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Shelf Life of Seeds
Shelf Life of Seeds - Part 1
Shelf Life of Vegetable Seeds
Average number of years vegetable seeds will remain viable if properly stored.
STORE SEEDS PROPERLY
Keeping seeds dry during storage is most important. Moisture causes seeds to rot. See to it that moisture from the air or any other sources does not get into the seeds. A simple, inexpensive but efficient storage container can be made out of a canning glass jar with an airtight lid. Get a clean jar. Make sure it is dry. As a precaution against moisture, put a layer of powdered charcoal (dessicant) on the bottom of the jar. One-half inch thickness is sufficient. If silica gel or calcium chloride is available, these should be substituted for the charcoal. Place the seeds in an envelope so they do not get in contact with the charcoal; place in a jar and cover tightly. Low temperature prolongs the life of the seeds. With this method of storage, seeds can be kept without significant germination loss.
Asparagus - 3 years
Beans - 3 years
Beets - 4 years
Broccoli - 3 years
Brussels Sprouts - 4 years
Cabbage - 4 years
Carrots - 3 years
Cauliflower - 4 years
Celeriac - 3 years
Celery - 3 years
Chard,Swiss chard - 4 years
Chicory - 4 years
Chinese Cabbage - 3 years
Collards - 5 years
Corn - 2 years
Corn Salad-(mache) - 5 years
Cress - 5 years
Cucumbers - 5 years
Eggplant - 4 years
Endive - 5 years
Kale - 4 years
Kohlrabi - 3 years
Leeks - 2 years
Lettuce - 6 years
Muskmelon - 5 years
Okra - 2 years
Onions - 1 year
Parsnips - 1 year
Peas - 3 years
Peppers - 2 years
Radishes - 5 years
Rutabagas - 4 years
Salsify - 1 year
Scorzonera - 2 years
Sorrel - 4 years
Southern Peas - 3 years
Spinach - 3 years
Squash & Pumpkins - 4 years
Tomatoes - 4 years
Turnips - 4 years
Watermelon - 4 years
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Shelf Life of Seeds - Part 2
Millennium Ark : Extend Shelf Life
Seeds or Sprouting Seeds
All viable seeds are hibernating tiny living plants that only need moisture and warmth to sprout. And much like a chick in an egg, all the nutrients this little life needs to spring into existence is contained within it's shell.
Like boiling an egg, heating a seed will kill that little life within it. However, unlike an egg, a seed can withstand cold temperatures. As seeds usually remain edible after the life within it dies, we must use different criteria when determining sproutable seed storage life. And again the big deciding factor is temperature. The big seed companies freeze their seed between seasons to promote long life. Of course, you can also do the same thing. Plan on a storage life of 4 years at a stable temperature of 70oF. They should keep proportionately longer if stored at cooler temperatures. Rita Bingham's Sprouting Book suggests that "Vacuum sealed or nitrogen treated seeds store longest, with a shelf life of up to 15 years." This is presupposing they are kept very cool or frozen.
Alfalfa is a unique seed as it actually germinates better if the seed is 2 or 3 years old. Most any sample of alfalfa contains 'hard' seed and 'soft' seed. Soft seed germinates within two days while hard seed germinates in about a week. The problem is, by the time the soft seed sprouts are ready to harvest, the hard seed may not have germinated yet. As storage time draws on, the hard seed turns into soft seed. Older seed germinates closer together. Stored in good conditions, alfalfa seed should have a good percentage of germination up until it is 8 years old.
Total Vegetable Protein, made from soy beans, has an unusually long storage life. Hermetically sealed in the absence of oxygen, plan on a storage life of 15-20 years at a stable temperature of 70oF. TVP should keep proportionately longer if stored at cooler temperatures.
Yeast, a living organism, has a relatively short storage life. Keep yeast in the original metal foil storage containers. If the seal remains intact, yeast should last 2 years at 70oF. However it is strongly recommended that you refrigerate it, which should give you a storage life of 5 years. Frozen yeast should store for a long time.
Shelf Life of Seeds - Part 3
Shelf Life and Storage of Seeds
Proper storage is essential to maximizing the germination potential
of all dormant Seeds, Beans and Grains.
Basic storage is Cool, Dry and Dark. 55-70° (f) with humidity of 70% or less will (based on our experience) result in shelf life as stated in this chart, though lower humidity is always desirable.
Seed life can be maximized by Freezing - which will increase shelf life 4-5 times or
Refrigerating - which will at least double it. In all cases it is essential that you
avoid condensation - which could shorten a seed's life.
Seed Basic Shelf Life
Adzuki 5 Years
Alfalfa 4 Years
Almond 4 Years
Arugula 5 Years
Barley (whole for grass) 2 Years
Barley (hulled) 2 Years
Basil 3 Years
Black Turtle Bean 5 Years
Broccoli 5 Years
Buckwheat, in hull 2 Years
Buckwheat, hulled (Groats) 2 Years
Cabbage 5 Years
Cauliflower 5 Years
Celery 5 Years
Clover, Crimson 4 Years
Clover, Red 4 Years
Cress, Curly 5 Years
Dill 3 Years
Fennel (leaf) 3 Years
Fenugreek 5 Years
Flax, Brown 3 Years
Flax, Golden 3 Years
Garbanzo 5 Years
Garlic (Chive) 12-24 Months
Hemp Seed 5 Years
Kale, Red Russian 5 Years
Kamut 2 Years
Leek* 12-24 Months
Lentil 5 Years
Millet 5 Years
Mizuna 5 Years
Mung Bean 5 Years
Mustard, Oriental (yellow) 5 Years
Oats, in hull 2 Years
Oats, hulless 2 Years
Onion 12-24 Months
Pea 5 Years
Peanut 5 Years
Pinto Bean 5 Years
Popcorn 8 years
Pumpkin 2 Years
Quinoa 3 Years
Radish 5 Years
Rice 3 Years
Rye 2 Years
Sesame 2 Years
Soy Bean 4 Years
Spelt 2 Years
Sunflower, in shell 2 Years
Sunflower, hulled 2 Years
Tatsoi 5 Years
Triticale 2 Years
Wheat, Hard Red Winter 2 Years
°°° Alfalfa/Clover Based Mixes °°°
Clover, Arugula, Cress, Radish, Dill, Fenugreek 4 Years
Clover, Garlic, Cress 2 Years
Alfalfa & Clover 4 years
Nick's Hot Sprout Salad
Clover, Radish, Mustard, Dill, Cress, Fenugreek, Celery 4 Years
Alfalfa, Clover, Mizuna, Tatsoi, Oriental Mustard 4 Years
Clover, Onion, Mustard, Dill, Fenugreek 2 Years
Alfalfa, Clover, Radish, Fenugreek 4 Years
°°° Brassica Mixes °°°
Daikon Radish, Oriental Mustard 5 Years
Broccoli, Cabbage, Radish, Mustard, Arugula, Cress, Mizuna, Tatsoi 5 Years
°°° Bean and Grain Mixes °°°
Amber Waves Grain Mix
Wheat, Barley, Rye, Kamut, Oats, Spelt, Amaranth, Sesame, Quinoa, Millet 2 Years
Beanie's Awesome Mix
Red + Green Lentils, 3 Peas, Beige Garbanzos, Adzukis 5 Years
Mung, Adzuki, Green Pea 5 Years
Black, Brown and Beige Garbanzos 5 Years
Great Beans and Rice Soup Mix
Adzuki, Black Turtle and Pinto Beans + Brown Rice 5 Years
Black and Red (hulled) Lentils, Black Garbanzos 5 Years
Hot + Sweet
Wheat, Green + Yellow Peas, Green + Red Lentils, Radish 2 Years
Madison Market Mix
Almond, Peanut, Sunflower (hulled) and Pumpkin 2 Years
Mix #9 - Clem's Choice
Green Lentil, Fenugreek, Mustard 5 Years
Black Garbanzo, French and Crimson Lentils 5 Years
Green Pea and Beige Garbanzo 5 Years
Green, Speckled, Bill Jump, Sweet and Yellow Peas 5 Years
Black, Crimson, French, Green, Pardina, Eston and Red Lentils 5 Years
San Francisco Mix
Mung, Peanut, 4 Lentils, 3 Garbanzos, 3 Peas, Adzuki 5 Years
Wheat and Green Pea 5 Years
Seed is typically harvested in Fall and is usually available to us in December or January.
If you are going to stockpile seed make every attempt to plan ahead and purchase the freshest seed possible as it will store longer for you and provide you with delicious healthy sprouts further into the future.
°°° Grass and Greens Mixes °°°
Cabbage Patch 5 Years
Wheat, Oats, Rye and Flax 2 Years
Mesculin Sprout Garden
Buckwheat, Radish, Mustard, Arugula, Cress, Mizuna, Tatsoi 2 Years
Spicy Salad Greens
Radish and Arugula 5 Years
Shelf Life of Seeds - Part 4
Seed Shelf Life
name H. H.
Question - Hello,
I am looking for a resource/reference on the shelf life of garden seeds
by species. Do you know of one, preferably on-line?
My Google-searches turned up this in the old nature bulletin archives on
your site (nb507.htm, dated 1973): "The Garden Dictionary lists corn,
dandelion, onion, and parsnip seeds as having an average viability of two
years. Beet, carrot, lettuce, squash, turnip, and watermelon seeds remain
viable for an average of 5 or 6 years but under ideal conditions may
exceed 10 years. Cucumber and endive seeds are good for 10 years at least."
Do you know exactly what book this is (publisher, ISBN, whatever)?
This should be helpful:
Anthony Brach, Ph.D
I have the original notes from Nature Bulletin 507, but they do not have anything more specific than
the title. A Google search turns up this site and excerpt:
"Taylor left the Brooklyn Botanical Garden in 1929 and after two years of negotiation began the first
edition of The Garden Dictionary, a work that would become a horticulture standard, having four
editions and spanning thirty years. The first edition was awarded the Gold Medal of the Massachusetts
Horticultural Society in 1936. The second edition appeared under the title Taylor's Garden
Encyclopedia, as did all subsequent editions. Taylor's publisher, Houghton-Mifflin, continues to issue
a series of horticulture books under the name Taylor's Guides."
And this site has a bibliography that includes a reference to Taylor's work:
The Garden Dictionary, (Ed.) Norman Taylor. Halcyon House, New York, 1942
I think it is a pretty good guess, from what I know of the people who wrote our old nature bulletins
(this one was first printed in 1957) that this is the book referred to.
Forest Preserve District of Cook County
I cannot answer your question directly except to say that for a single type of garden seed with a
germination probability, there is much room for variation based upon time of seed collection (and
ripeness), presence/absence of light and/or moisture, and temperature of storage. It would seem to
be a listing of this data could only be a rough guide unless guidelines for storage conditions are
standardized and included with the data and are provided for the seeds in question.
Thanks for using NEWTON!
Shelf Life of Seeds - Part 5
It is important to keep in mind that not only do colder temperatures affect shelf life of food products, temperature fluctuations affect shelf life too. Keeping your food stored at a constant temperature will help you acheive the maximum shelf life. As you can see from the above chart, it is not that hard to obtain 10+ years on your food storage. Finding a cool, dry location, such as a basement or root cellar is perhaps your best insurance on maximizing the shelf life on your stored foods.
Storage Life & Temperature
Temperature and temperature changes have the most to do with the shelf life of stored food then any other factor. The USDA states, "Each 5.6 C. (10.08F) drop in temperature doubles the storage life of the seeds." Experience has shown that this applies to foods too.
(See also the product chart below )
Foods that will be prepared and consumed rapidly don't need any special storage requirements. Such foods can be stored at room temperatures with no appreciatable loss of quality or nutrition. The above chart demonstrates that bulk food can be stored in warm areas for several years. We don't recommend this for businesses and individuals that are plan to store food for long lengths of time.
Many products, such as dry beans, grains, and flours contain an average amount of 10% moisture. Although it is not necessary (and very difficult) to remove all moisture from dry food, it is important that any food stored be stored as dry as possible. Excess moisture can ruin your food stored.
Oxygen can be removed from the food storage container, resulting in the food lasting much longer then normal. Oxygen, naturally found in air will oxidize many food compounds. There are a couple of techniques used to remove oxygen from food containers:
Displacing the oxygen with nitrogen: Air is purged out by inserting a nitrogen wand into the bucket. Nitrogen is the most inert gas known.
Absorb the oxygen: Oxygen absorber packet absorb the oxygen. Air contains about 78% nitrogen and 21% oxygen, leaving about 1% for the other gasses. The oxygen is absorbed, leaving about 99% pure nitrogen in a partial vacuum. Our food product in cans or buckets all come with oxygen absorbers in their containers.
Shelf Life of Seeds - Part 6
Several archeologists have recovered heirloom seeds that dated 1,000 to 10,000 years old. The more amazing thing is that they were able to grow the vegetables after all those years. How? The one thing they all had in common was that the seeds were kept DARK and DRY. They didn't need to be refrigerated, or vaccum sealed, or have oxygen absorbing packs, or nitrogen in order to survive. Just keep your seeds DARK and DRY and they will last 10 to 1,000 years. But we urge you to plant a garden this year
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The viability of seeds depends on storage. Case in point I have beans that have been stored in mason jars for 30 years. My mom brought them from Idaho and their germination rate is 10-15-20 % yes the germination rate is lower but they are still viable. Edibility is diminished somewhat due to drying out and pressure cooking them doesn't seem to help. But they are still edible.
Years ago I read an article where they found some seeds in a Egyptian Pyramid that were estimated to be 3,000 years old and they sprouted. I don't remember what plant, but I suspect flax.