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How Seed Corn in the Bag Can End Up Dirty

Seed producer expects very good quality this year.

Tom Bechman 1, Editor, Indiana Prairie Farm

October 19, 2010

2 Min Read

A seeds company rep asked a farmer last spring who plants different brands how he liked their seed. The answer wasn't what he wanted to hear. "Your seed was dirty," the farmer says. "All three hybrid had beeswings in the bag."

That's not dirt. What's the big deal? The farmer explained that sometimes the planter sees a beeswing piece as a kernel. It can mess up planting accuracy. In the end, two of the three hybrids yielded as well as anything else. But opening a bag and finding beeswings or other debris doesn't leave a good 'first impression.'

Dan and Dee Dee Warner, Bradford, Ohio, and Dan's brother operate Warner Seed farms. Their primary role is growing seed for other companies. Within the past five years, they've invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment that's suppose to produce clan, properly graded seed, including a color sorter for seed corn. One of the primary companies they grows for is Seed Consultants, Inc., Washington Courthouse, Ohio.

"Our quality is very good this year," Dan says. Sometimes you can have some issues with beeswings, but it shouldn't be an issue this year."

One year ago even seed corn coming out of the field wasn't of as high quality as this year's corn. There was some ear tip breakage and other things that made cleaning more difficult. Warner has a series of tools that minimize the amount of beeswings that wind up in the bag. However, he notes it was more of a chore to make sure he ended up putting out a quality product last year than it will be this year.

In years when cob integrity isn't as good or some molds are involved, there is more chance that getting everything of the kernels and keeping everything besides kernels in the bag will be more difficult, he notes. However, there are ways to minimize this kind of problem, and Warner utilized it a year ago.

He started harvest when seed corn was at a high percentage of moisture. But with modern pickers that leave the husk on, then seed corn driers, that's not an issue in producing quality seed. Once the seed is processed, samples are sent to a lab for purity and germination checks.

The first hybrid shipped off this year came back with excellent warm germination and cold germination test scores, Warner says. He sees that as a sign of good things to come regarding seed quality.    

About the Author(s)

Tom Bechman 1

Editor, Indiana Prairie Farm

Tom Bechman is an important cog in the Farm Progress machinery. In addition to serving as editor of Indiana Prairie Farmer, Tom is nationally known for his coverage of Midwest agronomy, conservation, no-till farming, farm management, farm safety, high-tech farming and personal property tax relief. His byline appears monthly in many of the 18 state and regional farm magazines published by Farm Progress.

"I consider it my responsibility and opportunity as a farm magazine editor to supply useful information that will help today's farm families survive and thrive," the veteran editor says.

Tom graduated from Whiteland (Ind.) High School, earned his B.S. in animal science and agricultural education from Purdue University in 1975 and an M.S. in dairy nutrition two years later. He first joined the magazine as a field editor in 1981 after four years as a vocational agriculture teacher.

Tom enjoys interacting with farm families, university specialists and industry leaders, gathering and sifting through loads of information available in agriculture today. "Whenever I find a new idea or a new thought that could either improve someone's life or their income, I consider it a personal challenge to discover how to present it in the most useful form, " he says.

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