Quality winter crop seed essential for CQ

Author: | Date: 30 Mar 2011

Winter Crop Seed

Germination and vigour tests of weather damaged seed are a must for central Queensland growers planning to use retained seed for this season’s sowing.

Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation (DEEDI) principal technical officer Peter Keys, Biloela said the extraordinary rain prior to the 2010 winter crop harvest caused weather damage to many northern region wheat and chickpea crops.

“Weather damage can greatly affect germination and seed vigour. Weather damaged seed can look quite normal and may germinate, but have poor seedling vigour and result in poor establishment,” Mr Keys said.

“Planting low quality seed can lead to poor crop establishment especially under marginal planting conditions.”

Mr Keys says re-planting operations and lost planting opportunities are costly and are irrecoverable losses to farm profits.

“It is essential that seed suspected of weather damage should be tested for germination and seedling vigour several months after harvest (just prior to planting) as weather damaged seed may have normal germination tested soon after harvest, but deteriorates rapidly in storage.”

The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) has released a fact sheet to assist growers test seed viability. It also outlines tips for saving and storing seed, including:

  • Ideally retain seed from grain harvested before rain.
  • Weather damaged grain is more susceptible to poor germination, low vigour and degradation during storage and handling, so extra care is needed. 
  • Harvest at low moisture and cool temperatures. Storage temperature and moisture must be monitored and controlled.
  • Germination percentage should be checked at harvest, during storage and before seeding. Low germination seed should not be used.
  • Correct seeding depth, conditions and agronomy are essential when sowing weather damaged seed.

Results of germination and vigour tests should be used in determining the planting rate and Mr Keys urges growers to check the germination and vigour of their seed now if they have kept seed from last season’s harvest.

“If the quality is not acceptable for planting, growers need to sure-up their supplies of planting seed immediately there may be a shortage of wheat and chickpea planting seed,” he said.

"It is preferable for CQ growers to obtain wheat seed from CQ sources. However, that may be difficult this season and seed may have to be sourced from southern areas.

“Last season there was a high incidence of the fungal disease, Fusarium head blight (FHB) in southern Queensland and NSW crops.

“Germination and vigour will definitely need to be checked from FHB affected crops.

“It is also possible for young seedlings to develop seedling blight when using FHB infected seed so it will be absolutely necessary to purchase treated seed.”

To download the GRDC Retaining Seed fact sheet, visit www.grdc.com.au/uploads/documents/GRDC_FS_RetainingSeed2.pdf

Caption: GRDC recommends testing winter crop seed for germination and vigour.

For interviews:
Peter Keys
DEEDI, Biloela
Ph: 07 4992 9109
0418 775 472

Stuart Kearns
GRDC Manager validation and adoption
Ph: 02 6166 4500


Region North