Training & Education

adriel-showing-blower-to-groupBeing part of a major public university which houses many leading educational programs in agricultural sciences, the OSU Seed Laboratory contributes actively in training and educational services. The lab has a long track record of contributing to formal undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

The constant contact with a broad range of clients who manage seeds or make seed business decisions such as seed growers, cleaners, analysts, and dealers makes it possible to design the services that respond to current and long term needs.

Training is presented in flexible customer-friendly formats, from individual study to group workshops to online courses. All training held in the lab focuses primarily on hands-on experience, accompanied by formal instruction as needed.

Another aspect of our educational focus is providing information through technical brochures and seed idenfication handbooks.

Individualized Training

Focus: This approach responds to individual needs, with content custom-designed based onthe interest of the individual.  

Who: Prospective clients might be local, national or international, and from a variety of backgrounds, including seed grower, cleaner, dealer, seed analyst, student, and any interested individual in the area of seed science and technology. Depending on the area of interest, we may be able to offer training in Spanish or other languages.

How it works: The client comes to the laboratory, a trainer (or trainers) is assigned, the program is implemented in a hands-on manner, proficiency is measured and a certificate of successful completion is provided. The duration is variable from days to months depending on the need and the program. Examples of areas for training:

For those that are studying for national seed analyst or seed technician certification exams, our workshops may also meet your needs.

Fees are determined on a case-by-case basis and cover only actual training expenses.

Custom Training Request Form 


sabry-groupFocus: Workshops respond to common needs of groups.

Who: Prospective attendees may come from a variety of backgrounds, including seed grower, cleaner, dealer, seed analyst and students. Each workshop differs in focus and intended audience.

How it works: Group size is limited to assure optimum interaction. The trade-mark of these events is “hands-on”. Events may be repeated or offered in Spanish if there is sufficient interest. Some events are offered directly by the OSU seed laboratory staff and others by invited experts to address specialized areas.

We will announce any workshops on this website.

Examples of past workshops:

Seed Quality Management Workshop: May 2014

In any industry, effective quality management is critical for a successful marketing system. The seed industry is no different. Quality management (QM) in seed production is even more difficult because seeds are perishable and need special care in each step of the process. We depend on quality seeds to produce food for the growing world population, in addition to feed, fiber, turf, and flowers. 

blower-demonstrationQuality seed is the product of organized and well-managed systems. These systems require doing things correctly in every stage, including breeding, seed production, seed conditioning, seed testing, warehousing, labeling, etc. Managing these systems is important to provide quality seed to the end users and make sure that they are satisfied. Seed quality management requires all participants in the system to do their part correctly, so that the whole system can deliver quality seeds efficiently and consistently. Quality management is critical in the competitive global seed market in which we all operate. 

The OSU Seed Laboratory will offer a hands-on workshop on Seed Quality Management in May, 2014. The workshop will focus on grass seed, but the principles are applicable to other seed such as cereals, vegetables, and native species. The workshop will address areas of current importance to seed growers, cleaners and dealers, including:

  • Seed Quality Management: the system, its components and procedures.
  • Quality Management in seed fields, including critical factors and procedures.
  • Prevention and control of weeds and other crops in seed fields.
  • Principles and procedures of Quality Management in seed conditioning.
  • Controlling variability in the lot, the sample, and test results.
  • Recognition of inert matter, crop seeds, and weed seeds.
  • Hands-on demonstration of seed cleaning with lab-scale equipment.
  • Measuring seed purity: purity, inert, weeds, and crops.
  • Measuring the planting value of seeds: dormancy, germination, TZ and vigor.
  • Protecting seed in storage and during transit.

The event is organized by the OSU Seed Laboratory staff, in collaboration with the USDA grass seed cleaning facility, an OSU Extension Weed Specialist, and OSU Seed Certification inspectors.

  • It is a 2-day workshop and will be offered on the following dates: May 1-2(FULL), and May 8-9(FULL), 2014. If you are interested in attending the May 2014 Seed Quality Management Workshops, please call 541-737-4464 to be added to our waiting list. 
  • Only 20 participants are accepted per event on a first come basis.
  • The $273/person fee will include a workbook, parking, lunch and refreshments.
  • A certificate is provided upon completion.
  • Those interested in specific crops/issues are encouraged to bring their own seeds to work on.
If you would like to attend please fill out the attached form (PDF or Fillable) and send it to the lab for each attendee.

We look forward to seeing you!

Workshop Announcement Flyer Printable Version 

Online Courses

Focus: Responding to the growing interest, Oregon State University is offering a number of courses in the agricultural sciences. As part of that thrust, the  Seed Laboratory is designing several courses to be offered on-line.

Who: Clients can be any person interested in seeds, anywhere in the world. The courses can be taken for college credit or for certificate of completion. The courses will be available first in English and may follow in Spanish.

Courses being designed:

Seed Science and Technology CSS 420/520 (3 credit, web course to be offered in winter and spring term each year). Course Objectives: to provide basic understanding of:

Seed Quality Management
Other courses, to be offered on a need-opportunity basis

OSU Seed Science Web Course

Seeds are the main source of the world's diet. The production of high quality seed is the cornerstone of any agriculture system. Understanding the physiological and biochemical aspects of these unique biological units and determining their quality contributes to the success of an agriculture program.


Seed Science & Technology CSS 420/520

  • Web Course
  • Offered Winter and Spring terms
  • 3 credits
  • A great elective course for all plant science majors!

In this course, you will learn:

  • How seeds are formed and factors affecting their development and maturation.
  • The structure of seeds and their chemical composition.
  • Physiological aspects of seed germination and dormancy.
  • Morphological and physiological changes druing seed deterioration and storage.
  • The concept of seed quality, its importance in agriculture, its attributes and impact on field performance.
  • Methods of measuring seed quality of conventional and genetically modified seeds.

Instructor: Dr. Sabry Elias, OSU Seed Lab. 737-4799

Teaching Assistant: Kimberly Hannaway 737-5036



Informational Brochures, Technical Papers and Other Information


Ryegrass Annuality and Perenniality Informational Handout (PDF) 

Annual Ryegrass Testing - Frequently Asked Questions (PDF)

Guidelines to Avoid Mistakes on Sample Certificates

The Importance of Seed Vigor Testing

Major Types of Inert in Grass Seed (PDF)

Oil, Protein and Moisture Determination in Seeds Using NMR (PDF)

A Seed Image is Worth a Thousand Words (PDF)

Seed Vigor Testing (PDF)

Soil Seed-Bank Test: Detecting, identifying and quantifying seed in soil samples. (PDF)

The Value of Fluorescence and Grow-out Tests in Differentiating Annual and Perennial Ryegrass (PDF)

Articles and Technical Papers

Elias, S.E., A. Garay and D. Curry. 2010. The Value of Fluorescence and Grow-out Tests in Differentiating Annual and Perennial Ryegrass. (PDF)(updated 10-1-10)

Garay, A., S. Hanning and S. Elias. 2010. Redesigning a purity testing system: development of an ergonomic, high-vision, continuous-flow seed inspection system. Seed Testing International 139:8-13. (Link is to PDF of entire issue of journal.)

Elias, S.E., A. Garay and D. Curry. 2009. Development of a uniform blowing procedure for grass seeds: principles, applications and benefits. Seed Testing International 138:26-32. (Link is to PDF of entire issue of journal.)

Garay, A. 2007. Update on Glyceria (Mannagrass) Identification at the OSU Seed Laboratory. (PDF)

Garay, A. and S. Elias. 2007. Ploidy by Cytometry - New Applications (PDF)

Garay, A., B. Boyer and S. Aldrich-Markham. 2006. Grass seed cleaner finds painless way to clean out soil (PDF)

Garay, A. and S. Elias. 2006. Ploidy by flow cytometry: an ideal technology for determining the ploidy level in ryegrass and other species. (PDF)

Elias, S., A. Garay, B. Young and T. Chastain. Maintaining grass seed viability in storage: A brief review of management principles with emphasis on grass seeds stored in Oregon.

Garay, A. and S. Elias. Valuable seed vigor tests for spring-planted sweet corn, peas, beans and other crops.

Elias, S. and A. Garay. 2004. Tetrazolium Test (TZ): A fast. reliable test to determine seed viability. (PDF)

Garay, A., R. Triplett, S. Hanning, S. Elias and B. Whiting. 2003. The use of Ergovision inspection stations in purity testing. (PDF)

Elias, S., A. Garay, S. Hanning and L. Schweitzer. 2003. Testing the Quality of Seeds in Cereals (PDF)

Guidelines to Avoid Mistakes on Sample Certificates

Mistakes on sample certificates can slow the testing and tagging process considerably, especially if a sampler has to be sent out to verify the information.

Protect the samples during transport. As in previous years, the lab will not accept any sample bags that arrive leaking. Such bags may contaminate other samples in transport; therefore, it is suggested to send each sample inside a plastic bag. Due to their small seed size, bentgrass, bluegrass and white clover can leak out easily; therefore, they always need to be in plastic bags. Please fold over or twist bag tops; do not staple, tape or rubber band them.

Handwriting Please print legibly; do not use cursive. Illegible handwriting accounts for more errors in reporting than any other factor.

Correcting mistakes - If an error was made, do not write over it. It needs to be crossed out and the corrected letter/number printed above it. The sampler will need to initial the change if it affects tagging.

Numbers - (Lot, field, etc.) should be written clearly. Please write zeros and sevens with slashes through them, European style. Write the letter "S" distinctly from the number "5"; the letter "L" distinctly from the number "1"; the letters "OG" distinctly from the numbers "06", etc.

Crop/Species - Use the specific crop type, such as perennial ryegrass and tall fescue. In case the variety name is wrong or missing, the correct crop information will be helpful to Seed Services in processing your sample.

Sacks & Pounds - There should only be one set of container types. If 2 sets of sacks and pounds are provided, we can only put one set in the database and can't add them up.

Field Numbers - Need to be written exactly as they are required to appear on the report. Put dashes in correct spots and include any leading zeros. Please print letters the way they need to be entered (capitalized, etc.).

Warehouse, Grower, CC names - The entire name needs to be on the sampling bag. Many places have similar names and putting an abbreviation or one word isn't enough. When names have changed, please use the newest name on the bag and, if possible, print the address.

Tests requested - Tests ordered need to be readable and make sense. SQ for Sod Quality, P&D for pest and disease are OK, but writing just a "p" or "d" doesn't work. OECD is not a test. If the contractor requires OECD, the warehouse will need to call them and find out what kind of testing is needed. For lots to be tagged OECD that are being shipped to Europe, be sure to choose AOSA/EC tests.

AOSA/EC Basic and Pre-Basic - If an AOSA/EC purity is ordered on Basic or Pre-Basic (foundation or registered) lots, they are required to have a crop & weed exam.

Sod Quality - Oregon Sod Quality cannot be ordered on experimental varieties or interagency samples. The sample needs to be eligible in the Oregon Certification program to be eligible for SQ.

Pre-variety Germplasm - Enter the species on the species line and the PVG number on the variety line.

Review the Certificate - A quick read through before sending samples is always better than trying to correct errors later.

Maintaining Grass Seed Viability in Storage

A brief review of management principles with emphasis on grass seeds stored in Oregon.

Sabry Elias, Adriel Garay, Bill Young and Tom Chastain

Maintenance of seed quality in storage from the time of production until the seed is planted is imperative to assure its planting value.  Storing seeds, just like storing any other live organism, has its risks. The risks can be high or low depending  on the species, the prevailing weather, the market requirements and the management provided during storage. The best alternative to avoid the risks associated with storing seeds is to avoid storing seeds, and in many regions around the world the seed industry has figured out how to do just that.  One such example is the grass seed industry in Oregon where most of the seed is shipped in a few months after harvest, or Bolivia where the wheat seed harvested in the highlands in April is being planted in May in the Lowlands, or Colombia where rice can be produced twice a year, which decreases the storage period. These strategies are becoming highly desirable not only because it reduces storage but especially because it makes possible to market and meet the financial obligations in a shorter time. Despite the best strategies, there are times when seed growers and dealers carry over seed lots from one year to the next due to weak market, to insure an adequate supply the following year, because the production system does not provide choices, and other reasons. Under such circumstances the question is how to manage the seeds to maintain a high viability. This may be the case when there is carryover of grass seeds in Oregon beyond a year. Thus, the purpose of this article is to review briefly the basic principles and practices that need to be observed to reduce the risk of a decline in viability during storage.  

Historically, grass seeds in Oregon have maintained their viability (measured by TZ and/or germination) for longer periods than one year if the seeds are stored following some basic principles. This track record in Oregon can be attributed to several factors including the dry weather that prevails during seed maturation and harvest that makes it possible to harvest seeds not only with low moisture but also with high initial viability. This is followed up by placing the seeds in cool and dry warehouses provided by the natural environment.  Yet accidents can happen and do happen if the seeds are exposed to prolonged rain before threshing which can result in field weathering and physical damage at harvest (bruising, cracked or even broken), piling up moist seeds in a bin or elsewhere which leads to heating, a leak in the roof, etc. This is why it is important to pay attention to the following factors to lower the risks in storage.

  • The loss of viability is simply the symptom that something has been done wrong
  • Can be irreversible
  • Causal factors need to be recognized so that they can be prevented or corrected timely
  • There is a need to pay attention in pre-storage, storage, and post-storage

I. The pre-storage phase

One could ask when storage really begins. This may sound a philosophical curiosity but it is not. It has very practical implications in the management of seed quality in general and the management of seed viability in particular.  People have been trained to believe that seed storage is synonym to placing the seeds in a physical structure called storage. This is a fallacy which in some cases led to building complex and costly storage building which could have been avoided while forgetting other factors that have high impact in the maintenance of seed viability. People may think that seed storage is equivalent to placing seeds in storage, but what is more important is how the seed and its internal biological-physiological-biochemical processes function and interact with its surrounding environment. In reality, if we pay attention to the way the seeds function, seed storage actually starts in the field. It starts when the seeds have reached physiological maturity, because after that moment, the seed does not receive the full protection of the mother plant any more. Rather, starting in that physiological point, the seed depends on the external environment in terms of moisture, temperature, even biotic pressures. So the environmental conditions during seed maturation,  in the windrows, and during threshing have high impact in the seed viability and the storage potential of the seed.  This is why, the location where the seeds are produced have a high impact not only in yield, but also in seed moisture management and overall quality in terms of viability, germinability, seed health, vigor and even plant performance. Those regions where the weather is rain-free, low relative humidity and cool enough during seed maturation and harvest are more suitable for seed production; whereas those that present rainy, high humidity, and excessively high temperature present more problems. This has been documented extensively, through maturity studies, studying the effect of production environment, etc. Most of the studies indicate that storage starts in the field. This is why any seed production and marketing plant needs to understand the effect of the pre-storage factors that influence seed quality and plan accordingly. All the management practices provided during the storage phase will only be able to build on this initial factor. For example if the seed starts with high quality due to the optimum pre-harvest factors, it is possible to follow up successfully during the storage phase; on the other hand if the seed starts with bad quality (field weathering, high moisture at harvest, heating problems, low germination, low vigor, seed health problems, etc) it is difficult to make up even with the best storage practices.

The seed industry around the world constantly looks for the best agro-eco-climatic regions for the species being produced. For example the vegetable seed production moved from the Eastern USA (with hot, humid, rainy summers) to the Western part of the USA where production can be done under irrigation and the seeds can mature under dry weather conditions. Another example is the grass seed production in the Northwest of the USA where the temperature is low-enough to promote flower induction, the moisture is high enough for high yield and the weather is dry enough for harvesting  high germinating seeds with low moisture content. These regions have become specialized in supplying consistently high quality seeds to other states and the whole world. A second approach used by the industry, especially in low value bulky seeds is to find the most suitable production site within a country in order to supply seeds within the country and neighboring regions. Some examples are Parana state is a good seed supplier to the rest of the country in Brasil; or Cotton is produced in California and Arizona for other states in the USA; or wheat seed produced in the highlands to supply to the lowlands within Bolivia.  A third approach is being used by Bolivia to produce soybean seeds in the winter (to be harvested in August- September) to be planted in October November for commercial oil production.  The common denominators of all these cases is to achieve seeds with high quality, low moisture content at harvest, and no or minimal or simpler storage requirement.  

II. Critical factors in the storage.

1. Kind of seed:  First understand your seed. Some species store better than others. For example grass seeds store better than corn and this stores better than soybeans and other oily seeds. Not all grasses are the same. There may be minor differences within grasses due to chemical differences that make them more or less hygroscopic, or physical differences that present resistance to moisture inflow to the seeds (example hard seeds), or simply present a physical resistance to air flow though the seed mass. For example, small seeds have higher compaction in the bag and influences the rate of air movement. So it is good to develop records of moisture and germination or TZ readings for different species through time. Books give us some general principles based on experimental settings, but to have more realistic data under specific storage conditions the best thing is to keep records. For example if you have records of germination/TZ levels of ryegrass seeds that had 12% initial moisture, 90% initial germination, it was stored in burlap bags in your particular storage (where you have records of temperature and relative humidity),  and after one, two or three years you evaluated viability by TZ or germination, you have a valuable information that no one else in the world has. This is why, books can only present principles and each particular organization needs to generate data for its particular case.  

A study has shown that annual ryegrass has better storability than Chewings fescue even though they are similar in chemical composition. In the late 1970s, a relative storability index was developed for some crops that  showed 50% of Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass and tall fescue seeds are expected to germinate even after 3 to 5 years of storage, whereas 50% of creeping bentgrass seeds are expected to germinate even after 5 years or more. The same study reported that 50% of orchardgrass seeds, are expected to germinate after 1 to 2 years of storage. More studies on the potential storability of different cool season grasses under different storage conditions would be desirable.  

2. Seed moisture content:  The moisture content in the seed influences many factors, by increasing metabolic activities, higher respiration, fungal problems, heating, weakening and  finally ending in the death of the seed. This is why moisture is not only one more factor among others, but it is a causal factor of many other problems. The ease or difficulty in moisture management after harvest depends to a great deal on the climatic conditions during seed maturation and harvest. If the natural field environment does the job of drying the seed most storage problems are minimized. If not, drying has to be done artificially, and in some cases this approach can be complex and expensive. In either case, the most important, urgent, and crucial requirement when the seed is being harvested is to measure the moisture content to see it is at a safe level.  

People have made up so many imaginary excuses not to do certain things at certain times like weekends, holidays, etc. The truth is ( this is why if we are in the seed business it is important to think like seeds) that seeds do not understand holidays, when seeds have high moisture it has to be dried. Seeds do not understand if it is nigh time or weekend or holiday, not even if we have the equipment, electricity or fuel or a budget to do it. This simply highlights the importance of moisture. In some crops the urgency is higher than in others and the higher the moisture the greater the urgency.  

For practical purposes, a moisture level below 13% is safe for storage of most seeds. If the natural environment does this job you have a masterful production plan. Seeds stored at higher level exhibit increased respiration, which leads to heating and fungal invasion, which leads to poor seed viability and vigor. The higher the moisture content the worse the problem would be if not dried soon. A low moisture content in the seed to be stored, on the other hand, is the best prevention for all moisture derived problems. The lower the moisture content (below 13%), the longer seeds can be stored provided that the moisture level can be controlled throughout the length of storage. It has been reported that seed moisture content of about 6% is optimum for storage of most crop species for maximum longevity. Seed moisture content fluctuates with the changes in relative humidity, which changes from the summer months (low RH) to the winter months (high RH). Given the low RH in the summer, it is possible that the seed moisture content is below 13% and in some cases it is below 10%. It probably increases somewhat in the fall and winter months due to the high relative humidity. The magnitude of these fluctuations can vary with the type of storage, type of bags used, and the kind of seeds, which influence the migration of moisture from the air to the seed and vice-versa. It should be noted that the higher RH in the Fall, Winter and Spring are accompanied by low temperatures, which decreases the negative effect of high RH. To monitor the moisture of seeds in storage measure the moisture content directly, or measure the relative humidity inside the storage (indirectly, see 3). If the moisture content is to be measured in a laboratory the sample should be submitted in a vapor proof container.

3. Initial viability of the seed: Seeds that have high initial viability maintain their quality for longer period than seeds with low viability. The dry and cool conditions that prevail in Oregon during seed maturation and harvest makes possible to start with high viability. For example the OSU Seed Lab records show that the germination of most freshly harvested grass seeds are above 85% and TZ above 90%. For practical purposes these are high viability levels. This high initial viability factor has been one of the key factors that contribute to a successful supply of high quality seeds year after year.  Since most grass seeds are being tested for germination or TZ right after harvest, it is easy to know what seed lot has high viability (good candidate for storing) and which have low viability (higher risk in storage).  

4. Storage temperature and relative humidity:  Seeds are hygroscopic, which means they pick up moisture from the air and release moisture to the air. This is the same property of the salt, which picks up moisture in the rainy season and it dries out in the dry season. If the seeds are  full inside sealed containers, there is little air space and the moisture content of the seed determines the relative humidity. So if the seed has 10% moisture you can be assured that it is going to stay the same through time. If the seeds are in bulk storage or in bags that allow air movement, seed moisture is determined by the RH of the air. The seeds adjust their moisture by trying to reach an equilibrium with the relative humidity. This moisture change is not instantaneous and may take several days or weeks depending on the magnitude of the moisture gradient between the seed and the air, and depending on the speed of air movement through the seed mass. This is how, for example, perennial ryegrass tries to reach 11% moisture if the RH is 55%; 12.1% if the RH is 65% and 13.4% if the RH is 75%. Similarly, colonial bentgrass will equilibrate at 9.8, 10.7 and 12.5%, respectively.  

Temperature influences how much moisture air can hold.  It has been suggested that the sum of the percentage of relative humidity plus the temperature in degrees Fahrenheit should not exceed 100 for safe storage (example: 50% RH and 50�F temperature; or 40% RH and 60F; or 60%RH and 40F). This rule can be a useful reference, but should not be taken rigidly.  In general, a temperature below 60F and a RH below 60% is still safe storage for most seeds. The longer the storage time needed, the lower these two factors should be. If the seeds are stored in ambient conditions (a typical seed warehouse) the temperature and RH fluctuates during the seasons and even during the day.  It is good to know that in Oregon, the summer days - even though they are warmer than other seasons - are accompanied by very low relative humidity, which is good for storage. The winter, even though the RH is high, the temperature is low. This explains why seeds can be stored well in Oregon beyond one year. One way to monitor these factors, is by having a thermometer and hygrometer inside the storage room, and having a chart of equilibrium moisture content on the side for the species being stored.  

5. Length of storage:  Prolonged storage can lead to a gradual loss of vigor and finally a loss of viability. Obviously, how long is too long depends on all the above factors and what levels of viability is desired at the end of the storage period. It has been reported that the actual age of the seed is of less importance than the environment in which the seed has been stored. With current technologies and moisture management principles it is possible to have older seeds that  germinate at high levels. The longevity also varies among species, varieties, seed lots, and even among individual seeds inside the same bag. This is why, within a seed lot, some seeds are alive and others are dead. The relative proportion of these two components (live seeds and dead seeds) can be determined by TZ and/or germination.  

6. Protection from storage fungi and insects: Storage fungi have the capacity to grow at very low seed moisture content. Most storage fungi belong to Aspergillus and Penicillium genera. They cause seed deterioration by producing toxic substances that destroy the cells of seeds which creates dead tissue to sustain the saprophytic fungi. Insects such as weevils can cause substantial damage to stored seeds. The best prevention to these problems is by storing seeds with low moisture and maintaining low enough during the duration of the storage period. Another critical practice against insects is by cleaning the warehouse and avoiding any source of infestation from old infested seeds.  

The death of seeds in storage is a symptom that indicates there are causal factors such as starting with poor quality seeds, high moisture content, or high relative humidity and/or temperature which accelerates the deterioration process. To prevent problems, the management should focus in the causal factors first. But it is also good to measure the expected results such as viability by TZ or germination. Even though the loss of  viability is about the last thing that happens as seeds gradually get weaker it is still a simple and practical way to see what is happening to the seed.  

If need be, some vigor tests such as accelerated aging test, cold test, electric conductivity test and seedling vigor classification test may provide better and earlier picture about the physiological changes happening in the seed. Oregon State University’s Seed Laboratory is equipped to perform a wide variety of vigor tests to measure the potential storability of seeds especially if the seeds are of high value and prone to deterioration. The process of loosing vigor first and dying later is no different than the aging process in people, we get weaker first and die later. In the mean time, and for most grass seeds, a standard germination test or a TZ test is very useful to estimate the viability of the seed. How often should this be done? It depends on the interest, but a good rule of thumb is at least once a year under Oregon conditions and more often in hot, humid environments. No matter what, after a prolonged storage always test for germination or TZ before selling or using seeds for planting.  It surely can save a lot of headaches later on.  

III. When does storage really end?

Biologically, seed storage does not end when the seeds move out of the warehouse. Sometimes the problems start once the seeds step outside the doors of the storage. This can happen even if the pre-storage phase and storage phase were managed perfectly.  

  • Car heated up, train loads in the oven, etc, etc.  
  • Even the soil with insufficient moisture for germination but moist enough for seed deterioration.
  • Measure the viability and moisture before the seeds are shipped


Cabrera, E., and H. Lansakara.  1995.  Open Storage of Soybean Seed.  Mississippi Agricultural & Forestry Experiment Station.  Technical Bulletin 204.

Copeland, L., and M. McDonald.  1995.  Principles of Seed Science and Technology.  3rd ed.  Chapman & Hall.

Justice, O.L., and L.N. Bass.  1978.  Principles and Practices of Seed Storage.  USDA Agricultural Handbook 506.

Handbook of Oregon Crop and Weed Seeds

seed-book-exampleThis handbook contains images of 100 of the most common crop and weed seeds in Oregon. Book dimensions are 8 1/2" x 11". Each image includes a scale for sizing, the common and scientific names, description of the seed and other information such as whether the species is prohibited or noxious. Click here for a large sample image. Please contact us if you would like to purchase a book.


1.  Wheat (Triticum spp.)
2.  Barley (Hordeum vulgare subsp. vulgare)
3.  Oat (Avena sativa)
4.  Ryegrass (Lolium spp.)
5.  Tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea)
6.  Orchardgrass (Dactylis glomerata)
7.  Fine fescue (Festuca spp.)
8.  Alsike clover (Trifolium hybridum)
9.  Arrowleaf clover (Trifolium vesiculosum)
10.  Red clover (Trifolium pratense)
11.  Small hop clover (Trifolium dubium)
12.  White clover (Trifolium repens)
13.  Bentgrass (Agrostis spp.)
14.  Bluegrass (groated) (Poa spp.)
15.  Annual bluegrass (Poa annua)
16.  Bulbous bluegrass (Poa bulbosa)
17.  Canada bluegrass (Poa compressa)
18.  Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis)
19.  Rough bluegrass (Poa trivialis)
20.  Blue wildrye (Elymus glaucus)
21.  Meadow foxtail (Alopecurus pratensis)
22.  Reed canarygrass (Phalaris arundinacea)
23.  Bluebunch wheatgrass (Pseudoroegneria spicata)
24.  Common vetch (Vicia sativa subsp. Sativa)
25.  Windgrass (Apera spica-venti)
26.  Western yellowcress (Rorippa curvisiliqua)
27.  Chickweed (Cerastium spp.)
28.  Common chickweed (Stellaria media)
29.  Willowherb (Epilobium spp.)
30.  Dogfennel (Anthemis cotula)
31.  Field chamomile (Anthemis arvensis)
32.  Pigweed (Amaranthus spp.)
33.  Common lamb's-quarters (Chenopodium album)
34.  Sheep sorrel (Rumex acetosella)
35.  Curly dock (Rumex crispus)
36.  Broadleaf dock (Rumex obtusifolius)
37.  Black bindweed (Wild buckwheat) (Fallopia convolvulus)
38.  Poison hemlock (Conium maculatum)
39.  Wild carrot (Daucus carota subsp. carota)
40.  Sedge (Carex spp.)
41.  Wild oat (Avena fatua)
42.  Soft chess (Bromus hordeaceus)
43.  Hairy chess (Bromus commutatus)
44.  Barren chess (Bromus sterilis)
45.  Chess, Cheat (Bromus secalinus)
46.  Downy brome (Bromus tectorum)
47.  Mountain brome (Bromus marginatus)
48.  Ripgut brome (Bromus diandrus var. rigidus)
49.  Velvetgrass (Holcus lanatus)
50.  Foxtail (Alopecurus spp.)
51.  Shepherd's-purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris)
52.  Quackgrass (Elytrigia repens)
53.  Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense)
54.  Bull thistle (Cirsium vulgare)
55.  Field bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis)
56.  Wild garlic (Allium vineale)
57.  Scorpionweed (Plagiobothrys figuratus)
58.  Witchgrass (Panicum capillare)
59.  Barnyardgrass (Echinochloa crus-galli)
60.  Large crabgrass (Digitaria sanguinalis)
61.  Mannagrass (Glyceria spp.)
62.  Buckhorn plantain (Plantago lanceolata)
63.  Common plantain (Plantago major)
64.  Common Russian-thistle (Salsola tragus)
65.  Common mallow (Malva neglecta)
66.  Common groundsel (Senecio vulgaris)
67.  Common yarrow (Achillia millefolium)
68.  Vernalgrass (Anthoxanthum spp.)
69.  Speedwell (Veronica spp.)
70.  Bedstraw (Galium spp.)
71.  Wall bedstraw (Galium parisiense)
72.  Brassica (Brassica spp.)
73.  Wild radish (Raphanus raphanistrum)
74.  Henbit (Lamium amplexicaule)
75.  Annual sowthistle (Sonchus oleraceus)
76.  Spiny sowthistle (Soncus asper)
77.  Sharppoint fluvellin (Kickxia elatine)
78.  Ladysthumb (Polygonum persicaria)
79.  Smartweed (Polygonum spp.)
80.  Nightshade (Solanum spp.)
81.  Hyssop loosestrife (Lythrum hyssopifolia)
82.  Alkaligrass (Puccinella spp.)
83.  Bur chervil (Anthriscus caucalis)
84.  Rattail fescue (Vulpia myuros)
85.  Dodder (Cuscuta spp.)
86.  Nipplewort (Lapsana communis)
87.  Needlegrass (Stipa spp.)
88.  Cutleaf geranium (Geranium dissectum)
89.  Green foxtail (Setaria italica subsp. viridis)
90.  Timothy (Phleum pratense)
91.  Silver hairgrass (Aira caryophyllea)
92.  Tansy ragwort (Senecio jacobaea)
93.  Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
94.  Chilean tarweed (Madia sativa)
95.  Spotted cat's-ear (Hypochaeris radicata)
96.  Toad rush (Juncus bufonius)
97.  Path rush (Juncus tenuis)
98.  Bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon var. dactylon)
99.  Field pennycress (Thlaspi arvense)
100.  Pineappleweed (Matricaria matricarioides)

Emil Zivney Seed Collection


The seed lab is proud to present the Emil Zivney Seed Collection in a dedicated, permanent display space. Several hundred of the largest and most interesting seeds, pods and artwork are displayed. If you wish to view or study other portions of this massive collection, please make arrangements in advance.

The collection includes seeds of over 20,000 individual species, over 4,000 seed pods, seed crafts and jewelry, and is one of the largest privately amassed collections in the world. Particularly notable specimens include:

Only a small portion of the collection is displayed in these cases; most is being stored awaiting funds and additional display space. Over the years, the labels and tags identifying the seeds in the collection have started to deteriorate. Emil Zivney's family recognized the need for on-going maintenance of the collection and established an endowment to help meet this need. If you would like to contribute to the Zivney funds or create a separate fund to help in this project, please contact the OSU Seed Lab at 541-737-4464, the OSU Crop Science Department or the OSU Foundation.

Emil Zivney: An Enduring Love of Seeds

emil-zivney-1936The son of an alfalfa and potato farming family, Emil Zivney enrolled at Oregon State University in 1929 seeking a degree in agriculture. He caught the seed-collecting fever after he won an OSU seed identification contest in 1932. After graduating in 1936, he worked for five years at the Umatilla Field Station in Hermiston, Oregon, spending weekends and spare time collecting and identifying seeds and pods of about 1500 species, mostly grasses and local native plants, including five species that had not been listed botanically before. In 1939, he purchased a potato farm near Stanfield, Oregon and collecting took a back seat to farming for the next 39 years. 

Upon retirement in 1978, he was able to once again pursue his passion for collecting seeds and pods. Over the next twenty years, he and his wife logged over 200,000 miles in the quest for seeds, traveling to every U.S. state, Central and South America, Europe, Tahiti, Fiji, the Canary Islands, Australia and New Zealand. He visited many notable collections, corresponded with collectors including the renowned German botanist Felix Hohmann, and by trading with other collectors was able to further enrich his collection.

emil-zivney-at-homeEmil and his second wife, Hazel, welcomed visitors of all ages at their home in Lincoln City, Oregon. Although several arboretums around the country were interested in the seed collection, he chose to give it to OSU because his alma mater was where he was first inspired to collect seeds. Zivney donated his collection and funds to build display cases in 1992 and the collection of seeds and pods was picked up from their home in Lincoln City, Oregon in 1993 and installed at the OSU Seed Lab.