Checklist for retaining seed at harvest

Author: Michael Thomson | Date: 15 Oct 2014

Image of John Sheppard, GRDC Northern Panel member.

By John Sheppard, GRDC Northern Panel

With harvest fast approaching, many grain growers will be considering the option of retaining their own winter crop seed for next year’s planting.

 Before heading down this path, growers electing to store their own seed should consider the following factors to ensure a healthy crop is established next season.

First and foremost, select varieties that address your specific requirements based on your knowledge of constraints including the maturity required to cover a few different sowing windows, paddock status, crown rot, nematodes and yellow spot.

To ensure there are no unwanted surprises next season, it is wise to double check that the variety is actually what you think it is – if in doubt, send a sample for testing.

When selecting the area of crop from which to collect the seed, there are a number of things to look for. These include choosing a clean paddock that has no nutritional constraints, and is free of weeds and disease.

Make sure you select an even area of crop, with no off types that are taller or shorter than the surrounding crop, and be sure to harvest grain with low moisture and good protein.

Ideally you should only retain seed from grain harvested before rain – weather damaged grain is more susceptible to poor germination, low vigour and degradation during storage and handling.

And before the headers start rolling it is vital to clean down all machinery, including the header, handling equipment, trucks, silos and augers.

Post-harvest, good storage practices are essential – ensure the storage environment is adequate and that silos are aerated and sealed. Every second year, retained seed should also be pickled.

Finally, before sowing next year, ensure your seed is tested for germination and vigour, and testing for seed-borne disease is also recommended for saved pulse seed.

For more information and advice on best practice in this area, a Retaining Seed Fact Sheet from the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) is available for download at

For information on winter crop varieties, visit the GRDC GrowNotes modules at


Caption: GRDC Northern Panel member John Sheppard.

Contact Details

For Interviews

John Sheppard, GRDC Northern Panel, Toowoomba
0418 746 628


Michael Thomson, Senior Consultant, Cox Inall Communications
07 4927 0805, 0408 819 666

Region North