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Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources

OSU groundbreaking heralds continued ‘guarantee’ of providing farmer access to improved crop varieties

STILLWATER, Okla. – Oklahoma Foundation Seed Stocks has more than doubled its annual production of Foundation Seed developed by Oklahoma State University plant breeders over the last five years, leading to the need for a new, much-larger facility to meet the demand for more efficient, high-yielding varieties throughout the Southern Plains states.
OSU groundbreaking heralds continued ‘guarantee’ of providing farmer access to improved crop varieties

(From left) DASNR Vice President Tom Coon, Lou Watkins of the Oklahoma A&M Board of Regents, OSU President Burns Hargis, OSU First Cowgirl Ann Hargis, DASNR Wheat Breeder Brett Carver and Oklahoma Secretary of Agriculture Jim Reese usher in construction.

As part of the OSU Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Oklahoma Foundation Seed Stocks is instrumental in making available improved wheat, peanut and grass varieties developed by DASNR’s world-renowned plant breeders to certified seed growers.

“This highly beneficial arrangement enables farmers and ranchers to have access to and take advantage of superior varieties with desired traits such as improved disease, drought and pest resistance,” said Jeff Edwards, head of the OSU department of plant and soil sciences.

The new 20,000 square foot, $4 million OFSS facility targets not only current but foreseeable future demand.  The complex will include a warehouse, seed-cleaning operation and offices.

Groundbreaking ceremonies on Nov. 12 proved worthy of the OSU-Texas Tech football game at Boone Pickens Stadium taking place later in the day, with a number of well-wishers stopping by to kick off festivities and help usher in a new era of enhanced service to the agricultural economies of Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas and other states that make use of Foundation Seed.

Tom Coon, OSU vice president of agricultural programs, said many people do not realize the degree to which Foundation Seed is a driver of rural economic prosperity.

“Certified seed growers are not large corporations but individual operations that are diversifying their local agribusiness while providing needed seed to their neighbors and others in the region,” he said. “The way in which we have designed and implemented the certified seed grower program ensures quality of product while providing the infrastructure to get research-proven advances in crop development into the hands of producers relatively quickly.”

For example, the four most popular varieties of wheat grown in Oklahoma – accounting for 46 percent of the state’s total crop – were developed by DASNR wheat breeders and made available to certified seed growers – and eventually producers – through Oklahoma Foundation Seed Stocks.

Oklahoma is the nation’s third-leading producer of winter wheat and fifth-leading producer of wheat overall, as well as being the nation’s ninth-leading producer of peanuts, according to USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service data.

Additional funding is being sought by private gifts through the OSU Foundation. The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation headquartered in Ardmore, Oklahoma, a longtime cooperating partner with DASNR, is a contributor to the new facility.

“The Noble Foundation and Oklahoma State University have collaborated on countless projects and programs for more than half a century,” said Mary Kate Wilson, director of philanthropy, engagement and project management for the Noble Foundation. “The support for the Oklahoma Foundation Seed Stocks facility draws us even closer together through our united efforts to improve small grains and continues our shared pursuit to advance agriculture in our state and beyond.”

The statewide Oklahoma Agricultural Experiment Station system, one of two state agencies that are part of DASNR, has committed up to $2 million toward the $4 million facility.

“OFSS takes extreme care to ensure varieties are not reduced by genetic mixing in a grower’s field or by mechanical mixture of seed at planting, harvest or conditioning of the seed stocks,” Edwards said. “Fields used in the production of Foundation Seed are rouged each year to remove off-type plants. The process if often performed under the supervision of the DASNR plant breeders responsible for the variety.”

Oklahoma Foundation Seed Stocks works to increase and distribute new wheat, peanut and grass varieties developed and released by DASNR, maintain the pure seed stock of older varieties, and increase and distribute crop varieties developed by other organizations that are adaptable to Oklahoma and released jointly with the Oklahoma Agricultural Experiment Station.

“We’re going to have a lot more people in the world within the next 20 to 30 years that we’re going to have to feed, and the only way to do that is with better quality seed,” said Don Schieber, OSU alumnus and Eastern District commissioner of the Oklahoma Wheat Commission.

Additional information about Oklahoma Foundation Seed Stocks and the new facility is available online at http://ofss.okstate.edu.

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REPORTER/MEDIA CONTACT:
Donald Stotts
DASNR News and Media Relations
Agricultural Communications Services
132 Agriculture North
Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, OK 74078
Phone: 405-744-4079
Fax: 405-744-5739
Email: donald.stotts@okstate.edu     

Oklahoma State University - Stillwater, OK 74078
405.744.5000