Seed Collection & Testing
Plant List Selection
Native plant species are selected based on their level of importance to wildlife and the ecology of south Texas. STN's technical committee is responsible for selecting the plants on the collections list. Each species selected is chosen for its potential to meet the broad demands of the commercial market, from highway rights-of-way needs to wildlife habitat enhancement use to rangeland reseeding needs.
In this phase, STN, PMC, and cooperators actively begin collection and assembly of large number of collections from across the region for development. Species identified as potentially useful by the Technical Committee are collected from throughout the region. Collection of a species typically takes 1-3 years, and is influenced by variable climatic conditions of the region. A goal of 2 collections from separate soil types within each county in the region are sought for widespread plant species. Species with limited distributions require fewer collections.
Each collection taken from the field is processed, cleaned, and stored. Early testing of plant species' collections is done to determine production potential. In addition, literature reviews are completed and consequent evaluation project designs are developed.
Collections are brought to the USDA-NRCS PMC to be cleaned, inventoried and stored. Each accession is given a unique accession number that is used for identification of the material through evaluation,development and release. Many species require extensive experimentation of cleaning methodology at this stage. Older collections of the species already housed at the PMC are also assembled, inventoried,and tested for viability.
Extensive literature reviews of each species are done to determine range of adaptability, pest and disease problems, verify use and value, determine breeding biology, and research past/present efforts to use the species (or similar ones) in agronomic and restoration settings. Using information from field observations and literature reviews, initial evaluation projects for each species are designed. Project design is dependent on a variety of factors, including: the species' area of adaptability, reason for development, and breeding and life history biology. Initial evaluation locations are selected to accurately evaluate the accessions in habitats similar to the area of intended use.