Seed bank of forage grass genetic resources

Contributors to this page: ILRI, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (Jean Hanson); Bioversity International/ILRI, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (Alexandra Jorge).

When seed banks should be used

Forage grasses are usually stored as seeds.

There has been little research on seed storage of many forage grasses and there is limited information about the storage behaviour of seeds of many of the species being conserved. The longevity of the forage seeds depends on the species, their initial seed viability and seed moisture content and storage temperature. Seeds from different species can have varied storage and dormancy characteristics and have been classified according to their longevity as being short-lived, moderately long-lived or long-lived.

Many of the forage grasses have short-lived seeds (seeds that only remain viable for a very few years) or are shy seeders (only a small percentage of the seeds have a caryopsis and will germinate). Species like Panicum maximum (short-lived seeds), Pennisetum purpureum (shy seeder) and Digitaria arianthum shy seeder) are generally maintained in field genebanks.

Seeds of forage grass species that have been found to survive for more than five years of cold storage (at 5 % moisture content and 8oC) without substantial loss of viability (Chin and Hanson, 1999) can be stored in seed genebanks:

Andropogon gayanus
Brachiaria brizantha
Brachiaria decumbens
Cenchrus ciliaris
Chloris gayana
Cynodon dactylon
Pennisetum clandestinum

How seed storage should be done

References and further reading

Chin HF, Hanson J. 1999. Seed storage. In: Loch DS, Ferguson J, editors. Forage Seed Production Vol. II Tropical and Subtropical Species. CABI, Wallingford, UK. pp. 303-315.

The Genebanks

The 11 CGIAR genebanks currently conserve 730,000 of cereals and grain legumes, forage crops, tree species, root and tuber crops, bananas and crop wild relatives.