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Lab Report

Black soybeans. Photo: MCIA.

By Chase Mowry, Seed Laboratory Manager

Well, we survived another year.

Since the last Seed Lab update, sample quality has continued to be high, with very few disease issues encountered in germination tests. The main cause of lower germination percentages in soybeans was due to mechanical damage, perhaps related to the dry conditions last fall. However, despite those conditions, the average germination percentage this year, among all soybeans tested (certified and service samples), was 90 percent, with 92 percent as the median. In terms of samples received, our busiest months were January through March, as expected. The total number of samples tested this year is comparable to that of the previous few years, upward of 2,800. The top five crop types tested this season were perennial ryegrass, soybeans, wheat, corn, and oats.

Unfortunately for us, seed technologist Sam Banks departed MCIA in March to pursue a job opportunity with another laboratory. Recently, we successfully completed the interview process to fill the vacancy. A new staff member will join the Seed Laboratory in August.

In April, Claire Biel attended a four-day germination workshop held at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. The focus of the workshop included test preparations, evaluating germination tests in large-seeded crop types and small grains, tetrazolium testing, and common issues encountered during viability testing. During a germ evaluation, seed analysts distinguish differences between what is considered a normal seedling (those seedlings possessing essential structures that are indicative of their ability to produce plants under favorable conditions), an abnormal seedling, dead seed, and hard or dormant seeds.

In the upcoming summer months, as samples begin to slow, our focus in the laboratory will shift to other tasks—many of which pertain to accreditation and ensuring quality results for the next testing season. We will stay busy with training, updating SOPs, calibrating equipment, purchasing new supplies, conducting an internal audit, discarding samples from cold storage, and evaluating grow-outs, to name a few.

Lastly, be on the lookout for the 2022–23 Seed Laboratory Customer Satisfaction Survey email. This will be a short, 10-question survey to provide feedback on how we did this past year. If you could take a moment to respond, we would very much appreciate it!