The Q&A Archives: Nicking Hard Shelled Seed

Question: Do my sunflower seeds need to be nicked? What is the best way to nick a seed?

Answer: Sunflower seeds soften up when they're planted in moist soil, so nicking isn't necessary. There are a few seeds with very hard seedcoats (like morning glory and sweetpea) that benefit from nicking, to help with water absorbtion. This 'scarification' process is best done with a knife or a sharp-edged file. Just make a small notch in the seedcoat - barely deep enough to penetrate the seedcoat, but not so deep that you damage the seed embryo. Then plant the seed in moistened soil. The nick in the seedcoat will allow water to enter and the germinating seed will split the seedcoat when it pushes a root and a shoot out.

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