Revegetation of rangelands in south Texas with native plants is of increasing interest to landowners and state and government agencies. Native plants are of considerable economic, ecological, and aesthetic value to the region. One of the greatest obstacles to replanting damaged or degraded rangelands with native vegetation is a lack of seeds adapted to the region. South Texas Natives (STN) in cooperation with the USDA-NRCS E. "Kika" de la Garza Plant Materials Center, and Texas Agrilife Research-Beeville has worked since 2001 to make regionally-adapted seeds available to persons engaged in rangeland seeding, revegetation, and habitat restoration.
To date, 14 native plant species have been released to commercial growers for production of seed for revegetation projects in the region. Commercial seed producers should reach production levels at which seed will be readily available to consumers in the near future. Demonstration of the potential use and expected benefits of planting these new seed sources is imperative to creating demand, and subsequently increasing commercial production.
Historically, rangeland plantings in south Texas have focused on establishment of agronomically improved non-native grasses, at relatively low cost per acre input. These grasses include buffelgrass, kleingrass, old world bluestems, and bermudagrass. The plants are relatively easy to establish, grow quickly, and require little maintenance or management to obtain satisfactory results. Conversely, most native species require longer periods of time to establish, specialized planting equipment, and a more active management strategy for good results. Costs for planting a desirable mixture of native species on rangelands in south Texas will likely exceed $75 per acre. Because of these factors, many landowners and agencies are hesitant to begin large scale rangeland plantings without first having a better understanding of the timeline for expected results, specific methodologies required for success and physical demonstration of the potential benefits.