Act now to confirm your cereal seed makes the cut

Category: Grow Grain

Get it lab tested.

Think your seed is good quality because it graded well? Think again. Only a lab test can tell you germ quality and disease inside the kernel.

There was high fusarium disease pressure in many areas this year, so I strongly encourage you to get your wheat, durum and barley tested. Taking this extra step now will pay off next spring. And remember, this isn’t just fusarium head blight we are talking about. You may have observed plants turning completely white prior to maturity – this is a symptom of root rots and foot rots – which are also being tested.

Taking the extra step to test your seed now will pay off next spring.

Good quality at the elevator is not an indication of seed quality

The lab and elevator are looking for completely different things when they evaluate seed. The elevator is looking for fusarium-damaged kernels. The lab is plating the seed and looking for the fusarium inside the kernel because that’s what affects plant growth and the spread of seed-borne disease.

To fully understand seed quality, you need to get it lab tested. Ensure you select a complete germ and disease package from your lab of choice, and try to submit the sample early. That way, you’ll have time to find new seed or make seed treatment decisions if necessary.

Use the lab results to inform your seeding decision

If all the disease tests come back at 0%, and the germ is in the 90s, you’ve got good seed. Now all you have to do is apply a seed treatment to protect against soil borne disease and capture the highest yield potential. 

If your tests come back with lower germ and/or higher disease numbers, you have a decision to make. Using a higher seeding rate and seed treatment can help, but they don’t make bad seed good. Follow these general rules when planning your next move:


Disease Pressure

Recommended Action




Apply a seed treatment


Choose another seed source

All Fusarium spp.

 0-5%, germ >90%

Apply a seed treatment

0-5%, germ in 80s

Apply a seed treatment

5-14%, germ >90%

Apply a seed treatment


Choose another seed source


After you’ve analyzed the results and reviewed the guidelines, it can still be difficult to decide on the best course of action. Your Cargill agronomist can help. They evaluate all kinds of different lab results in a year, and they can help you make the best decision for your farm.


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Tags: Wheat, cereals, disease management, seed treatment

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