Due to the continued need for restoration and rehabilitation projects on public and private land, demand for Nevada seed is increasing. Yet, a dilemma has arisen because much of the seed stock is imported.
Historically the native seed market in Nevada has faced instability due to the lack of market consistency – it’s a risk many producers are not willing to take. As a result, regional supply of native seed has been limited for decades in Nevada.
What is native seed?
“Native seed” refers to seeds of plant species native to Nevada landscapes, cultivated in this climate. Therefore, they are adapted to Nevada’s unique landscapes, increasing the plants chance of survival.
Native seed: another tool in the toolbox of land restoration and rehabilitation
Success of restoration and rehabilitation activities on public and private land depends on successful reseeding efforts. Currently, much of the seed purchased in Nevada is imported and not native to Nevada – sometimes from similar climates in Idaho, California, Utah and Washington. More often, seeds are imported other areas with drastically different climate and seed zones than Nevada’s. Restoration and rehabilitation efforts using imported seed are often less successful or unsuccessful in Nevada’s sometimes-harsh climate.
On public land, the federal land management agencies like the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Forest Service (FS), National Park Service (NPS) and Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) are moving toward using seed mixes with higher percentage of native species.
Cultivating seeds of native species from within specific climatic zones here in Nevada would result in higher success rates for the many restoration and rehabilitation projects, fighting the spread of invasive and noxious species and improving the landscape for Nevada’s many land users.
Native seed provides Nevada producers opportunity to diversify
In today’s agricultural climate, diversification is the key to long-term stability, and the native seed market is just one more opportunity for producers to diversify their operations. Through this new strategy, the federal land management agencies hope to create a more stable market for native seed producers. Additionally, the development of seed warehouses across the west has increased the capacity for proper seed storage.
National native seed strategy being implemented at home
The vision for seeding efforts nationwide is planting the right seed at the right place at the right time. Through a streamlined strategy, federal partners hope to ensure the availability ofgenetically appropriate seed reserves to restore viable and productive plant communities and sustainable ecosystems. Nevada is poised to implement this because Ely is home to a national seed warehouse and native seed growers are already active in the state.
The Nevada Department of Agriculture (NDA) has recently reopened its seed lab and is currently re-launching the native seed certification program, ensuring the species purity of wild-collected and agriculturally-produced native seeds.
Nevada Native Seed Forum: a first step in discovering the possibilities
The NDA aims to bring together federal partners, state partners, current seed producers, potential seed producers, conservation groups and seed buyers to start the conversation around a new strategy for production of native seed in Nevada. The goal of the forum is to bring stakeholders together to start asking questions that will prompt the development of a local strategy to enable a more predictable marketplace and stimulate statewide production efforts.
The forum will address:
* Current status of native seed production in Nevada
* Issues impacting the industry and how to deal with them
* Native seed collection protocol
* Native seed market evolution
* The need for native seed in Nevada and production flow
* Possible connections between research efforts and industry efforts
* General logistics like seed storage
The Nevada Native Seed Forum, a daylong workshop, will be held on Tuesday, March 28, 2017 at the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension office at the Winnemucca Fairgrounds, 1085 Fairgrounds Rd. in Winnemucca, Nev.