1 Department of Horticultural Sciences, New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, Cornell University, Geneva, NY 14456; U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service, National Forage Seed Production Research Center, Corvallis, OR 97331
Color sorting was performed to upgrade seed quality by removal of fluorescent coated seeds. The fluorescent coating was attributed to sinapine leakage from nonviable seeds. Nine seedlots, three seedlots each of cabbage (Brassica oleracea L. Capitata group), broccoli, and cauliflower (B. oleracea L. Botrytis group) were custom coated. Seed samples were pretreated before coating with or without 1.0% NaOCl for 10 minutes to enhance leakage. All samples revealed a percentage of seeds with fluorescence. The light emission from selected fluorescent and nonfluorescent coated seeds was quantified by fiber-optic spectrophotometry. Fluorescence was expressed from 400 to 560 nm, with peak emission being from 430 to 450 nm. These data confirmed our visual interpretation of blue-green fluorescence. The ratio of light emission from fluorescent compared to nonfluorescent coated seeds ranged from 4.5 to 7.0 for all samples and averaged 5.7. An ultraviolet (UV) color sorter was employed to separate fluorescent (reject) from nonfluorescent (accept) coated seeds. The percentage of nonfluorescent coated seeds (averaged over seedlot and NaOCl pretreatment) before and after sorting was 89.5% and 95.9%, respectively. Therefore, color sorting was able to remove a high percentage of fluorescent coated seeds with an average loss (rejection of nonfluorescent coated seeds) of 6%. An increase in the percent germination was recorded in eight of the nine seedlots following color sorting, and the greatest improvement was obtained with seedlots of medium quality. Germination of three medium quality lots was increased by 10 to 15 percentage points. The average increase in germination with or without NaOCl pretreatment was 8.2 and 5.5 percentage points, respectively. In conclusion, the germination of Brassica seedlots could be improved by separating (removing) fluorescent from nonfluorescent coated seeds. UV color sorting technology was employed to demonstrate that seed conditioning could be conducted on a commercial basis to upgrade seed quality.