Seed plays a vital role in the potential crop yield of each small grain producer. Small grain seed must comply with legal requirements with regard to the purity and germination percentage before it can be marketed. The Small Grain Institute now has a registered Seed Testing Laboratory that uses international methods (viz. ISTA methods) to determine the quality characteristics of seed. This ensures that results are generally accepted by buyers and sellers of seed. Tests that can be done by the laboratory include the following:
The determination of the cultivar purity is determined visually according to kernel characteristics. Mixed seed lots, unetiquetted seed lots or carry-over seed can be identified on cultivar level.
Seed must be free of seed of other crops as well as weed seed. Pure seed is then tested to determine the percentage germination.
It gives an indication of the percentage seed that forms normal seedlings under favorable conditions. Here high risk seed lots will definitely have to be tested because of the high input costs, and the producer will have to make sure that seed purchased has a germination percentage above the minimum of 80%.
Coleoptile lengths are especially used in the dryland production areas, because planting depths are often deep and emergence problems can occur. Especially certain seed treatments influence the coleoptile length and therefore it is tested to ensure that the minimum requirements are met.
Grading of small grains can also be done for the producer to determine the class and grade of the harvest.
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