Due to very favourable weather conditions in many parts of Canada, the 2017 seed crops are trending to have higher germination and lower disease profiles. A good year, it would seem. Sadly, a lot of seed hasn’t made it into the laboratory for testing because it’s often thought that in a good year, seed doesn’t need to be tested until later — or even not at all.
The general consensus is that we’ve had a reasonably good harvest and many are thinking, “I’ll put my seed in the bin and I’ll just test in the spring before I need to plant it.” This is not a recommended practice no matter how experienced you think you are at determining your seed quality.
True, your seeds may not have disease infection, but there are numerous other factors that come into consideration with producing a healthy crop for next year.
Let’s use the germination test as a measure of quality. The results are more than a number — it’s a complete quality diagnostic of your seed. To start with, it tells you what condition the seed is in. How does it look? Plump and fully formed with good colour and no odour? Good sound seed will perform well and often has very little hidden in the background. On the other hand, there have been cases this year already of unexpected, extremely poor performance.
A diagnostic profile lists along with your normal seedlings everything else that makes up the total germination. You will also see abnormal, fresh, dormant or dead seeds. This profile should always accompany your germination test results. This profile outlines symptoms noted in the seed lot like frost, chemical toxicity or injury, heating or mechanical damage, dormancy and the presence of pathogens. This is the start for building a prescription or plan for managing the outcome.
Most of what a grower deals with on any given day is beyond his or her control. Markets, commodity prices, weather — you name it, there’s really nothing you can do about it. But you can, however, control what you know about your seed.
Don’t back off on testing — your seed may not have pathogens present, but your soil will. Take steps to ensure you protect your biggest asset at all levels.