Have you ever called or visited a website of a seed dealer and kept seeing these three little letters, PLS? Have you ever wondered what’s so important about PLS? Well let me explain.
Pure live seed (PLS) % is important when defining an amount of an individual species to plant in order to achieve a desired or adequate stand. PLS % is a way of expressing the quality of the seed. PLS % is the amount of “live or viable” seed that you are considering. The PLS % of a seed species is determined by multiplying the purity by the germination percentage of a specific seed lot. When purchasing on a PLS pound basis it helps you to better compare lots of a specific species to another because you are guaranteed the same amount of viable seed even though different lots may be used. This is in comparison to a bulk pound. A bulk pound of seed is one that contains viable seed, inert matter, other crop seed, and weed seed. When purchasing on a bulk pound basis you are no longer guaranteed the same amount of viable seed. Purchasing on a PLS pound basis allows you to compare apples to apples and ensures the viability of your seed purchased.
It is important that when you are getting ready to purchase seed you understand not only the bulk contents but also the PLS % of the seed. This is to help the consumer know which portion of the seed is viable and will germinate and how much is inert material and/or “dead” seed. In layman’s terms when you purchase seed on a PLS pound basis you are buying the viable seed; but when you purchase on a bulk pound basis you are buying viable seed, inert material, and/or potentially dead seed. Let’s take a look at an example of a PLS versus Bulk purchase.
You want to purchase 30 pounds of Blue Grama, but you are unsure if you should purchase on a bulk pound or a PLS pound. You know that the price of Blue Grama on a bulk pound costs $23 per pound; and Blue Grama on a PLS pound costs $27 per pound. You know that the specific lot has a PLS of 59%.
To find the cost of the seed on a bulk pound you multiple the cost by pounds, in this instance:
$23 x 30 bulk pounds = $690 total cost
You know that you will pay $690 of 30 bulk pounds of viable, inert material, and dead seed.
Next you want to know how many PLS pounds you would be receiving. Therefore you multiply the total bulk pounds by the PLS percent.
30 bulk pounds x 0.59 lot PLS = 17.7 total PLS pounds in your order.
To find the cost of the seed on a PLS pound basis you multiple the cost by PLS pounds, in this instance:
$27 x 30 PLS pounds = $810 total cost
You know that you will pay $810 of 30 pounds of viable seed.
Next you want to know how many bulk pounds you would be receiving. Therefore you divide the total PLS pounds by the PLS percent.
30 PLS pounds / 0.59 PLS% = 51 Bulk pounds
So even though the cost of buying on a PLS may seem higher you are receiving 30 PLS pounds of seed that are guaranteed to be viable and germinate. While if you purchase on a bulk pound you are only receiving 17.7 PLS pounds of seed that would be viable and germinate. Purchasing seed on a PLS pound basis is especially important when comparing lots with differing PLS%.
So when it comes to purchasing on a PLS versus a Bulk pound, don’t be scared or hesitant of the cost because when you buy on a PLS basis you are guaranteed viable seed.