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Part 3: Necessary Conditions for Successful Production of Quality Seeds

This blog post is the third part of an article that is made up of three parts. Read: [PART 1] | [PART 2].

Seed crops that depend on insects pollinators for distribution of their pollen grains usually produce flowers that are highly scented and colourful with an abundance of nectar. Therefore, it is crucial to note that insect pollinators such as bees, have considerable population so as to achieve optimum pollination of the seed crops.

Additionally, it is important to ensure that the seed farm is free from other biological factors such as disease pathogens, pests, predators, parasites and weeds, which adversely affect the productivity of seed crops.

The agronomic conditions refer to the crop management activities that are required for successful seed production. The availability of adaptable and high-quality seed variety is an important factor to consider in seed production. Different varieties of the same crop have been developed to adapt to different agro-ecological zones. Therefore, it is very important to know the specific varieties that are suitable in the region where the seed farm is located.

Also, land preparation must be properly done through ploughing and harrowing in order to ensure that planted seeds are able to germinate and grow very well. In a situation where there is poor drainage system, making of ridges may also be necessary for some crops.

In addition, it is very important to plant the right quantity of seeds (seed rate) at the right planting depth using the recommended plant spacing (crop-specific) at the right time (time of planting), while also considering the isolation distance for the specific class of seed being planted (e.g. Breeder seed: 400 – 600 meters; Foundation seeds: 300 – 500 meters; Certified seeds: 200 – 400 meters). It is also very important to ensure that weeding is done at the right time to prevent competition of seed crops with weeds. In other words, right timing is an important condition for successful seed production.

Moreover, it is important to apply the recommended amount of fertilizer at the right time in a manner that is both effective and environmentally friendly. This is necessary to improve the fertility status of the soil and enhance the growth and development of the seed crop.

Furthermore, after the seed has been planted, it is very important to monitor the growth and development of the crops and carry out rogueing (removal of off-types and undesirable seed crop from the seed farm) whenever necessary. Other operations such as detasseling (as in the case of maize) are also necessary depending on the type of crop being cultivated.

An important condition for successful seed production is seed quality control through seed field inspection by a seed certification officer. Field inspection is usually carried out at three stages: First, vegetative growth stage to check presence of nutritional deficiency, weeds, disease and insects, and presence of off-types. Second, prior and during flowering stage to check for off-type and diseased plants rogued as well as harmful weeds removed. Third, field inspection is also done prior and at harvest to ensure that genetic purity is maintained.

The fundamental condition for harvesting seed is the attainment of physiological maturity (a point at which nutrients are no longer being taken up by the seed). It is very important to avoid late harvesting because it causes deterioration of seed quality due to damage by insects and pests.

The post-harvest conditions required for seed production include proper seed drying condition, availability of seed processing (seed conditioning) facilities and good seed storage facilities. Seed must be adequately dried to a safe moisture level after harvesting to avoid seed deterioration and the loss of seed quality. Therefore, there must be good condition that is favourable for seed drying either through natural drying or mechanical drying. Seed processing has to do with the removal of undesirable materials (such as other crop seeds, soil particles, weed seeds, dust, dead insects, stones, immature seeds, broken seeds and pieces of plants) from crop seeds so as to ensure that the seed lot meets certain purity and germination standards. There is also a need for proper storage condition in order to maintain the quality of the seeds and prevent rapid seed deterioration.

Successful seed production is very important for the transformation of agriculture and the development of the agricultural sector. Also, the achievement of food security and zero hunger (Sustainable Development Goal 2) is possible if there is widespread success in the production and use of high-quality improved seeds of various crops.

This blog post is the third part of an article that is made up of three parts. Read: [PART 1] | [PART 2].