Recommended references for perennial seed production

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Daniel MacPhee
Daniel MacPhee's picture
Recommended references for perennial seed production

Does anyone have a preferred reference that focuses on seed production for perennial herbs and flowers?  I would love to lean on some real expertise to increase seed quality (and quantity) and help guide processessing/storage...

Thanks!

Jim Tjepkema
I don't know of any reference

I don't know of any reference for saving perennial her anf flower seeds.  Jeffery McCormack at SavingOurSeeds@gmail.com might be able to help with this.

Joseph Lofthouse
Joseph Lofthouse's picture
Shop Vac Seed Collection

Last fall I visited a wildflower seed production facility. One of their drivers is zero tolerance for weed seeds. So they grew the seed crops in rows, or on heavy duty weed mats and then did perfect weeding. The best new seed collection strategy that I learned about was to take a Vacuum and a generator into the field and vacuum the seeds from the pods.Gotta match the technique to the species, but it would eliminate threshing on some species. The vacuum technique can also be used in the wildlands if care is taken to keep the nozel away from non-target species.

The other thing that really stood out for me about my visit, is that screens, vigorous fans, and bins are the best tools for small scale seed processors. Machines and gadgets tend to get in the way. (It might take days to properly clean a combine so that the previously harvested seed doesn't contaminate the next crop. Combines harvest the crop and the weeds.)

Jim Tjepkema
Nice to hear about those

Nice to hear about those techniques used by that seed producer, Joesph.  I was employed briefly by a guy who grew, cleaned, and sold prairie grass seed.  He produced large quanities of a few kinds of seed and his methods would not be suitable for back yard seed producers.  He was one of the first people to produce large quanities of these seeds and he developed some of his own techniques for doing this.  Basicly he made use of several different kinds of large seeding cleaning machine and had them hooked together so that each of them would remove the chaff and other stuff that it was good at removing.  One thing I learn from him was to collect the stuff removed by the seed cleaners and then run it again because there would be some seed mixed with the chaff that could be recovered by running the collected chaff..

I let seed fall between two containers in front of a fan to blow away chaff.  If I turn up the fan to the place where it blows all or almost all of the chaff away, there will be some seed among the chaff blown away.  Sometimes I put a big plastic sheet down to collect the chaff blown away by the fan and then I run it again using the fan and get some of the seed that got mixed with the chaff that was blown away by the fan the first time I used the fan.  Also, if the seed is not very clean after being poured in front of the fan, I drop it in front of fan again or several more times and I play with the fan speed and the positions the pan I hold under the fan to collect the seed.  More chaff will end up on the floor and not in the pan with the seed if the collection pan is held closer to the fan.  

 

Joseph Lofthouse
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With some seeds, like onions,

With some seeds, like onions, I aim to winnow away approximately 30% of the seeds. The lighter seeds seem to have lower germination rates and to not grow as vigorously. Squash and sunflower seeds often have seeds that look fully formed, but are hollow inside. Careful winnowing to discard the lighter seeds can really improve germination rates.

A few years ago I winowed a bucket of Glass Gem corn seed. After I was done there were about 300 kernels that had spilled onto the porch. At the time, Glass Gem corn seed was selling for $1.00 per seed. I couldn't convince myself to pick up the spilled seeds from the winnowing process.