Purchasing certified wheat seed brings benefits
According to research, certified wheat seed varieties offer growers a greater return than planting bin-run varieties--as much as $22 an acre or more.
Now that the 2008 wheat crop is harvested and growers have started thinking about the coming planting season, they should take a close look at purchasing certified seed varieties.
Research by Kansas State University shows certified seed pays for itself at a mere 1 bushel-per-acre yield advantage and a market price of $3.50 a bushel. According to research by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, certified seed typically out-yields bin-run varieties by 1.2 to 2.5 bushels per acre. With market prices above $7 per bushel, even a bushel or two yield advantage makes a substantial economic impact.
"Growers need to take into account the cost of bin-run seed," says Darrell Hanavan, executive director of the Colorado Wheat Research Foundation. "First, if they weren't saving that seed, they'd be able to sell it for well over $7 per bushel. Then there are the costs of cleaning, cleanout, labor, storage and interest, which add over a dollar. When you think about $8 to $9 per bushel for bin-run seed, then consider the lower germination rate and the yield difference, certified seed simply makes greater economic sense."
Ripper is a new hard red winter wheat which is available from certified seed growers this year. Ripper out-yielded Prairie Red, TAM 107 and Jagalene by an average of more than 6 bushels per acre in plots across Colorado this year. Two- and three-year averages are equally impressive. In on-farm situations, Ripper often topped the farm average by 5 bushels per acre or more. Ripper proved its drought tolerance this season by beating out new varieties like Hawken, Tam 111, and Tam 112 by 4 bushels per acre. If farmers are planting older varieties like Prairie Red, TAM 107 or Jagalene, they're leaving substantial income opportunities on the table.
Hatcher was the most widely planted variety in the state in fall of 2007. Growers may be tempted to save a few dollars this fall by planting bin-run Hatcher seed. They should keep in mind the purity and yield advantage of certified seed versus bin-run quality. Planting certified seed with better germination and seedling vigor will offer higher yields and greater income than lower-quality saved seed. Hatcher and Ripper are good varieties to plant as complements to each other in the same year, as Hatcher would be expected to have higher yield in wet years, and Ripper will yield higher in dry years.
In addition to yield advantages, certified wheat seed must meet strict standards ensuring a quality product that is fully inspected and laboratory-tested to guarantee genetic purity, germination and seed purity from weeds, disease, and other varieties and crops.
"Growers must also consider the hidden costs of planting bin-run seed," Hanavan says. "Some research has shown random samples of bin-run seed that had 62 percent severe seed damage and varietal purity issues. Plus, growers often must seed at a higher rate to account for lower germination of bin-run seed."
To find out more about the value of certified seed, or to locate a certified seed dealer in your area, visit www.coloradowheat.org.