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mobiledynamics April 25, 2018 08:51 AM

Helmet Heads - Species Prone
So I germinated 2 seeds of a particular species - Solar Flare. Both came up with Helmet Heads that were literally epoxied on. I tried water misting/softening/coaxing the head off but it was as if it was glued onto the cotylen leaves. Strange growth as the stem just keeps on getting bigger and thicker everyday.

Just for the hell of it, I decided to put in 3 more seeds to germinate. Sofar, they all have helmet heads as well. Am I crazy or are paticular tomato seeds prone to helmet heads !

brownrexx April 25, 2018 09:03 AM

Do you have other varieties that grow in the exact same conditions WITHOUT helmet heads?

mobiledynamics April 25, 2018 09:09 AM

Nope. It's the weirdest of all things. The seed coat is literally vertically - locking in the cot. leaves.

Labradors2 April 25, 2018 12:34 PM

You could try sprouting them in wet paper towel and leave them until the cotyledons emerge before planting - if they do........


KarenO April 25, 2018 12:44 PM

I think in my own experience it has more to do with seed age than variety. Older seed sometimes has tougher, dryer more difficult to shed seed coats. presoaking may help

mobiledynamics April 25, 2018 01:00 PM

Heh, at this stage of the game, I'm ready to turn the lights off ;-)

Most of my primaries are in 1G pots - just started hardening off 2 days ago. These new ones were sorta of a whim decision - trials. So I just need the lights on long enough for 2-3 sets of leaves and by that time, it should be plenty warm enough for them to grow outdoors.

I've tried doing a succession mist - every 20 minutes 3X and then trying to coddle the head off. No dice.
Ehh, there's always next year

clkeiper April 28, 2018 12:20 PM

I really think a lot of "helmet head" is caused by lack of humidity as the seed starts to emerge. even if the media is damp the humidity can be low and the seedshell dries out faster than it can be shed off the cotyledons. When this happens to me I pour just a tiny bit of perlite (not vermiculite) on the affected ones and make sure I keep the container covered lightly... maybe an open clamshell top or un-fastened plastic wrap... whatever so it doesn't get too hot or stay too wet and cause a fungal issue.

Al@NC April 28, 2018 12:59 PM

I use tweezers and squeeze the seed from end to end to open it up when they're really tough to come off..

Good luck! I know it's frustrating..


Nan_PA_6b April 28, 2018 01:21 PM

I've had a lot of helmets this season. It could be lack of humidity. I also plant shallowly. My go-to is applying spit, spit, spit (it's what Carolyn suggests), keeping the seed coat constantly soggy and then *very* delicately working on it. My hardest one was a Ramallet Ibiza Blanca. I first succeeded in cutting away a bit of the seed coat with an exacto knife, then after more soaking in spit, the rest softened enough to pull off with tweezers.

There was a thread here about nicking the seed coat prior to germination to see if it would prevent helmets, but so far nobody has done the experiment. I may try it once my starting tray & lights are free.



carolyn137 April 28, 2018 05:34 PM

No, of all the many varieties I have grown I've never found any one variety that is more prone to helmet heads.

Have I ever seen helmets,yes, and here's what I do to try and get them off.

I spit on a cotton ball and then wrap that around the helmet head and hold it on for about 15 min. I them take an eyebrow tweezer, or similar and gently see if it will pull off, and if not,I do it again.

And most of the time I have success.

Spit is full of enzymes,proteases,which destroy proteins,and the hard shell of helmet heads is protein.

Please try it, you might like it since it does get that helmet head off most of the time..


ginger2778 April 28, 2018 08:13 PM

Well I think that those are my seeds that you are trying and getting the helmet heads on. I know you can be successful, because those are saved from solar flare fruit that I have grown from other solar flare seeds. I won't be sowing more seeds until late August or early September but I will try them then and see what happens. By the way I do highly recommend spitting and wrapping it in plastic or a cotton ball or something to leave it soaking in the enzymes. I would even do it for a few hours if I was you.

mobiledynamics April 29, 2018 06:14 PM

LOL. In all honesty, um, er, I was not aware sp1t was a trick of the trades ;-)

One seedling eventually gave up it's held with some coaxing by me. The original one, man, was it in for the battle. It must have been a solid 2+ weeks locking in the leaves. Numerous misting, etc. Eventually it came off. Cotylens were sorta fused since they were locked in for so long. So now I'm misting them, to see if they will split and open. She ain't dead, but the cot leaves were undermined since the coat locked it in for so long.

Regardless, thanks Marsha. I've got most of the seeds germinated and have 6 new trials this year, albit I'm a bit behind the 8 ball. Looking forward to it regardless. Happy gardening ya'll

Nan_PA_6b April 29, 2018 07:56 PM

I've got one whose helmet was on so long the cots don't want to open. If anyone has more suggestions on how to get it to open it up, let me know.


joseph April 29, 2018 08:56 PM

[QUOTE=Nan_PA_6b;697638]I've got one whose helmet was on so long the cots don't want to open. If anyone has more suggestions on how to get it to open it up, let me know.[/QUOTE]

My strategy would be to leave it alone for a week. It will take care of itself.

KarenO April 29, 2018 09:25 PM

[QUOTE=joseph;697647]My strategy would be to leave it alone for a week. It will take care of itself.[/QUOTE]

I agree and if it doesn’t, it’s a weakling sprout that I don’t want.
I consider germination and the ability to shed its own seed coat the first test of a plant’s vigour. plant extra and select the best and most vigourous seedlings right from the beginning.
In the case of old or otherwise questionably viable seed, pre soaking is a good idea to soften an extra dry seed coat.

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