Understanding Seed Quality Testing Variations

Categories: GROWING, CORN

  • Germination testing is required by law and is a good indication of the plant-producing potential of a seed lot under normal conditions.

  • The seed vigor test represents the seed’s ability to develop a normal seedling under stressful environmental conditions.

  • There is not a standardized test across the seed industry for seed vigor. Inconsistent lab vigor testing procedures make it difficult to compare results across labs.

Low and High Seed Vigor Lab Testing Samples

You’re more likely to achieve perfectly even corn emergence over a 24-48 hour window with the highest quality seed. By reviewing current industry and Golden Harvest seed quality testing standards, you can better understand various testing methods.

Standard Industry Seed Quality Testing
Multiple seed quality tests are required by the Federal Seed Act and individual state seed laws. Germination and physical purity are required to be collected and reported on bag tags:
  • Germination: Measurement by a warm germination test is a standard process adopted across the seed industry. The germination capacity of a seed lot is expressed as the percentage of normal seedlings developed under favorable lab conditions. Germination test results are highly consistent across certified seed testing labs. Though warm germination results are essentially a measure of seed quality, they do not predict how seeds will emerge under stressful field conditions.
  • Genetic purity: Testing ensures genetic and trait purity expressions meet product specifications. Genetic purity results below 95% require bag tag labeling to be referred to as a blend.

Golden Harvest Proprietary Seed Vigor Testing

In addition to warm germ, Golden Harvest utilizes proprietary vigor tests to quantify seed vigor. In 2019, Golden Harvest introduced a new and novel approach to seed vigor testing. Although a vigor test cannot mimic every potential combination of environmental factors affecting field emergence, this new method is designed to mimic the imbibitional chilling stress seeds face in less than ideal field situations. This test is helping differentiate at a genetic, as well as physiological, level and will help provide customers with seed at or above industry and independent lab seed quality standards. As the Golden Harvest Vigor test was developed, it was validated in actual field emergence trials, and compared with 3rd party vigor tests before finalizing the protocol. The Golden Harvest Vigor test continues to be validated yearly against field emergence and through lab testing to ensure the most current and relevant testing procedures are being used.

Common Reasons for Lab Vigor Result Differences
  1. Improper seed sampling procedure: Seed tests are only as good as the sample submitted. To ensure a representative seed sample is pulled, testing should occur from a mix within the shipping container, including the top, bottom and middle.
  2. Comparing results across different third-party labs: Keep in mind not all vigor tests are equal. Testing methods may vary from one lab to another, leading to different interpretations of the same quality sample.   
  3. Vigor testing procedure not calibrated for genetic families: Not all genetics react the same to vigor tests. Some genetics will score lower or higher if a different vigor test is used. Most major companies use proprietary tests they have validated against their genetics and field data to correct for this, whereas most third-party labs don’t have such a capability.
  4. Non-accredited seed lab performing test: Labs not following the Association of Official Seed Analyst rules for testing seed or operating without oversight of an accredited analyst (registered seed technologist or certified seed analyst) are less likely to deliver consistent results.

Contact your Golden Harvest Seed Advisor with questions or for additional agronomic insights.

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