Sleeping or dead? Tough harvest has induced major seed dormancy


Seed quality from the 2018 harvest was actually quite good, until wet and cold weather stranded crop  standing and in the swath. That nasty weather interlude has left many farmers with seed that’s in a rather deep dormancy, and it’s going to take some time to fully evaluate the quality and germination of seed lots for 2019.

Sarah Foster, president of 20/20 Seed Labs, says that seed lots are coming in with high levels of dormancy. While seed labs of ways and means of breaking that dormancy to more accurately evaluate seed germ and vigour, farmers only really have one option for the seed in storage: patience.

As Foster explains below, this induced seed dormancy is quite high (more than 50% in some cases), making it difficult to distinguish between seed that is simply dormant and seed that is truly dead. Cold temperatures will normally break the dormancy in the bin, but we don’t know exactly when that will happen.

Testing throughout the winter, Foster says, will give you the best indication of the germination, vigour, and quality of what you have in the bin — and quality seed may be in short supply for 2019. Knowing what you have early gives you the most time to find alternative sources, if need be.

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