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Seed Storage and Handling


Proper storage and handling is important to seed viability. Large vegetable seeds like sweet corn, peas, and beans are susceptible to mechanical damage if handled roughly. When loading or unloading these crops, do not throw or drop the bags since the seed coats and embryos can be damaged. Rough handling has been shown to significantly decrease germination or reduce vigor of germinated seedlings. Minimize seed damage when treating seeds of these crops with a fungicide, inoculum, or other chemicals.

High temperature and high relative humidity will reduce seed germination and vigor. Do not store seed in areas that have high temperatures (greater than 70°F) or where humidity values are greater than 60 percent. The ideal storage temperature for seeds is 35-40°F with a relative humidity of less than 40 percent. Most refrigerators hold a temperature of about 40°F but have high relative humidity. Seeds stored in a refrigerator should be kept in containers that have a good seal to keep the humidity levels low.

If you purchase primed seeds, use them during the present planting year, as primed seeds do not store well. If you plant pelleted seeds, large fluctuations in relative humidity can influence pellet integrity, which makes them difficult to plant. Pelleted seed stored for more than 2 years may have reduced germination percentage, so perform a germination test to assess viability before planting. Refer to Table 1.1 for seed germination and storage information