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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.