Video From the Field with NAFB Farm Broadcaster Emeritus George Gatley

Learn more about Yuma County Agriculture by visiting



Secretary Vilsack Announces Additional 800,000 Acres

 Dedicated to Conservation Reserve Program for Wildlife Habitat and Wetlands

Secretary Hails Program’s 30th Anniversary, Announces General Signup Period


MILWAUKEE, May 29, 2015 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that an additional 800,000 acres of highly environmentally sensitive land may be enrolled in Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) under certain wetland and wildlife

initiatives that provide multiple benefits on the same land.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will accept new offers to participate in CRP under a general signup to be held

 Dec. 1, 2015, through Feb. 26, 2016. Eligible existing program participants with contracts expiring Sept. 30, 2015, will be

 granted an option for one-year extensions. Farmers and ranchers interested in removing sensitive land from agricultural

production and planting grasses or trees to reduce soil erosion, improve water quality and restore wildlife habitat are

encouraged to enroll. Secretary Vilsack made the announcement during a speech delivered at the Ducks Unlimited National

 Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

“For 30 years, the Conservation Reserve Program has supported farmers and ranchers as they continue to be good stewards

  of land and water. This initiative has helped farmers and ranchers prevent more than 8 billion tons of soil from eroding, reduce

 nitrogen and phosphorous runoff relative to cropland by 95 and 85 percent respectively, and even sequester 43 million

tons of greenhouse gases annually, equal to taking 8 million cars off the road,” said Vilsack. “This has been one of most

 successful conservation programs in the history of the country, and today’s announcement keeps that momentum moving

 forward.”The voluntary Conservation Reserve Program allows USDA to contract with agricultural producers so that

 environmentally sensitive land is conserved. Participants establish long-term, resource-conserving plant species to control soil

erosion, improve water quality and develop wildlife habitat.   In return, USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) provides participants with rental payments and cost-share assistance.   Contract duration is between 10 and 15 years.  (Read More)




A new USDA program could make it easier for us to fill up our vehicles with gasoline blended with more renewable fuels.

 (Gary Crawford and Secy' Tom Vilsack)


Click HERE to read the May 29th edition of the MPC Newsletter



Statement by Bob Stallman, President,

American Farm Bureau Federation,

Regarding the Renewable Fuel Standard


WASHINGTON, D.C., May 29, 2015 – Congress was clear in its intent: The United States can and should produce significantly


more ethanol for the nation’s cars and trucks than the EPA has proposed. The Renewable Fuel Standard has produced jobs,


decreased reliance on imported oil and contributed to cleaner air. For those reasons, we need more ethanol, not less, and


living up to Congressional mandates is the place to begin. We look forward to commenting on the rule and working with both


Congress and the Administration to take full advantage of this renewable fuel resource.”

Background: The EPA today released targets for the nation’s Renewable Fuel Standard, which determines how much ethanol

will be blended into the nation’s gasoline supplies. The new requirements for 2015-2016 are 16.3 billion and 17.4 billion

gallons – significantly short of the standard mandated by Congress. The EPA proposal will be open for comment beginning

July 27 with a final rule expected by Nov. 30.





The long awaited and debated Renewable Fuels Standard proposals from the Environmental Protection Agency are finally out.

 (Gary Crawford and Secy' Tom Vilsack)




New on AgNewsWire this week ...

Hot off the presses we have audio on the EPA proposed volume obligations under the RFS just announced Friday morning! Also, we have the final WOTUS rule announcement, a groundbreaking biosecurity achievement, the opening of a new gateway for conservation,  more audio from the Alltech REBELation, and an announcement from Iteris. 

Keep in touch with new content as it happens by following AgNewsWire on Twitter! It's faster that way. 

EPA Proposes RFS Volume Obligations

Beating the announced deadline of June 1, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today proposed the volume requirements under the RFS program for 2014, 2015, and 2016 for cellulosic biofuel, biomass-based diesel, advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel. EPA is also proposing the volume requirement for biomass-based diesel for 2017. Read More

WOTUS Final Rule Announced

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army finalized the Clean Water Rule that has become known as the Waters of the United States or WOTUS. Read More

New Food Bio Security Facility Groundbreaking

This week Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack helped to break ground on the National Bio and Agro Defense Facility (NBAF) in Manhattan, Kansas. Read More
Listen to audio

NRCS Launches Conservation Gateway

Farmers, ranchers and private forest landowners can now do business with U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) through a new Conservation Client Gateway web portal. Read More

Alltech REBELation 2015

Over 3,000 REBELs representing 68 countries came together to share ideas, innovate, and reignite a passion for exploration at Alltech's REBELation Week in Lexington, KY this week. Read More
Listen to audio

Iteris Announces General Availability of ClearAg

Iteris, Inc., a leader in providing information solutions to the transportation and agriculture markets, announced the general availability of ClearAg™, a decision support application for precision farming. Read More






California Processing Tomato Report

Released:  May 28, 2015 

As of May 28, California’s tomato processors reported they have or will have contracts for 14.3 million tons of processing

tomatoes for 2015.  This production is a 2 percent increase from the final contracted production total from last year. 

The May contracted acreage of 295,000 is 5 percent below the January intentions forecast and 2 percent above last year’s

final contracted acreage. 

Fresno County remains the top California County in contracted planted acreage for 2015 with 91,000 acres.  Yolo, Kings,

San Joaquin, and Merced make up the remaining top five counties for contracted planted acreage.  These counties make up 73 percent of the 2015 total contracted planted acreage for California.  

This early processing tomato estimate is funded by the California League of Food Processors, in cooperation with the California Department of Food and Agriculture.




Increased US ag exports to two major markets in the Central American - Caribbean region - that's the purpose

 for an ag trade mission featuring US government, commodity, and industry representatives.

 (Rod Bain and Under Secretary Michael Scuse)

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Joins Community Partners

 to Expand Access to Summer Meals for Children

Program that feeds hungry kids during the summer commemorates 40th anniversary

MILWAUKEE, May 29, 2015 – Today Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack joined representatives from Milwaukee's Hunger Task Force, the Kohl's Corporation, and members of the Milwaukee community to bring attention to childhood hunger. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) summer meal programs provide breakfast and lunch to children in low-income communities all across the country. The event today marked the start of this program and Kohl's Serving Up Supper for Kids, a joint effort between the Hunger Task Force and the Kohl's Corporation to provide nutritious suppers to Milwaukee children in need throughout the summer.

"For 40 years, USDA has supported summer meal programs that keep children in low-income communities active and engaged when school is out, while providing critical nutrition and reducing the learning loss that often occurs during the summer months," said Secretary Vilsack. "Programs like these in Milwaukee allow communities to take the lead role in preventing hunger and focus their efforts in local areas with the greatest need. Over the long haul, this program can result in children performing better in school, which in turn can put them in a better position to be competitive in the global workplace."

(Read More Here)


(Click Here for the latest Produce News)


EPA Snubs Consumers and Farmers Again,

Takes Renewable Fuel Backward 

WASHINGTON (May 29, 2015) – The following is a statement from Maryland corn farmer Chip Bowling, president of the National Corn Growers Association, in response to today’s announcement by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of proposed  renewable volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard.

“Once again, the EPA has chosen to ignore the law by cutting the corn ethanol obligation 3.75 billion gallons from 2014 to 2016. This represents nearly a billion and a half bushels in lost corn demand. The only beneficiary of the EPA’s decision is Big Oil, which has continuously sought to undermine the development of clean, renewable fuels. Unfortunately, the EPA’s gift to Big Oil comes at the expense of family farmers, American consumers and the air we breathe.

“The Renewable Fuel Standard was working as intended, with no need to change. It has reduced greenhouse gas emissions, decreased our reliance on foreign oil, lowered gasoline prices for consumers, increased economic stability in rural America and spurred innovation in advanced and cellulosic biofuels.

“We are evaluating our legal options for defending the law and protecting the rights of farmers and consumers. We will fight to protect and build profitable demand for corn, which is of fundamental interest to NCGA and our farmers.”



Dairy Market

Dairy Management Inc. National Milk

Producers Federation R E P O R T

(Click Here)


CAPCA ED logo for emails




Continuing Education Seminar

Sacramento - June 25, 2015
Register Now! Space is Limited
Thursday, June 25, 2015
Sacramento Elks Lodge #6    
6446 Riverside Blvd.
Sacramento, CA 95831 
Registration: 7:00 a.m.
Seminar Begins: 7:30 a.m.
Seminar Ends: 3:15 p.m. 
Early Registration Ends June 11, 2015
On-line Registration Closes June 18, 2015 (Read More)
 CAPCA ED logo for emails

Continuing Education Seminar

Palm Desert - June 18, 2015 Register Now! Space is Limited
Thursday, June 18, 2015 


Embassy Suites Palm Desert   

74-700 Highway 111
Palm Desert, CA 92260


Registration: 7:30 a.m.

Seminar Begins: 8:00 a.m.

Seminar Ends: 12:30 p.m.

 Early Registration Ends June 4, 2015

On-line Registration Closes June 11, 2015

(Read More Here)



The economic fallout from avian influenza is widespread.

(Gary Crawford and Secy' Tom Vilsack)




The latest general sign-up period has been announced for landowners wishing to enroll acres

 in USDA's Conservation Reserve Program.

(Rod Bain and Farm Service Agency Administrator Val Dolcini)


AgWeb News







Regional Beef News

How Do I Determine a Hay Price?
 Putting up hay can be expensive. Make sure you factor it in when pricing hay.

Angus: High Demand for Quality
 Mid-year trends show increasing interest in Angus bulls and females.

Don't Forget: Conservation Forms Due June 1
 The 2014 farm bill re-linked crop insurance and conservation compliance. You can still buy insurance if you are

out of compliance, but you won’t get the crop insurance premium subsidy.

Droughts End in Floods... Floods End in Droughts
 What a difference a year makes! Droughts end in Floods and that is certainly the case this year in the Southern Plains.

Meteorologist and CEO of Weather Trends International, Bill Kirk explains.

How to Avoid the Summer Pasture Slump
Planning ahead for pasture quality decline can help combat potential nutrient deficiencies.

Texas Central Railway Raises Concerns on Use of Eminent Domain
 Eminent domain could pose problems for beef producers in central Texas where a high speed railroad is being proposed.

Bayer Looking ‘With Interest’ at Animal Health Opportunities
Analysts have said that proceeds from Bayer’s planned divestiture of the MaterialScience plastics business could be

 used to help buy a company that would add products for pets and farm animals.

Cow Escapes Slaughterhouse, Takes to Cincinnati Streets
Authorities say a cow got a short reprieve from a Cincinnati slaughterhouse before it was fatally shot.

Time for Breakfast: Egg and Bacon Prices Go Opposite Ways
 To track the changing prices paid by consumers for five staples at the breakfast table— eggs, bacon, cereal, bananas,

 and coffee—we looked at the components of the Consumer Price Index from April 2014 to March 2015.




Photo: Piglet. Link to photo information
ARS scientists are studying a natural antimicrobial enzyme as a possible alternative to antibiotics for promoting pig health and growth. Click the image for more information about it.


Natural Enzyme Examined


 as Antibiotics Alternative

Lysozyme, a naturally occurring antimicrobial enzyme, is used in food and beverage applications such as

cheese-and wine-making. Now, it may also prove useful as an antibiotic alternative for improved feed

efficiency and growth in pigs, according to studies by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists.

Their research coincides with ongoing debate over whether using antibiotics in this manner contributes to the

 emergence of resistant bacteria strains, threatening the compounds’ availability and effectiveness as infection-

fighters in both veterinary and human medicine. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria sicken more than 2 million people

 in the United States each year and kill over 23,000 directly.

Swine producers are currently under pressure to eliminate sub-therapeutic antibiotic use throughout the

production cycle, according to William Oliver, a physiologist at USDA’s Agricultural Research Service in Clay Center, Nebraska. Finding safe and effective alternatives to traditional antibiotics will give swine producers viable options in the

 event the antibiotics are removed from use, he added.

Oliver and his ARS and university colleagues began investigating lysozyme in 2010. In a recently published trial conducted at Clay Center, they compared the growth rates and weight gains of two groups of 600 piglets placed on one of three diet regimens: a standard feed regimen of corn/soybean meal and specialty protein, a second regimen of the same with lysozyme added, and a third containing

 the antibiotics chlortetracycline and tiamulin hydrogen fumarate rather than the lysozyme.

The groups were also kept in weaning pens that had either been disinfected or left uncleaned since the last group of animals had

 occupied them. The latter was done to stimulate chronic, or long-term, immune activity, including the production of cytokines,

which divert nutrients away from growth in swine and result in slower weight gain.

The results showed that piglets on lysozyme- or antibiotics-treated feeds grew approximately 12 percent faster than untreated pigs—

even in uncleaned pens, suggesting that the treatments successfully ameliorated the effects of indirect immune challenge in the


For further reading


Photo: Adult navel orangeworm moth on almonds. Link to photo information
An ARS researcher is evaluating better ways for growers to monitor for navel orangeworms, the number-one pest of almonds and pistachios and a major pest of walnuts. Click the image for more information about it.


How to Lure a Pest


of Pistachio, Almond and Walnut


A U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) entomologist in California is helping growers evaluate a new lure designed to monitor for infestations of navel orangeworms (NOW), the number-one pest of almonds and pistachios and a major pest of walnut. The work by Charles Burks, who is with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in Parlier, could also help reduce insecticide use on the 1.3 million acres where $7 billion worth of almonds, pistachios and walnuts are grown each year.

Some growers use traps supplied with almond meal to attract NOW. Known as egg traps, they require growers to count eggs left by mated females who have visited the traps. But counting eggs is labor intensive and notoriously unreliable. Instead of almond meal, the new NOW BioLure uses a complicated blend of synthesized female
pheromones to attract males. It can be used with a variety of traps and is easier to use.

Burks and his colleagues compared the number of NOW captured in a commonly used trap baited with either the new lure or unmated females placed in mesh bags. The study involved experiments in almond and pistachio fields, each running about 2 to 3 months. Unmated females had to be replaced every 4 days to ensure they were alive—since they were being used as the bait. Results, published in the journal Insects in July 2014, showed the female bait captured more insects than the new lure (353 vs. 212 overall), but the lure attracted insects for 40 days.

They also compared capture results using three different types of traps baited with either the lure or live females. They placed traps at a variety of distances from each other and counted “single night” captures and capture rates over a four-month growing season. The results, published in the Journal of Economic Entomology in February 2015, showed that trap design and trap density, or the spacing between traps, are important factors.

Along with previous studies on egg traps, the work shows that the lure does not trap as many NOW as female-baited traps, but it is an improvement

For further reading


Photo: Outdoor scene with a dark blurry spot in middle. Link to photo information
Eating a diet high in vegetables, legumes, fruit, whole grains, tomatoes, and seafood was associated with reduced odds of macular degeneration compared to a diet with more red meat and refined grains, according to an ARS study. Click the image for more information about it.


Lowering Risk


of a Major Eye Disease

Major U.S. dietary patterns are associated with the risk of developing an age-related eye disease, according to a study funded in part by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS). Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a chronic, progressive eye-disease and is a leading cause of blindness among people aged 65 and older. For the dietary-patterns study, researchers analyzed existing data from a major federal clinical trial known as the age-related eye disease studies (AREDS).

The AREDS study was led by epidemiologist Chung-Jung Chiu at the Laboratory for Nutrition and Vision Research, which is headed by Allen Taylor, an expert in dietary means to delay age-related eye disease. The laboratory is at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA) at Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts.

The macula is a 3-millimeter-wide group of light-sensing cells located near the center of the retina. As the eye ages, oxidized, damaged proteins and lipids—debris called “drusen”—begin to accumulate in the macula. This occurs when the damaged components are neither broken down by enzymes that control protein, lipid, and carbohydrate quality, nor detoxified via other mechanisms. Measurable drusen is one key indicator of AMD risk.

The team classified baseline data collected during AREDS on the eyes of more than 4,000 study volunteers into groups including little or no drusen, intermediate or large drusen, and advanced AMD. The researchers also analyzed the participants’ food-consumption data.

Two major food-intake patterns emerged from this analysis. Those who adhered to the “Oriental pattern” consumed relatively high intakes of vegetables, legumes, fruit, whole grains, tomatoes and seafood. Those who adhered to the “Western pattern” consumed relatively high intakes of red meat, processed meat, high-fat dairy products, French fries and refined grains.

The analysis showed that adherence to the Oriental pattern is associated with reduced odds of drusen and advanced AMD, and people who consumed the Western pattern had markedly increased odds. Read more about this research in the May 2015 issue of AgResearch magazine. ARS is the USDA's principal intramural scientific research agency.

For further reading


Photo: A Romaine lettuce line with resistance to dieback, which is caused by soilborne viruses. Link to photo information
ARS researchers have developed and released 16 new lettuce breeding lines, including 6 icebergs, 6 leaf lettuces and 4 romaine varieties with traits such as better disease or pest resistance or other consumer-oriented trait.
Click the image for more information about it.


16 New Lettuce Breeding Lines


 from ARS


U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists in California have developed 16 new lettuce breeding lines. Lettuce production in the United States is concentrated mostly in California and Arizona, where it is grown year-round. Salinas, California, in fact, is often referred to as “the salad bowl of the nation.”

In field, greenhouse and laboratory experiments, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) plant geneticists Ivan Simko, Ryan Hayes, and Beiquan Mou, and plant pathologist Carolee T. Bull, all in the Crop Improvement and Protection Research Unit in Salinas, California, developed and tested the performance and resistance of the new lettuce breeding lines. These lines, now available to plant breeders, include 6 icebergs, 4 romaines, and 6 leaf lettuces. The Salinas researchers collaborated with Yaguang (Sunny) Luo, a research food technologist at the Food Quality Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, for testing of the lines, including postharvest evaluations of lettuce quality; size and shape of the heads; size, shape, and texture of the leaves; and core length.

ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s chief intramural scientific research agency.

The research group’s goal is to develop and release lettuce lines with combined resistance to pests and diseases and with as many different traits as possible that are advantageous to producers and consumers. Of the six iceberg lettuce lines, five are suitable for salad-blend and whole-head markets, according to Simko. The one iceberg line not suitable for these markets can instead be used in breeding programs as a donor of genes for resistance to downy mildew, bacterial leaf spot and Verticillium wilt.

According to Simko, two of the romaine lettuce lines are appropriate for salad-blend, spring-mix and whole-head production. One of the other lines cannot be used for fresh-cut products because it decays rapidly after processing, but it is suitable for the whole-head market. Each of these three breeding lines has resistance to dieback, a plant disease to which most of the currently grown romaine cultivars are susceptible.

Each of the six leaf-lettuce breeding lines is acceptable for commercial production as a salad blend or spring mix. Three could also be used for whole-plant production, and two lines demonstrated very high field resistance to downy mildew, according to Simko.

This research was also supported by the California Leafy Greens Research Program and the California Department of Food and Agriculture Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.

Limited samples of the lettuce seeds are available for distribution to those interested in conducting research or commercial production.

For further reading

      Lettuce Carotenoids Affected by UV Light in Greenhouse

     ARS Releases Iceberg Lettuce Breeding Lines Resistant to Bacterial Leaf Spot

     ARS Releases New Leaf Lettuce Breeding Lines with Corky Root Resistance


Honey bee on an apple blossom.
Winter losses of managed bee colonies are down slightly, but summer losses have risen, resulting in higher overall annual losses of managed bee colonies.
Click the image for more information about it.

Chart showing honey bee losses.

Credits: Bee Informed Partnership/University of Maryland/Loretta Kuo
ARS-USDA Information Staff.


Bee Survey: Lower Winter Losses,


 Higher Summer Losses,


Increased Total Annual Losses


 Losses of managed honey bee colonies were 23.1 percent for the 2014-2015 winter but summer losses exceeded winter numbers for the first time, making annual losses for the year 42.1 percent, according to preliminary results of the annual survey conducted by the Bee Informed Partnership (, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Apiary Inspectors of America.

The winter loss improvement was about 0.6 percentage points less than the losses reported for the 2013-2014 winter. This is the second year in a row that winter losses have been noticeably lower than the nine year average winter loss of 28.7 percent.

However, beekeepers are not losing colonies only in the winter but also throughout the summer, sometimes at significant levels. Summer losses for 2014 were reported as 27.4 percent, exceeding 2014-2015 winter losses for the first time. In previous years, 2013 summer losses were reported as 19.8 percent compared to 23.7 percent for 2013-2014 winter losses, and 2012 summer losses were reported as 25.3 percent compared to 30.5 percent for 2012-2013 winter losses. Winter losses were considered October 2014 through April 2015.

Total annual losses were 42.1 percent for April 2014 through April 2015.  The new figure is up from 34.2 percent for 2013-2014.

"The winter loss numbers are more hopeful especially combined with the fact that we have not seen much sign of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) for several years, but such high colony losses in the summer and year-round remain very troubling," said Jeff Pettis, a survey co-author and a senior entomologist at USDA’s Agricultural Research Service Bee Research Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland. “If beekeepers are going to meet the growing demand for pollination services, researchers need to find better answers to the host of stresses that lead to both winter and summer colony losses.”

rAbout two-thirds of the beekeepers responding to the survey eported losses greater than the 18.7 percent level that beekeepers reported is economically acceptable. This underlines the seriousness of the health problems stressing honey bees in this country, Pettis pointed out.

“We traditionally thought of winter losses as a more important indicator of health, because surviving the cold winter months is a crucial test for any bee colony,” said Dennis vanEngelsdorp, an assistant professor of entomology at the University of Maryland and project director for the Bee Informed Partnership. “But we now know that summer loss rates are significant too. This is especially so for commercial beekeepers, who are now losing more colonies in the summertime compared to the winter. Years ago, this was unheard of.”

Backyard beekeepers were more prone to heavy mite infestations, but we believe that is because a majority of them are not taking appropriate steps to control mites,” vanEngelsdorp said. “Commercial keepers were particularly prone to summer losses. But they typically take more aggressive action against Varroa mites, so there must be other factors at play.”

For these preliminary survey results, more than 6,100 beekeepers across the country who managed almost 400,000 colonies in October 2014, representing nearly 15.5 percent of the country's 2.74 million colonies, responded to the survey.

A loss of 23.7 percent of managed honey bee colonies was reported for the 2013-2014 winter and 30.5 percent loss for the winter of 2012-2013. Previous surveys found winter losses of 21.9 percent in 2011-2012, 30 percent in 2010-2011, 33.8 percent in 2009-2010, about 29 percent in 2008-2009, about 36 percent in 2007-2008, and about 32 percent in 2006-2007. Annual colonies losses were 34.2 percent for 2013-14, 45 percent for 2012-2013, 28.9 percent for 2011-2012, and 36.4 percent for 2010-2011.

This survey was largely supported by a grant from USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture, which also provides the majority of funding for the Bee Informed Partnership.

A complete analysis of the survey data will be published later this year. The abstract for the analysis is at

More information about ARS honey bee health research and CCD can be found at

For further reading

Survey Reports Fewer Winter Honey Bee Losses [2013-2014]

Fact Sheet: Survey of Bee Losses During Winter of 2012/2013

Survey by USDA and Collaborators Reports Fewer Winter Honey Bee Losses [2011-2012]



Photo: ARS geneticists Hamidou Sakhanokho (left) and Cecil Pounders review two newly co-developed begonia lines. Link to photo information
ARS geneticists Hamidou Sakhanokho (left) and Cecil Pounders have released two germplasm lines for use in breeding new begonia varieties that can tolerate the heat and humidity of a Gulf Coast summer. Click the image for more information about it.


New Begonia Lines


both Beautiful and Sturdy


Two new begonia germplasm lines developed by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists and their collaborators are now available for use in breeding elite varieties of the ornamental crop that can tolerate the heat and humidity of a Gulf Coast summer.

Begonia semperflorens is the most widely cultivated type of begonia and fourth most popular bedding plant in the United States, generating $36 million in sales (in 2009). However, in Gulf Coast states like Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama and Florida, the onset of summer can overwhelm these popular flowering perennials with intense heat and humidity, cutting short the plants’ colorful presence in flowerbeds, hanging baskets and containers.

The new germplasm lines, labeled FB08-59 and FB08-163, were officially released in September 2014 as a source of genetic material that plant breeders can transfer better into commercial varieties for improved heat tolerance. Cecil Pounders, a retired plant geneticist with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in Poplarville, Mississippi, collaborated on the begonia releases with fellow ARS plant geneticist Hamidou Sakhanokho and colleague Leopold Nyochembeng of Alabama A&M University.

The team used a conventional plant-breeding technique called “recurrent selection” to develop the two germplasm lines. FB08-59 is the “top pick” of several generations of offspring plants that were evaluated after crosses between the commercial begonia Kaylen and B. cucullata var. arenosicola, an herbaceous South American species. FB08-163 was selected from a cross between Kaylen and the commercial begonia Shanzi.

FB08-59 and FB08-163 grow to heights of about 12 and 20 inches, respectively. Their dark, waxy leaves encircle purple-red flowers with white specks in the petals and yellow stamens in their centers.

In trials, Vodka, Whisky, Gin, Senator, Inferno Red, Bada Bing Red and Bada Boom Scarlet—varieties commonly planted in the South—fared poorly when grown under the same test conditions as FB08-59 and FB08-163, succumbing to a combination of heat stress and Pythium fungal infections, the team reported in the January 2015 issue of HortScience.

For further reading

Photo: Ripe tomatoes on the vine.  Link to photo information
Briefly heating tomatoes in warm water before chilling them for shipping or storing can help improve their taste, according to new research from ARS chemist Jinhe Bai.
Click the image for more information about it.


Recipe for Flavorful Tomatoes:


Heat Before Chilling



A U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) chemist in Florida has found a way to help tomato producers improve the taste of their tomatoes. The process is simple—just immerse them briefly in warm water to heat them.

Tomatoes are often picked green and then stored at low temperatures during and after transport to slow ripening. They are then ripened at about 68 F before being placed on store shelves. That process makes them easier to ship and extends their shelf life. Jinhe Bai, who is with the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in Fort Pierce, wondered if the chilling was why “supermarket tomatoes” often taste bland. ARS is USDA’s chief intramural scientific research agency.

Bai and his colleagues harvested 120 standard “Florida 47” variety tomatoes and subjected 30 tomatoes each to one of four treatments: applying heat only, chilling (to the industry standard of 41 F), heating prior to chilling, and keeping them at room temperature (controls). For the heat treatment, the tomatoes were placed in 125 F water for 5 minutes. Like commercially produced tomatoes, tomatoes in the study were ripened at 68 F after being exposed to the temperature treatments.

Samples of each group were cut and placed into sealed containers. The containers were opened less than an hour later, and the tomatoes were rated for flavor by 21 volunteers, based on the aromas released. The study was designed to evaluate fruit aroma so only the odors were assessed to eliminate bias from taste and “mouth feel.” The researchers also used gas chromatography-mass spectrometry to identify levels of 12 key volatile aroma compounds known to give tomatoes their flavor.

The results show that applying the heat treatment to mature green tomatoes, before they are chilled and shipped, stemmed the loss of several flavor volatiles known to give fruity and floral scents to foods as diverse as citrus and saffron. The heated-then-chilled tomatoes also had more flavor volatiles than the tomatoes that were only chilled: 14 out of 21 panelists could detect more tomato aroma.

It doesn’t help to heat and chill a ripe tomato purchased off a store shelf, Bai says. The heating and chilling process should be applied when the tomatoes are still green. But the treatment does benefit tomatoes that are first beginning to turn red, which is known as their “breaker stage.” The study was published online in
LWT-Food Science Technology in January 2015.

For further reading


Photo: Honey bee larvae in artificial cells on the right; capped artificial cells on the left where larvae become pupae. Link to photo information
ARS scientists have recently found new species of bacteria that appears to help honey bee larvae survive better, in laboratory studies.
Click the image for more information about it.


Newly Named Bacteria

Helps Honey Bee Larvae Thrive


U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists have identified a bacterium that appears to give honey bee larvae a

better chance of surviving to become pupae.  Molecular biologist Vanessa Corby-Harris and microbial ecologist Kirk E.

 Anderson at the Carl Hayden Bee Research Center in Tucson, Arizona, have named the new species Parasaccharibacter

apium. The bee research center is part of the Agricultural Research Service, USDA’s chief intramural scientific research agency.

Honey bees have been under nearly constant and growing pressures from a whole host of stressors—diseases, poor nutrition, sublethal effects

of pesticides and many others, especially for the last 30 years. It has been known that a number of different bacteria live within adult bees and

in the hive, and scientists have been studying if and how these bacteria help deal with some of these stresses.

This is the first bacteria found to offer a benefit to bee larvae. In laboratory experiments, bee larvae fed P. apium had about an average of

30 percent better survival compared to those fed a sterile control.  How P. apium confers this survival advantage to the larvae is not yet known,

according to Corby-Harris.  So far, the researchers have found P. apium only in honey bees and their hives. While P. apium found in honey

 bee hives is a distinct and new species from any previously identified, it has very close, naturally occurring relatives found in the nectar

of many flowers, including cactus flowers, daisies, thistles and apple blossoms. 

The genome of P. apium has been sequenced and they are beginning to dissect the functional properties that distinguish flower-living

 Acetobacteraceaefrom those that have coevolved with the honey bee hive. Pinpointing these ecological differences will be key to understanding

the function of P. apium in honey bee hives, Anderson explained.  With minimal sampling effort, P. apium was found in nearly every one of the

healthy managed bee colonies examined by the researchers. A future study will explore the abundance of P. apium in weak or struggling

managed bee colonies.   While the mechanism by which the bacteria benefit the larvae remains to be studied, the importance is clear enough

that Corby-Harris and Anderson are already field testing its use along with a number of other bacteria that may benefit the pollination and

 honey-production industry as potential management tools.

For further reading

Photo: A melon fruit fly on a squash. Link to photo information
A new lure developed by ARS scientists based on cucumber aromas may help provide better control of melon fruit flies, one of four non-native fruit fly species that cost Hawaii's fruit and vegetable growers up to $15 million in losses annually and threatens the mainland United States. Click the image for more information about it.


New Fruit Fly Lure Developed


from Pest’s Favorite Scent


Ongoing development and testing of a new melon fruit fly lure derived from cucumbers may lead to improved monitoring

and control of this costly agricultural pest. That’s the goal of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists who developed the lure in studies at the USDA Agricultural Research Service’s Tropical Crop and Commodity Protection

Research Unit in Hilo, Hawaii.

In Hawaii, the melon fly, Bactrocera cucurbitae, is one of four non-native tephritid fruit fly species that

cause up to $15 million annually in direct losses to the state’s fruit and vegetable crops. B. cucurbitae is

also considered a quarantine pest in the mainland United States and inflicts significant agricultural losses

in other regions of the world.

The use of attractants to monitor adult fly numbers and movements plays a critical role in Hawaiian growers’

implementation of area-wide approaches to manage the 6- to 8-millimeter-long pest. These tactics include sanitation measures like

destroying infested fruit and using trap crops.

Currently, two types of products are used: liquid protein baits and male-only lures. However, more accurate monitoring and better

population control can be achieved if female flies can also be attracted, says

entomologist Eric Jang, who leads the Hilo research unit.

In studies there, Jang and colleagues used a procedure called “gas-chromatograph electro-antennogram

analysis” to measure how strongly melon flies responded to different blends of 31 volatile compounds emitted from freshly

puréed cucumber, among the pest’s favorite hosts. From this analysis, they initially identified and tested a nine-compound

blend that proved attractive to female flies but later focused on a seven-compound blend that worked even better when formulated

as a dry bait.

During outdoor trials in Hawaiian papaya fields and in Taiwan with sponge gourd, 100 milligrams of the dried synthetic cucumber

 blend captured more melon fruit flies than both the protein bait and male-only lures. The blend also lasted as long as the other

 two products when the dosage was increased to 300 milligrams.

For further reading

Photo: Two ripe red and two immature strawberries on the vine of Sweet Sunrise, an ARS cultivar. Link to photo information
Sweet Sunrise strawberry is new high-yielding, June-bearing cultivar from the ARS breeding program in Corvallis, Oregon. Click the image for more information about it.


New Berries


from ARS


Two new berries have been developed thanks to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists at the

Horticultural Crops Research Unit in Corvallis, Oregon, and their collaborators.

Berries of all types are wonderful additions to a healthy diet, providing nutrients, fiber and flavor. Sweet Sunrise (U.S. PP 25,223) is a

new strawberry cultivar from the Corvallis breeding program, which is led by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) plant geneticist Chad Finn.

This strawberry was released in cooperation with the Oregon Agricultural Experiment Station (OAES) and Washington State University’s

Agricultural Research Center.

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

Sweet Sunrise is a high-yielding cultivar that ripens in June. It produces large, firm attractive fruit having excellent quality. According to Finn,

Sweet Sunrise was high-yielding in every trial and location. Yields are comparable to, or higher than, those of other recent releases such as

Charm, Valley Red, and Sweet Bliss or the industry standards Tillamook, Totem, and Hood. In all evaluations, Sweet Sunrise was rated

excellent and comparable to Totem for commercial processors.

Finn also developed Columbia Star (U.S. patent applied for), a thornless, trailing blackberry cultivar from the same breeding program as

Sweet Sunrise. Columbia Star was released in 2013 in cooperation with OAES.

The new blackberry is a high-quality, high-yielding, machine-harvestable blackberry with firm, sweet fruit that when processed is similar

in quality to, or better than, fruit from the industry standards Marion and Black Diamond.

Both of these new berry cultivars will be good additions to the fresh- and processed-fruit markets, according to Finn.

For further reading


Photo: Upland cotton boll.
ARS scientists and their partners have sequenced the genome of Texas Marker-1, the genetic standard for upland cotton, the world's most widely cultivated and genetically complex species of Gossypium. Photo courtesy of Russell Kohel, ARS (retired).



USDA Scintists,


International Colleagues


 Sequence Upland Cotton Genome

Resulting "roadmap" could help improve yields, fiber quality and plant resilience

WASHINGTON, April 21, 2015U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists and their partners have sequenced

the genome of the world's most widely cultivated and genetically complex species of cotton, a milestone that will

make it easier to address increasing threats to cotton by tapping into its natural defenses. The results were published

today in two Nature Biotechnology reports.

Sequencing the genome of Upland cotton (Gossypium hirsutum) will help breeders develop varieties of cotton that are better equipped to

combat the pests, diseases and higher temperatures and droughts expected to accompany climate change. Cotton growers have experienced

a plateau in yields since the early 1990s, and most commercial varieties lack genetic diversity, making cotton vulnerable to natural threats.

 The findings will help researchers and breeders in the years ahead develop cotton varieties with improved fiber qualities, higher yields and

more tolerance to heat, drought and diseases anticipated due to climate change. Cotton is grown on 12 million acres in 17 states and is a $6

billion crop in the United States.

"There is a vast, untapped reservoir of genes in wild cotton plants that could offer us stronger and more effective defenses to the numerous challenges faced by cotton growers. Sequencing of a genetic standard in cotton gives us the roadmap to identify and tap into that reservoir of genetic variability," said Chavonda Jacobs-Young, administrator of the USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS). ARS is USDA's principal intramural scientific research agency.

The studies are the result of nearly a decade of international collaboration. ARS scientists Richard Percy and Russell Kohel (retired) are

coauthors and John Yu is corresponding author of one publication. They are based in College Station, Texas. ARS scientist Brian Scheffler,

based in Stoneville, Mississippi, is a coauthor of the other. The two teams sequenced the genome of the genetic standard of Upland cotton,

Texas Marker-1, which is often used in studies and in developing new genetic lines.

Upland cotton is the result of millions of years of evolution and thousands of years of domestication. The sequencing efforts were made

possible because several of the scientists involved in today's studies recently sequenced the two "parent" species of most commercial cotton varieties—an Old World cultivated cotton and a New World wild cotton.

The results will allow scientists to analyze two sets of extensive DNA data, compiled independently of each other, compare the results and

exploit cotton's genetic diversity by tapping into the potential of genes found in the 10,000 accessions of exotic and wild cotton plants in the

ARS Cotton Germplasm Collection in College Station, Texas.

The papers, with a list of the contributing authors, can be found at:

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

by conducting cutting-edge research and expanding markets at home and abroad.

For further reading


Photo: Chickens. Link to photo information
ARS scientists have improved methods for evaluating vaccines against Newcastle disease virus, which could lead to better protection from this virulent poultry disease. Click the image for more information about it.



New Procedure


To Test NDV Vaccines


U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists have developed an improved Newcastle disease virus (NDV) vaccine

evaluation procedure that could be used to select better vaccines to treat the disease.

Newcastle disease, one of the most important poultry diseases worldwide, can cause severe illness in chickens and other

 birds. Severe, or virulent, strains rarely occur in poultry species in the United States, but they are regularly found in poultry

 in many foreign countries.
Available commercial NDV vaccines perform well in chickens infected with virulent NDV under experimental conditions. They also perform

well under field conditions where virulent virus is not common. However, they often fail in countries where virulent viruses are endemic.

At the Agricultural Research Service's (ARS) Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory (SEPRL) in Athens, Georgia, microbiologist Claudio Afonso

and veterinary medical officer Patti Miller have updated the traditional vaccine evaluation method, which does not compare vaccines or take

into account suboptimal field conditions.

Under perfect conditions, vaccines should work, but conditions are not always perfect in the field, according to Miller. Chickens sometimes

get less than the required vaccine dose and don't always have the minimum amount of time required to develop an optimum immune response.  

 The improved vaccine-evaluation procedure compares vaccines made using genes from the same viral strain-or genotype-that the birds are

exposed to in the field to vaccines made with a strain that differs from the virus birds are exposed to.

Using the improved procedure, scientists inoculated chickens with different vaccine doses before exposure to a high dose of virulent NDV.

Birds given the genotype-matched vaccine had reduced viral shedding, superior immune responses, reduced clinical signs, and increased

survival than the birds vaccinated with a different-genotype vaccine. By using genotype-matched vaccines, viral shedding and death were significantly reduced.

ARS is USDA's principal intramural scientific research agency, and this research supports the USDA priority of promoting international food


For further reading


Photo: ARS microbiologist Mark Jackson examining a fungal culture in a glass container. Link to photo information
ARS microbiologist Mark Jackson and his colleagues have improved mass-production of beneficial fungi so they can be more effective and more economical biopesticides. Click the image for more information about it.


Fast New Approach


to Formulating Pest-Killing Fungi


on Tap


Technological advances by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists are continuing to improve the way beneficial

fungi are formulated for use as biopesticides.

Traditionally, biopesticide makers have cultured beneficial species of Beauveria, Isaria, Metarhizium and other fungi on moistened grains like

rice or other solid substrates to coax them into forming specialized spores called "conidia." These conidia are then harvested and formulated

into biopesticide products, which can be applied to field- or greenhouse-grown crops as alternatives to synthetic pesticides or used in

conjunction with them to delay the pests' development of insecticide resistance.

Over the past decade, however, microbiologist Mark Jackson and colleagues at USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) have experimented

with the use of liquid culture fermentation (LCF), an approach that's enabled them to mass-produce stable, effective spore forms called "blastospores" and resting structures such as "microsclerotia."

The researchers' studies have shown that microsclerotia are especially durable, long-lasting during storage, and effective as bioinsecticides

 and bioherbicides. LCF has also proven to be faster and more economical to use, yielding blastospores or microsclerotia in two to three days

versus the ten to fourteen days needed to produce conidia using the traditional culture methods, says Jackson. He is with the ARS National

Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, Illinois. Replacing hydrolyzed casein and other expensive nitrogen sources with low-cost cottonseed flour also reduces production media costs by 80-90 percent, he adds.

Jackson's recent collaborations with visiting scientists Gabriel Mascarin (Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation, a.k.a. "EMBRAPA") and

Nilce Kobori (National Council for Scientific and Technological Development) showed that LCF can also be a cost-effective way to produce

spores of U.S. and Brazilian strains of Beauveria, Isaria, and Trichoderma fungi.

In trials, the blastospores proved more effective than conidia generated by commercial production methods. For example, blastospores from

LCF cultures of Beauveria killed silverleaf whitefly nymphs 25 percent faster than the conidia. Fewer blastospores were also required. Their

studies also demonstrated, for the first time, that under appropriate LCF conditions, Trichoderma can form microsclerotia suitable for use as

a seed coating or soil-incorporated granules to guard against plant diseases.

For further reading

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


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

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

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 Housethe 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

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 20 Ag Threats


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

Take-off to the International Space Station (ISS) is planned for December 2015