January 31, 2017
Seed and Plant Handling Tips for Growers and Plant Raisers
Seeds are living organisms and improper handling or storage can greatly reduce their performance. De Ruiter recommends all seed should be used within two years of purchase, but the following information should help ensure maximum shelf life potential.
High temperatures and humidity may reduce seed vigor and germination. Therefore, seed should be stored in a cool, dry place, out of direct sunlight and in closed containers. De Ruiter packs its seed at industry-recommended moisture percentages. Containers must be kept closed to prevent humidity from damaging the seeds.
We recommend storing untreated seed, and seed treated with fungicide at 10°C (50°F). Seed that is either primed or treated with insecticide should be stored at 1°C - 5°C (33.8°F - 41°F) or less. Generally, every 5°C decrease of storage temperature doubles the average shelf life of the seed.
Some seed is primed, a process that brings the seed close to the point of germination. Priming the seed may help the seed grow, especially under stressful conditions. Because the priming process reduces the shelf life of seeds, primed seed should be planted in the same year it is primed.
De Ruiter recommends primed seed be stored at 1°C - 5°C (33.8°F - 41°F). It should also have a germination test six months after priming and every three months after that.
Shipping of Seed
When seed is shipped, it needs the same temperature conditions it requires when in storage. It should not be stored near a heat source or in direct sun. When on board a ship, seed should be stored below the deck and away from boilers and other sources of heat. While loading and unloading, avoid placing the seed in direct sunlight or in hot or humid places.
Handle Seed Carefully
Seed can be damaged by rough handling. Seeds have a hard, but fragile coating protecting the living organism within. Corn, pea and bean seed are especially susceptible to damage from rough handling. Bags of these seeds should not be thrown or dropped because the seed coats and embryos can crack, resulting in a seed that won’t develop properly.
We recommend that each seed lot have a germination test every six months (every three months for primed seed). The germination test should be conducted by a laboratory that follows ISTA or other nationally or internationally recognized testing rules. Germination results from field tests may vary from laboratory results and should not be used for labeling.