Which Non-GMO Silage Corn is Best for Your Farm?

Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 1.37.01 PMArcata, CA – Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) has published a report that details results from a silage corn variety trial. The trials were conducted in the North Coast of California to help the region’s farmers identify which organic and other non-GMO varieties perform best in their climate and under organic conditions. This is the only organic silage corn trial in Northern California.

The North Coast of California has a strong dairy industry, including organic dairies. The climate and soils of North Coast deltas, river valleys, and flood plains allow dairy farmers to graze cows on pasture for most of the year. Still, supplemental feed is required, including grain, hay, and silage corn. Silage corn is corn grown to near maturity that is then harvested as a whole plant, chopped, and fermented to increase its digestibility.

There are very few varieties of silage corn that mature early and yield well in the cool, coastal maritime climate of the North Coast. This led OSA to test 10 promising varieties in 2014 through rigorous and replicated trials, looking at yield, maturity, and silage quality. The trials were conducted at Warren Creek Farms, a certified organic farm in Arcata.

North Coast silage producers face a dearth of choice in seed appropriate for their region for two main reasons. The first is that the region is drastically different from the major corn producing areas.

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New Sweet Corn Variety for Organic Farmers Hits Marketplace

Photo courtesy of High Mowing Organic Seeds

John Navazio, Jared Zystro, Adrienne Shelton, and Bill Tracy. Photo courtesy of High Mowing Organic Seeds.

The variety is the first in a series of open-pollinated sweet corn releases

Organic Seed Alliance and the University of Wisconsin–Madison are proud to announce the release of a new sweet corn variety called ‘Who Gets Kissed?’. The open-pollinated variety is the first in a series of organic sweet corn releases developed through participatory plant breeding, where farmers and formal breeders collaborate on farm-based breeding projects to improve agricultural crops.

“Our approach to plant breeding is what sets ‘Who Gets Kissed?’ apart from other sweet corn varieties in the marketplace,” says Micaela Colley, executive director of Organic Seed Alliance. “’Who Gets Kissed?’ was not only bred under organic farming conditions, but organic farmers were equal partners in the breeding effort.”

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Learn How to Produce Seed for Your Organic Farm

JaredBeansOrganic Seed Alliance (OSA) will host a “Fundamentals of Seed Production and Variety Improvement” course on Saturday, January 10, 2015, at St. Stephen’s Church in Sebastopol, CA.

OSA’s Jared Zystro and Steve Peters will teach this daylong course where participants will learn fundamental skills for developing seed varieties for organic farms.

Topics of instruction include: the biology of seed production, seed harvesting and cleaning, choosing appropriate seed crops for your farm and climate, maintaining the genetic integrity of varieties with appropriate population sizes and isolation distances, conducting variety trials, and basic on-farm plant breeding techniques. Prior experience in basic seed growing is recommended.

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Give Thanks for Organic Seed and for those Who Breed It!

Minnesota farmer Martin Diffley in a field of 'Who Gets Kissed?' organic sweet corn

Minnesota farmer Martin Diffley in a field of ‘Who Gets Kissed?’ organic sweet corn

This post by Organic Seed Alliance was originally published by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. It is part of a blog series devoted to exploring the importance of seed to sustainable food and farming systems. To read the first post in their series, click here.

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, whether you’re looking for organically grown squash or green beans, there’s an important piece of the organic supply chain that is responsible for bringing that product to your table: organic seed.

And federal research policy plays a big role in the number and quality of organic varieties that are developed each year to meet the needs of organic farmers and the communities they serve.

Just as consumers have an important role to play in supporting a more sustainable farming system with the purchasing decisions they make (such as whether or not to buy organic or local or grassfed), so do the farmers growing our food – including the decision of which seed they sow on their farms.

The food we eat every day ultimately begins with seed, and with the people who steward this living, natural resource: plant breeders, including farmers, who take advantage of the best research to ensure the people growing our food have the seed they need to be successful. When they do, we all benefit.

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A Few Dollars Each Month Can Sow a Lot of Good

nash-appeal-pbsemailOrganic Seed Alliance was recently featured in Growing a Greener World, an award-winning show on public television that showcases organic food and farming. We hope you’ll watch the full episode, “The Seed Farmer,” to learn more about our innovative approach to protecting and improving organic seed diversity.

In this episode, you’ll hear from Washington State farmer Nash Huber, who explains how his plant breeding partnership with OSA allows him to adapt his crops to his organic farm and regional conditions. “I can do it,” Nash says, “because I know how to grow cabbage. I know how to grow carrots. But I don’t know how to breed them. So the partnership with OSA is key.”

As Joe Lamp’l, executive producer of Growing a Greener World, shared with viewers: “Without the help and partnership of OSA with our farmers, we lose a lot of seed and crop varieties that are critical for biodiversity and so much more.”

Will you help us build more partnerships that deliver seed developed by and for organic farmers?

A few dollars each month can add up to a generous annual donation. Please consider a tax-deductible monthly gift today. We are so grateful for your support!

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