Never tried cutting the seeds. I just float test them when I put them in the 5 to 10% Bleach to water solution. Out of 7,000 seeds per pound I usually only have about a dozen or so floaters. Never have more than that nor have I experienced any problems thus far. Maybe I have just been lucky. The companies I buy from float test before they send them to their customers and remove any floaters. I guess I would hate to cut into 100 good seeds. I think I will stick with float testing my seeds but I do not think what you are doing is a bad thing if it works for you.
Fungal growth is more apt to happen above 39 degrees. Storing either way would be fine as long as the fridge is cool enough and if outside they need to have some type of insulation or protection from rapid freezing and thawing, below ground storage is best. Dip your seed in a fungicide solution before storing and you will probably best just fine.
Bleaching is an old technique from the early years, seed producers now dust the seeds with chemicals like Sargent before they stratify the seed in the fall. They float them the next fall to get the seed seperated from the sand, then dust them with chemicals again right after.
For the organic farmers there's natural fungicides like tea made from butternut hickery nut husks,poke weed,horse tail, etc.You end up washing the treatments off with the bleach. Bleach has a pH of 15 the chart don't go no higher than that. It kills everything very easily. Ask your supplier if bleaching is required.
Diseased seeds will sink also, their weight does'nt change because it's got them red sporodochi all over them, and good seed will float also. Crack open the floaters and I'll bet 80 to 90% are fine.
W.Scott Person suggests that an inspection of seeds that sink should also be done by cracking them open with a knife because they can still be infected with disease.
Cutting seeds along the grove on the flat side and inspecting the seed and embryo is the only sure way to test for disease in seeds. It's easy, some experienced guys use their teeth.
Out of seventy thousand seeds 10 - 100 is nothing, think of the whole.
Soaking seeds in water will tell you one thing. Seeds that float are a cause of the seeds drying out or seeds that have or had disease that caused the seeds to be hollow or dryed out and the pulp inside is gone.
Seeds that sink to the bottom could still have a disease or fungi growing on it. By cracking some of the seeds open will verify if it is a good seed or not. Good seeds will have a firm white pulp inside. Infected seed interiors will have either a soft texture or discolored pulp or fungi growing on the outside.
The thing is that infected seeds will sink to the bottom of the water if the disease or fungi are not very far along.
I know in Scotts book, he even talkes about seeds that have dried out on the outside but still good and viable seed on th inside, will float on top for awhile. Once they have soaked in the water for ahile they will sink to the bottom.
You have to take all things into consideration. I think its best to foat test along with cracking some open and inspecting them.
Guy & Classicfur,
Good info fellas, I learned something new about how some ginseng suppliers treat their seeds with Sargent prior to stratifying and after.
Guy you have certainly changed my view on cutting seeds. It sounds like it is the smart thing to do to ensure the seeds are disease free.
Also, I too read about using organic teas many a time and Horsetail tea is mentioned often along the many others. I was actually thinking of giving it a try. One of my morel mushroom spots is full or horsetail. Some have stated that horsetail worked better than a goldenseal tea that was sprayed on the ginseng and we all know how goldenseal has anti-fungal properties. Read the info on North Carolina Ginseng Company's web site by Robert at Eagle Feather/North Carolina Ginseng Company if anyone is interested.
We stratify all our seed in the bush in the organic mulch layer. Some spots are three feet deep before you hit the mineral layer. The reason I do this is to start the symbiotic relationships right from scratch, as nature would do it. This way no chemicals are used.
Another important reason to cutting seed open is to monitor the embryo size. Seed can look great from the out side but have stunted embryo's from poor stratifying methods or temp fluctuations and the seed may require another year to sprout.
When the seed first comes out of the ground the emryo is about a quarter of the seed size and I monitor it every week to ensure they are growing. I like to plant when the embryo is about three quarter of the seed size.
Large growers use labs to monitor the embryo growth for grading purposes.
You will find that it doesn't take a lot of seed to find out whats up, if you used 100 seeds from the 70000 seeds that will be less than one percent.