Samples of saved barley (Hordeum vulgare) seed were collected at sowing and threshing time from mid-altitudes and highlands of southern Ethiopia in 2009, and were examined in the laboratory and field condition to determine the status of seed quality. The seed samples included farmers’ cultivar ‘Horsiso’ (two-rowed), ‘Nuro’ and ‘Melo’ (six-rowed). This study revealed that saved barley seeds were not vulnerable to insect pests. However, Alternaria, Aspergillus, Cladosporium. Epicoccum, Fusarium, Helminthosporium, Penicillium, Trichoderma, Trichothecium spp. and Ustilago hordei were detected. The seed samples collected at sowing showed lower standard germination (SG) and higher electrical conductivity (EC). All cultivars had SG above 80%, nevertheless field emergence index (FEI) showed 15.22 up to 37.35%, which is less than the ideal plant population. This indicates differences among cultivars in seed quality deterioration during storage. SG was positively correlated (r = 0.678) with field emergence (FE); EC showed a negative correlation with FE (r = -0.347) and SG (r = -0.233). In conclusion, farmers’ saved seed was found to be low in quality. Therefore, farmers’ seed management practices need to be improved to retain the seed quality and enhance productivity.
Key words: Field emergence index, fungi, germination, seed health.
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