There is always a temptation with small grains to purchase certified seed every few years and save seed from the initial crop for replanting. This results in a cost savings on the average annual expense of seed, but may lead to seed purity issues, reduced yields and less profit per acre.
There are good reasons Michigan State University Extension recommends considering planting certified seed every year.
- Clean seed. Certified seed is clean seed. The certification process includes strict limitations on the amount of weed and other kinds of crop seed allowed.
- Pure seed. Certified seed has a very high standard for varietal purity. You can be assured that you are planting the specific crop variety you want to plant.
- Seed quality assurance. Certified seed is inspected in the field and processing plant. Strict quality requirements have been met.
- Traceability. Some markets demand that crops can be traceable and verifiable. Using certified seed gives you strong documentation that your product is what you say it is.
- Access to new markets. If an end-user requires specific varieties, use of certified seed provides recognized proof of your product’s parent seed identity.
- Efficient use of inputs. The quality and genetic purity of certified seed gives you confidence that you are making the most of your other input investments. Certified seed gives you the best chance for a good crop, making best use of your time and resources.
In addition, one of the advantages of planting certified seed is that you can be relatively assured that the seed is professionally treated. Sometimes seed treatment done on the farm is not adequate.
A Kansas study from the 1990s, “Economic Issues with Certified and Farmer-Saved Wheat Seed,” addresses the economic benefits to Kansas wheat farmers of using certified seed, particularly those selling to identity-preserved systems, where millers want specific varieties. Basic concepts from the study can be applied in current systems.
For a current listing of certified small grain seed producers in Michigan and the varieties they grow, visit the Michigan Crop Improvement Association website and look under Seed Directory.