Developed by Steven B. Johnson, Extension crops specialist
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Growers of small grain crops normally calibrate planting equipment to achieve specific plant populations per acre, even though the germination percentage of the planted seed is often unknown. Certified small grain seed is warranted to have at least a 90 percent germination rate (80 percent for rye); nevertheless it is a good idea to do a specific germination test on certified seed. There is no question that the germination should be checked on seed that is not certified, or seed that is carried over from a previous year.
Official tests require a minimum of 8 replications of 50 seeds each, and are conducted over 7 to 10 days, depending on the grain being tested. The test can be extended 2 days for grain types that are slow to germinate. Growers can do a simple germination test at home. The procedure below does not pre-chill or pre-dry the seed as required for official seed certification standards, but provides some basic guidance on germination testing for the purpose of adjusting planting rate to achieve desired plant stands.
Thanks to reviewer David Fuller, Extension Professional
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