Southern Seed Association Holds Centennial Celebration in Scottsdale, Arizona

SSA Past Presidents in attendance during the Centennial Gala included Hugh Beckham (2017), J.P. Tom Bodderij (2015), Bill Talley (2014), Owen Wallace (2012), Greg Hamner (2010), Tony Harper (2007), Larry Richardson (2006), Ernie Millner (2002), Jerry Monk (2001), and Jim Thompson (1996). (Chris Lusvardi photo)

Scottsdale, AZ (January 23, 2019) – The Southern Seed Association (SSA) held its 100th Annual Convention Jan. 18-21 at the Omni Resort & Spa at Montelucia, Scottsdale, AZ.

As part of the celebration on Jan. 21, ten former SSA presidents were in attendance and shared their memories of the conventions they hosted.

“This organization has always adapted to change and always will,” said Jim Thompson, the SSA president in 1996 who hosted the convention in Dallas, TX. “This organization continues to adapt and will be great going forward for the next 100 years.”

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During the Centennial Gala, SSA presented its first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award to Wendell Howard of Lubbock, TX for his dedication to the organization. Howard was the SSA president in 1998.

“There is not a person who loves the trade more,” said Jerry Monk, owner and CEO of Warner Seeds, Hereford, TX.

Howard could not attend the event, but Monk told the group to pass on a message from Howard saying “tell them hello and how much I miss them.”

SSA Executive Vice President Richard Taylor said, “There is not anyone in the industry more loved than Wendell.”

The SSA also presented its Seedsman of the Year Award to Dr. Jim Bostick, executive vice president of Alabama Crop Improvement and Southern Seed Certification Associations.

General Session Speakers

Speakers on Jan. 21 during the General Session included Byron R. Strom, operations officer for the U.S. Border Patrol; K. Bear Reel, senior director of cultivation R&D for Charlotte’s Web, Broomfield, CO; Risa DeMasi, Grassland Oregon, Salem, OR; and Dr. Paul W. Bosland, professor and director of the Chile Pepper Institute, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM.

Strom provided an update on security and safety efforts in the Yuma Sector, currently the second busiest area along the Southern border of the United States. Strom says security along the border has gotten a lot better, with upgrades to fencing "one of the best investments we've ever had." Strom received a standing ovation at the end of his presentation.

Reel spoke about the market for hemp derived CBD products. Following changes in the 2018 Farm Bill, Reel says interest in the hemp industry is increasing. Charlotte's Web was founded to help people such as 6-year-old Charlotte Figi, who used CBD oil to help stop seizures.

DeMasi provided an update about the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) and issues such as the 2018 Farm Bill, trade, and research.

Bosland spoke about the breeding and genetics of chile peppers. He said chile peppers can be found throughout New Mexico and have a diversity of flavors.

Other Notes

  • The group on Jan. 20 toured the Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix, AZ, for dinner and entertainment, including seeing the Electric Desert light and sound display, eating a Tex-Mex dinner, and hearing a Mariachi band.
  • Jim Gill, Roswell Seed Co., Roswell, NM, was the SSA president this past year. Jimmy Adams, Adams-Briscoe Seed Co., Jackson, GA, will be the SSA president in this upcoming year.
  • Plans are underway for the 2020 SSA Annual Convention with the location to be announced later.

Written by Chris Lusvardi, Seed Today editor

The SSA organized a dinner and entertainment with a reception at the Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix, AZ. (Chris Lusvardi photos)

Exhibits were set up in the Valencia Foyer at the Omni Resort & Spa at Montelucia, Scottsdale, AZ.