Texas A&M University-Kingsville

South Texas Natives Releases First Seed Varieties For Public Use

KINGSVILLE - March 20, 2007

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Seven grasses are first native ecotypes ever released in Texas

KINGSVILLE (March 20, 2007) — Today is a first for South Texas Natives, a research component at Texas A&M University-Kingsville. The first seven native grasses produced by the project are being made available for commercial production. These are the first native ecotypes to be released in the state.          

South Texas Natives is a collaborative effort between private, state and federal entities to develop and promote native plants for the restoration and reclamation of habitat on private and public lands.

The importance of the seed varieties is evidenced by the South Texas economy’s ties to its natural resources. Native plant species in South Texas are extremely diverse, and native plants contribute to the stability and resilience of the region, so the efforts of the South Texas Natives program are essential to maintain the region’s ecosystems and natural resources.

“Recent interest in the restoration of native habitats has resulted in a demand for commercially-produced native seeds, however, locally adapted seed sources are not available for native habitat or right-of-way revegetation,” said Paula Maywald, coordinator of South Texas Natives.

“The many non-native species planted in the past have become invasive and adversely impact our ecosystems and the wildlife that inhabit them. Making adapted native seed available for sale gives land managers an important tool to assist them in their stewardship efforts,” she said. “It is important to establish native seeds, plants and planting strategies so that noxious introduced plants do not overwhelm the ecosystems that are part of South Texas.”

The seven grass species released today include Chaparral Germplasm Hairy Grama, Dilley Germplasm Slender Grama, LaSalle Germplasm Arizona Cottontop, Catarina Bristlegrass Blend, Atascosa Germplasm Texas Grama, Mariah Germplasm Hooded Windmillgrass and Welder Germplasm Shortspike Windmillgrass. Germplasm are the genetic resources or more precisely the DNA of organisms and collections of that material that can be used in conservation of existing species.

About the seven seed varieties

Chaparral Germplasm Hairy Grama provides fair to good forage value, is adaptable to sandy and other coarse textured soils and the coated seed allows for easy planting and distribution. Potential uses include rangeland seeding, soil stabilization, wildlife habitat restoration, highway right-of-way seeding and oil and gas revegetation projects.

Dilley Germplasm Slender Grama provides excellent establishment and rapid growth and competes well with non-native grasses. It is adaptable to a wide range of soil types. Potential uses include rangeland seeding, soil stabilization, wildlife habitat restoration, highway right-of-way seeding and oil and gas revegetation projects.

LaSalle Germplasm Arizona Cottontop provides good to excellent forage quality, is competitive with non-native grasses and its bunchgrass growth form provides nesting habitat to quail and other ground-nesting birds. It also is known for its fast growth and establishment. Potential uses include forage production, oil and gas revegetation projects, rangeland seeding, wildlife habitat restoration and some Farm Bill programs.

Catarina Bristlegrass Blend provides fair to good forage quality, seed characteristics facilitate easy planting and its hard, round seed is consumed by bobwhite and scaled quail, small mammals and other wildlife. Its bunchgrass growth form provides nesting habitat for quail and other ground-nesting birds. Potential uses include rangeland reseeding, wildlife habitat restoration, forage production and some Farm Bill programs.

Atascosa Germplasm Texas Grama is adaptable to dry, rocky soils, has good establishment characteristics for highway right-of-way plantings and the coated seed allows for easy planting and distribution. Potential uses include highway right-of-way seeding, oil and gas revegetation projects, rangeland seeding, soil stabilization and wildlife habitat restoration.

Mariah Germplasm Hooded Windmillgrass is a short perennial bunchgrass with a high active germination. It typically germinates in the first three days, reseeds itself and also can spread by runners. Potential uses include roadside plantings, rangeland seed mixes, and erosion control for waterway embankments, streamside buffers, filter strips and pond embankments.

Welder Germplasm Shortspike Windmillgrass is a perennial that has good seed production and spreads by runners. It has a good germination ratio and provides quick soil coverage. Potential uses include roadside plantings, rangeland seed mixes and erosion control as grassed waterways, streamside buffers, filter strips and pond embankments.

About the development of the seed varieties

The staff at South Texas Natives has worked for the past five years to produce the quality seed being released today. Seeds were collected by hand or mechanical means from private and public lands within a 33-county South Texas area. The seeds are then cleaned and tested for germination and dormancy and planted in greenhouses.
           
Transplants were planted at outside evaluation sites across South Texas for further evaluation. Seeds from each individual collection were harvested separately for further testing and selection. Seed increase fields were later planted to increase the volume of the seed and then the seeds were distributed to commercial growers for production.

Funding for South Texas Natives is primarily from private individuals and foundations. The Robert J. Kleberg Jr. and Helen C. Kleberg Foundation and the Lee and Ramona Bass Foundation are the founding sponsors. The Texas Department of Transportation is one of the sustaining sponsors.

South Texas Natives is a project of the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute within the College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Human Sciences at A&M-Kingsville. The project collaborates with the United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service E. “Kika” de la Garza Plant Materials Center. The Plant Materials Center works with the South Texas Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts.


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