Do You Grow Cowpeas?

NPSASHearing from farmers about their interest in — and experience with — different plant varieties allows public researchers to carry out relevant plant breeding projects and conduct useful variety trials. These feedback loops are essential to meeting the needs of farmers, especially at the regional level.

That’s why we’re sharing a timely request from our friends at the Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Society (NPSAS). They’re collecting input to help their researchers choose the top cowpea varieties from ongoing trials. Your input will help them identify which varieties to further evaluate in 2015. NPSAS wants to hear from farmers, gardeners, and scientists who are interested in using cowpeas as cover crops or seed crops.

If you are a grower or scientist in the Northern Plains region, download this cowpea rating sheet that includes performance data and a column to record your votes. NPSAS asks that you choose five varieties, save the file, and email it back to Frank Kutka.

Learn more about the NPSAS’s Farm Breeding Club.

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Looking Back on OSA’s Successes in 2014

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I’m excited to share our annual report with you today, which includes some of our most important successes in 2014. We are making tremendous progress in building regional seed systems, monitoring the state of organic seed at a national level, and, ultimately, protecting and expanding not just the diversity of seed available to farmers, but the knowledge necessary for stewarding seed now and into the future.

In the report you’ll read that our research is resulting in finished varieties that were bred under organic conditions and in partnership with organic farmers and public plant breeders. You’ll also read about our education efforts this year, including the release of seven new publications and a record turnout at our Organic Seed Growers Conference. There’s so much more to tell you, but I’ll let you read it for yourself.

Thanks, as always, for your support — whether that’s helping us spread the word about our work or sending us a donation today.

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Join Us in Advocating for Seed Stewards

Screen Shot 2014-12-12 at 11.20.55 AMFarmers who save and improve seed are innovators in their own right. Their seed decisions impact the quality of the food we eat, the health of our environment, and the diversity of seed available for future generations.

Yet too much of our seed is owned and managed by a handful of chemical and biotechnology companies with no interest in the role farmers play in saving and improving seed — farmers like Theresa and Dan Podoll of Prairie Road Organic Seed.

“The changes in the seed industry have included dramatic consolidation and monopolistic control,” says Theresa. “This trend strikes a devastating blow to the biodiversity of our food and agriculture system, and narrows seed diversity. Our seed system is ecologically brittle.”

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OSA to Host Symposium on Regional Plant Breeding Needs

 

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Announcement Follows Report that Identifies Severe Gaps in Public Breeding Infrastructure

UPDATE (2/26/15): This symposium will now be hosted February of 2016 in conjunction with our 8th Organic Seed Growers Conference.

Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) has announced that it will host a symposium this spring to identify opportunities and priorities for advancing organic plant breeding in the Pacific Northwest.

“The long-term goal of this symposium is to increase farmer access to regionally appropriate vegetable, grain, pulse, and forage seed well-suited for organic production,” says Micaela Colley, executive director of OSA. “Farmers who follow organic practices must focus more on prevention and resistance because they have fewer inputs at their disposal. They need crop varieties developed specifically for low-input systems – crops that mitigate pest and disease pressures, and that are adapted to their Pacific Northwest conditions and climates.”

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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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