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Guide to Growing Farm Saved Seed


Home Saved seed is an attractive option to buying EC certified seed, and is not inferior.

Growing your own seed is not as difficult as some people suggest. To achieve an even emerging, vigorous crop it is important to sow top quality seed. Poor seed can result in poor crops and financial return with extra future costs to control weed and disease if not grown properly. These brief guidelines will assist you to proudly grow home saved seed with the necessary care, planning and management to produce a high quality seed crop under your own control.

Growing Seed To A High Standard

To grow saved seed with the same expertise as a commercial seed producer, you must plan ahead, be well organised, and grow specific seed production crops on a professional, high management basis.

Some experienced contract seed producers also grow their own seed crops, monitoring, inspecting and also rejecting them if not up to the higher voluntary standard (HVS).

Seed Generation

Ideally, all potential seed crops should be grown from HVS C1 or C2 Seed.

Choosing The Correct Variety

Choose the right variety for each field, block or soil type area by using information from HGCA, NIAB, local trials, DEFRA advice and visually monitoring varieties on your own farm by growing a range of new varieties each year.

Consider the following points when choosing a variety:

   •   Quality of grain and market (feed, milling or malting).

   •    Stage in rotation (i.e. 1st wheat or continuous cropping).

   •    Previous cropping history.

   •    Husbandry method (i.e. cost of Inputs and Husbandry).

   •    Time of drilling.

   •    Disease resistance.

   •    Disease diversification to avoid specific disease pressure in large areas of one variety.

   •    Straw strength and yield ability to suit soil type and climate.

   •    Susceptibility to chemicals.

It can be very worthwhile growing the latest new varieties to assess their yield, disease resistance, cultural method, grain quality and suitability to your farming system and commercial planning.

Do not buy new C1 or C2 seed varieties just because the seed is expensive. Price has no relation to variety performance.

Do not save a variety just because a clean, bold sample is harvested.

The time factor between harvest and drilling to prepare the soil for the next crop is very small and critical on some heavy land farms. Because home saved seed does not leave the farm, combined with the advantage that Anglia Grain Services can process small quantities of seed varieties with a comprehensive choice of seed treatments, it offers the farmer complete flexibility in choosing specific varieties and treatments to precisely match his farming system.

Field, Seedbed And Drilling


Select a field site with good deep free draining soil, good pH and P, K, and Mg index levels with no history of compaction, standing water or problem weeds.

The field should have grown either a break or similar crop of the same variety the previous year. Two break crops are ideal.


Good seedbed preparation is essential. Poor consolidation and loose seedbeds can cause unnecessary plant loss in the winter. Seed treatments are more effective in good seedbed conditions.

Cold, wet, compacted seedbeds result in slow, uneven germination and excessive seed loss.


Before drilling C1 or C2 for seed production, check the generation, variety and quality standard on all official certification labels. One bag of the incorrect variety can easily ruin a year’s work. Read the seed treatment label before opening a seed bag. Use pesticides safely.

Ensure the drill is thoroughly clean before sowing and between varieties, and check the metering mechanism is working correctly before entering the field. Never clean a drill out in a field and consult the drill manufacturer’s handbook for the correct calibration procedure.

Consider the factors affecting seed rate (i.e. seed bed condition, drilling date) and aim for an optimum target plant population and calibrate the drill to sow by seed number/square metre – and double check.

How to calculate the sowing rate:


Target Plant Population/Sq. Metre  x   1000 Grain Weight (Grammes) 

% Expected Plant Establishment


(Multiply the above seed rate by 0.9 for pounds per acre)

Avoid too deep or too shallow drilling – drill seed deep enough to avoid moisture and pre-emergence herbicide stress and also bird damage.

Wheat bulb fly treated seed should be drilled no deeper than 40mm (1.5″) and covered with sufficient soil to reduce risk to wildlife.

Relate drilling speed to the seedbed and sowing conditions – regular, even depth seed placement is more important than speed.

Never re-drill bare patches in seed crops.

Crop Husbandry And Inspection

Use your agronomist, agricultural merchant or agrochemical fieldsman for cultural husbandry, fertilizer, disease, weed and pest control.

Chemical manufacturer’s product application rates and timing should be strictly followed to avoid crop damage or distortion effects.

Regularly inspect seed crops up to harvesting for weed, disease and pest levels, particularly after ear emergence when the seed borne diseases loose smut, leaf stripe and bunt, which can dramatically cut yields, show.

These diseases are controlled by broad spectrum seed treatments.

Never take shortcuts with seed treatments to try and save money as this can be a false economy.

If hand roguing is necessary, this should be done when the problem weed (i.e. Wild Oats) or other species appear above the crop. All rogued plants should be totally removed from the field.

It is recommended to employ the services of a qualified crop inspector to assess varietal purity and if true to type in the field.

Harvesting, Handling And Storage

Before harvesting a seed crop thoroughly clean combine, trailers, drier and storage areas to avoid admixture contamination.

To ensure high seed viability harvest the crop only when fully mature.

Avoid splitting and hairline cracking of seed by correct combine adjustment. Some combine models are designed for the specialist seed grower producing extra clean samples.

Do not use seed from the first cut around the headland of a field to avoid weed contamination from the hedgerow.

Preferably pre-clean seed before storing monitor and keep cool and dry to avoid deterioration.

If there is a need to dry, use the lowest temperature possible and do not exceed 49°C (120°F) to avoid seed germination damage.

Calculate your seed sowing requirement and store enough tonnes allowing for up to 20% to be screened out.

Take particular care to keep all seed lots separate and label with variety name from harvest to drilling.

Do not store seed where CIPC potato sprout suppressants have been used. Any vapour or residues can adversely affect seed viability.

Seed Specification

Seed is a business investment and the foundation to good crops and high return. An accurate appraisal of seed quality is both necessary and very important before seed sowing can go ahead with confidence. Anglia Grain Services offer a complete advisory seed testing service to help maximise variety potential in the field from germination and thousand grain weight testing to loose smut. Before sowing, the seed should reach the following specification:

   •    Good germination capacity.

   •    Free from seed borne disease (i.e. Loose Smut).

   •    Bold, uniform size.

   •    Free from weed seed (i.e. Wild oats, cleavers, couch, wild radish and sterile brome) and any other extraneous matter.

   •    To be the optimum moisture content of 15%.

   •    True to variety type and varietal purity.

Millers and Maltsters normally buy specific varieties as stated on their purchase contracts. The electrophoresis test at intake indicates the purity of a sample. If a sample fails the test, no premiums are paid but prices reduced and rejection costs can be incurred, therefore, strict attention to seed quality and seed testing is essential.

The Professional Seed Cleaning Contractor

Anglia Grain Services hold a BASIS Certificate in Crop Protection (Seed Treatment) and have trained qualified staff. This means that they are experienced professionals qualified to advise you on the correct seed treatment for each crop and variety and are very competent in the safe, precise and accurate application of seed treatments on the farm.

Anglia Grain Services only use high specification machinery as part of their seed cleaning process with a unique separation technique unmatched by other machines to improve seed vigour, germination, purity and seed size. Sophisticated seed cleaning and chemical treatment machinery will only work efficiently if set up by skilled operatives. Anglia Grain Services employ full time, PA1 & PA11 trained, experienced senior operators to ensure correct, precise machine adjustment and quality control.