seed sorting

John Grimshaw
Wed, 28 Dec 2005 04:12:42 PST
There are several mechanical ways of sorting out good from bad seed,
principally based on the differential in weight between a good, full fertile
seed, and the lighter, hollow infertile seed (Including those parasitised by
insects). Simple winnowing often works wonders, and vibration combined with
gentle blowing usually separates out the lighter from the heavier fraction
quite well.

For larger, robust seeds such as Ipomoea, it can be worth trying a flotation
technique. Get a bowl of water and put the seeds in it: the heavy ones will
sink but lighter ones float and can be poured away. Occasionally surface
tension will hold up good seed, but a bit of a swill-around soon overcomes
this. If you're not planning on sowing the seed at once it is important to
get the seed dry again as quickly as possible: I use kitchen paper towelling
and just leave them to air dry in a warmish room - it takes a couple of
hours. Then they can be packeted and stored in the usual way.

John Grimshaw

Dr John M. Grimshaw
Garden Manager, Colesbourne Gardens

Sycamore Cottage
Nr Cheltenham
Gloucestershire GL53 9NP


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