Seed Testing

It looks like there could be problems with seed grown in northwest Saskatchewan again this year. Sherrilyn Phelps, Regional Crops Specialist with Saskatchewan Agriculture, indicated that she was seeing some problems in the northwest region of Saskatchewan with germination of seed this year. With the weather that we saw at harvest time, it is not a surprise. Any seed that you plan on using should have a germination test done. Knowing how well your seed will germinate is the first step in growing more bushels. The basic germination test is a must. This test looks at how many seeds germinate at a specific temperature over a given period of time. If you want more information, there are more tests that could be done. In a year where there were wet conditions throughout the fall, there could be some other diseases that need to be checked for. I think that it is a good idea to have a vigor test done. This test will look at how seed will germinate under stressful conditions. Fall soil conditions indicate that there will be some areas that are too wet and will make it difficult for seedlings too emerge. Ensuring that the seed lot that is being used is will bounce out of the ground as quickly as possible should help the crop potential in the spring. If the vigor is low, try to find other seed. If the vigor is within a range that would allow the seed to be used, make sure the seed goes into warm ground and is seeded shallow. Using proper seeding techniques will help improve the crop stand. With peas, growers should have an aschocyta test done. This test tells the grower if there is a potential problem. Seed treatment may be an option to deal with low levels of this disease. With high levels of aschocyta, a grower should be looking for new seed. If you have issues with this disease, talk to your agronomist to look at what avenues you should pursue. With wheat, it may be worthwhile doing a test for fusarium. This disease is not common in the area but is getting closer every year. Checking for fusarium tells a producer if there are levels that could be a concern for the upcoming wheat crop. Again, if you find fusarium in your seed, have a chat with your agronomist to develop a strategy for this disease. When it comes to picking a lab do the testing, there are a number of qualified labs in the province to do this work. We have envelopes to mail the seed away at our office in Meadow Lake. If you want to find an accredited lab, go to the Saskatchewan Agriculture website. They have a listing of labs that are available for seed testing. Testing seed is the first step in the process of growing a high yielding quality crop. Get your seed samples early so that the right decision can be made to ensure quality seed goes into your fields.


By Dave Cubbon, P Ag