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Towards total quality: workshop on maize seed quality analysis based on ISTA protocols

September 14, 2014
Representantes de compañías semilleras evalúan la pureza física de muestras de semilla de maíz. Foto: Alberto Chassaigne/CIMMYT

Seed company representatives assess the physical purity of maize seed samples. Photo: Alberto Chassaigne/CIMMYT

During the training courses for MasAgro Network seed producers given in 2014, surveys were conducted to determine their training needs in 2015. CIMMYT seed systems experts who visited seed production facilities and fields also identified gaps in the capacities of small, medium and large seed producers in Mexico.

They found that the genetic and physical quality of the seed produced by the different seed companies varies, even among seed of the same hybrid. Some companies do not conduct quality analyses before marketing the seed, while others have quality laboratories but lack adequately trained staff.

To help bridge this gap among seed companies and standardize the methods used for analyzing maize seed quality, a Maize Seed Quality Analysis Workshop based on the protocols of the International Seed Testing Association (ISTA) was held at CIMMYT Headquarters from 22-24 July. Organized by CIMMYT in collaboration with Mexico’s Seed Inspection and Certification Service (SNICS), the workshop was led by staff from the Central Reference Laboratory, which is certified by ISTA.

Participantes del taller evalúan pruebas de germinación. Foto: Alberto Chassaigne/CIMMYT

Workshop participants evaluate seed germination tests. Photo: Alberto Chassaigne/CIMMYT

During the workshop, 48 Mexican seed company representatives and CIMMYT technicians updated their knowledge of the methods used for sampling maize seed plots, analyzing physical purity, and conducting germination and biochemical (tetrazolium) viability tests. The acquired hands-on experience will allow seed companies that conduct seed analyses to refine their methods, and those that don’t, to incorporate them into the production process.