Drying seeds before planting prepares the seed in such a way that helps it protect the insides so that the seed germinates and produces a healthy seedling.
Seeds, when dried before planting stand a better chance of germination as the drying process hardens and seals the protective coat around inner parts. Seeds should be dried for 2 – 3 weeks in indirect sunlight on a clean surface. Dried seeds can be stored for up to 5 years under the right conditions.
Excess moisture and humidity can cause rot on the seeds.
When planting seeds, we will need to protect the coated skin, which protects the grain. When seeds are not dried, the coated skin can easily fall off.
As a result, the seed will rot and may not grow if planted. In addition, some pests and diseases tend to attack wet seeds.
We will explain exactly how to dry seeds which prevents a host of problems while ensuring successful germination.
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Do Seeds Need to be Dried Before Planting?
Seeds need to be dried before planting. This ensures that the germination process is successful, allowing the plumule to grow safely into shoots.
In a germinating seed, the embryo (the baby plant) is hugged by the cotyledon until its ready to germinate and grow outwards.
The seed also needs to be dried in the open to ensure free air circulation so that it is free from any damage from pests and is well aerated.
The benefits of drying seeds include:
- The seeds become easy to germinate
- Ease of planting
- There will be minimal risk of infestation and contamination
- Free from damage and rot
- Free from pesticides and diseases that attack wet seeds.
Seeds that are dried develops well-shaped cotyledons and are more likely to germinate and grow into healthy seedlings.
Wet seeds will not adapt well due to excess moisture content, causing rot and damage.
The drying process increases the viability and functionality of the seed when sown. proper drying technique coupled with the right planting depth will produce stronger plants with higher yields.
Although they need drying, excess drying can kill the seed by hardening the seed coat making the seed impermeable to water when planted.
Keep in mind that not all seeds can be dried before planting.
Some seeds cannot be dried because they need immediate moisture content in their surroundings to mature and grow swiftly.
Let’s look at the seeds that will work well when dried before planting.
Which Seeds Work Well When Dried?
Some fruits need to be dried and then re-wetted to be planted efficiently.
Other seeds need to be thoroughly dried before you plant them. Some seeds like pepper need to be wet during planting.
The following seeds need to be dried entirely before planting them.
- Apple seeds
- Avocado seeds
- Lemon fruit seeds
How to Dry Seeds Before Planting?
In larger fruits like pumpkins, the seeds should be removed before placing to dry.
Seed extraction is recommended because the larger vegetables and fruits will contain excess moisture that can ruin the drying process of the seeds.
After removal, wash the seeds separately, put them on a clean plate, and let them settle for some time without adding any water.
After that, place the seeds in a transparent polythene bag, look for a very open, clear space, and put them directly exposed to the clear sunlight.
You should turn them over to ensure every part of the seed is well dried completely.
Leave them to be sundried for at least two weeks and then take them and get them ready for planting.
Make sure you never leave the seeds outside at night because the morning dew can disrupt the process of sun-drying the seeds.
The morning dew will wet the seeds if left open outside.
It is recommended that you will need to dry seeds roughly for at least 2 – 3 weeks to ensure complete drying.
When to Extract Seeds from the Fruit?
Seeds should be extracted when the fruit is already ripe and mature.
Pollinated fruits and the ones which are well taken care of are the ones that grow into edible and fresh fruits.
They enable the person harvesting the fruit to have an easy time and obtain good quality seeds.
Proper storage also can enhance fruit quality.
Proper handling in case of transportation from the farm to the household can also help produce good seeds from good fruit.
There are some things that are essential when extracting the seeds from the fruit.
- Ensure you handle the fruit properly; do not overpress, which may cause damage.
- Then wash thoroughly.
- Cut the fruit in half and precisely to avoid cutting in through the seeds hence damaging them.
- Use a clean spoon, scoop out the seeds into a clean bowl with water to wash the seeds. This makes it easy to remove any fruit that remains on the seed.
- Let the seeds settle for at least two days, and make sure you regularly check on them to avoid contamination from other sources.
- Remove the seeds from the water, place them in transparent polythene, and tear a small piece to allow air to circulate through the seeds to avoid moldy situations.
- Leave them for another additional two weeks for them to dry thoroughly.
Ensure the seed is well taken off and stored in cool, dry places.
Avoid humid areas as it can make the drying process have no benefit.
Should Seeds be Dried in Direct Sun or Be Covered?
Yes. You can decide to sun dry them. Also, they can be covered after drying every day for 2 to 3 weeks to be free from any damaging moisture.
Sun-drying makes the seeds lose moisture faster than when placed in a jar or polythene where they transpire more slowly.
It is better to sundry directly. When you cover the seeds, they may sweat and recover the moisture again.
However, you will need to be extra careful here. First, you should dry the seeds when the sun is not intense.
You should avoid the direct sun at 12 pm – 2 pm since the intense sun heat will kill the seeds. Therefore we recommend putting them out to dry before or after this period.
The recommended time
The most efficient way to dry the seeds is to sun dry them as it takes a shorter time to dry than covering them with polythene paper.
What Keeps Seeds from Drying Out?
The seeds are mostly not well dried out due to the moisture content, which can cause molding and rotting of the seeds.
When it comes to drying seeds, depending on the fruit from which it came, it will determine if the seeds will need to be dried or not.
Other factors that can alter the drying process are
- The weather conditions,
- The method of drying used,
- The quality of time provided for the seeds to dry
- The location that the seeds are dried.
Other minor factors include human factors like the handling and the nature of the seed.
Also, when the seeds are extracted from a previously attacked fruit or grain, it can be pretty difficult to dry thoroughly.
Seeds need attention and special care; any slight hindrance or mistake can mess your planting season and hope.
How to Determine if the Seeds are Correctly Dried
We have seen that you will need to wait for at least 2 -3 weeks for your seeds to dry out sufficiently. But, how will you know if the seeds are ready to get into the soil for the process of germination to start?
First and foremost, the large and thin seeds will break with a ‘snapping’ sound when you twist them using your fingers.
In this case, your seeds have dried out well, and you can start the planting process. Secondly, the pod should be hard and woody.
Thirdly, the seeds will have a distinct sound when they have dried out well with low moisture levels.
Extra tips When Drying Seeds
Remember that the seeds should not come into contact with the soil when drying them.
The drying material that you are using should have holes for free passage of air for fast drying.
You should not dry the seeds rapidly because it can lower the rate of germination.
At night, remember not to leave them outside. They can regain moisture because of the morning due.
Spread the seeds and turn them from time to time for complete drying.
How Long Can you Store Dried Seeds
Seeds may be viable for hundreds and even thousands of years. The oldest carbon-14-dated seed that has grown into a viable plant was a Judean date palm seed about 2,000 years old, recovered from excavations at the palace of Herod the Great in Israel. [Source]
The water content and temperature have a direct effect on seed longevity.
The sum of relative humidity and temperature should be less than 100F for the sample to survive 5 years.
Another rule is that reduction of water content by 1% or temperature by 10 °F (5.6 °C) will double the seed life span.
But there is a limit to how far you can dry seeds. If the moisture content within the seeds is too low, it can significantly reduce the germination success rate.