Common practices in the commercial seed industry result in poor levels of endophyte infection or viability. Early-swathed seed had less initial endophyte infection levels than seed swathed later and sustained faster rates of subsequent losses of viable infection (Bouton and Easton, 2005). Similar problems occurred with labeled fungicides approved to control common rust diseases in seed fields (Rolston and Agee, 2007). Storage in open bins without air conditioning, another common practice, potentially leads to significant losses in endophyte infection and viability.
The best approach for seed growers, therefore, is to view the endophyte, while in the seed, as a very fragile organism that can be readily lost or injured when mistreated (Bouton and Easton, 2005). Preventing this loss requires approaches to seed production practices different from those in current use. Strict production guidelines and certification requirements through certified agencies need to be instituted, and proven growers of high quality seed must be identified and trained further (Rolston and Agee, 2007). This training should include endophyte biology, record-keeping requirements, equipment cleaning, and harvesting guidelines.
Time from harvest to seed cleaning and packaging must be kept to a minimum to maintain the endophyte viable. Cleaning facilities also are a major source of contamination. For Jesup MaxQ, the process was either (i) to clean it as the first crop of the season to be processed in the facility or (ii) to clean it after several weeks of cleaning perennial ryegrass seed and thoroughly cleaning the equipment (Rolston and Agee, 2007). After the Jesup MaxQ had been cleaned, it then had to be tested for endophyte viability and alkaloid contamination, in addition to the standard purity and germination analyses required by state and federal seed laws. Seed bags with specialized packaging material also had to be used