Sowing today’s seeds for tomorrow’s crops

14 September, 2017

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While most cotton growers are preparing to plant this season’s cotton crops, CSD’s Seed Increase team are looking further ahead as they gear up for another busy season coordinating the production of pure seed crops.

As Australia’s sole provider of cotton planting seed, CSD carries the responsibility of ensuring the provision of suitable quantities of high quality varieties for Australian cotton growers, both this season and into the future.

It’s a lengthy and rigorous process, but one that the industry depends on, says CSD’s Seed Increase Lead, Damian Edwards.

“In order to maintain the performance of our varieties, we utilise the internationally recognised OECD cotton seed certification scheme. This begins with CSIRO plant breeders working closely with CSD and the wider industry to evaluate which lines which are best suited for Australia’s unique production challenges,” said Damian.

“This takes a number of years, after which time the chosen lines are handed to CSD to commence the process of screening and producing volumes of potential varieties, which are then grown out by commercial seed growers.”

From October, Damian and the rest of the Seed Increase team – Tom O’Connor, Seed Increase Field Officer and Brendan Hatton, Regulatory Compliance Officer – will commence planting the early generation nurseries at CSD Farms, as well as auditing first generation seed crops to ensure they comply with both CSD’s stringent quality assurance standards and the OECD seed certification protocols during the season.

“When planting kicks off in October, we’ll be busy with planter and crop inspections across approximately 4,000ha of seed increase crops throughout Southern QLD, and the Gwydir and Namoi Valleys in NSW,” said Damian.

“We closely monitor field hygiene and conduct four in-crop inspections in every field throughout the growing season, checking for the presence of weeds and disease, monitoring the general health of the crop. There’s also an official seed certification inspection which checks that all pure seed crops meet variety purity standards.

“At picking, we inspect all picking equipment, and assess the moisture content levels in all round bales and modules. We also send seed samples back to our lab for further quality assurance tests, such as GM trait purity and warm and cool germination, which must be passed before modules can be transported to the gin.”

CSD works closely with a team of commercial growers who help supply up to 8,500 tonnes of seed to the market each year. This season, CSD has 24 commercial growers contracted to produce certified seed increase crops, which help manage production risk and ensure that CSD can continue to meet demand for high quality planting seed.

With a focus on the needs of growers – good quality seed which is high yielding and readily available – CSD’s seed increase program facilitates the robust synergy between breeding, R&D and production that quietly underpins the viability of the Australian cotton industry.