Seed quality is very important and it must be protected from the time the seed is harvested to the time it’s seeded again in the spring. Seed is expensive so customers are demanding more information on what they’re buying and seed sellers are being asked to provide more information on what they’re selling.

As the 2017 growing season comes to a close, it’s a good time to take stock of the season that was and possible seed issues that might creep up. As the growing season story ends, the seed testing story begins.

I actively encourage people to think about seed quality and think of seed testing like a book — a germination test is the first chapter that helps set up the story.

Germination: It’s the basic yet most fundamental test that is conducted under optimum conditions. It gives you the number of seedlings that are normal out of 200 seeds and are capable of germinating under good-to-ideal field conditions.

Germination will tell you if diseases and other factors that affect quality are present.

It’s a common belief that germination is the most crucial test to have done. There’s a lot more to this seed quality story, so let’s turn the page and read on about health.

Disease: Disease pressure this year has been low due to drier weather conditions, but even with low disease pressure, seed testing remains an important weapon in the growers’ arsenal.

Various crops are susceptible to their own unique diseases. Testing for those diseases gives you peace of mind that the book won’t have an unhappy ending.

Other major chapters in the seed testing book are:

Vigour & Viability: Seeds are placed under stress in a cold environment to determine the potential for rapid and uniform emergence. Since farming is becoming more digital all of the time, seeding rate, placement and emergence are more accurate.

Purity, both physical and varietal: This is an important component of quality because we determine the number or weight of serious or troublesome contaminants in the seed sample. Varietal identification would also fit in this category and checking for trueness to variety is becoming more commonplace all of the time.

Your report of analysis is the key to fully understanding this story — especially the “remarks” section, which can be considered the fifth chapter of the book. It includes all the background info that will be written in this section. Paying attention to dormancy, frost, chemical injury and pests will predict the longevity of your seed and its overall performance.

That’s where selling and buying tests as a package comes in. Our lab offers a harvest package as a reliable standard. Growers need to know that these packages offer all the basic weapons they should look for in a seed testing arsenal. When used appropriately there’s a bountiful ending with bumper yields.

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