Farmers are busy pencilling out the numbers for the upcoming crop season.

In an effort to try and reduce costs many producers use farm-saved seed or bin-run seed from the previous crop.

Producers that are looking at doing this are now deciding whether or not to have the seed cleaned.

Crops extension specialist Mackenzie Hladun submitted the following article on the topic.

Bin-running seed is a common practice among Canadian producers. Bin-running entails growing a crop and saving some of the harvested seed for planting in future growing seasons. Canadian producers are allowed to bin-run seed and use it on their own farm under the Plant Breeders’ Rights Act. Many producers will opt to bin-run seed for several reasons instead of purchasing certified seed every year. One downside to bin-running is you’re not guaranteed clean seed for the next year and farmers often clean their seed during the winter.

Why should you clean your seed? Cleaning your seed improves the overall stand and quality of your next crop. Cleaning seed removes the smaller, lower quality seeds. Also, it will remove large amounts of weed seeds that were harvested with the crop. By removing the weed seeds, you prevent those weeds from being transported into your next field. Also, if herbicide resistance is a concern on your operation cleaning seed is a great management tool to help prevent the issue from spreading. Seedling blights can also be reduced by removing diseased seed from the harvested crop and preventing them from being planted. Being able to exclude weeds and disease from your fields makes seed cleaning a great integrated pest management strategy as well as an overall crop quality improvement.

There are many different types of seed cleaners available, with seed cleaning operations scattered throughout rural Saskatchewan. Seed cleaning operations can be mobile and will drive to the yard to clean seed right from the bin. Other operations may be stationary and need to have seed hauled to and from. The technology used in seed cleaning can vary. Fans or air streams can be used to blow out residual chaff, lighter seeds or small weed seeds. Table or cylindrical screens/sieves can be used to sort the seed based on size, with numerous different sizes of screens stacked within the machine to sort the seed on varying levels. Gravity tables are used to sort the seed based on the same principles as screens. Colour sorting can also be used for cleaning seed; diseased or unhealthy seed will have a different colour than healthy seed. Often, more than one of these methods are combined into a single cleaning operation, giving producers better-quality seed for their fields.

Cleaning seed is a best management practice when bin-running your seed. A complimentary practice is to also have your seed quality tested by a certified lab to determine the germination and overall quality of your seed. If interested, you can check out Seeds Canada for more information on plant breeders’ rights. Contact your local crops extension specialist for any additional information on cleaning seed.