How to Test older Seeds for Germination

Common Vegetable Seeds:

Nobody wants to plant dead seeds but just because it’s old doesn’t mean it won’t grow. Some seeds will germinate and grow for up to 5 years after the date they came from the field. And, at the price of quality food plot seed, it’s worth a second look.

It depends upon what kind of seed it is, how it was cared for, and how it was stored. Seed  should be kept cool, dry, and clean and protected from pests and insects in some sort of protective container. 

Food seeds can be broken into 2 categories: hard seeds and soft seeds. Hard seeds are hard to the touch and generally store quite well. Soft seeds are softer to the touch and typically do not have a hard coating to protect them. They don’t store particularly well even under ideal conditions

The best way to find out if the seed is still good is by testing germination. Testing seed is simple and you will know if you have good seed in a few days. Spread the seed in question on a moist paper towel. Use about a half dozen seeds (depending on size) per square inch.

Moisten and cover the seeds with another paper towel. Cover with saran wrap or place in a zip lock bag to help keep the medium moist. Be sure to establish and maintain contact between the seed and the testing medium you have placed the seeds on. Keep the whole thing moist, warm to the touch, and provide plenty of light. Basically, you are trying to simulate growing conditions and most seeds won’t germinate in soils below 60 degrees.

In a day or two most of the viable seeds will swell, crack open and start sending out roots and shoots. That’s the germination you are looking for. If nothing happens for a week, the seed you are testing is probably dead (unless you have allowed the seeds to dry out, or drown, and die).

This method may not always apply to exotic, tropical and rare type of seeds. Follow special instructions on those.

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