Growing a grass seed crop is all about making the best possible solar energy harvesting system at the lowest cost. However, the direct and indirect costs of energy in the forms of fuel and fertilizer can make achieving this goal a challenge for grass seed producers.
There’s no question that grass seed acreage has been down in recent years while wheat acreage in the Willamette Valley has been on the rise. The often asked question is whether the acreage levels of these crops are unprecedented. Historical trends in grass seed crop acreage in the Willamette Valley over the years have been essentially a mirror image of wheat acreage (Fig 1 – click to enlarge). From the mid 1970s through the early 1980s, both crops occupied about 250,000 acres and together accounted for about 1/2 million acres in the valley.
One of the most often heard comments (or complaints) so far this spring has been about how cold and wet it has been. Has this spring’s weather been as cold and wet as it seems? The answer is yes! Compared to the long term averages for Corvallis, April temperatures would have been roughly normal for the month of March (Fig 1 – click on figure to enlarge). But it does not stop there as May was only a bit warmer than the average April. Moreover, this year’s spring weather is part of a trend. The past four springs have been colder than normal (2007-08 crop year data not shown).
While the weather has been cool and wet for much of the spring, the calendar indicates that we’re just a few weeks away from the start of the grass seed crop harvest season. Seed moisture content is the most reliable indicator of seed maturity and harvest timing in grass seed crops. Harvesting within the correct range of seed moisture contents will maximize harvestable seed yield and minimize losses of seed during harvest.
A recent publication by OSU’s Tom Silberstein and others (EM9012) updates the traditional seed moisture content guidelines for grass seed crops and provides illustrated instructions on conducting a seed moisture test. Continue reading →
For more information
Thomas G. Chastain, Ph.D.
Department of Crop and Soil Science
351C Crop Science Building
Oregon State University
Corvallis, Oregon 97331-3002