- Malheur Experiment Station
Native wildflower seed production is fundamental to be able to restore rangeland and reclaim native habitats. Wildflower replanting is one factor to reverse habitat loss and degradation that could continue to alter the Intermountain West rangeland ecosystems at uncontrollable rates. Sustainable wildflower seed production and establishment offers some promise of recovery for areas of the Intermountain West suffering ecosystem loss from environmental disasters and invasive species. With help from the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. BLM, and many others, devastated rangelands may once again be regenerated and support healthy ecosystems.
Wildflower seed sales are completely dependent on a very limited number of customers. These customers are primarily larger organizations in search of large-scale wildflower seed purchases for habitat rehabilitation. Seed buyers include the U.S. Forest Service, Department of Fish and Wildlife, Bureau of Land Management, Ducks Unlimited (waterfowl and wetland conservation), Parks and Recreation sites, other habitat conservancy agencies, and a few private land owners. Due to scarcity and irregularity of seed supply and demand, contracts for native wildflower seed production are routinely extended to site specific seed growing projects (“Oregon Wholesale Seed Production,” n.d.).
Economically, wildflower seed production may provide economic sales opportunities to farms in the Intermountain West with marginal soil that may otherwise be unable to support crop and food production. Since wildflowers are adapted to semi-arid habitats, wildflower seed production may be fruitful in areas thought to be infertile for food crop production, so long as some limited supplemental irrigation water is available. Wildflower seed for habitat rehabilitation can probably be produced without utilizing many resources needed for food crop production.