Scarification of seeds - a way to speed up germination
Everyone who grows plants from seeds knows that many seeds need to be prepared before they can sprout. It just so happened that in our climate (with winter frosts) nature itself provided for various protective mechanisms so that plants sprouted from seeds in a warm spring season favorable for their life. Hard seed peel is one of the natural barriers that control seed germination time. How to do it right and for what, I will tell in this material.
What is seed scarification?
About one of the options for the natural protection of seeds from premature germination - the presence of special substances in the seed that inhibit development - we described in the material 6 rules for stratification of seeds at home. To destroy these substances, low temperature, humidity and time are required.
But there is another defense mechanism. The seeds of some plants are dormant and can germinate immediately after ripening, that is, in autumn. And this is unacceptable from the point of view of nature, because there is a frosty winter ahead, and seedlings will inevitably die. Therefore, she supplied some of them with a thick, durable and, most importantly, waterproof membrane. Such seeds lie in the ground or on the surface of the soil all winter, experiencing the effects of cold and moisture.
Gradually, the shell begins to “give slack” and in some place collapses (more often along the seam). Moisture begins to flow to the seed and its germination process starts. Usually this coincides with the onset of the warm days of spring. True, there are also seeds for which one winter is not enough, and it may take more time to destroy the hard or, as they say, “rocky” shell (hawthorn, for example).
But, nothing, it is in our power to help such "slow-thinking" and speed up this process. Violation of the integrity of the hard shell of seeds is called artificial scarification.
What's so complicated? - the question arises. He took a hammer, tapped a seed to crack, and plant it. In principle, this is possible, only there are more accurate and correct methods that give a higher percentage of seedlings, rather than a large percentage of cereal from the kernels and shells.
The main methods of artificial scarification of seeds
Sudden change of low and high temperatures
We all know that when temperatures change, materials experience compression and tension. If such a process is done abruptly and repeated several times, then the integrity of the shell can be violated, which is what we need.
In fact, it looks like this. Seeds are placed in a bag of loose fabric (gauze, bandage) and for a few seconds (no more than 30) they are dipped in boiling water, then immediately into a container where a mixture of water and ice is poured. Having done such cycles 3-5 times, the seeds are inspected. If some violations of the shell are noticeable, they are postponed, and with the rest, they continue the diving procedure. The main thing here is to be careful and not overdo it. If the shell has already opened, and you dip the seed in boiling water, it may die.
Exposure to chemicals
It is known that the seeds of many plants are eaten by animals and birds, but even being in their digestive tract, they are not digested due to their hard shell and fall back into nature. But at the same time they were exposed to digestive juices, and simply acids. Even their short duration of exposure can break the airtight shell. How to do this in practice?
In a glass dish (bowl, wide glass), pour 3% hydrochloric or sulfuric acid. (Be careful and wear rubber gloves, and better - and safety glasses at the same time). Seeds are carefully immersed in acid and kept for no more than 12 hours (as in the stomach of animals).
Then the seeds are also carefully removed and washed thoroughly in running water to remove all acid residues. This method is good, but requires chemical handling skills and accuracy, which means it is not suitable for everyone. But the following method of artificial scarification of seeds is quite accessible to everyone.
Mechanical destruction of the shell
No, this is not about the hammer, as you might have thought, although in capable hands, it can also become the same scarifier. Everything must also be done carefully, and it is not necessary (not even advisable) to make a hole in the shell. It is only necessary to thin it, making the penetration of water into the seed possible and quick.
In practice, there are several options, and they depend on the size of the seeds themselves. Large seeds can be rubbed on a file, emery paper or even a nail file, you can scratch with an awl or a needle, you can scrape a little with a sharp knife or scalpel. In the industrial production of plants and seeds, special machines are used - seed scarifiers.
But what about small ones? You can’t hold them in your fingers for work on sandpaper. But you can try to rub a little in the sand, pouring it into a dense bag or in a jar. Seeds with sand in a bag just crumple on the table, and poured into a jar - shake.
Important nuances of artificial scarification
Whatever method of seed scarification you choose, there are some nuances inherent in absolutely all methods:
- There is no need to completely destroy the shell, just damage it, and then the water will find a way to the seed, and together they will complete their work.
- Purchased seeds, as a rule, have passed the necessary scarification procedure, and this can be indicated on the packaging.
- If you have collected the seeds yourself, then before exposing the seeds to any kind of influence, study - is it necessary, will it help to accelerate their germination? Do these seeds need a simple scarification or does it not help, but does a long process of stratification (treatment with cold and humidity) also be needed?
These are the ways people came up with to speed up the process of seed germination. Everyone is in a hurry somewhere ... Everyone wants to outwit Nature ... Although Nature herself suggested these methods.
Friendly to you, high-quality and strong shoots!