Seed quality and dormancy in 2019

Seeds are certainly fascinating: life, plants, flowers, and food all stored in a beautiful unique little structure. At 20/20 Seed Labs, we know that every seed has its own personality and beauty, and we have come to understand that every seed type behaves differently and is affected differently by environment, maturity, weathering, and aging. As we look forward to the 2019 planting season, we remember the struggles of 2018: what a year of trial and tribulation! It was a seed analysts’ nightmare, and a seed growers’ worst dilemma.

Many areas across the Prairies experienced poorer than normal harvesting conditions, and it became apparent that dormancy was going to hide unexpected detrimental effects on germination and vigour results. In the lab, we are seeing that a good germination rate of 90% and poor vigour rate of 60% is not uncommon. Our early assessments on all cereal grains, particularly wheat and barley, are indicating that dormant seeds in the fall are now going in the wrong direction, despite the fact that we used every tool in the box to uncover the best result.

The difference between good germination and dormant seeds. Photo provided by 20/20 Seed Labs

Seed dormancy is defined as a state in which seeds are prevented from germinating even under environmental conditions normally favorable for germination. These conditions are a complex combination of water, light, temperature, gasses, mechanical restrictions, seed coats, and hormone structures. Seeds are living! They are just typically living in a dormant state, which means that they require very little of the necessary resources to stay alive until they are in the appropriate conditions to grow. While they may have been alive in the fall, we are now discovering that new samples submitted to the lab from the same lots only have the ability to grow under perfect germination conditions. When planted under cold or cool spring conditions, they will just rot.

We’ve come up with an answer; 20/20 Seed Labs is offering a cereal stress profile on your high germinating/low vigour lots: we will plant your seed and find the perfect sweet spot for germination by testing your seed at six different temperatures to find the optimum soil temperature needed for your seed to grow. We know the value of your seed and we don’t endorse the use of low vigour performance, so before any seeding decisions are made for 2019, we think you should consider this option. We understand seed physiology and know that we can find that perfect soil temperature for all of your lots.

For more information on the cereal stress profile, please call Sarah at 780-915-2677, email [email protected] , or visit our website at