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Hidden viability risks in the use of farm-saved small-grain seed

  • P. PELTONEN-SAINIO (a1), A. RAJALA (a1) and L. JAUHIAINEN (a1)

Summary

Agriculture must provide sustainable food security and economic development to meet future challenges; new cultivars and the use of quality seed will be key components of this. The use of farm-saved seed may increase due to imbalances between income and expenditure associated with farming. The present study characterized the quality of commonly used, and thereby easily available, farm-saved seed in Finland. Farmers provided 657 seed lot samples of spring barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) and spring wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) that they intended to use for sowing. Germination, seed weight, seedling elongation and within-seed-lot variability were analysed. Information was available on region, number of seed generations and cultivar. The specific aims were to identify how many generations of farm-saved seed are generally used by farmers, whether there is any safe generation threshold and the variability of quality of the seed lots. It was found that 0·80–0·84 of barley seed lots exceeded the 0·85 minimum germination requirement for certified seed, but only 0·60 of wheat. The risk of poor establishment was higher in wheat if the seed was not tested: 0·13 of wheat seed lots had germination of ⩽0·65 and 0·06 of ⩽0·50, while for barley the proportions with inadequate germination were 0·03–0·05. At most, >0·30 abnormal seedlings were recorded for barley and >0·50 for wheat. Variation in seed size and seedling length within seed lots was important, and increase in the latter was associated with reduced germination. In combination with up to 0·14 lethal fungus-infected seed, this emphasizes the need for seed upgrading measures. No safe threshold for farm-saved seed generations was determined.

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Corresponding author

*To whom all correspondence should be addressed. Email: pirjo.peltonen-sainio@mtt.fi

References

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Hidden viability risks in the use of farm-saved small-grain seed

  • P. PELTONEN-SAINIO (a1), A. RAJALA (a1) and L. JAUHIAINEN (a1)

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