For thousands of years, in an unbroken chain, seeds have been saved from each harvest to be sown the next season. Seed saving provides many benefits to the seed saver. The costs of seeds has notably risen in the past several years, but more importantly the reliable availability of seeds has come into question. Taking the time to save seeds from a garden can potentially save money and allow for a supply of seeds for the next growing season to be secure. Assuming the seeds are not patented, seeds can be collected for personal use, given to other local growers, or even sold commercially. Preserving desirable plant characteristics is another reason to save seeds from a garden. For those who are interested in selling their own seeds commercially, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services regulates the sales and distribution of all seed sold in Florida. Typically, a seed dealer license is required, however may not be required in some circumstances where total sales are very small. There are two main categories of seed saving that will determine how the seeds should be collected and processed. Seeds intended for saving can be categorized as either “wet” or “dry” seeded crops. Wet seeds are typically found inside the fruit of a plant, while dry seeds originate from a non-fruiting flower, pod, or husk. Dry seeded crops are the easiest to collect as the necessary processing is minimal. Common dry seeded crops include beans and peas, all leafy greens, basil, corn, okra, onions, sunflowers, and turnips. If the seeds are collected from flowers or pods it is best to wait until they have fully matured and started to turn brown. The greatest threat to both seed harvesting and storage will be moisture. High moisture content on the outside or inside of seeds can quickly lead to decay from ubiquitous fungi or bacteria. An entire batch of seeds can be rendered worthless if several key steps are not carefully implemented.
by Mark Bailey
Source: UF/IFAS Pest Alert Note: All images and contents are the property of UF/IFAS.