Continuous Change in Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico Winter Farm Annual Report by Lizandro Perez – Station Manager
Winter nursery services over the last few years have been very dynamic and challenging. Changes in customer requests, hurricane María, earthquakes and the pandemic have impacted our operations.
We received an unusual amount of sorghum requests for the 2019-20 season. We were unable to accept all of the requests due to the isolation requirements for parent seed production in sorghum. Other changes included an increase in corn and soybean coupled with a big acreage drop in sunflowers. Acreage dropped from 40 acres planted the previous year to less than one acre planted in fiscal year 19-20. Crops such as spring grains, dry bean, mung bean and others remained the same as the previous year. Total acreage was around 15% less than previous year but 13.5 acres were used by a neighboring farm for corn nursery. As part of the corn nursery agreement we provide the land along with irrigation, field destruction and tape removal.
Overall the farm had a successful season providing both seed and data to its customers. Data from growouts are still an important part of the seed industry due to the number of plants that can be evaluated as well as the phenotypic characteristics that can be seen. The phenotype is what the seed customer or farmer sees. While molecular techniques are robust and powerful they may not reveal exactly what a plant will look like. The statistical power of an evaluation still rests on the number of seed tested and in many cases a growout is still the best value and opportunity to see what a hybrid or variety will look like. Producing seed, for plant breeders and seed producers, is also an important service we provide. The genetic gain of an extra generation, with two generations for some crops, is what accelerates breeding programs working in temperate zones. Seed producers can also fast-forward new genetics for sale or further production with small hybrid and variety increases during the winter. We have tried several new crops and continue to gain knowledge and resiliency as a service provider. We are ready for future challenges and always looking for ways to improve our services and to produce the best data and seed possible.