New Organic Herbicide, FSMA Comments, and Funding for Peach/Strawberry Breeding Efforts

Hello Everyone!  It’s been a while since I posted here, but here are a few things of interest to the peach community:

Suppress Herbicide EC for Organic Weed Control

Westbridge Agricultural Products recently gained EPA registration of Suppress Herbicide EC, a new tool for organic growers in the battle against weeds.

Suppress Herbicide EC is registered as a broad spectrum contact herbicide for post-emergent, non-selective weed control for use in all agricultural food and non-food crops.

The formulation is an emulsifiable concentrate approved by the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) for use in organic food production.

In four years of university research trials, the herbicide consistently revealed positive results in controlling various weeds.

Weed control is always a difficult challenge for organic growers and there are few effective and economical options available for use on organic food crops.

The introduction of this new product is exciting news and what organic growers have been waiting for, says Westbridge President Tina Koenemann.

The herbicide provides growers with a valuable tool to help meet their production goals. It could also prove to be a valuable option for conventional growers as a rotational herbicide where resistant weeds have become a problem.

Westbridge Agricultural Products is a manufacturer and distributor of liquid organic fertilizers, bio pesticides, and specialty inputs.

For more information:

Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA) Comment Period

From USDA:
On September 29, 2014, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published in the Federal Register for public comment four supplemental proposed rules addressing specific provisions from the various original proposals, based on comments reviewed so far.

The four Supplemental Notices of Proposed Rulemaking are:

  1. Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for the Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption. Docket number FDA-2011-N-0921 (LINK TO FED REGISTER This is the produce/farm rule and also impacts produce packinghouses located on farms.
  1. Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for the Current Good Manufacturing Practice and Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Human Food. Docket number FDA-2011-N-0920 (LINK TO FED REGISTER This is the manufacturing/processing rule and also impacts produce packinghouses not located on farms.
  1. Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for the Current Good Manufacturing Practice and Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Food for Animals. Docket number FDA-2011-N-0922 (LINK TO FED REGISTER This is the manufacturing/processing rule for animal food.
  1. Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for the Foreign Supplier Verification Program for Importers of Food for Humans and Animals. Docket number FDA-2011-N-0143 (LINK TO FED REGISTER This is the importer rule.

These supplemental proposed rules are key components of the preventive approach to food safety established by FSMA. They only include the major areas where FDA is re-proposing new language from the original proposal, so areas that are not being re-proposed are not being published again. FDA continues to review all comments received on the original proposals and will take them into account as they move forward in the rulemaking process, including new comments submitted on these four supplemental proposed rules.

The produce industry, other stakeholders, and the general public are being asked to participate in the rulemaking process by reviewing the supplemental proposed rules and submitting comments to FDA or at the portal ( by the due date of December 15, 2014. We suggest that you provide substantive, specific comments with as much detail as you can provide on what works for you and what doesn’t work (and why) on these specific areas. Your input will help guide our colleagues at FDA as they draft final rules on produce safety, preventive controls for human and animal food, and imports of human and animal food. The regulations for these four rules will become effective only after the final rules are published in the Federal Register along with established compliance dates.

Should you have questions about FDA’s supplemental proposed rules or any other FDA-related issue, please contact our FDA colleagues at or Food and Drug Administration, 5100 Paint Branch Parkway, Wiley Building, HFS-009, College Park, MD 20740, Attn: FSMA Outreach.

USDA Specialty Crop Grants Awarded to UF Faculty

Two new projects have been funded through the USDA Specialty Crops Research Initiative involving UF Faculty.

rosbreed2_logofbThe first project, RosBREED: Combining Disease Resistance with Horticultural Quality in New Rosaceous Cultivars will help both the strawberry and peach industries in Florida.  Dr. Mercy Olmstead, Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist in the Horticultural Sciences Department, is the Extension Lead for this national project and Dr. Vance Whitaker, is an Assistant Professor and Strawberry Breeder in the Horticultural Sciences Department a demonstration breeder, who will use new genetic tools to make the breeding process more efficient and be able to deliver a product to the marketplace with superior fruit quality and disease resistance.  Rosaceous crops in the Rosaceae family include apple, cherry, peach, pear, blackberry, and rootstocks for these crops.

From the press release:

A national team of scientists working on genomics, genetics, and breeding of rosaceous crops has been awarded funds for the first year of a $10 million, five year USDA – NIFA – SCRI competitive grant. The team will develop and apply modern DNA-based tools to deliver new cultivars – cultivated varieties – with superior product quality and disease resistance.

This award from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Research Initiative will be managed by Project Director Amy Iezzoni of Michigan State University. She and project co-Director Cameron Peace, Washington State University, will lead a group of 35 scientists from 14 U.S. institutions along with numerous international cooperators. Entitled “RosBREED: Combining Disease Resistance with Horticultural Quality in New Rosaceous Cultivars”, the project will adapt and demonstrate new DNA-based tools in 22 U.S. breeding programs, focusing on eight crops: apple, blackberry, peach, pear, rose, strawberry, sweet cherry, and tart cherry.

RosBREED brings unprecedented attention to local and regional breeding programs and a commitment to more efficiently, accurately, and creatively develop commercial scion and rootstock cultivars. The team will build on the foundation established in the preceding RosBREED project, now adding key new scientists and targeting diseases industry stakeholders across the country have identified as key challenges. Using modern DNA tools, U.S. breeders will now be able to more rapidly develop cultivars with disease resistance combined with superior horticultural quality. Producers will have more options to sustainably protect their crops, while consumers and the entire supply chain will directly benefit from products with better taste, nutrition, keeping ability, and appearance.

For more information:

The second project being funded to UF scientists is: Genome Database for Rosaceae: Empowering Specialty Crop Research through Big Data-Driven Discovery and Application in Breeding is a $2.7 million, five-year project that will help the research community and breeders to connect and find genetic information about Rosaceae crops.  This project will collect all of the genetic knowledge needed to help researchers and breeder make their jobs more efficient so that new fruit varieties will be released with superior fruit quality in a shorter time period that will ultimately benefit the consumer. Dr. Dorrie Main, the lead PI is based at Washington State University in Pullman, WA and will lead a team of 10 scientists in this effort.

Dr. Mercy Olmstead is leading the extension effort on this project as well but will conduct research with Dr. Katie Stofer in the Department of Agricultural Education and Communications on how scientists can improve their communication skills to tell their stakeholders the importance of their research results.

For more information on this database for tree fruit (and what it can do for you!):