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Seed handling

Publication Date: 
22 March 2019

The soil is getting warmer and with mild weather conditions, planting season has already begun.  Some of you may not have reached that stage in the season just yet. If you have been storing seed ready for planting or you are awaiting a delivery, here is some advice on how best to handle seed upon delivery on farm.

Upon delivery, it’s essential to inspect seed bags for diseases and quality, including washing sub-samples, to make sure that the delivery matches your order. It’s imperative that seed be stored in a CIPC-free environment.

Our advice on best practice is based on how long seed will have to be held between delivery and planting. An essential first step is therefore to figure out how long seed will be stored for.

Jumbo bags on concrete floor are an example of poor practice for storing seed long term.

Storing for less than a week

If you are planting a few days only after delivery, it is acceptable to leave seeds in their bags, preferably on pallets. Make sure to leave some space around all bags (15 to 30 cm) to maximise airflow. Keep in a location that minimises temperature fluctuations and so reduces risk of condensation.

Storing for 1-2 weeks

Beyond a week, it is still possible to leave seeds in bags but forced ventilation is best. For example, you could create a temporary plenum for use with a portable fan (see image). Close monitoring is still required to ensure that condensation does not occur.

Storing for 2 weeks +

For longer term storage, decanting is essential. Seed should then be cured and cooled down to the holding temperature. The longer the storage period, the colder the store should be i.e. down to 3 °C.  A slightly higher holding temperature of 4-5 °C may be more suitable when storing for shorter periods.

Should a seed store not be available, alternative measures can be taken to keep condensation to an acceptable minimum and reduce sprouting, such as running fans at suitable times depending on ambient temperature. This scenario will require regular monitoring of temperature and seed inspection to prevent any losses.

Temporary plenum with fan

When it looks like you’ve got a clear window for planting, make sure your seed is well ventilated and dry. This will ensure even application of powder seed treatments should they be necessary.

For further information on the subject, visit the Storage Hub or contact us for advice on the Storage Advice Line 0800 02 82 111 or via sbcsr@ahdb.org.uk.

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