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Farm Saved Seed

I am a strong proponent of the use of registered and certified classes of seed of wheat, barley, oats, triticale, and rye.  It the best way to ensure that you start with high-quality seed and get the crop off to the best possible start.  As the drought worsens and the crops deteriorate further, the question of next year’s seed availability may have already crossed your mind.  The Minnesota Crop Improvement Association believes the situation looks reasonably good for next season’s certified seed availability.  

However, farming is risk management and you have to start planning for next year’s crop now.

The HRSW July futures have trended up since the beginning of the growing season. Local cash bids for old crop wheat and barley are at least $2.50 higher than they were in the beginning of the year.  The markets are signaling they want your old crop. This is also the time of year to empty out on-farm storage and clean the grain bins to prepare for the upcoming harvest.  

In light of the current drought, you may not want to sell your entire old crop in spite of the pull of the market. Given the extreme conditions, farm-saved seed may be your best bet to ensure that you have seed of your preferred varieties next year.

Any variety protected under the Plant Variety Protection Act allows for farm-saved seed. Farm-saved seed means that the original purchaser can use the harvest grain as seed on his or her own farm.  Farm-saved seed can not be sold to, exchanged with, or bartered with any third party.  

Patented varieties generally do not have a farm-saved seed provision. In the latter case, your only option is to buy new seed next year. 

If you decide to hold some old crop over for next year’s seed, start with selecting those bins/lots that have no insect or moisture damage. Perform a germination test and a seed count (seeds per pound) of the unconditioned grain. Keep only grain that has a 90% or higher germination rate.  Calculate the total amount of seed needed based on your planting intentions, germination rate, and seed count.  

Keep 1.5 to 2 times as much as your expected needs.  This will allow you to have enough after you have the grain conditioned for seed, allows you to increase your seeding rate if the germination declines between now and then, and creates a bit of a cushion if your final acreage is higher.

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