What is a viable seed?
It is one that is capable of germination under suitable conditions.
Why do a Seed Viability Test or germination test?
Seeds can be acquired from your own farms, seed shops, seed growers etc.
The possibilities are that, after sowing these seeds in the field;
- many of the seeds may germinate as you expected.
- about half of total seed sown will germinate.
- very few will germinate. Time wasted.
You are then left with the confusion of whether to sow new seeds altogether or obtain more seeds to fill in.
Save yourself the disappointment, do this simple test in 3 days.
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Before you start, you need;
- About 100 seeds to test (depending on the total amount seed to plant)
- A transparent bottle to be able to monitor. Some seeds may also require light to germinate.
- Clean water.
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Fill the bottle with some amount of water, enough to keep your seeds moist and cover with a cloth.
Leave in a cool place for 2 – 3 days. Check daily to notice germination. ( Allow it more time depending on the type of seed. Seeds with hard coats may require further treatments.)
After the 3rd day, pour out your seeds gently onto a clean surface spacious enough to allow easy counting. Separate germinated seeds and count.
Note: Split seeds are not necessarily germinated seeds. Some seeds, mostly dicots, split in moisture. Check well to see root and shoot development.
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What do the germinated seed counts mean?
Germination rate = Germinated seeds ÷ Total number of seeds × 100
Since we only used 100 seeds for this test, germination rate calculation will be easier. Each seed of the 100 represents a percentage, therefore if all 100 seeds germinated you get a 100% germination rate. If 83 seeds germinated, you get 83%. 70 out of 100 seeds germinated, you get 70%, and so on.
— If you get between 85% and 100% it means your seeds can be trusted to germinate. You can then go ahead and sow at prescribed rates.
— Between 70% and 84%, consider increasing the rate a bit.
— 50% or less, it is advisable you discard the seed for another one. This does not mean it is useless, except you will require more than necessary seed to sow, increasing cost.
Simple and Easy, right?
A quick way to avoid wasting your time and money over seed germination on the field.