The Q&A Archives: Heat Soaking Seeds To Prevent Fungus

Question: Last year I had a problem with ripe rot in my Carnival Mix peppers. One of your advisors suggested that this year I should soak the seed at 130 degrees before planting them. Should I do the same with any other sorts of seeds? I am planning to grow squash, kohlrabi, beans, cucumbers, carrots and some tomatoes from seed.
Thank you.

Answer: It's a fact that some problems can be caused by seed borne fungi and bacteria, and research continues in this area. The recommentation is heat-treating, following this process:
Just before you plant, heat a lot of water to 130 degrees. Float some jam jars in the water. The jars should be about half filled with water. After the jars have reached the right temperature, put up to one teaspoon of seed into each jar. After exactly 10 minutes, take the jars out of the water bath, decant off the hot water, rinse twice with cold water and plant immediately.

Temperature is most important. Too hot will kill the seeds or stunt the growth of seedlings. Too cold will not kill disease pathogens. Time is important too. You can go a bit longer than 10 minutes, if the temperature is right, but after about 30 minutes at 130 degrees seedling vigor and viability of seed will be affected.

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