Improving seed quality of Northeast-grown seed: Focus on disease
We trained 12 farmers from 8 different small farms through monthly workshops in how to integrate seed production into their diversified vegetable operations. Alongside this training, we studied the diseases affecting the plants (if any) at all stages. We are now in the process of reviewing all of the results and writing the Seed Health Handbook for Northeast Seed Growers.
For the most part we had completed all parts of our grant. We were waiting for final results to come back from various labs. In particular, seed borne disease testing took much longer than expected. We now have all of the data in for each of the seed crops. Interestingly, despite signs of disease and/or stress in the food stage lifecycle of some of the crops, there was only one seed crop- the Oxheart Tomato seed, that tested positive for seed borne disease.
At this point we only have a little left to do. I am almost done writing the handbook and next week we’ll be running the diseased seed through a hot water bath treatment to see how effective that is in eradicating the disease and what kind of effects the treatment has on seed viability and vigor.
The results are very promising indicate that when growers follow the protocols and practices that we taught in our monthly workshops, high-quality seed can be produced even in less than desirable seed growing climates like the Northeast.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
The results of this grant, even though the handbook has not yet been published, have already had important impacts in our region. We recently held a farmer potluck and, based on our experiences with the growers in the grant, we’ve seen increased interest and confidence from regional farmers willing to incorporate seed crops into their diversified vegetable and flower farms. Additionally, farmers who participated in the grant had remained involved and are continuing to grow seed. We will be sharing our results during two sessions at the upcming NOFA-NY winter conference.
Organic Production Educator
Cornell Cooperative Extension Hudson Valley
3357 Route 9W
Highland, NY 12528
Office Phone: 8459439810