#CALSproud COVID-19 Response: Germplasm licensing service continues amid COVID-19 pandemic

June 29th, 2020

With soybean farmers across the United States relying on access to non-GMO soybean varieties from the Iowa State University Research Foundation, Inc., Iowa State leadership acted fast to ensure critical services such as the Germplasm Licensing Program remained open amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

This continuation of services is a collaborative effort among the ISURF, the Committee for Agricultural Development, the Iowa Crop Improvement Association and the Department of Agronomy.

For many years, soybean breeders in the agronomy department have been releasing high yielding non-GMO soybean varieties with unique traits that are in high demand with growers and consumers across North America and with Asian market international traders. When Iowa State announced in March all classes would be moved online and employees would be working from home in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, growers became concerned about how they would access seeds from the Germplasm Licensing Program.

Members of the four entities kept in touch with growers this spring to communicate where seed could be picked up and which soybean varieties would be best for particular uses. Kevin Scholbrock, CAD superintendent, worked with growers to find the best way to receive their Iowa State seed shipment while minimizing contact to protect the farmers from potential spread of the virus.

Just as growers were busy planting their crops, CAD seed production staff were in the fields planting 2020 Iowa State seed ordered by licensees and new soybean varieties released by Iowa State plant breeders. ISURF facilitated the licensing agreements process to prevent targeted planting date delays.

Additionally, ICIA planted soybeans and corn at multiple Iowa Crop Performance Trial locations across Iowa. The crop tests provide unbiased comparisons among a large number of varieties submitted by seed producers and/or distributors, allowing all to evaluate competitiveness of Iowa State’s varieties.