Video From the Field with NAFB Farm Broadcaster Emeritus George Gatley


MONDAY, MARCH 30th, 2015


Global Alltech Research Alliance meeting


identifies six agricultural issues to be addressed


[BEIJING] – Top agribusiness companies, research institutes and universities from nine countries met in Beijing, China, this

week to review their current activities with the Alltech Research Alliance and left with six new agricultural production issues

to tackle in the next year.

The Alltech Research Alliance program was designed to stimulate multi-discipline teamwork, to provide access to joint

funding, research efforts and intellectual property and to contribute to science and education initiatives with its partners.

 Since the program’s inception in 2004, the Alltech Research Alliance has built collaborative research curriculums with

12 universities and seven global agribusinesses or research institutes from China (eight), Japan, Australia, the United

 States (three), Ireland, Norway, the U.K., India and France. Alliances continue to be made as Alltech deepens its research

 partnerships throughout the world

“The alliances represent a very unique approach to the involvement of industry with academia, moving beyond a contractual

basis to where our partners are a fundamental part of our innovation strategy,” said Dr. Karl Dawson, Alltech's chief scientific

officer and global research director.

The Alltech Research Alliance meeting highlighted the following key issues:  

  1. Fertility and increasing offspring per breeding animal

  2. Novel feed analysis systems that contribute to improved production efficiency

  3. Gut health management tools and disease models for defining immunity, productivity

  4. Antibiotic-free animal production programs

  5. Nutritional enrichment tools for improving meat, milk and eggshell quality

  6. Defining alternative ingredients and processes that improve aquaculture diets

“Through research on these issues, the Alltech Research Alliance hopes to address real needs and become the

most productive innovator, implementing both new technologies along with systems and services to achieve sustainable

 profitability for our customers,” Dawson said.   Alltech, an innovator in its field with more than 35 years of research in

 animal nutrition and health, develops and manufactures innovative and natural feed supplements designed to

improve animal performance, the feed industry and the farmer's bottom line.  The company’s philosophy, supported by

 the entire global organization and central to all company initiatives in displaying primacy in science through scientific

advancement and research, is based upon four pillars: education, innovation, application and involvement.



If you are a farmer eligible for either the Agricultural Risk Coverage or Price Loss Coverage program, you will now have a few more days to decide which program to elect.

[real]                                        [mp3]

Please click on one of the links above to listen to the audio'




USDA Announces No Actions

Under Feedstock Flexibility Program


WASHINGTON, March 27, 2015 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Commodity Credit Corporation announced today

that it does not expect to purchase sugar under the Feedstock Flexibility Program in the second quarter of 2015. The

Commodity Credit Corporation is required to announce quarterly estimates of sugar to be purchased for the Feedstock

Flexibility Program based on crop and consumption forecasts.  Federal law allows sugar processors to obtain loans

from USDA with maturities of up to nine months when the sugarcane or sugar beet harvest begins. Upon loan maturity,

 the sugar processor may repay the loan in full or forfeit the collateral (sugar) to USDA to satisfy the loan.

The Feedstock Flexibility Program was reauthorized by Congress in the 2014 Farm Bill as an option to avoid sugar

forfeitures. USDA’s March 10, 2015, World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report

( projects that domestic fiscal year 2015 ending sugar stocks are unlikely to

lead to forfeitures. USDA closely monitors domestic sugar stocks, consumption, imports and other sugar market variables

on an ongoing basis, and will continue to administer the sugar program as transparently as possible using the latest available

data. The next quarterly estimate regarding the Feedstock Flexibility Program will occur prior to July 1, 2015.



Strawberry harvest hits stride early

Mild winter and early-spring weather has accelerated the California strawberry harvest. A market report from the

California Strawberry Commission shows that farmers have shipped almost 18 million crates so far this year, up about

 8 percent from the same time a year ago and up 50 percent from 2013. Strawberry supplies went up sharply in the

most recent reporting week, as Central Coast farmers got an early start on their harvest. 

Pork Producers Committed

to Addressing Resistance 

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 27, 2015 – Responding to today’s release of the White House “National Action Plan For Combating

Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria,” the National Pork Producers Council said the U.S. pork industry is committed to continuing its

efforts to use antibiotics responsibly, to support research on antibiotic resistance and to comply with recent directives

related to antibiotic use from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.   The $1.2 billion plan’s primary purpose is to direct

activities by the federal government to address antibiotic resistance, but it also is designed to guide action by public

health and healthcare professionals and veterinarians

“in a common effort to address urgent and serious drug-resistant threats that affect people in the

U.S. and around the world.” The pork industry supports studies and research on the epidemiology of antimicrobial resistance,

 as well as research on identifying alternative products or practices that will help minimize the need to use antibiotics. The

industry’s Pork Quality Assurance Plus (PQA Plus) program includes principles that provide guidance on responsible antibiotic

use and has on-farm assessments to measure

points on veterinary oversight and FDA requirements for medical records. It also is reaching out to pork producers to build

awareness of and provide information on the changes that result from FDA Guidance 213, which is eliminating for growth
 promotion uses of antibiotics that are important in human medicine. Additionally the FDA guidance requires veterinary

 oversight (VFD) of all therapeutic uses of those same antibiotics.  

“Pork producers have been at the forefront of developing programs that ensure that antibiotics are being used responsibly,” said

 NPPC President Dr. Ron Prestage, a pork producer from Camden, S.C. “And the U.S. pork industry is committed to doing its part to

 help address the issue of antibiotic resistance. 

“That said, antibiotics are an important tool we use to keep our animals healthy and to produce safe food, and we

will continue to employ them for those purposes.” 

NPPC noted that the White House plan backs the successful implementation of Guidance 213 and the VFD, the development of

metrics to gauge the success of antibiotics stewardship efforts and research on alternative products and strategies to reduce

the need for antibiotics. The plan also calls for the collection of more data on antibiotic use.

NPPC is committed to working with FDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to develop appropriate metrics for measuring

 the success of the industry’s stewardship program. Data collection should focus on increasing the epidemiological

knowledge of antibiotic resistance, be practical and representative and not be cost prohibitive, said the organization.


March 31, 2015

Desert Produce Safety Collaborative Field Conference 2015

Sign up … It’s FREE!!!  (Read More Here)


Spring Yuma County Agronomic Workshop

Wednesday, April 1, 2015     Registration 7:30 AM

Yuma Agricultural Center

6425 West 8th Street; Yuma, AZ 85364

Applications made for 3 AZ/CA PCA CEU’s

(Read the agenda here)



Hog producers seem to be reacting faster and more strongly than expected to the high supply and low price situation.

[real]                            [mp3]

          Please click on one of the links above to listen to the audio


Economic Models are One Thing —

 Reality is Another

WASHINGTON — Science Magazine has published yet another study from environmental activist and attorney Timothy

Searchinger today that re-packages his already disproven theory of food vs. fuel. His assertions about the impact of biofuels

on food markets run counter to the facts on the ground and have been debunked time and time again. The Renewable Fuels

 Association (RFA) once again exposes the holes in Searchinger’s theory as Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the RFA,

released the following statement:

(Read Dinneen's statement here)


Springtime means flower time

The start of spring means a busy time for growers who produce flowers and ornamental plants. Growers say spring

 flower shows and home-and-garden shows typically lead to an uptick in flower sales. Demand has been strong for

 the 2015 spring season and the mild winter yielded ideal flower-growing weather. California produces nearly 80 percent

 of the ornamental flowers and plants grown in the United States.



USDA is wrapping up a big survey of organic producers and officials are asking producers to respond to the survey by

this coming Friday, April third.

[real]                                           [mp3]

Please click on one of the links above to listen to the audio


pn logo

(Read The Produce News here)


House Agriculture Committee Action This Past Week

(Click Here)


Lamb producers welcome holiday demand

The weeks before Easter mark a peak demand period for lamb, helping California sheep ranchers who have been

struggling with drought and competition from imports. Dry weather has hurt pastures around the state and restricted

 the number of places where ranchers can graze their sheep. And sheep ranchers say the strong value of the U.S. dollar

 has made imported lamb less expensive, allowing the imports to grab a larger share of the market.


Farmers Have Until April 7 to Update Yields,

Reallocate Base Acres, and make Final Selection


WASHINGTON, March 27, 2015 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today provided farm owners and producers one

additional week, until April 7, 2015, to choose between Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage

 (PLC),the safety-net programs establishedby the 2014 Farm Bill. The final day to update yield history or reallocate base acres

also will be April 7, 2015. (Read More Here)



The latest USDA forecast for food prices has some good news for pork lovers.

[real]                         [mp3]

Please  click on one of the links above to listen to the audio



Friday, March 27

(IW News by clicking here)



the voice of the sorghum industry

(click here)


Pacific Region,

Fruit & Nut Review


Oranges, mandarins, tangelos, lemons, and grapefruit continued to be packed for domestic and foreign markets. Navel orange,

 Cara Cara, Moro Blood, and Minneola Tangelo exports continued to increase. Mid-month saw orange trees being topped in

advance of the bloom. Seedless Mandarins and Murcotts were covered with netting to prevent cross pollination. 

Pruning and shredding continued in tree fruit and nut orchards. Unseasonably warm temperatures caused a few early variety

stone fruit orchards to bloom. Fungicide applications were done to protect the blooms. Grape vineyard pruning was in full

swing and canes were being shredded and tied. Vineyards with cover crops showed good growth in between vines. Many

 vineyards continued to receive herbicide, fungicide, and miticide treatments. Mechanical and chemical pre-emergence

herbicide applications continued in fruit tree orchards and vineyards throughout the month. Orchards were irrigated due to

 the lack of precipitation. Kiwifruit was packed and exported. Olive trees were dormant the first two weeks of February,

 then pruning began about the third week. Blooming was observed on peach, plum, and nectarine trees in orchards in the

southern regions of California later in the month.  (Read More Here)


Survey gauges young farmers’ attitudes

What’s the top challenge facing the nation’s young farmers and ranchers? According to an annual survey conducted by

 the American Farm Bureau Federation, it’s finding and securing land to grow crops and raise animals. Despite that and

 other challenges, the national survey found young farmers remain optimistic: More than 90 percent said they’re better






U.S. Hogs and Pigs Inventory Up 7 Percent

As of March 1, there were 65.9 million hogs and pigs on U.S. farms, up 7 percent from March 2014, but down slightly

 from December 1, 2014, according to the Quarterly Hogs and Pigs report published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s

National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). 

Other key findings in the report were:

  • Of the 65.9 million hogs and pigs, 60.0 million were market hogs, while 5.98 million were kept for breeding.
  • Between December 2014 and February 2015, 28.8 million pigs were weaned on U.S. farms, up 9 percent from the same
  •  time period one year earlier.
  • From December 2014 through February 2015, U.S. hog and pig producers weaned an average of 10.17 pigs per litter.
  • U.S. hog producers intend to have 2.87 million sows farrow between March and May 2015, and 2.93 million sows farrow
  •  between June and August 2015.
  • Iowa hog producers accounted for the largest inventory among the states, at 20.4 million head.
    North Carolina and Minnesota had the second and third largest inventories with 8.40 million and 7.85 million head,
  • respectively.

To obtain an accurate measurement of the U.S. swine industry, NASS surveyed more than 8,100 operators across

the nation during the first half of March. Data were collected by mail, telephone and throughface-to-face interviews.

All surveyed producers were asked to report their hog and pig inventories as of March 1, 2015.

Drovers CattleNetwork Daily

Q1: Australian Drought Provides Supply to a Tight Global Market

ST. LOUIS, MO (March 27, 2015)  —  According to the latest Rabobank Beef Quarterly report, herd liquidation in Australia

cannot continue at the high rates seen through 2013 and 2014, and without any global beef expansion forecast in the short

term, global supplies are expected to remain tight. 

“Global beef supply continues to remain tight in Q1 2015, although Australian exports remain high as drought continues,”

says Rabobank Animal Protein Analyst Angus Gidley-Baird.  “Continued liquidation of the cattle herd and possible improved

 seasons will lead to a reduction in Australia’s beef production through 2015.”

The dry conditions in Australian cattle regions have continued into 2015. As a result, slaughter and export volumes remain high.

This continues to offset some of the tight global cattle and beef supplies experienced in 2014 and forecast for 2015.

But herd liquidation in Australia cannot continue at this rate, and without any global beef expansion forecast in the short term,

global supplies are expected to remain tight.

U.S. prices experienced a high degree of volatility in the early part of 2015 as a result of many factors. A slowing economy and

 lower pork and poultry prices are leading to a weak demand for beef and Chinese retail beef prices have been stable entering

2015 rather than following their normal upward trend.

The full report is available exclusively to clients of Rabobank, Rabobank, N.A. and Rabo AgriFinance





Photo: A mature codling moth larva on a sliced apple. Link to photo information
Adding brewer's yeast and brown sugar improves the effectiveness of a natural insect pathogen that is in a commercial spray to kill codling moth larvae to prevent damage to apples, pears and other orchard crops, according to ARS research. Click the image for more information about it.


Beneficial Insect Virus


Gets Boost as Crop Pest Fighter


Common baking ingredients may offer a way to bolster the effectiveness of Cydia pomonella granulovirus

(CpGV), a natural insect pathogen that’s been commercially formulated to kill codling moth larvae—the

proverbial worms in the apple (and pear, walnut and other orchard crops).

Studies by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) entomologist Alan Knight and his Swedish colleague Peter Witzgall show that adding two feeding stimulants to the spray formulations—brewer’s yeast and brown

sugar—can increase the pests’ ingestion of the lethal insect virus, sparing more fruit from harm.

The scientists’ investigations are part of a broader research effort to incorporate novel ingredients,

or “adjuvants,” that will improve CpGV’s performance as a biobased alternative to broad-spectrum

 insecticides, which can be costly to apply and harmful to beneficial insects, including parasites or

predators that keep secondary pests in check.

Currently, CpGV is used on more than 370,000 acres of apples worldwide. However, its effectiveness as a bioinsecticide

can be diminished by exposure to ultraviolet light (UV) and the larvae’s tendency to burrow into fruit to feed shortly after

hatching, according to Knight, who is with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in Wapato, Washington.

In 2 years of field trials, the addition of sugar and brewer’s yeast to sprays of CpGV killed more larvae (83 percent) than

virus-only formulations (55 percent) and water-only controls (17 percent). The treatments also reduced feeding injury to the

 apples in 1 of the 2 test years, reports Knight, with the ARS Fruit and Vegetable Insect Research Unit (also known as the

Yakima Agricultural Research Laboratory”) in Wapato.

Besides sugar and brewer’s yeast, Knight and Witzgall are evaluating other natural adjuvants to make the virus more effective.

These include feeding stimulants such as pear ester, unpasteurized corn steep liquor and certain wild yeast species.

Even with improvements, CpGV isn’t likely to become a stand-alone codling moth control for all growers in the industry, but rather

 a part of an integrated approach to managing the pests using a variety of measures, such as sex pheromone-based mating disruption.

For further reading


Photo: An aerial infrared image of a cotton field showing areas with cotton root rot in green. Link to photo information
An ARS researcher has developed an aerial infrared camera system that lets growers identify areas within their fields that have cotton root rot so they can target fungicide treatment. Click the image for more information about it.


Spotting Problems and


 Targeting Treatments


to Where They Are Needed

An agricultural engineer with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has developed a practical, cost-effective approach for taking aerial images of cotton fields that are detailed enough to show patches of large fields in need of special attention.

Small aircraft have been used for years to survey fields and treat crops for pest infestations, plant diseases and other problems. But Chenghai Yang, who is with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in College Station, Texas, began evaluating whether aerial imagery could spot problem areas within cotton fields when growers started using a new fungicide to control cotton root rot. Root rot infections are usually limited to 20 percent to 30 percent of a field. But many growers treat entire 150- and 200-acre fields, wasting a fungicide that costs about $50 an acre.

Working with Texas A&M AgriLife scientists, Yang mounted two digital cameras on the underside of a small airplane, equipped them with GPS, and took images of cotton fields to see whether they could identify areas with cotton root rot. One camera took standard color images. The other was filtered to shoot in near-infrared. Yang tested the system for 2 years in about 40 flights at altitudes ranging from 1,000 to 10,000 feet on sunny and cloudy days.

Yang’s results, published in Remote Sensing (June 2014), show that the equipment could detect the presence, location and the disease progression of cotton root rot, as well as invasive weeds and areas affected by drought stress. The dual-camera system they used cost about $6,000, but Yang says that a $1,500 system with a single camera will also suffice. The camera can be attached to the bottom of an aircraft with minimal modifications. Fees for aerial surveys should be more than offset by reduced pesticide costs, and fewer chemicals will get into soils and waterways, he says.

ARS is USDA’s principal intramural scientific research agency, and this research supports the USDA priority of promoting sustainable agriculture.

For further reading

Tool Helps Track Insects Blowing in the Wind
Deciding When to Spray: Sometimes It Is More Than Just Numbers
A Greener Way to Raise Cotton and Combat Nematodes


Microbiologist Qingzhong Yu examining recombinant Newcastle disease virus vaccine candidates in infected cells. Link to photo information
ARS microbiologist Qingzhong Yu and his colleagues have created one vaccine that is effective against both infectious laryngotracheitis and Newcastle disease, two of the most economically important infectious diseases of poultry. Click the image for more information about it.


A New Vaccine


 to Fight Poultry Diseases


A vaccine that protects chickens against two infectious poultry diseases

 has been developed by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists.

Microbiologist Qingzhong Yu and his colleagues at the Agricultural Research Service's Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory (SEPRL) in Athens, Georgia, created a vaccine that is effective against infectious laryngotracheitis

(ILT) and Newcastle disease (ND). ILT and ND are two of the most economically important infectious diseases of poultry. They cause sickness and death

in domestic and commercial poultry as well as in some wild birds throughout

the world.

By using reverse genetics technology, Yu was able to generate new dual

vaccines by inserting a gene from the infectious laryngotracheitis virus (ILTV)

 into the Newcastle disease virus (NDV) LaSota vaccine strain, which has been used for more than

50 years to protect poultry from ND.

Vaccines were tested in more than 100 1-day-old chickens and 120 3-day-old commercial broilers.

All vaccinated birds were protected against both ILTV and NDV challenges. They showed little or

no clinical signs and no decrease in body weight gains. Vaccines were found to be stable and safe

n chickens of all ages.

According to Yu, the new vaccines are safer than the current live-attenuated ILT vaccines. They

 can be safely and effectively given by aerosol or drinking water to large chicken populations at

a low cost.

ARS is USDA's principal intramural scientific research agency, and this research, which was published

in the Journal of Virology, supports the USDA priority of promoting international food security.

For further reading

Test Alteration Simplifies Diagnosis of Poultry Diseases

New Avian Influenza Sampling Method Saves Money

New Technique Used to Discover New Viruses in Poultry


Photo: Brown marmorated stink bugs on the bark of a dead tree. Link to photo information
Stink bugs tend to overwinter in dry, dead trees, preferably oak and locust trees, according to a survey by ARS scientists. Click the image for more information about it.


Sniffing Out


Overwintering Stink Bugs


In 2013, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists surveyed forests in Maryland and West Virginia and found that stink bugs prefer to overwinter in large, dry, dead trees having a circumference of more than 23 inches.

Agricultural Research Service (ARS) entomologist Tracy Leskey and her team at the Appalachian Fruit Research Station in Kearneysville, West Virginia, surveyed the forests and found that oak and locust trees seem to be the favorite stink bug overwintering sites. According to Leskey, the porous dead tissue and peeling bark make a great place for the bugs to crawl into and hide. She found stink bugs in 33 percent of the trees fitting those parameters.

ARS is USDA's principal intramural scientific research agency.

The 2013 survey team included two detector dogs. The dogs were first trained to recognize the odor of adult stink bugs. Then, in indoor trials, they were guided by their handlers to find bugs hidden in cardboard boxes. Next, the dogs were trained in the field, where bugs were hidden beneath pieces of bark attached to living trees. In both indoor and outdoor trials, the dogs accurately detected target insects with greater than 84 percent accuracy.

Finally, the dogs were taken to woodland areas along the Appalachian Trail in Maryland. In these real-world conditions, the detector dogs were able to find wild overwintering stink bugs.

As part of a project known as the "Great Stink Bug Count," citizen volunteers from the Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, and Pacific Northwest regions of the United States recorded daily counts of stink bugs, along with their locations on residences and the time of each tally.

Landscape type seemed to have the greatest influence on overall stink bug numbers arriving at specific homes, according to Leskey. Homes located in mixed agriculture and woodland sites had the greatest number of stink bugs. On average, these homeowners counted over 3,000 stink bugs. Suburban and urban dwellers counted fewer stink bugs.

For further reading

USDA researchers identify stink bug attractant

Combating USDA's Top-ranked invasive


Photo: A field of USDA developed Appalachian White hard white winter wheat. Link to photo information
Appalachian White, a hard white winter wheat developed by ARS specifically for the eastern U.S., is now showing up in artisan flours, bread and beer. Click the image for more information about it.


Wheat Varieties Make Way


 to Breads and


Malt Beverages


Two varieties of wheat, released for production in 2009 by a group led by a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientist, have now become valued ingredients in products of two North Carolina businesses. Appalachian White and NuEast are being used in bread and beer.

Agricultural Research Service (ARS) research leader David Marshall, of the ARS Plant Science Research Unit in Raleigh, North Carolina, worked with collaborators at North Carolina State University to develop the two wheat varieties. NuEast is a hard red winter wheat and Appalachian White is a hard white winter wheat.

ARS is USDA’s chief intramural scientific research agency.

Mills and bakeries in North Carolina have used the wheat varieties in some of their products. The ARS unit has a long-running project with Carolina Ground, an artisan mill and bakery in Asheville, North Carolina. The bakery uses Appalachian White and NuEast in their artisan flours and baking recipes, according to Marshall.

Appalachian White is also in use by another local establishment, Riverbend Malt House—the first malt house in the eastern United States. The owners produce barley, wheat and rye malt, and their wheat malt is mainly made from Appalachian White wheat. The barley they use most is Thoroughbred, a 6-row barley developed and released by Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Marshall is currently working with the malting industry on breeding a winter 2-row barley specifically for western North Carolina production.

The eastern United States is not hospitable to growing hard wheats, the type of wheat best suited for making breads and crackers, because the area’s humidity increases the incidence of disease in the fields. This in turn affects yield and quality of the grain. According to Marshall, NuEast has significantly higher grain yield than the check varieties over 4 years of field tests. It has good resistance to leaf rust and is moderately resistant to stem rust, including Ug99 races.

For further reading

Nursery is New Tool in Fight Against Ug99 Wheat Stem Rust

Bacteria Pitted Against Fungi to Protect Wheat and Barley

Looking to Wheat's Wild Ancestors to Combat an Evolving Threat


Photo: Legumes. Link to photo information
Eating instant-

gratification foods

is a hard habit to

 break but it is can

 be done with a die

 that includes foods

with slow-digesting

 carbohydrates and

 high fiber, says

 an ARS study.

 Click the image for

 more information

 about it.


Shifting Out of





A new study suggests that it is possible to change the cycle of craving unhealthy foods by retraining the brain to stop activating its reward centers on exposure to a steady stream of high-calorie foods and visual triggers. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)-funded study addresses concerns among weight-loss experts that when people get used to eating instant-gratification foods, such habits may be nearly impossible to stop or reverse.

The study was conducted by senior coauthor Susan B. Roberts—an expert in developing programs for weight management—and co-investigators. Roberts is with the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA) at Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts. The center is funded by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), which is USDA's chief intramural scientific research agency. Roberts is also professor of both nutrition and psychiatry at Tufts University.

The study volunteers were 13 overweight or obese men and women assigned to one of two study groups. One group was placed on an at-home weight-loss intervention of lower calorie foods for 6 months. The other was a no-intervention control group eating normally at home.

To satisfy brain areas linked with cravings—the intervention group's diet provided about 50 percent of daily calories from "slow-digesting" carbohydrates and high-fiber foods. High-protein foods and healthy fats each provided 25 percent of daily calories. The group received 1 hour of positive reinforcement support sessions most weeks and meal plans that centered on hunger reduction, portion-control, and high satisfaction. They were told to evenly space meals and snacks and to freely use foods from a list of those that could be eaten any time. These tips were designed to keep blood sugar levels even (versus spiking) and to control hunger.

The intervention group achieved significant weight loss—about 14 pounds each.

For further reading

Brain Images Focus on Stress Eaters' Neurological Response to Comfort Foods

Scientists Explore Brain, Cortisol, and Weight Loss Connections

Healthy Breakfast: A "Plus" for Kids' Math Performance, Study Shows


Photo: OLe', a new Spanish peanut variety, raw and in the shell. Link to photo information
OLé, a new Spanish peanut variety with high levels of both heart healthy oleic acid and disease resistance has been released by ARS. Click the image for more information about it.


A New Spanish


 Peanut Variety




 Consumers &



A new Spanish peanut variety that packs high levels of healthful oleic acid has been released by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists and university cooperators. The new variety, called OLé, could provide producers and consumers with a peanut that has disease resistance, longer shelf life and heart-healthy qualities.

Agricultural Research Service (ARS) biologist Kelly Chamberlin of the Wheat, Peanut, and Other Field Crops Research Unit in Stillwater, Oklahoma, and cooperators at Oklahoma State University developed OLé, which will be available for commercial production in 2015.

ARS is USDA’s chief intramural scientific research agency.

Oleic acid is a beneficial monounsaturated fatty acid, and the high oleic acid levels in the peanut make its oil a heart-healthy one for consumers. Growers like the new variety because of its disease resistance and potential for high yield and grade.

According to Chamberlin, this is an important variety that will have a lot of impact on the peanut industry as a whole. Plus OLé has resistance to Sclerotinia blight, a fungal disease that can cause yield loss and is a particular problem for peanut growers in Oklahoma, Texas and the Virginia-North Carolina region. Depending upon severity of field infestation, yield losses due to such soilborne diseases may be as high as 50 percent.

Cultivated peanut is an economically important crop throughout the world. Peanut is susceptible to many pathogens, with most damage being caused by fungi. Soilborne fungi cause diseases that adversely affect peanut health and productivity throughout the growing areas of the United States.

Sustainable peanut production in the southwestern United States demands that cultivars grown there possess certain characteristics, including a high oleic/linoleic acid ratio, which increases peanut product shelf life, and resistance to multiple diseases, according to Chamberlin. In tests at three locations in Oklahoma, Chamberlin and her colleagues found that growing OLé reduced Sclerotinia blight infestation. This can save growers approximately $100 per acre in fungicide costs for Sclerotinia blight alone. The variety also has good pod rot resistance.

The first high-oleic Spanish peanut cultivar released, called OLin, was the result of collaborative efforts between Texas AgriLife Research, ARS, and Oklahoma State University. It was released in 2002. OLé produces higher peanut yields than OLin.

The OLé variety is now being grown for foundation seed before being made available commercially.

For further reading

New Farming Wrinkle May Help Peanut Grower 

Moisture Meter Technology for In-shell Peanuts Licensed


Photo: Two hands holding a cluster of fungus-free channel catfish eggs. Link to photo information
ARS scientists have found peracetic acid—a stable mix of acetic acid (concentrated vinegar) and hydrogen peroxide—could kill fungus on catfish eggs without the residue issues of pesticides. Click the image for more information about it.



Killing Fish Egg


 Fungus with a




A disinfectant has the potential to treat fungus on catfish eggs, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) research.

Peracetic acid—a stabilized mixture containing acetic acid (concentrated vinegar) and hydrogen peroxide—killed fungus on catfish eggs in a study conducted by toxicologist David Straus, who works at the Agricultural Research Service's (ARS) Harry K. Dupree Stuttgart National Aquaculture Research Center in Stuttgart, Arkansas. ARS is USDA's principal intramural scientific research agency, and this research supports the USDA priority of promoting international food security.

Fungal infections in hatchery-reared catfish eggs can result in serious losses. Peracetic acid does not produce any residues that would harm young fish or the environment, according to Straus. At low doses, it safely and effectively breaks down rapidly into harmless residues.

In the United States, the compound is used to disinfect wastewater and sterilize items for hospitals and the food industry, but it has not been used yet for aquaculture. However, in Europe, peracetic acid is considered a safe and effective replacement for banned chemicals and antibiotics. It is used in Germany and Denmark to control fungus and other pathogens on adult fish and is very effective against several parasites.

In a study, Straus and his collaborator from Germany evaluated the effectiveness of five peracetic acid concentrations—2.5, 5, 10, 15, and 20 parts per million (ppm)—in preventing fungus from growing on catfish eggs. Fungal growth was severe in the group that received no treatment, resulting in 11 percent survival compared to 60 percent survival in the group treated with the low rate of 2.5 ppm, which was determined to be a safe treatment.

Straus and his colleagues are conducting toxicity studies in other species of fish to ensure that the compound is safe before treating them.

For further reading

Catfish Industry Embraces USDA Pond Management Research
Lending a Hand in Hybrid Catfish Production


Photo: Link to photo information
ARS has released two new lines of cotton as sources of genetic resistance to cotton leaf curl virus, a disease that is causing major cotton losses in Asia and Africa. Photo courtesy of Jodi Scheffler, ARS. Click on image for higher resolution.



USDA Research


 Yields Cotton


Resistant to


 Top 20Ag




New germplasm releases highlight success of multinational effort

WASHINGTON, Feb. 12—Two new cotton germplasm lines developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists are now available for use in safeguarding U.S. cotton from cotton leaf curl virus (CLCuV), a whitefly-borne disease that has caused significant yield losses in the parts of Asia and Africa where the crop is grown. Although it has not yet been reported in the United States, CLCuV disease ranks among the top 20 threats to U.S. agriculture, according to USDA's Office of Pest Management Policy.

"Our aim is to shore-up the defenses of the U.S. cotton crop by releasing sources of resistance to cotton leaf curl virus that our cotton breeders can readily incorporate into their variety development programs, should this disease arrive here from abroad," said Jodi Scheffler, a plant geneticist with ARS' Crop Genetics Research Unit in Stoneville, Mississippi.

Cotton leaf curl virus disease was originally identified in Africa and first reported in the Punjab region of Pakistan in 1967. The disease has since spread to other parts of the country as well as to India and China. Pakistan loses over one million bales of cotton each year due to CLCuV.

Starting in 2012, ARS researchers began sending seed shipments of their top selections to Pakistani cooperators for field testing at three sites in Pakistan's Punjab Province (Multan, Vehari and Faisalabad), where CLCuV disease has been especially severe. They also field tested seed at one location in the Sindh Province (Sakrand), where the disease been less severe.

GVS 8 and GVS 9, the new germplasm releases chosen from those field screening tests, highlight the success of the Pakistani—USA Cotton Productivity Program (CPEP)—an ongoing scientific partnership funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development with support from the USDA-ARS Office of International Research Programs and USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service.

In addition to CLCuV resistance, the two new germplasm lines were chosen for agronomic traits, including lint yield and quality. Scheffler is currently accepting seed requests (limited to five grams each). She can be reached by phone at (662) 686-5219 and e-mail at

For further reading

Looking to Wheat's Wild Ancestors to Combat an Evolving Threat

Newly Found Genes May Lead to Nematode-Resistant Upland Cotton
Wild Potato Germplasm Holds Key to Disease Resistance


Photo: Two zebras at the National Zoo. Link to photo information
ARS scientists are helping to find which traps are the most effective for managing stable flies in zoos. Click the image for more information about it.





 Stable Flies


That Pester Zoo




U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists and their collaborators at the Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington, D.C., are setting traps to find out which ones are more effective at capturing and killing stable flies that annoy zoo animals.

Stable flies are typically considered farm animal pests, but their bite and blood feeding also cause painful open wounds on zoo animals such as tigers and foxes. Entomologists Gregory Ose, at the Smithsonian, and Jerome Hogsette, at the Agricultural Research Service's (ARS) Center for Medical, Agricultural, and Veterinary Entomology in Gainesville, Florida, are looking at ways to reduce the number of flies at zoos. ARS is USDA's principal intramural scientific research agency.

According to Hogsette and Ose, stable flies are not reproducing at zoos, which are very clean. These pests prefer habitats of decaying fibrous plant materials like silage and hay, so they are likely being carried to zoos on prevailing winds from miles away.

In one study, researchers compared blue-black cloth targets modified to act like sticky traps with Alsynite fiberglass adhesive traps that are traditionally used to capture and monitor stable fly populations. Traps were placed at different sites for nearly 4 months at a zoological park in Reston, Virginia. Fewer stable flies were captured with the modified traps than with the Alsynite traps.

Findings suggest that by modifying the blue-black cloth target surface, which scientists believe are similar to natural forest edges used by stable flies for flight navigation, traps become less attractive and ineffective. However, this research did provide valuable stable fly distribution and seasonality data that can be used to help manage stable flies at zoos by predicting the best times to put out traps.

Read more about this research in the February 2015 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.

For further reading

Treating Stable Flies in Pastures
Stopping Flies Before They Mature


Photo: A cow and calf grazing on a summer cover crop of pearl millet. Link to photo information
Contrary to conventional wisdom, grazing low numbers of cattle on cover crops does not compact the soil or cut down on the organic matter added, according to new ARS research. Click the image for more information about it.



ARS Study


 Shows No


 Damage to




 from Grazing




Cover Crops


A U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientist in North Carolina has found a way to encourage more growers to use cover crops in the Southeastern United States—allow cattle to graze on them.

Cover crops reduce soil erosion, boost organic matter, keep more moisture in soil and sequester carbon in the soil so less of it is released as a greenhouse gas.

Conventional wisdom holds that if cattle were allowed to graze on cover crops they would eat up and remove the nitrogen and carbon otherwise left on the soil in the cover crop plant residue. Allowing cattle to tread on the soil also could compact it, preventing air and water from passing through the soil to reach plant roots.

Alan Franzluebbers, an ecologist with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Plant Science Research Unit in Raleigh, conducted a 7-year study to see if grazing on cover crops affects the health of soils typical in the Piedmont region. ARS is USDA’s principal intramural scientific research agency, and this research supports the USDA priority of promoting sustainable agriculture.

Franzluebbers and his colleagues grew winter or summer grains and used cover crops for both in the off-season. They also compared no-till versus tilling, and grazing versus no grazing. Cow/calf pairs were allowed to graze at a rate of one pair per 4 acres.

The researchers took periodic samples of the surface foot of soil. The study was the first in the region to analyze the practices for such an extensive period.

The results showed that the relatively low-level of grazing did not significantly affect the amount of organic matter in soil and did not compact the soil. They also showed that cover crops provided high quality forage and that the organic matter lost by allowing cattle to graze on cover crops was likely made up in the organic material supplied as manure. As in previous studies, they also found that no-till soils generally contained more carbon and nitrogen than conventional till soils.

Read more about this research in the February 2015 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.

For further reading

USDA Scientists Say Mix-and-Match Cover Cropping Can Optimize Organic Production The Right Way to Roll RyeGrazing of Cattle Pastures Can Improve Soil Quality

Photo: A new ARS-developed sorghum variety growing next to a conventional variety in a breeder's field. Link to photo information
ARS scientists have developed a new sorghum variety that produces 30 to 40 percent more seeds (right) compared to a conventional variety (left). Click the image for more information about it.


ARS Scientists


Develop Higher




Sorghum Plants


A new sorghum plant developed by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists can produce more seeds than conventional varieties currently grown by farmers.

Agricultural Research Service (ARS) molecular biologist Zhanguo Xin and plant geneticist Gloria Burow at the Plant Stress and Germplasm Research Unit, along with lab director and research leader John Burke, at the ARS Cropping Systems Research Laboratory in Lubbock, Texas, developed a mutant sorghum plant that produces 30 to 40 percent more seeds.

ARS is the USDA’s chief intramural scientific research agency.

The researchers developed the higher yielding sorghum by taking advantage of a plant part called a “spikelet.” A spikelet is a cluster of florets within the panicle, a type of flower cluster found in some other grasses, such as millet or rye. Sorghum produces two types of spikelets: the sessile spikelets and the pedicellate spikelets. Normally, only the sessile spikelets are fertile, but the ARS scientists developed a sorghum plant that produces seeds in both types of spikelets.

The team developed the productive sorghum line by inducing a mutation in sorghum plants that allowed infertile spikelets to grow and produce seed, according to Xin. An induced mutation is produced by treatment with a mutagen, like radiation or a chemical agent such as ethyl methane sulfonate. The mutation resulted in an overall increase in size and volume (length, width, and thickness) of the sorghum panicle.

All of the spikelets of the new sorghum plant develop into flowers and produce mature seeds, thereby significantly increasing seed production and yield in comparison to conventional sorghum. The mutants may be crossed with other sorghum lines, particularly elite large-seeded lines, to improve grain yield in sorghum and other related species. The mutation in the sorghum line we developed is stable and can be passed on to other sorghum lines through breeding, according to Xin.

A sample of at least 2,500 seeds of the new multiseeded sorghum has been deposited with the American Type Culture Collection for future research.

Read more about this research in the February 2015 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.

For further reading

Sorghum Eyed as a Southern Bioenergy Crop
Tapping Sorghum's Potential for Cold Tolerance
Tapping Into Sorghum's Weed Fighting Capabilities to Give Growers More Options


Photo: Honey bee on a flower. Link to photo information
New research by ARS scientists and their Brazilian collaborators has found that two bacterial pathogens are more common in honey bees than previously thought. Click the image for more information about it.



Research Shows


 Honey Bee




Can Strike


in All Seasons


U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists in Maryland and their colleagues have found that two pathogens causing mysterious honey bee ailments are a problem not just in the spring, but they might pose a threat year-round. Ryan Schwarz and Jay Evans, entomologists with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), have shown that two species of bacteria, Spiroplasma melliferum and S. apis, are more common than previously thought and infect honey bees in places as diverse as Brazil and Beltsville, Maryland.

ARS is USDA's principal intramural scientific research agency, and this research supports the USDA priority of promoting sustainable agriculture.

Both pathogens were discovered more than 30 years ago, but scientists are still unsure if they are factors in colony collapse disorder or major causes of other bee mortalities.

Schwarz and Evans, based at the ARS Bee Research Laboratory in Beltsville, and their colleagues at the Brazilian Honey Bee Laboratory in São Paulo analyzed the DNA of bees in Beltsville and Brazil between 2011 and 2013. Bees were collected from 11 states in Brazil and 2 areas in Beltsville. Schwarz had recently developed genetic markers that allow researchers to distinguish S. apis from other bacteria in bees. They used those markers and another recently developed set of S. melliferum markers to determine the year-round prevalence of the two pathogens.

As expected, the researchers found that both pathogens were prevalent in the spring. But they also found that they were common at other times of the year as well and that their prevalence rates varied depending on the location. In Beltsville, the pathogens were more prevalent in the spring, while in Brazil they were more prevalent in the fall. The results also showed that S. melliferum was the more prevalent of the two and that the presence of one pathogen made bees more susceptible to the other.

Schwarz says the results should help beekeepers and scientists monitor the health of honey bees by raising awareness about the year-round nature of the threat the pathogens might pose. Equipped with the new genetic markers developed for the pathogens, scientists also will be better able to screen bee colonies for the pathogens.

Read more about this research in the February 2015 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.

For further reading

Survey Reports Fewer Winter Honey Bee Losses
Disinfecting Honey Comb with Ozone
Bees Exposed to Fungicide More Vulnerable to Nosema Parasite