Is There A Shortage of Vegetable Seed This Spring?

From Clemson Plant Pathologist Dr. Tony Keinath.

Last week I listened to a panel assembled by The National Garden Bureau discuss this topic. Panelists included employees from Johnny’s, Seminis (Bayer), Harris, Syngenta, Jung, and Botanical Interests seed companies. The short answer to the seed shortage question was yes, 3 to 7% of cultivars—especially cultivars new for this season—may be out of stock. A website often doesn’t show how soon seed will be restocked. Restocking may take only a week if seed still available in a warehouse, or buyers may have to wait 3 to 9 months until the next seed crop is harvested.

The reasons for the seed shortage were mainly related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including labor shortages of dock workers to unload shipments of seed produced in Asia and workers at seed processing facilities in rural areas. Another reason is the 3-year timeframe seed producers use when they decide how many acres of a given cultivar to plant. Increased demands for vegetable and flower seeds of 100% and 70%, respectively, mean existing seed stocks are being used up faster than expected in 2020-2021.

Several panelists suggested buyers substitute similar cultivars for out-of-stock cultivars. For growers in the South purchasing seed for vegetable crops, it’s important to find a cultivar with a similar harvest date. In the spring, heat-sensitive crops like beans and radishes need to mature quickly for optimum yields and quality. In the fall, earliness may be important for cold-sensitive cucumbers and squash. Be sure to substitute another early maturing cultivar if the desired early cultivar is not available.

Finally, a tip I heard: carrot seed is likely to be in short supply in 2022, because carrot is a biennial that flowers in the second year of growth (if not eaten before then!).

COVID-19 Ag Impact Survey Re-Lauch

Earlier in 2020 we asked fruit and vegetable producers to respond to a short survey on their experiences with COVID 19. As the pandemic is ongoing and we are close to starting a new season, we are re-launching the survey to understand what happened over the last full year and what changes are being implemented going into 2021. If you responded to the earlier survey, we appreciate your input and are asking for your response to this survey as well. Click the graphic below or scan the QR code with your phone to access the survey.

Once analyzed, the results will be available online. All survey results are anonymous and will be shown as aggregated results. We hope the results benefit producers, Extension, government, and other participants in agriculture. The greater the response, the more accurate and useful the information will be. We appreciate your time and feedback. Please contact us with any questions or concerns related to the survey.

Kevin Burkett

Kburke5@clemson.edu

540-239-4602

2021 Value Added Producer Grants from the USDA

The USDA is accepting applications for Value Added Producer Grants. The applications are due by March 22, 2021. Click below for the application templates.

According to the application, “The purpose of the Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) Program is to help U.S. agricultural producers enter into value-added activities.  Awards may be made for either economic planning or working capital activities related to the processing and/or marketing of valued-added agricultural products.  The maximum grant amount for a planning grant is $75,000 and the maximum grant amount for a working capital grant is $250,000.”

Kyle Player of the SCDA ACRE program has planned a Value Added Producer Grant Webinar for January 7, 2021 from 3-4 pm. This will be a great webinar for learning about eligibility and applying for the grant. Click on the flier below for more information.

Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2

From the Farm Service Agency.

Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 for Specialty Crop Producers

More than 230 fruit, vegetable, horticulture, and tree nut commodities are eligible for USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2) along with honey, maple sap, floriculture and nursery crops. Check to see if the crops you grow are eligible through our Eligible Commodities Finder on farmers.gov/cfap.

Don’t miss a “beet” and apply for CFAP 2 by December 11, 2020, through your local USDA Farm Service Agency.

Learn more at farmers.gov/cfap or call 877-508-8364 to speak directly with a USDA employee ready to offer assistance. 

COVID Ag Impact Survey

Clemson Cooperative Extension is inviting you to participate in a research study. The purpose of this research is to collect information on the impacts of COVID-19 on the agricultural industry and understand the effects (positive and negative) on specialty crop and direct marketing farms in South Carolina. The South Carolina Department of Agriculture (SCDA) is a collaborator on the survey.

Efforts like this allow Clemson Extension to improve the quality of life of all South Carolinians by providing unbiased, research-based information. Extension works to help support South Carolina’s $42 billion agriculture and forestry industries. Any collected data will be used in aggregate form. Survey results may be shared with Extension faculty, staff and / or outside organizations in an effort to further understand the impact COVID-19 has had on South Carolina agriculture.

The survey is voluntary and anonymous. It will take you about 7 minutes to complete the survey. Click here to access the survey.

As always, we appreciate your feedback and participation in Clemson Cooperative Extension programs.

If You Receive Seeds in the Mail that You Didn’t Order, Don’t Open Them!

Small packages of seeds have started showing up in the mail around the country, including in SC, and no one is sure why. The packages appear to be from China and that’s about all we know at this time. The SCDA and Clemson’s Department of Plant Industry are investigating, as is the USDA. Since we do not yet know if the packets contain invasive species or plant diseases that may affect our agriculture industry, we need to take this seriously.

SC Agriculture Department warns against planting mystery seeds ...

A mysterious package of seed that recently arrived in Greenville, SC from China. Note the false description of contents on the shipping label. Photo from The Post and Courier

If you receive a package of seeds that you did not order, follow these steps:

See Clemson’s press release on the mystery seeds here.

USDA Hurricane Preparation and Recovery Guides for SC Producers

Hurricane season is upon us and the USDA has recently come out with a series of Hurricane Preparation and Recovery Guides for SC Producers. There is (or will soon be) a guide for just about every type of crop and agricultural commodity including:

Fruit Tree Produce (Peaches, Pecans, Apples, etc.) – Coming Soon

Onions – Coming Soon

Strawberries – Coming Soon

Tomato, Pepper, and Eggplant

Watermelon

For the full list of guides for South Carolina, see the USDA page here.

 

Bob Hall Named Swisher Sweets Farmer of the Year for SC

Bob Hall of  Bush-N-Vine Farm in York, SC is this year’s Swisher Sweets Farmer of the Year for South Carolina. He was nominated by Upstate Clemson Extension Agent, Andy Rollins. Rollins said of Hall, “I am so proud of him and all his family for all they have done to make their farm and community great.”  Hall will be competing against farmers from other states in the Southeast for the overall 2020 Swisher Sweets Farmer of the Year. The winner will be announced at the Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie, GA, which will be held October 20-22, 2020.

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South Carolina’s 2020 Swisher Sweets Farmer of the Year, Bob Hall.

Update to Small Business Administration COVID-19 Related Loans

From the Clemson Extension Agribusiness Team.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) has been administering two particular pots of money that businesses have been able to access during the COVID-19 pandemic. These pots of money were first funded through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) and are called the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Emergency Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL).

Originally with the exception of a small carve-out, most of agriculture was not eligible for the EIDL but as long as they met specific criteria they were able to access the PPP. During this time, additional rules and guidance had been released and updated multiple times which has provided additional information as well as confusion and created more questions than may have been answered. Then the money ran out. Over the past week, Congress has been working on an additional appropriation for these two funds through the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act (PPPHCEA). On Tuesday, April 21, 2020, the U.S. Senate passed the amendment and bill and by April 22, 2020, it was sent to the U.S. House. The U.S. House passed the bill on Thursday, April 23, 2020, and sent it on for the President’s signature. The President is expected to sign it on Friday, April 24, 2020.

The Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act appropriated additional funds as follows:

  •  $310 billion to the Paycheck Protection Program:
    • As part of the $310 billion, there is a carve-out that created a set-aside for $30 billion of the funds to go directly through “insured depository institutions, credit unions, and community financial institutions” for “community financial institutions, small insured depository institutions, and credit unions”. This means it includes community development financial institutions, and credit unions Institutions that have consolidated assets of less than $10 billion will have the potential to access and lend the $30 billion that has been appropriated for that group of financial institutions.
    • $280 billion of the $310 billion that was appropriated can be accessed through institutions that can service SBA loans and programs as was done through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES).
  • $10 billion to the Emergency Injury Disaster Loan:
    o Producers of agricultural enterprises are specifically stated as eligible for EIDL if they meet the definition of small business.
  • The bill also provides funds to be used for health and human services purposes:
    • $75 billion to be used by eligible healthcare providers for healthcare-related expenses or lost revenues due to COVID-19.
    • $25 billion to prevent, prepare for and respond to COVID-19. This allows for research and development, validation, manufacturing, purchasing, and administering of COVID-19 testing.

If you have an interest in being able to access any funds to assist your farm or business that has been affected due to COVID-19 related reasons we recommend you check with your local lending institutions or the Small Business Administration (SBA) NOW! It is expected that the funding that has been appropriated will not last very long.

SBA Link to download pdf of Participating Lenders for PPP:
SBA Link to apply for EIDL

For further information and links about the loans and other COVID-19 related issues please visit the Clemson Extension Agribusiness Team COVID-19 Resources website.

Further information on general agricultural business-related information and farm management can be found at the Clemson Extension Agribusiness Team’s webpage.