33 www.seed.ab.ca | spring.2019 QuickFactsfromthereportOverviewofCertified SeedandFarmerSavedSeedbytheEconomics andCompetitivenessBranchoftheGovernmentof Alberta -Tocalculatesavedseedrequirements,producersshouldsaveanamountthat includesanadditional10percentforcleanout.“Itisalsoadvisabletohaveextra bushelsavailableincasethegrainismishandled,theseedermalfunctionsora reseedingscenarioarises,”statesthereport. -Inwheat,thesinglebiggestcostassociatedwithsavingseedistheforegone opportunitytoreceivecommercialvalueforharvest.Inaddition,thecostof savedseedforwheatincludesstoragecostforaboutsixmonths,cleaningcosts— includingrunninggrainthroughanoptical/coloursorter,whichisconsideredto bestandardpractice—elevationandtruckingcostsforcleaningandlabour. -Asthepriceofwheatdecreases,therelativecostsofsavingseedincreases. expression of the valuable traits of a variety over several generations of using saved seed.” First-Hand Look In his long, first-hand experience, Webb says he hasn’t seen the quality of certified or saved seed change much over time. “Certified seed quality has had a long history of being reliable, traceable, monitored and able to provide new genetics to the market. All of the great things about that system are luckily still in place,” he says. “Saved seed can sometimes be great, but the quality of it has always been all over the map. Disease levels, varietal contamination, weed and other crop content are just not monitored to the same level in most non-pedigreed seed production. I would say the quality of certified seed in Canada is very high.” Webb has gone out on many field inspections and he’s very impressed by the attention and work a pedigreed seed grower puts into a seed crop. He says seed growers spend a great deal of time choosing appropriate varieties, carefully planning rotations and cleaning equipment, as well as ensuring previous land use doesn’t impede quality and protecting the crop from both pollen and physical contamination. Webb says growers of pedigreed seed also test the samples for quality many times — at harvest, during cleaning and in the spring — for germination, vigour and disease. “They want to make sure the product they sell is the best it can be. They have purity standard requirements to meet as well, so invasive weed seeds and other weeds, crops and diseases like ergot and smut are kept at [zero] or manageable levels.” Purchase of certified seed also supports innovation and development of new traits and varieties. “New varieties and crop kinds seem to be getting more important as we face more and more unpredictable production and harvest weather,” says Webb. Treena Hein Certified seed quality in Canada has a long history of being reliable, traceable, monitored and able to provide new genetics to the market, says Morgan Webb. Photo courtesy of Seed Check Technologies.