HOW TO HARVEST, PREPARE & PRESERVE LOCAL VEGETABLE SEEDS (Open Pollinated) FOR THE NEXT PLANTING SEASON

how to preserve vegetable seeds, how to extract vegetable seeds

In my few years sojourn as a service provider to local farmers, I have come across many farmers who mostly use local seeds varieties in farming particularly vegetable farming. The use of local seeds in itself isn’t a bad idea despite the spread of improved seeds varieties in the horticultural sphere but for the manner in which the local farmers extract and preserve them. A little enlightenment would help these farmers to understand that to produce a vigorous crop which by extension represents increase in yield, better resistance to diseases among other traits, there is a need to apply little techniques in preparing and
storing their seeds for the next planting season.
I am about sharing some of these techniques that all these big seed companies would not want you to know.
You may also watch the short demonstrating video of seed preservation and storage for deeper compression. To watch Click here.
Why seeds preservation?
There is no doubt that improved (vegetable)seeds are great but that is not enough a convincing reason for locals to through away their indigenous varieties which perhaps have special features that cannot be found in any packaged improved seeds. For example, there are some indigenous varieties of vegetable with certain flavor which is an identity of the local delicacies, so what become of this if the local varieties are no longer propagated?
Local heirloom tomato native to Southwest Nigeria
Moreover, there are some vegetable seeds with no notable packaged improved seeds yet and farmers are still in the business of cultivating them; there still remain rural farmers that cannot afford packaged improve seeds but make a living from cultivating vegetables albeit on a subsistence basis or semi commercial basis for village market; some farming practices such as specialized organic horticultural farming do not allow nor encourage the use of hybrid seeds. Above all, for the essence of food security, the foregoing reasons and many others, there is a need to equip yourself with basic knowledge in nurturing and preparing your own seeds.
Selection of traits
Many vegetable seeds can be prepared and store for the next planting season. Examples are but not limited to tomatoes, pepper, okra, cucumber, watermelon, lettuce, squash, pumpkin etc. In order to ensure that only good traits and vigorous crops’ seeds are preserved for the next planting season, you must identify and select only plant stand that shows the following: Obvious strong resistance to diseases and insect attacks, high yield, great vigor, early development etc. Going by the law of genetic, these traits shows by the parent crop would equally be in most of the seeds and using these set of seeds during the next planting season would place you in a better position to reap gain.

Nursing, care and harvest
Once these crop stands are identified, you select one of two fruits on each stand in case of crops with big fruits like cucumber, watermelon, and squash but in case of some type of peppers, lettuce or any crop with seemingly small sized fruits, it could be almost all the first set of fruits produced by the stands.
Once this is done, you wait till the fruit get matured and ripened on its own.  For crops with bigger fruits like cucumber, watermelon, squash etc. it is essential that you don’t allow the fruits to have direct contact with the soil so as to reduce the incidence of fungi and bacterial infections. More so you should cover them with a clothing material to prevent insect or animal attacks because when they are ripened and succulent, they would naturally attract attacks. The number of fruits you would preserve largely depends on the quantity of seeds you which to store.

Cucumber fruit covers with clothing material
Processing
Once these fruit are ripened and succulent (in some cases, you wait till the fruits are getting dried e.g. beans, some peppers), you would detach the fruit from the parent plant, wash it with clean water and slice it open with knife, carefully strip the seeds surrounding the central cone into a clean container. In some case, especially for crops with small sized fruits like hot pepper, you could fill a blender with matured peppers and water, carefully blend until good seeds are separated and sink to bottom.
Once you have all the seeds you want in the container, add small quantity of water and squeeze it with your hand repeatedly. This is to ensure that the seeds are separated from the slimming or jelly-like materials in some cases and other particles. Add much more water, obviously some seeds and dirty would float on the water, rinse (pour out) out this portion. Please note that those seeds that are floating aren’t viable enough or perhaps have incomplete cotyledons (immature) which are the reason for their light weight. Keeping this set of seeds for next planting season is tantamount to wasting of time and having false impression that you have much seeds; they would never germinate or produce viable crops.  Repeat this process of rinsing three to five times. Finally, the seeds which kept sinking to the bottom of the water are the viable ones. Pour this set into a sieve and allow to completely drained. Pick out any leftover particles.
Seed extraction
After that, place seeds on a solid platform and allow to dry in a cool well ventilated place for a couple of days till no traces of moisture is notice. Please NEVER place nor dry the seeds under direct sunlight to prevent the death of the seeds. You may as well break up seeds crumbs each day in the case of tiny seeds like tomato, pepper and lettuce seeds.



Dried seeds in store in glass bottle
Storage
Gather the well dried seeds (it is very essential that there is no trace of moisture, drying may even take weeks in some instances), remove any foreign materials and pour it inside a very dried glass bottle. The glass bottle should be close hermetically to prevent entrance of moisture. This bottle can then be kept in a cool place inside the farm house for as long as two to three years. 


You may also read: Hybrid seeds & Seeds catalogue

Treatment and replanting
Now that you have your seeds ready for the next planting season, it is essential you treat the seeds (for some crops like peppers, cucumber, tomato, squash, watermelon etc.) before planting them. This is done to remove fungi and bacteria often located on the seed coats. A notable case is tobacco mosaic virus common in cucurbits and solanacea. Cleansing is done by pouring the ready-to-be-planted seeds inside solvent like Tri-sodium phosphate, bleach or neem oil, dry it slightly afterward and you are good to go. You may also read: How to calculate plant population

I hope you find this article interesting and relevant to your course or any other local farmers you know, please share the knowledge as much as you can to ensure global food security. You may also watch the short demonstrating video of seed preservation and storage for deeper compression. Click  here to watch the video.

On our side, we would be more encouraged if you can leave a comment behind either of commendation or critic. Thank you for reading. 

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HYBRID VEGGIES : HOW TO HARVEST, PREPARE & PRESERVE LOCAL VEGETABLE SEEDS (Open Pollinated) FOR THE NEXT PLANTING SEASON
HOW TO HARVEST, PREPARE & PRESERVE LOCAL VEGETABLE SEEDS (Open Pollinated) FOR THE NEXT PLANTING SEASON
how to preserve vegetable seeds, how to extract vegetable seeds
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