Seed Tests Can Save the Season

seed tests
Written by Cara Wietstock

These types of seed tests before planting can be instrumental in success.

A couple Springs ago I had the wild idea of starting a huge garden of herbs, vegetables, and fruits all from seed. This is when I learned that sometimes seeds just don’t pop. Other times all twelve of the seeds pop but one cool night left on a windowsill and they all drop dead. Because of these very common phenomena, there are two types of seed testing methods in place for farmers. The Germination Test helps us decipher whether or not a package of seeds will sprout. The Vigor Test helps us ensure that a crop can last an entire season and go to flower in our garden.

Germination Test

This simple test helps us figure out whether a packet of seeds will sprout or if we’re working with duds. Essentially the germination test will put one of the seeds from the packet into the right circumstances that they need to germinate. If the seed pops then the package should be good to go, but if it doesn’t we might expect the rest of the seeds to be duds as well. Doing this test before planting rows and rows of the crop can help us save lots of time, energy, and materials. That’s why a germination test is essential when using a new brand, cultivar, or type of seed in the garden.

Vigor Test

While the Germination test can help save us a bit of time in initial planting, the Vigor test will ensure that our plant will last throughout the whole season. Also, seeds begin to lose their vigor before they lose their ability to germinate. This is why the Vigor test for seeds is seen as imperative. Conditions of seed development, maturation, storage, and aging influence a seed’s vigor. If a seed is developed in a stressed environment, whether that is doe to moisture or nutrient deficiency, the seed will develop light with poor vigor. This and other factors can go into developing poor-vigor seeds. Similarly, there are multiple methods for testing seed vigor, the type of plant that we’re growing will indicate which test is right for us.

Cold Test

The cold test will germinate seeds in a cold environment before quickly moving them into a fertile environment. Seeds with a strong vigor will be able to withstand colder soil temperatures, meaning that the number of seeds that manage to survive this test will indicate their vigor.

Accelerated Aging Test

To test seed vigor with the Accelerated Aging Test we have to heat the seeds environment and humidity for varying lengths of time. Then a germination test is done to see which seeds have survived. Survival and germination indicate strong-vigor seeds.

Electric Conductivity Test

As seeds break down over time nutrients exude out of their membrane, the electric conductivity test tests the integrity of these membranes. That being said, seeds with a higher conductivity will indicate a lower quality seed.

Seedling Vigor Classification Test

After running a Seed Germination Test (SGT) we can then run a Seedling Vigor Classification Test. This just simply requires that we refine our SGT results into two groups: ‘strong’ and ‘weak’. These different seedlings are judged based on their significant morphological sites that evaluate vigor. This test simply uses the germination test and then weeds out the stronger looking plants from the pack.


Running a seed test before planting can help ensure that a season has fewer surprises and it can greatly reduce our overhead. These are all of the seed tests that have been used in various types of farms, but please remember that not all are perfect for cannabis.

About the author

Cara Wietstock

Cara began working in the retail cannabis industry of San Francisco, CA in 2011 and continued in that sector for years. In 2015 she dedicated herself to writing full-time. Her passion for the written word and deep respect for the healing properties of the plant have brought her to Terpenes and Testing magazine. She now helps keep us on the cutting edge of scientific cannabis discovery as the Editor-in-Chief of the print publication.

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