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Seeds are coated for ease of handling, singulation, precise placement, and the incorporation of beneficial chemicals or microbials. Coated seeds are accepted widely as a standard product for many crops. Quality demands for seed suitable for coating have improved knowledge of physiological seed quality. Higher, better-defined quality standards in the seed and coating industry, combined with additional quality demand for enhanced seed, will continue to improve stand establishment potential for growers.

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Brassica crops have indeterminate growth and flower over an extended period of time. Harvested seed is therefore comprised of seed of varying degrees of physiological maturity and quality. Using population-based threshold models, broccoli (Brassica oleracea L. Group Italica), brussels sprouts (B. oleracea L. Group Gemmifera), red cabbage (B. oleracea L. Group Capitata), and rapeseed (B. napus L.) were characterized during seed development with respect to sensitivity to abiotic stress (reduced water potential) and shelf life. Using these models our data suggests that the physiological patterns of seed development are the same in all brassica crops we have tested to date. These population-based models can be used to provide a biological basis in which to evaluate cultural, postharvest and storage practices to ensure the production and maintenance of seed vigor.

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Optimization of crop production can be accomplished only if successful stand establishment is achieved first, since each plant contributes to the total crop yield. Reduction of plant populations after planting will reduce yield and/or quality, even though plants compensate to some degree for stand losses. Successful stand establishment is achieved if factors that affect establishment are known, evaluated, and modified appropriately at the time of field planting. The factors that affect stand establishment are biotic and/or abiotic. Biotic factors are generally pathogens that attack plants as parasites, while abiotic factors are the environmental and physical conditions to which the plant or seed is exposed at the time of planting. Abiotic factors can be classified under three headings: soil, planting requirements, and environmental stress.

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Highly educated and demanding customers, complex business structures, rapidly changing technology, greater liability, and strong competition bring unprecedented pressures on the vegetable seed industry. An effective quality system involving all of the business functions (breeding, parent seed maintenance, production, processing, testing, seed treatment, packaging, marketing, and customer service) seems to be inevitable. The future of the seed business belongs to companies that can provide continuous supplies of high-quality seed with necessary support and technical services and can afford investment in a rapidly advancing technology.

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native wildflower seed producer each in North Carolina and Alabama. One challenge facing the industry is seed quality, which can often vary within a species and even by seed origin ( Andersson and Milberg, 1998 ; Baskin and Baskin, 1998 ) and harvest

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compared with the original seed, it was estimated that viruses were then causing yield declines ranging as high as 25% to 40% ( Carroll et al., 2004 ). Thus, although potyvirus re-infection occurs very rapidly and may cause some decline in seed quality

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Disease management is an important step in any crop establishment system. Emergence of field-seeded crops may take several weeks for many species and represents a vulnerable stage of plant growth. This paper considers various biological, chemical, and physical seed treatments for improved seed performance. The role of seed quality and cultural practices in seedling establishment also is reviewed. Multidisciplinary approaches to improving horticultural crop establishment are promising.

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Seed germination is a critical step to achieve economic success in a transplant operation. Total germination of a seed lot dictates total plant sales by the producer, while uniformity of germination dictates the quality of the transplant crop. Using high vigor seed will help to achieve uniform stands, as well as maximize stands, in the transplant house or field. In order to maintain the highest seed quality, transplant producers should store unused seeds at recommended temperature and relative humidity for the crop species. Methods to promote uniformity and optimum stands under a wide range of conditions include the use of seed priming, film coating with fungicides, and pelleting for ease of planting.

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Seed production in the family Cucurbitaceae is more complicated than in dry-seeded grain crops because seeds mature within a moist fruit and are often held at high moisture content for several weeks before seed harvest. Muskmelon (Cucumis melo L.), a member of this family, was used as a model system to contrast seed development with crops that are dry at maturity. A detailed time course for `Top Mark' fruit and seed development is presented based on previous studies. In muskmelon fruit, precocious germination is inhibited osmotically by the low water potential of the surrounding fruit tissue. Muskmelon seeds exhibit primary dormancy that affects viability very early in development but has a greater effect on seed vigor and is removed by afterripening during dry storage. Osmotically distended or fish-mouth seeds are dead seeds that occur in cucurbit seed lots after aging kills the embryo without disrupting the semipermeable endosperm that completely surrounds and protects the embryo. Cucurbit seed crops should be harvested before the onset of fruit senescence to prevent aging of the seeds inside. Open-pollinated cucurbit seed crops are frequently once-over mechanically harvested. Mechanical harvesting combines seeds from many stages of development into a single seed lot, which may adversely affect quality and increase seed to seed variability. Hand harvesting cucurbit fruit at the optimal stage of development could improve seed quality in some instances but is more costly and time consuming and would increase production costs.

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