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An objective basis for the selection of minimum legal seed germination standards

J.R. Peterson

N.S.W. Department of Agriculture, Seeds Laboratory, Sydney.

In New South Wales, the minimum acceptable germination level of 60% which is defined for soybeans by the N.S.W. Agricultural Seeds Act (1931) is shortly to be increased in accordance with an interstate agreement to standardise seed quality requirements. Germination standards are normally selected arbitrarily and varied in time as seed production procedures evolve. In the case of soybeans it is generally accepted that 60% is too low and many lines of seed which meet the minimum legal requirement fail to produce satisfactory stands in the field.

During a study of alternative soybean test procedures during 1978/79 at 7 field sites across the North of this State, an opportunity was afforded to compare the effects of adopting different minimum germination standards (Figure l). Of the lines compared, 93% conformed to the present legal requirement but of these, only 67% resulted in a satisfactory field establishment of 50% or better. By increasing the "standard" to 70, 80 or 90%, the numbers of lines which conformed to the requirements decreased rapidly (83%, 50% and 30% respectively), but the success rate increased (80%, 93% and 100% respectively).

No single standard can be considered "right" but the value of increased standards to the end user is apparent. With the current trend towards "truth-in labelling" type seeds legislation the necessity for a high minimum level of germination in seed legislation is clearly indicated.

Fig. l. The % of seed lines which conformed to various hypothetical minimum germination standards (broken line), and the corresponding % of "acceptable lines" in which field establishment exceeded 50% (solid line).

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