I spoke with Larry again late yesterday evening by phone and again he assured me that the seed he sold me was stratified and not green. He said he would never sell green seed to anyone.
I tell you when you have bad results like this - and see information like Guy and Classicfur have posted on embryo development - it will sure make you question if the seeds were green.
I am still puzzled by the lack of embryo development in all of the seeds I have dug up and split open.
Larry seems to be sure that the only problem was when the seeds were planted (spring vs fall).
He said he has had good luck with spring plantings in the past, but bad results also - it can be sort of hit and miss.
The seed I purchased from Hardings was the last seed I bought this past year - First week in Febuary and I planted it that same week & weekend - so I guess you could sort of call that a spring planting.
I know that Whitjr got some seed from Hardings late in the year (March) and had poor results with that planting. Larry planted 60 lbs of that same seed in March and got poor results himself.
You have mentioned having similar poor results with seeds you bought from other suppliers (different States). Do you remember what month of the year it was when you planted your beds that you had poor germination results in ?
Have you inspected your seeds for embryo development - if so what have you found ?
If TN has inspected his seeds and found that there was no enlarged embryo growth.
Then some of the facts about embryo growth are inacurate, or the seeds were not properly or correctly stratified.
1) If seeds that are properly stratified, do not require the embryo to grow and be inlarged like the studies show.
From Ontario Ginseng Growers Manual:
\"One way to check whether seeds are developing well is to measure the embryo. Split the seed along the suture line. The embryo is in a sack at the micropyle end of the seed (the pore end). A well-developed embryo at the time of planting should be about 2-3 mm long. The embryo will grow over the winter and will be about 5mm at the time of germination. If the embryo is less than 2mm in length it may not germinate next spring but the spring after, if diseases have not broken it down by then.\"
2) Also, Guy's photos of enlarged embryo at the time of being pulled from stratification box are not true signs of proper stratification.
Or the other perspective:
Harding did not split seeds open and check for proper embryo growth. And planted 60 lbs of improperly stratified seeds and ended up with poor germination.
Perhaps those left over seeds that Harding planted in the spring were from the bottom of the barrel.
My thought is that properly Stratified Seeds must have enlarged embryo growth in order to germinate the first spring. And since Harding does not do a test, splitting seeds open and checking for proper embryo growth. The 60 lbs of seeds he planted this spring and the seeds he sent to TNhunters were not completly stratified.
I believe that Guy's summary of what the embryo should look like when it comes out of the stratifying box is correct. And the study by Ontario Ginseng is correct. If the embryo is not enlarged to a certain size then it is not completly stratified. The reason that seed start cracking open and \"smiling\" is because the embryo enlarges and causes the seed to crack and \"smile\". If the embryo does not enlarge, then the seeds are Green.
I will continue to inspect all the seeds I buy. And if the Embryo is not grown to full size, I will reject the seeds as being \"Green Seeds\".
One of these perspectives is right. Embryo growth is required or embryo growth is not required.
I believe there is three types of seeds that seed dealer can ship to us.
Green Seeds, Good Stratified Seeds and Improperly stratified seeds.
Perhaps once in a while Proper seed stratification fails to develope the embryo properly. Such as the case with harding's batch of seeds.
Harding method of stratification. I have never heard of this method.
Quoted from TN's post above:
\"He said he uses raised insulated stratification boxes when stratifying seed outdoors and also has some stratification boxes that he keeps under his house in the crawl space. Both cases the boxes are not burried, but remain above ground.\"
\"Perhaps that is part of the problem and that method may work part time but fail at times too.\"
I had planted about 10 lbs in Late Feb and early March. This is the seed that did not do well. It sat in my refrigerator for 2 months. I took good care of the seeds while in the frig and monitored the moisture often. The ground was frozen and covered with a blanket of snow so I could not plant until later on.
These are the seeds I bought from another supplier up North as I have posted on other threads. This supplier has not gotten back with me on the issue of shorting me 1 pound of seed either. They claimed they would send me the equivalent value in roots but they did not. So they did not stand behind their product or follow through and made many broken promises.
If Larry said he did not sell green seeds then I believe him. He has already made an offer to make good on the seeds if they do not germinate next fall which some suppliers would not do. So I respect that. Most seed suppliers say if they send you stratified seed and it is healthy disease free seed that float test properly that is where their guarantee ends. Most state that they are not responsible once the seed is stored or planted. I am not saying this does or does not apply to your situation but he did offer to make good on it regardless.
To further confuse the issue, I did plant 5 LBS of seed in Mid October last year which is my favorite month to plant along with early November. We planted it carefully in soil that was rich and loamy in a woods consisting of Sugar Maple trees. This is probably the best 5 lbs I have ever planted. Great soil, great canopy, sugar maple leaf litter and all seed were planted 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep. I planted 1 lb per 1600 sq feet. I had high expectations to see the blanket of green this spring in all of the beds there. But this is the spot that my buddy stated that only 500 had come up that I had posted about. This is also the same spot that I went up to see on Monday of this week. We had many more seedlings that had come up but it was only in the 10 to 20% range.
These seeds were bought from 3 different well respected sources. I had mixed them together as I have discussed in previous post. The seeds that did not germinate were just like we are discussing. Solid fresh white interior with no visible sign of a pronounced embryo.
So to say I am confused is an understatement. I have always gotten 80% germination or better from all of my seed suppliers over the past 4 + years.
It is easy to connect the dots when multiple people in multiple states buying from multiple suppliers are having the same problem. It leads to one common denominator that \"Green Seed\" hit the market. But I do not think every problem we are having that sounds similar is attributed to \"Green\" seeds.
I think from reading all the post that it is a combination of \"Green\" seeds hitting the market along with seed that was planted in Feb and March. This seed did not get in the ground to complete the stratification process naturally as mother nature intended.
Therefore I strongly believe now more than ever that Stratified ginseng seed planted in Sept, Oct, and November will germinate much better than seeds from the same batch planted in Feb or March which I consider Spring Planting. Seeds need the fluctuating temps of cold to freezing, freezing to cold and on and on to germinate and continue the remainder of their stratification process.
Stratified seeds we receive in September that are planted in the ground continue that stratification process naturally and are exposed to the elements. A seed 1/4 to 1/2 inch below the soil is going to freeze and thaw, freeze and thaw. Whether the leaf litter is wet or dry it is not going to keep the seed from freezing and thawing.
So in conclusion I will never buy seed from any seed supplier for Spring Planting. I just do not think seed stored in any type of stratification box will get the exposure to the elements as seed planted in late fall. I am not being critical of any seed supplier selling seed for spring planting. I have heard some have great success with spring planting but it is not for me. I have also heard that stratified seed can skip a year at times for what ever reason and it sounds like this may be one of those years.
I am glad to see the seed alive knowing it still has a chance to come up next year. I do not like waiting another year but I guess that is better than the seed being diseased or brown and mushy.
It sounds like you believe that come up the first spring has nothing to do with the embryo's growth.
It's more like \"the luck of the draw\"!
But if you believe that embryo growth is not required in order to have seeds emerge the first spring, then there is no need for you to check for embryo growth when you recieve seeds.
Here's what Guy posted earlier.
\"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.\"
Guy talkes about the required embryo growth before he plants. Also, that Large growers use labs to monitor the embryo growth for grading purposes.
I take it that Harding does not use this service.
I believe that Harding did stratify those seeds. But it was a failed stratification. For some reason the seeds he planted in the fall recieved proper storage temps. And the ones that were planted in the spring(possibly from the bottom of the barrel) did not recieve the same storage temp and thus a failed stratification. If they were properly stratified, the embryo would show proper growth
Like I quoted from Guy:\"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.\"
This is probably why Large growers use labs to monitor the embryo growth. And I guess some don't.
I guess for some, there is a way to check for green seeds and embryo growth and for others there is no way to tell.
If the embryo is not developed when you plant your seeds. Don't plan on them coming up the first spring.
I suppose if one is to inspect seeds for correct embryo growth. They should first ask the seller you buy from, if they check their seeds for propper embryo growth.
If a seller does not know what the correct embryo size looks like, then they probably would not let you return the seeds, just because you say they are not properly stratified by your inspection of the embryo.
I just contacted my seed supplier and after talking to the third person(the one that knew someting about seed embryo's), I got the answer I needed.
I asked if I could return seeds that had poor embryo growth. He told me that all the seeds they ship, about 90% of the seeds will have embyro's that are about 50% of the seed length when shipped in Sept.
He said that all batches of seeds are inspect for embryo growth.
I ask what is the lowest percentage of good embryo seeds allowable to be shipped. And he would not give me an exact amount. He did tell me that if I found an unacceptale amount of seeds that did not have good embryo growth, that I could return the seeds.
I think that if you want to be able to return seeds that have poor embryo growth, you best ask your seed supplier first if they would allow that.
I think some are completly unaware of what the embryo growth is.
Agree with your suggestions - something we should all add to our list before buying seeds for next season.
Have that talk with who ever you are buying seeds from and make sure they have checked the seed they are about to ship you for proper embryo growth, and that you can return them if they don't meet your expectations.
I checked over Scotts book and could not find where he said much of anything about embryo growth - he did mention that it was normal for them to be cracked/smiling and that was normal, good sign, etc, but I could not find anywhere where he gave specifics as to what to check for on embryo growth.
The Hardings seeds I got looked great, float tested good, some were cracked an some had 1/4 inch tails (just a few) but somehow the large majority of the remainder of the seeds just had not developed embryo wise.
You would not have known that unless you cracked open several seeds checking several that were not cracked.
No doubt we are all wiser on this subject now and will do better going forward.
Your right about, not knowing the condition of the seeds unless we cut them open. Most years the seeds I buy only have a few that are smiling and yet the ones that are not smiling have been good seeds. For the most part, I just got lucky.
I guess we just don't know until we open them up.
I am surprised that Scott's book does not mention the embryo.
I think with this forum we have gained alot of knowlege on growing seng. With everyone on this site, we have pulled alot of experience and resources together for the good of all.