Seed Lab takes root with standards of purity


In the 1890 AES annual report, agriculturist E. Grimm wrote, “The indications are that this [Willamette Valley] is a most wonderful grass country.” Researchers soon began testing grass seed varieties. Agronomist George Hyslop saw the need to certify the purity and germination rates of seeds and ensure that the lot was free of weed seeds. And he foresaw an industry that would take advantage of Oregon’s perfect climate for growing and curing the seeds of all kinds of grains, grasses, and vegetables. Today, Oregon produces many specialty seeds, the lion’s share of the nation’s clover and radish seed, and has become the grass seed capital of the world.

Hyslop’s seed lab started with a crank-operated divider, a screw-drive blower, and a few water-cooled germinators. Seed certification involved germination tests and evaluating samples of harvested seed for any impurities. Today, the OSU Seed Laboratory provides these services and more to seed industries around the world and is accredited by the International Seed Testing Association.

Media Image: 
Credit Text: 
Lynn Ketchum.
Caption Text: 
Lettuce seeds. (Photo by Lynn Ketchum.)