NDSU Extension Service - Mercer County

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Possible Seed Shortage on the Horizon

certified seed, seed supplies, seed stocks, seed shortage, seed

Submitted by Craig Askim, Extension Agent/Agriculture and Natural Resources

The last ten days of rainfall is very welcome across the county. However, the rainfall came too late to provide growth to small grains, reducing yields and seed supply. Producers need to plan ahead to secure seed for the 2018 planting season, due to the short supply that is being forecasted.

Possible Seed Shortage on the Horizon

Farmers should be mindful of escalating drought conditions and the outlook for seed supplies for 2018 planting, says Ken Bertsch, North Dakota's state seed commissioner.

North Dakota State Seed Department personnel are taking calls on a daily basis from farmers looking to source planting seed for 2018, especially from counties in the southwest one-third of the state. Many of these growers have already cut grain crops for hay.

Seed retailers approved by the department to handle certified seed are also concerned about the supply of quality seed for next year.

Bertsch adds, "We are seeing those calls increase in number and from a bigger geographic area of the state by the week. With high temperatures in the forecast, the concern for seed quantity and quality issues is sure to increase."

Expanding drought conditions throughout North Dakota mean that both seed yields and quality may be affected. Drought stress may adversely affect test weight and germination of those crops going forward. Drought conditions also have reduced the number of acres in certification programs this year.

"Our total applied acres (those where a grower has submitted an application for field inspection of a crop) are reduced by approximately 20 to 25 percent this year," says Bertsch. "Combine a reduction in inspected acres with lower yields and it's not difficult to project that seed shortage issues may come into play by next spring."

Eligible carryover seed stocks may help mitigate impending supply problems. 

Bertsch adds, "Seed inspections and yields have been excellent over the past two seasons. We track and provide lists of carryover seed from previous years and inventories were high as of spring 2017."

"There will be pressure to sell grain inventories, including seed that has been inspected and carried-over from preceding crop years. I'm encouraging growers to be aware of profit potential of carryover seed stocks. There is bound to be a seed-shortage situation by next spring in certain areas of the state and region."

Many crop types, especially cereal crops, can be maintained in storage for extended periods of time without a loss of seed quality. Certification and labeling of carryover seed that has been properly segregated to maintain genetic purity is relatively simple and within the rules of seed production and labeling:

Carryover certified seed that has previously been labeled simply needs to have an updated germination test completed to meet labeling requirements.

Carryover field-inspected seed that is eligible for final certification must be conditioned and tested to ensure the product meets certification standards and labeling requirements.

"I'm convinced certified seed will command a premium this spring," Bertsch concludes. "We encourage growers to inspect any eligible fields (those planted with Foundation or Registered class seed) and if they have any inspected seed in the bin, hold on to that seed."

The Seed Department publishes a Field Inspected Seed directory each fall. This publication contains information on seed varieties, growers and seed retailers throughout North Dakota. The seed directory also is available online and should be available to the public by October 1.

Source: Ken Bertsch, 701- 231-5415, kbertsch@ndseed.ndsu.edu

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