Just thought I'd share my experience on here. I've only planted stratified seed the past 2 years in the fall of 2010 and fall of 2011.
I float tested seed from both years in a 10% bleach solution for exactly 10 minutes and then emediately rinsed very well in cold water. I then spread them out on a bath towel as Latt has described in his post and allowed to air dry for about 1/2 hour. I then placed the seed in a ziplock freezer bag. This part of the process I did the same with both batches of seed.
The seed I got and planted the fall of 2010 had no grinning seed that I could see. I did refrigerate this seed for a week or two before planting. I had very poor germination from this seed although a lot more of them came up this spring than what emerged last year (but probably still 30% total germination at best).
The seed that I got and planted the fall of 2011 had about 25% grinning seed. This seed was not refrigerated. It was stored in my gun safe in my mud room which is poorly insulated and has a slightly cooler average temp (than the rest of my house) at that time of year when the nights are getting cooler. I didn't plant all at one time, but probably had it all planted within 3 and a half weeks of recieving the seed. I had excellent germination with this seed (probably close to 90%)
I'm not trying to say that there are any definate corrolations between how the seed was handled and germination results, but this was my limited experience on this matter. I did not see any negative results from treating grinning seed with a 10% bleach solution, but once again I rinsed them very thoroughly and then allowed the exterior of the seed to dry to the point where they didn't stick together or to my hand when I'd pick them up.
I will probably continue to treat seed with a 10% bleach solution whether they are grinning or not, but I will not refrigerate seed in the future.
I'm going to throw my past experiences in here because I feel, and I stated this in an earlier post, that we still have some problems with planting. I still am not convinced about what is the real problem or if it is just one thing.
Twelve years ago I planted wild seed and it turned out good. Four years ago I planted stratified seed and a huge amount of it did not come up the next Spring. The following year, more came up than it did the previous year after planting. That sounds like improperly stratified seed, or maybe green seed.
This past year germination was all over the place. Good in some
spots and nothing in others, just 10-15 feet away. All the plantings were walked down and then watered after the plantings were done. Some of the seed was placed in the refrigerator between plantings. I am really suspicious of storing in the fridge. A few other spots showed no germination at all. The plantings were done by rake and scatter, Hankins method, or modified Hankins method, and there seemed to be some good results with all methods and some bad results with all methods. This makes me want to pull my hair out because I can't pinpoint the problem. The one culprit that keeps popping up in all of this is the placing of the seeds in the refrigerator. I think that I will only know at this time next year when delayed dormancy will show itself, if that is the problem.
One other thing that I have noticed this year is that seed germination has continued for more than a month since it began sprouting. Each time we have a rain, a few more seed will sprout and come up. I don't know if that is helping to break delayed dormancy or if that is normal. This is turning out to be the wettest Spring that we've had since I started growing ginseng.
I'd like to hear more from others about their results.
I agree with you on your thought about storing stratified seeds in the refrigerator.
When seeds come out of stratification pit, the temps are going to be above 55 degrees or atleast much warmer than a frige. So if you store seeds in the frige(probably below 42 degrees) after you recieve them and then plant them in the fall soil which probably is above 55 degrees, that exposes the seeds to a change of temps that is completly different than what seeds go through in the wild.
It seem to me that it is better to store seeds closer to the temps of the soil when they came out of stratification or temps of the soil that your going to plant the seeds into at fall time.
I dont think it's natural to give the seeds a cold storage between stratification and planting.
I do think what refrigeration will do is keep the seeds from molding. So with what BCastle said about not float testing seeds so they stay dryer and help eliminate the spread of/or speed up the spread of mold and disease makes sense. Then you there would be less need to refrigerate the the seeds. I do think that the best storage place for my seeds are in the basement(60 degrees).
Perhaps eliminating the float test would be best.
As far as seeds coming up after each rain. I have found that I get the best germination during wet springs. But after they germinate, it's best that the soil start to dry out some so that you don't have Damping Off problems.
Guys, I've been pondering over what's been said and I really don't know how would be the best way to hold it over very long. I always use 10% bleach and rinse well,dry and refrigerate in a fresh ziplock well perforated. What I do try to do is get it the ground as soon as possible right before the leaves start falling. That way it has a natural coverihg over what you have already done.
Good info fellas on seed storage and handling of the seed.
Yep I agree 100 % Classicfur, a wet spring is great for seed germination but will most certainly increase the possibility of \"Damping Off\" or some call it \"Tip Over\". If those of you that are not familiar with it then have you ever seen a perfectly healthy looking 3 leaf ginseng seedling laying on it's side for no apparent reason. If so check the base of the little stalk. If the stalk is atrophied or even detached where the stalk meets the ground then this is more than likely \"Damping Off\". What is amazing thou is the new seedling will continue to look healthy for a few days even with the stem severed. It can completely wipe out your first year seedlings in a extremely wet season. Only way to prevent this is to spray your seng babies.
I have yet to spray my seng babies and have consequently lost a great deal of baby seng plants by not doing so. But I have seen planting beds that have been sprayed to prevent \"Damping Off\" and it is an amazing difference.
Ah but that brings up a whole other subject, \"To Spray or Not to Spray\" that is the question. This simple folks, been there and done that already and if you ain't spraying you are most likely going to be left with very few surviving seng plants until they reach the 4 year old mark.
Not hard to tell what route I will go from now on as the first three years are crucial. Not trying to sound negative folks, just trying to help so you do not get disappointed after all the hard work you have done if you are somewhat new to this. Spraying and treating for slugs to get the seng to the age of 4 is going to increase the chance of having a good survival rate. Once they are 4 years old then they have a great chance of surviving to the 10 to 12 year old harvest age.
On the other hand some may not not want to spray and are willing to accept that many seedlings will die. Perhaps they are going to counteract that by simply planting more seed to reach their goal. That is certainly an option and another way to go and by knowing this in advance would not be as much of a disappointment.
One other thing that I have noticed this year is that seed germination has continued for more than a month since it began sprouting. Each time we have a rain, a few more seed will sprout and come up. I don't know if that is helping to break delayed dormancy or if that is normal.
You have hit upon a very important observation Hugh. I am seeing the same thing in my SELECT beds here at the house. Some folks don't like the seed I sell because you will be hard pressed to find a single grinning seed in the fall. However, the viability rates are almost always around the 90% mark (this past fall was exceptional at 98%).
So, what could cause this strung out emergence? Moisture and temperature. Here, the temps have been all over the dial. We had early 80 degree weather a month or more ahead of when it should even possibly get that high. This brought some of the seedlings above the straw. We've had frost and even a trace of snow since then. It took a solid week of good weather and some rain to get most of the rest of them out of the ground.
YOu know, something we all pretty much know is that ginseng doesn't always come up eavery year. I remember hearing one account suggesting that up to 30% of any given patch of ginseng will be dormant at any one time. If this is true, would it really be unreasonable to expect the seed to do much differently? We know that ginseng seed can stand to be much drier than we had previously thought. I wrote an article about that fact the other day and have it posted on my site at EmeraldCastleFarms. Part 2 will be coming shortly, as there is another aspect I'll be adding to that line of thought.
I\"ll post a couple pictures here in a few so you all can see the difference.
The first picture is from April 25, and the second one today, May 10. Most of the older plants didn't emerge until this past week. There is also a concerning amount of cold damage on some of these plants.
And, for those of you wondering, this is very thick planting. I have sprayed these beds three times already because of the cool damp conditions we've had. The first spray was pre-emergent Kocide (copper hydroxide good against fusarium and mildews), the second was Ridomil Gold w/copper (Metalaxyl a systemic fungicide and Mancozeb which coats the surfaces and prohibits spore germination), and the third was a dose of Aliette (systemic and very effective against phytopthora and mildews).
I sell most of those as SELECT rootlets on my site. I always keep some older plants for pictures too. Having them this close to the house lets me keep an eye on them every day, and sometimes gives me advanced warning before something goes wrong out in the woods because of weather conditions etc.