Seed testing workshop planned to address need for analysts

SALEM — Seed technologists from across the U.S. are arriving in Salem next week for what the Oregon seed industry hopes will be an annual occurrence: A seed testing workshop.

The Mega Cool Season Grass Seed Workshop on April 24-28 includes three days of hands-on classroom experience and a field tour of a seed cleaning plant, a hemp operation and a seed research farm.

The workshop is being put on by the Pacific Northwest Seed Technologists and the Oregon Seed Association in cooperation with the Oregon Department of Agriculture and Chemeketa Community College’s Agricultural Sciences Program, which is donating classroom space.

“I’m pretty excited because we have people from across the United States participating,” said Sharon Davidson, owner of Agri Seed Testing in Salem, who is spearheading the workshop. “Seed regulatory labs are sending people and even the USDA is sending two people.”

Davidson said the industry decided to hold the workshop for two reasons: to encourage more people to become seed technologists and to train technologists on proper identification of Oregon-grown grass seed.

“Since we are the people who grow it and know it, we should be teaching it,” Davidson said.

Oregon leads the nation in the production of cool season grass seed. Finding seed analysts, however, has become difficult in recent years, Davidson said.

“It is as bad as it’s ever been,” Davidson said regarding the shortage of seed analysts. “And it just seems to be getting worse every year for some reason.”

By holding the workshop at Chemeketa, Davidson said the hope is that students will pop in and learn what it takes to be a seed technologist.

“We are going to have a table set up that has information about being a seed analyst, so that even passersby could learn about our profession, and we have circulated our agenda with the teachers so that if they feel that there is something some students may be interested in, then they can pop in and listen for a while,” Davidson said.

Davidson said the organizers had hoped to bring in 40 participants and that 37 were currently signed up.

Davidson said the support she has received has been “over the top.”

“The OSA has handled all the registration. The Oregon Department of Agriculture is using grant funds to do printing for us at no cost, which is really nice. And we’ve had a lot of equipment donated for this,” she said. “Everybody is just very supportive.”


Registration cost is $400. Any funds left over after paying for expenses will be used to bring in speakers from out of state for next year’s workshop, Davidson said.

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Originally published in the Capital Press 4/18/2023