A Seed Viability Test is an important thing all crop farmers must know how to do. This is because dead or nonviable seeds will never germinate when sown in the soil. When that occurs, the farmers will lose all the money, time and energy spent on sowing such seeds. You can do this test on seeds collected from your harvested crops, seeds bought on the market or seeds stored for a very long time. This article will discuss the various methods to test if a seed is viable or active and how to do them.
Seed Viability Test Methods
There are two simple seed viability test methods. They include: The Water Method and Paper Towel Method.
The Water Method
To perform a seed viability test using the water method, follow the steps below:
- Fill a bucket with water and pour the seeds you want to test their viability into the bucket with water.
- Leave the seeds for 15-20 minutes and don’t disturb the water or seeds during this waiting period.
- If the seeds sink to the bottom of the bucket, it shows they are viable. On the other hand, if the seeds float on the water, it means they are not viable or are poor germinators.
If only a few seeds float on water, it means most of the seeds are viable. If most of the seeds float on water, it means the seeds are less viable.
There are a few issues with this water method, but it’s a quick method to check if the seeds a farmer is about to sow are viable. It’s worth mentioning that seeds float on water sometimes. This is why it’s not recommended to discard floating seeds. You could sow them in a separate part of the field.
The Paper Towel Method
For this method, you will need a few quantities of the seeds (picked randomly picked), a paper towel and plastic sandwich bag. Follow the steps below:
- Take the seeds and soak them in water (use the water method discussed above).
- Moisten the paper towel with water and avoid soaking it in water.
- Place the soaked seeds inside the towel. Make sure the seeds are spaced 1 inch from each other.
- Place the towel inside a plastic sandwich bag and close it up. Keep the bag in a warm place but away from direct sunlight.
- After 2 days, remove the paper towels from the bag and check if the seeds have germinated. You can sprinkle water on the towel if it’s dry. This is to keep it moist. Within 1-2 weeks, all the seeds should have germinated.
Interpretation of a Seed Viability Test
If all the 10 seeds used for the test germinated successful, it means the seed have a 100 percent germination rate. If only 9 seeds that germinated, that is 90 percent germination rate. If only 8 seeds germinated, that is 80 percent germination rate, and so on. Of course, 80-100 percent is ideal. You can go ahead with sowing the seeds on the field.
If want you got is 50% or lower, it shows the seeds have a poor germination rate. Nevertheless, you can still sow them, but your sowing rate must increase due to the low viability.