Seed Quality and Industry Priorities – Chad Hale, Byron Seeds

we get into the warm season annuals and we have uh some of the cool season okay thanks right and I don’t see a clock so keep me on time if you would ray give me a five minute warning perfect so we’ll talk about two things and in this session this morning actually we will talk about seed quality but also Ray had a term on there something about industry priorities and we didn’t really flesh that out a lot so it was open to my interpretation i guess so somebody asks about / critic dwarf we’ll talk about some of those things other traits if you will that the warm season industry is working on to bring to producers so to start with when it comes to seed quality it all comes down to you County agents or are you guys on on the farm it all comes down to that seat tag that comes on every bag of seeds sorghum grass alfalfa any kind of seed I’ll probably say it a couple of times today but the best guidance you can give your producers is if they buy any kind of seed and plant it save at least one of those tags so I’ll say that again later but when it comes to sorghum as far as certification standards for certified seed these are the rules for Kentucky anyway so the purity has to be at least ninety eight percent of sorghum sorghum sedan sedan grass so whichever a little typo though I was its other crops period not just other than rye grass so point oh eight percent we’re not this is biology this is agriculture we can’t do a hundred percent purity in reality every hundred acre field is going to have a weed or a wheat or something in it somewhere so we just got to work on reasonable tolerances and in sorghum’s this is what has been decided is the reasonable tolerance other crops which may be any other crop type that we would grow you have point oh eight percent other varieties in seed production i was just in texas a few weeks ago pretty much all of these warm seas and annuals are produced in a fairly small geography probably a two hour radius in texas so if a farmer seat farmers planting variety a this year he probably had variety XYZ a couple years in the past so it’s pretty easy to get cross-contamination yeah that’s a sorghum Sudan but it’s not the one we want we’ll look at a picture of that here in a second so all of this stuff is pretty regulated this is one to pay attention for certified seed again to have that blue certified tag they don’t allow any of the noxious weeds in sorghum sorghum sedans we’d see it again this is biology this is agriculture we can’t be one hundred percent pure so we get a little allowance of point one percent and germination eighty percent germination we try to do better than that as an industry but that is the the limit and that’s fairly low in my opinion so as far as practically how this works we as an industry have two opportunities to clean up problems in seed production you guys have probably seen pictures or maybe you’ve toured seed cleaning plants there’s all these various gizmos that separate out seed by size by weight by color all kinds of stuff so if we harvest a problem we can sort it out a little bit but the best way to do it is here any weed control or purity control we can do in the field is a lot cheaper a lot more effective than when we’re running it through machinery so a couple weeks ago I was down by Amarillo and here’s a field of this is forage sorghum actually and somebody mentioned for kidik dwarf I’m going to talk about that a minute this is a dwarf so we’re looking for little short guys but lo and behold there’s that thing that’s not the variety we want so I didn’t get a picture of them but there are several guys who their lot in life is to walk through these fields with a hoe and get rid of those things they do every field several times a year so that is one control mechanism now what’s this stuff in the background got nice little dwarf sorghum here what’s that corn so that’s an isolation mechanism for them that’s another thing that was not on my slide I think by regulation you have to have a thousand feet 1200 feet something like that between different varieties that’s to somewhat reduce pollen flow between varieties companies though this particular company their internal standard is they want two miles between fields to make sure they don’t have drift of pollen and they

always plant their fields surrounded by really really tall corn so we take a lot of steps as an industry to try to keep these genetics pure you know ray talked about how much work goes into making a hybrid especially with some of these traits when we do that we want to make sure and keep it pure so yeah yeah good good question Chris and I guess I better repeat it for here so the question was every time we plant a dwarf there’s some tall plants in there if anyone’s ever driven through Kansas or Nebraska where they do Milo which is grain sorghum they’re all these little short guys but every so often there’s something tall it’s about one in the thousand and that is one of rays genetic mutation spontaneous mutation happens and it just it loses that trait and goes back to the wild type and gets tall so it’s going to happen anyway in a field 10 20 acre field you’re going to see some that have just spontaneously mutated and gotten tall good question Chris yeah is so they’d yeah they have the same genes that they were probably the right hybrid the two same inbreds came together it’s just that particular gene that makes dwarf got mutated it’s probably still be amar for instance if those parents were BMR and a contamination does happen to a one good way to see that in the sorghum’s anyhow there’s different colors there’s white seeded red seated so if you have a white seated variety and you see something red that is contamination I will I will yeah okay so again that little seed tag that we all see on those bags that comes from an AOS a seed exam it’s an official regulated process and in sorghum’s anyhow that samples 500 grams so a pound noxious weeds when they’re sorting through seed by seed looking for thistles or shatter cane or whatever they’re looking for they look through 500 grams but if you think about it that 500 gram sample that I could nearly hold in my hands represents a hundred thousand pounds of seed which would halfway fill up this room so seed sampling just like forage sampling is key and then it’s a regulated process there are state people generally who do that to make sure that you don’t just poke one bag and say that represents this giant mountain of seed but still if you just think about that what are the odds that some little weed seed is going to sneak by if I got half a room full of seed and I boil it down to this much so again we’re dealing with biology things happen we just try to keep those tolerances somewhat reasonable does that make sense okay so here we go here’s this analysis tagging if you know what you’re looking for there’s a whole bunch of information on this thing and this is just something I made up but every bag of seed that goes through Commerce by law supposed to have one of these things attached to it so again have your producers or if you are a producer save one of these tags if you come to me with a problem and you can produce this tag I can trace it back isolate the problem find everybody else who may have the same seed and has the same problem so it really helps to solve problems if we have this seed tag so here’s just something I made up by sweet treat brand Sudan grass talk about brands in a second and it is made up of two components actually here’s some long hairy named variety and then variety unknown other states it’s called vns so we don’t know what that variety is but it all gets put in this brand name other crop 1% now just a few minutes ago I said for certified seed you could only have like point 1 percent so this seed probably isn’t good enough to be certified in fact it’s not weed seed technically there’s zero when they sorted through their sample so by weight by percentage it’s zero however in this case they found a giant foxtail and and if they found one you do the math it translates to nine of those per pound again certified standard said you couldn’t have any noxious weeds but here it is on this label so this is uncertified seed it is legal to sell it just wouldn’t make certified standards

and interestingly every state has their own little rules about what they consider noxious weeds and it’s different in Washington where I lived in here in Kentucky and Kentucky generally has really really good seed laws good for you as consumers really good protection however giant foxtail everybody know what that is everybody’s favorite plant legally I can have 192 of those per pound and still sell the seed in Kentucky now I have to tell you that on this seat tag so again working with your producers read that thing read that tag because you know if you think about our society we’re a buyer beware society I can sell you anything as long as I tell you what I’m doing within some some limits so just because you cc’d on a shelf doesn’t mean that it meets those really stringent certification standard in Kentucky yes so again every state is different and if you go to the USDA website I should have made a link wray you can get this 150 page booklet where there’s a federal part of it you know canada thistle is pretty much noxious everywhere that’s a federal decision but then each state makes up their own some states i only have to list what the noxious weeds are if they are over a certain threshold in Kentucky just the way that your rules are here every single noxious weed I have to list what it is now lambsquarters not a noxious weed so that would show up here as a percentage but you wouldn’t know which we’d it was it’s only the things we deem noxious that I have to actually label it that there there is a federal listing of noxious weeds and it’s fairly short then each state has a board that determines what their issues are annual bluegrass for instance ponyo whoever makes that list in kentucky has deemed that that is a noxious weed for you folks half the country doesn’t worry about it at all so there are various regional differences here and sometimes weeds float on and off of this list you know 20 years ago the lists weren’t what they are today there’s always a new weed popping up but those things move slow so there’s probably weeds that are really a problem on some of the farms you work with that they just haven’t deemed noxious yet another thing on here and this is more from from our industry point of view I have to label where that seed comes from if you want to buy american-made you can if the seed comes from yoga wat amala or something I have to tell you that this thing am that’s a AG marketing service number so given this number I could go back to the exact facility where the stuff came from so if there was a weed issue or a germination problem or something I would be able to narrow it down to that facility lot number narrows it down even more specifically in sorghum’s at least that lot size is a hundred thousand pounds so there’s only however many bags that is 50-pound bags of that lot number so if you have a problem with lot number l 68 dash 1 PhD 22 I can find every other producer that received that lot number and see if they had the same problems as well so again that’s a long way of saying seed tags are extremely extremely important so we’ll talk about this just for a minute I i think this made such an impression on me because before I got in the industry I had no idea about brands and varieties or in this case hybrids I guess for for most of our sorghum’s so a variety or a hybrid if this is hybrid XYZ that’s a genetic term that’s genetically defined it means something it’s been classified it’s it’s been officially documented a brand is a trade name so i have a trademark thing with with the with the pto patent a trademark office that really describes the packaging the logos colors all that kind of stuff so it describes the bag actually at the end of the day I could stuff whatever I want inside of that bag and it’s still my brand so from a marketing point of view the industry likes brands because it’s consistent there’s new hybrids coming out every year and you as producers would have to keep track of all this stuff we as a company can say we’re going to find the best stuff we can and always put it in our sweet treat brand or whatever the brand name is so that that’s the name producers identify with and that works if that’s what you do I

could also say I’m going to find the cheapest junk I can find and put it in this nice fancy bag as well so it comes down to this when it comes to buying seed work with companies you trust work with companies with a long good reputation and go on local performance everybody one of your neighbors is using this brand and they’ve had good luck for 20 years you’re probably in good shape too so that’s kind of really what this comes down to so most of our in the sorghum sorghum Sudan’s most of those are actually brands rather than genetics there’s a genetic name behind it somewhere but you as a producer may not know what it is under three different names yes yes so the same in this case we’re talking hybrids that same cross same male and female can be that is a genetically defined thing it could be in three different packages under three different brand names three different companies and that happens yeah yes go back to this if we know what that variety is we have to put that on the label the the sticky part gets to be this most of the country there’s this term called vns variety not stated kentucky doesn’t like that for good reason we want the producers to know what in the world this stuff is but there’s still it’s a play on words so in Kentucky I say variety unknown means the same thing i don’t think i have it on my slide yes I do here we go so vns or for us here today variety unknown that means either I as a buyer some guys says I have some seed here I don’t know what variety it is but here’s the price here’s the specs etc so it’s not divulged maybe I don’t know or from a practical point of view I can tell you in our seat business what’s the number one killer of any distribution business inventory so I got this big mountain of sweet treat sorghum just to stick with our made-up name and it’s three dollars a pound but it’s killing me i’m going to go bank’ll if i don’t get rid of this stuff so I can say all right I’m going to sell it as variety unknown for a dollar fifty and just get rid of this stuff now so I’m selling the same thing at two different prices now if you don’t know Chris can be a little thrifty you know so if I convince Chris which is hard to do that he needs to buy this sweet treat at three bucks a pound and then sell sweet treat in that same bag and packaging to Bob for a dollar fifty and these two ever talk that’s not going to be good so that is actually where a lot of this variety unknown stuff comes from it’s an inventory control mechanism most seed farmers do not plant some unknown variety as a consumer what does that mean that means you may be getting the best genetics on planet earth as variety unknown or you may be getting the worst and you’ll never know until you plant it so how much of a gambler are you that that’s the question so or some variety unknown thing can be the best thing on the farm this year and you buy the same pretty fancy bag and it’s the worst thing next year how in the world it’s because it wasn’t the same genetically source stuff so so that’s really important to know and understand and before I got in the industry i had no clue it’s kind of like I’ve been told everybody here eats rice cakes right I’ve been told at least at one time there was exactly one factory that made rice cakes and they just put them in different bags as they come down the line so similar kinds of things can happen to us in see this is something that ray wanted to know so I did some studying on this how long can I hold over the seat i bought some sorghum this year weather didn’t cooperate how long can I keep it I asked the guys in Texas and they said oh 3 to 5 years storage life no problem out on the west coast we can keep seed like that for two or three years anyhow no problem in Kentucky in a hot tobacco shed probably not so here’s the formula temperature plus humidity if that equals a hundred or less that seed will be very very stable 100 degree day ninety percent humidity not so stable anymore so any time that temperature plus humidity is over 100 we’re starting to affect the lifespan of that germination no seed last forever we should be able to at least hold it over one year so as an industry there’s a lot of temperature controlled storage we keep it at 50 degrees thirty percent humidity type thing and it lasts for a

long time but in your hot shed that’s not going to work out question pretty much yeah yeah and some species are just better than others a lot of our grasses or clovers for instance they’re good keepers but they are impacted any time that formula is over 100 just not as quickly so that’s the magic number four seed storage yes and it it wasn’t i can’t speak for all of it it wasn’t all controlled or stored in climate control but it was stored in an area that’s pretty arid cold in the winters so the germination kept pretty well yeah yeah yeahs it out west we can keep alfalfa if we ever wanted to we can keep alfalfa seed ten years and it will be fine because we don’t have the humidity oh yeah I should have pointed about that yes that’s another you know America is a great country states rights is a big deal every state gets to decide how long that is there’s been a big push for a standard just give me one number for the whole country has not happened yet the how shall I say this the shortest time span in the country is nine months so every nine months we would have to retest that germination I think that’s what Kentucky is the longest is maybe 18 so it’s a range but you’ve got to pretty much say every year we got to retest that germ I’ll get to your right oh okay what would freezing do freezing keeps it freezing keeps it really well so as a breeder or something that’s exactly what you do is you put that stuff in the deep freeze and it’ll it’ll outlive you five minutes right okay we better get going here so industry priorities and I’ll have a chance to pick some of this up in a later talk what’s happening so our companies in Indiana when you close your eyes and dream of a sorghum field you probably not picturing Indiana your picture in Kansas Texas so this stuff is moving north moving north into places where it hasn’t been grown farmers don’t have a history and a culture of this stuff so something like prussic acid it’s an issue but it’s way overblown I have a good friend in Texas he’s a pretty big cattle guy and his presa casa de tes trail talked to us about one here later his is really simple he has a thousand cows or something so he chooses one and she goes out there she’s still alive in the morning here comes everybody else so you pick one you don’t like that’s the key but he’s never had a problem you talk to these sorghum industry people who’ve been in it for 30 years they’ve never seen prussic acid a dairy farmer out by me in Washington state which we don’t use sorghum out there but we should because of water they’re saying they don’t want to touch this sorghum because they’ve heard of prussic acid number one they’re making silage what’s the risk of prussic acid and silage zero there’s one so it’s up here this whole press the gas thing but anyhow the industry is trying to move move towards places where sorghum has not been and we’ll talk about that in my next talk a little bit more this is in your handout so I won’t spend a lot of time but the good thing about and I all refer to sorghum’s all day and I’m talking about the whole family sorghum sorghum Sudan Sudan grass they all kind of fit I’ll show this in another slide this afternoon a little different way perhaps but so one unit of nitrogen per growing day or one and a quarter if you’re feeling really really good another thing about sorghum that we should point out is in times of stress drought stress for instance sorghum rarely turns brown but it may be doesn’t grow very much either just kind of sits there it sits and waits for better weather what are you sufficiency i’ll hit on maturity is a big one so you have a hundred and five day corn and a hundred and five day sorghum forage sorghum they’re going to be ready on the same day no how do we rate corn that hundred and five days 105 days to what the black layer often to maturity in sorghum it’s days from emergence to soft dough to the beginning of soft dough so totally different systems there which again when you’re selling this stuff to corn farmers there’s a lot of explaining to do concept treatment we’ll talk about in a second maturity so i mentioned 105

days sorghum most of the sorghum’s are one hundred and five hundred and ten hundred and fifteen as you go north we don’t have 115 good days to grow sorghum so that maturity range is getting shorter as it has done in corn over the past i think there’s some 85 day stuff on the market for instance okay i’m going to run through this really crass fast so variable maturity in stress what that means is so i have corn i wonder if i can go back when i have corn BMR corn even and i have sorghum so i get this hot dry weather in july what’s that mean for corn not good for corn right you have corn this tall but that corn is this tall it’s tasseled it’s it’s got ears on it it’s only this tall good growing conditions maybe it’s 10 feet tall so that corn is genetically programmed in a hundred and five days or however many heat units that represents it’s going to be done whether it’s 10 feet tall or two feet tall sorghum is not that way shuts down at 104 degrees really shuts down in the field because the lack of moisture so if it’s 115 days sorghum and you got 30 days of dry weather those days just don’t count now you have 145 day sorghum so it’s going to wait so different adaptations of those plants but as a farmer as you’re working with farmers trying to figure out when to harvest sorghum is different it’s not going to just automatically go to maturity it will wait out times of environmental stress and you got to add those days to your total number so totally different to work with I’ll talk about this later so I won’t get into it now not much starch and those little if you do let it go to maturity those seeds of sorghum are hard little bee bees that just go right on through the cow sugar will talk about later from a nutritionist point of view forage sorghum is almost always higher protein than corn so if I’m having to buy supplement don’t have to buy as much protein with sorghum ray mentioned the BMR and the early BM Mars in sorghum and nav even still today in corn they don’t stand very well whereas the forged sorghum’s especially these Dwarfs really do stand and it’s because of the dense fibrous stocks they found a way to make those stocks stand even with the BMR trait and we don’t really have all the mycotoxin concerns that you do in in corn either but now the thing that producers care about the most it didn’t make my list dear damaged you have any deer in Kentucky have a couple do do deer eat sorghum or sorghum Sudan they don’t eat it so there are farmers who have bad dear pressure who they’ll plant a corn field but they may plant 20 rows of sorghum all the way around it and it really does a decent job of keeping the deer out so why hasn’t sorghum widely used there it is we’re afraid of that we’ll talk about ways to manage around that so oh I better go back to this one sorry if I can my slideshows smarter than I am I want to talk just a minute about I don’t know how to do it you can see it you guys got it in your hand out so Roundup Ready it’s a big thing in all of our crops is their Roundup Ready sorghum or Roundup Ready Sudan grass anybody buy that why to problems and they’re in your handout Roundup Ready Johnson grass wouldn’t that be fun so you’re never going to see Roundup Ready I don’t think in the sorghum family just because of outcrossing shatter cane and and sorghum now what we can do to help with weed control there’s something called concept it’s a seed treatment and that allows you if that seat is treated that allows you to put on pre-emerge herbicide duel and then you can put on your pre-emerge controls most your weeds and your sorghum seeds will grow through it because of that treatment they only fly in the ointment there is we have had issues where you get a lot a lot of rain it will wash off that concept treatment and you can get some damage something coming in the future there is going to be it’s in your hand out there at least one company is working with DuPont to make an herbicide tolerant not a GMO by the way it’s tolerant of the ALS herbicides and that was found naturally in shatter cane of all things so shatter canes good for something we found that trait will move that in that will give you then some post emerged weed control but you’re never going to see the

roundup ready and I think I’ll probably stop there sorry I didn’t get to some of the traits maybe we can bring those out in a later talk right there in the handouts yeah good Organic varieties was a question okay thanks Chris and sorry I messed my time up organic varieties there are from different sources you can get organic Sudan grass you can get organic sorghum Sudan and you can get organic forage sorghum from different places availability is limited because production acres down in Texas are limited but that is becoming more available another question it usually the question was how much cold tolerance does this material have and will it keep growing it will stay green I’ll put it this way pretty much until a frost but 60 degree nights or cooler it’s not growing very much anymore so a management technique that we use in the north we may let this stuff go until it Frost’s and use that to dry it down to then harvest it so it’ll is pretty much stay green until a frost but 60 degree nights are not good for sorghum yeah the question is what absolutely kills it and I don’t know that three nights and the teens for sure would maybe three nights of frost in general but I don’t know anyone know really where that line is in the bat okay 20 26 hours below 30 degrees thank you okay so some of these traits photo periods sensitive and again I’m going to think of these in light of why aren’t we using more of these sorghum crops and what could we do to change that the maturity we just talked about that’s an issue so plants can be short day long bay day neutral most of our sorghum’s base they are triggered by the day’s getting shorter I believe so with these photo period sensitive ones they will not initiate heading until daylight is less than 12 and a half hours so depending on where you live that’s going to be September sometime probably so you got all growing season where the stuffs not going to shoot ahead that can have implications for something like grass-fed beef or if you just don’t want to deal with with those heads you can manage around that now when it comes to dry down how is this stuff going to dry down it’s not not until the end of the season because it’s still growing green leaves all season long so if you’re mechanically harvesting this stuff you’re going to have to rake and that kind of stuff more than likely because it’s adding new leaves it’s forged qualities great but that stuff is going to be green as a gourd all season long the way the companies and by the way in my talks i tried to use material from a bunch of different companies just to give you guys various perspectives this one is something we don’t think about often but if you don’t have a chopper and you’re relying on the custom guy you can wait a week or two or time it when when he’s not doing corn and you’ll still have good quality stuff if you use photo period sensitive and it’s available in most of ours male sterols another one okay yeah the comment was a lot of folks with the photo period sensitive they’ll use that last cutting perhaps for grazing just let it go as long as it will so male-sterile then if you look at these in the field and we’re not late enough in the year to see it I don’t think they will actually have what kind of looks like a seed head sometimes but there’s nothing in it unless there’s outside pollen so if the neighbor across the road has a conventional variety you’re going to have some seed this is the stuff that gets used a lot in grass-fed beef production because there’s no grain it’s it’s really really high quality grass so if you think about what happens when plants go to maturity all those sugars from the stem get turned into starch in the Colonel’s we don’t have that process here so it really can be really really high quality stuff here’s the probably the one that’s made the most difference in the field bruh kidik dwarf and it is a genetic thing I think there’s three or four height genes it’s not really that much different of a concept than 50 years ago you know all the Angus cows in the country were this tall same kind of deal

we’re not short on the leaves if you count there i think there’s 14 leaves on that plant but what it is is just shortens the internode distance so instead of a foot between nodes there’s a couple inches so you have that little bitty plant like that and you’re not losing as much tonnage as you think either it really is amazing and lodging is not an issue at all so that’s been a really really good trait to get those producers who are afraid of sorghum because they’re afraid of lodging this gets us around that issue if that was the only thing stopping adoption we can help those guys say that again ah good light up is light up take the same it is probably mostly because of row spacing a lot of our especially the true sorghum’s are on 30 inch rows like corn so in there it is that’s a really good question though from everything we know it is it is yeah that’s a good question so you’d think those leaves on the bottom it’s actually surprising they’re still green that any light gets down there really good question so you guys have the words in your handouts but I think now this slides a little bit old you can get dwarfs in sorghum sorghum Sudan hybrids and actually Sudan grass as well Brown midrib ray talked about so we won’t waste any time on that one dry stock here’s another one a lot of these sorghum Sudan’s especially guys are making haylage or something out of them some guys try to make dry hay even which is really really difficult but with this dry stock trait 64 269 percent moisture that’s silence moisture and it will do it still standing up so you can direct harvest some of this stuff something I did not know until I started working on this talk this dry stock thing does not kick in until boot stage so if you got if you got plants this tall they’re going to be the same moisture with or without the dry stock trade once you start getting into boot those plants will be drier yeah that’s right the comment was dry stock does not mean dry hay still if you’re talking sorghum sedan with the stock that big around you’re not going to get that thing dried down for hey did you just able to harvest silage a little more easily this dry stock I think of all of these that we’ve talked about dry stock is the newest one and you guys help me out it’s available in I think it’s available in all it’s available in sorghum sorghum Sudan and Sudan grass I believe but not very many varieties of each yeah so it is a limited thing I think thanks for the extra time Chris I hope you don’t end up short any questions yes any trait stack varieties of yes so you can get like a brick etic dwarf for instance that’s also be mr that’s also dry stock yet they are starting to do that yes and so that’s going to vary by company quite heavily good question