‘The Seed Is Where It’s At!’

carroll smith
Carroll Smith,

In the spring, my grandmother, Bea, loved to plant flowers in her garden. As a young child, I remember the smell of fresh dirt and the warmth of the sun as she patiently shook the little seeds out of their mail-order packets and set them on their journey.

Bea would start some of the seeds in little pots on a big table on her sun porch. When the time was right, she direct-sowed the others into the soil. Her ultimate goal was to create a beautiful landscape to enjoy in the summertime. My grandmother also arranged cut flowers in vases to show off at Garden Club meetings or turn into the subjects of lovely watercolor, oil and acrylic paintings.

When I was a little older, my dad took me to the field with him at planting time. It reminded me of being in Bea’s garden, but on a larger scale. He, too, was setting into motion the beginning of his rural summer landscape, designed not only to be appealing to the eye but also to provide a living for the family. Once again, small seeds were the catalyst to make it happen. 

These memories were triggered as I read through this month’s Specialists Speaking comments. They all paid homage to the seed. And not just any seed but good quality seed. Cotton farmers have to do their homework to make sure what they are putting in the ground will come up as a robust plant capable of withstanding Mother Nature’s whims and yielding a bountiful crop in the fall. 

As Alabama cotton specialist Steve M. Brown said, “Contrasted with 30 years ago, today’s seed are amazingly advanced with their lint-producing genetics and pest management technologies built-in or sprayed-on. Of course, today’s seed also command a considerably higher price. Seed companies comprise an ever-important management and budgeting consideration, confirming, ‘The seed is where it’s at!’”

To make the most of this investment, the university specialists remind farmers about the importance of checking the warm and cool germination results of the cottonseed.

North Carolina cotton specialist Keith Edmisten said, “We are entering the third year of North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ cotton seed testing program. You can find the link to the testing program on our cotton portal (cotton.ces.ncsu.edu) under the Calculators and Decision Aids tab. You need to register to use the site, and then you will be able to check the warm and cool germination results by entering the lot number for the seed. The program has shown that most of the seed entering the state is good quality. But there is some seed with lower cool germination values. You need to be aware of this to have the best chance of achieving a desirable stand.”

Yes, “the seed is where it’s at” when setting the stage for hauling as many pounds of lint as possible to the gin this fall. Getting good quality seed into the ground at the right soil temperature, rate and depth is the means to that end. Don’t miss out!

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