Author Archives: Angie Smith

Canyon Views: From a Field of Weeds to a Field of Dreams

You have all heard of the field of dreams?  Not so very long ago we had a vast field of weeds and grass growing out of a swampy, muddy pool in the center of the play area at Cloverdale Elementary School.

This was supposed to be the main game and activity area designated for our students. The potential for baseball, soccer and other games were obvious and tantalizing for our students, who for years attempted to venture out into the wet morass, often finding themselves sinking into the dark, sticky goo that oozed up their legs as their shoes slowly sunk into the mud.

Having a large usable filed seemed like a hopeless dream that would never come true. The extensive work required to make the field a suitable place for children to play was too expensive.

Eventually, we had to ban students from going near the field so children were confined to a very small play area.

Then, what I consider a miracle occurred.

Tom Lovell, our facilities director, reached out to a few community members and organized a small army of generous volunteers who came together to turn our field of weeds into a beautiful field of dreams.

In addition to Tom’s efforts in organizing and supervising the work on the field, several other folks need to be acknowledged. Gordon and Noah Hilton provided several workers, materials and equipment needed to install the drain tiles. Dennis Bethel donated a backhoe, truck, bulldozers and two of his employees — all at no charge.

Baker donated his tractor, tools and two workers. Mike and Brian Everitt brought in their personal tractor and the equipment needed to prepare the field to plant the grass seed.

Finally, Stacy Kuenzi donated 800 to 1000 pounds of grass seed on behalf of the company she works for, Mountain View Seed.

This is a wonderful example of what a community can do when they come together for a common purpose.

It’s difficult to put into words how grateful we all are for the kindness and generosity of the very special people who transformed our field from a swamp to a field of dreams. A field filled with happy children playing, learning and growing. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you!

Christy Wilkins is the principal of Cloverdale Elementary School in the Cascade School District. She can be reached at 503-749-8050 or cwilkins@cascade.k12.or.us.

See the original article published by the Statesman Journal here.

Rose Bowl Selects Mountain View Seeds as Official Seed Supplier

Changes to the Rose Bowl field include new approach using top-rated Kentucky bluegrass varieties from Mountain View Seeds.

After more than a year of on-field trials and testing, Will Schnell, Head Groundskeeper, has selected Mountain View Seeds to be the official seed supplier to the Rose Bowl. Mountain View Seeds will provide the seed used on the Rose Bowl for the NCAA championship game.

Schnell made the decision to convert the Rose Bowl from a bermuda grass base overseeded with perennial ryegrass to a 100% Kentucky bluegrass sod for the Rose Bowl game for its superior density, tensile strength and ability to recover quickly after use. Schnell explained that the bluegrass sod is ideal for use during their 6-month cooler season from November through May. At this time UCLA plays and the annual Rose Bowl game takes place along with other major events. “During those months, in this part of California, it’s great bluegrass growing weather,” said Schnell.

The 3-way bluegrass brand called 365 SS (consisting of Bolt, Legend, and Blue Note) was also selected for its dark green color and excellent leaf texture. “It looks beautiful from the stands and on TV,” said Schnell. The 2016 Rose Bowl game and 2016 spring and early summer months showed Schnell that the bluegrass sod would hold up to the rigorous demands made on the field. “This field is used more than any other in the country and it has to be able to stand up to those extreme demands” said Schnell. “It also has to look great doing it. That’s why picking the right blend is so important – it has to do everything extremely well!”

The Rose Bowl is used roughly 300 days each year. In addition to the football season, the field is used for filming television ads, movies, and numerous events including soccer tournaments (2016 America’s Cup), concerts and even a moto cross event.

When Schnell began researching new species and varieties for the Rose Bowl, he relied heavily on the National Turfgrass Evaluation Program (NTEP). The NTEP reports provided him with University data to make unbiased comparisons between cultivars. He noticed that Mountain View Seeds’ Kentucky bluegrass varieties consistently ranked at the top of the NTEP lists. After discussions with his partners at West Coast Turf, Schnell made the decision to plant a trial of 365 SS that would eventually be chosen for the Rose Bowl. After evaluating the test plots growth pattern and testing its strength, the decision was made to grow a field for use.

Mountain View Seeds worked with West Coast Turf and Schnell to grow the sod that would eventually become the Rose Bowl game field. Constant attention was paid to every aspect of growing the sod to ensure the highest quality product was delivered to Pasadena. Twenty-four truckloads of sod were used and the field was laid in 24 hours. The management practice used at the West Coast Turf sod farm in southern California was identical to the management practice Schnell would use at the Rose Bowl. This ensured a smooth transition when the sod was installed in Pasadena. Every detail was managed for optimum success, including matching the soil profiles at both locations.

This partnership marks a continued focus on top-quality customers for Mountain View Seeds. These partners include Shinnecock Hills (host of the 2018 US Open), Dodger Stadium (home of Major League Baseball’s LA Dodgers), FedEx Field (home of the National Football League’s Washington Redskins) and even The White House. “Being part of Will’s winning team really means a lot to our group,’ said Troy Kuenzi, President and CEO of Mountain View Seeds. “We pride ourselves on providing the best quality products to all of our customers and that’s something we have in common with Will and the Rose Bowl. We look forward to many years of success as partners.” said Kuenzi.

Mountain View Seeds is a global grass seed research, production, packaging, and marketing company. Based out of Salem, Oregon; in the heart of the Willamette Valley and the grass seed capital of the world, Mountain View Seeds provides top-quality varieties to customers around the world that demand the best cultivars.

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For more information, contact Aaron Kuenzi at Mountain View Seeds 503-588-7333 or aaron@mtviewseeds.com

CHS and Thomas Ag Services launch seed distribution and private label seed program

TANGENT, ORE.; Oct. 21, 2014 – CHS Inc., leading U.S. farmer-owned cooperative and a global agriculture and energy business, and Thomas Ag Services, LLC, today announce an agreement to develop a new CHS private label and commodity seed program for CHS retail service centers.

The program will benefit from the production, marketing and agronomic services of Thomas Ag Services combined with the production, blending, packaging, distribution and agronomic services of CHS in Tangent, Ore. It will offer CHS locations and other ag retailers a diverse line of private-label seed products and commodity seed including forage, cover crop, turf, wildlife food plot and native grasses. The products will be supported by regional product specialists and promoted through print and digital marketing.

Suppliers, including growers, currently working with CHS and Thomas Ag Services are expected to benefit from the additional value of this private label program.

“We’re excited to be able to offer these quality products and services through the CHS system, while adding value for the farmers we serve,” said Kevin Rogers, General Manager, Madras-based retail location of CHS. “Cooperatives and their producers are always looking for a more cost-effective and reliable supply of seed products.”

“The timing of this program couldn’t be better with tighter supplies of quality seed mixtures, especially in forage and cover crop,” said Mike Thomas, CEO, Thomas Ag Services.  “Our team is excited and prepared to support a successful CHS distributor operations and private label seed program.”

About Thomas Ag Services
Thomas Ag Services, LLC (thomasagconsult.com) is a leading seed production, marketing, procurement, and agronomic consulting and services company. Thomas Ag Services works with companies of all sizes, farmer producers, plant breeders, production companies, distributors, and retailers to help them reach their business goals.

About CHS
CHS Inc. (chsinc.com) is a leading global agribusiness owned by farmers, ranchers and cooperatives across the United States. Diversified in energy, grains and foods, CHS is committed to helping its customers, farmer-owners and other stakeholders grow their businesses through its domestic and global operations. CHS, a Fortune 100 company, supplies energy, crop nutrients, grain marketing services, animal feed, food and food ingredients, along with business solutions including insurance, financial and risk management services. The company operates petroleum refineries/pipelines and manufactures, markets and distributes Cenex® brand refined fuels, lubricants, propane and renewable energy products.

See the full press release here.

Colin Scott joins Grassland Oregon as Field Representative

Grassland Oregon Inc., a breeder of turf, forage and cover crop seeds in Salem, Oregon, is pleased to announce that it has hired Colin Scott as its new field representative. “Colin’s knowledge that he attained at one of the leading turfgrass research companies in the United States made him an ideal choice.  His agronomic experience will surely prove to be valuable to the growers that we contract production with,” stated Jerry Hall, President of Grassland Oregon, Inc.

Colin will serve as the primary point of contact in all matters related to production.  He will be reaching out to our existing growers, introducing himself and explaining the new products that we have to offer such as Frosty Berseem Clover and Fixation Balansa Clover, two excellent rotations for grass seed growers in the Willamette Valley.

Colin graduated from Oregon State University with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture, and has 11 years of experience in the seed industry. Throughout his high school years he worked in a variety of positions on local farms where he first became immersed in agriculture and seed production, sparking a lifelong passion for the field. He continued this passion learning about the agronomics of crops from some of the foremost breeders in the industry.  He is a member of the Turfgrass Breeders Association, Oregon Seed Association, American Society of Agronomy and serves on the Grass and Legumes Advisory Committee with Oregon Seed Certification Service for the past eight years.

Grassland Oregon Inc. is excited to have Colin Scott join its well-rounded and diverse team and looks forward to his service as its field representative.

About Grassland Oregon Inc.
Grassland Oregon, Inc. is a leader in the development and marketing of science-based cover crop, turf, and forage seeds.  With research locations across North America and exclusive global partnerships, Grassland Oregon is at the forefront in the development of products that deliver novel solutions for growing concerns.

For complete information about Grassland Oregon and their products visit: GrasslandOregon.com or contact Risa DeMasi at RisaDeMasi@GrasslandOregon.com

Click here to read the original press release.

North Carolina Increases Seed Piracy Fines 20X

Lewiston-Woodville, NC (May 18/TheState) North Carolina’s peanut belt got the kind of rain in 2013 that three decades ago could have wiped out the peanut crop.

The deluge of precipitation was ideal for nurturing devastating diseases for the harvests, but farmers had a defense: Most of them had planted protected peanut varieties that N.C. State University’s Tom Isleib and his staff developed to fight off the rain-fueled fungi, blights and viruses that can be the difference between a farmer making money and taking a loss.

A change in state law aims to make sure plant breeders such as Isleib and his fellow crop scientists get a return on their investment, too. This growing season, any purveyor of a protected variety caught selling unlabeled seed to avoid paying royalties to the plant breeder can be fined up to $10,000. That’s up from the $500 fine violators have risked since the 1940s.

The 20-fold increase reflects the rise of agricultural research as intellectual property, and it highlights the growing importance of royalties as a way to pay for innovations that guarantee a stable food supply.

Isleib — pronounced ISS-lub — believes patenting seeds tends to reduce the genetic diversity of crops by discouraging researchers from trading plant material. But he says it’s no longer feasible to place new varieties — known as cultivars in peanut research — into the public domain.

Without patents, there are no royalties, he said. “And without royalties, this kind of research would dry up.”

With only about 1.2 million acres across the country planted each year, peanuts are a relatively small crop. So private companies don’t have much incentive, Isleib says, to invest the years and the millions of dollars it takes to create new seed varieties, then test, purify and multiply them, and get them into the hands of farmers.

That leaves most of the work to publicly funded labs such as those of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and university programs like the one Isleib runs out of his office and half a greenhouse off Method Road in West Raleigh.

Isleib’s program performs traditional plant breeding. Plant breeders have intentionally crossed different plant lines to emphasize desirable traits since at least the 1800s.

While the state pays his salary, Isleib needs $350,000 to $400,000 a year to pay for his staff, materials, equipment and rental of sandy state-owned test fields like the one in Bertie County where he was planting last week. Grants and royalties paid to NCSU, which holds the rights to the seeds he develops, are his major sources of funding.

Researchers do similar work for every crop in North Carolina that’s grown from seed, including wheat, corn, and soybeans.

“There’s somebody like me for just about everything you eat, except for a few wild mushrooms you might gather up out of the woods, and fish you take out of the ocean,” Isleib said. “The general public doesn’t see the value of that. They rely on it, but they’re not aware of it.”

Peanut research star

In the world of peanut researchers, Isleib is a rock star, even if he’s a stocky, graying one whose voice sounds like a friendly cartoon character’s, the result of a severe stroke a few years ago.

Since 1990, Isleib has taken 17 new peanut seeds to market, including Bailey and Sugg, the ones that saved North Carolina growers last year. This year, Bailey is expected to account for 80 percent of the 85,000 acres of peanuts that will be planted across the state.

So far, N.C. State has received $4.5 million in royalties from Isleib’s work. The university’s Office of Technology Transfer disburses the money, as it does for hundreds of other commercially successful discoveries NCSU has fostered.

Farmers may need peanuts that are more drought-tolerant, or have a bigger, lighter-colored pod. In general, they’re moving toward peanuts with higher oleic-acid content, because it extends shelf life. They may want types with a sweeter flavor.

Once Isleib has the traits he wants in a variety, he raises many generations of it, taking careful measurements of how plants respond to field conditions, pests and pathogens, how they look and how the peanuts taste. He gives the seed a name, usually honoring someone who has worked in peanut research, and when it’s ready, he delivers several hundred pounds of the seed to NC Foundation Seed Producers Foundation, which grows additional generations and checks to make sure it performs as promised.

Finally, it’s packaged, labeled, sold to distributors and offered to farmers, who pay about 85 cents per pound, including a 3-cent-per-pound royalty. Farmers plant from 100 to 130 pounds of peanut seed per acre. North Carolina has about 1,500 peanut growers producing 85,000 acres of peanuts. That’s at least $255,000 a year in peanut seed royalties in this state if farmers buy new seed every year.

Some don’t; they save money by saving seed from one year’s crop to plant the following year, which is allowed under the seed law, although it can result in an uneven crop.

Penalties for brown bagging

Across the state, the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has nine inspectors in its Plant Industry Division whose duties include making sure seed conforms to the N.C. Seed Law, whether it’s sold on a shelf in the garden center at Walmart or moved by the truckload through a farm supply store. If inspectors find a violation, they can stop the sale of the seed and, if the situation warrants, invoke a fine.

Phil Farmer, past president of the N.C. Seedmen’s Association and a retired seed company employee, says distributors brown-bag seed with some frequency, though state officials can’t remember a recent prosecution.

By selling brown-bagged seed, and telling buyers it’s the brand-name product without paying the royalty, distributors gain an unfair price advantage over competitors. Sometimes, the competitors hear about the practice and report it.

If they were only fined $500 for a violation but could make thousands by selling uncertified seed, “They’d just keep on doing it,” Farmer said. “Even if they got caught and had to pay the fine, it was still worth doing.”

In 2012, when the Bailey peanut seed was in high demand and certified supplies of the still-new seed were not yet robust, Daryl Bowman, executive director of Foundation Seed, got a complaint that a distributor was brown-bagging Bailey. He went to the distributor, where he found several thousand pounds of uncertified seed for sale, but determined that the company official who had arranged it didn’t know it was illegal to sell saved seed from a protected cultivar crop.

“It was a matter of ignorance,” Bowman said. The company stopped the practice, paid the royalties it owed NCSU and, at Bowman’s urging, hired a consultant to train employees on the state and federal laws.

Bowman, the Seedman’s Association and state agriculture officials pressed for the change in the law the General Assembly passed last year. Besides the increased fine, it allows the state to revoke a distributor’s license to sell.

Without a meaningful penalty, Farmer said, there would be the temptation to cheat patent-holders out of their share.

“Then you end up killing the goose that laid the golden egg.”

The original article published in Seed Today on 5/20/14 can be found here.

Oregon grass, legume seed production bounced back in 2012-13

The recession knocked down Oregon’s grass seed industry, but the 2012-13 harvest report shows it is recovering and finding economic balance.   

Oregon’s grass and legume seed industry continued its recovery in 2012-13, reaching a value of nearly $462 million, according to a report from Oregon State University.

The 13.6 percent increase in production value over the previous year came despite only a 2 percent increase in grass seed acreage, which accounts for 90 percent of the combined crop value. That indicates strong seed prices, said William C. Young III, professor emeritus at OSU’s Department of Crop and Soil Science.

The value increase is good news for growers, but still falls well short of the record $550 million recorded in the pre-recession years of 2007-08, Young said.

In addition, Oregon’s grass seed acreage last year, 415,916 acres, was 21 percent less than was harvested in the peak years of 2004-05.

“Perhaps, however, this two-year plateau of between 408,000 and 415,916 acres presents a better balance in supply and demand economics,” Young wrote in his annual report.

Legume seed crop acreage actually declined slightly from 2011-12, but the $44 million production value was a new record, Young reported.

Click here for the original article at Capital Press.

Pure Seed Hires New Director of Forage Development

Pure Seed is happy to announce Sam Cable as the new Director of Forage Development.  Sam’s experience and knowledge will aid in the further development of Pure Seed’s forage program.

Pure Seed has been in the forage business for decades, and has been looking to grow and expand that sector of the business. We are excited to welcome Sam as the newest member of our team, and look forward to all the expertise he will bring.

Please feel free to contact Sam directly with any questions at sam@pureseed.com. A copy of the full press release is here.

Panel OKs $125,000 for state’s GMO task force

A key legislative committee has approved $125,000 in funding for a task force to advise lawmakers on issues related to genetically modified organisms.

Funding for a task force that will advise the Oregon legislature on biotech crops has been approved by a key legislative committee.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture’s request for $125,000 was recently backed by a subcommittee of the legislature’s Joint Committee on Ways and Means.

The subcommittee’s Feb. 13 recommendation means the funding will be included in a broader budget bill during the 2014 legislative session.

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber vowed to form the task force last year, when the legislature passed a bill that pre-empted the regulation of biotech crops by local governments.

The task force will issue a report on consumer choice and coexistence among producers of genetically engineered, organic and conventional crops.

The 14-member committee will be headed by Dan Arp, Oregon State University’s dean of agricultural sciences, and Jennifer Allen, director of Portland State University’s Institute for Sustainable Solutions.

Other members of the task force, who will represent a wide array of consumer and agricultural interests, will be announced later in February, said Richard Whitman, the governor’s natural resources adviser.

Rather than issue recommendations, the task force’s report will be intended to inform the legislature’s policy decisions during the 2015 session, said Whitman.

“The likelihood of reaching a consensus recommendation on any of these issues is not very good,” he said during a recent hearing.

The goal will be to provide a neutral forum to flesh out GMO issues, Whitman said.

Its findings won’t have any bearing on possible ballot initiatives that call for mandatory labeling of genetically modified organisms in food, he said.

Sen. Chris Edwards, D-Eugene, said that is difficult to find agreement on such a contentious issue, but the task force report will be “worth it” if it brings credibility to the debate.

The $125,000 would be appropriated to ODA but used by PSU’s Oregon Consensus Program to facilitate the task force, which is expected to hold seven to 10 meetings this year.

Click here for the original article published in the Capital Press.

Oregon agriculture leaders to be honored

Oregon’s agriculture leaders and innovators will be honored at the Agricultural Progress Awards dinner March 12.

The event, hosted by the Oregon Department of Agriculture, celebrates progress in agriculture made through partnerships among business, higher education and state government.

ODA Director Katy Coba will present the following awards:

Oregon Product Retailer of the Year:  Wilco, headquartered in Mt. Angel and the largest farm supply cooperative in the Pacific Northwest, for its service and support of Oregon agriculture.

Excellence in Marketing:  The Oregon Potato Commission, for its innovation and promotion of potatoes in local, domestic, and international markets.

Cooperator of the Year:  The Clackamas and Wasco counties Soil and Water Conservation Districts, for commitment to conservation and working with the Oregon Department of Agriculture to support its Agricultural Water Quality Program.

Excellence in Education:  The Summer Ag Institute, for its education of Oregon K-12 teachers about agriculture and its application in the classroom.

Individual Contributions to Agriculture: John McCulley of Salem, for his many years of leadership, promotion, and marketing efforts as administrator of several Oregon agricultural commodity commissions, associations, and organizations; Jim Krahn of Vernonia for his years of service to Oregon’s dairy industry as executive director of the Oregon Dairy Farmers Association; and Carol Mallory-Smith of Albany, for her work and research as a weed scientist with Oregon State University’s Crop and Soil Science Department.

The Agricultural Progress Awards Dinner will begins at 6:30 p.m. in the Spinning Room of the Willamette Heritage Center at the Mill, 1313 Mill Street SE in Salem, preceded by a no-host social hour and reception at 5:30 p.m.

For more information or to register for the event, please contact the Oregon Department of Agriculture at (503) 986-4550 or visit http://www.oregon.gov/ODA/Pages/ap2014.aspx

Click here for the original article from the Statesman Journal.

Oregon slows the loss of farmland

A study shows Oregon is still losing farmland to development, but the pace slowed dramatically as land-use planning took hold.

Oregon continues to lose farmland to development and other conversions, but the pace has slowed dramatically since statewide land-use planning kicked in, a state Department of Agriculture specialist says.

Data from aerial surveys done every three years by the USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service show Oregon has lost 700,000 acres of agricultural land since 1982, or about 4.4 percent of the state total, said Jim Johnson, land-use specialist with the Oregon Department of Agriculture.

California has lost 2.6 million acres during that time, Johnson said, and Washington has lost 552,000 acres. Idaho figures were not immediately available. For the study, agricultural land is defined as land used for crops, pasture, rangeland or as conservation reserves.

Johnson said the impact of Oregon’s statewide land-use planning system is evident in the data. The system is intended to prevent urban areas from sprawling onto prime farmland, primarily through requiring cities to adopt comprehensive land-use plans and establish urban growth boundaries. While cities and counties may expand growth boundaries, the process is strictly defined, slow, contentious and subject to legal challenge.

The system has persistent critics, largely because it eliminates or restricts development options for many rural property owners, but there is no doubt it’s done what was intended. Travel outside any Oregon urban area and there is a sharply defined point where development ends and farm or forest land begins.

The loss or conversion of land for crops — usually the most valuable, flattest and easiest to develop — slowed as cities adopted comprehensive land-use plans in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Johnson said. Almost 400,000 acres of crop land was converted from 1982-87. About 60,000 acres of crop land was lost from 2007-10.

“You can tell when land-use laws kicked in, you can really tell,” he said.

Johnson said development pressure will continue in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, from Portland to Eugene, where most of the state’s people live and also home to extensive, valuable and diverse farming operations. As population increases and cities expand growth boundaries, “We’re going to lose a lot in the Willamette Valley,” he said.

Other rapidly growing areas, such as Hermiston in eastern Oregon, will face the same problems.

“Sometimes those cities forget why they exist in the first place — agriculture,” Johnson said.

Agricultural land also will be lost to “non-farm development” such as energy facility sitings, parks and recreation areas and gravel mining, Johnson said. The cumulative impact of such land conversion deserves attention, he said.

“It’s not just the footprint of the development, but the shadow cast by development” that has an impact on farming, Johnson said.

Click here to read the original article in the Capital Press.