How to ensure purchasing fresh seed for next season?

AmericanGardnerNovember 10, 2012

Hello,

This was our first year gardening, great learning process. We didn't do much seed saving. Now I am ready to order our seed for next spring so we have it on hand.

We'll be ordering heirloom seeds for a wide variety of vegetables. Short of emailing each merchant to confirm, at this point is it safe to assume we'll get fresh seed harvested this season? Or is there still a chance of getting old seed at this point? I'm not sure if it's as important with things like corn, but I know some of the smaller seeds have short shelf lives.

Thanks!

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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

It isn't a concern but as a new gardener you may not be aware of that.

Most all varieties of vegetables have a multiple-year shelf life when stored properly - cool and dry - which is why so many gardeners save their left over seed packets to use the following years. You'll find many discussions all over the forum here about seed saving and how many of us are still using seeds that are as much as 10 years old.

Other than some flower seeds, with vegetables, only members of the allium family like onions and leeks have what is considered a 1 year shelf life. And that is only because their germination rate falls below 75% after that time.

So in the world of vegetables the use of multiple-year old seed is the norm. The odds of you finding seeds that were grown and harvested this year are slim to none except for a few "new" hybrid varieties. And honestly it is not a concern at all.

Most seed companies maintain a stock of 2-5 year old seeds. Rare or unusual heirloom variety seeds may be even older. They do a germination test on their supply annually, and as long as the germination test exceeds 75-80% the seeds can be packaged for sale.

If for some reason a gardener wants to guarantee that the only seeds they use are ones that were harvested the previous season they they will need to grow and save their own seeds.

Happy gardening.

Dave

    Bookmark   November 11, 2012 at 12:43PM
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bugbite(z9a FL)

I want fresh seeds also. So, at seed company websites, I check out the "new for 2013" (or upcoming year) seeds first. Geoseed.com introduces alot of new seeds each year and marks them.
Most companies feature a "new for [next year]" page.
Dianeseeds raises most of her own seeds for sale. She said she started doing that when she previously bought and sold seeds she got from other big seed producers. She said customers would complain about seeds with poor germination. Now she produces her own seeds and they are fresh.

Here is a link that might be useful: Dianeseeds

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 2:15PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

I want fresh seeds also. So, at seed company websites, I check out the "new for 2013" (or upcoming year) seeds first. Geoseed.com introduces alot of new seeds each year and marks them.
Most companies feature a "new for [next year]" page.

Then you are severely limiting your choice of varieties. Not to mention paying much more for the seeds.

I assume that most know that even so-called "new" seeds, seeds harvested from plants in the previous season, so NOT have 100% germination rate? And that numerous studies prove that the majority of germination issues are methodology related, not seed viability related.

Dave

    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 11:24AM
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bugbite(z9a FL)

Then you are severely limiting your choice of varieties.

Doesn't matter. I can only plant about 30 max new varieties a year.

Not to mention paying much more for the seeds.

Check prices Geoseed and Diane's Seed you will find that is not true.

so NOT have 100% germination rate?

Geoseed seed will tell you when the germination was tested and the germination rate.

And that numerous studies prove that the majority of germination issues are methodology related, not seed viability related.

No study required for this fact: Seeds that have a declining germination rate due to age plus incorrect germination methods produce worse results than simply incorrect germination methods.

Dave, of course, I am just kidding around. There is always an opposite view on everything. I know you are a pro and are correct. It's just that after 56 years of dealing with seeds I like to do it my strubborn way. :-)

I do buy older varieties from Geo seeds, which carries over 8000 varieties, but I ask for test dates and germination rates.

Actually I am getting some amazing germination rates from seeds I just did 10 trades for. I planted all seeds that should be planted in the fall. But these seeds were all harvested in 2012, just because how the trade was designed. We have some great people trading on this site.

I have read so many articles on age of seeds, storage of seed, etc and saved them in a big folder, so I started looking for a link to an excellent site that lists seeds and their expected number of years that they are viable. Couldn't find it. So I attached a shorter list in the link.
Dave, If you have one, please post it. Thanks. I would like to have a good list, since I lost my link.
Thanks,
Bob

Here is a link that might be useful: How long?

    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 1:37PM
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bugbite(z9a FL)

Maybe this is it.
Posted by ensatagirl April 2005.

Here is a link that might be useful: longevity - seeds

    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 1:50PM
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gardenman101(Z6 Spingfield, Ma)

Well i dont know if thats what he/she wanted to hear. What i got was freshness, not whats new. Most seed companies sell only fresh seed that is no more then 1-2 years old insuring maximum germination. There are a few places that sell older seed, that would most likely be heirlooms that were grown out within say the last 10 years and seeds saved. The germination would be lower but the reason they do this is so that others can grow out that paticular hierloom and then in turn offer fresh seed.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 12:00PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Hmmm no reply from the OP so we can only assume but I agree that the question was about fresh seed not new varieties. At least that was my interpretation.

If one had to have "fresh" seeds each year to have a successful garden then there would be little use for all the seed banks and seed vaults around the world nor for all the info available on how to properly store seeds for multiple year use.

Dave

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 11:35PM
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