Seed Storage and Germination Recommendations

Nichole Edelman, Greenhouse Manager

Two common questions we have gotten at CropKing in the past from growers has been the life expectancy of various seeds and average germination time. There are three things you need to know:

  1. How to properly store seeds.
  2. Life expectancy of different properly stored seed.
  3. Different crops can have very different germination times.

The best policy is to order only as much seed as you think you need for the next 6 months. When they arrive your seed should be stored in airtight containers or bags in a dark, cool area with low humidity such as a fridge or cooler.  A cool, dark environment keeps the seed from germinating, or a loss of shelf life.

Greenhouse hybrids such as tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers are seeded with individual seeds per growing cube. Place the seeded trays in a shaded area on heating mats to keep the growing media between 79-81°F.  Seeds planted during cool climates may need bottom heating for optimal germination. Once the seeds germinate they will need a good light source (natural or supplemental) to encourage proper growth.  Cucumbers are also planted with one seed per growing cube, but cucumbers are one of the few seeds that have a top or bottom. Cucumbers need to be seeded with the pointed side down (this is the end the radical- or initial root- of the plant emerges). If the pointed end of the cucumber seed is in the up position, the radical will have to reorient itself into the media and may dry out as it tried to get the root down in to the growing media. Cucumbers prefers a media temperature between 70-75 °F.

Lettuce can be sown 1- 3 seeds per hole depending on the variety grown.  Bibb is always planted with just one seed per cube.  With leaf lettuces, planting a red leaf, a green leaf and perhaps an oak leaf can result in a harvestable size more quickly and have a ready salad in each cube for the consumer (also called bouquet of lettuce). Lettuce media should be kept between 55-70 °F for germination. This seed is temperature sensitive and too much heat can cause lettuce to enter a state of thermodormancy for a long time even after environmental circumstances once again become optimal.  Most herbs prefer cooler temperatures like lettuce and germination time can vary greatly by variety. Most herbs grow well in NFT channels, but if they are longer term or being used as stock pants, they can be transplanted into Bato Buckets to allow for more root and growing space.  

One of the first steps in being a good grower is knowing that if you want  healthy, premium plants it is necessary to start with a healthy, premium seedling!

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