Gardeners always have grass seeds in their shed, either bags from unbelievable deals from their favourite stores or remnants from the last planting season.
It’s common to see grass seeds lying around in garden sheds. We’ll go through proper storage methods, damaging factors and old grass seed’s best practices.
Does Grass seed Go Bad?
Yes. But after a considerable amount of time. Most gardeners do not consider this factor when purchasing bags of seed for usage and storage.
Usually, grass seeds are good for the first 18 months after testing. That is if they’re stored correctly of course. After that, it begins to depreciate steadily.
The germination rate of grass seeds depreciates by approximately 10% yearly. Bear in mind that even a new seed is not 100% effective, so it gets even worse with each passing year.
Why You Should Properly Store Grass Seed?
Grass seeds for one are costly. You wouldn’t want your hard-earned money to go to waste. You should properly store grass seeds as they’ll come in handy when you want to replant areas with poor growth.
As earlier stated, even new grass seeds do not have a 100% germination rate. This means you might have areas with reduced growth in need of replanting. Your properly stored grass seeds can be used in those areas.
Properly storing your grass seeds also provides you seeds to use in the next planting season.
Environmental Factors That Affect Grass Seed
When grass seeds are produced, certain environmental factors are restricted to minute amounts. These factors are capable of speeding up the deterioration process of these seeds.
Here are some of the environmental factors with the most significant effect on the germination rate of grass seeds when stored over a long period.
- High Humidity: Grass seeds are made in the absence of moisture or with a very minute amount of water. High humidity encourages the growth of fungi on the seeds damaging them in the process. The average moisture content in a bag of grass seed is 2%, this continues to increase over time as more moisture enters the container.
- High Temperature: Grass seeds are easily damaged by high temperature. Keeping grass seeds in areas with unusually hot temperature will lead to a quicker degeneration of the seeds. Heat affects the molecular structure of the seeds and inhibits growth.
- Pest: This is a major killer of stored grass seeds. Pest attacks the seeds and kills the seed sometimes leaving just the chaff. Insects are the primary destroyers of stored seeds. When seeds are not correctly stored, they’re attacked by pests. These pests feed on them and destroy it.
How to Properly Store Grass Seeds?
Properly storing grass seeds will ensure you get quality seeds to plant the next season or to replant bare areas. It is of utmost importance to know the best way to store your seeds. This will save you money and time nursing seeds that may never grow because they’re bad.
When storing your seeds, keep in mind that even with the best storage practice, the rate of germination will depreciate with time. These practices aim to minimize the damage on the seeds considerably.
- Store in a cool, dry place: Seeds are prone to heat. Extreme heat will damage the seeds and inhibit growth, thereby preventing it from germinating. This makes keeping your seeds in your garden shed a bad idea. Depending on the overall weather in an area, it is advisable to store your seeds in your basement.
Generally, seeds are preserved better in colder environments. Bear in mind that they should be kept above freezing temperature. If they freeze, they’ve to be kept at that temperature throughout their storage period. This is because of fluctuations in temperature which damages the seeds.
- Keep away from pests: Storage spaces should be adequately cleaned and pesticides applied before storage. Rodent holes and hideouts should also be closed. Pests can severely damage your stored seeds and make it difficult to germinate.
Rodents and insects feed on grass seeds, and extreme care needs to be taken. Always checked your stored seeds periodically to ensure they’re free from pests attack.
- Proper labeling: Seeds you intend to store should be appropriately labelled especially if you’ll be changing the bag. Labels like name of the seed, expiration date, date of testing (date when last germination rate was calculated). All these will help you keep track of your seeds and know when to use them.
How to store leftover seeds?
Most times after planting, seeds will be remaining in the bag. Now storing this already opened seeds might become a challenge because it has started reacting with the environment.
Pour the leftover seeds into a plastic container. Ensure this bag is rodent proof and the seeds are clean before closing the box. If the original seed bag is still available, it is advisable to leave the seeds in the bag and just put the bag into the container.
A little trick to reduce the moisture content in already opened grass seed bags is to put a container of baking soda in the grass seed bag.
How to store unopened grass seeds?
In situations where the bags have not been opened yet, you can just take the bag to a cool, dry place like your basement.
Unopened grass seeds will last longer because it is yet to interact with the environment.
How Long Can You Store Grass Seeds?
Grass seeds typically have an expiry date of around two years with some species able last for close to five years.
Storing your grass seeds beyond the expiry dates may mean you’ll be left with useless seeds. The longer seeds are stored, the lower it’s germination rate. Meanwhile, the optimum storage period for most seeds is between 10-18 months.
How to Rejuvenate Old Seeds?
As already stated, old seeds have a lower germination rate and need special care for them to germinate.
Here are little steps to ensure the maximum capable germination rate from old seeds.
- Apply a considerable amount of starter fertilizer for grass seed
- Water 2-3 times a day
- You may have to over-seed when planting to make up for the low germination rate.
How to Identify a Bad Grass Seed?
To save your time and resources, it is important you first confirm if your stored seed is still in good shape before planting. You can do this in two ways.
- The eye test method: Before Planting, carefully examine the seeds. Check the seeds for any discoloration or signs of fungi. Make sure the seeds do not have a strange odor.
- The cotton wool method: Take a few seeds and wrap with damp cotton wool. Leave under the sunlight for some days. If it germinates, then most of the seeds must be good.
This will help you confirm if it’s worth the stress planting the old seeds or just going for new ones. Remember, the most crucial step to storing seeds is first buying high-quality seeds.