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Purchasing certified wheat seed brings benefits


Now that the 2009 wheat crop is harvested and growers have started thinking about planting season, they should take a close look at purchasing certified seed varieties. According to research, certified wheat seed varieties offer growers a greater return than planting bin-run varieties--as much as $6 to $20 an acre.

U.S. Department of Agriculture research states that certified seed typically out-yields bin-run varieties by 1.2 to 2.5 bushels per acre. With market prices at $4 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 $4 per bushel. Then there are the costs of cleaning, cleanout, labor, storage and interest, which add over a dollar and a half. When you think about $5.62 per bushel for bin-run seed, then consider the lower germination rate and the yield difference, certified seed simply makes greater economic sense."

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."

Colorado State University Extension Service is recommending all wheat seed planted in Colorado this year be tested for germination rate. The unusually wet weather this spring has led to problems with germination, apparently caused by scab. Germination rates below 85 percent are considered low, and some samples have tested as low as 50 percent. Buying certified seed, which is required to be germination tested, ensures seed that will germinate at a rate of 85 percent or higher.

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