Seed is the foundation of agriculture and serves as the most important input in agricultural production. It is important to note that the effectiveness of other inputs depends largely on the quality of the seeds planted. Hence, the use of high-quality seeds of improved crop varieties is very vital and indispensable.
An effective and sustainable means of increasing food production and achieving food security is through the cultivation of improved seed varieties. The good news is that the use of high-yielding, climate-resilient, disease-resistant, nutrient-rich, adaptable and high-quality improved seeds of various crops will make it possible to produce more food profitably without expanding farm land, thereby saving the planet.
Successful production and availability of quality seeds of improved crop varieties depends on a number of factors which need to be adequately considered. These factors can be categorized as location-specific conditions, climatic conditions, edaphic conditions, agronomic conditions, biological conditions, pre-harvest conditions (seed quality control), harvest conditions, and post-harvest conditions (drying, processing and storage conditions).
This article focuses on the various conditions that are required for the successful production of agricultural seeds.
LOCATION IS A VERY IMPORTANT FACTOR
One of the fundamental factors that influence successful seed production is the suitability of the farmland and location where the seed is to be produced. In other words, the choice of suitable location is very important because it determines the extent to which the seeds can express their genetic characteristics and optimum possible yield.
HISTORY OF FARMLAND
It is necessary to find out about the type of plants that had been planted on the farmland or at the location because it can have tremendous impact on the quality of seeds. This is to avoid the emergence of volunteer crops and contaminants. It is also very important to know the kind of soil-borne diseases, plant diseases, pests and weeds that are predominant at the location. Essentially, the farmland or location must have good historical record before it can be considered to have the required condition that is suitable for seed production.
Climate simply refers to the average weather condition of a place which has been measured over a period of time, usually 35 years. Some of the climatic factors that influence seed production are rainfall, relative humidity, sunlight, temperature, and wind.
Rainfall: This is a very important climatic factor that determines the availability of water for the germination of the seeds, growth of the seed crop and dissolution of soil nutrients that are required for crop growth. The amount of rainfall is a determinant of the type of vegetation present at a location, the type of crop that can be planted and time of planting of crops. Excessive rainfall is detrimental to the growth of seed crops as a result of flooding, erosion and leaching of soil nutrients, while insufficient rainfall causes drought, crop failure and poor yield.
Relative Humidity: This is another important climatic factor in seed production. It refers to the amount of moisture in the atmosphere. The relative humidity of a location is determined by the level of rainfall at the location. High relative humidity favours the growth of disease pathogens thereby causing seed-borne diseases, while low relative humidity is necessary for seed maturation and ripening. Also, moderate relative humidity favours flowering, pollination, and seed setting.
Sunlight: This is also an important factor that affects seed production. It refers to the amount of heat and the period the ray of the sun is received at a location. Sunlight is necessary for photosynthesis and it also determines cloud cover. Sunlight affects evapo-transpiration and the productivity of seed crops as a result of sunlight intensity and sunlight duration. Sunlight also determines the transition of seed crops from vegetative phase to reproductive phase. Additionally, sunlight intensity has significant influence on pollination, ripening and drying of seeds.
Temperature: This is another vital climatic factor which affects seed production. It can simply be defined as the degree of hotness or coldness of a location. Temperature has significant effect on stimulating the seed crop to flowering responses. Generally, low temperature delays flowering while high temperature accelerates flowering. Also, seed quality is affected when there are varying temperature levels during seed maturation. It has also been reported that increased hardness of seed coat and dormancy in some crops can be linked to high temperature. Generally, warm temperature is essential for germination, flowering, pollination and seed setting.
Wind: This can simply be described as air in motion. Wind is an important pollinating agent and also serves as good seed dispersal agent in some crops. Moderate wind speed is a necessary condition for seed production. This is because high wind speed can cause immense damage to seed crops through lodging and shattering while low wind speed can have negative impact on the transfer of pollen grains during pollination.
This blog post is the first part of an article which is made up of three parts. [GO TO PART 2]