Seeds can be a major expense in a growing operation so you want to make every seed count. What can you do to maximize your germination rates? Several factors effect success in getting seeds to sprout and root.
First, start with high quality seed. Purchase from reputable sources that will tell you where their seed comes from, how they store it and how often they check germination rates. Some plant seeds, like tomatoes, remain viable for years so they need to be checked only every 9 months. Less stable seeds such as peppers should be checked every 3 months. All seed should be stored in a cool (below 55˚F) dark place. While the longevity of seeds varies by plant type, your safest bet is to use seed that is less than 2 years old.
Typically, a germination mix is composed of fine particles in a uniform mix. This media should absorb and retain water and provide air space. Smaller particle sizes mean smaller air pockets so seeds and emerging roots are less likely to dry out. Quick Plug North America’s FlexiPlugs and FlexiTrays provide the consistent moisture needed for germination due to the fine grade of peat used and the stabilized nature of the plug which provides consistent amounts of air and water. The dense matrix of our BioStrate and PUREgrown products’ non-woven fibers also provide an ideal air to water ratio.
Many flowers and vegetables prefer a soil temperature around 75˚F. However, different plants have different specific ideal temperatures. The Extension office at Oregon State has provided a handy chart that lists common vegetables and their ideal temperature conditions for germination.
Harvested seed has lost most of its water content which helps increase its longevity in storage. Moisture is needed to swell the embryo inside which will then break through the seed coat. Consistent moisture allows for uninterrupted growing of delicate roots and shoots. Consistent moisture and a plant’s ideal germination temperature will create the proper humidity.
According to High Mowing Organic Seeds, “Most wild species of flowers and herbs prefer darkness for germination and should be planted deep in the soil while most modern vegetable crops prefer light or are not affected by it…”
When all these requirements are met, you can expect a high germination rate.
“Though I do not believe that a plant will spring up where no seed has been, I have great faith in a seed. Convince me that you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders.” Henry David Thoreau