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Harvesting, storing and treating seed

Harvesting seed in preparation for planting the following season is one of the first steps of a successful crop.  Harvesting seed under the right conditions and keeping it in insect free storage until planting normally means a high germinating and vigorous emergence, setting the season up for success.

In an ideal situation seed would be kept from the most fertile land as more productive soil can lead to higher nutrient concentrations in the seed.  If this is not possible, seed can be sourced from another farm/farmer or nutrients can be applied late in crop to help boost seed nutrient concentrations.

Seed moisture content and grain temperature have a huge impact over the storage period in regards to insect infestations, seed germination and vigour. Ideally harvesting low moisture and temperature seed leads to the best results, see figures 1, 2 and 3.  Insect treatments are also more effective when seed is lower in temperature.

Many areas also received significant rain during harvest which can compromise the seed’s integrity.  One rain event, followed by keeping seed at low moisture and temperature is unlikely to result in seed issues, while every rain event after has a cumulative effect.  For grain kept after the rain be sure to test for germination and vigour after harvest, during the storage period and before planting.

There are many seed treatments now available for a wide range of insects (in-storage and in-crop) and diseases of different crops.  It is important to know what the weaknesses are for the varieties you are growing and the soil you have before committing to a blanket application of something you don’t need.

If treating grain for storage insect’s

  1. Work out how long you need protection for
  2. Whether insects are already present
  3. Which grain markets you are targeting
  4. Know your varieties and their weaknesses e.g. Loose Smut in Hindmarsh barley

Take time and effort with harvesting, storage and seed treatment as you can’t turn back the clock once the seed is in the ground!

The Smart Agro

Seed treatment

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