Seed Germination Rates

By GrowingDeer,

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I want to say thank you for sharing your success with us every week.  I also want to thank you for sharing your failures as well.  I loved the segment when you showed that your food plots were less than optimal and shared with us the reason why (GDTV 43).  It is easy to brag when things go great but not so easy to admit fault.  I have had several experiences where my food plot was a miserable failure and I often wondered why.  Your segment made me realize what I did wrong and how to correct it in the future.

In doing a germination test what should be an acceptable germination rate and when is it unacceptable?  If I get an unacceptable rate then what should I do with the seed that I purchased?  Can I return it to the vendor?



Thank you for your kind words!  I expect the germination rate to be very close to what is published on the bag.  Most seed companies must follow some government regulated guidelines to test and publish the germination rates.  The published rates expire and must be retested after a specified period of time.  If you purchase seed that is labeled with a germination rate and the rate is less than labeled, I would certainly take it back for an exchange or refund.  In general, I like the seed I’m planting to have a 90+% germination rate.  However, there are exceptions.  Hard-seeded crops like clover will maintain a higher germination rate than soft-seeded crops like wheat.  I’ve purchased excess clover (probably because I received a discounted price) and maintained it for more than a year or two in a cool, dry, dark storage area before.  As long as the germination rate is 75% or better, I plant it and smile!  In this situation, a reduced germination rate should be considered as a trade-off for the reduced price.  Caution should be used with determining the value of such trade-offs as more seed must be planted per acre to compensate for the reduced germination.  Ideally we all want to plant fresh seed with a very high germination rate.  However, in reality we will likely have some seed left over or are given some that might have a reduced germination rate.  In this case, it’s always wise to do a germination test before planting so the seeding rate to achieve the appropriate stand density can be accurately calculated.

Growing Deer together,