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CLOSE THIS BOOKBetter Farming Series 03 - The Plant: the Flower (FAO - INADES, 1976, 29 p.)
Seeds and sowing
VIEW THE DOCUMENTHow the seed grows
VIEW THE DOCUMENTPractical advice
VIEW THE DOCUMENTStoring grain and seed

Better Farming Series 03 - The Plant: the Flower (FAO - INADES, 1976, 29 p.)

Seeds and sowing

How the seed grows

· A seed consists of:

· a protective covering which is more or less hard;
· a store of food;
· a germ.
· The germ is alive.

Groundnut seed cut open

The germ takes its food from the store of food built up in the seed.
The leaves and roots cannot yet feed the plant; they are still in the seed.

· The seed needs water.

The germ is a plant.
To grow it needs water.
The germ of a dry seed cannot grow.
When the soil is moist, water enters the seed.
Its skin becomes soft and splits. The germ grows.
Sowing must be done in moist soil.
But if there is too much water, seeds die. They rot.

· The seed needs air.

The germ is a plant. It breathes.
The seed must find air in the soil.
Before sowing, the soil must be worked so that air can get into the soil.
The soil must not be packed too hard over the seeds.
If the soil is packed too hard, the germ will lack air and grow badly.
The seed must not be sown too deep. If it is, it will lack air, and its food reserves will soon be used up. The plant will not be able to come out of the ground.
However, the seed must be sufficiently covered. Seed that is not sufficiently covered germinates badly. And the birds may eat it.

Seed planting

If seeds are sown at the same depth, the plants come out of the ground at the same time. They will all be the same size, and you can more easily choose the moment to put down fertilizers, apply pesticides, and harvest.

Choice of seed

· To get fine healthy plants and good harvests, you must sow good seed.

A child is like its parents.
An ailing, small plant produces bad fruits and bad seed.
Bad seed produces bad harvests.
A modern farmer chooses good seed and gets good harvests.
Choosing good seed does not take a lot of work, does not take a lot of money. It only needs care.

· How to choose good seed.

To get a better harvest, you must choose better seed, better varieties.

What is a variety?

For example:

All maize plants are not alike.
The height of the plants, the size of the heads of grain, are different.The grains are not all the same colour, or the same shape;the harvest is not always at the same time.

There are many varieties of maize.

Some varieties give a bigger harvest.

For instance, local cotton yields 150 to 200 kilogrammes per hectare.
Allen cotton can yield 1 000 kilogrammes per hectare.
The wild oil palm yields about 20 kilogrammes of fruit clusters per year.
Selected oil palm can yield 100 kilogrammes of fruit clusters per year.

Some varieties can be harvested earlier.

In northern Cameroon gara sorghum grows in 110 to 130 days; shoukouloum sorghum grows in 160 to 170 days.

Some varieties yield a better product.

Cotton fibres may be long or short.
Allen cotton has fibres that are longer than Mono cotton.

Some varieties are more resistant to diseases.
Some varieties of groundnuts (varieties 48- 37 and 1.041 ) do not get the disease called rosette.
These varieties are said to be rosette- resistant.
In your home district, what varieties do the extension officers recommend for millet, sorghum, cotton, groundnuts, rice, tomatoes?

Practical advice

· Buy your seed from the agricultural service.

Grow the best varieties
You will get good harvests.
To buy seed you need money.
So as not to waste money, you must prepare your field well, sow at the right time, do the harvesting well.

· You can produce your own seed.

Choose the finest fruits from your finest cocoa trees, from your best field of groundnuts.
Take the best grains of maize.
The plant's good qualities will be passed on to the new plants.

Take the best beans from the middle of the pod

· Sort out your seed.

Do not use seed that is too old.
The germ is dead, the seed will not germinate.
Use whole, well shaped seeds.
Remove all bad seed, all small, broken, diseased seed, and seed eaten by insects.
Well sorted seeds will all germinate. You will get a good density.

· Disinfect your seed.

Seed can be attacked by insects and diseases.
Protect seeds against insects and diseases.
Mix a pesticide with the seed.
You can buy it from the agricultural service.
The agricultural adviser will tell you how much to use.
You must follow his advice.

· Make sure that the seeds and the pesticide are well mixed, that all the seeds are covered by the pesticide.

Equipment for treating seeds

· You must take great care. The pesticide is a poison. Wash well after handling it. Do not leave the pesticide near children.

Do not eat or give to animals any seed treated with pesticide.

Storing grain and seed

The farmer puts his harvest in granaries.
In this way he keeps his grain and seed for the following year.
Not all granaries are alike.
They may be made of wood or clay or basketwork.
Granaries must not touch the ground.
Then the grain will keep dry.
Animals cannot knock over the granary and eat the grain.

Basketwork granary

Before putting grain in granaries:

· the grain must be well dried.
Grain that is not dry enough may rot.
It will not be any good to eat or sow.
It is very important to dry grain well.

· the granary must be well cleaned.

Two weeks before harvest, sweep and disinfect the granary.
Kill insects with a pesticide.

Ask advice from the agricultural officer; some pesticides are poisonous.

Clay granary