Weed Seeds Float Or Sink

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Can you test seed germination viability by floating the seed in water? How reliable is this method and does it work for all seeds? Why Float Cannabis Seeds? Floating Cannabis Seeds Why Float Cannabis Seeds? In general, growing cannabis from seed can offer the opportunity for growers to possibly create something new which can be exciting and different. Besides genetics, phenotypes based on the grow environment can create different alterations of the same cannabis strain (Conviron, 2017). An individual can easily purchase seeds online or by pollinating and hybridizing one’s own seeds for use. Cannabis growers may find more success by first floating or soaking their cannabis seeds in filtered water, than planting directly into a growing medium. Tesseract (Andy’s Blue Dream x White Lemon Stomper) cannabis seeds floating in filtered water. Genetics are from Pink House Colorado. Image taken by RMK. The germination of cannabis seeds depends on the right amount of heat and moisture (NGA, 2018). Since viable cannabis seeds float on the surface of the water, they are able to retain the proper ratio of moisture and air. Seeds that do not float may be sterile or underdeveloped. When you roll the seed in your hands prior to floating the seed, it should be firm and brown with the occasional dark stripes in appearance. Immature cannabis seeds appear green or sometimes white and as stated above they will sink to the bottom when you attempt to float them. Floating Cannabis Seeds Properly floating cannabis seeds is as easy as placing these seeds in warm filtered water with a ~7pH in a container that is covered from direct light. When the tap root is about ¼ to ½ inch in length, you know the cannabis seeds are ready to be placed into their growing medium. Tesseract cannabis seeds with taproots popping out. Check out the seed hulls, they are a dark brown color with several dark spots and stripes. These seeds were soaked for a 24 hours. Image taken by RMK. These cannabis seeds were floated in 8oz white paper cups covered by a pot tray. These cups were then placed under a T5 light approximately 1ft away from the tops of the cups. A Tesseract cannabis seed with a taproot popping out is being placed standing up into a small cup of presoaked promix for planting. Image taken by RMK. Within 24 hours these seeds had a success rate of 100% with all seeds showing tap roots and being placed into a different set of 8oz paper cups that were full of presoaked promix. The promix was only immediately presoaked using filtered water with ~7pH. The cannabis seeds were placed with taproots sideways or with the seed hull standing upright and the taproot pointing downwards about ½ to 1” inch deep into the promix growing medium. The small cups holding the seedlings are separated to easily identify several different strains in the large white tray. Image taken by RMK. After a total of four days since the cannabis germination started a majority of the cannabis seedling should begin to sprout from the surface of the growing medium. In conclusion, floating cannabis seeds can be beneficial for cannabis seed propagation for several reasons. Finding viable seeds and ensuring a higher success rate of germination, even if it may take longer for some seeds, are two main reasons why a cannabis grower may want to try floating cannabis seeds as a means of propagation instead of other methods which are also perfectly acceptable. Resources: NGA – National Gardening Association. (2018). “Propagating Amaryllis Seeds by Floating”. National Gardening Association. Conviron. (2017). “Cannabis: Propagation. Cloning Methods For Commercial Growers”. Conviron. The first step in growing your own cannabis, explore expert tips and tricks on how to successfully germinate, transforming your little seeds into healthy sprouts.

Floating Seeds in Water – Is This a Good Seed Viability Test?

How do you know if your seeds are still viable? Simple, do a seed germination test. Place the seeds in some water. The ones that sink are still viable – the ones that float are dead.

This advice is all over the internet so it must work? But how reliable is it?

Floating Seeds in Water – Is this a Good Seed Viability Test?; source: Pens & Pencils

Do the Floating Seed Test Properly

If you check out a number of sites that describe this test you soon realize that there are several different ways to do it. Some people add soap to the water to reduce it’s surface tension. Others put the seed in a jar and give it a good shake or they might soak the seed for 24 hours before doing the test.

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There is no agreement on how to do the test properly. That means the test results reported on social media are not very reliable since they rarely include the details of the method used.

There are also silly claims like “this method is not 100% accurate and it only works with freshly harvested seeds of certain fruits such as melon, watermelon, cucumber, squash, peppers and tomatoes”. There are thousands of different types of seeds. Why would it only work on some vegetables and what does “not 100% reliable” mean? Maybe it only works 10% of the time?

Another site says, “the test only works for melons or cucumbers if the seeds are fresh and have not dried out.” So it doesn’t work on purchased seed. This same site went on to state that you need to ferment tomato seeds to get them to germinate, and I have already shown that this is a myth.

This gardening technique is so poorly defined that it is not possible to know how to do it correctly.

Citizen Scientists – Floating Seed Test for Viability

A number of gardeners have done tests to see how well the floating seed test works.

Pulsatilla albana ssp. armena – the Pulsatilla ‘seeds’ are actually fruits – achenes with “fluffy tails”, source: BotanyCA

I had some red pepper seeds from a store bought fruit and tried floating the seeds without drying them. Half floated and half sank. I removed the floaters and used them to try the test again. Half floated and half sank. I then tested this last group of seeds for germination. The ones that floated and then sank had 8/10 germinate, and the ones that floated twice had 3/10 germinate. So it is possible that floaters have a lower germination rate, but the floaters in this test were certainly not all dead.

I tested some Camassia seeds; 38 of 48 (79%) sinkers germinated and 12 of 16 (75%) floaters germinated, after a month in the fridge using the baggy method.

Someone from our Garden Fundamental Facebook Group tested Briza maxima (quaking grass) and found better germination with floaters.

Marijuana seed that floats will germinate on top of the water in 24 hours.

Twelve different kinds of pepper seeds were tested in this video and both floaters and sinkers had good germination.

I’ve germinated quite a few clematis seeds and most of them have fussy tails. They all float. Many seeds have this characteristic including some grasses and pulsatilla.

Both floating and sinking peppers seeds germinate, source: Daisy Dawes

The top picture in this post shows two jars. The one on the left contains black pepper seeds – they sink. You can distinguish them from papaya seeds that float, and are frequently added to spices since they look like black pepper but are much cheaper.

Science on Seed Viability Using the Water Float Test

Acorns have very low germination because many seeds don’t develop completely inside the nut and because various pests lay their egg in viable seeds which are subsequently eaten by the larvae. Floating them is a common way to eliminate many of the non-viable seeds. Even with this test, too much agitation of the water will cause viable seed to float.

Juniperus polycarpos, the Persian juniper, also produces a low number of viable seeds. Floating in water is not a reliable means of separating the good from the bad, but floating in a sugar solution does work. Sugar water has a higher density than water and this difference can be used separate seeds of various densities. The heavier viable seed sinks.

The float test “works well with hard-seeded peas in the family Fabaceae (e.g. Daviesia, Chorizema, Gastrolobium and Gompholobium) and Mimosaceae (e.g. Acacia), and has also been used on species in Hemigenia with good success. Do not attempt this test on seed of Allocasuarina. Allocasuarina seed is mucilaginous. This means it has a mucous membrane around the seed that gets very sticky on wetting.”

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Arabidopsis seed forms a sticky mucilage on the outside of the seed as it absorbs water. Mutations of arabidopsis have been found that don’t produce this coating, allowing them to be separated from normal types with a float test. This is an example where within a single species, some seed floats and some does not, depending on genetics that has nothing to do with seed viability.

Arabidopsis wild seed (WT) sinks while a mutation (mum) floats. The floaters germinate in 24 hours siting on the water, source Helen M North

“Wheat was used in one set of experiments, and the average of all tests showed a germination of 68.3 per cent for the sunken seeds and 72 per cent for those that floated. In another set of experiments lentil was used, and it was found that 75.4 per cent of the sunken seeds and 86.7 per cent of those that floated germinated.”

The floating characteristic of seeds depends very much on their weight, surface coating, shape and specific gravity. Some seeds do develop a large seed coat which can be empty and these likely float. The specific gravity of a seed is controlled by the environment (moisture) and internal enzymes and hormones. Some dead seeds sink, while some spongy seeds like spinach float even if viable.

Does The Seed Float Test Work for Testing Viability?

There are cases where a float test can be used to identify viable seed, but when science reports on these they are quite specific about the type of seed and the method used.

On the other hand gardeners tend to simply lump all seeds into one category and say they all work, without specifying the method that works.

As a general rule, gardeners should assume that the float test does NOT work for testing seed viability, unless there is evidence it works in a specific case.

A Better Way to Test Seed Viability

Use my baggy method if you want to test seed germination. You will actually see the root come out of the seed and know for certain that the seed is viable.

Weed Seeds Float Or Sink

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Case Study: Propagating Cannabis Seeds by Floating

June 03, 2019
  • Why Float Cannabis Seeds?
  • Floating Cannabis Seeds
Why Float Cannabis Seeds?

In general, growing cannabis from seed can offer the opportunity for growers to possibly create something new which can be exciting and different. Besides genetics, phenotypes based on the grow environment can create different alterations of the same cannabis strain (Conviron, 2017). An individual can easily purchase seeds online or by pollinating and hybridizing one’s own seeds for use. Cannabis growers may find more success by first floating or soaking their cannabis seeds in filtered water, than planting directly into a growing medium.

Tesseract (Andy’s Blue Dream x White Lemon Stomper) cannabis seeds floating in filtered water. Genetics are from Pink House Colorado. Image taken by RMK.

The germination of cannabis seeds depends on the right amount of heat and moisture (NGA, 2018). Since viable cannabis seeds float on the surface of the water, they are able to retain the proper ratio of moisture and air. Seeds that do not float may be sterile or underdeveloped. When you roll the seed in your hands prior to floating the seed, it should be firm and brown with the occasional dark stripes in appearance. Immature cannabis seeds appear green or sometimes white and as stated above they will sink to the bottom when you attempt to float them.

Floating Cannabis Seeds

Properly floating cannabis seeds is as easy as placing these seeds in warm filtered water with a ~7pH in a container that is covered from direct light. When the tap root is about ¼ to ½ inch in length, you know the cannabis seeds are ready to be placed into their growing medium.

Tesseract cannabis seeds with taproots popping out. Check out the seed hulls, they are a dark brown color with several dark spots and stripes. These seeds were soaked for a 24 hours. Image taken by RMK.

These cannabis seeds were floated in 8oz white paper cups covered by a pot tray. These cups were then placed under a T5 light approximately 1ft away from the tops of the cups.

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A Tesseract cannabis seed with a taproot popping out is being placed standing up into a small cup of presoaked promix for planting. Image taken by RMK.

Within 24 hours these seeds had a success rate of 100% with all seeds showing tap roots and being placed into a different set of 8oz paper cups that were full of presoaked promix. The promix was only immediately presoaked using filtered water with ~7pH. The cannabis seeds were placed with taproots sideways or with the seed hull standing upright and the taproot pointing downwards about ½ to 1” inch deep into the promix growing medium.

The small cups holding the seedlings are separated to easily identify several different strains in the large white tray. Image taken by RMK.

After a total of four days since the cannabis germination started a majority of the cannabis seedling should begin to sprout from the surface of the growing medium.

In conclusion, floating cannabis seeds can be beneficial for cannabis seed propagation for several reasons. Finding viable seeds and ensuring a higher success rate of germination, even if it may take longer for some seeds, are two main reasons why a cannabis grower may want to try floating cannabis seeds as a means of propagation instead of other methods which are also perfectly acceptable.

How To: Germinate Cannabis Seeds

There’s just something amazing that happens as you watch life unfold from the smallest seed to a full-grown plant. It’s a connection to nature that is often lacking in today’s buy everything pre-washed world. Some patients are legally allowed to grow a limited number of cannabis plants at home (with , either outdoors or inside. The number of plants and the amount that can be stored depends directly on the quantity of dried cannabis a patient is authorized to use daily, so make sure to review the ACMPR guidelines before starting.

If you’re growing your own cannabis starting from seeds (as opposed to cut clones), the first step is to transform them from the seeds to sprouts. For seeds to germinate, they require three things: moisture, warmth and darkness.

STEP 1

Fill a glass with clean, room temperature water (between 18 and 25 degrees Celsius is ideal). The type of water you use should sync up with the type of water you drink. If your tap water is safe for drinking, you can use it for germination. But if you have to use filtered or bottled water to drink, your seeds will also need it to grow.

STEP 2

Drop your seeds into the glass of water and leave them to soak in a dark place that holds a temperature between 20 and 25 degrees Celsius. After 10 minutes, check on the seeds. If a few are floating at the top, gently tap them to see if they sink. (If they don’t, just let them float!) Place the seeds back in the dark for another 8-12 hours.

Note: If you are germinating colour-coated seeds, each colour should be placed in a separate glass. The colour will slowly dissolve in the water, making the seeds and their colour-coded strain identifiers indistinguishable.

STEP 3

Place the seeds on a plate, bedded in between layers of damp paper or cotton towels, before placing them back in the dark to continue germinating. Check on them every 6-12 hours, dripping water onto the top layer of paper towels to ensure they remain damp. Do this for 48-72 hours.

STEP 4

After two to three days on the paper towels, the seeds will swell causing the casing shell to crack. It may take up another day or two, so if you don’t see split casing shells, be patient. However, it’s also important not to let the newly emerged root stay exposed to the damp paper towels too long, as it can create early root damage. Look for the white, initial root visible at the spot the seed is cracked. It will look like a little tail sticking out of the seed. That’s how you know your seed is ready to be planted!

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