Preppers: Check Seed Germination Rates
Kevin Felts 05.02.17
How do you check to see if seeds are viable?
Take some from the stockpile and germinate them. What is seed germination? It is simply taking a few seeds and see if they will sprout (aka germinate).
Generally, seeds need two things to sprout:
- Temperate – Seeds from various spring plants need the soil to be above a certain temperature to sprout. To test your seeds, we need to simulate warm soil.
- Water – The seeds need to be damp, but not so damp they start to grow mold or fall apart.
Take a cookie sheet or platter.
Cover the bottom with a layer of paper towels or an old rag.
Place the seeds on the paper towel or rag.
Cover the seeds with another rag or layer of paper towels.
Pour in enough water to soak the seeds, but do not drown them. Slightly damp is good.
Cooling During Evaporation
When the water in the tray starts evaporating, there will be a cooling effect. The cooling may prevent the seeds from sprouting. The tray needs to be warmed, but not microwave or oven warm.
I usually place the tray in direct sunlight during the daytime, then bring the tray inside during the night. This simulates the day/night cycle.
If all the water evaporates, do not worry, just add some more. Going a few hours or a day without water is not going to kill the seeds.
After around five to seven days, gently pull the covering away from the seeds. If the seeds are viable, some should be sprouting.
Decision time, what will you do with the sprouts? I usually plant them and give them a chance to grow.
Every couple of years I test around 10-15 seeds out of various packages. Large seeds I buy by the pound; small seeds I buy by the ounce. Testing a few seeds here and there is not going to shorten my stockpile.
Over the past decades, I have found packages of seeds that not a single one sprouted and the whole bag had to be thrown away.
On the flip side of the bad seeds, I have some decade old seeds that had very good germination rates.