Saving Small Grain Seed

July 29, 2008 in Uncategorized

With the high cost of seed, farmers are saving wheat, barley, and other small grain crops such as rye and oats for replanting. The following are some considerations in saving small grain seed.

Those farmers interested in saving wheat or other small grain seed for fall planting should have that seed conditioned prior to summer storage and fall planting. Several seed companies in the area can condition the seed for you. Seed conditioning involves cleaning, removal of low weight seed, treating with insecticides and fungicides, and then bagging (small bags or large bulk bags).
One of the main challenges to saving wheat seed is preventing insect damage. By treating seed you can reduce this risk and preserve seed quality.

You should also have the seed tested for germination once it has been conditioned. The Delaware Department of Agriculture Seed Lab will do this for free.

Farmers are allowed to plant back their own acreage with seed protected by the Federal Plant Variety Protection Act (PVPA). But the PVPA does prevent a farmer from selling protected seed.

A separate rule applies to seed that is patented by a private company. Currently Pioneer does patent several of its wheat varieties. Pioneer reserves the right to prohibit a farmer from replanting its seed which has a patent. This is enforceable by Pioneer exclusively and you should check to see if that seed has a patent before saving seed.

Gordon Johnson, Extension Agriculture Agent, UD, Kent County

Cold Germination Seed Tests

March 8, 2008 in Uncategorized

Seed germination rates are given based on warm germination tests where the seeds are germinated at 77 F. However, sometimes a seed lot will have a good warm germination test (high percentage) but perform poorly in the field. This may be due to poor germination and vigor in cold conditions. A cold germination test can be performed on seed to test for these effects. The following are descriptions of these tests from the Iowa State University Seed Testing Laboratory.

Cold Germination: “The Iowa Cold Test”

Duration: Typically 12-14 days.The cold germination test gives a reasonable idea of emergence under less than ideal conditions. Two replications of 100 seed are placed on Kimpak® (special paper) that has been moistened and chilled overnight at 10C (50 F). The seeds are covered with a non-sterile sand/soil mixture and returned to 10C (50 F) for seven days without light. The cart is then moved to 25C (77 F) for five to seven additional days. Seedlings that emerge through the sand/soil mixture are evaluated according to AOSA Rules. An extended cold test is also available which exposes seed to two weeks in the cold instead of one.

Saturated Cold Germination

Duration: Typically 9 or 10 days. The saturated cold germination test is another way of determining how well a seed lot will do under unfavorable conditions. Some consider it to be a more severe test than the tray method. Seeds are placed on a thin layer of saturated soil on paper towels over a special tray. Seeds are turned so that the side of the corn kernel closest to the embryo is down against the soil. The cart is placed in 10°C (50 F) for seven days without light and then moved to 25°C (77 F) for two to three more days. The number of normal seedlings, abnormal seedlings, and dead seed are recorded.

Contact the Delaware Department of Agriculture Seed Laboratory for more information on cold germination tests for seeds. (302) 698-4500

Information from the Iowa State University Seed Testing Laboratory

Soybeans – Seed Quality Issues

February 1, 2008 in Uncategorized

Soybean seed quality was affected last year by the adverse growth conditions in much of the seed producing areas. The following is an article on the subject.

High quality soybean seed is very critical for getting the crop off to a good start. Much of the seed supply has lower than normal quality due to a stressful growing season last year. Physical damage caused by harvest and handling can cause low vigor and more abnormal growth in germination test than normal.

With seed of lower quality, the seed will need a fungicide treatment to protect it from disease causing fungi. Studies have shown that when soil conditions favor early season seed rot, the seed treatments provide substantial protection and can increase yields. Fields where treatment will bring good returns are those with a previous history of stand problems, are poorly drained, are under no-till production or in continuous soybeans. All of these factors favor soil borne diseases and the longer these fields take to drain the more time the pathogens have to infect young seedlings.

Seed treatment is also needed for protection from seed borne diseases such as Phomopsis. Fortunately for soybeans, Phomopsis is the primary fungus that is seed borne and Maxim is highly effective against this fungus. The seed treating process can damage seed and reduce the germination rate, especially if that seed was harvested under very dry conditions making it more fragile or if the seed coat is thin or torn. If this damaged seed is planted into warm soils that are optimum for rapid germination, it may not need a seed treatment. However, these conditions have not occurred in the past 10 years, so a seed treatment will be necessary, but precautions should be taken to reduce further damage due to treating and handling.

Following treatment and bagging the germination should be rechecked using the cold germination test which will evaluate the vigor of the seed under very adverse conditions (cold, wet soil with pathogens present). For this stress test, a 70 percent or higher germination rate is considered very high quality, and a germination rate below 59 percent are very risky under adverse conditions but may be OK for planting in warm and moist soil. Soybean growers should ask their seed supplier for the results of the cold germination test and then plant the highest quality seed in the most adverse environments, ie cold soil, early planting, no-till planting, continuous beans or poor drainage. If soil conditions permit, some shallow spring tillage should improve stands in these adverse environments.

Adapted from “Some 2008 Soybean Seed Quality Questionable” by Anne Dorrance and Jim Beuerlein, in the January 23, 2008 – February 6, 2008 edition of the Crop Observation and Recommendation Network newsletter from the Ohio State University Cooperative Extension.