Seed Germination Rates

It’s pretty obvious that the quality of seed is going to effect the quality of the plant. Basically, if the seed is dead you are not going to get any crop at all. Unfortunately we don’t know when we sow how many of our seeds are viable so when nothing appears is it the seeds or our cultivation method?

On our allotment site Larry undertook an informal experiment with beetroot from different suppliers and indeed there was a large variation. One row was full of gaps and one needed thinning. Although not good enough for a proper scientific test it was pretty indicative that some supplier’s seed was better than others.

I’ve had a triple pack of French beans from Wilkinsons that has had 100% failure to germinate this year. Yet in the same bed my Buerre de Rocquencort French beans picked up in France last year have had near 100% germination – the exact opposite.

Which magazine undertook a scientific study and compared seeds from different manufacturers and discovered that some suppliers were much better than others in terms of germination rate. Since the conditions were exactly the same the results were more accurate.

Now of course there will be an element of luck. One supplier can have a bad batch and gets a bad rating. Edwin Tucker was reported as having very poor germination – only 15% of their Little Gem lettuce and 33% of parsnip Tender and True produced normal seedlings, yet Tuckers have been around for a long time and have a good reputation amongst the gardening community.

I’m relieved to note that Suttons and Thompson & Morgan did very well in the tests although Dobies didn’t fare so well. This is a bit strange as Dobies are part of Suttons but we come back to the bad batch possibility.

Anyway, I’m confident in the general quality of the seed suppliers featured on the site but next time nothing appears from a sowing I won’t be so sure it’s me at fault.

When you look at the effort that goes into growing your crops it’s got to be worth spending a little more for decent quality seed. I’m not saying cheap seeds are always a waste of money but this year we have no Tendercrop French beans so not really a bargain there.

There’s an article on the site about the lifespan & storing seeds you might find interesting as well. It also includes information on expected time to germination and how to check your seeds are viable and what the germination rate is.

Good Luck!

Posted in Tools & Stuff
4 comments on “Seed Germination Rates
  1. F. Gross says:

    I thought the EEC laid down minimum germination rates for seed on sale.

  2. John says:

    Yes but that doesn’t mean they’re always adhered to

  3. steven says:

    how long does it take for a bean seed to germination

  4. John says:

    As long as the chart mentioned and linked to in the article says

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