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While school exams can cause anxiety, testing seed can net valuable quality information and peace of mind. “Testing of any seed at harvest, as well as testing throughout storage, is very important,” said Sarah Foster, president and senior seed analyst at 20/20 Seed Labs in Nisku. “Seed is at its prime when it first comes off the field. If you store it at the right moisture level, dry it when necessary and monitor it in the bin, you can maintain it in prime condition.”

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If harvest is a party, then Fusarium head blight (FHB) is best left off the guest list. When it comes to malt barley production, an outbreak of FHB can cost a farmer malt status due to kernel discoloration, microbial load and the presence of even a low level of the mycotoxin deoxynivalenol (DON).

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Two projects funded in part by the Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC) and Alberta Barley are among a number studying the use of airborne disease spore collection devices—generally known as biosensors.

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