seed stocks

People may not know Oklahoma Foundation Seed Stocks (OFSS) by name, but anyone who enjoys munching on a sandwich or baking a cake benefits from its important work.

Now with the grand opening of a new 20,000-square-foot complex Nov. 18, OFSS is poised to continue its explosive growth.

“The new complex is designed to not only accommodate the rapidly growing demand for high-quality, Certified Seed genetics that OFSS provides, but also allows for a greater diversity of products being developed by the Oklahoma State University scientists to reach producers,” says Tom Coon, vice president of the Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources at Oklahoma State University (OSU).

With the expanded space, OFSS will continue offering products and services to support Oklahoma’s agricultural industry and the state’s economy.

When new varieties of crops are developed and released, OFSS is integral in providing growers with high-quality seed that is eventually cultivated into crops and turned into food products such as flour.

“Quality seed is the foundation for profitable and sustainable crop production,” says Jeff Edwards, professor and head of OSU’s Plant and Soil Sciences Department. “OFSS is a vital link between OSU’s world-class plant-breeding programs and an expansive network of certified dealers in Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas.”

OFSS currently has a client list of 450 producers. Although not all of those clients purchase seed each year, since OFSS sells Foundation Seed, there is a significant multiplier effect.

Generally, Foundation Seed is planted and harvested as Registered Seed, which is then planted and sold as Certified Seed to growers. About 20,000 bushels of wheat seed sales by OFSS results in about 750,000 to 1 million bushels of Certified Seed sold by independent seedsmen three years later.

Depending on the price, this could translate into $10 million to $15 million in local economic activity from seed sales alone. Factoring in increased yields and reduced pesticide use by producers due to improved plant genetics, another $50 million could be easily added to that figure.

OFSS produces a similar economic effect in peanut and specialty crops, but on a smaller scale.

“It’s important to note the end goal of these efforts is to ensure Oklahoma farmers have access to the latest crop genetics that allow them to be more profitable,” Edwards says. “In addition to wheat, OFSS serves this mission for peanuts, rye, oat, barley, soybeans and alfalfa.”

Double the size of the previous OFSS facilities, the complex includes a warehouse, cold room, machinery shed and four offices. One of the offices is named for the Farm Credit Associations of Oklahoma and CoBank, a Farm Credit System bank, in recognition of their generous contribution.

“We are always interested in supporting things that will make the agricultural industry more profitable,” says Kyle Hohmann, president and CEO of Farm Credit of Enid. “If we can help the industry become more profitable, more efficient and provide a better product, that’s great. We want to do things that benefit Oklahoma, especially rural Oklahoma, and create jobs and local revenue.”

A self-supporting operation, OFSS annually produces an average of 17,000 to 18,000 bushels of seed for wheat, up from an average of 10,000 to 11,000 just a decade ago. In that time span, OFSS has doubled its sales and production, sparking the need for the new complex.

Another contributor to the facility is the Noble Research Institute.

“We want to congratulate OSU on the completion of the Foundation Seed Facility,” says Jim Johnson, soils and crops consultant for the NRI. “We were pleased to be a part of this project, continuing the long tradition of collaboration with OSU. The Oklahoma Foundation Seed Stocks program provides a vital service to our agriculture producers statewide by providing a link between new, improved varieties developed by plant breeders and farmers growing those crops in Oklahoma, the Southern Great Plains, and beyond.”

The next phase of the project will include building a modern seed-cleaning facility, incorporating new equipment that will help Foundation Seed keep up with demand.

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