What do conditions at harvest have to do with what your seed corn looks like in the bag next spring when you're ready to dump it into the planer box? According to Dan Warner of Warner Seed, Bradford, Ohio, it can play a big role.
One year ago corn struggled to mature. Cobs were soft. The portions of the kernels that form the beeswings hung on longer than usual, even during the processing procedure. Warner and his family operate a seed production business, primarily growing on contract for Seed Consultants, Inc., and a few other companies. They also own their own production plant, and dry, store, process, clean, grade, treat and bag seed corn right in their facility.
This year corn was of better quality, although they still started when moisture was up near 40%. Special husking beds that leaves shucks on let them harvest at that moisture and still do a good job, he notes.
What he's seeing is good, high-quality corn go into the bag. While he grows small lots of a number of hybrids, results for testing of the first hybrid harvested have already come back from a private lab that evaluates germination, and tests for purity. The germination was 100% warm, and 98% in cold tests, Warner says. That's rather unusual to see those type of scores, especially coming for this independent lab known for being very tough and sticklers on quality, he says.
Warner relies on both gravity table and color sorters. Using cameras, color sorters can be set to detect kernels that are of even a hair. Often, they are not viable kernels. Once detected, a puff of air flips the kernel out of the way, and it's discarded. While it sounds simple, the process operates at warp speed, he explains. But the net result from investing in and using a color sorer on his seed corn is to produce a product that is higher in quality.
Don't be bashful when asking about seed quality when seedsmen stop by this time of year. If they can't answer your questions, they should be able to find out the answers for you. They should be able to tell you who produced the corn. If they can't, perhaps you need to look closer at just what is your best choice for a seed supplier. Remember you're trying to build a relationship with someone you trust.