Sample volume at the Idaho State Seed Lab continues to grow, building on a post-recession recovery.
Data for fiscal years 2012-19 “show that we are now back to where we were, plus some, post-recession,” said Dan Salmi, Idaho State Department of Agriculture laboratories bureau chief.
The most recent low came in fiscal 2013.
“We’ve almost tripled since then,” ISDA Lab Improvement Manager Wendy Loumeau said. The top-volume sample species such as beans, grains, alfalfa and peas all showed strong gains.
The seed lab offers germination, purity, tetrazolium, noxious weed and other tests for more than 200 crops, the department said.
Increases in sample volume over time provide one indicator of demand in the state’s sizable seed industry.
ISDA administers the Idaho Pure Seed Law, but requested “service” samples far outnumber “enforcement” samples. The lab receives service samples from companies in Idaho and nine other states.
Companies request service samples to determine if products will perform as stated. Land-management agencies also request them ahead of post-wildfire replanting, which means an active wildfire season can boost volume.
ISDA data show recent increases in service-sample requests involving sagebrush and other native plants.
Seed lab samples for fiscal 2019, which ended June 30, totaled 6,227 including 6,104 service samples, ISDA data show. The overall total is more than 2.9 times higher than that of 2013, which saw 2,115 including 2,034 service samples.
The earlier slowdown in sample volume prompted internal streamlining that enabled additional focus on quality assurance and customer satisfaction while reducing turnaround time, Salmi and Loumeau said.
Separately, the seed lab in fiscal 2016 began testing hops. Two classifications of hop test in Idaho each more than doubled over the period, reflecting the industry’s growth. Rather than germination and purity, personnel look for leaf, stem and seed content within the hop cone.