Dud Seeds

Dahlia

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I was wondering what the percentage of dud seed packages there are out there for the unsuspecting gardener to purchase? I know I bought a package of radish seeds that had all dud seeds. Usually if there are duds in a seed package it seems only a few seeds are affected. What do y'all think?
 

Zeedman

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If the seeds are retail packages purchased from stores, I wouldn't be surprised to find a low germination rate - regardless of what might be printed on the packet. Once those seeds leave the packing plant, they are subject to unknown conditions during shipping, handling by people who know nothing about seeds, and stored or displayed in hot or humid locations. Before I began seed saving, it was not uncommon to have a lot of 'duds', and for bean seeds to deteriorate after only 2-3 years.

Even mail-order seeds can have problems. Sometimes (too often IMO) I found out after the fact that I was not alone, and the company had known issues with germination. And if expecting seeds in the mail in late Spring, I try to watch for the delivery, since my black mailbox can get very hot on cloudless days.

And of course, when getting bad germination results, it could be due to weather, pests, diseases, or improper planting. Some seeds are very sensitive to soil temperature, and will either rot or remain dormant outside their preferred soil temperature.

I suddenly began having serious germination issues with direct-seeded beans and soybeans, after years of great results. It turns out that the seed corn fly finally found my rural garden, to the degree that there were some total failures. :( The seeds themselves, once started as transplants, proved to be good. Apparently seed age does play a role in susceptibility to the fly maggots, since the varieties which were newer & came up more rapidly were least affected.
 

digitS'

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FRESH seed is a big leap forward for a successful year. We hardly know what the seed companies have committed to with their "packaged for" and their "germination date."

My suspicion is that they have a lot more knowledge and conditions for seed storage than I do. I'm not much of a seed collector or saver – some tomatoes, a few brassicas, maybe one or two others. Generally, I will not risk my season to, what I figure is old seed. So, I need to pay attention to dates, mine especially. Buying seed fits in with my notions re investments.

Anyway, I may have had 100% successful germination from my saved tomato seed this year.

☺️ Steve
 

flowerbug

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@Zeedman if you are planting beans into cooler ground that seems to make a big difference. i have had reasonable luck the past few seasons with my earliest spring plantings of beans, but i'm only planting one variety which seems to do well in those conditions. i have had other results with other beans planted early where i never bothered to repeat them since i've found some that work better, but generally i just wait for the soil and other conditions to warm up enough.
 

ducks4you

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@Zeedman ,
"Once those seeds leave the packing plant, they are subject to unknown conditions during shipping, handling by people who know nothing about seeds, and stored or displayed in hot or humid locations."
Good Wisdom.
I should Add that some box stores are now selling seeds in plastic packaging that can probably handle this mishandling a little bit better.
 

SPedigrees

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I've always had 100% germination with seeds from these places:

http://www.rareseeds.com/ - Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
https://www.superseeds.com/ - Pinetree Garden Seeds
http://www.highmowingseeds.com/
Park Seeds
Burpee Seeds

Also Swallowtail Seeds is the name of a single seller on Amazon or Etsy whose seeds have always sprouted for me and who has some hard-to-find varieties. Out of convenience I have occasionally ordered from random other sellers on both platforms and have come to regret it about 50% of the time.

Seeds from the afore recommended places can be depended on to germinate a second year (not 100% but more than enough for my needs).
 

ducks4you

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It's hard to guarantee germination rates. I have read on High Mowing packages Their guaranteed germination and none of them say "100%."
I also think that some seeds are naturally more likely to germinate than others, like squash and beans.
BUT, it is good to know which seed "houses" produce high viability.
 

digitS'

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Swallowtail also has a website and online catalog, @SPedigrees .

The first time that I ordered Baker Creek seeds it was through another outfit and years ago. Not one of those melon seeds sprouted. I had no idea what went wrong but I had an immediate prejudice against the seed company and it took several years before I was willing to order from Baker Creek, itself. And then, No Problems!

I tried ordering through Amazon and Walmart sellers with somewhat mixed results. Germination was okay but the time it took for delivery varied and was not acceptable in one case. That was Park Seed from a Texas outfit. Made me think it is probably best to go back to the original source.

Steve
 

SPedigrees

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Swallowtail also has a website and online catalog, @SPedigrees .

The first time that I ordered Baker Creek seeds it was through another outfit and years ago. Not one of those melon seeds sprouted. I had no idea what went wrong but I had an immediate prejudice against the seed company and it took several years before I was willing to order from Baker Creek, itself. And then, No Problems!

I tried ordering through Amazon and Walmart sellers with somewhat mixed results. Germination was okay but the time it took for delivery varied and was not acceptable in one case. That was Park Seed from a Texas outfit. Made me think it is probably best to go back to the original source.

Steve
It seems Swallowtail's owner must be expanding her service. Originally it was very homespun looking, no website (that I knew of at least) just unmarked paper packets, then later with a butterfly stamped on the packet, and finally with the variety of seed printed. She has evolved! But from the start her seeds always sprouted for me. One thing with many of the companies I listed is a limited number of seeds per packet, and I imagine small companies need to conserve to have enough for all their customers.

Must have been the middleman that mishandled Baker Creek's seeds, sounds like. Original source is probably always best. My results have been the same as yours with Amazon sellers.

An interesting story about the viability of seeds: Many decades ago, on a whim, I removed 3 seeds from a friend's baggie of marijuana (back then pot sold came as a collection of seeds, stems, and blossoms), wrapped the 3 seeds in a kleenex (for future use I guess), stashed that kleenex away in a jar, and forgot about it.. .for a long time. That was in the 1980s. A few years ago when marijuana became legal to grow and possess in my state, just for the heck of it I dug out and planted those 3 seeds in a flowerpot outdoors. Amazingly one of those seeds actually sprouted. Unfortunately it died out before it could grow into an actual plant. Not sure what I would have done with it anyway, since I never use the drug these days, but it seems still an amazing example of a seed's will to live and propagate across time.
 

Branching Out

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Funnily enough I just ordered my annual and perennial flower seeds today, and they are from Swallowtail Garden (they are offering free shipping in the U.S. for orders of $60 or more). I had really good success with the petunia, impatience, and perennial gaillardia seeds that I ordered from them so I am getting more. They also offer the Profusion series of landscape zinnias, and I am looking forward to giving those a try next summer.
 

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