The weather is having a dramatic impact on seed yields this year. The extreme heat and drought from last spring is expected to take a major toll on Oregon’s seed crops. An associate professor, Nicole Anderson, at Oregon State University said they could see yields across the region reduced dramatically due to low precipitation and sizzling temperatures. She will have a better handle of the final seed yield numbers in late spring.
These type of weather conditions are problematic and will most likely lead to decreased seed yield numbers and weight. The crops in Oregon rely on natural rainfall during the spring, so the period from March to June is critical for them to soak up that moisture. Nicole Anderson said “precipitation was down 5.5 inches in most places during that timeframe, hampering the plants’ development. Without enough water, she guessed yields might drop 25-50% based on the conditions”. Oregon hasn’t seen such low levels of rainfall since the 1970’s, which makes this season both unique and difficult.
Last summer saw temperatures reaching as high as 117 degrees, which further exacerbates the drought experienced in the spring. Oppressive heat impairs the first step of the harvesting process, which involves separating the seed from the straw through mechanical swathing. If temperatures get too hot, this can cause seeds to break off the stem. When it breaks off, this is known as “shatter” and reduces their total yield. Farmers try to swath at night to reduce the amount of shatter or lost yield, but this cuts into the hours they can be productive. According to the capital press article, “Grass seed was Oregon’s fifth-most valuable agricultural commodity in 2019, with a crop worth $517.4 million”. If yields were to drop 25-50% because of drought conditions, farmers are going to have to make up that cost somehow. Expect prices to be up significantly this year since there is a lack of supply, due to these weather issues. Contact ViTech to learn how their concentrated products can help in seed germination.