Germinating Your Seeds
For gardeners who are growing high value crops in small beds or container plots it’s easy to overcome germination challenges by over-seeding and then culling the less vigorous plants once the seedlings have emerged.
Planting Row Crops
However, for farmers of row crops, that isn’t economically feasible. Growers have to look for hybrids with the genetic traits that will have the strongest chances of germinating in the conditions they are being planted into. That might include a cold or wet spring and temperatures that can linger for days below where germination ideally takes place for a given crop.
Biggest Challenges to Achieving Proper Emergence
The most common challenges farmers face in getting their seeds to properly germinate are
- Cold Temperatures
- Wet Soils
- Pests Eating The Seed
- Old Seed
Temperatures which bring the soil-water temperatures down below the physiological requirement for germination means planted seeds can sit in the soil for too long without emerging. While the seed sits in the ground it is susceptible to pests and foraging animals which can feed the seed.
Of course, seeds need water to begin the germination process. However, there also needs to be enough gas exchange in the soil complex to allow the seed to properly grow its initial shoot and root structure. Too much water will drown the seedling before it has a chance to emerge and cause the seed to rot.
Pests are always a danger to crops, but pre-emerged seeds and young seedlings are especially vulnerable. Farmers have taken to applying a seed treatment to seeds before planting in order to either protect the seed from common pests and disease or to fertilize the seed in order to speed up the emergence process.
The following video is a commercial seed treating used for treating seeds
While some seeds can last many years before being placed in the soil, some seeds will lose their potency after a few seasons. As a results fewer seeds successfully emerge and are consumed by pests and other animals in the ground.