Monday, November 2, 2009
Convention Center, Exhibit Hall BC, Second Floor
Since implementation of the USDA National Organic Program in 2002, seed companies have marketed organically-produced, untreated-hybrid corn seed in accordance with the new organic production guidelines. Some organic corn producers have raised concerns about the seed quality of organically-produced hybrids compared with that of untreated, conventionally- produced hybrids. Seed germination and vigor (as determined by the cold test) of organic corn hybrids entered in 2007 and 2008 multistate (IA, OH, and WI) performance trials were evaluated. Open-pollinated varieties, varietal blends, and conventionally-produced, untreated hybrids were also included in the evaluation. Germination of organically-produced seed was generally high (>90%); however, there was a wide range in vigor levels. Seed vigor among hybrids, including that of conventionally-produced seed, ranged from less than 40 to over 90%. Differences in seed vigor may account for the concerns of some organic growers regarding performance of organically produced seed. However, in this evaluation, low vigor levels were also evident in conventionally produced, untreated-hybrid seed.