Seed World

Seed Quality Issues After a Dry Year Make Testing Very Important

Morgan Webb President & Senior Seed Analyst Seed Check Technologies

This year has been one for the record books, in many ways.

So much so that seed quality is definitely a concern going into 2022, and now is the time to think about testing.

There are a number seed quality will be impacted going into the 2022 season.

  • Seed size. I’m seeing fields of wheat that are fully headed out at about a foot tall and even shorter. Seeds are definitely going to be smaller; we recently got our first big batch of peas, lentils and cereals in and not only did they arrive earlier than normal, they’re quite tiny.
  • Vigour/TKW. Sometimes, small seed has higher vigour than large seed. There’s a myth out there that large seed higher vigour. That’s not necessarily true. Time will tell as we start to test seed from 2021, but it’s important to know seed size is no indicator of whether that seed will have good vigour or not. With the challenging conditions we’ve seen this year, vigour testing is crucial, as is testing for thousand kernel weight (TKW). For planning purposes, TKW is so important when you have smaller seed to deal with, because it’s the best way to determine your plant population for next year.
  • Weeds. It’s no secret that weeds will survive where crops can’t. With the dry, hot conditions, many weeds are thriving and taking over the soils that ordinarily would be home for valuable commodity crops. Weed seeds are going to be different than we’re used to. Heat loving weeds might be of a different size and look a little different. We are dealing with living things, and they evolve quickly.

Weeds are great at waiting until the perfect year arrived. Weeds can lay dormant in soil for years, even decades, and emerge when the time is right, like:

  • Canada Thistle: adapted to a wide range of soil conditions, and spreads vigorously by windborne seeds and by way of its extensive, creeping root system.
  • Toadflax: can out-compete native plants, which negatively affects plant crops, and reduces grass growing in pastures and rangelands.

If there’s a silver lining to 2021, it’s that disease pressure will be lower in many areas. Pathogens don’t like hot weather with no moisture. But this is a small consolation for growers suffering seed quality issues.

Seed testing is one of your best weapons to ensure you and your customers start 2022 off right.