The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

July 6, 2013

Use best seed for the next wheat crop

By Rick Nelson, Extended Forecast
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Producers should take care to plant the best-quality seed possible this fall to get good emergence, early season vigor and yield potential.

It makes no sense to plant poor-quality seed that will just create more problems next season. Certified seed, which has been professionally cleaned and tested for quality, is the best option. Buying certified seed will automatically take care of most of the following issues regarding conditioning homegrown grain for seed. In addition, certified seed producers can apply seed treatments thoroughly and uniformly.

If producers plan to save part of this year’s crop back for seed, there are several steps they should take to condition it. One of the first things to do is make sure the grain is aerated in the bin. High-moisture weed seeds and foreign material can quickly heat up wheat in the bin and reduce the potential seed quality of the grain. Wet grain also may harbor insects.

Cleaning the grain also is important if it will be used for seed, and should be done as soon as possible after harvest. By doing this, it will allow producers to determine if they have enough seed to meet their needs. Clean-out may be high this year to get acceptable seed quality.

Wheat should be cleaned with a 6/64 screen, if possible. If that cleans out far too much of the wheat, then a 5.5/64, or even a 5/64, screen will do. Cleaning wheat with less than a 5/64 screen will do little or no good.

An air/screen cleaner is the most common piece of seed cleaning equipment. If properly set, an air/screen cleaner will remove all the weedy annual brome species, such as cheat and downy brome, from wheat.

Gravity tables are excellent at sorting out the test weight difference in a lot of seed, but one should really depend on the air/screen cleaner to do the bulk of the cleaning job by first removing the trash, small seed and weed seed. The gravity table then separates seeds that have similar width, but slightly different densities.

In between the air/screen and gravity table, some facilities will use a length grader to separate joint grass and or buckwheat, because they are similar in width to wheat.

If there was feral rye or Italian ryegrass in the field, the wheat should not be planted back. If that is the case, it’s best to sell the wheat and take advantage of the current cash market for grain and buy new seed.

Producers should have the seed tested for germination by a reputable laboratory. The test costs about $15, and it is well worth it. Home germination tests are not as accurate and reliable. There’s no sense risking poor germination for lack of a $15 germination test.

If there was loose smut present in the field and producers are concerned about it, they should have the seed treated with a fungicide seed treatment. This should either be applied by a professional seedsman or with an auger-based system on-farm. Drill box treatments do not do an adequate job of coverage.

Nelson is Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service ag educator for Garfield County.