Corn seed variability
It is human to prefer that a manufactured product meet certain expectations in structure and performance. Our expectations may be greater than described by the manufacturer or seller advocated. The product may perform exactly as we expected. Many manufactured products perform within our expectations within a defined and consistent environment within our home, for example. Sure, we did not expect the kid to throw a baseball into the TV screen, but we don’t blame the TV manufacturer for a broken screen.
Crop agriculture always includes variables, many of which interact, to affect the final productivity of the crop. Many of the variables are biological. Bacteria, fungi, nematodes and insects in soil may be beneficial or detrimental to the young corn seedling. Soil consistency, temperature swings and moisture extremes further contribute to the environmental variables affecting corn seed and seedlings.
Each corn seed has its own biological history beginning in the seed production field that ultimately affects its ability to withstand the stresses involved in imbibition by repairing broken membranes within its cells. Environmental stresses during the development of that seed ultimately influence the life and vigor of each seed. Although the genetics of each seed within a single cross hybrid may be identical, seed production factors include environmental factors outside of the control of the manufacturer that can shorten the life and vigor of some of the seed. Corn seed lots are sampled systematically, attempting to correctly characterize the germination and purity qualities of the seed lot. It is necessary to assume the sample is representative of the lot, but it is reasonable to assume that small variances will not always be detected in the samples.
We want to think that a germination percentage based upon samples accurately depict all the seed in the lot, at least within the germination test conditions at the time of the test. Unknown variables affecting the sample, affecting the seed after testing, environments after planting ultimately result in the actual emergence of each seedling in the corn field. We celebrate the appearance of a uniformly emergence of the seedlings in the field and have difficulty analyzing the cause when that does not happen. At least we have strong suspicions when we find a baseball inside the TV with a broken screen.
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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.