Native Seed Production for Crop Diversification
In 2006, the Native Seed Production for Crop Diversification (Project) met performance targets of adding two local farmer/growers where one and a half acres of native seeds were planted. The Project harvested native seed from one local grower and the CSU site, transferred technology on weed management in native seed production to local growers and held a field day for the public, growers and potential growers and supporters in June. The Project accomplished the production, harvest and cleaning of native grass and forbs seed species produced in 2006. The Project impacts included education and information dissemination through a field day and updated internet web pages, on-going technology transfer learned from research at the CSU site to local growers participating in native seed production, increased awareness for the critical need for native seed production at our field day and through numerous contacts with potential local growers.
The objectives of this project are to: 1) sustain long-term agricultural production by enhancing crop diversification and economic sustainability, 2) rehabilitate and restore natural ecosystems on the Plateau through the use of local produced native plants seeds, 3) enhance viability of long-term seeding projects by using locally produced and adapted species, 4) provide the information, knowledge and infrastructure for raising native seeds commercially for an existing high-demand market and 5) conduct research of native seed production and transfer production information to local growers.
The performance targets for this project are to: 1) establish from transplants critical species of grasses and forbs at Colorado State University’s Western Colorado Research Center at Rogers Mesa (CSU) and conduct life history and seed production research over the three years of the project, 2) establish trial fields of native plants at three to five local private growers using transplants and seed, monitor life history and seed production, 3) transfer technology from research information gathered at the CSU site to the private growers to assist in crop maintenance and seed production and 4) hold an annual field day for the general public and potential growers to transfer technology and disseminate information about research results, planting at growers fields and the CSU site and the challenges of growing native seeds.
Grass seed production: In 2006, the first seed crop was harvested from the Herz farm. The 0.15 acres of Mountain Brome (Bromus marginatus) produced 1.7 pounds of cleans seed. The other two grasses planted at the Herz farm, cool-season Muttongrass (Poa fendleriana) and Junegrass (Koleria macrantha), did not produce this year due to extremely hot temperatures in late spring-early summer, which caused these grasses to abort seed production. High temperatures do not typically reach 90º F until the last week in June or the first week in July. In 2006, 90º F high temperatures started the last week in May and lasted until August. The cessation of seed production in cool season grasses was a common occurrence in western Colorado and eastern Utah in 2006. Due to the extreme temperatures no cool-season grasses were harvested from the Herz Farm, the Roberts Farm or the CSU site in 2006.
Forbs seed production: Due to technical issues, forbs seed that was harvested in the fall of 2005 was not cleaned until early 2006. In 2005, 1/2 acre of Western Yarrow (Achilea lanulosa) produced 110 lbs of clean seed. However, in 2006, this crop only produced ½ lb of clean seed. Although Western Yarrow (Achilea lanulosa) is a perennial, it may be a short-lived perennial under cultivated conditions using wild collected seed. The plants spread in a thin ring-like fashion where the center (the previous year’s growth) dies out and an outer ring of plants emerges from rhizomes. In 2006, the stand appeared small and weak when compared to the 2005 stand and crop. The crop may have to be treated as a biennial under cultivated conditions in order to obtain high yields on a yearly basis. It may have to be planted in the spring of the first year in order to realize a heavy crop in the summer of the second year. The Wild Aster (Erigeron speciosus) behaved much the same as the Western Yarrow, with 40 lbs of seed production in 2005 from 1/3 acre but only 6 lbs in 2006. These low yields in the second production year may have as much to do with climatic conditions as longevity. Another reason for the low production in 2006 of both of these forbs may be that the plants did not have sufficient time in 2006 for good vegetative production prior to the onset of the early and prolonged heat (discussed above), that forced early flower initiation.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
The impacts and contributions for the project in 2006 were the addition of two private growers to the project, the harvesting of native seed at a private growers farm from a 2005 planting and a field day held for the public and potential native seed growers.
The two private growers added to the project in 2006 were Kenny Hines Farm and the Barnhart/Rogers Farm. At the Kenny Hines Farm, weed eradication was begun in 2005, however, an acre of land was planted with three grass species in the spring of 2006, Muttongrass (Poa fendleriana), Mountain Brome (Bromus marginatus) and Basin Wild Rye (Elymus cinereus). The Muttongrass did not germinate well but good stands of Mountain Brome and Basin Wild Rye were established and growing well. At the Barnhart/Rogers farm weed eradication was conducted from spring through fall and a ½ acre of Basin Wild Rye (Elymus cinereus) was seeded in late fall.
The first native seed harvest from a private grower’s farm occurred at the Herz Farm where 1.7 lbs of Mountain Brome (Bromus marginatus) was harvested. The Mountain Brome was seed at the Herz Farm in late spring of 2005.
The first field day was held in late June and was attended by 65 people and was a big success. Paticipants were informed about WSARE, the project progress to date, research results and things we’ve learned from the porject and plans for the coming year. Participants included individuals from the public, the Uncompahgre Plateau Project, BLM, USFS, Public Lands Partnership, Colorado DOW, project growers and interested potential growers and several area non-governmental groups interested in restoration using native seeds and plants.
The UPP website is being updated with WSARE native seed project information for 2006 and can be accessed at the following three web pages:
These pages contain information on the CSU facility used for native seed research, the methods used for native seed production and a list of native species grown at CSU for the WSARE project and the UPP.
30619 Hwy 92
Hotchkiss, CO 81419
Office Phone: 9708721915
40001 Wood Ct
Paonia, CO 81428
Office Phone: 9708727994
757 2200 Rd
Delta, CO 81416
Office Phone: 9708745520
1476 D Rd
Delta, CO 81416
Office Phone: 9708747332