Seed World

3 Reasons Seed Quality is Taking a Hit in 2019

Morgan Webb isn’t pulling any punches against Mother Nature in 2019. For seed, things are tough out there.

“It’s the worst year I’ve seen in my 25 years of testing as far as germination and seed quality go,” says the owner of Seed Check Technologies based in Leduc, Alta.

There’s three reasons seed quality is suffering this spring, he says.

Frost damage. Punishing pre-harvest frosts in many areas took their toll in 2018 and that is now being seen as planting season approaches.

Heat damage. This might seem surprising, but it makes sense, Webb says. A lot of seed went into the bin moist last fall. The consequences of that are readily apparent.

Low vigour. Things pre-sprouted in the field in many areas, resulting in low vigour and underperforming seed.

Morgan Webb

Thankfully, Webb says Seed Check staff aren’t seeing high levels of disease with the exception of true loose smut, which is prevalent in some areas.

“As seed analysts, staff of Seed Check have seen it all. Being in seed testing for a quarter-century means there’s really nothing that hasn’t passed your desk,” Webb says.

Webb and two business partners started Seed Check 18 years ago. Being a small, independent seed lab means big advantage for the customer, he says. This time of year especially, Webb says Seed Check’s personalized service means:

Speed. “People don’t want to wait for things. We’re living in a just-in-time world and they’re making decisions every minute. We know that fast service is important.”

Expertise: “We don’t have a private space in our lab. The staff all sit together. They get to hear firsthand the problems faced by growers and watch management make decisions. We’re all driven to treat the customer like they’re our boss and we’re there to solve their problems and help them out. Everyone who works here is always learning from everyone else. We’re on the team of the clients we do the work for. That attitude allows us to help them get the best results and quality they can.”

Collaboration: Seed Check’s independent, intimate atmosphere means customers can work directly with company experts and not have to deal with an impersonal, corporate structure, according to Webb. “When there are issues or dilemmas, or seed needs identification, or whatever the issue may be, everyone gets to see those problems being worked out and finds the best solution. It makes us more efficient, so we can get things done better and no one — including the client — feels like a mushroom growing in the dark.”

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