National briefs: Beetles unleashed on invasive plants

Wisconsin State Farmer
National briefs


Frozen chicken cutlets being recalled, may contain milk 

A food processing company with plants in New York and Arizona is recalling 294,744 pounds of frozen chicken cutlets because the labels don't say the breading may contain milk. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the recall of Gourmet Boutique LLC chicken products on June 9. 

The USDA says the frozen cutlets are being recalled because the labels don't indicate that the breading may contain milk, a known allergen. 

There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of the cutlets. 

The products that are subject to recall bear the numbers P-18799 or P-32107 inside the USDA mark of inspection. 


Yakima Valley rains avoided cherry orchards 

Rains that fell in the Yakima Valley on June 8 do not appear to have harmed a cherry crop that is just days away from harvest. 

James Michael of the Northwest Cherry Growers says the rain didn't fall in the areas where there are cherry orchards. 

Rain water can be absorbed by cherries, which splits the skin and makes them less valuable. 

The Yakima Herald-Republic says harvest in the early cherry regions, including the Lower Yakima Valley and Columbia Basin, is expected to start next week and last until August. 

Up to 23 million 20-pound boxes are expected to be shipped to retailers this year, according the latest Northwest Cherry Growers estimate. 


Beetles unleashed to attack invasive air potato plants 

One of Florida's most persistent and problematic invasive plants will soon meet a small but formidable enemy. 

The air potato leaf beetle - a bright red insect about the size of a pinky fingernail - has a big appetite for the air potato plant. 

Air potato vines can completely cover natural areas, smothering other plants and native habitat. 

The Tampa Bay Times reports the public was recently invited to help release some of the beetles onto air potato vines growing in Tarpon Springs. 

The air potato is not native to Florida, which makes it an invasive species. It gets its name from its potato-like tubers, which grow above ground. 


National ag genotyping announces new tools in identifying corn disease 

Identifying corn diseases and pursuing the best management plan available just got easier, faster and more cost effective due to new testing protocols announced by the National Agricultural Genotyping Center located in Fargo, North Dakota. 

Corn has effective genetic resistance to many of the important diseases, according to Pete Snyder, President and CEO of NAGC, however, numerous challenges remain in identifying corn diseases in timely fashion. NAGC is targeting a couple of key diseases, Goss’s Wilt and Xanthomonas, in their first disease assays, or tests now available to corn farmers, agronomists and crop consultants. 

“A key part of our mission at the National Agricultural Genotyping Center  is to translate scientific discoveries into solutions for farmers and production agriculture. This is another important step in that regard,” Snyder said. “The new assays we have developed will provide proper identification in weeks rather than months and cut costs substantially.” 

Cost savings from the actual testing are as much as 75 percent less with a move from single sample testing to utilizing 96 sample trays. NAGC is working with farmers via crop consultants and agronomists to streamline the process of collecting samples and ramping up the assay process. 


Innovative challenge looks for next big thing for corn

 The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), along with innovation facilitator NineSigma, today announced the launch of a global competition to identify new and innovative uses for field corn as a renewable feedstock for making sustainable chemicals with significant market demand. 

Growing interest in America’s emerging bio-economy and continued improvements in sustainable corn production underscore the versatility and potential of this crop.  The “Consider Corn Challenge” is a starting point to help industry realize corn’s full potential. 

United States corn production has increased from 105.5 million metric tons in 1970 to 345.5 million metric tons in 2015. NCGA is inviting innovators around the world from industry, academia and other research institutions to consider new ways to utilize corn and maximize its contributions to the economy. 

Up to six winning proposals will be selected and winners will each receive $25,000. Winners will be announced in February 2018.

NCGA may also explore funding or other support of an entry for further development and/or commercialization, even if the entry is not a prize winner. 

Responses to the Consider Corn Challenge are due by September 28, 2017 at 5 p.m. US EDT.

Solution providers can submit proposals through NineSigma’s Open Innovation community

For more information and updates on the challenge, please visit