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Seed storage

What is meant by seed storage?

In a genebank, seed storage is the preservation of seeds under controlled environmental conditions which will prolong the viability of the seeds for long periods. Two types of seed stores are used for collections of genetic resources, those holding base collections and those holding active collections. The temperature, relative humidities, seed moisture contents, containers and distribution arrangements vary between these stores.

Why are seeds stored?

Seeds must be stored in a way which maintains their viability for long periods. Seeds left at ambient temperatures and relative humidities will lose their viability quickly whilst seeds stored in conditions of low moisture content and temperature will retain their viability for longer periods. Accessions held in a genebank are valuable and represent plants which are no longer available or which are endangered in their natural environment. These seeds must be conserved in the genebank for use in plant breeding in the future.

When should seeds be placed into store?

As soon as the seed has matured on the plant the slow process of deterioration begins. Therefore the sooner that seeds are placed into store the better. In practical terms this means that seeds collected in the field should be quickly returned to genebanks, processed and placed into store as soon as the cleaning, drying and packaging processes are complete.

How many seeds of each accession should be stored?

The IBPGR Advisory Committee on Seed Storage has recommended that for materials showing little morphological variation (genetically homogeneous) 3000 seeds are acceptable, but 4000 seeds are preferred, to represent each accession. For materials showing a large amount of morphological variation (heterogeneous) an accession should consist of at least 4000 seeds, but 12000 seeds are preferred. These sample sizes are recommended as number of seed but many genebanks would prefer to work with weight. An inter-conversion of numbers and weights is possible from the thousand seed weight of any accession. A list of approximate thousand seed weights of some common species is given in Appendix 2 of Cromarty, Ellis and Roberts (1982).

How should seeds be stored?

The conditions which prolong viability during storage have been well defined for seeds which are tolerant of desiccation. Storage conditions have been recommended by the IBPGR Advisory Committee on Seed Storage. For base collections, seeds of between 3-7 % moisture content should be stored in sealed containers. Sub-zero temperatures are acceptable, but -18 °C or less is preferred. For active collections sealed storage of seeds dried to 7% moisture content or less is recommended at temperatures of less than 15 °C. Unsealed storage is not encouraged. In particular, it is not recommended in tropical areas.

Table of thousand seed weights of species in your genebank

Fill in this table to use for future reference:

Seed storage What is meant by seed storage? In a genebank, seed storage is the preservation of seeds under controlled environmental conditions which will prolong the viability of the seeds for

The Best Ways to Store Seeds

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Perhaps you’ve collected the seeds from your summer garden, and the fall vegetables will soon have a bounty of seeds to save. Or maybe you just have excess from planting earlier in the year. Either way, those seeds represent a bounty of food and foliage for the next planting season. It’s important to store them properly so that they aren’t lost or damaged before next year.

Keep in mind these seed storage tips to ensure they remain viable. After you factor in things like temperature and humidity, you can get creative in choosing a storage method. Here are some of the most creative seed storage methods that I have found.

Learn simple and creative ways to properly prepare, organize, and store your seeds for later use.