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October 2018 Newsletter

Corn & Bean Harvest

The season has been one of the most unusual ones in recent record. Planting was normal for the most part in most of the area. The season heat unit accumulation was running about one week ahead compared to 2017, resulting in earlier flowering in July. 

There was an increased amount of rainfall during the month of June and part of July. This rainfall period was followed by a dry spell from July 14 to August 4. Hybrids that flowered during this period showed a reduction in yield. Then the rains continued during August and September. These late rains have favored late hybrids this year. The harvest season for corn usually starts in October but two weeks of rainfall stopped the harvest until mid October. 

Farmers have had a difficult harvest season because of wet fields that kept the harvesting equipment out of the fields. There have been lots of news and television coverage of farm equipment outfitted with special wheel tracks to move in wet and muddy fields. As of this writing the harvest is still in progress. The excess rainfall has resulted in loss of nitrogen and less than ideal conditions for crop development. 

Yield results vary from field to field. Large tracts of land with uniform topography are showing good results whereas fields with low spots and flooded areas are showing mixed results. We still don’t have official yield records from the USDA. This year’s weather conditions have created an opportunity for breeders to study the response to this change in the environment and to select new materials for the future.

Iowa State University Field Day

On September 26, we attended the Raymond Baker Plant Breeding field day at the Iowa State Research Experimental Station in Ames. At the field day, the breeders in charge of the programs explained their research objectives and general progress. The breeding programs presented were corn, soybeans, sorghum and the doubled haploid program. 

Breeders and graduate students made the presentations. There were presentations on the use of automated cameras that were capable of tracking the plant development throughout the entire season with pictures taken every 10 minutes. Measurement data was collected from pictures on different traits. The use of drones was also demonstrated in data gathering. The data collected this year are going to be of special interest for their breeding for the future. 

At the field day we also learned about the work of a breeder on mung beans, a very nutritious legume that can be used as a source of vegetable protein in baking and other food products. This field day illustrated the new direction of the university breeding efforts and a new group of breeders at Iowa State.

Pancake Breakfast in Fredericksburg, IA
On September 8th for Pioneer Power Acres

Dennis Harkrader grew GEI 9887 lys at his organic farm in Fredericksburg. He reported on the event last month featuring using the flour for the pancakes:

“There were approximately 250 people who came. This is the 1st one we did. We used the high lysine corn in the pancake batter along with other flours. Recipes have been created with the assistance of a food designer. The comments we received were very positive. They could not believe the flavor and texture. The pancakes were made with homemade sausage. Many are asking when we are going to have another pancake breakfast. We learned some people did not come because they thought the pancakes were going to be gritty.”

New Products

Whole Grain Milling in Welcome, MN has been growing GEI 101 lysine and GEI 411C hybrids. They make organic high lysine corn tortilla chips and organic blue corn tortilla chips. Both are very popular. Doug Hilgendorf decided to try GEI 2318 to make organic high carotene corn tortilla chips. These turned out very well also. He is considering if this should be a new product in their lineup. 

Red Spring Wheat

We have a friend in Maine who loves to bake bread. When PFI member, Ken Choquette, posted that he had red spring wheat berries for sale, we gave him a call. 

We milled some in our Nutrimill and made some buns. I followed a recipe and the buns were a disappointment. They were flat as a pancake. We mailed a box of the berries to our friend. His family gave his breads rave reviews. He said the wheat had a nice sweet nutty flavor. 

His secret is to use a ratio of 75% spring wheat to 25% bread flour.  With another bread, he used 1/3 spring wheat, 1/3 spelt flour and 1/3 bread flour. He said the spring wheat flour had a higher gluten and higher protein content. We will see him in November. We will bring more Choquette berries and hopefully we get to try a finished product.

A learning lesson for me is NOT to use the spring wheat without adding regular flour.

This is a unique cake with unique flavors. It’s highly recommended if you would like to try it. The polenta and dried rosemary came from Early Morning Harvest in Panora, IA.

Lemon & Rosemary Polenta Cake 

1.5 oz day old white bread 1.5 slices
½ cup blanched almonds
2 tsp chopped rosemary
1 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1.5 Tbsp lemon zest plus 3 Tbsp juice
¾ c olive oil
5 medium eggs, beaten
½ c uncooked coarse polenta
Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 325°. Coat a 9” cake pan with cooking spray. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper, coat paper with cooking spray.

Process bread in a food processor until fine crumbs form (2/3 cup). Transfer to a large bowl. Process almonds and rosemary in food processor, until a fine powder forms, about 1 minute. 

Add almond mixture to bowl with bread crumbs. Stir in sugar, baking powder, lemon zest and juice. Add olive oil and eggs, stir with a whisk to completely combine. 

Add polenta separately, as the final ingredient, and stir to combine. Pour mixture into prepared pan.

Bake in preheated oven until cake is browned on top and a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean, 35to 40 minutes. Cool cake in pan for about 10 minutes. Run a butter knife around the edge of cake in pan. 
Remove cake from pan; discard paper. Place cake on a plate, sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serves 10

Chefs of King Restaurant in New York City, Sept 10, 2018 People Magazine

Biofortified Products, Gene Editing

The importance of the nutritive value of crops has caught the attention of breeders, processors and the food industry. There is a new interest in the nutritional value of cereal grains and pulses as a source of vegetable proteins to feed the future population growth. 

There will be new opportunities for farmers, processors and food scientists as a result of these new efforts. There is a lot of research being done now, and lots more needed to bring these new ideas and concepts to workable solutions. There is also a lot of research being done to identify new useful traits and to find new uses in the food industry. 

Crop natural variability is a source of new innovations for whole plant genetic breeders. Gene editing teams are being created by large companies focused on the development of new products. We will cover these new topics in our future newsletters.

2019 GEI Hybrid Catalog

Click Here to view the full catalog on our website

Seed Available:
GEI 9010 ORGANIC
GEI 9700 treated
GEI 9887 lys
GEI 2318 high provitamin A corn
GEI 2312 new high provitamin A corn GEI 411C
GEI 202 M new mushroom popcorn
GEI 201 flake popcorn available in 2020