Chairman’s Message – Patrick Stephenson

Another year has flown bye and we are again looking at our annual general meeting in San Antonio. Please make sure you meet up with us and enjoy the opportunity to share knowledge and experience. Plans as we go forward are to have a monthly hook up via on-line platform to share our experiences update ourselves on the global crop prospects from a ‘feet on the ground’ perspective. I have recently returned from a working trip to Australia and if you ever needed to see the value of shared knowledge and understanding this was a great example. The Hyper yielding wheat project was initiated by the farmers levy board. Tasmania lies at 42 degrees south a similar latitude to South Island New Zealand. The Tasmanian average wheat yield was below 6 t/ha (85 bushels/acre) where as New Zealand was in excess of 8 t/ha (120 bushels/acre). The aim was to improve Tasmanian production. In the space of 3 years average yields have increase by over 1 t/ha (15 bushels/acre). The use of European germplasm, nitrogen, fungicides, growth regulators and shared knowledge has seen an immediate improvement. The National record for wheat production in Australia is also in Tasmania at 13.2 t/ha (195 bushels/acre) so still room for improvement. This confirmed to me the value of transferring and sharing knowledge.

Another less positive example came to me from a researcher recently returned from a conference in Canada where short season soya bean production had been discussed. The United Kingdom needs more rotational break crops and has a shortage of high protein alternatives. I appreciate most of you associate the UK with rain (although this autumn has been like an equatorial rainy season!) but the reality is that the south east receives less than 600 mm (24 inches) and is classed metrologically as semi-arid. Having had what was described as ‘really good’ dialogue the research institutes refused to share any germ plasm. We have a chance to drive global improvement as the demand for food increases. We are under constant attack from the environmental lobby and we face a continued erosion of our pesticide armoury. If we do not share best practice, then we cannot hope to achieve the combined goal of increased food production while minimising its environmental footprint.

The GAIAC Sponsored Workshop at NAICC
January in San Antonio, TX

CRISPR Gene Editing Technology: Applications in Production Agriculture
Wednesday, January 22, 2020
8:00 am – 12:00 pm
(Registration and continental breakfast at 7:30 am)
Workshop Fee: $75 pre-registered; $95 day of workshop


The Basics of Employing CRISPR Gene Editing to Rapidly Domesticate Pennycress into an Oilseed Cash Cover Crop
Dr. John Sedbrook, Professor of Genetics
School of Biological Sciences
Illinois State University Normal, IL

The Future for Gene Edited Crops – Global Development of a Precision Breeding Technology in Agriculture
Dr. Maria Fedorova, Global Regulatory Leader – Enabling Technologies
Corteva Agriscience
Johnson, IA

EPA Perspective on Gene Edited PIPs
Dr. Alan Reynolds (invited)
US-EPA Office of Pesticide Programs Biopesticides and Pollution Prevention Division
Washington, DC

Crop Consultant Panel
International Panel of Crop Consultants from the Americas, Europe and Australia. Short presentations on the status and potential value of gene edited crops in their respective countries followed by Q & A and discussion with speakers and workshop attendees.




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GAIAC World Ag Conditions Summary

In the United Kingdom, the rain has had a significant effect of winter cereal planting. The UK will see a wheat acreage down 30% on its long-term average. Forward prices have stabilised but do not reflect the likely shortfall. Predicted forward prices could be as high as £180/ tonne for feed wheat. Straw, which is an important by-product in the North of the UK, could also see prices hitting an eye wateringly high price possibly £100 +/tonne. Harvest failed to be completed in the far North of Scotland compounding a very difficult time

France and the Nordics have also suffered similar issues and will have substantial crop deficits.

Denmark has mirrored the UK and the impact will be for a very large spring barley crop. Soil damage will be considerable and only time will assist recovery

South Africa continues to battle with drought and water conservation remains a priority. In terms of production South Africa is a sleeping giant and will surely become a player in the world grain and soya markets.

Ukraine has suffered the reverse effect of an extended dry period affecting establishment. Plantings are likely to below the long-term average

For the Mid-South USA (Mostly Louisiana)

Wet spring prompted later than normal plantings, dry summer and wetter than normal fall delaying harvest of most crops. In spite of the weather, yields have been respectable but commodity prices have been disappointing. Not much winter wheat being planted and an earlier than normal freeze has challenged sugarcane harvest, but we are still harvesting at least at this time.

North United States and Canada struggled with late sowing also leading to a very late and variable quality harvest.

Australia still battles with wild fires and over 1 million hectares has been affected. Dry land wheat production will be down on the long-term average. Wet land areas have favoured better and should see harvest near or above average. China appears to have an insatiable demand for produce and is a key Australian export destination.

BRAZIL includes reports on two important regions, MT and MS.

MT – Mato Grosso has had good weather this year. Rains are coming frequently, and soybeans looks good in the field. Some farms planted a little later than they wanted to, but nothing that will harm the next crop.

MS – Mato Grosso do Sul has had one of the worst years since 2001. Farmers depend on the revenue of the second crop, corn, but they can’t plant it too late. Spring rains didn’t normalize until November and soybeans were planted much too late. As a result, soybean yield is compromised by the light period, because it was planted late. Corn will lose a lot of acreage because of the risk of frost and the lack of rainfall during germination.

It’s interesting to note that these two states border each other but have remarkable weather differences.

GAIAC Members Submit Abstract for Consideration at the International Weed Science Congress 

Modified Production Practices to Enhancing Performance of Herbicide Program For Difficult to Control Weeds

James Steffel, Patrick Stephenson

An increasing number of herbicide resistant and difficult to control weed species challenge crop consultants and advisors to recommend herbicide programs to thier growers that provide commercially acceptable weed control.  A number of novel strategies and modications to conventional production practices are being employed in conjunction with conventional herbicide programs to maintin viable weed control in agricultural areas where control provided by available herbicide chemistries alone has declined.  The Global Alliance of Independent Agricultural Consultants (GAIAC) is a worldwide network of independent agriculture consultants organized to share experience and information.  The resulting real time global knowledge base allows members to provide timely and viable solutions to difficult crop production issues, like management of resistant or difficult to control weeds.  The authors surveyed GAIAC members in more than 15 countries on 6 continents after the 2019 growing season to compare specific non-chemical activities employed in conjunction with standard herbicide programs to enhance control of resistant or difficult to control weed species.  The survey indicates that in recent years increased use of tillage, cover crops, sanitation and modified cropping systems are being used together with standard herbicide programs to improve management of problem weed species.  Such modifications of established agronomic practices and production systems offer an effective and economically viable strategy to maintain commercially acceptable weed control despite increasing incidence of herbicide resistance and a lack of new herbicide modes of action.  Survey results from the diverse geographies, crops and production systems GAIAC consultants work in will be summarized to demonstrate the relative value of individual modifications to enhance performance of herbicide programs.

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