Our seed technology experts at Benary make your life easier, help your bottom line and save you time! Unfortunately, their hard work stays hidden most of the time, because it is proprietary information. It is, however, one of the most important added values to the seed you purchase from us. So we asked Gudrun Rufeger, a manager at our Seed Technology Department, to answer some questions about why seed technology is so important.
Q: Most people don’t know a lot about the science behind producing professional quality flower seeds. What is “seed technology”?
Rufeger: Seed technology includes a wide range of techniques and treatments with the goal of improving the physical characteristics of the seeds in order to maximize their value and provide superior performance to our customers.
Seed treatments are probably the most visible. These include basic operations like cleaning, drying and storing, as well as more advanced treatments like grading, priming, coating, pelleting, multi-pelleting, breaking dormancy and disinfecting.
What our customers don’t see is our commitment to develop new product forms and sophisticated treatments. To accomplish this, we partner with universities and institutions on projects using new technology.
We help our customers get the best results by defining optimal storage conditions for each crop. We also conduct regular tests to guarantee the best seed quality and disease-free products. We provide technical support to our sales team about pre- and post-harvest techniques, optimal growing conditions and simply trouble-shoot problems with them.
Q: Why is seed technology so important to growers?
R: Seed technology gives the seeds a better start and makes the grower’s job easier. High-quality seed is the key to efficient plug production. It gives you:
- Faster sowing/ increased profitability
- Faster germination/ saves energy
- Yields more uniform, retail-ready plants/ more sell-through at retail
- Disease-free seed/ less waste
Q: What is an example of one of your best success stories?
R: You see the most dramatic results in perennial seeds because some species are dormant, like Lavandula. The germination of the untreated Lavandula seeds is about 50 percent. After breaking the dormancy, the germination increases to 85 percent. Another example is a joint project executed by Production and the Seed Tech.
Departments where we improved the germination of our most popular Delphinium series-16 percent increase for Magic Fountains and a 9 percent increase for the Pacific series.
Q: That’s impressive! How much is the typical increase in germination after you apply your seed technology techniques?
R: It depends on the form of the treatment. Within the ApeX product line the germination increase is 10 to 55 percent. The increase depends on the species and the treated lots.
Q: Are there other benefits such as speed of germination?
R: Sure, coating and pelleting increase sowability and visibility in the cell. Primed seeds germinate faster and more uniformly, which helps the grower, especially under less-than-optimal sowing conditions. Multi-pellets like lobelia help growers produce a more attractive, bushy plant for retail.
Q: How long does it take to develop the proper seed technology protocol for a new variety?
R: It depends on the type of treatment and the variety because you have to run germination tests after each trial, which take a few weeks. The absolute minimum is four months. If the variety is tricky, it can take a year or longer. Not all varieties are suited to all treatments.
Q: Is there anything else you would like the readers to know about seed technology?
R: Treated seeds are somewhat more expensive than raw seeds, but the benefit for the growers is much higher and saves production costs. Seed technology is getting more and more important because it is the key to getting the most out of a high-quality seed product.
Go to www.Benary.com for more information, or to contact your Benary sales rep.
Is your seed vault a hazard zone?
Getting the most from your seed.
Many growers have sophisticated seed storage systems that regulate temperature and humidity. You might think that this would ensure the best possible germination, but there may be hidden hazards lurking in your greenhouse destroying the quality of your seed. The experts at Benary suggest you look for these trouble spots:
Seed needs — Some growers order large packet sizes so that they can get the same lot and germination for their entire season. Although you may not notice it, moisture gets into the package every time you open it. So opening and re-opening seed packs can damage seed over time. Pellets are particularly susceptible because increased humidity softens the pellets. When the pellets re-harden, they are usually harder than before, and more difficult to dissolve, decreasing your germination. So remember: purchase seeds in containers that you can use completely each sow week.
Party in the house — Everybody loves a party: food, drinks and yummy snacks can mean lots of fun for your team. But storing food and drinks (especially when warm) can destroy the temperature and humidity levels in your cooler. Don’t do it! If they accuse you of being a Scrooge, just remind them that you are saving them from patching trays!
Fresh is best — Like people, some seeds just don’t age well. They go downhill very quickly after their expiration date. Sometimes it’s the germination that suffers, but often the effects can be a little less obvious. Old impatiens seed, for example, can yield deformed cotyledons, or leaves that don’t expand. Maintaining a strict, first-in-first-out policy will ensure the best possible results.
Slowly, slowly — In a world where time is money, it’s easy to want your sowing team to take seed from storage directly to the sowing line. Unfortunately, going from a cooler to a greenhouse that has a much warmer temperature causes condensation in the seed containers. Remember your first camping trip when you brushed the roof of the tent and it “rained” in the tent? Well, think of that on a smaller scale in your seed packets. Try pulling the seed and letting it acclimate to a more moderate temperature before sending it to the line.
For more detailed growing information, or to contact your Benary sales rep, visit www.Benary.com
Ernst Benary of America, a division of Ernst Benary Samenzucht GmbH, is an internationally renowned breeder, producer of leading annuals, perennials, potted flowering plants and cut flowers. Our long 173 year history as a family owned business has allowed us to live our passion for breeding. For further information, log on to www.benary.com.