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Seed Harvest

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Growing and Harvesting
Oregon Ryegrass

Growing Ryegrass, like most farming ventures, is a matter of skill, persistence, patience and luck.  A brief description is provided here for general information about raising the raw material resource of the Meadowood products.  Additional information may be obtained from Oregon State University and various grass seed related organizations.

Annual ryegrass is usually planted in the fall soon after the previous crop is removed.  The soil is first tilled to prepare a seed bed that will reduce competition from undesirable plants.  Care is taken to help the new crop get established by supplementing the soil nutrients and by farming practices that reduce the chance for disease or weeds to injure the seedlings.  The fall and winter rains provide the famous Oregon moisture that makes this crop so well suited to the Willamette Valley climatic conditions.  

Some growers work with sheep herders to control the growth rate and vigor of the plants by providing pasture for fattening lambs.  Additional fertilizer, weed, disease and insect control measures may be employed during the winter and spring.  By late June or early July, the crop is usually ready to swath into windrows to help the seed ripen more evenly and avoid shatter of seed from the stem while it dries before harvest.  

Self propelled combines pick up the windrows, thrash the seed from the ryegrass stems and place the seed in a truck for transport to the storage warehouse. Care of the straw behind the harvester is determined by the method that will be used for removal.  The straw may be allowed to drop back to the ground or attached devices may spread or chop the straw as it leaves the rear of the combine.

The seed from each field is segregated into lots and stored for any further drying.  After drying, the harvested seed is processed to remove undesirable hulls, foreign or small seeds, parts of stems, and dirt before bagging.   A tag is attached as the seed is bagged, that will identify the seed lot so that each bag can be matched with testing information. Samples are taken from the cleaned bagged seed and tested to certify both the purity and percentage of seeds that will germinate. A Seed Certification Service is administered by Oregon State University to assure and certify the quality of seed.

Oregon grass seed is generally marketed and distributed through commercial seed companies that contract with or purchase from the growers.

   Self propelled swathers cutting and placing ryegrass in windrows to ripen the seed more uniformly.

Harvest.gif (79861 bytes)   Self-propelled combine picking up ryegrass from the windrow and threshing the seed from the stems.

Truck.gif (69997 bytes)  Off-loading ryegrass seed from the combine to the bulk truck for transport to the seed warehouse.

Bales.gif (66609 bytes)   Using a round baleing system to remove the ryegrass straw after harvest (or the crop after spoilage by mold in a wet year). 

 

LMO.gif (38411 bytes)

Leonard Opel is one of the primary founders of Meadowood Industries, Inc. He has been involved in the Oregon grass seed industry most of his life as a producer, and as an active  member and officer of agricultural organizations.  Leonard divides his time between Meadowood and assisting his sons who have taken over the family farming operations and seed business, LMO Farms, Inc.

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