When do you take notice of best before dates on seed packs?

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When do you take notice of best before dates on seed packs?

Postby Pawty » Tue Mar 15, 2016 7:26 pm

I've always been a bit sceptical about the best before dates for seeds (have pretty much ignored them for everything except parsnip).

So, a few weeks ago a planted various chilli seeds. The new ones have all germinated, none of the old (and a couple years after th best before) have.

Coincidence or is there something in it??

How does the millennium seed bank deal with this - assume this is all about storage conditions and only keeping the best quality seeds.

So based on experience, what seeds do you keep/ grow and which do you chuck?

Thanks

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Re: When do you take notice of best before dates on seed packs?

Postby peter » Tue Mar 15, 2016 7:33 pm

Special packets and consistent low temperature.
Plus I think they grow some every do many years for new seeds.

Definitely storage conditions and varies by the plant.
I've always found sweetcorn to be sensitive. :?
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Re: When do you take notice of best before dates on seed packs?

Postby dan3008 » Tue Mar 15, 2016 10:19 pm

Pawty wrote:When do you take notice of best before dates on seed packs?

always and never lol

I always take note, and like to have "in date" seed in but if I've got something out of date... I'll plant it any way and see what happens
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Re: When do you take notice of best before dates on seed packs?

Postby Pa Snip » Wed Mar 16, 2016 6:02 am

My approach to dated seed depends upon the variety.

In the case of Parsnip I now only use seed purchased early in the current season, and even then have stopped sowing as early as February.

Carrots I find will germinate even if a few years old, subject to having been kept in dry conditions.

As Peter has already said, Sweetcorn is sensitive, % of germination reduces dramatically once seed is over a year old so like parsnip I am now only sowing fresh purchased seed each year.
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Re: When do you take notice of best before dates on seed packs?

Postby Pawty » Fri Mar 18, 2016 9:12 am

Thanks, I never realised sweetcorn seed was so sensitive ...... That might explain something :D
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Re: When do you take notice of best before dates on seed packs?

Postby Monika » Fri Mar 18, 2016 6:58 pm

As mentioned above, parsnip seed really needs to be fresh, but although carrots are the same family, they certainly appear to last longer. The seeds which seem to stay fresh "forever" are tomatoes. Because I only grow between three and six plants a year and like to grow them from seeds, I use the same seeds for three or four years and have always had good germination, similarly for French and runner beans.

If you have enough seeds left, Pawty, you could always test them by trying a few on damp kitchen paper.
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Re: When do you take notice of best before dates on seed packs?

Postby Primrose » Sat Mar 19, 2016 5:17 pm

Because I have a relatively small growing area I often have seed packets half used and often sow when they are two or three years old to use up. Contrary to common belief I regularly sow parsnip seeds when they're two years old, just a little more thickly than normal to allow for failures but still always get reasonable germination.

My five year old pepper seeds didn,t germinate this year so that was probably expecting too much but my four year old tumbling tomato seeds have all germinated. The risk you take of course is losing growing time if germination fails and you have to resow if you need a long growing season with long germination times like chillies and peppers. But with the cost of seed packets continually rising it seems a shame not to try and use up what you still have in stock for most items.

I do find that lettuce seeds are pretty useless after about five years :lol: One of the secrets for keeping them in good condition for longer is not store them in too warm a place.
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Re: When do you take notice of best before dates on seed packs?

Postby Tony Hague » Mon Mar 21, 2016 1:20 pm

This is a kind of useful summary:

Image

I keep changing my mind on this one. Last year I got a fantastic result from 5 year old red cabbage seed. This year, the first emerged peppers are from seed I saved myself last year, and the oldest tomato seeds are the two that haven't shown at all despite tomato seed being one of the longest lived.
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Re: When do you take notice of best before dates on seed packs?

Postby dan3008 » Mon Mar 21, 2016 3:51 pm

Tony Hague wrote:I keep changing my mind on this one. Last year I got a fantastic result from 5 year old red cabbage seed. This year, the first emerged peppers are from seed I saved myself last year, and the oldest tomato seeds are the two that haven't shown at all despite tomato seed being one of the longest lived.

I think probably the biggest difference in how long seeds last is how long the manufacturer takes to packet them up and distribute them

Take this as the rambling of a cynical old man, in a young man's body, but have you ever noticed that they never put year harvested on seed packets? only year packaged. I think the actual age of the seed can vary by a few years, even if it has the same "sow by" date on it... I dono, what do you think?
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Re: When do you take notice of best before dates on seed packs?

Postby Primrose » Mon Mar 21, 2016 6:25 pm

You may be right Dan. I do occasionally wonder how old some of the seeds are which we get in the free packets distributed with the magazine, and whether it's a way of disposing of seeds that can't really be sold through garden centres and similar outlets.
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Re: When do you take notice of best before dates on seed packs?

Postby PLUMPUDDING » Thu Mar 24, 2016 9:03 am

I've thought that too Dan. Also I've seen racks of seeds displayed next to a hot air blower in a garden centre. A lot can happen to seed before it reaches us, that's why I like to save my own seed from the easier ones, at least you know exactly how old it is.

I'm testing out some pelleted parsnip seed to see how many years it stays viable. This is its fourth year. There have been lower rates of germination each year but I still got about 20 roots last year which was ample.I'll let you know what happens to this year's sowing.

The pelleted carrots all seemed to germinate last year too, in their third year with no noticeable misses.
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Re: When do you take notice of best before dates on seed packs?

Postby Pawty » Thu Mar 24, 2016 5:15 pm

Hi, I hate to admit that I did have to google what 'pelleted seed is' - I don't think I have come across it before?

Google told me that :

'Pelleting is a process in which small or irregularly shaped seeds are coated with an inert material to make them round and uniform. The benefits of pelleting are numerous: Pelleted seeds can be planted with a mechanical seeder.'

Interesting. Is it difficult to get hold of pelleted seeds and I assume is more expensive? Assume it means that you can space small seed more easily and is less likely to be eaten etc ..... Keeps longer ..

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Re: When do you take notice of best before dates on seed packs?

Postby dan3008 » Thu Mar 24, 2016 5:26 pm

PLUMPUDDING wrote:I've thought that too Dan. Also I've seen racks of seeds displayed next to a hot air blower in a garden centre.

You wouldn't be on about the garden center attached to a particularly large home ware outlet up at centertainment would you plum? Lol I was at the range today and there seed stand is right under a large heating vent... Cant be good for the seeds

That said, I once went to a garden centre who had all there seeds in a greenhouse, according to the thermometer in there I was nearly 35c in there, I cant imagine those seeds were too happy... Plus it was humid

Pawty wrote:Hi, I hate to admit that I did have to google what 'pelleted seed is' - I don't think I have come across it before


I would have googled if you hadn't beaten me to it. I'm just laughing to myself over the idea of pelleted squash seed (only exist in my head) they'd be the size of a marble lol
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Re: When do you take notice of best before dates on seed packs?

Postby Monika » Thu Mar 24, 2016 6:43 pm

I heartily agree about the strange areas where garden centres display their seeds, PP and dan. One fairly local one also keep the seeds in a former greenhouse and it can get really hot in there - I never buy any seeds there for that reason.
And presumably it also depends where the seeds are kept at home, especially from one year to another. We have a dark and rather cool and dry cupboard under the stairs, and that's where I keep all seeds at all times.
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Re: When do you take notice of best before dates on seed packs?

Postby PLUMPUDDING » Fri Mar 25, 2016 10:55 pm

I bought the pelleted seeds from Moles Seeds who do seem to be mainly a commercial supplier. They are generous amounts of seeds so it is good that they keep well. It makes spacing the seeds very easy and eliminates the need for thinning. It was Johnboy who recommended them.
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