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Seed Today – 3Q_11

Wise Seed Company, Inc.

Joe Funk 0000-00-00 00:00:00

South Florida bahiagrass seed production Wise Seed Company, Inc. Frostproof, Flo 863-635-4473 www.wiseseed.net Key Personnel Guelda Wise, Owner Rudy Wise, Owner Clint Wise, Owner Doug Wise, Owner Company Profile Established 1969 by Junior Wise. Three generations of family ownership and operation. Warm season grass seed production, conditioning, and wholesale distribution including bahiagrass, millet, and rye. Bahiagrass seed production by sharecrop harvesting with surrounding ranchers. From its seed production fields in southern Florida to its wholesale seed trade and its Internet retail store, Wise Seed Company, Inc. is a fully-integrated, family-owned seed business. It began in 1968, when Junior Wise and his wife Guelda bought some “very used” combines from Fulton-Cole Seed Company to begin harvesting grass seed on his own. Junior’s experience marketing seed for Fulton-Cole before it closed for business gave him the contacts he needed to begin his own business. For the first two years, Wise had no storage or conditioning capacity of his own. He contracted with another nearby company to process and store his seed. As his business developed, Wise purchased property and built his first warehouse in 1970. The next year Wise installed seed dryers and cleaners. Forty years later, Wise Seed Company continues to operate as a family-owned and operated business serving the southeastern United States. Junior’s sons, Doug, Rudy, and Clint, as well as grandsons, Jim, Tony, Clint Jr., and Justin are now responsible for day-to-day operations of Wise Seed Company. As the company grew, the Wise family diversified its operation to spread the risk that variable weather conditions can have on crop production. “Bahiagrass yields the most seed under drought conditions, just the opposite of most other crops,” says owner Rudy Wise. “In years when millet or rye or other grass seed production is down, bahiagrass does well.” The Wise operation has also increased its orange production in an area where other growers are reducing their orange groves. “It is a matter of diversity. We still pick our oranges by hand because the mechanical harvesters make more problems than they solve,” Wise says. “There was not enough potential in our original seed business to support all our families, so we had to diversify and expand.” The expansion has also included the 2007 introduction of Mulato grass from Brazil. Wise Seed is the exclusive distributor for this apomatic hybrid pasture grass. “Mulato is an innovative grass that has superior feed value as forage for beef and dairy cattle,” Wise says. “We are continuing to evaluate its performance, but from everything we have seen, it is a dramatically superior forage product.” Wise recommends mulato grass be grown on acid soils of medium and low fertility. It endures periods of prolonged drought, high temperatures, and high relative humidity. Mulato is genetically stable and does not segregate or divide from one generation to the next. Share Harvest Most bahiagrass seed is produced as a second crop from established stands. After an area is grazed, cattle are removed and the bahiagrass grows and forms seed heads within six to ten weeks. To assure a supply of seed production acres, Wise Seed contracts with ranchers on a share harvest basis. After removing the livestock, ranchers must mow and manage the production fields according to Wise Seed’s instructions. At harvest, the grower receives 50% of the seed crop. Growers can either claim their share of clean seed or Wise Seed will help them sell it at the current wholesale price. Bahiagrass seed is harvested at relatively high moisture when the plants are still green. To prevent the seed from heating, it must be dried immediately. “If you let a load sit on the truck overnight, it will get hot and destroy the seed’s germ,” Wise explains. “Our range of seed production fields is limited by the distance a truck can travel to get back to our facility and begin drying the seed before it begins to overheat.” Seed is dried in small batches in drying trailers overnight before being transferred into storage or cleaned. A vast majority of the seed Wise Seed sells (except Mulato) is produced in-house under Wise Seed Company management. Joe Funk, editor Bahiagrass inflorescence Bahiagrass (Paspalum notatum Flugge) was introduced into the United States from Brazil in 1914 as a pasture grass on the sandy soils of the southeastern states. It is a warm season grass that tolerates a wide range of soil conditions and spreads by seeds and rhizomes. Its aggressive nature and drought tolerance make it ideal for erosion control along roadsides and highway rights of way. However, its aggressive nature also makes it difficult to control as a weed in the landscape. Still used as pasture in Florida and coastal Gulf states, Bahiagrass produces moderate yields on poorer soils and can withstand heavy grazing. Its roots extend eight feet deep making bahiagrass well adapted to drought conditions. About 40 percent of bahiagrass forage is produced in the first inch of height. When it gets tall enough to be cut for hay or silage, its feed quality declines rapidly. Widely used for lawns, its course texture is quite different from the carpet-like, dense lawns produced by cool-season lawn grasses.

Published by Grain Journal. View All Articles.

South Florida bahiagrass seed production Wise Seed Company, Inc. Frostproof, Flo 863-635-4473 www.wiseseed.net Key Personnel Guelda Wise, Owner Rudy

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