Commercial Seed Production

Texas is a major producer of planting seed or vegetative parts of more than 40 crops, ranging from alfalfa to zoysia.

Production exceeds 540,000 acres, including 220,000 acres of small grains, 200,000 agronomic crop seeds, 70,000 acres forage grasses, nearly 3,000 acres forage legumes, and 2,300 acres of vegetable, flower and other miscellaneous crops.

Data on seed production were compiled from knowledgeable experts in the seed industry, seed certification data from the Texas Department of Agriculture (obtained under Open Records Act), and detailed reviews of USDA Farm Services Agency data. Seed production acreages fluctuates with domestic seed supplies, crop prices, federal farm programs (crop outlooks), and export demand.

In particular, several multi-national and privately owned firms produce hybrid sorghum, sudan, and millet seed in the High Plains region within 100 miles of Lubbock for domestic and export markets. More than 150 member firms of the Texas Seed Trade Association produce proprietary and public varieties. Other production is by farmers or small firms producing Foundation Seed or commercial seed for regional sales.

The value of seed production was approximated at $400 per acre – obviously low on several agronomic crops and high for others. However, the production of planting seed prior to processing conditioning, and fungicide treatments easily exceeds $200 million at the farm level.

Table 21. Production of planting seed – alfalfa to zoysia
Crop Acres Grown Notes and Comments
Small Grains
Barley 1,200 About one-half is produced as certified seed.
Oats 24,000 Commercial and farmer-produced seed; 22% is certified.
Rye 4,200 200 acres is certified.
Triticale 3,800 Major portion is certified most years.
Wheat 220,000 Mostly handled as named varieties; less than 10% is certified.
Subtotal 253,200
Agronomic crops
Castor 10 FSA reports 10 acres in High Plains.
Corn 7,300 Seed production as reported by farmers for seed grown under contract: white corn on 5,800 A in South Texas, yellow on 1,100 A in Plains, ornamental on 40 A in East Texas, popcorn on 30 A in Plains. Some winter production in LRGV for U.S. southern exports
Cotton – upland 126,400 Predominately produced on High Plains but also in other areas. Data represents total acres of commercial seed; includes 52,400 A of certified seed and some picker seed for Delta and mid south. Does not include farmer-caught seed, estimated to be an additional 20%.
Millets 7,600 Both foxtail and German; about 50% for forage and roadside stabilization; rest for planting ┬│catch crop┬▓ acreage. Very little for future bird seed production.
Peanuts 35,100 Certified seed of runner and Spanish in southern High Plains.
Rice 5,100 Certified production for Texas Rice Improvement Association.
Sorghum for grain 30,600 High Plains production – for all U.S. planting seed production. 48% exported to 30 countries; 12% certified and exported.
Sunflowers 800 Hybrid seed in High Plains region. Acreage variable with CA.
Soybeans 200 Certified seed acreage.
Subtotal 213,110
Forage Grasses
Bahia 300 Some estimates of 1,000 acres.
Bermuda seed 15 Seed of common bermudagrass harvested.
Bermuda sprigs 8,500 Includes 2,200 acres grown under certification.
Bluestems 1,400 Includes big, yellow, and little bluestems.
Buffalograss 400 Certified production.
Buffelgrass 5,200 About 20% grown as certified seed.
Gama & Gramagrasses 8,500 Gama – eastern; Grama – blue and side oat. Non-certified.
Guineagrass 260 Certified production.
Indiangrass 900 Non-certified production.
Johnsongrass 400 Non-certified production.
Kleingrass 4,700 Production mostly in South Texas; 8 to 10% certified.
Lovegrass 1,200 Wilmann, Weeping, Ermelo, and other varieties.
Switchgrass 200 Non-certified production.
Wheatgrass 630 Non-certified production.
Pearl millet 2,500 Seed for forage production.
Forage sorghums 7,600 Hybrid seed for summer forages. Little is certified.
Sorghum-sudan grass 25,800 Hybrid seed produced in High Plains. 12% may be certified. High germination. Seed sold domestically and exported globally.
Sudan grass hybrids 1,400 Seed for hay production or grazing.
Other grasses 200 Rhodes (100 acres), tobosa, and others
Subtotal 70,105
Forage Legumes
Alfalfa 1,300 Certified production in Plains area and Far West Texas.
Burr medic 95 Certified production.
Clovers 1,500 Includes arrowleaf, ball, berseem, crimson, rose, subterranean white, and yellow; produced in east & south Texas by both seedsmen and farmers. Small portion under certification.
Vetch 40 Hairy vetch for roadside stabilization plantings.
Subtotal 2,935
Sod production – certified acres, as reported by TDA
Bermuda 200 Estimated amount grown for certified sod .
St. Augustine 135 For certified sod production.
Zoysiagrass 550 New releases grown under certification.
Subtotal 885
Miscellaneous Crops
Peas 850 Black eyed on 4,600 acres, cowpeas on 850 acres (300 certified), and purple hull on 350 acres.
Guar 420 Produced in Rolling Plains near production sites.
Flower seed 640 Mostly wildflower seed in central and south Texas.
Other crops 415 For ornamental, conversation, and unique wildlife plantings.
Subtotal 2,325
Total acres 542,560

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