Expanding Commercial Drought-Tolerant Seed Production

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2023: $25,000.00
Projected End Date: 04/30/2025
Host Institution Award ID: G313-23-W9982
Grant Recipient: Feral Farm
Region: Western
State: Oregon
Principal Investigator:
Cacia Huff
Feral Farm


  • Agronomic: barley, wheat
  • Vegetables: other


  • Crop Production: drought tolerance, seed saving, varieties and cultivars

    Proposal summary:

    Southern Oregon is known as a world class seed growing region, and is currently facing ‘catastrophic’ ‘historic’ drought. Many farmers have little to no irrigation water, farmers are moving, and farms are going out of business. In order to strengthen the viability, economic resilience, and climate adaptability for farmers during this difficult time, it is imperative that we learn from our peers about seed production during times of drought. 

    This project is significant because it supports regional farmers to learn from previous research about non-irrigated farming, local adaptation of heritage grains,  and strategies for bed preparation for seed production. Case studies resulting from the grant will provide farmers with valuable information about seed production in drought.  Many Farmers have expressed a desire  to add heritage grains to their operations, and they want to learn from other farmers.  Our project brings together diverse farmers to learn, observe, and share their experiences producing grains and specialty seed crops during drought.

    This project supports regional farmers in southern Oregon to expand commercial seed production during times of drought. Farmers will learn from peers about non-irrigated farming, local adaptation of heritage grains, and strategies for bed preparation for maximum yield and biomass production. We are proposing a research trial utilizing case studies of different scales, and farming practices growing 4 grains in order to determine largest yield, most amount of biomass, and which is best suited to include in seed production.

    Results from this project will be shared across Oregon through community partner networks, (such as Southern Oregon Seed Growers Association) and will be included in field day /outreach events so that farmers can learn from each other about how to implement non-irrigated grains and seed production into their current cropping plans. 

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Research Objectives:

    Objective 1: Measure differences in yield and lodging of four different grain crops

    Objective 2: Measure differences in biomass of four different grain crops

    Objective 3: Measure the difference between beds with no-till preparation, mulching and beds prepared with tillage over two growing seasons


    Education Objectives:

    Objective 1: Develop case studies, record observations, and share results from 3 diverse farms in southerns Oregon using different bed preparation techniques to grow heritage grains with no irrigation.

    Objective 2: Establish educational field tours of case study farms, and small-scale seed producers in drought conditions. Farmers will highlight growing seeds in times of drought using drip tape, choosing drought tolerant varieties and using practices that increase the water holding capacity of soils. 

    Objective 3: Present findings at Southern Oregon Seed Growers Association Annual meeting, and at the Organic Seed Growers Conference in February 2024.

    Objective 4: Host an online workshop to present research findings and case studies in partnership with the Southern Oregon Seed Growers Association and Oregon State University Extension Small Farms program.

    Objective 5: Disseminate presentation and information via nonprofit agricultural networks, including the Cultivate Oregon, Southern Oregon Seed Growers Association, Oregon Climate (OrCAN) and Agriculture Network, Organic Seed Alliance and Oregon State University Extension Service.


    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.