Ken Ferrie: Some Concerns from Sampled Corn Seed Quality

What is your seed quality? ( Sonja Begemann )

The seed you buy is your first shot at high yields. Is your seed up to the challenge?

There are many factors that impact seed quality, some of which you control, and Farm Journal Field Agronomist Ken Ferrie says he’s concerned about the number of seed test results falling out of favor for corn.

While he’s seen a lot of good tests, there are saturated cold scores and accelerated aging scores that could hurt germination and early season vigor.

“We’ve sent in nearly 100 samples from over 13 different companies to different seed labs,” Ferrie says. “We’d like to see your saturated cold and your accelerated aging scores be above 85%.”

He’s seeing saturated cold tests run from as high as 100% down to 55% and accelerated aging scores from 99% to 63%. In total, 15% of the samples they’ve sent in have poor saturated cold scores.

“We do have a couple of cases where guys kept a pallet of seed from last year due to prevent plant acres and the saturated cold scores on them are coming in the low 60s to mid-50s,” Ferrie explains. “Obviously the corner of the machine shed wasn’t the best place to store this seed.”

Also watch for seed with severe pericarp damage. This means the seed has a tear in the pericarp in the embryo axis, which is especially concerning if you’re applying starter fertilizer because salt burn is a bigger issue in kernels with this damage.

“We’ve seen pericarp damage on this year’s set of samples range from as good as zero pericarp damage to as high as 39%,” Ferrie says. “Eighteen percent of samples run were in that 10% to 39% severe damage range. While 80% of our poor saturated cold samples came from seeds with pericarp damage over 6%, 65% of those poor scores came from the seeds that had severe scores above 10%.”

What if you want to plant this week?

Soil temperatures in Ferrie’s area will likely be at the 50 degree mark and rising this week, still he is encouraging farmers to take some precaution.

“If you plan on pushing conditions [this] week to get your corn planter started, be sure to pick the [hybrids] that have good scores,” Ferrie says. “I’d also pick one with a good genetic vigor and if possible, I would stay away from the ‘G’ rated hybrids.”

When it comes to seed with pericarp damage, be especially mindful of round seed because it’s more likely to get damaged. Ferrie says to use caution if pericarp damage is above 6% and to skip starter fertilizer if damage is above 10% to avoid loss from salt burn.

Listen to Ken’s Boots in the Field Report below to learn more about seed quality concerns and soil conditions that could create challenges.

Read more Boots in the Field Reports here:

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