Seeds take time to equilibrate to storage conditions. Adjustment is affected by the packaging material, seed composition and air movement around and through the seed. Seed sealed in foil packets is only affected by temperature and not humidity. Conditions should be as stable as possible since fluctuations can stress seeds.
The quality of flower seed can be measured. Various tests help describe the vigour of a particular seed lot. Vigour is the strength of growth of the seed and seedling which is sensitive and can be shown to decline with seed storage time. After a certain period of time the seed lot will have no value to you, despite your best cultural efforts. Failure to obtain full plug trays of high quality transplants may well be the result of prolonged storage of seed under wrong conditions. Recommendations for storage conditions for flower seed, state that the humidity levels should be 25-35%. This will keep temperatures below room temperature (cooler than 15°C), with an emphasis on lower temperatures if possible, of around 5°- 8°C.
No matter how good your storage conditions are, minimising time is recommended. Better inventory organization and the rapid transport of seed from suppliers and distributors to growers helps to protect your investment in seed quality. It is therefore crucial to ensure your seed supplier is delivering you “freshness” from the moment the seed is harvested until you receive the packet in your nursery. For this you need confidence that seed has been handled in the best conditions. Good planning of your seed requirements and programming this delivery with your supplier, always achieves the best results and helps protect your investment in seed quality.
As an example, Impatiens seed exposed to temperatures above 21°C and humidity above 40% for more than 2 hours can reduce the viability by up to 27% or even induce dormancy!
Ball Australia offers the following:
We travel regularly attending breeder trials around the world to secure the latest developments and selections in seed varieties. Trials are conducted at our nursery to ensure the crop you grow is suited to Australian conditions.
Ball Australia offers the Australian horticultural industry its extensive experience and innovative thinking to make sure you always have the best products, the most efficient tools and the dynamic solutions to build your business.
It is important to appreciate that seeds of different crops have different built-in shelf lives. The shelf life of seed is like a biological clock that causes vigour to be lost with each tick. It is possible to slow down this clock by providing good storage conditions. Maintaining the correct storage conditions is important for short shelf-life products such as flower seeds.
Seed quality is subject to deterioration over time. The rate at which quality is lost depends on the conditions seeds are exposed to. Temperature and humidity are primary factors that influence deterioration of seed quality over time. Suppliers, distributors and growers all need to preserve the quality of seed for sowing. The shelf life of seed can be maintained if stored in appropriate conditions.
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Our seed balls/seed bombs are individually made in our Pennsylvania greenhouse. I like to think of them as the Ferrari of seed balls. They contain a combination of mineral soil and three types of compost. Read about the science behind our formulation on our science page. Seeds are scarified if necessary prior to placing in the seed ball. Depending on the size and requirements of the plants, seeds are either mixed in with the soil before the seed balls are made or placed individually within the moist seed ball. We carefully hand roll each seed ball until it’s just right. The seed balls are then air-dried, providing a safe haven for its contents until germination.
A pumpkin seed ball growing in our lab.
Seed balls may have been used by the Ancient Egyptians to seed the receding banks of The Nile after annual floods. They have been used in Asia and elsewhere, especially in arid regions, because of their ability to keep the seeds safe until conditions are favorable for germination, and the ease at which they can be distributed.
Seed Ball Anatomy
In the Carolinas in the 1700’s, West African slaves, predominantly women, were brought in to cultivate rice using a seed ball technique that was used in Africa. Rice seeds were coated in clay, dried, and pressed into the mud flats with the heel of the foot. This served two purposes, protecting the seed from the birds, and also preventing it from floating off when the fields were flooded. I am surprised that this is not mentioned more in the online seed ball literature. I plant to write a more lengthy post about it soon.
Our seed balls are packaged in a small recyclable brown paper bag. Nothing fancy, nothing that leaves an unnecessary footprint.
More recently, Japanese agricultural renegade, Masanobu Fukuoka, began exploring the use of seed balls (nendo dango in Japanese) to help improve food production in post WWII Japan. His research and outreach efforts has brought the seed ball back into the public eye.
Today, seed balls are fun for green-minded kids and adults, and are also an important tool of the guerrilla gardening movement.
A seed ball before the storm.
All about the origins of seed balls. How they were used in agriculture and how they are used to sow wildflowers today.