Germination and Total Viability

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Seed germination in a laboratory practice is defined as the emergence and development of the essential structures from a seed embryo which are indicative of the ability to produce a normal plant under favorable conditions. 

The A.O.S.A. rules for testing seed sets standards that enable a seed technologist to produce test results that are accurate, meaningful and reproducible. This data measures the commercial value of seed and provides information for labeling.

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A minimum of 400 seeds is required for an A.O.S.A. or I.S.T.A. official germination test. 

When submitting samples, the laboratory needs to receive at least 400 seeds, but we prefer that the customer send 600 to 1000 seeds of a uniform representative sample of the lot being tested. 

This allows us to perform a retest or paired test if needed, without delaying test results.

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Germination tests at the Ransom Seed Lab include a routine check for dormancy following the prescribed germination period. Total viability is then determined by tetrazolium chloride (TZ) or other dormancy breaking methods. 

It is important to understand the difference between germination and total viability. Germination % is measured in one moment in time, whereas total viability measures the ultimate plant producing ability of the seed lot.