How Long Are Seeds Good For (And Why)?

Exact Answer: Up to 5 years

The shelf life of the unused fruits or vegetable seeds depends on how the person stores them. The seeds should be kept at a cool temperature to avoid spoilage. It depends on what type of seeds one is trying to store.

Some seeds may not last for more than 1 year depending on the type of tree they are from. The vegetable seeds would last for 2 to 3 years easily. The seeds of onion or lettuce can get start sprouting in 4 to 5 years. The seeds love cool temperatures.

If someone stores the seeds in hot temperatures above 45 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit, then it would get bad early. The person should not keep the seeds in a place where temperature fluctuation may happen.

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How Long Are Seeds Good For?

SeedsTime
Minimum time2 years
Maximum time5 years

The person can choose a cool and dry place for storing the seeds. The person needs to use a jar or simple plastic bag to put the seeds in it. The person will have to seal the jar or bag for avoiding moisture contact. The moisture contact would cause mold development. 

Once the seeds are stored for more than 1 year. There is no certain date when the seeds can start germination. Therefore, the person has to check if the seeds are still good or not. Before a few days of planting, the person has to follow the steps to check the seeds:

Take a few seeds and place them on a paper towel. Make sure the paper towel is moist properly.

Cover or wrap the moist paper towel in plastic.         

Put the plastic-wrapped towel in a warm temperature area.

After one or two weeks, if the seeds start sprouting then the seeds would be viable.

The seeds of all the vegetables and fruits would not have the same shelf life. If the person provides all the required storage conditions, then the shelf life can be increased. Some people may wash the seeds before starting to store them.

This is not a good idea, wet seeds would not have a long shelf life. The sunlight light exposure could decrease the shelf life of the seeds. The quality of the original crops would affect the shelf life of seeds.

The type of crops from where the seeds are harvested would influence the shelf life of the crops. The shelf life of onion and cherry tomatoes seeds will not be exactly the same. The shelf life of treated seeds would have a different life span than the natural seeds.

Why Are Seeds Good For This Long?

The shelf life of seeds would get impacted by environmental factors. A favorable temperature and no humid climate are better for the seeds. The person can always store the seeds in closed bags or jars but a small hole in the bag can affect the seeds.

The shelf life of broccoli seeds would be around 3 years. There is no exact answer for how long the seeds can last, as all the seeds are different. The seeds can last more if stored under 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Storing the seeds packets in a dark room under the required temperature would be a smart choice. With time, the quality of the seeds would decrease even if you store them properly. Sometimes, these seeds may germinate very late or will not germinate at all.

Conclusion

There is no such specific date when the seeds can start germination. The person can take average time for the shelf life of the seeds. The type and quality of seeds the person is using would make a huge impact on the shelf life.

Everybody should avoid putting the two types of seeds together for better shelf life. The shelf life of the seeds would increase if they are stored in an entire dry form. The salsify seeds would have 1 year of shelf life while the spinach seeds would have 3 years of shelf life.

Keep the seed packets in the fridge for better shelf life.

References

  1. https://nph.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1469-8137.2010.03249.x
  2. https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/pdf/10.1146/annurev.es.01.110170.001551
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