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Health of farmer-saved maize seed in north-east Nigeria

Biemond, P. C., Oguntade, Oluwole, Stomph, Tjeerd-Jan, Kumar, P. Lava, Termorshuizen, Aad J., Struik, Paul C.
European journal of plant pathology 2013 v.137 no.3 pp. 563-572
risk, germination, seeds, vigor, farmers, Botryodiplodia theobromae, Fusarium fujikuroi, corn, Curvularia lunata, Bipolaris maydis, seed pathology, seed quality, sorting, pathogens, fungi, Nigeria
Many Nigerian farmers depend for their seed on seed-producing farmers, the so-called informal Seed System (SS), but seed quality of the SS is unknown. Farmers planting low quality seed risk poor field emergence and low plant vigour as a result of low physiological quality or infection with seed-borne pathogens. The objective of this research was to test seed quality of maize seed from the informal SS in north-east Nigeria. A total of 46,500 seeds (93 samples of 500 seeds each) were tested for germination, off-types and seed health. Seed pathology was quantified by plating disinfected seeds onto agar, and identifying the fungi present after 3 days incubation. Twelve seed-borne pathogens were identified including Bipolaris maydis (found in 45 % of the farmer-produced samples), Botryodiplodia theobromae (97 %) and Curvularia lunata (38 %). All samples were infected with Fusarium verticillioides, with a median infection incidence of 59 % (2009) and 51 % (2010). None of the 93 samples tested passed the demands for certified seed of the National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC) in Nigeria, in particular the maximum limit of five off-types per kg seed sample. Based on these results, seed-producing farmers must improve the health of seed. The NASC should revise the standards for off-type seeds to minimize the time spent by farmers sorting planting material.