Factors involved in producing the highest percentage and most uniform germination are understood by all experienced corn seed producers. Genetics, especially of the female parent, harvesting at appropriate grain moisture, careful physical handling from harvest, drying and shelling and bagging and proper storage are all important. Knowing the principles is significant and surely for manufacturing of most non-living products in controlled factories this would be adequate. However, genetics among hybrid parents vary and are selected based on many factors include hybrid yield. Although the date of optimum harvest is predictable, based upon pollination date, a weather front could cause considerable delay in harvest. It is established that moving volumes of dry air at temperatures around 90°-100F to quickly dry seed to about 12% gives the best germination. However, if outside humidity is close to 100% because of a series of rainy days, this is not always possible. Most producers can control the handling of the seed and storage of seed at proper temperatures and humidity before delivering to the distributers and farms.
Application of the principles of good seed germination quality requires experienced and careful management, not unlike most other aspects of agriculture. Success often depends on making the best decisions on when to harvest and adjusting drying bins according to the outside weather. PSR Inc. has been germinating commercial seed produced around the USA for 30 years. Low germination seed quality is usually associated with region of the country within a year, the region varying annually. This does not reflect any specific company but more that the environment of that season. Stress after pollination and harvest weather are major factors that can overcome the best of seed producer’s skills in some years. There are seasons in which the best knowledge, experience and decision making cannot avoid the detrimental effects of the environment on some seed lots. Fortunately, many of these stresses are temporary and very rarely affect all seed lots drastically at one location and rarely at any location on successive years.
There is an art to producing high quality seed that adjusts to the environment of a season. The frequent success rate is indicative of application of the seed producer’s art.
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About Corn Journal
The purpose of this blog is to share perspectives of the biology of corn, its seed and diseases in a mix of technical and not so technical terms with all who are interested in this major crop. With more technical references to any of the topics easily available on the web with a search of key words, the blog will rarely cite references but will attempt to be accurate. Comments are welcome but will be screened before publishing. Comments and questions directed to the author by emails are encouraged.