The two keys to unlocking your seed’s potential

Measure germination and vigour before you set seeding targets


Believe it or not, spring is just around the corner, and before you know it you’ll get the itch to get your equipment rolling and put seed in the ground.

To start things off right, assessing your seed’s germination and vigour values are an absolute must. Even when you’re seeding in almost perfect conditions, these tests still hold the keys to achieving your ideal plant population to maximize yield. 

Germination tests measure how many seeds will grow in ideal conditions. A certain amount of seeds are incubated in a lab using perfect temperatures and moisture conditions and a percentage is calculated based on how many of the lot start to germinate. There are some things that can prevent germination regardless of conditions such as: hard seeds that have a seed coat that is just too hard to allow water to pass through, and dead seeds that will not produce any part of a seedling. 

Although knowing germination is great, it can leave you entirely unprepared for less-than-ideal conditions. That's where vigour comes in.

Vigour tests measure how well the seed will perform under stressful conditions. To calculate these values, seeds are exposed to environments that more closely resemble what they actually experience on the farm (ex: cold conditions, long storage times). In my opinion, this is a value to keep a close eye on when testing your seed- especially if you like to seed early. 

Typically, a good seed lot demonstrates a germination value of 90% or more and a vigour value of 85% or more. Having a good germination value does not always guarantee a good vigour value and we tend to see the best establishment when germ and vigor values are less than 10% different (ex: 95% germ with 85% vigor). 

Remember that seed represents your potential. It’s where your yield comes from, so it’s really important to start with healthy, high-potential seed. You’ll also be able to calculate a more accurate seeding rate if you understand both germination and vigour. 

This also underlines the importance of a seed treatment, as it provides another layer of protection that gives your seed the extra vigour it will need under stressful conditions.

Consult your Cargill agronomist if you have questions about seed treatments and seeding rates. We're here to help you start the year off right.

Written with files from Allison Hebert. 


Kelsey Klyzub

Kelsey grew up in Brandon, Manitoba, and spent time on weekends soaking up the details of her grandparents farm in Fraserwood, MB. Her passion for agriculture led her to the University of Alberta to earn a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture with a major in crop science. She currently leads the crop inputs sales team in northeastern Alberta and is passionate about bringing solutions to her team and farmers.

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