Techniques: Priming

What is priming?

Priming is controlling the hydration level within seeds to allow seedlings to emerge more quickly and to help them all emerge at the same time. That way, you can use your fields more productively and your plants are ready to harvest together. 

In a seed, the natural stages of germination occur up to the point of radicle emergence. Radicles are the first parts of the seedlings that sprout from the seeds. Radicle emergence requires a high seed water content. So when we prime seeds, we limit their water content, and the metabolic steps necessary for germination can occur without the irreversible act of radicle emergence. With primed seeds,  plant stands emerge more rapidly and uniformly.

 

Methods

Several different priming methods have been reported to be used commercially including liquid or osmotic priming and solid matrix priming. Our techniques are proprietary.

 

Reasons for priming

Seeds are primed for the following reasons:

  • To overcome or alleviate phytochrome-induced dormancy in plants such as lettuce and endive/escarole
  • To decrease the time necessary for germination and emergence
  • To improve the stand uniformity, aiding in production management and increasing the chance for uniformity at harvest
  • To extend the temperature range at which a seed can germinate
  • To increase the rate of germination at any particular temperature. Priming can reduce germination times in the field by approximately 50% upon subsequent rehydration

For more details on priming seeds, see Why Prime Seeds by Seed Dynamics seed physiologist Hank Hill.

 

What are the benefits of priming seeds?
  • Emergence can occur before soil crusting becomes fully detrimental
  • Crops can compete more effectively with weeds
  • Priming allows growers to better control their water usage and scheduling.
  • Priming can eliminate or greatly reduce the amount of seed-borne fungi and bacteria.