Germination tests are helpful to see how carryover seed lasted the winter. No.1 certified canola seed kept in the bags and untouched can maintain its high germination rate if stored at 2 C or cooler and at less than 8% moisture. Low humidity also helps. Germination rates will deteriorate when seed is stored on farm in warm and humid conditions.
For more, read the page 18 article in the November 2010 issue of Canola Digest
If seed comes back with a low test, it is probably best to keep that seed separate and increase the seeding rate accordingly, assuming the viability is still high enough to be worth planting. A drop of 20% in germination will mean a 20% bump in seeding rates to achieve a similar plant population. Since germination is a good indicator of vigor, those seeds that do germinate could also have very low vigor. They will benefit from being seeded shallow into soil temperatures at 10 C or higher.
If you can’t wait for germination test results before seeding, get the test anyway. If any problems arise with emergence, the germination test will be an important clue.
Mixing old low-germination seed with new seed is not a recommended practice. If it is just a few bags and mixing is the most convenient way to make use of it take the time to thoroughly mix the seed in order to spread out the risk of poor seed showing up in zones in your field.