National Temperate Forage Legume Genetic Resources Unit
• Developing a gene bank collection that effectively serves the dual purpose of conserving genetic diversity and satisfying current and future needs of breeders and research scientists.
• Running a facility to produce seed of perennial forage legume species using specialized procedures to maintain the genetic integrity of individual accessions during the seed increase process.
• Providing comprehensive, accurate and easily-accessed information on the accessions in the collection, assisting users in selecting material from the collection, and ensuring prompt delivery of seed.
The Yakima Valley is in southeastern Washington, an agriculturally diverse region where over 200 different crops are grown on rich volcanic soils. The primary crops are wine and juice grapes and fruits such as cherries and apples. The dry hot climate is conducive to the production of forage legume seed.
We are co-located on the campus of the Washington State University (WSU) Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center (IAREC) in Prosser, Washington. Established by legislative mandate in 1919, IAREC has grown from its original staff of two, an animal scientist and an agronomist, to 18 WSU scientists and faculty that conduct cutting edge research and extension projects on viticulture, tree fruits, and precision and automated agriculture. IAREC is also home to the USDA ARS Vegetable and Forage Crop Research Unit and a unit of the Washington State Department of Agriculture.
The Roza Unit, a 320-acre site, is located 3 miles north of the main WSU-IAREC campus. We grow out a portion of the collections each year using isolation cages and bee pollinators to replenish seed which is stored at the WRPIS Pullman seed storage facility. With the recent deregulation of genetically-engineered alfalfa, we are taking additional steps to ensure the genetic integrity of the alfalfa collection. New pollination cages have been purchased and a routine monitoring program is in place to help us detect the presence of the transgene in the vicinity where the collection is regenerated.