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Certified wheat seed may be in short supplyCertified wheat seed may be in short supply

Kay Ledbetter

May 16, 2006

4 Min Read

With wheat seed projected to be in short supply due to drought and increased demand, wheat officials across Texas are requesting the State Seed and Plant Board make exceptions in the certified seed program.

Wheat production in Texas is going to be significantly lower than past years, said Steve Brown, director of Texas Foundation Seed.

Consequently, certified seed production will be lower than what is needed to plant the acreage in Texas, Brown said.

Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, Texas Cooperative Extension and some private sector wheat developers have been working with the Texas Department of Agriculture to get the emergency re-certification clearance.

The board is being asked to allow certified wheat growing in fields now to be re-certified and sold as certified seed, said Gaylon Morgan, Extension state small grains specialist.

“It won’t cure the shortage in seed supplies, but hopefully it will mitigate the problem to some extent,” Morgan said. “What we don’t want is the seed supply to be so short that the seed price prevents producers from using quality seed for fall planting.

“We also don’t want producers to be forced to plant unprotected varieties,” he said. “So if we can keep the cost of certified seed down, which are typically the best yielding varieties, producers are more likely to stay with those varieties.”

Another problem, if seed prices go too high, is there is more probability of violations of the Plant Variety Protection Act, Morgan said.

Most of the recent wheat varieties released by Texas A&M University, AgriPro Wheat, Oklahoma State University and Kansas State University are protected by the Plant Variety Protection Act, Morgan said.

The act requires the varieties to be sold by variety name and as certified seed. The concern is since yields will be down so much this year, a lot less certified seed will be available for purchase.

Rodney Mosier, Texas Wheat Producers Association Executive vice president, said the statewide wheat crop is rated at 26 percent of normal, compared to 71 percent last year. He said 74 percent of the crop is very poor to poor and only 26 percent is considered good to fair.

The most recent crop production estimate forecasts 35.1 million bushels, down 63 percent from last year’s crop, Mosier said. The projected harvested acreage for grain is 1.3 million acres, down 57 percent from last year.

“That’s the lowest level since 1925,” Mosier said. “The grain production hasn’t been this low since 1971.”

With reduced yields on the farm, Morgan said, more producers will be looking for wheat seed to plant this fall; they may not have enough seed to plant their farm.

Timing of the State Seed and Plant Board’s decision is critical, because re-certification by a Texas Department of Agriculture field inspector done prior to harvest, Morgan said. Harvest has already begun in parts of the Blacklands and Rolling Plains.

Applications for re-certification have to be made prior to harvest and not later than May 31 through Texas Department of Agriculture.

This can be an opportunity for producers who planted certified seed last year to sell their wheat this year as certified seed, instead of selling it for grain purposes, the wheat officials said.

However, the crop will have to meet the same certification requirements as the original crop, Brown said. Producers will have to pay their inspection fees, provide a map and supplemental sheet along with the forms and have permission of the variety owner.

One of the requirements for certification in Texas is that the producer either has to be registered as a certified seed grower or in the case of the seed dealer, he has to be registered as a certified seed conditioning facility, Brown said. Those are the only situations to apply for certification.

Producers and seed dealers with questions regarding eligibility for the re-certification program should contact the variety owner or the Texas Department of Agriculture.

For Texas A&M University varieties, contact Brown at (940) 552-6226. For AgriPro Wheat varieties, contact David Worrall or Rob Borchardt at (940) 552-8881.

Questions for the Texas Department of Agriculture should be directed to Bob Tarrant, coordinator of seed certification, at (979) 542-3691.

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