The Fieldman’s Files – Are you bringing in seed?

Normand Boulet, CCA
Agricultural Fieldman
M.D. of Smoky River No, 130

I participated in a Webinar the other day which explained that as our crops mature the plant kills off parts it no longer needs and robs the nutrients from those parts to give the seed all the food it will need for proper germination and development.

That’s the normal senescence or maturing process.

The part we harvest of our annual crop is of course the reproductive part, the plant isn’t locking in high protein or high oil content because that’s what we want, it’s doing it so the seed has the food reserves it needs to grow.

That is what normally happens, however last fall was horrendous for many producers, the excessive smoke delayed crops and the early frost and wet fall severely affected quality, seed germination and vigour.

Because of this, many producers are bringing seed in from outside the Peace Region.

That may not be a terrible thing, might have been time to update your varieties of peas and cereals anyway.

However, do not forget that seed borne diseases could be introduced to your farm with seed.

Fusarium gramin- earum incereals and Ascochyta in peas would be two examples.

Although clubroot is not considered to be seed borne it does move with soil, so dust and earth tag could potentially introduce it (albeit at very low levels).

Fusarium gramin- earum and Clubroot are both pests under the Agricultural Pests Act and although Fusarium and Ascochyta can be tested for in seed, it would be very difficult to wash off enough soil from a seed sample to do a Clubroot DNA test.

None of these three tests are required tests under the Seeds Act of Canada, most sellers of Certified cereal seed do have the Fusarium test done, but sometimes the buyer needs to request it.

If a test comes back positive then there should be no question, the pathogen was found.

However even if the test comes back negative, it does not mean the seed is pathogen free, it just means the test was negative.

Consider the size of the sample to the size of seed lot it represents, positive means positive, but negative isn’t necessarily negative.

The Peace Region is still blessed with very low levels of incidence of Fusarium graminearum and Clubroot so if you are bringing in seed from out of the Peace Region, treat it with a registered fungicide.

In addition, even if you bought it from within the Peace, seed treatment would be cheap insurance to prevent a new infestation from starting.

Ascochyta is fairly widespread but you may not have it on your farm so treating is really a good idea for the best possible crop establishment.

Although there are no registered controls for Clubroot, initial research appears to indicate that seed treatment does have some impact on it, so it may be enough to prevent an infestation from starting.

Harvest was tough all over western Canada so there is definitely a higher likelihood of earth tag and dust on the seed.

Again, seed treating is cheap insurance.

Should you have questions about these diseases or their control feel free to contact your Municipality’s Agricultural Fieldman, and if you farm in the M.D. of Smoky River, that’s me.

Normand Boulet, CCA
Agricultural Fieldman
M.D. of Smoky River No, 130


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