Rules to follow if retaining seed

Rules to follow if retaining seed

Grains
WHEAT CHECK: Wheat being tested for moisture and protein, and screened, before the load is stored. Photo: EVAN COLLIS PHOTOGRAPHY

WHEAT CHECK: Wheat being tested for moisture and protein, and screened, before the load is stored. Photo: EVAN COLLIS PHOTOGRAPHY

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Some rules of thumb to adhere to when retaining seed after harvest.

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With the dry and hot seasonal conditions causing small and shrivelled grain this season, growers are reminded of some rules of thumb to adhere to when retaining seed after harvest.

This grain can be susceptible to poor germination and low vigour (ability to push through the soil following germination) so extra care is needed and sowing rates next year may need to be adjusted.

Frost may have also affected grains, causing a lower hectolitre weight and higher screenings.

GRDC western agronomy, soils and farming systems manager Josh Johnson advised growers to select their cleanest paddocks from which to retain seed, from both a weeds and seed purity standpoint.

"Paddock selection for a seed crop is generally determined before the season and, barring any crop failures, should not change during harvest," he said.

"If you are grading seed, take the largest seed size possible to get the required amount for seeding."

Mr Johnson said that while a laboratory seed test for germination and seedborne diseases should be carried out before sowing, growers could also conduct a simple on-farm test after harvest to ensure they retained enough viable seed to achieve acceptable plant populations the following season.

"This on-farm test involves collecting and counting seed from each lot to be planted, putting the seed between moist paper towels placed in a sealed plastic bag, leaving them for five to seven days in a warm place and then calculating the germination percentage after counting the number of seeds that have not germinated," he said.

The GRDC Stored Grain Information Hub states that if on-farm tests reveal poor germination rates, growers could decide to pay to buy in seed, but if rates were satisfactory, test results could be used to guide how much extra seed to keep.

Mr Johnson said that once seed had been graded, correct storage was needed to ensure the viability of seed for the following season.

"This includes ensuring storage temperatures are cool, using aeration in the silo and making sure the seed has low grain moisture content," he said.

"Monthly monitoring of the stored seed is advised, as is prompt fumigation if any pests are detected."

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