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Texas - Kika de la Garza Plant Materials Center

E. "Kika" de la Garza Plant Materials Center (STPMC)
Serving the southern portion of the State of Texas

Established: 1981
Size: 76 acres
PMC Operation: NRCS
Land Ownership: Texas A&M University and King Ranch

Bee visiting the yellow flowers of a Maximillian sunflower plant at sundownThe Plant Materials Center (STPMC) in Kingsville, Texas was initiated through a Memorandum of Understanding between the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute at Texas A&M-Kingsville, the South Texas Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, and the Soil Conservation Service. The driving force for this Center was the need for commercial plant materials adapted to the unique climate and soils of the South Texas area.

The Center serves South Texas. The major land uses are rangeland, pasture, and hay land. The Texas Gulf Coast is an internationally significant migration and wintering habitat for North American waterfowl. Oil field exploration and coastline urbanization are also land uses that require conservation plant development.

Current program emphasis includes rangeland restoration and wildlife habitat enhancement; coastal shoreline stabilization; coastal habitat restoration and enhancement; and erosion control/water quality improvement on agricultural land. The Center provides technical assistance to restore the Gulf Coast Prairie and the associated salt marshes, enhance water bird habitat, revegetate areas disturbed by oil field exploration, and improve range and pasture lands of the Rio Grande Plain.

To date, the E. "Kika" de la Garza Plant Materials Center has developed 34 grasses and forb plant species to assist in addressing these issues.

Highlights

RESTORING NATIVE WILDLIFE HABITAT

Providing native plants and planting strategies for restoring South Texas habitats

  • Thirty-four South Texas native plant releases have been developed to restore South Texas habitats.  Thirty-one of these releases were in partnership with the Texas Native Seeds program.
  • Developed and evaluated the widely successful South Texas Ecotype Approach.  This approach to rangeland restoration utilizes ecotype seed releases and early successional species to achieve an 80% success rate on over 30 field plantings.
  • Under a Monarch Grant, we along with our partner Texas Native Seeds, collected, evaluated, and increased seed for an upcoming release of zizotes milkweed (Asclepias oenotheroides).
  • This Monarch Grant also provided additional resources to enhance production and commercialization of an additional native pollinator species, Indian blanket (Gaillardia pulchella), which was released in 2020. 
  • We are currently conducting studies on additional species for pollinator use: roundhead prairie clover, Engelmann’s daisy, Maximillian sunflower, red sage, and frostweed.

EROSION CONTROL AND STABILIZATION

Providing plants and technologies to stabilize erosion on critical sites

  • Provided assistance to Cameron County and other South Texas counties to restore sand dunes and stabilize coastal shorelines.
  • Provided assistance to the National Park Service Palo Alto Battlefield in the restoration of historically significant gulf cordgrass prairie.

AGRICULTURAL SUSTAINABILITY

Providing plants, technology and information for the long-term sustainability of South Texas agricultural lands

  • Evaluation of tillage systems and cover crops for the improvement of soil health in South Texas.
  • Legume evaluations for crop rotations and livestock utilization under predicted global climate change.
  • Cooperating with Dr. Tom Juenger at the University of Texas to evaluate and understand the genetic and environment interaction on switchgrass production.
  • Continued evaluation of switchgrass for greater drought tolerance and improved seedling establishment in South Texas.

E. "Kika" de la Garza Plant Materials Center
3409 N FM 1355
Kingsville, TX 78363-2704
Phone: (361) 595-1313
Fax: (844) 496-8004