Dry Your Seeds To Store Them For A Long While
Drying is a mandatory step while storing seeds. By safekeeping seeds, you are preserving this year’s yield for the coming years. But when the seeds are stored as-is, without proper processing, they may decay and be wasted. Thus, it is safe to dry the seeds, before you expect them to do magic in the field in the future.
Why Seed Drying Mandatory?
The ideal condition for seeds to germinate is when there is warmth and moisture in the air. Germination is the process of seeds using their stored energy to grow a life it has saved within. So, if seeds stay in the open air and damp conditions, they may be used up and may not be capable of growing the plants when you plant them.
Instead, with the moisture, warmth, and light removed, the energy saved within the seed will last long, as the metabolic activity inside the seed is stopped. So, to improve the seed germination rate and increase its viable lifetime in storage, store seeds after drying.
Apart from this wet seeds tend to shed their coat skin. This coat skin acts as a seed protector against rotting and pests. So with the coat skin removed, damp seeds will easily rot and turn inappropriate for planting. Also, drying seeds help protect them from pests that may feed on wet seeds. The pests attack such wet seeds and spread diseases that may harm the seed quality and life. By drying the seeds, you can safeguard your seeds from any such diseases. Also, seeds stored in damp conditions tend to develop a mold over them, which affects the seed quality.
There are many methods to stop this metabolism in seeds. But all such methods assure a dry and cold ambiance for seeds to stay dormant. Though dried, the life span of the seed is determined by many other factors as well.
Seed Drying Methods
Various seed drying methods can be used depending upon the quantity of seed to be stored and the longevity of seed life. The process may differ, but the idea remains the same - lower the temperature and humidity to a point of dormancy and store seeds in sealed containers, like glass jars, at very low temperatures.
The containers play a major role in the seed life, as plastic containers can somewhat ruin the complete concept. Glass jars having rubber seals and metal clasp or snap-top mason jars are used for long-term storage. It is advised to categorize and pack the dried seeds in envelopes, name the packs, and store them in transparent containers. This helps in unwanted opening and closing of containers while you search for one among them. Each time the container seal is removed, the air within it comes in contact with moisture and can spoil the stored seeds.
- Some seeds can stay alive for 1-2 years at ambient room temperatures when stored in breathable bags.
- Seeds can be preserved for about five years when they are dried and stored in air-tight containers.
- After drying, store the seeds in the freezer, in sealed containers for about 20 years and more.
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Seed Drying With The Rice
For domestic storage purposes, rice can be used to dry the seeds. The rice absorbs the moisture from the seeds and leaves them dry. For this, take five times the amount of rice to seeds and bake it in an oven. Grab the seeds to be dried in a paper bag and keep the bag along with the dried rice in an air-tight container for two to three weeks. The seeds would be completely dried by this time. Store the dried seeds in a separate airtight container.
Seed Drying With Silica Gel
For larger quantities of dried seeds, use the silica gel method. Silica gel is a porous silicon dioxide that comes in beads form. This beaded form of amorphous silicon dioxide in its can trap water molecules in its irregular pores and thus remove moisture from its surroundings. So, silica gel is often used as a desiccant. One major attraction of using the silica gel method is its reusability. By proper processing, moisture from saturated silica gel beads can be removed and the same set of beads can be reused for drying multiple batches of seeds.
- To dry out the seeds, take equal parts of silica gel and the seeds to be dried in an air-tight container. Two points to be noted here are
- Separating bags: the drying agent and the seeds are to be taken in separate bags, made of permeable materials like paper, muslin cloth, other permeable cloth, etc. This allows the moisture to be easily absorbed by silica gel beads even though stored in separate bags.
- The container size: Using a container just enough to contain the silica gel and the seeds will reduce atmospheric moisture content. Thus the desiccant beads can absorb moisture from the seeds in their maximum efficiency.
- Let the seeds be dried, so leave it as-is for about a week.
- Open the container, transfer the dried seeds to another air-tight jar, and store it in cold dry conditions.
- The desiccant would have absorbed all the moisture content from the seeds and thus be saturated.
Moisture absorbed in the silica gel brings changes to some of its physical properties. The beads gain weight and change colour depending upon which type of silica gel is in use. To know the weight change, weigh the silica gel portion before and after drying. Or use colour-changing beads, like orange to green or blue to pink & non indicating White beads. Thus you may also understand when the drying agent is saturated, and a replacement is necessary.
With high-quality silica gel beads from Sorbead, seed drying is effortless and efficient. Improve the quality and longevity of stored seeds with the silica gel drying method.