[NAFEX] apple seed starting 2 cents

Richard MURPHY murphman108 at msn.com
Sat Mar 14 10:24:21 EDT 2009

Hello Friends;

Here's my apple seed starting experience; good / bad.

Apple seed germination.   14MAR09  R. Murphy

I am fascinated by Tim Inman's apple seed starting method. I am (like him) convinced the seed coating contains an enzyme that inhibits germination. The contact time the seed has with moisture is far shorter than the traditional stratification that I do, and the results Tim gets seem better than mine. That would suggest that the culprit is not a waterproof seed coat.
     I now have a bunch of apple seeds, each variety isolated from the next. They all were baptized in a 5% Clorox / water bath for 5 minutes, then rinsed off. They are in small plastic bags with a very small piece of wet paper towel, and have been in the fridge for 65 days as of today. Their status:

 Golden Russet: sprouting
 Unknown:  nothing
 Williams Pride: sprouting
 Winter Banana: nothing
 Special Maine: nothing
 Opalescent:  nothing
 Pound Sweet: nothing
 Oxford Black:  sprouting
 Northern Spy:  sprouting

The 'sprouting' ones have a 1/4" little white tail coming out of them, and will be planted today, in pots in the house. The rest will go back into the fridge until they sprout. As you can see, they do not all sprout at once, so it may not be possible to declare a 'standard stratification period' for all apple seeds. This results matches last year's planting, where I did a 65 day strat and just planted all the varieties at once. About half of them did nothing. A few Cortlands sprouted, a Wolf River (1/10) but ALL the YELLOW DELICIOUS came up strong! 
  I will definitely try Tim's method on another sample population of seed this fall, for it sounds much easier than traditional stratification.


PS     Here's Tim's method again: (snipped from his posting Vol 74, issue 35)
         Looks real easy, and the results fit the theory.

Here's my trick: After researching several sources, I read that there is a chemical in the seed hull which retards sprouting and germination. It must be washed away before the seed can sprout. Although stratification is certainly appropriate, I find that I no longer have to do that. I collect apple seeds all winter long as I enjoy an evening apple, and pop them into a little glass in the cupboard over the sink. No cover, no care. When I'm ready for the seeds to sprout, I begin a 'washing' process. I simply take the little glass out of the cupboard, fill it with cold water, and put it back into the dark cupboard. I rinse and repeat every day for about one week. (The books say 3 days, but I just keep rinsing until the water clears.) If your luck runs like mine, after about 4 days - when the water begins to stay clear - you'll begin to see the little roots start peeking out. Plant the seeds immediately.

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