Carya ovata - shagbark hickory - seed question

mrgpagOctober 6, 2008

The remnants of Hurricane Ike blew many nuts out of our trees and I've collected a bunch of carya ovata seed for germination. But I'm wondering how to tell if the seed is viable or not. Is the float test a good indication of good or bad seed?

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I don't know about the float test but one way to tell if there is a good nut inside is if the hull falls free from the nut it is likely a good nut but if the hull sticks and has to be pulled from the nut the nut is no good. - Jim

    Bookmark   October 7, 2008 at 1:23PM
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jqpublic(7b/8a Wake County NC)

If the nut floats it is a bad one. If the nut sinks...its a good nut. Make sure the hulls are taken off first before floating. Good luck!

    Bookmark   October 7, 2008 at 9:23PM
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I tested the floating test. After the nuts dried for a week they nearly all floated. Even the edible ones. The bad ones floated high like corks. These were all large shell bark hickory nuts.- Jim

    Bookmark   October 10, 2008 at 3:07PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Let them float for a while. The good ones will sink when they absorb enough water. Any not down in 4 to 8 hours are bad.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2008 at 3:28PM
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sounds like I may have thrown away some good seed as I didn't wait long to toss the floaters. I'll try again tomorrow

Thanks for the tips

    Bookmark   October 10, 2008 at 8:19PM
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I agree, usually about an hour long soak is enough though. Sometimes just the outer shell will dry enough to make them float. The same thing happens with acorns.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2008 at 11:30PM
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If they've dried out that much, chances are the seed will have died of water loss anyway.


    Bookmark   October 11, 2008 at 4:03AM
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I'll often let them soak overnight, especially if they've had time to dry/cure for a few days or weeks. Those that sink immediately are certainly your best bet for planting, but if they sink after an overnight soak, they're probably OK. Additionally, some superior nuts with really thin shells are going to float, or at least not sink directly to the bottom, even if they're well-filled and viable.
Three or four weeks of drying/curing will not significantly diminish viability of hickory nuts/pecans as would be the case for acorns.
I 'float' pecans merely to determine which are well-filled, but I usually do not even bother stratifying them - a good soak for 3-4 days in spring is usually sufficient to get very good germination rates.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2008 at 8:12AM
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