Arkansas dedicates certified seed facilityArkansas dedicates certified seed facility
September 1, 2016
THE ability to make public varieties of commodity seeds more available took a great stride forward in August as the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture dedicated and opened its new Foundation Seed Facility in Stuttgart, Ark.
Division of Agriculture administrators, faculty and employees hosted state and local legislators, growers and representatives of the agriculture industry for a ribbon-cutting ceremony and tours Aug. 9.
Mark Cochran, University of Arkansas system vice president for agriculture, said the facility will bring seed processing into the 21st century for one of the nation's leading agricultural states. "It was time to replace something from the 1950s," Cochran said regarding the age of the division's original seed facility.
The $8.6 million facility will be part of the Rice Research & Extension Center. Glenn Bathke, program director at the center, said the new facility will be key in making varieties of rice, soybean and wheat foundation seeds, developed by Division of Agriculture researchers, available to seed companies for purchase and licensing.
The facility will manage Division of Agriculture-produced certified foundation seeds, which require inspections throughout the entire process, from field to point of sale, Bathke said. The facility will be capable of processing up to 250 bu. of seed per hour, including pre-cleaning, cleaning, sizing and other steps in ensuring the high quality of as many as 25 varieties of seed each year.
The new facility features a 6,419 sq. ft. warehousing area, a nearly 3,330 sq. ft. conditioning area and a 1,835 sq. ft. business area. The bulk storage area includes 20 bins with a capacity of 26,000 bu., enabling operators to dry and store as many as 20 different crop varieties at one time. The facility's belt conveyors can move 2,000 bu. an hour under one roof.
"We'll be able to handle more varieties as well, so we can keep our seed portfolio updated much more effectively," Bathke said.
Mark Waldrip, University of Arkansas System board of trustees member and seed company owner, said he was impressed by Cochran's willingness to see the construction of the new facility all the way through, as several hurdles were encountered along the way. Cochran "was never put off in this whole process," Waldrip said. "He has really done the legwork to bring the people together to make this project possible, and for that, we commend him."
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