The 2018 harvest has been nothing short of a challenge. Veterans in seed testing can attest to the difficulties associated with this year’s harvest. It’s been a slow and arduous task for many of the clients here in Alberta as well as other Prairie provinces. Seed quality is affected quickly from the time the seed begins to mature. The sooner it comes off, the better it is. This year, seed taken off before the snow in September has great promise — there is little to no damage.
However, snow and repeated weathering in the field after September has led to various symptoms that will lead to serious storage issues. We have never seen frost, dormancy, chitting and dead seed on as many samples as we have this year. These symptoms are apparent on individual samples and are being seen together as a collective detriment.
What does this mean to the producer? Dormancy is not a bad thing. Dormant means the seed has gone to sleep. We literally have to wake it up with cold pre- chilling and the best GA3 compounds money can buy. This expensive naturally occurring compound is added to the germination test to artificially bring the seed back to a point that it can germinate. Gibberellic acid is found in all living plants. It opens the pathway where abscisic acid stops or arrests growth. So if it works on your samples we know we have life and we can predict the outcome in the spring.
Chitted seeds are seeds that have sprouted. This seed has begun to germinate and the root (radical) is growing and can be seen with the naked eye or by a microscope. Essential enzymes are used up and the seed eventually dies. It’s only a matter of time and there is no life left.
Frost is another serious component. The clock ticks with this element. Cell structures are comprised in the field and once it’s taken a hold, the delicate membranes are ruptured and death sets in. If frost is noted on your report, it means the germination will decrease as time goes on.
Dead is dead — nothing can save seed from its expired state.
The normal, vigorous seedlings will also predict the outcome for a successful crop next year (seedlings that grow at the same rate). Root and shoot elongation that’s in unison is healthy, but a deviation in growth habits tells us the seed is tired and had been compromised in some capacity.
If your seed is suffering now, it will not store and you should buy new seed right away. Secure your assets right away by asking an analyst to assess your seed.