How to pre-germinate or prime grass seed?

studly(4 (MN))September 12, 2007

I've read on the Net that people have had good luck pre-germinating grass seed, so you don't have to spend as much time watering the seed once it's in the ground.

Sounds great to me, but everyone seems to have a diff't technique. One guy wrote that he puts the seed, mixed with damp soil in a closed garbage bag. Others say they soak the seeds in trays and change the water daily.

What's the best, most proven way to pre-germinate grass seed? And when do you know when it's time to plant the seeds ... once the first seed has germinated, or do you wait until the majority of seeds have germinated?

Any tips or advice on how best to do this would be appreciated. I'd also love to hear about any positive or negative results that people have had by pre-germinating grass seed. Thanks for your help!

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Studly: Alas, I don't have any answers for you, but I will follow your pre-germination progress with great interest.
About twenty years ago several seed companies marketed "primed" bluegrass seed which was proported to germinate in a week as opposed to 3 weeks for unprimed bluegrass of the same variety. The primed seed was a dry product which could be planted using a conventional seed spreader. Interestingly, those products failed to gain acceptance,and the seed companies promoting them are long gone.
About the same time there was a Michigan company selling a pre-germination device that resembled a 50 gallon barrel with all sorts of bells and whistles added. I considered purchasing one, but I couldn't figure out how to plant sprouted grass seed without killing it or how to spread moist seed.
Like I said, I look forward to seeing what you come up with.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2007 at 6:22PM
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There are a few threads on the board that discuss priming seeds. This is one of them. For more threads on the subject, you can do a search at the bottom of the forum page. I primed once by storing the seeds in the freezer for a few weeks and did get germination in about 8 days as opposed to the usual 10-15 it commonly takes bluegrass to germinate. I've never heard of your example as a method of priming but in trying to imagine it, I don't know how to ensure even distribution.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2007 at 7:32PM
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I use fescue most of the time. I soak it for about 8 hours then let the grass tea water drain out of the canvas bag its sold in. Usually it stays moist enough till the roots are just visible - about the length of a comma, and if it's not dry enough to sprinkle then I spread it out on a towel till it is.

I'm wondering if the tea maintains its resting stage and won't germinate till it is washed off or if it's something the seed uses when it drains beneath it into the soil.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 11:22PM
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there is no need to "pre-germinate" The first thinag a plant does is send out a tap root. Since the seed is not in its permenant home it will need to use more energy to get established than what sugars it may have. Wouldn't recommend doing this at all.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 5:06PM
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I work with grass for sports turf and agriculture and pre germinating seed is of real value. Most seed is treated with something which soon breaks down in the soil. However, if you wet the bulk seed and leave it to stew it can be of such concentration as to damage the seed therefore the seed, once wetted, needs to be flushed clean. Soaking and flushing should be complete in one hour as the air breathing seed will suffocate if immersed any longer. Only pre germinate half the seed you intend to spread. Once the seed is wet I put it in a cement mixer and rotate it for two minutes every hour for the first day. On the second and subsequent days it is tipped onto a clean floor about half an inch deep and kept damp with a sprayer until day five. It is then scooped up and mixed with the rest of the dry seed to help it to flow well. This also spreads the preterm effect. Application rates should be as low as possible as high rates encourage damping off.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 9:06PM
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