New Foundation Seed Facility Nears Completion

   Agricultural research and extension in Arkansas will soon take a great stride forward as the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture prepares to open its new Foundation Seed Facility for operation in early August.
   The $8.6 million facility will be part of the Rice Research and Extension Center in Stuttgart. 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.
   “This is a giant leap forward from our original seed processing facility, which was built in 1951,” Bathke said. “It’s much safer and efficient." 
   The facility will manage the certified foundation seeds produced by the Division of Agriculture, which require inspections throughout the entire process, from the field to the point of sale, Bathke said. The facility will be capable of processing as much as 250 bushels of seed an hour, including pre-cleaning, cleaning, sizing and other steps in ensuring the high quality of as many as 25 varieties of seed each year.
   “We’ll be able to handle more varieties as well, so we can keep our seed portfolio updated much more effectively,” Bathke said.
   Bathke said technicians for machinery involved in the seed handling process are currently onsite to help manage the installation process. There is still plenty of work to be done before the scheduled Aug. 9 ribbon-cutting ceremony, he said, but things are moving according to plan.
   Tours of the facility will be included as part of the 2016 Arkansas Rice Expo, taking place Aug. 10, based at the Grand Prairie Center in Stuttgart.
   For more information about the 2016 Arkansas Rice Expo, contact the Rice Research and Extension Center at 870-673-2661, or contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent. ∆

 The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture's new
 Foundation Seed Facility in Stuttgart is scheduled to go into full operation in August.

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