Thursday, April 9, 2009

Growing and Saving Commercial Seed

The ideal way is for the seedsman to grow and select seed and give this stock seed to farmers who plant in fields and cultivate it, much as is recommended for canning, and save seed from the entire crop, the pulp being thrown away. Only a few pickings are necessary and the seed is separated by machines worked by horse power at small cost, often not exceeding 10 cents a pound. They secure from 75 to 250 pounds per acre, according to the variety and crop, and the seedsmen pay them 40 cents to $1 a pound for it. Some of our more careful seedsmen produce all the seed they use in this way; others buy of professional seed growers, who use more or less carefully grown stock seed. In other cases when the fruit is fully ripe it is gathered, and the seeds, pulp and skins, are separated by machinery; the seed is sold to seedsmen, the pulp made into catsup, and only the skins are thrown away. Still others get their supply by washing out and saving the seed from the waste of canneries. Such seed is just as good as seed saved from the same grade of tomatoes in any other way, but the fruit used by the canneries is, usually, a mixture of different crops and grades, and even of different varieties, and consequently the seed is mixed and entirely lacking in uniformity and distinctness of type.

Generally from 5 to 20 per cent. of the plants produced by seed as commonly grown either by the farmer himself or the seedsmen, though they may be alike in more conspicuous characteristics, will show varietal differences of such importance as to affect more or less materially the value of the plant for the conditions and the purposes for which it is grown. In a book like this it is useless to attempt to give long varietal descriptions even of the sorts commonly listed by seedsmen, since such descriptions would be more a statement of what the writer thought seed of that variety should be rather than of what one would be likely to receive under that name.