November 2022 - 1

Florida Tomato Institute
grapples with pests
Seed showcase
Yara's incubator farms
focus on soil health
November 2022 | Volume 56 |
Issue 11
Weed-fighting strategies, equipment
have field day
Field day attendees view a mid-mount cultivation set-up on a Tilmor tractor. Photos: Gary Pullano
By Gary Pullano
VGN Senior Correspondent
Hans Bishop diligently sets the stage
when approaching weed control on
his farm.
He always develops a crop
plan, refers to the farm's previous
performance records, strategizes what,
where and when to plant and finally,
always keeps " Thine Enemy " in mind.
Bishop, co-owner of PrairiErth Farm
in Atlanta, Illinois, was a featured
speaker at the sixth annual Midwest
Mechanical Weed Control Field Day,
billed as the nation's largest field day
focused on mechanical weed control,
which returned to an in-person outing
this year.
The field day, which included an expo
and demonstrations, was in
mid-September at Michigan State
University's Southwest Michigan
Research and Extension Center in
Benton Harbor.
The event offered opportunities
to view weeding tools from several
companies and to network with the
growers in attendance from throughout
the U.S. and Canada. University weed
scientists from surrounding states
and farmer-experts shared their
experiences. Walk-Behind Alley featured
demonstrations of walk-behind tractors
and implements.
In the afternoon, attendees followed
the tractors to the demonstration field,
where corn, beets and cabbage were
planted for the demonstrations. Several
cultivators and cultivating tractors
See WEEDS, page 5
ASTA helps sow the future of seed technology
By Chris Koger
Managing Editor
When vegetable growers plant a seed in
the field, they're putting faith in a multiyear
development process that is designed
to deliver highly specific results, from how
long it takes for the seed to grow into a
plant that's ready to harvest to how the
plant can resist certain diseases.
Historically, that development process
relied on extensive field trials, with a seed
company selectively breeding the plants
season after season until the vegetable
exhibited traits sought by growers.
For many varieties of fresh produce on
store shelves, that's more or less the same
process still used today. But a growing
interest in modifying plants through gene
editing methods, including CRISPR-Cas9
(clustered regularly interspaced short
palindromic repeats), is gaining interest as
a way to tweak a plant to exhibit chosen
characteristic while cutting development to
less than half the time in some cases.
Gene editing is a process scientists
use to make targeted modifications to
a plant's DNA in order to strengthen
it. Gene editing is the most recent
breakthrough in a continuum of breeding
methods that have been used to develop
more beneficial food for centuries. A
growing understanding of DNA allows
this to happen in years, rather than
decades. In many cases, the changes
made through gene editing could happen
naturally through an evolutionary
process, making the gene-edited plant
the same as products developed through
other existing breeding methods.
The American Seed Trade Association
(ASTA) represents more than 700
companies, ranging from multinational
biotech companies to small family
operations, as
well as allied
Fan-Li Chou,
ASTA's senior
vice president of
scientific affairs
and policy, is
focusing on the
new breeding
techniques coming down the road. To
bring new varieties to market, ASTA
wants to ensure seed companies can
access and incorporate the necessary
tools into their breeding programs.
Chou listed three issues facing
agriculture in general and seed
technology in particular:
* Public demand for sustainability is
making the choice to adopt those
measures by the grower to move
from an economic choice to a social
responsibility perspective;
* Conversations on health, including
at the recent White House
Conference on Hunger, Nutrition
and Health, spotlight the health
benefits of eating fresh fruits and
vegetables and the potential to
boost the nutrition; and
See ASTA, page 11

November 2022

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of November 2022

November 2022 - 1
November 2022 - 2
November 2022 - 3
November 2022 - 4
November 2022 - 5
November 2022 - 6
November 2022 - 7
November 2022 - 8
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