Taking your seed grain in for testing can feel a lot like handing in a test you didn’t study for.
It may leave you a bit anxious, but it’s better to get it over with and do it now, than wait or skip it and risk putting potentially poor germinating seed in the ground next spring come planting time.
To say that drought and heat were not kind this year would be an understatement, and the damage it did on your crop may not be fully known yet either if you haven’t taken it in for a test.
Debbie Pankewich Jackson, Director of Business Development with Cotecna Inspection, says on top of affecting yield, it may have hurt the seeds’ ability to germinate, and you won’t know that until you get it tested.
More Than Meets the Eye
Pankewich Jackson says drought and heat affect the seeds that go beyond what you would see if you were to sift your hand through a pail load of grain.
So, what is it about these conditions that affect the seed’s power to grow?
Pankewich Jackson says during the growing season if the soil is dry, it affects the kernels ability to develop.
“The leaves of the plant does not develop, which means your seeds are not going to develop.”
The effect is different in different crops.
For example in wheat, she says these conditions limit starch actions, as well as the enzymes in the endosperm, so the kernel cannot fill out.
“What happens is the kernels become small and shrunken, and the enzymes required to hydrolize the proteins and the starch to provide the nutrients for germination are usually lower in activity in the kernel and might take longer to develop .”
In a soyabean, it would affect the oil content.
The only thing you would see with the naked eye is the kernels are smaller which equates to a lower test weight.
The important thing to remember is that drought and extreme heat affect the seed at the molecular level, so you shouldn’t assume the seed is good because it looks okay.
Test. Test. Test.
The three crucial tests coming out of a tough year like this one is germination, vigour and 1000 kernel weight.
When looking at the results of your tests, you want to see high percentages of germination so you will have more confidence that your crop is going to have a greater chance to succeed.
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If those numbers don’t come back stellar, you may want to consider other options and perhaps purchase seed next year.
Doing it right after harvest will give you time to develop a plan and execute it if you decide to buy seed and to sell your grain as well.
If you decide to plant seed that has lower gemination results you will see it in the quality of the crop when it comes out of the ground t next year.
Pankewich Jackson says the seed will not germinate because the quality of the seed is not there, which will affect the yield.
She says it is likely that the seed will not germinate, meaning it’s not going to sprout and grow and it’s going to lay dormant and not produce in the field.
Pankewich Jackson adds this is an essential reminder that you should always be on top of the latest varieties and research.
This is why it is important to know what variety is the most drought-resistant to help mitigate this situation in the future.
It’s become cliché to say that it has been a tough year, which is why it is imperative you don’t let this year’s problems spill into next year.
Getting your seed tested after harvest is important every year; however, it is even more important in years like this because of the damage the heat and drought can do to it at the molecular level.
If you don’t and put it in the ground for the 2022 growing season, you could be in for another very tough year no matter how great the growing conditions are.