Seed Quality is Good, but Availability is Another Story

by | Dec 1, 2021 | Seed Testing

During harvest 2021, many of us were worried about seed quality. Make no mistake, the Prairie drought did affect seed in many ways. But as we move into 2022, we are beginning to breathe a little sigh of relief as we realize that the seed quality disaster many feared is not really coming to pass.

For most of the seeds that we tested this season, we expected to see some level of dormancy, but we haven’t seen much of that. Mostly, it’s been mechanical damage in peas that is an issue, which was expected because of how dry conditions were. Disease pressure was low, which is also a great thing for growers.

The bigger issue is not seed quality, but seed availability. We know that yields overall were low across the Prairie provinces. Low yields mean that seed is not necessarily as readily available for growers as they would like. Many of the proverbial shelves may be empty.

In years where we have seed availability issues, it’s expected that some people might resort to falling back on lower-quality seed. That’s where testing comes in.

Testing for germination and for vigour helps you know the quality of seed that you have before you put it in the ground. Fungal screening is also useful. This test looks at all the pathogens that could be on your seed and can give you better insight as to what seed treatments to use to ensure your crops are protected.

Of course, we can’t test your seed unless you send it to us. With seed damage being an issue right now, it’s crucial you package it correctly to avoid damage during shipping. Any form of handling has to be done with care, including moving the seeds from the silos. Dry seed can crack easily, and once you have those micro-fractures on the seed, as more handling happens those tiny cracks can open up and cause more severe damage to the seed.

20/20 Seed Labs Inc. provides printed sample bags to all of our customers so they may submit samples with all the information clearly noted. As well, you can use packaging or bags from other labs if necessary.

Remember to handle gently when packaging and ensure seeds are packed securely to avoid damage during travel.

For more packaging tips visit

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Moses Palmer

Senior Seed Analyst Laboratory Manage, 20/20 Seed Labs - Moses Palmer is a senior seed analyst laboratory manager at 20/20 Seed Labs based in Nisku, Alta.