31 March 2021
Today marks the last day of March. Planting season is right around the corner. People are planning, and orders are going out the door. This month, I want to spend a bit of time talking about seeds and germination, one of the most critical stages of a plant's life.
The first root to emerge from the shell of the seed is called the radicle. This becomes the primary root in the soil. At the beginning of a seed’s life, water or soil moisture is critical to trigger the germination stage. If they are not hydrated, the protoplasm and cytoplasm in the seed cannot be activated. The protoplasm is the living cell inside the seed, and cytoplasm of the seed is responsible for the living part of the cell. Even as we sprout seeds to grow our own meals, it is amazing to see how fast a seed can produce its roots when planted in the proper growing environment. There are great health benefits of eating sprouts as well.
"I have often said that 'We are what we eat, eats' and this is why it's so important to provide a healthy environment for the seeds to germinate and grow."
There are a few important factors during the germination stage. The first is temperature. The ideal soil temperature for good seed germination is between 18-24°C for many crops. The ideal temperature for the crop you are growing should be on the seed label. You can check your soil temperature by placing a thermometer approximately 2-5 cm deep into the soil, or at the depth you will plant your seeds.
A second important factor during germination is oxygen. It is an essential source of energy required for seed growth. This is why good organic matter in your soil is so important, as is the depth at which you plant your seeds. The yield potential of a seed is often much higher than the actual yield. The factors I’ve mentioned here (and others) have a significant impact on the end resulting yield (like oxygen availability and soil temperature). Most of these factors are things we cannot change right away, but just like a small child who depends on its mother’s milk to grow and develop, we also can affect certain aspects of the seed during and after it germinates.
As the seed germinates and the radicle emerges it will now search for nutrients to power its growth and build its structure and frame. I have often said that “we are what we eat, eats” and this is why it is so important to provide a healthy environment for the seeds to germinate and then grow. We need to help supply the nutrients and vitamins for the plant to have what it needs to grow strong and reach its full yield potential.
As we plant the seeds in the ground we have high hopes of a plentiful harvest. This is the reason that we pick great seeds and varieties that work for our system. It’s now very important to take care of the next growing stages, as the beginning often determines the result. As the roots start to emerge there are ways to enhance the surrounding environment. The roots are the point of absorption of minerals and moisture for plant uptake, so it is vital to help create a good balance in the soil for the roots. One way to enhance root uptake is to add a source of mycorrhizae as this will expand the root mass through the soil and create a network of fungi between the growing roots.
What exactly are mycorrhizal fungi?
Mycorrhizae, which means fungus-root, are beneficial fungi that attach to the plant's roots and are fed with sugars and carbons, and in return, bring nutrients and water back to the growing plant. The most common are arbuscular mycorrhizae…
Arbuscular mycorrhizae have hyphae that attach themselves to the root cells and form vesicles. These create a bond between the plant and the fungi to exchange water and nutrients with the soil. This can have a large impact onplant functions and can certainly affect drought tolerance, plant health and, of course, yield. About 80-90% of all plants will benefit from an application of mycorrhizae with the exception of those plants in the brassica, ericaceae, and amaranth family. Some of the reported benefits of adding a mycorrhizal source are less pathogens, better drought tolerance, less transplant stress, enhanced flowering and improved soil structure.
We carry an excellent suspendable powder mycorrhizal inoculum consisting of four species of endomycorrhizal fungi. Read more about MycoApply here.
As we are beginning the process of planting for 2021 and are enthusiastic about a great season ahead, it is truly very important to plan for success early on and to be mindful to give those seeds the best chance possible to produce a healthy and bountiful crop and yield. Think about the soil health as you plant your seeds in the ground. Think about the potential of the seed and what it needs for a great germination and what you can do to give it a boost this spring. Healthy roots are the base of the plant and are there to hold the plant up, feed the plant and the microbes in the soil, build structure and produce food to feed us.
Dave de Vries