Seed Growing

Seed Growing

 

a branch of horticulture engaged in the large-scale reproduction of seeds for strain changing and strain renovation. To produce high-quality seeds steps are taken to retain varietal purity and biological yielding qualities. Seed growing is directly related to selection, and its theoretical basis is seed science.

Development in prerevolutionary Russia and the USSR. In Russia seed growing as an organized process was begun in the second half of the 19th century on estates that raised sugar beets and grain crops. Seed production was practically nonexistent on backward, individually owned farms. After the October 1917 Revolution the production of varietal seeds was begun. It was initiated in 1919 at the Saratov Experiment Station (today the Institute of Agriculture of the Southeast) and in 1920 at the Shatilov Experiment Station (today the Orel State Agricultural Experiment Station). Seed growing became a part of selection work after V. I. Lenin signed the decree On Seed Growing in 1921. The principles of organizing a single system were elaborated between 1921 and 1931. A state strain-testing network was organized in the Ukraine in 1923 and in the RSFSR in 1924. The testing of varietal plantings was introduced in 1924, certification of seed quality was initiated in 1926, and the first varietal zoning was carried out in 1929. Several basic organizational principles were established by legislation by 1931. For example, the production of elite and first-reproduction seeds was assigned to selection stations or to seed-growing sovkhozes adhering to guidelines set by selection stations; the production of second- and third-reproduction seeds was delegated to republic seed-growing trusts and seed-growing kolkhozes, respectively; and production areas were planted with fourth-reproduction seeds. The first state standards for high-quality seeds of grain crops were approved in 1934. The systematic introduction of high-yielding varieties was initiated, and the State High-quality Seed Stock (Gossortfond) was created. However, seed growing was still at a low level in the 1930’s; high-quality plantings of grain crops occupied less than 50 percent of the sown area.

In 1937 the Council of People’s Commissars of the USSR passed the decree On Measures to Improve the Seeds of Grain Crops. A new seed-growing system was organized, which involved the delivery of elite seeds by selection stations (through the Gossortfond) to regional seed-growing farms, which grow first-reproduction seeds on special plots and then plant them. Second-reproduction seeds are sent to kolkhozes and sovkhozes, where they are planted to yield third-reproduction seeds for sowing in production areas. This seed-growing system helped to increase high-quality plantings, which in the case of grains and legumes increased to 84 percent by 1940. The decree On Improving the Seed Production of Grains, Oil Crops, and Grasses, which was approved by the Central Committee of the CPSU and by the Council of Ministers of the USSR, laid the foundation of the modern system of seed growing, which permits more rapid strain renovation and the introduction of new varieties into production.

Prime seed growing, that is, the production of superelite and elite seeds, is carried out by research organizations that use the method of individual family seed selection. This method involves selection of the best plants, testing the offspring in a selection nursery to find the best seeds, and retesting of the offspring in a seed nursery. An additional element, the reproduction nursery, is used to hasten production. A less effective method of mass selection is also used: selection of the best plants and growing the offspring in a reproduction nursery.

Seeds of grains (except corn), oil crops, and grasses. The research organizations that actually create varieties grow super-elite and elite seeds in seed-growing nurseries and then give them to the experimental farms of research organizations and to the teaching farms of agricultural schools in their krai, oblast, or republic. The latter supply the farms in their zone with elite and first-reproduction seeds. Seed-growing teams of kolkhozes and sections of sovkhozes reproduce the seeds on seed-breeding plots or on reproduction plots. They furnish all the seeds needed for production plantings and for the creation of insurance and transient seed stocks. In some oblasts the seed-growing system embraces specialized seed-growing farms that usually produce first-reproduction seeds to be sold to kolkhozes and sovkhozes. This system is used in all oblasts for the production of grass seeds. Strain renovation of grain crops is usually carried out once every five years, and that of grasses once every four to ten years. In the cultivation of sunflowers annual strain renovation is used. Research organizations provide elite seeds to farms, which reproduce the seeds and plant only first-reproduction seeds in production areas.

Corn seeds. Superelite and elite seeds of self-pollinated strains and varieties (parental forms of hybrids) and their sterile analogues, analogues of sterility fixers, and analogues of fertility restorers are grown by research organizations headed by the All-Union Scientific Research Corn Institute. One group of sovkhozes produces first-generation maternal and paternal forms of hybrids and gives them to another group of sovkhozes and kolkhozes to be planted on hybridization plots. The resulting hybrid seeds (in the cobs) are sent to specialized seed farms, where they are cleaned, dried, graded, and sold to farms for planting on production plots. The production of corn seeds is concentrated in the southern regions.

Sugar beet seeds. Elite and superelite seeds from or for agricultured stations are grown at the All-Russian Scientific Re search Institute of Sugar Beets and Sugar and at experimental selection stations in various beet-growing regions. Their initial reproduction (reproduction sowing) is done by the elite seed-growing sovkhozes of the All-Union Scientific Research Institute of Sugar Beets and Sugar, which deliver the elite seeds to specialized seed-growing farms that produce first-reproduction seeds (from or for stations) for subsequent sale to beet-growing kolkhozes and sovkhozes. The same farms grow hybrid seeds of intervarietal and polyploid hybrids. The seed-growing system is based on annual strain renovation.

Potato seeds. Research organizations and teaching farms of institutions of higher learning reproduce elite and superelite seeds obtained from institutions that develop new varieties. The seeds are provided to specialized seed-growing farms, which subsequently send first-reproduction potatoes to kolkhozes and sovkhozes for setting out in reproduction nurseries. Second-reproduction seed material is transplanted in seed-breeding plots, and third-reproduction seeds and subsequent reproductions are planted in production areas. Strain renovation is carried out every four or five years.

Technology. The best available technology is used to ensure improvement in the sowing and yielding qualities of the seeds. Species and varietal roguing is carried out, and artificial pollination is done for cross-pollinating crops.

Seed growing is directed by the Ministry of Agriculture of the USSR and its agencies—oblast and krai agricultural administrations and seed-growing trusts that unite specialized seed-growing sovkhozes and production administrations.

The modern system of seed growing has made it possible to increase high-quality plantings in the country. In 1974 high-quality varieties accounted for 97 percent of all plantings of grain crops (except corn), 99.7 percent of all plantings of corn, 100 percent of sugar beet plantings, 99.6 percent of all plantings of sunflower and fiber flax, 100 percent of cotton plantings, and 76 percent of all plantings of potato.

Abroad. Seed growing in European socialist countries is controlled by the state and is organized along specialized principles or on a contractual basis on state and cooperative farms. The production of the highest reproduction seeds is concentrated in research organizations. In the German Democratic Republic, for example, the highest reproductions are allocated every year from the state stock as starting material for seed reproduction.

In capitalist countries both state and private breeding organizations are engaged in primary seed growing. Elite and super-elite seeds are created by individual selection with the offspring checked over a period of one, two, or more years. Private companies and associations engage in commercial seed growing, usually under state supervision. In Canada, for example, grain seed growing is controlled by the Seed-growing Association, a union of breeders and seed growers that sets standards for seed varieties and quality, registers varieties and varietal plantings, propagates new varieties, and determines the volume of production of seed material. In Sweden joint-stock companies reproduce and sell seeds; such companies include Swedish Seeds, which works with the Svalow Breeding Institute, and the W. Weyboll Company, which owns a large seed-growing farm and runs the Institute of Plant Breeding. Seeds are grown in France by the Vilmorin Company and in the United States by private concerns, including Hi-Bred International, Inc., De Kalb Agresearch, Inc., and Cargill.

REFERENCES

Kozhevnikov, A. R., S. I. Leont’ev, and G. I. Popova. Semenovodstvo zernovykh kul’tur. Moscow, 1970.
Guliaev, G. V., and Iu. L. Guzhov. Selektsiia i semenovodstvo polevykh kul’tur. Moscow, 1972.

G. V. GULIAEV

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