Seed Longevity - Knowledgebase Question

Bloomington, MN
Question by mgray1
January 9, 2001
What is the typical time you can expect to keep seeds from season to season and still find them usable? In other words, is there a rule of thumb as to how long you can keep seeds and under what conditions?


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Answer from NGA
January 9, 2001

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Unfortunately, there isn't a "neat" answer to your question. Some seeds can remain viable for many years; others last only 1 or 2 years. What typically happens is that in any group of seeds, some percentage will lose the ability to germinate each year. So, in an old pack of seeds, a few might germinate. If I have old seed packs, I usually sow heavier than normal to make up for that. Another factor is how the seeds are stored. They should be in airtight containers in a cool, dark place, or in the refrigerator (not the freezer). Don't store in plastic bags, which produces humidity and the seeds rot. Also, if you save your own seeds, make sure they are completely dry and free of chaff. I hope this helps!

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