Scru­ti­nise seed for sow­ing this year

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Ag Life -

Grain grower and Mallee agro­nomic con­sul­tant Kate Wil­son has warned heavy sum­mer rain through parts of the south­ern crop­ping re­gion could af­fect the vi­a­bil­ity of grain that grow­ers are plan­ning to re­tain for sow­ing in 2017.

Mrs Wil­son said any grain sub­jected to wet­ting at har­vest was more sus­cep­ti­ble to poor ger­mi­na­tion, low vigour and degra­da­tion dur­ing stor­age and han­dling.

The Grains Re­search and De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion, GRDC, South­ern Re­gional Panel mem­ber said grow­ers should closely scru­ti­nise seed be­ing set aside for plant­ing.

Mrs Wil­son said it was es­sen­tial grow­ers de­ter­mined whether dam­age to grain caused by rain at har­vest was purely cos­metic or the symp­tom of a seed-borne dis­ease which would af­fect ger­mi­na­tion.

“To en­sure es­tab­lish­ment of a healthy crop next sea­son, it is im­por­tant to pay par­tic­u­lar at­ten­tion to the seed that is be­ing saved for sow­ing,” she said.

“Proper man­age­ment of the seed starts at har­vest and should con­tinue right through to stor­age, han­dling and seed­ing next year.”

Mrs Wil­son said grow­ers should also be aware some ce­real va­ri­eties were more sus­cep­ti­ble to the ef­fects of late sea­son weather dam­age.

“For ex­am­ple, the im­i­da­zoli­none-tol­er­ant Kord CL Plus wheat is rated as be­ing sus­cep­ti­ble to pre-har­vest sprout­ing,” she said.

She said the GRDC of­fered a de­tailed re­tain­ing seed fact sheet to help grow­ers to de­ter­mine whether grain was vi­able for sow­ing and what was an ap­pro­pri­ate and ef­fec­tive seed man­age­ment pro­gram.

The fact sheet, which can be viewed and down­loaded at www.grdc.com.au/grdc-fs-re­tain­ingseed, shows the symp­toms of seed qual­ity de­te­ri­o­ra­tion can range from mild, such as a loose and wrin­kled seed coat in some pulses, to more ad­vanced, such as seed stain­ing, fun­gal mould and vis­i­ble signs of ger­mi­na­tion.

“Un­less canola seed was har­vested be­fore any weather dam­age, it should not be re­tained for sow­ing due to the vul­ner­a­bil­ity of canola’s small seed,” Mrs Wil­son said.

“Any re­tained seed should be graded and tested for ger­mi­na­tion and vigour.

“Test­ing for seed-borne dis­ease is also rec­om­mended, es­pe­cially with saved pulse seed.”

Other points con­tained in the GRDC fact sheet grow­ers should con­sider when re­tain­ing grain for seed in­clude:

• While a lab­o­ra­tory seed test should be used to es­tab­lish the ger­mi­na­tion per­cent­age of on-farm re­tained seed be­fore sow­ing, es­pe­cially if it has been weather dam­aged, a sim­ple on-farm ger­mi­na­tion test can be done in soil. This will give a good in­di­ca­tion of emer­gence and seedling vigour as at ger­mi­na­tion.

• Seed-borne dis­ease gen­er­ally can­not be iden­ti­fied from vis­ual in­spec­tion so re­quires lab­o­ra­tory test­ing.

• Achiev­ing and main­tain­ing low tem­per­a­ture, hu­mid­ity and grain mois­ture con­tent for stored grain is even more crit­i­cal if grain has been weather dam­aged. As weather-dam­aged seed de­te­ri­o­rates faster than sound seed it should not be stored for more than 12 months.

• With many weedy pulse and ce­real crops in a wet sea­son, des­ic­ca­tion or crop top­ping of­ten be­comes nec­es­sary. Depend­ing on tim­ing and chem­i­cals used, this could af­fect seed qual­ity for sow­ing.

• Grain must not be re­tained for seed when glyphosate has been used in pre-har­vest ap­pli­ca­tions.

• Seedling emer­gence can be af­fected by sow­ing too deeply, cold or wet soil, some seed dress­ings and her­bi­cides, and hard-set­ting soil.

Kate Wil­son

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