A Scientist in Nigeria and Head of Crop Production Unit in the Institute of Agricultural Research and Training (IAR&T), Dr Julius Olasoji has advised farmers to always process (condition) seed crops after harvesting for quality maintenance.
Dr Olasoji who spoke in an interview with Journalists in Ibadan, Oyo state’s capital on Tuesday, emphasised that harvested seeds required conditioning to enhance the physical purity and organoleptic properties of the seed lot.
He explained that seeds should be processed, dressed, and packaged in uniform seed sizes adding that conditioning was also important because unwholesome materials collected with good seeds needed to be separated by processing, which could be done manually or mechanically.
According to him, the steps involved in conditioning include : pre-conditioning, pre-cleaning, cleaning, grading, treatment and bagging.
“At the time of harvest, a number of contaminants are collected with good seeds, these contaminants may include other seed crops, weed seeds, plant parts, insect damaged seeds, improperly filled grains,” he said.
The seed scientist further advised farmers to ensure that seeds were packaged into bags (containers) of specified weight for storage and marketing.
Olasoji said that the best time to harvest a seed crop should be when the yield and seed quality could be optimised.
He pointed out that most vegetable species could have a prolonged period of fructification (low flowering, ripening synchronisation), therefore it would be a risk of serious losses if harvest was delayed till the last fruits mature.
“Climatic conditions can influence fruit or seed maturation, hot dry periods in general accelerate maturity, if temperature, air relative humidity are excessive, the yield, seed quality will be reduced.
“The harvesting method of seeds or fruits containing seeds can be manual or mechanical, depending on scale of production, cost and availability of hand labour, suitable harvester and funding.
“In general, manual harvesting is to be preferred because of the low synchronisation in the maturation,” he explained.