Seed Dormancy

What is Seed Dormancy?

Seed dormancy is defined as a state in which seeds are prevented from germinating even under environmental conditions normally favorable for germination.  These conditions are a complex combination of water, light, temperature, gasses, mechanical restrictions, seed coats, and hormone structures.

In the sprouting industry, dormancy is commonly referred to as a seed producing plants ability to withstand winter freezes.  The more dormant or "Winter Hardy", a seed producing plant is, the further north (in northern climates) it can grow and still survive the winter to come up the following season. Often Canadian alfalfa will carry a rating of 2 while Australian will carry a rating of 8 or 9.

Below are the different ratings:

  • 1. Very Dormant
  • 2. Dormant
  • 3. Moderately dormant
  • 4 - 6. Categories of semi dormant and intermediate dormancy
  • 7. Moderately non-dormant
  • 8. Non-Dormant (moapa 69 for instance)
  • 9. Very Non-Dormant (cuf 101)

As a practical matter for sprout producers,  more dormant seed is generally easier to grow without having spoilage problems, especially in the summer.  However, it generally has more hard seed, takes longer to sprout, and has a lower yield.  It is also generally less expensive.

For a sprout grower to maximize their profits they need to balance the price of the seed with the type of seed they need and the yield it produces.  Al Sullivan, Karen Wilson, Michael Gilpatrick, Linhan Zhao or Daniel Alfaro at ISS can help you determine which ISS Screened Sprouting Seed is best for your needs.