3 Techniques That Can Overcome Seed Dormancy


Seed planting is often assumed to be a simple task; but getting it wrong will affect a farm’s production in a big way.

Having seeds that do not sprout from the soil is not uncommon. This is commonly known as seed dormancy and happens when seeds do not germinate even though all the required conditions such as the right temperature, humidity, oxygen and light have been provided.

The inability of seedlings to develop is not rare and especially under conditions where an immature seed is dispersed, environmental restraints such as inadequate amount of moisture, light, oxygen and temperature are present, and where a seed has absorbed water in unfavourable conditions.

It is therefore important for farmers to understand and consider alternative seed planting methods over soil planting. This will allow monitoring of the seed germination process, and secure a healthy start for the seeds by providing a controlled environment in which the seeds sprout, and later transplanted.

These alternate methods of seed planting include;

Paper germination

This method incorporates the use of a damp paper towel, toilet paper or newspaper, and a transparent bag or ziploc bag and light exposure. With that, a farmer is able to monitor and control the medium in which the seed sprouts. For seeds such as pumpkins, peas, beans, thyme and maize corn, sprouting can take place within five to seven days before they are transplanted. Here, a farmer will simply need to poke holes in the soil using a finger and gently set the delicate seedling in the soil instead of shoving it in the soil.

Rockwool germination

By using this method of germination, a farmer is required to be more inclusive in the preparation of the rockwool, which if not soaked in water to neutralize the pH, may lock out the nutrients and even kill the seedlings in a matter of hours.

Rockwool is increasingly being used as a medium in hydroponic farming, which is successfully being used in Kenya and across the borders by thousands of farmers. The farmer can then transplant the seedling from the rockwool to the soil. This method takes the seedlings three to five days to sprout. A farmer can plant tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, peppers among others.

Sponge germination

Unlike the rockwool technique, this one is tidier, faster and efficient as the farmer will not be required to neutralize the pH of the sponge, and can reuse it if the seed is not viable. The sponge will however need to be rinsed thoroughly before use and moisturized adequately, and holes poked into the sponge.

It is used for seeds that germinate and sprout quickly such as carrots, radishes, herbs, among others and can later be transplanted in the soil.

Some of the setbacks to look out for in seed germination include;

  1. Drowning the seedling in moisture does not guarantee faster growth rate, this may even delay the germination of the seeds.
  2. Using immature or stale seeds results to having a slow sprout rate of germination, which automatically reflects on poor harvests.
  3. Overlooking the depth of planting a seedling is a big no no. This makes the seeds susceptible to being washed away during irrigation or eaten by birds.

Wanjiru Kiarie

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