Lab Report

By Chase Mowry
Seed Laboratory Services Manager

Seed samples tested by the Seed Laboratory during the 2021–22 fiscal year total 2,840, including 2,111 annual crop samples and 729 perennial crop samples. We will reset the numbers on July 1. The top three species tested this year were soybeans, perennial ryegrass, and wheat, in that order. Most samples submitted were for domestic certification, with a small increase from last season in service samples.

Overall, sample quality was very high. There was little disease present this year. Most abnormalities found in soybeans during evaluation of germination tests were classified as mechanical damage. This was likely due to variable weather conditions—a dry growing season coupled with late rainfalls prior to harvest, making the beans more fragile and susceptible to damage. Germination tests in small grains and corn yielded primarily high results. The lab also recently completed its fourth year working with UMN Associate Professor and Extension Agronomist Seth Naeve on his soybean foreign material project, identifying nearly 43,000 contaminants present in the 434 samples we examined.

The Seed Laboratory successfully completed its first onsite accreditation audit in early May for the USDA ASL (Accredited Seed Laboratory) program. (Last year’s audit was conducted virtually due to Covid restrictions.) The auditors found the laboratory’s Quality Management System, developed by staff, to be sufficiently maintained, meeting the USDA ASL Program and USDA Process Verified Program requirements. As a result, the Seed Laboratory has been granted continued approval, for an additional three years, for seed germination and physical purity testing of cereals and other crops, grasses, legumes, vegetable flowers and herbs, and trees and shrubs.

Early in June, I attended the AOSA/SCST (Association of Official Seed Analysts/Society of Commercial Seed Technologists) Annual Meeting, held in Chicago. The event provided me with the opportunity to attend various committee meetings, vote on new rule proposals, and discuss current issues encountered in seed testing. This year, results from a lab report audit working group, in which I participated, were presented. The working group provided feedback and suggestions on the Reports of Analysis submitted by participating laboratories.

During the summer, the Seed Laboratory will focus on accreditation items such as updating current SOPs and calibrating equipment for the upcoming season. In early June, we will send out a Seed Laboratory Customer Satisfaction Survey. This is a great opportunity for members to let us know how we did this past season. The survey will consist of a few questions regarding your experience(s). Respondents will also be able to make suggestions.

Seed Lab Update

The Perten IM 9500 can measure protein, oil, and fiber.

MCIA Seed Laboratory Manager Chase Mowry provides a spring update:

For the most part, the seed samples we have received continue to be of high quality with few disease issues in germ tests—a good reflection of growing conditions this past year. Sample numbers for annual crop types are on track with last year, nearing 1,500 samples tested. Perennial samples continue to come in steadily, with samples tested nearing 600.

We have also completed 319 out of the 434 samples submitted by UMN Associate Professor Dr. Seth Naeve for his ongoing work in managing foreign matter in soybeans. Our lab identifies the number of contaminating species found. We expect to complete this work this spring.

We have received a few requests for protein tests—a new service we offer. Our Perten IM 9500 meter measures percent protein based on a fixed 13 percent moisture. It can measure protein for barley, canola, corn, durum, oats, rye, sorghum, and soybeans. The meter can measure oil and fiber percentages on a couple of crop kinds, as well as starch percentage on corn. If you are interested in these services, please make note on the Sampling Report accompanying your sample.

As a requirement of the USDA Accredited Seed Laboratory program, the USDA’s Seed Regulatory and Testing Division will conduct an audit of the MCIA Seed Laboratory in late April. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, this will be the first on-site audit since the lab became accredited in November 2020.