How to properly store seeds

how to properly store seeds Blog
How to save seeds

Every summer season begins and ends with questions related to seeds. In the spring, gardeners take out and sort out their stocks – purchased seeds from previous seasons, collected their own planting material. In autumn, it is necessary to attach the remaining and collected seeds until the next season. And the successful start of a new cycle in the spring will depend on how their winter storage is organized.

This is due to the fact that germination depends on proper, competent storage – the ability of the embryo to wake up, break through the shell and grow into a full-fledged plant.

To understand how the storage of planting material and its germination are related, one should immerse oneself in the biochemistry of this process.

Seed storage in terms of biochemical processes

Seeds are characterized by a very high ability to absorb moisture from the environment – hygroscopicity. By absorbing water vapor contained in the environment, they return moisture to the air. This exchange is called “breathing”.

To maintain germination, it is necessary that the seeds breathe according to the principle of “balance”: the amount of moisture absorbed and exhaled should be approximately the same. For this, the moisture content of the planting material itself should be no more than 10% -12%.

In practice, the moisture content of the planting material is checked in this way: a cucumber or pumpkin seed is bent in half to break it. If the seed bends, it is resilient, elastic, then there is more moisture in it than is necessary for long-term storage. A seed that breaks easily contains the required percentage of moisture.

Even a slight increase in humidity (by 2% -4%) affects the intensity of respiration, and hence the preservation of the seeds of their condition: biochemical reactions are triggered, leading to losses of dry matter, the grain gains moisture. As a result, the seed either becomes moldy and rots, which leads to the death of the embryo, or simply loses its condition, its viability percentage drops.

Seed storage methods

There are two main ways to store seed:

  1. Open – a two-layer moisture-permeable container made of fabrics of natural origin – linen, jute. In such bags, seed is stored in special granaries, if we talk about industrial scale.Open storage method

At home, you can also store the seeds collected in the country in such fabric bags. But at the same time, it must be remembered that the higher the humidity of the seeds stored for storage and the temperature of their storage, the faster the respiratory processes, which means that the percentage of conditioned grains in the spring is less. Such seeds must be placed in small quantities in one bag, otherwise, they are more likely to become moldy. For the best result, they should be dried well before pouring into such a container.

  1. Closed – sealed storage in a moisture-proof container: sealed or tightly closed polyethylene bags (you can seal the edge of the bag with an iron), glass jars with tightly ground lids. Seeds dried before storage in a sealed package retain moisture at a level of up to 10%, which is required to maintain high quality.Closed storage method

How to prepare seeds for storage

If seed material of own collection is determined for storage, then the following conditions must be met:

  • Only fully ripened seeds collected from fruits ripened in the garden are suitable for storage. If the fruit ripened after being removed from the bush (for example, green or brown ripeness tomatoes ), the germination period of the seed is significantly reduced after a couple of years;
  • Seeds of late-ripening varieties are stored much longer than early-ripening ones;
  • The largest, densest seeds are suitable for storage;
  • For storage, seed is allowed only after purification from the remnants of pulp and juice, as these residues quickly absorb moisture and lead to seed damage;
  • Before laying, the seeds are dried at a temperature of about 28 ° C ;

Where to place seeds for long-term storage

Since the determining factors for the proper storage of seeds in winter are temperature and humidity, the choice of location depends on how stable the readings of these parameters indoors for several months.

Based on these criteria, the kitchen is immediately deleted from the list of possible storage places – the place with the most unstable temperature and humidity.

Leaving seed in the country, in unheated rooms with high humidity is also not the best option. During autumn rains and pre-winter slush, the seeds will become damp. And in winter frosts, they will surely die. The only option for giving is to store properly prepared seeds in a reliable sealed package, left in the basement, where the temperature is stable and the humidity is constant.

It is best to pick up in the apartment, in the coolest room, a place in the closet, in the lower tier (the closer to the floor, the lower the air temperature). Many gardeners and flower growers have such cool dark places where tubers or bulbs of indoor and garden ornamental plants “hibernate”.

Properly prepared seeds for storage can be stored at low and even negative temperatures, for example, in a refrigerator or freezer. But the embryos of grains that have fallen into “deep hibernation” in the spring can be “awakened” only by special heating; without stimulation, frozen seeds may not sprout at all. There are two main ways to bring them out of “deep sleep”:

  • At least one month before the start of sowing, the seeds are taken out of the freezer and kept all this time in a hermetically sealed container at a temperature of about 30 ° C ;
  • Planting material is heated in hot, about 50 ° C , water for half an hour.

But it is not recommended to keep the seeds in the compartment on the refrigerator door: frequent temperature changes when opening the door in a hot, humid kitchen will negatively affect the quality of planting material.

Temperature and humidity are the main parameters for seed storage

The optimal combination is considered to be a stable temperature from 10 o C to 15 o C, and humidity up to 50%.

In normal home conditions with central heating that dries the air and warms it up to 25 ° C, it is difficult to meet these requirements. But most gardeners successfully store seed until the next season, choosing the coolest places.

Shelf life of planting material of different crops

Packages purchased in stores usually have expiration dates for a given batch of seed. For each culture, the expiration dates during which the germination of the seed remains sufficiently high are different. Therefore, when laying seeds for storage, it is necessary to mark on the packaging the year of collection of your own seed stock and the expiration date of the purchased one.

This will help during the spring audit to determine which packaging to open for the coming season, and what can be left for another year or two.

Below are the expiration dates of seeds of different crops:

  • Up to two years, seeds of onions (turnip, chives, leeks), parsnips, celery have high germination;
  • Up to 3 years, very high quality is preserved in parsley with dill, coriander and spinach, sorrel, lovage;
  • Up to 4 years, you can store seeds of various salads, sweet peppers, peas, carrots;
  • Until the age of five, the seed of all types of cabbage, root crops, eggplants, and tomatoes is perfectly preserved;
  • Legumes retain their properties for at least 6 years ;
  • Within 8 years, you can store melon seeds (zucchini, watermelons, cucumbers, melons)

For regions with a cold climate and short summers, when not all crops have time to fully mature in natural conditions, it is recommended to take seed for planting that is at least a year old. This is due to the fact that the ripening process often takes place in artificially created conditions, the fruits are ripened to obtain seed material in the premises. Such seeds in the first year are too weak, have a low quality of germination. And a year after their collection, it will be a fairly high-quality product.

In the southern regions, you can safely use fresh seeds for sowing.

Producers and sellers of genetically modified seeds

Speaking of quality seeds, it’s hard to get around the topic of GMOs. The problem of GMO products, including seeds, is increasingly worrying gardeners. Many summer residents, observing more and more bags marked F1 on the windows every year , confuse the concepts of “hybrid” and GMOs.

Breeders cross two varieties with obvious merit to produce a new hybrid that has those qualities. The seed material of the first generation of such a hybrid is marked with the F1 sign. But it makes no sense to collect seeds from these hybrids, since the F1 qualities are not transferred to the second generation.

In order to protect yourself from buying GMO seeds, you need to carefully read the labels on the packages. Almost all products of this quality are produced under the brand name of several companies. If one of the following items is found on the package, then it is worth considering whether to purchase such a product:

  • “Syngenta” (Syngenta);
  • Syngenta Seeds;
  • “Monsanto” (Monsanto);
  • Bayer CropScience;
  • Du Pont;
  • Advanta.

In Russia, such products are sold by Seminis and Agros.

Russian seed producers and sellers

The products of Russian manufacturers of seed materials are of high quality and have nothing to do with GMOs. Among the largest domestic seed producers that have gained popularity and respect in their field, it is worth noting the following:

  • Aelita has been on the seed market for over 20 years. The company’s specialists have bred at least 400 varieties (including F1 hybrids). The work of the breeders of the agricultural company has been repeatedly noted at the international level;
  • “Gavrish”. More than two decades of experience, own research and production base, nurseries. The most widely represented variety of varieties and hybrids of tomatoes;
  • “SeDek” is an agricultural company with a long period of work in the industry and achievements in breeding, registered in the State Register. The company has its own online store, so the likelihood of buying a fake is minimized;
  • “Artikul” – a company operating in the market for the production and sale of seeds since 1990;
  • “Biotechnics” also refers to the elders of the domestic market. All products of the agricultural company are patented, have a guarantee, and are adapted to the climatic conditions of the northern regions.
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