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Seed storage & treatment


With harvest now well underway many of you will start thinking about grain storage and treating grain for next year’s seed. It is important to keep in mind a number of factors when undertaking this process as it can have a major effect on next season’s yields. Several factors influence high germination and good early vigor for next season’s crops, including:

 Grain Moisture

The temperature of the grain when stored and its moisture content can have a large impact on the viability of the grain. Grain is a good insulator so without proper aeration fans it will hold its initial temperature until it is taken out. Grain of high temperature and moisture content will be at a greater risk of poor germination and seed viability than grain stored at lower levels. Not only this but higher grain temperatures increase the reproduction rates of many stored grain insects. Aim for moisture content below 12% and stored temperatures less than 20 degrees Celsius.

Storage Hygiene

Ensure all equipment being used to store, load or treat grain is clean from any grain residues. Old grain is a breeding haven for grain storage insects and is one of the most frequent ways storage insects infect newly stored seed.


Using the correct type of storage is the first and most important step toward effective fumigation. Only use fumigants, like phosphine, in a pressure-tested, sealed silo as fumigating in storage that is anything less than pressure sealed doesn’t achieve a high enough concentration of fumigant for a long enough period to kill pests at all life cycle stages. For effective fumigation ensure you use the correct phosphine rate for the silo size and the amount of grain stored. As a general rule, the total time needed for fumigating is 10-17 days.

Grain Sample Quality and Seed Treatment Options

Any impurities in a grain sample (dust, stubble or shriveled grain) will result in the treatment or pickle sticking to the impurities instead of the grain. For best practice clean your seed to remove impurities before seed treatment application. The additional benefit of cleaning the seed is it leaves you with only the larger high-quality grains.

When selecting the right seed treatment, factor in potential seed-borne, soil-borne and foliar diseases that pose a threat to your area. Consider the seed variety you are treating as different varieties have different resistances to diseases. Keep in mind seed-borne diseases such as loose and covered smut can only be suppressed or controlled with seed treatment, meaning there is no control method as a foliar if the disease expresses itself in crop.

The Smart Agro

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