The crop improvement programs include such crops as soybeans, corn and peas, and fruits and vegetables, ranging from peaches to okra to beans and heirloom vegetables. Seeds are available to home gardeners via the association's website.
Buying certified seed is an important part of improving plant varieties. Seed sales help pay for research that can improve yields, disease resistance and quality traits, adding to farm profitability.
Quality seed must be labeled and packaged properly, according to Ray. No seed is considered certified unless an official certification tag is attached to the packaging.
Proper conditioning is important to remove weed seed and inert matter: pebbles, twigs and other trash. Less inert matter means easier planting, more plants per acre and easier harvest. Seed also is examined and sorted to remove undersize or diseased seed. This results in more uniform stands.
Removing weed seeds improves crop yields and quality because there is less competition for fertilizer and water. It also reduces growers' costs for chemicals, fuel and labor.
"Better seed means quicker emergence, better stand establishment and vigorous growth to suppress weed infestations," said Ray. "What's more, uniform plant development flowering and maturity makes it easier to time fungicide or insecticide applications. And it means easier harvest and reduced drying costs."
|Contact: Christopher Ray|