Seed Viability for Germination

Seeds are dormant, but there is a limit to their viability.  Most seeds will still germinate after a few years, albeit with lower germination rates.  To maximize the length of time that a seed will remain viable, it should be stored under ideal conditions, protected from light, heat and moisture.  A dark, sealed container in a cool part of the basement or refrigerator is usually best.

If an adequate quantity of seeds is available, a sample can be germination tested once a year to get an accurate idea of germination rates.  Most seeds can be placed in a moistened towel rolled up and kept moist under normal germination conditions.  After the typical period of germination, the percentage of seeds germinating will provide an indication as to the general condition of the supply.  Some types of seeds will need to be stratified at a cool temperature for a period of time prior to germination testing.

The following table is a limited list of seeds and their expected period of viability if they are stored properly.

Asparagus                   3 years

Beans                          3 years

Beet                             4 years

Broccoli                       3 years

Brussels Sprouts          4 years

Cabbage                      4 years

Carrot                          3 years

Cauliflower                   4 years

Celery                          3 years

Collard                         5 years

Corn                            2 years

Cress                           5 years

Cucumber                    5 years

Eggplant                      4 years

Endive                         5 years

Kale                             4 years

Kohlrabi                      3 years

Leek                            1 year

Lettuce                         5 years

Muskmelon                 5 years

Mustard                       4 years

Okra                            2 years

Onion                          1 year

Parsley                        1 year

Parsnip                        1 year

Pea                              3 years

Pepper                         2 years

Pumpkin                      4 years

Radish                         4 years

Rutabaga                     4 years

Spinach                       1 year

Squash                         4 years

Swiss Chard                4 years

Tomato                        4 years

Turnip                          4 years

Watermelon                 4 years

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