Where Grass Seed Is King

Oregon’s Willamette Valley is the undisputed “grass-seed capital of the world.” In close partnership with growers and scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, OSU researchers and agronomists have been at the forefront of an industry worth $500 million. Here are some of the milestones.

1909
Seed lab starts up on campus for research and testing.

1920
Grass seed introduced to the Willamette Valley and, by 1924, is a $1 million industry.

1929
Fluorescence test introduced to distinguish perennial from annual ryegrass species.

1937
Oregon State Agricultural College’s seed certification service begins inspection for germination rates and purity requirements.

1950
Grass seed is a $30 million industry in Oregon.

1970s
Research conducted on alternatives to open-field burning, used since the 1940s to control diseases. Studies of air movement helped farmers control smoke. Mechanical residue treatments incorporated into cropping systems.

1992-1997
Research on non-burning alternatives, crop systems and straw uses help farmers respond to a law reducing open-field burning.

1998
OSU testing of toxic compounds in straw-borne endophytes (fungi living inside plants) saves Oregon’s annual straw export market of about 300,000 tons, mostly to Japan.

2000-2005
Global grass-seed demand pushes rapid harvesting, cleaning, labeling and shipping. Redesigned seed inspection stations in the Seed Lab cut certification turnaround from 20 days to seven.

2008
725 million pounds of forage and turf-grass seed produced in Oregon, and 800,000 tons of grass straw exported off-shore for livestock feed.

For more on OSU’s grass seed research:

Scientists See Potential Problems With Using Grass Seed Straw As Livestock Feed, 11-2-07

OSU Seed Lab Busy as Oregon Farmers Harvest 2007 Grass Seed Crop, 8-24-07

Vole Population Explosion Concerns Grass Seed Growers, 6-28-05

To support OSU’s grass seed research, contact the OSU Foundation

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