Agroscope, Institute for Plant Production Sciences IPS, 1260 Nyon, Switzerland

Seed health tests on organic farming cereal seed

For organic farming, the use of chemically treated seed is not permitted. Therefore the untreated seed should be free from heavy contamination by pathogens. Since 1995, seed health tests were performed from organic farming seed lots. Based on threshold values for Fusarium Nivale (snow mould), Septoria nodorum (damping-off) and Tilletia caries (common bunt), a recommendation for the use of untreated seed of wheat, rye and spelt wheat was given. In 1995 only for 25 % of the analyzed samples the untreated use could be recommended, whereas in 1996 and 1997, a treatment was not necessary for 77 % and 76 % of the analyzed seed lots. If the threshold values were surpassed, a warm water treatment (2 h, 45 °C) was recommended. It was concluded that it is possible to produce healthy organic farming seed. However, seed should be used untreated only when threshold values have not been surpassed in a seed health test.

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