Thomas G. Chastain

Grass seed crop harvest in Oregon will begin shortly and to maximize harvest efficiency, identifying the best timing for harvest is essential.  Seed moisture content has been found to be the most reliable indicator of seed maturity and harvest timing in grass seed crops.

Since pollination and seed maturation are not uniform processes in grass seed crops, a range of seed maturity can be found in a single field.  Harvesting within the correct range of seed moisture contents will maximize harvestable seed yield and minimize losses of seed during harvest. Seed moisture content is also an important factor in the storability of harvested seed.  High seed moisture content reduces longevity of seed in storage and reduces seed quality. Continue reading

Thomas G. Chastain

Figure 1. Annual ryegrass. (T.G. Chastain photo)

Seed yields of several important Willamette Valley grass seed crop species have increased over the last 36 years (Fig. 2).  Seed yield increases in the region over this period have ranged from 261 lbs/acre for annual ryegrass to 1024 lbs/acre for tall fescue. Continue reading

My presentation was on our 3-year field study on energy use and efficiency in perennial ryegrass and tall fescue seed crops. Results from the study have been used to create a life-cycle energy budget for these grass seed crops.

Here’s my handout from Hyslop Farm Field Day with more information about the topic:

Energy Use and Efficiency in Grass Seed Crop Production

Flower seed production is a small component of the seed production industry in Oregon.  Flower seed crops grown in Oregon include California poppy, black-eyed Susan, larkspur, bachelor buttons, garden yarrow, oxeye daisy, African daisy, blue flax, wild thyme, coreopsis, snow in summer, columbine, and others.  Seed is often blended and used in flower mixes for home gardens, parks, roadside and re-vegetation projects, and golf courses.

California Poppy seed field near Silverton Oregon. (T.G. Chastain photo)

Here is a link to a video courtesy of America’s Heartland and KVIE-TV that illustrates flower seed production activities at Triangle Farms in Oregon:

Special Seeds

This diversified farming operation is located on the eastern edge of the Willamette Valley in the Silverton Hills region.  The flower seed crops provide rotation benefits for grass seed and other crops grown on farms where flowers are a part of the enterprise.

Thomas G. Chastain

Cool-season grass seed crops  – the dominant crop in the Willamette Valley, have seen a decline in acreage in recent years.  The decline in grass seed acreage has largely been the result of poor economic conditions and markets for the crop (Fig. 1).   Grass seed crop acreage is sensitive to general economic conditions and is reduced by recessions in the economy (marked by gray bars).    When prices of wheat and other crops are favorable for economic production during periods of low grass seed prices, there is a replacement of grass seed acreage by these crops.  But there now appears to be signs of a reversal of this short-term trend with a small increase in the acreage of grass seed crops grown in the Willamette Valley in 2011.  The long-term trends show an increase in the acreage of grass seed crops and loss of wheat acreage.

Oregon State University has recently released the 30th annual Seed Production Research Report.  This publication has long been a forum for reports from a variety of seed production researchers, not only from OSU but also from affiliated institutions and agencies.  For much of the Report’s existence, the publication has been edited and produced by Bill Young – now retired professor and extension agronomist in seed production.

Bill Young examining a grass seed field

The report is home to articles on a wide range of topics concerning the production of seed from species found in Oregon.  This year’s special anniversary edition is no different with article topics ranging from pest management and agronomic practices for grass and legume seed crops to seed production of native plants.

Here’s a link to the Seed Production Research Report:

Seed Production Research Report

Articles at the linked site can be accessed by clicking on the title of the article.