Saving Commercial Corn Seed for Planting Next Year is Not Recommended

  • Carrying over commercial corn seed from year to year is not a recommended practice.
  • Improperly stored seed can lose germination percentage and vigor which can reduce yield potential.
  • To remain viable, seed should be stored under cool temperatures and low humidity.

Saving Commercial Corn Seed for Planting Next Year is Not Recommended

In tool sheds, grain bins, garages, and other farm storage facilities, bags or totes of seed may remain unplanted. The question becomes, “should the seed be returned or kept for planting next season”?

The most important factor to realize is that seed is a living commodity and is subject to environmental stress. When not stored in facilities that monitor temperature and humidity, the seed can be subjected to extreme temperature and humidity variances, which can have a detrimental effect on seed germination and vigor. For these reasons, seed saving is not recommended.


  • To maintain germination and vigor, seed should be stored in facilities that maintain a cool temperature and low humidity.
  • Improperly stored seed can be subject to insect, rodent, and other animal damage.
  • Seed labeling laws, which seed companies must adhere to, require a standardized warm germination test to be completed with the percentage placed on the product tag. The test results expire after six months; therefore, the seed must be retested, and product tag updated to reflect the results (Figure 1).
  • Bayer companies conduct a cold vigor test that determines the seed’s ability to achieve a strong stand under a wide range of growing conditions (Figure 1).
    • Unless conducted by a third-party laboratory at the grower’s expense, seed stored on farm from one season to the next is unlikely to have germination and vigor tests.
    • Non-returned seed forfeits eligibility for replant programs, performance claims, and potential return and exchanges for different products.
    • Though enticing to invest in current year seed for use the following year, the potential for poor product performance can far outweigh the investment.  
Warm and cold germination tests. These images were taken at the end of the test. They demonstrate the extreme phenotypic difference between seedlings in the two tests. Figure 1. Bayer conducts warm and cold germination tests on seed lots to verify seed quality.

In summary, germination and vigor tests are two components of seed quality. The warm germination test percentages provide germination information under ideal conditions and vigor test results are used internally to gauge physiological seed strength and performance under stressful conditions. Seed returned to Bayer companies undergoes the same seed quality tests as newly produced seed. Any seed, including newly produced seed, that fails to meet germination and vigor standards is discarded. Bayer stands behind the quality of seed products, and farmers should have confidence in each bag of seed purchased. 



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