Nationwide, there is an increasing awareness and understanding of the important role that regionally adapted native wildflower and grasses play in sound ecosystem management of roadsides and natural areas. Until the late 1990s, seed from plants adapted to Florida's environment have not been available except for small amounts of wild collected seed.
Florida’s native wildflower seed production industry is currently centered in northern Florida. While none of the growers has made this a full-time endeavor, seed availability has steadily increased over the past few years. About 2,200 lb of seed were sold in 2004. Nearly 90% of the seed sold was Goldenmane Tickseed, and the other 10% was comprised of seven other species. In 2005, growers expect to sell over 3,800 lb of seed, about 73% of which will be Goldenmane Tickseed. Species currently in production are all spring and summer flowering species but growers are beginning to increase seed of fall flowering species. Within 3-5 years, seed of twenty native wildflower species should be available.
The outlook for this industry is favorable:
- Demand is expected to exceed supply for the foreseeable future
- Many miles of roadsides managed by state and local governments
- Demand by others in government and private sector
- Current value of most seed is $50-100/lb
- “New generation” Florida wildflower seed producers marketing cooperative created in 2003
- Broad-based public and private support for Florida's native wildflower program and seed industry
- Excellent rapport among growers; they openly share knowledge and work together
Although the future is bright, the native wildflower seed production industry in Florida is only a few years old, so there is much to learn about production practices, economics, and marketing. The best chance of success will be for those with some farming experience and those willing to start small before gradually increasing the size of their operation as they learn more about production practices.
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