorghum: Net sales of 16,200 MT for 2016/2017 were down 81 percent from the previous week and 78 percent from the prior 4-week average. Increases were for China (51,700 MT, including decreases of 1,300 MT), the Republic of South Africa (49,500 MT, including 42,500 MT switched from unknown destinations), Japan (10,000 MT), and Taiwan (500 MT). Reductions were reported for unknown destinations (95,500 MT). Exports of 102,800 MT were down 42 percent from the previous week and 30 percent from the prior 4-week average. The destinations were China (51,700 MT), the Republic of South Africa (49,500 MT), Indonesia (900 MT), and Mexico (600 MT).
TGSA Annual Meeting Brings Industry Together— More than 60 representatives of the sorghum industry met in Austin the second week of February for a joint annual meeting of TGSA and Texas Seed Trade Association (TSTA). The 85th Legislative Session provided an ideal backdrop for producers and industry representatives to converge in Austin. The meeting began with keynote speaker, Representative Larry Gonzales Chairman of House Committee on Appropriations. The following morning approximately 30 TGSA board & delegate body members met with more than 20 elected officials and staff members to discuss ag issues and concerns as the new session begins. This was TGSA’s second annual meeting since completing a restructure process last year. For more information about TGSA’s restructure, governance or membership, contact Patrick Wade, Patrick@texassorghum.org.
When to Trigger a Second Application for Sugarcane Aphid—Research at Lubbock, Halfway and Bushland examined the yield loss that would be caused by sugarcane aphids if the first control attempt failed or could not be implemented. Yield loss in susceptible sorghum was 2,900 to 4,000 lbs./acre, while yield loss in a resistant hybrid grown with more irrigation was 1,230 lbs. A leaf damage rating scale was developed, and data suggest that the top 50 – 60% of the canopy must be protected in order to avoid excessive yield loss. Given the rapid population increase potential of the sugarcane aphid, we recommend applying insecticide no later than when the bottom 20% of leaves are damaged and active aphid colonies are present. Principal Investigator: Pat Porter, Extension Entomologist Other Investigator(s):Blayne Reed, Kerry Siders, Tommy Doederlein and Katelyn Kesheimer, Extension Agents IPM Cooperator: Ed Bynum, Extension Entomologist
USDA to Survey Producers’ Planting Intentions for 2017—Beginning the last week of February, USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) will begin surveying approximately 84,000 of the nation’s farmers and ranchers to determine their plans for the upcoming growing season. The Southern Plains Regional office will contact approximately 8,000 producers in Oklahoma and Texas, almost 10% of the national total. The Prospective Plantings report is highly anticipated by the agricultural industry, as it provides the first look at planting intentions for the 2017 crop year. In addition, this report will provide the first estimate of harvest acres for winter wheat and oats, as well as grains and oilseeds stored on farm. The March Agricultural Survey gathers the factual data to provide indications for the estimates, and is based on producer response to the survey. Producers may use this report to make marketing decisions for the upcoming growing season, while agri-businesses rely on the data to allocate resources to help better serve the industry. Government agencies, particularly those within USDA, will use the data to help make policy decisions and administer farm programs that effect producers – not only this year, but in years to come as the current 2014 Farm Bill is set to expire in 2018. As with all NASS surveys, the results of this survey will be available in aggregate form only, ensuring that no individual operation or producer can be identified. The Prospective Plantings report and the Quarterly Grain Stocks report will be released on March 31, 2017, and will be available online at http://www.nass.usda.gov/Publications/
Texas House Agriculture & Livestock Committee Named—Last week, Texas House leadership published committee assignments for the 85th Legislature. The announcement, which came weeks after the Senate assigned committees and began referring them legislation, altered the composition of many influential committees but left the Agriculture committee relatively similar to its membership in the 84th Legislature. Chairman Tracy King of Batesville retained leadership of the committee for the third session. Representative Mary Gonzalez of Clint replaced Representative Doc Anderson as Vice-Chair, though, with Representative Anderson retaining membership on the committee. Representatives Matt Rinaldi (Irving) and John Cyrier (Lockhart) also retained membership on the committee. Two members of the 84th Legislature committee did not retain their spot: David Simpson – following his unsuccessful bid for the Texas Senate – and Representative Drew Springer. They have been replaced by Representative Dustin Burrows of Lubbock and Representative Lynn Stucky of Denton. TGSA’s Delegate Body met with many of the Agriculture committee members during its fly-in to Austin last week, and we look forward to building on those relationships to develop strong agricultural policy this session.
Market Perspectives–Sorghum: Net sales of 134,900 MT for 2016/2017 were up noticeably from the previous week and from the prior 4-week average. Increases were for China (174,500 MT, including 113,000 MT switched from unknown destinations), Japan (13,000 MT, including 3,000 MT switched from unknown destinations and decreases of 100 MT), the Republic of South Africa (9,500 MT, switched from unknown destinations), and Mexico (7,900 MT, including decreases of 4,000 MT). Reductions were reported for unknown destinations (70,000 MT). Exports of 153,000 MT were up noticeably from the previous week and up 40 percent from the prior 4-week average. The destinations were China (121,600 MT), Japan (18,000 MT), the Republic of South Africa (9,500 MT), and Mexico (3,900 MT). To read the entire Market Perspectives, provided by the US Grains Council, click here.
TGSA Participates in DC Fly-In—This week, sorghum producers from across the country attended the National Sorghum Producers annual fly-in to Washington D.C. TGSA staff Patrick Wade was joined by Texas Sorghum members Brittan Gruhlkey, Kody Carson, Danny Beyer, and Jason Franz, as well as Texans participating in NSP’s Leadership Sorghum program. Texas sorghum producers met with the Texas’s congressional delegation and their staff to discuss agriculture policies and help our lawmakers better understand the reality of farming in 2017. As Congress prepares to write the next Farm Bill, TGSA members took the opportunity to discuss which elements of crop insurance have been beneficial and where the safety net may have some holes. The Farm Bill was far from the only topic of discussion, though. Continued grievances with EPA regulations, concerns over export market instability, and the need for research dollars to combat the sugarcane aphid were amongst many other issues covered over the three days of meetings. All in all, members of the Texas delegation continue to be staunch advocates of Texas agriculture and TGSA is grateful to have representation in D.C. that keeps its doors open to producers. We look forward to continuing the conversations that were started this week as the 115th Congress progresses.
2016 SCA Research Findings—Sugarcane Aphid on Sorghum in South and Central Texas; research by: Michael Brewer, Research Entomologist (Corpus Christi, all sites coordination) (email@example.com); Robert Bowling, Extension Entomologist (Corpus Christi/outreach), Mo Way, Research Entomologist (Beaumont), Allen Knutson, Extension Entomologist (Taylor, Hillsboro/outreach), Levi Russell, Extension Ag. Economics, (outreach), Mac Young, Extension Economics Program Specialist (outreach); Stephen Biles, IPM Agent (Port Lavaca/outreach), John Gordy, Ag. County Agent (Rosenberg/outreach)
Commercial hybrids vary in response to aphids and aphid abundance varies as well. Our two questions addressed were 1) whether ‘R’ (referred to as either tolerant or partially resistant) hybrids were verified under season-long growing conditions and exposure to sugarcane aphid experienced in Texas, and 2) whether adjusting thresholds upward for the ‘R’ hybrids is appropriate (that is, they yield better than susceptible ‘S’ hybrid comparators when exposed to natural populations of sugarcane aphid but the ‘R’ hybrid still needs to be protected at some higher sugarcane aphid pressure that may occur in Texas)? At three locations (Corpus Christi, Rosenberg, and Gainesville), resistance in five sorghum hybrids designated by seed companies as “highly tolerant” to sugarcane aphid (SCA) was compared. Suspected ‘R’ (partially resistant) sorghum entries included SP7715 (Sorghum Partners), BH4100 (B&H Genetics), and DKS37-07 and DKS48-07 (Monsanto). Two SCA susceptible hybrids, DKS38-88 and DKS53-67 (Monsanto), also were included in this trial. All hybrids had Concep III (Syngenta) and fungicide seed treatments. To obtain a range of aphid pressure, Sivanto (4 oz/ac) was sprayed by ground rig when aphids reached 50, 125, 300 SCA per leaf. One additional treatment of an unsprayed control allowed aphids to increase naturally. The spray and hybrid treatment combinations were replicated four times. Measurements included weekly aphid counts on 20 leaves total (10 top and 10 bottom leaves). Leaf injury was taken weekly and yield was taken. The peak aphid load was compared across hybrids and a yield—maximum aphid load regression was done. Moderate to high aphid pressure, good growing conditions, and initial aphid infestations occurring before boot stage were experienced in the three locations. Selected ‘R’ hybrids (SP7715, BH4100, DKS37-07 and DKS48-07) maintained aphid densities below 100 aphids per leaf with no leaf injury at Corpus Christi. At Rosenberg where aphid pressure was greatest, BH4100 and SP7715 had peak aphid populations at 300 aphids per leaf, and DKS4807 and DKS3707 had peak aphid populations at 200 aphids per leaf. No yield loss was detected. The two ‘S’ comparators (DKS 5367 and DKS3888) had peak aphid populations as high as 500 aphid per leaf, but little yield decline was detected under the excellent growing conditions in Rosenberg.
Guidance on use of partially resistant hybrids.
Well timed application(s) of an insecticide can protect high yielding aphid susceptible hybrids from economically damaging populations of sugarcane aphid when using an economic threshold of 50 aphids per leaf. Essential in using this strategy is to scout fields for aphids on at least a weekly basis and spray within a few days of exceeding threshold. The scouting card and insecticide use guidelines produced with support from the Board helps guide this effort. For those considering growing commercial ‘tolerant’ hybrids, current season-long research confirms that most but not all of these hybrids express partial protection of plants from sugarcane aphid. With these first year results, we are able to provide initial guidance on adjusting thresholds upward for these hybrids, under the good growing conditions we experienced in three locations. For these hybrids, adjustment of thresholds to a level at or above the ET in the right ‘Adjusted ET’ column was supported. We advise additional testing at and above these levels to verify this work and obtain more specific values under a range of growing conditions and locations.
*If you would like to review the entire study including planting dates/conditions please email Katelyn Luckett, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Export Report—Exports continued to strengthen after the holiday break with China, Indonesia, Japan and Mexico committing to purchase 2.3 million bushels of U.S. sorghum. These sales bring total commitments to 128 million bushels or 51 percent of the USDA target, with 33 weeks left in the marketing year. Shipments were also very strong with China, Indonesia, Mexico and Nigeria purchasing 7.9 million bushels. Prices on the Gulf were firm.
Would You Grow Grain Sorghum for $3.95/Bushel Guaranteed—Under the PLC provision of the farm bill, that is the reference price or true floor price despite any market gains made above $3.95. In other words, if you sell grain for $4/bushel and the average received price for grain is below $3.95 (average national price received today is around $2.90/bushel), you still receive the difference between the average national price and the $3.95 reference price. Today we estimate that number to be $1.05 per bushel in PLC payments on your FSA sorghum PLC production number. You must have signed up for the PLC coverage with your base acres provision, which will adjust to 85% of base, and are only covered under those base acres. In addition, generic (cotton) base acres, can also be planted in sorghum and receive the same payment scenario. PLC payments also count toward your payment limitations as well.
Example using 200 acres:
Sorghum Base 100 acres
Generic Base 100 acres
Sorghum PLC Yield 70 bu/ac
Estimated PLC payment $1.05 WASDE estimate
Planted Sorghum acres 100
Planted Generic Acres 100
Effective Sorghum Base 200
Payment Base (85%) 170
Total Sorghum Payment $12,495 (170 x 70 x $1.05)
Payment per acre $62
Balancing Act—The 85th Texas Legislature convened on Tuesday January 10. Although the House and Senate are still months away from passing any legislation, both chambers did release their respective budget proposals this week. The budgets – aligned in many areas, yet disparate in certain key matters – will set the stage for contentious discussions over the state’s fiscal responsibilities as this session progresses. The House’s proposal calls for $221.3 billion in spending over the next biennium, about $8 billion more than its Senate companion ($213.4 billion). Greater commitments to education and health and human services, two of the most discussed issues during the interim, constitute roughly $5 billion of that $8 billion difference. The other burning issue from the interim – the Child Protective Services crisis – received comparable funding increase proposals from both chambers. Last week, Comptroller Glenn Hegar released a revenue estimate projecting that the state would have $104.9 billion available in general revenue over the biennium. The remaining $100 billion or so comes from federal funds and other sources that state lawmakers have less control over than they do the general revenue funds. The Senate’s budget authorizes spending $103.6 billion of that $104.9 billion, whereas the House calls for $108.9, or $4 billion more than what is estimated to be available. How the House intends to fund their budget is yet to be determined. Legislators have already begun discussing the prospect of tapping into the state’s Economic Stabilization Fund (aka the “Rainy Day Fund”) to cover the spillover. The ESF is projected to hold $11.9 billion by the end of the biennium. The Texas Legislature is constitutionally tasked with only one objective each session: pass a balanced budget. Stay tuned to this newsletter and announcements from TGSA as to how the negotiations in Austin over the next four months will affect you and your community.
Upcoming Feed Grains Marketing Workshop—The feed grains workshop, co-sponsored by the Plains Land Bank and Capital Farm Credit, will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. January 25 and 26, at the Amarillo Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center. The registration fee is $125, which covers the cost associated with instruction, breaks, meals and materials. The course is limited to 50 participants. To register and pay for this course, go to: https://agriliferegister.tamu.edu/Grain. All registrations must be completed by Jan. 23, either online or by phone. Dr. Steve Amosson, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service economist in Amarillo, and Dr. Mark Welch, AgriLife Extension grain marketing specialist in College Station, will be the primary instructors during the workshop, which will dissect the feed–grain market and analyze each of its components. Click here for more information.
Grain Indemnity Fund Fails—TDA recently announced Texas grain producers have voted against the establishment of a producer assessment to self-insure against financial risks associated with selling or storing grain. TDA certified all the ballots, and the final results were 148 in favor of establishing the fund and 665 against. A total of 813 valid ballots were cast.
Trump Nominates Sonny Perdue for Agriculture Secretary—President Trump is nominating former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue as the next Secretary of Agriculture, according to Trump’s incoming press secretary. Perdue is an original member of Trump’s Agricultural Advisory Committee. He grew up on a row crop farm in central Georgia and, following his stint as Governor, started an Atlanta-based export facilitation venture.
Market Perspectives—Sorghum: Net sales of 14,900 MT were up noticeably from the previous week, but down 84 percent from the prior 4-week average. Increases were reported for Japan (10,000 MT), China (6,800 MT, including decreases of 2,400 MT), and Indonesia (100 MT). Reductions were reported for unknown destinations (2,000 MT). Exports of 180,500 MT were up noticeably from the previous week and up 31 percent from the prior 4-week average. The destinations were China (179,800 MT) and Indonesia (700 MT).
Consider Sorghum Reference Price When Making Planting Decisions—Sorghum producers should consider the impact of the $3.95 reference price for sorghum when making 2017 planting decisions as National Sorghum Producers believes significant upside potential exists for 2018 Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program payments. This probability is of particular importance for producers with generic base (cotton) acres. For example, a producer planting sorghum on generic base acres with a PLC yield of 70 bushels would receive a payment of $47.60 per acre if the national marketing year average price for the crop planted this spring is $3.15. Producers should remember a commodity rally would mean additional market value, not lost program payment opportunity. A market rally is likely to include all commodities, thus reducing all program payments. This makes the $3.95 reference price a true price floor.
Sugar Cane Aphid Research and Exchange Meeting Held in Dallas—Hosted by Dow, Bayer and the United Sorghum Checkoff Program more that 50 research scientist, entomologist and agronomist met this week to review current research as well as chart a path to control the SCA. Of great interest were projects that focused on impact of seed treatments, variety selections and spray treatment for various types of infestations. Researchers from California to Georgia gave over 25 presentations regarding aphids. “It is very ensuring to know that copious amounts of research and extension are being done to rid our industry of this pest,” said Wayne Cleveland, executive director of TGSP. “Texas has concerted a great effort to better understand how to identify and control SCA but research needs to continue to ensure the pest is a thing of the past. I am confident, through research funded by TGSP and USCP this will be accomplished.” Discussions also centered around seed varieties exhibiting the most promise of being aphid resistant as well as on-going seed breeding to include an aphid resistant trait into seed. The meeting will continue in the coming years and expand to include other topics as deemed necessary to add profitability to growing sorghum.
Texas Legislative Session—Next Tuesday, January 10, the 85th Texas Legislature will convene in Austin. Over the interim, Texas Grain Sorghum Association committed substantial time and resources to growing our footprint in state policy matters. After the 84th Session in 2015, TGSA hired Patrick Wade to work full-time on state policy issues, and his residence in Austin will help to ensure that you stay up-to-date on legislative proceedings. This newsletter will house updates from Patrick about the progress of agriculture legislation and general state policy developments. We will also provide you with other avenues to stay informed about what’s going on in Austin as session gets underway. If you have any questions or legislative issues you wish to discuss, do not hesitate to contact Patrick at email@example.com.
Texas Cuba Trade Alliance Upcoming Events—TCTA will hold a workshop on “Doing Business with Cuba” in Austin, Texas on Jan. 23. To see more details about the event, please click here. TCTA will also conduct the same workshop in Houston Jan. 24. The agenda can be found here. Registration documents for either event can be found here.
Market Perspectives—Sorghum: Net sales of 30,700 MT for 2016/2017 resulted as increases for China (64,500 MT, including 58,000 MT switched from unknown destinations and decreases of 3,200 MT), Mexico (17,900 MT), and Indonesia (3,300 MT), were partially offset by reductions for unknown destinations (55,000 MT). Exports of 115,000 MT were down 57 percent from the previous week and 31 percent from the prior 4-week average. The destinations were China (108,800 MT), Mexico (5,700 MT), and Nigeria (400 MT).
Sugarcane Aphid and Grazing Grain Sorghum Stalks—In the sorghum belt following grain harvest, some growers will elect to graze their sorghum stalks during the early fall and winter. Sugarcane aphids, if not properly controlled, can cause severe injury to the sorghum plant. Many have asked how much this injury reduces the feeding value of sorghum stover. In 2016, entomologists Pat Porter, Blayne Reed and Katelyn Kowles at Texas AgriLilfe were able to conduct trials to examine the quality of sorghum stover that had suffered different levels of injury from the sugarcane aphid. By controlling aphids with insecticides at different infestation levels, the entomologists were able to create different levels of crop injury. Crop injury ranged from very little to severe plant damage caused by the sugarcane aphid. Crop injury was rated using a scale of zero to ten, with ten representing 91 to 100 percent leaf area damage or dead plants. Following grain harvest, stover was sent to Servi-Tech labs for quality analysis. A more detailed description of how the trials were conducted, as well as various graphs of the nutrient analysis, was reported in Texas Sugarcane Aphid News on Dec. 9th.
Results and Interpretation:
Not surprisingly, the quality of the stover did decrease with increased plant damage caused by the sugarcane aphid (see attached TDN graph). However, the drop in quality was not as much as one might have expected. Percent acid detergent fiber (ADF) increased from approximately 29 to 37.5 percent, total digestible nutrients (TDN) decreased from 68.5 to 60 percent and digestible energy decreased from 1.4 to 1.21 Mcal/lb dry forage. There was a trend for crude protein to decrease but the correlation with plant injury was poor. It is important to note that even though the sugarcane aphid did reduce the quality of the sorghum stover, the overall quality remained good. Even at the highest plant damage rating, the stover quality was comparable to most sorghum hay. For comparison, the average percent ADF was 34.8 and TDN was 65.9 in a forage sorghum hay trial conducted by Texas AgriLife near Amarillo, TX, in 2010 (Texas AgriLife Variety Testing). In reviewing the data with Dr. Ted McCollum, Texas AgriLife beef cattle nutritionist, he said that forage with a TDN value of 60 or greater is more than adequate for beef cows in late gestation and early lactation. For stocker cattle, Dr. McCollum indicated that a TDN value of 60 will project to a daily gain of about 1.4 lb/day gain while a 67 percent TDN will project over 2 lb/day gain. He also stated that protein supplement is necessary when grazing sorghum stover regardless of any sugarcane aphid damage. There has also been concern that the sooty mold that often grows on the dried sorghum leaves that were infested by sugarcane aphids might be toxic to cattle. Initial testing of the mold by Kansas State (personal communication) has shown this to be a common non-toxic mold. Please contact Brent Bean at firstname.lastname@example.org with any comments or questions.
Indemnity Fund Update—Texas Department of Ag has delayed ballot counting for the indemnity fund vote until Wednesday, Dec. 23. Some of the ballot boxes had not been received as of Friday.
Shareowners Approve Monsanto Merger with Bayer—Monsanto shareholders approved the merger with Bayer CropScience during a special meeting on Dec. 13, 2016. Under the agreement, at the closing of the merger currently expected by the end of 2017, Monsanto shareholders will receive $128 per share in cash. To read more on the merger, click here.
Export Report—Sorghum continued strong sales last week with a total of 10.2 million bushels. China led the export commitments with 8.2 million bushels. These sales bring total commitments for the current marketing year to 114.73 million bushels.
Grain Indemnity Fund Vote Approaching—A referendum on the statewide establishment of a grain indemnity fund held by the Texas Grain Producers Indemnity Board will take place Dec. 5 through Dec. 9. Anyone who has produced corn, sorghum, soybeans or wheat within the last 36 months is eligible to vote. Ballots are available at all Texas A&M AgriLife Extension county offices during regular business hours. Additional information about the Texas Grain Producer Indemnity Fund can be found on their website, www.texasgrainindemnity.org/.
Export Exchange Results in $460 Million in Grain and Co-Product Sales—The Export Exchange conference hosted this fall by the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) and Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) is already paying dividends, according to new surveys of overseas grain buyers who attended – to the tune of nearly a half billion dollars’ worth of grain and ethanol co-product sales. Buyers and end-users were asked after the conference if they made purchase agreements with sellers and how much volume was purchased. In total, attendees reported sales of approximately 2.6 million metric tons of grains and co-products worth $460 million traded either at the conference or immediately before or after. The top grain traded during the two-day conference was corn, with 924,500 metric tons collectively exchanged, followed by distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS), with 875,000 metric tons exchanged. This means buyers at the conference struck deals to purchase an amount of DDGS equivalent to roughly 8 percent of last year’s total U.S. DDGS exports. According to the survey, 428,000 metric tons of sorghum was also traded during the event. Export Exchange 2016 offered attendees a unique opportunity to meet and build relationships with domestic suppliers of corn, DDGS, sorghum, barley and other commodities. More than 200 international buyers and end-users of coarse grains and co-products from more than 35 countries were in Detroit for the conference, held Oct. 24 to 26, and for related tours of U.S. farms, ethanol plans and export infrastructure as part of Council trade teams.
Market Perspectives—Sorghum: Net sales of 227,000 MT were down 22 percent from the previous week and 34 percent from the prior 4-week average. Increases were reported for China (162,500 MT, including 56,000 MT switched from unknown destinations) and unknown destinations (64,500 MT). Exports of 59,200 MT were down 48 percent from the previous week and 6 percent from the prior 4-week average. The destinations were China (56,500 MT), Nigeria (1,800 MT), and Mexico (900 MT).
Attend Commodity Classic—Registration and housing for the 2017 Commodity Classic will open Wednesday, Dec. 7 at commodityclassic.com. Participants can log on to register at 10 a.m. The 2017 Commodity Classic will be March 2-4, 2017, in San Antonio, Texas.
BIP Grant – $17 million Biofuels Infrastructure Program (BIP) Grant quietly goes into place. The program, designed to place over 700, E15 blender pumps into Texas fueling stations is quietly nearing completion. A total of 160 stations will have 41 dedicated E85 dispensers, 654 blender dispensers and 49 underground tanks. 654 blender dipsensers are “E15 pumps” as opposed to the standard E10 pumps. “We are very excited about being able to leverage producer checkoff funds with this grant in order to increase usage of Texas produced ethanol”, said Wayne Cleveland, Executive Director of Texas Grain Sorghum Producers. The grant is being administered through TDA and has various project partners that will spend over $12 million in their own funds to build infrastructure for ethanol. A majority of the pumps will be located in Metropolitan areas with a few going into place in Plainview and Lubbock. TGSP is currently working with all groups to help market and brand those pumps.
TGSA Holds Southern Regional Meeting — Last week, TGSA’s newly formed delegate body held the first meeting of one of its three regions – North, Central, and South. The body met in Corpus Christi for an evening of discussion about agriculture policies and the state of the sorghum market. Highlights of the discussion include:
• Marc Adams from CoBank walking members through the ripple effects of grain lien legislation that passed the Texas Legislature in 2015
• Patrick Wade laying out TGSA’s policy agenda heading into the 2017 Texas Legislature. The delegate body’s legislative committee decided to commit to defending water rights, individual property rights, fair transportation policy, and the ethanol industry.
• Tim Lust discussed where Washington DC currently stands in regard to the 2018 Farm Bill and what can be expected moving forward
• Wayne Cleveland relayed the newest marketing statistics
Following the meeting, delegate body members from the region will submit votes to nominate someone to TGSA’s board of directors. Each region will nominate one member to the board each year for three years, until the board is entirely comprised of delegate body members. We are excited about the future of our association and look forward to seeing the North region members in Amarillo at the end of the month.
Strong Exports Continue — Demand from the export market reached historic levels for the week ending Nov. 3, with 16 million bushels of sorghum sold since Oct. 26, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service’s report. The sales represented one of the highest recorded export sales of sorghum in one week. The trend continued into this week as another round of historically strong export commitments were posted, China lead Japan and Mexico in purchasing 13.8 million bushels. These sales bring total commitments for the year to 71.3 million bushels or 28.5 percent of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s export target for the marketing year. Shipments were also strong with China, Japan and Mexico taking delivery of 3.5 million bushels, bringing total shipments for the year to 49.1 million bushels.
Advanta Seeds Partners with Texas A&M AgriLife — Advanta Seeds and Texas A&M AgriLife Research formed a partnership focusing on seed technology research and development for a variety of crops, including sorghum. Texas A&M will house a new bioetch research center that both organizations will utilize. The partnership’s goal is to provide higher yielding hybrids that are stable across seasons in order to help farmers meet global food supply and sustainability challenges.