Grower and Restoration Surveys were sent out prior to the stakeholder meeting and forty people completed the surveys. Thank you to all who completed these surveys! Here are a few interesting results and interpretations:
SWSP role: Both growers and restoration practitioners agreed that the SWSP should prioritize connecting the two groups to help buyers of native seed find sellers of native seed.
SW Seed Producers: Native seed growers in the southwest responded that they have very few production contracts indicating that most grow seed on speculation. Also, when asked about the number of fields that growers had in production, they either had very few fields or many fields (>20). This result seems consistent with our understanding that medium scale farmers are lacking in the SW region. The SWSP may provide an opportunity to increase contract production fields while also boosting small to mid-sized growers working with local genotypes.
Buying seed – seed demand and quality: We were encouraged to learn that seed purchasers largely can predict their seed needs at least a year in advance. We learned that seed tests and PLS rates are not a major priority for many restoration project managers and wondered why this was so. We hope to elucidate the reason why native seed buyers are not concerned with seed tests at future meetings. When we asked how we could address current limitations, 52% of restoration project managers indicated that we should work with seed certification, help standardize seed production and tracking protocols, and guide seed users on purchasing quality seed. But the majority of restoration project managers are not required to, nor have they worked with seed certification to date. This would seem to indicate a lack of exposure rather than a lack of interest. When asked about which species should be considered for seed development that are not included on our existing target species list, the following suggestions were made by more than one partner: Desert lupine (Lupinus aridus), Arizona poppy (Kallstroemia grandiflora), Desert marigold (Baileya spp.), Parry penstemon (Penstemon paryii), Fairy duster (Calliandra eriophylla), Galleta grass (Pleuraphis jamesii), and Green sprangletop (Disakisperma dubium).
Native seed collection from natural populations is one of the first steps to developing native plant materials for the SWSP. In 2016, a seven person seed crew (collaborative team from Bureau of Land Management, Institute for Applied Ecology/Forest Service, and National Park Service) made 233 collections (representing 79 unique species) from six ecoregions. Target species are species that the SWSP is prioritizing for collection and production. Selection of target species considers a number of factors including current demand based on interviews and existing seed lists, ease of production and collection, potential for broad application, quantity of wild collected material available for production, and a variety of desirable ecological attributes (i.e., pollinator resource plants, erosion control, soil health, etc.). The target list for 2017 collection efforts currently includes 18 forbs (i.e., milkweed, globe mallow, legumes, flax, and several species in the aster family) and 17 grasses (i.e., grama, dropseed, and sacaton grasses, needle and thread, and bluestem).
This presentation highlights lessons learned growing native species from genetically diverse accessions in the Willamette Valley ecoregion of Oregon. The presentation covers the nuts and bolts of native seed farming, especially for small and medium scale growers, and explores creative ways to adapt farm equipment to optimize harvesting and prevent pests and disease in crops.
Stakeholders liked the idea of using the Southwest Seed Partnership website as a central location for accessing native seed information, news, and events for the partnership. Another web resource that was discussed was the Native Seed Network that links buyers and sellers of native seed (www.nativeseednetwork.org). We plan to enhance the functionality of this website and will soon be revising species lists for New Mexico with more current species and plant community information for NM. Growers are encouraged to post their seed for sale on the native seed network website. Contact Shawn Stone (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have questions. Partners also expressed an interest in a regular newsletter (monthly or quarterly) to receive recent updates. The SWSP has Instagram and Facebook accounts for those who access information in this way. Other suggestions included the possibility of hosting a forum or list serve.