Seed is the most valuable able input for anyone who is into farming. Failure of the seeds to germinate would mean additional production cost, not to mention delay in farm operations. It is therefore important to make sure that seed for planting have high germination percentage. But how can one be ascertained of the quality of the seeds or that the seeds still have high germination percentage? Here are timely tips for those who are interested in farming or gardening.
First, buy seeds that are guaranteed to have high germination percentage. It is also important that one is familiar with the seed supplier. Second, plant the seeds right away before they start to deteriorate and decline in germination.
There are times, however, that seeds are already bought but, for some reasons they can not be planted right away. In such situations, seeds should be properly kept or stored to maintain the germination percentage indicated on the packet. Seed quality, particularly the percent germination, declines faster when seeds are left under ambient conditions. This is because the two most detrimental factors that contribute to rapid seed deterioration are high temperature and high seed moisture content. Under these conditions, seeds respire faster and thus, lose germination faster.
In the Philippines, our hot humid climate makes it very difficult to maintain high seed germination percentage. As such, seeds must be kept under appropriate conditions. The most ideal condition for storing seeds temporarily is to do this in a cool, dry place. An air-conditioned room is best but, if that is not possible, seeds may also be kept in a refrigerator. Keeping well dried seeds in temperatures 10 degrees Celsius or lower maintains germination even up to more than a year. If seeds are to be kept in refrigerators, put them first in tightly closed bottles or jars before placing them inside the refrigerator. Putting seeds in bottle minimizes moisture absorption from the surrounding air at the same time keeps the seeds dry.
If an air-conditioned room or refrigerator is not available, just make sure to place seeds in the coolest part of the house. Another less expensive way to maintain high seed germination capacity is by putting seeds in bottles or in containers with desiccants.
Desiccants maintain germination capacity by maintaining seed moisture content. The amount of desiccant should be 10% of the weight of the seeds. Silica gel is most preferred as desiccant because of the ease of handling it. Also there is a type that is colored blue when dry and turns pink when wet. So when the gel turns pink, it is an indication that it has absorbed moisture from the seeds and should be redried. The disadvantage with silica gel is that it is a little expensive. There are other desiccants that are equally effective as silica gel but they are cheaper and readily available. Some of these are charcoal, lime, sawdust, ashes and even rice hull. When using these alternative desiccants, make sure that they are well dried and that they are free from pests or diseases to avoid contaminating the seeds.
These alternative techniques of storing seeds do not maintain germination capacity as long and as effective as the cold temperature technique. But if it’s just for a few weeks or a month, it will do.
Quick Facts on Storing Seeds
-Vegetable and flower seeds may be kept for one year without appreciable decrease in germination.
-Storage maybe extended to 10 or more years under proper conditions.
-The two most detrimental factors that contribute to rapid seed deterioration are high temperature and high seed moisture content.
-Seed moisture and storage temperature are the most important factors in determining how long seed can be stored.
- The drier the seeds are, the longer they will store.
- A Garden’s success depends in part on the quality of seeds planted. Ensure good quality seed by planting fresh seed from a reputable seed company. Often, there is seed left over after a crop , is planted. If there is enough for the next year, save it.