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Saving seed in tough times

Many have been feeling the crunch of the economy, which has farmers rethinking their business choices. For wheat growers, this means deciding whether to save seed for next year or buy new.While saving seed may help cut initial costs, hidden risks exist that could hurt a farmer's yield in the future.

Consideration has to be given to the viability of saved seed. Damage to seed can occur in the field, during transportation, and during storage. It is wise to have saved seed tested after harvest and again before planting to ensure germination.

Although saved seed may be viable, farmers have to make sure it is legal. The Plant Variety Protection Act allows farmers to plant seed that has been saved. However, this is only legal if the original crop was legally purchased. In the case of certified seed, the farmer must ensure his purchase was accompanied with a blue label. This label, found on the bag, invoice, or bulk sales certificate, verifies the transaction is legal. If the farmer doesn't get a blue label, the sale might be illegal.

Many seed companies have started exercising their right to pursue retailers that sale seed illegally. They also can pursue the purchasers of illegal seed and request that they destroy the fields they have planted with this seed. Farmers have to remember that a lot of time and money goes into certified seed to create new disease and insect resistance, and improve characteristics like yield.

When planting patented seed, such as Clearfield wheat, it might be illegal for farmers to save seed for the next year. Some patented seed comes with a contract that specifically states the farmer cannot save back seed. Be aware of these stipulations to avoid problems down the line.

To assist growers in purchasing decisions, K-State Extension and Kansas CropImprovement Association have collaborated on the Kansas Wheat Book. This publication, distributed by High Plains Journal in August, provides wheat performance tests conducted by K-State in various counties across Kansas. The second half of the book lists growers, retailers, and conditioners that meet the KCIA standards for certified seed.

For more information on certified seed visit www.kscrop.org.

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