Farmer'S Seed Sources And Seed Quality: 2. Seed Health
The study assessed the health quality of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) and barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) seed samples collected from formal and informal sector in Ethiopia and Syria. In Ethiopia, several seed-borne fungi were found on wheat samples: Cochliobolus sativum, Fusarium avenaceum, F. graminearum, F. nivale, F. poae and Septoria nodorum. C. sativum was predominant with 84% of samples infected (frequency) and 1.85% mean infection level (rate) followed by F. graminearum with 74% and 1.54%, respectively. Certified seed consistently showed less infection for most seed-borne pathogens. In Syria, 68% and 14%, respectively, of wheat samples were infected with common bunt (Tilletia spp) and loose smut (Ustilago tritici). Mean loose smut infection rate was 0.79%. In barley, 85% of samples were infected with covered smut (Ustilago hordei) and 83% with loose smut (Ustilago nuda). Mean loose smut infection rate was 18%. Wheat seed health was better than of barley in terms of frequency and rate of infection. In Ethiopia, significant difference (P<0.001) in infection levels was detected for most pathogens from different seed sources, but not in Syria. There were significant differences (P<0.001) in mean infection levels across regions and districts for both crops in Ethiopia and Syria. All seed samples infected with loose smut of wheat or barley were in excess of minimum standards for seed certification across West Asia and North Africa, showing fundamental weaknesses in seed health from both formal and informal sources. National seed programs should set realistic standards and introduce routine testing to produce healthy seed.