A germination test determines the maximum germination potential, or viability, of the seed.
Why do a Germination Test?
Because knowing the germination rate of a particular seed lot is key to understanding how well that seed will perform in the field.
If your seed has a 90% germination rate, it means 90 out of 100 seeds are likely to germinate under good growing conditions. You can use this information decide whether the seed you have will produce a decent crop, calculate the best seeding rate, or whether the seed should be used at all.
How is a Germination Test Done?
All accredited seed testing labs in Canada use germination test methods approved by CFIA. Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
To conduct the test, 200 seeds are taken at random from the seed lot being tested and evenly spaced on a blotter so they’re not touching, moistened then left for a prescribed amount of time to imbibe and germinate.
At 20/20 Seed Labs, we ensure that all substrates, containers and moistening agents are free from phytotoxic properties. Sand, soil and water are tested for impurities and the pH value of water is monitored as well.
At the end of the test period, seedlings are evaluated and categorized as follows*:
- Seedlings germinate normally, showing they can produce useful mature plants under favourable field conditions.
- Seedlings that exhibit some form of growth, but don’t have enough plant structures to maintain a healthy plant – such as missing roots or shoots.
- Fresh Seeds. Seeds that fail to germinate but have imbibed water. They appear firm, fresh and capable of germination, but remain dormant.
- Dormant Seeds. Viable seeds (other than hard seeds) that fail to germinate under the test conditions.
- Hard Seeds. Seeds with coats that are impermeable to water, so they stay hard throughout the test period
- Dead Seeds. Seeds that can’t produce any part of a seedling.
We include a diagnostic profile with germination test results. This outlines symptoms noted in the seed lot like frost, chemical toxicity or injury, heating or mechanical damage, the presence of pathogens or dormancy.
How Do I Use Germination Test Results?
If your seed gets a less than stellar germination test result, it doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t use the seed.
Our seed analysts can talk to you about some solutions that can improve germination, especially when there have been challenges with harvest conditions for the seed lot in question.
More Information: A germination test shows you one aspect of seed quality and is most useful when used together with other seed quality tests. 20/20 Seed Labs offers a number of testing packages to help you find out exactly what you need to know about your seed. For more information, see our Agronomic Test Packages information sheet.
* Definitions have been adopted from CFIA, Methods and Procedures for Testing Seed, Definitions section 4.3.