Quality Planting Material for Seed Spices: A Tool for Higher Productivity
Authors: *Kana Ram Kumawat, Ravi Kumawat and Madhu Choudhary
Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics, S.K.N. Agriculture University
Jobner-303329, Jaipur, Rajasthan, India
*Email: kanaramkumawat8@gmail.com

Quality planting material

Seed spices are small to very small in size except coriander and fenugreek. Besides physical loss during sowing, processing and storage cumin, ajwain and celery are highly vulnerable to the loss of viability. The seeds from Apiaceae family spices also have tendency towards slow emergence and weak growth particularly in the initial stages. It takes about 7 to 15 days to sprout out of the soil and another 20-25 days to throw out branches. Fenugreek is an exception which sprouts in 3-4 days. Besides these attributes and the fact, these seeds are mostly sown under soil moisture stress and low aridity situations, make these crops strong candidates for a systematic research on seed technology with the objectives of enhancing their germinability for ensuring a full crop stand in the field, least storage losses including loss of viability, standardizing processing and storage technologies to suit the local conditions where these are grown.

Without the use of good quality seed, the investments incurred on fertilizers, pesticides and water will not pay dividend which ought to be realized. There has been considerable coverage of area under seed spices but its share towards production is less. It is due to low productivity levels obtained by the growers. One of the main reason contributing to low productivity is non-availability of quality seed of released varieties. So far about 61 varieties of 9 different seed spices crops have been released but sufficient quantity of quality seed has not reached to farmers. Moreover, the seed spices crops have not received attention in national seed production policies. Furthermore, Apiaceae family seed spices - coriander, cumin, fennel, dill, ajwain, celery and anise have inherent weakness of slow germination, resulting in poor crop stand, severe competition from weeds and low productivity.

Basic principles/parameters for quality seed production

There are four parameters considered important in quality seed production such as physical purity, germinability, health and genetic purity.

1. Physical Purity means that a seed sample should contain only seeds of a specific crop species and not anything else (such as inert matter, weed seeds and other crop seeds).

2. Germinability indicates the capacity of seeds to germinate and emerge in the field as normal and vigorous seedlings. Seed health is related to seed borne diseases.

3. The seed should be free from diseases i.e. it may be healthy.

4. Genetic purity means that all plants in a population of a variety are genetically identical and population is homogeneous and is a necessary requirement to maximize the potential of improved varieties and prove the effectiveness of agriculture operation.

Seed quality control is a system which ensures to govern the quality to the seed through checks, certification and official regulations (legislation) for seed production. It is necessary that the quality of the seed should be of the highest possible standards. The seed once sown under optimum conditions, should ideally germinate within an expected period that is characteristics of the species/variety/type. The uniformity of germination and adequate crop stand in the field involves important field operations in realizing the profitable commercial crop of seed spices. Among seed spices particularly Apiaceae family crops have been reported to exhibit poor crop stand due to slow germination, dormancy and sudden shift in climate from optimum to abnormal.

To improve seeds germination, certain measures can be employed:

The soaking of seeds has helped hastening the germination process in most of the seed spices crops. Soaking of seeds in water 8-12 hours in coriander, fennel, ajwain and 18-24 hours in cumin and dill before sowing followed by drying in shade, improves germination by leaching out of chemical inhibitors such as coumarins commonly found in the seeds of Apiaceae family seed spices.

Pre-soaking of seeds in 1% KNO3 or 1% K3PO4 or tri-sodium phosphate or ethyl alcohol or potassium chloride (Acquaah, 1999) before sowing can also activate the enzymes and hormones and thereby can improve the germination. Such primed seeds germinate early and uniformly by initiating physiological processes for quicker germination.

The sprouted seeds in fenugreek, coriander, fennel, cumin and dill can be used for sowing and obtaining better, early and uniform germination level.

The seed spices crops have been reported to have less dormancy problem, except for celery, having photo-dormancy and seeds only germinate after fulfilment of light requirement. Thus in case of celery, shallow sowing should be done to allow the contact with sunlight (Desai et al. 1997).

Direct seeding is extremely difficult when seeds are very tiny as in ajwain, celery and parsley. To improve germination, tiny seeds may be pelleted by coating with clay. Pelleting makes planting easier and spacing more precise.

Coriander seed is botanically schizocarp should be rubbed for splitting into two parts called mericarp before sowing, not only shall improve germination but also give birth to two plants.

References:

1. Abstract book of a National Seminar held during January, 21-22, 2017 at National Research Centre for Seed Spices, Tabiji, Ajmer, Rajasthan
2. Internet (Spices Board of India)



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