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How Reliable Are Warm Germination Tests for Seed Corn?

Dec 12, 2011


Question: How reliable are warm germination tests for seed corn?
Answer: Problems with seed quality won't always be evident by the warm germination ratings on the seed tag, according to Bob Nielsen, Purdue University corn specialist. His advice: "If you have questions about the quality, ask your seed dealer for the cold germination ratings. If certain seed lots' cold germination ratings appear suspect, consider planting them last to allow for maximum soil warming to encourage rapid germination."
Farm Journal Field Agronomist Ken Ferrie says if you have a bag of seed with a high percentage of pericarp damage, don’t plant it. Bags of seed with a high level of pericarp damage are more prone to go out of condition.
However, he agrees with Nielsen on how to handle lower thresholds of pericarp damage. "When the seed has more than 3% damaged pericarps, wait (to plant) until the soil gets above 50° for 96 hours to reduce seed chilling issues," Ferrie says.
He adds: "Don’t put starter fertilizer in the row when pericarp damage is above 5%. Seeds with that level of damage are more susceptible to salt burn from the starter. The resulting stand loss will negate the potential yield gain attributed to the starter."
Some seed corn can germinate and thrive in cold, wet spring soils. Some can’t. The challenge is to know, before you plant, which seed has a high enough germination rate to handle harsh weather conditions.
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