Vegetables and Fruit forum: frozen vegetable seed packs

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marymaez76
Mar 25, 2016 2:12 PM CST
hi. we put our seeds in the freezer, can they still be planted or do I need to get new seeds? im just wondering if they will germinate? thank you
Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
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CarolineScott
Mar 25, 2016 3:02 PM CST
Welcome! to ATP
Some of the seeds may germinate.
Which plants were the seeds from?
Some seeds should be frozen to break dormancy.
Others do not germinate unless they were dried to the correct extent before freezing.

I would go ahead and plant them.
Or you could test a few on moist paper towels.
And see if they germinate.
It also will depend on where you are located!
Name: Dillard Haley
Augusta Georgia (Zone 8a)
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farmerdill
Mar 25, 2016 5:39 PM CST
Lots of folks store the seeds in freezer. All the seed banks do. If they were properly dried (which would be the case with store bought) they will do fine. They last much longer in the freezer.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
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RickCorey
Mar 25, 2016 6:04 PM CST
Hi Mary. Welcome to ATP!

I agree with Caroline - putting a few seeds on a damp coffee filter will tell you about their viability. However, test seeds that germinate easily or rapidly, like many vegetables. Avoid testing difficult seeds like perennials with dormancy issues.

I think that most seeds will survive freezing if they were quite dry before freezing.

There are less common seeds that can't ever be dried (perhaps mostly tropical seeds??), but those are fairly rare. Normal, safe-to-dry seeds are sometimes called "orthodox" seeds. Gee, are there Liberal and Reform seeds? Maybe Hasidic seeds?

Seeds with dormancy requirements (usually cold-moist "stratification") are complicated.

And maybe some common seed types are even OK if they were only fairly dry before freezing - some people have pointed out that not all seeds in nature get to be dry all winter.

Personally, when I think about ice crystals forming inside the seed embryo, I shudder and don't go down that path.

I follow advice from seed banks and try to get and keep seeds dry down to 15-30% RH, where a fairly dry house will have 30% RH. Where I live, that's like "during the winter, with the heat on".

Then after they are well and truly dry, and sealed to stay that way, big seeds banks either store seeds around 4C (just above freezing) , around -20F , or at cryogenic temps (liquid nitrogen). But dry first, for orthodox seeds.


I found this:
http://www.nsl.fs.fed.us/chapter%204.pdf

"Orthodox Seeds

All orthodox seeds should be stored in moisture-proof,
sealed containers with seed moisture contents of 5 to 10%

If the period of storage will be 3 years or less for true orthodox
species, or 2 years or less for sub-orthodox species,
temperatures of 0 to 5 °C are sufficient. For longer periods
of storage for both types of orthodox species, freezers (–18
to –20 °C) should be used.



Temperate-Recalcitrant Seeds

Temperate recalcitrant seeds should be stored with moisture
contents at least as high as that present when the mature
seeds were shed from the tree. ...
Temperatures should range from 0 to 5 °C, although 1 or 2
degrees below freezing will not harm most species.


Tropical-Recalcitrant Seeds

Storage of tropical recalcitrant seeds is done in the same
manner as storage of temperate species, except that tempera-
tures must be kept at a high level. There are differences
among species but the lower limits are generally 12 to 20
°C. Successful storage for more than 1 year should not be
expected.


Cryogenic Storage

For long-term germplasm conservation programs, true
orthodox and sub-orthodox seeds can be dried to moisture
contents of 5 to 10% and stored in liquid nitrogen.

Germination should be retested on seedlots that will be
stored for more than 5 years. After the initial test, tests
should be carried out after 3 years and every fifth year there-
after. Seed vigor will decline before germination percentage
(Hampton and TeKrony 1995), so tests on stored seedlots
should include some measure of vigor or germination rate
(see chapter 5). When total germination has declined 15%
from its original level, plans should be made to use the
seeds as soon as possible"

[Last edited by RickCorey - Mar 25, 2016 6:30 PM (+)]
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Name: Tim Hoover
Elysian FIelds, Texas (Zone 8a)
Region: Texas Seller of Garden Stuff Beekeeper Ponds
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TimHoover
Mar 26, 2016 7:01 AM CST
The old saying is that if the seed is round (example, Cabbage) store it in the freezer- all others, regular refrigeration. That being said, yes, your seed should be just fine. As mentioned prior, many people store their seed in the freezer. I typically store mine in the refrigerator but a couple years ago, my wife put it all in the chest freezer and I was not aware of it. No problems at all with germination. I assume you are just talking about typical garden seed.
For next season, just keep your new seed in the refrigerator and you will not have any worries. Just as a point of reference, I bought a ton (in error) of a particular variety of tomato in 2004. I, as usual, pulled out the seed, planted it and got near 100% germination. In fact, they are on the way to the garden today for transplant. Just normal refrigeration...
Not all seed will last that long- many, such as Lettuce and Onion, have a short seed life regardless if you refrigerate. Most are good at least 4 years.

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