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Choose Your Wildlife Seed Carefully and Wisely!

By Kent Kammermeyer
Certified Wildlife Biologist/Consultant

Pennington Seed Company wants its seed customers to be successful, satisfied and informed! They take pride in offering the highest quality seed at competitive prices. For folks planting wildlife food plots, the choices of seed to buy seem almost endless. Even when deciding on one species, wheat, for example, there are many varieties to choose from and then making the important decision to buy Pennington certified seed or something cheaper.

Let's see if I can make seed purchasing decisions a little simpler and clearer when buying wheat, rye, oats or ryegrass. Certified seed is inspected by your state's agriculture department. The genetic purity of the variety is guaranteed, it is free of noxious weeds, conforms to weed free standards, and has a minimum guaranteed germination level (usually 80-90 percent depending on the species). It also has an expiration date beyond which it cannot be sold without updated germination testing. Some varieties are noted for high grazing production, some for seed production and some for disease resistance. All Pennington seed is certified.

Combine run seed has no standards, no inspection, no guarantees and no regulation. Pennington Seed Company does not sell combine run seed. It is straight from the farmer's combine machine and can be bought in bag or bulk. It's obviously cheaper but can carry some significant risks that may affect the success of your food plot. Noxious weeds and other weeds including but not limited to little barley, cheatgrass, rescuegrass, wild ryegrass, wild turnip and dock can sometimes (or often times) be found mixed with the small grain seed. These weed seeds were picked by the combine as they grew with the target crop and never were removed. Some of these seeds can cause serious weed problems in your plots! If you have been around long enough, you have stood on the edge of your food plot scratching your head and wondering where these weeds came from that were not there last year. It's likely they came in the bag with your cheap, uncertified seed! Never buy combine run seed!

Feed seed or re-cleaned seed is a third category that is cheap but it also has no regulation, no guaranteed germination and poses a risk that noxious weeds could be present. This risk is usually lower than combine run but it depends on if it has been "cleaned" or not and how it was cleaned. Fans or blowers alone do a poor job of cleaning seed. Centrifugal cleaning and use of sieves or screens do a much better job of cleaning and separating seed by size, shape, and density. There are still no guarantees.

Here's some good advice. If you are a risk-taker planting pure small grains or ryegrass in the same small food plots year after year and want to get by as cheaply as possible, go ahead and buy re-cleaned feed seed that has been dated for the current year and subjected to centrifugal cleaning. Realize, however, that this is still a big gamble and you are likely losing lots of potential production, disease resistance and even some germination.

Otherwise, if you are mixing in any clovers or if you expect a guaranteed variety with high production, disease resistance, reseeding, or a perennial stand (where weeds can be a real problem), stick with Pennington certified seed of a proven variety such as Wintergrazer 70 Rye.

Pennington has a wide selection of seed to fit your needs. Contact your local seed dealer for Pennington certified seed. Good luck with your wildlife food plots but realize that some of your success or failure is not luck but rather careful, informed seed selection.

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