Mary's Veggie Garden

April 24, 2017

Pepper Seed Test

Filed under: Peppers,Vegetables — marysveggiegarden @ 8:05 pm
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When I inventoried my seeds last winter I discovered that I had plenty of seed for three of my favorite varieties. However the seeds were purchased for planting in 2015. They were 3 years old and most sources say that pepper seed is viable for only 2 years.

I decided to test this old seed, noting the germination rate and plant vigor. My old seed would be compared to two ‘new to me’ varieties  purchased this year, and to seed from last year.

I also had a backup plan  if none of the old seed grew – two of the varieties are available locally as transplants.

Pepper varieties  tested:

  • Carmen – Italian “bull’s horn” (corno di toro) type, Johnnys Selected Seeds (JSS) 2015.
  • Highlander – a mild Anaheim type pepper, JSS 2015.
  • Intruder – produces large blocky bell peppers. Plants have resistance to several diseases present in the community gardens. JSS 2015
  • Escamillo – similar to Carmen, but ripens to golden-yellow. JSS 2016
  • Felicity – a heatless jalapeño, Territorial Seeds 2017
  • X3R Red Knight – another bell pepper with good disease resistance. JSS 2017

I’ve been growing my own transplants for decades. I know that two-year old pepper seed takes several days longer to germinate than fresh seed. For this test I decided to stagger the planting times to compensate for the slower germination of the old seed. My goal was to have similarly sized transplants at planting time.  The 2015 seed was planted 3/25, the 2016 seed was started a week later on 4/1, and the new seeds were sown 4/7.

Results

My three-year old pepper seed did germinate, at rates ranging form 58% to 82%. The number of strong plants (as a % of the number of seeds sown) was considerably lower at  33%-73%. However I planted enough seeds that even a low percentage resulted in plenty of usable plants.

Variety Purchased for: Planting date # seeds planted Days to germinate # Seeds germinated Germination percent # Strong plants % Strong plants
Carmen

2015

3/25/17

19

16-19

12

63%

7

37%

Highlander

2015

3/25/17

11

15-18

9

82%

8

73%

Intruder

2015

3/25/17

12

18-20

7

58%

4

33%

Escamillo

2016

4/7/17

8

6

75%

6

75%

Felicity

2017

4/7/17

4

10-11

4

100%

4

100%

X3RRed Knight

2017

4/7/17

4

10-11

4

100%

3

75%

4/10 – Highlander, Intruder and Carmen are germinating. All were planted 3/25.

4/23 Highlander, Intruder and Carmen. Some plants are stronger, some are clearly less vigorous.

4/23 Red Knight, Felicity and Escamillo

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3 Comments »

  1. I did not know that older pepper seeds takes several days longer to germinate than fresh pepper seed. Is this true for all seeds?

    Comment by Norma Chang — April 25, 2017 @ 6:43 pm | Reply

    • I think that pepper seed is an extreme case. Tomato seeds take a day or two longer per year of age and the same is true of cabbage family seeds.

      Comment by marysveggiegarden — April 25, 2017 @ 7:00 pm | Reply

  2. Very interesting comparison for the pepper seeds: I usually discard anything over two years old but maybe giving things a chance with old favourites would be good!

    Comment by alittlebitofsunshine1 — April 26, 2017 @ 10:06 am | Reply


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