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.

Thomas G. Chastain

Why is lodging important in grass seed crops?  Under certain conditions, the tiller cannot support the weight of the developing inflorescence and seed.  The tiller lodges or falls to the ground, especially when there are high levels of nitrogen fertilizer and soil moisture present (Fig. 1).  Both conditions are common in Oregon’s commercial grass seed production fields in the spring.

Figure 1. Lodging in ryegrass. (T.G Chastain photo)

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OSU is presenting several seed production field day offerings this spring where the public can visit research farms and learn more about a variety of seed crops.

May 16 – Native Plant Seed Production Field Day – Native forage legumes, native plant irrigation for seed production, pollination and pollinators, native plant for anti-cancer pharmaceuticals, and more.  Located at OSU’s Malheur Experiment Station, 595 Onion Ave, Ontario OR 97914.  Phone (541) 889-2174

Link to more information

May 30 – Hyslop Farm Field Day – Plant growth regulators in red clover seed crops, energy use and efficiency in tall fescue and perennial ryegrass seed crops, flax, and more.  Located at Hyslop Crop Science Field Research Laboratory just off Highway 20 between Corvallis and Albany at 3455 NE Granger Corvallis, OR 97330.  Phone (541) 737-9940.

Link to more information

May 31 – Grass Seed Field Day – Various topics focused on grass seed production practices and pests.  Located at OSU’s Hermiston Agricultural Research and Extension Center, 2121 S. First Street, Hermiston, OR 97838.  Phone (541) 567-6337.

Link to more information

Hyslop Farm Field Day

Thomas G. Chastain

Several forage legume seed crops continue to be a vital part of seed production enterprises in the Willamette Valley.  These include red clover, crimson clover, and white clover.  Other seed crops that have been produced in the valley include ladino clover, arrowleaf clover, subterranean clover, hairy vetch, and common vetch.

Figure 1. Crimson clover in flower. (T.G. Chastain photo)

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