Seed Collection and Stratification

Forest Farming September 18, 2014 Print Friendly and PDF

Forest farmer, Dave Carmen, explains various methods of seed-collection on a small-scale farm. He demonstrates the collection of bloodroot, goldenseal and false unicorn seeds. Seed from woodland plants is often eaten by mice, turkeys and other forest dwellers. In order to protect it until the berry is fully ripe and the seed is viable, Dave places small draw-string bags over the berry and cinches it until closed. In the case of false unicorn, he used a bag made of tulle. 

Ginseng seed requires two cold periods before it will germinate. Dave Carmen experiments with ginseng plants whose seeds have ripened early. By planting those early seeds immediately after they are fully ripe in late July or early August, he was able to achieve germination after one winter instead of the usual two winters. We review the early seeds of several ginseng plants and the one-year-old plants that were planted the previous fall from the same early-seeding plants. Through the variations of ginseng seed, an entire year was saved in the germination of those seeds.
Dave Carmen demonstrates how to stratify ginseng seed. Unlike many plants, ginseng seed requires two winters before it will germinate. In order to store the seed safely during the first year and provide for its first cold treatment, it must be buried in the ground and kept moist. Dave Carmen digs up a mesh bag with the previous year's seed that is now ready for planting in the fall in order to germinate the following spring. This year's seed collection must be fermented in water which removes the pulp, washed and then buried with sand in the mesh bag to wait out its first winter.

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.