Whether you are a seed analyst, a seed producer, or a farmer, seed quality is very important to you. This course is valuable to anyone wanting to learn about seed quality, especially for those who are studying to be registered seed technologists or certified seed analysts. Individuals registered or certified by the Society of Commercial Seed Technicians or by the Association of Official Analysts are needed by seed companies and by state and federal seed laboratories.
High-quality seed is critical for agriculture to produce enough food to feed the world. Plant breeders work on developing the very best varieties they can and then the seed producers take that seed and carefully grow it to produce the highest seed quality that they can. Plant breeders work with genes that are present in a crop and can even take advantage of genetic engineering and newer techniques such as CRISPR. Seed producers can provide fertile soils, add fertility, and use the best cultural practices available to produce high-quality seed, but some things they cannot control such as the weather. All of these factors combine to determine the quality of the seed that farmers buy. Although grain production is difficult, seed production is even more so because the seed must also be kept alive because vigorous, high-quality seed is a necessity for farmers. Some of the important factors for seed quality include genetic quality, physical purity, germination, and seed health. Higher-quality seed leads to better germination, more vigorous seedling growth, higher crop stands, better quality of produce, and results in higher crop yields. Quality seed requires quality seed production, superior genetics, and proper seed processing.
The two main factors that affect seed quality are seed production and genetics. Both are essential to the production of high-quality seed. Seed producers have made tremendous advances in the production of high-quality seed. From planting until harvest, they make sure that the growing conditions are as optimal as possible. Then, the processing of seed insures that only high-quality seed is sold with modern seed treatments also contributing to germination, disease and insect resistance, and protection from adverse weather conditions. All of these contribute to the yield potential of the seed. The most important trait related to seed quality is probably the genetic component. However even with the best genetics, poor seed production will result in poor seed quality. Plant breeders are constantly improving yield potential and stress tolerance with the main goal of plant breeders being to develop higher yielding varieties. However, in the pursuit of this goal, seed quality is also improved because that is also a factor in developing varieties that yield more. To get maximum production of field crops, quality seed is very important.
If you want to be a seed analyst or work in some way with seeds, learning about how seeds are produced and how genes control traits such as seed quality is important to your job. Learning about these two main factors in seed quality will help you appreciate what has gone into the seed before you have even worked with it. Plant breeding will be thoroughly discussed to show how the genetic makeup of the plant can be modified to improve seed quality.
Objectives of the course:
- How proper seed production will help to produce quality seed that farmers can plant to produce high yielding crops.
- The importance of genetics to being able to produce high-quality seed.
- How plant breeding works and how genes can be selected that contribute to seed quality.
- The production and breeding of a specific crop.
- Helps seed analysts explain to customers low-quality problems with their seed.
There are no prerequisites required for the course; however, it is highly recommended that you have taken a biology or botany course, preferably one that covered genetics.
Textbooks and Materials
Textbooks and materials can be purchased at the CSU Bookstore unless otherwise indicated.
- Essentials of Plant Breeding (http://stemmapress.co.) (2014)
- Seed Production: Principles and Practices* (1997)
Miller B. McDonald and Lawrence Copeland
*No longer available from Springer; available in used book sources, libraries, Google Play book, and Amazon.
Roger D. Levy earned his B.S. in Agronomy from Purdue University and then earned his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois in Genetics. He then worked as a corn breeder for Gutwein Seed and later for Beck’s Hybrids. His special interests included developing food grade hybrids for Frito-Lay and Cargill Dry Corn Ingredients and implementing the Dihaploid breeding procedure for high throughput breeding which is now used extensively in Beck’s corn breeding program. Some of the committees that he has served on include the Technical Steering Group for the USDA Germplasm Enhancement of Maize program, the Corn Committee for the Indiana Crop Improvement Association, the Planning Committee for the American Seed Trade Association’s Annual Corn and Sorghum Research Conference, and currently the Molecular Genetics Research Committee for Native Traits LLC.