A review of factors that influence the production of quality seed for long-term conservation in genebanks
Seed quality is a critical aspect in agriculture as well as in the long-term conservation of plant genetic resources in genebanks. Since potential seed longevity depends on initial quality, genebank curators need to be aware of the best management practices that contribute to the production of high quality seed during routine germplasm regeneration/multiplication. Among the factors influencing initial seed quality, those related to crop management, including plant nutrient and water supply during crop growth, climatic conditions during seed development and maturation, as well as the harvest and drying practices are of considerable significance. Seeds of high quality can be obtained by planting in suitable areas/fields and at appropriate times, applying good crop management practices, adoption of proper harvesting and drying techniques, careful handling and processing to minimize mechanical injuries and unwanted seed mixing with other accessions, and ensuring minimum deterioration before reaching the designated storage. However, seed production and post-harvest handling highly depend on the biology and agronomy of the species. As germplasm collections contain a wide range of diversity for morphological and agronomic characters and that there might well be critical gaps in knowledge among genebank staff or about the species in question, genebanks may also need to embark on research to gain crop specific knowledge on optimal seed production procedures to improve seed quality.