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Old March 22, 2017   #1
Cole_Robbie
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Default Processing Pepper Seeds

I used to think that saving pepper seeds was a no-brainer. Dump some seeds in a bowl when eating the pepper and put it in the cabinet to dry. It works, but not as well as I would like. Some varieties of my saved pepper seeds are not germinating like they should. And in trading seeds from people on other sites, my germination with other people's seeds is hit and miss as well. I usually get nearly 100% with tomatoes, so I don't think it is method or environment..

I just read this article about the sink & float method:
http://www.motherearthnews.com/organ...ppers-zbcz1409

Maybe I will try that this summer. Some of my seeds are whiter than others. I also wonder if that makes a difference. And how ripe should the pepper be? Is it better to wait until it starts to mold or go bad?

If anyone has any processing tricks to make sure I am saving only the best seeds, I would love to hear them.

Last edited by Cole_Robbie; March 22, 2017 at 08:39 PM.
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Old March 22, 2017   #2
Locomatto
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I'm not speaking from personal experience, but I believe that with peppers it is important to leave the fruit on the plant for as long as possible before picking it if you intend to save the seed, as the seed matures later than it does in tomatoes.
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Old March 22, 2017   #3
bjbebs
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I agree with Loco. My best results come from fruit that has started to wrinkle on the plant. The problem with doing this during the growing season is you want to pick as they ripen to encourage more bloom. What I do is pull the plant near the tail end of the growing season. Air dry outside for one day and then clean up the root ball. These plants are strung on string and dried in a cool room in the basement. Any seed that has any brown or off colored spots is thrown away. I consider 70%-80% germination rate good enough for me when working with fresh seed.
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Old March 22, 2017   #4
rhines81
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I'm having a bad year with pepper germination too ... all packaged seed. 48.5% on average. 3 out of the 22 varieties (TAM Jalapeno, Anaheim and Cayenne) have been 20% or less.
It's worse with bad pepper seed, because you may allow 3-4 weeks to sprout, then re-sowing becomes at risk of being too late ... I always sow double, which didn't help this year with the TAMs. I wanted 12 plants, I have sowed 33 seeds and only 7 sprouted - out of those 7 only 3 made it past first leaves ... something is wrong with the TAMs this year, not having this issue with any other pepper variety. I've even tried different seed packets. The Anaheim and Cayenne, just did not want to sprout either, but I just re-sowed more seed from different packets last week so we will see. All of the other pepper varieties are prolific and I have plenty of spares.
Tomato seed, on average this year is 90.5% - 2 varieties out of the 19 brought the numbers down slightly.

Biker Billy Jalapenos were 93% success, so I have extras of those to substitute for the TAMs, but that's not the way I wanted it - this was going to be my last year for the Biker Billy, now I need to at least look at 2 more types of Jalapenos (at least) - definitely dropping the TAMs next year. Mucho Nacho, maybe?

Last edited by rhines81; March 22, 2017 at 10:13 PM.
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Old March 22, 2017   #5
dmforcier
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No, unripe pods will have ripe seeds in them. Just fewer than ripe pods. Look at green jalapeños from the store. Lots of mature and viable seeds. However, different varieties have different treasures inside, and some are really miserly with the seeds. Some, notably C.pubescens, hate me and I won't try to give advice for them. But by and large I do what you do - seed a pod, dry the seeds, put in a bag and label the treasure.

Your instincts are good with the white seeds. (Except for C.pubescens which has black seeds.) Look for larger, off-white, plump seeds. If you're seeing off-color seeds then suspect that fungus has gotten in among them. This doesn't mean that the seeds won't germinate, but best to use the healthiest ones you have. Molding pods are still usable to some degree, but undesirable.

CR, are you dealing with large quantities?
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Old March 22, 2017   #6
Cole_Robbie
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rhines, what led you to want to drop Biker Billy? This is my first year trying it. Two years ago, I had Mammoth, and I liked it a lot. I saved a big bowl of seeds and could not get a single one to sprout. By the end, I dumped everything in a pot and nothing came up out of hundreds of seeds. I have no idea why. That's only happened once.

Much Nacho is a great variety, if you are inclined to buy seeds, which I try to avoid.

As far as quantity, I don't think I have more than a 1/4 oz of anything. I usually have access to a lot of peppers in the summer, if I needed to go through a lot of seed to pick out the best.

I process my tomato seeds with Oxy Clean. I never tried it on pepper seeds, but if there is a problem that peroxide will kill, like fungus or mold, then maybe it is a good idea.
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Old March 22, 2017   #7
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I started using the sink/float method a couple of years ago after someone on here posted about it. It substantially increased my germination rates, so I'd say there is some truth in the method!
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Old March 23, 2017   #8
pmcgrady
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I've had some pepper duds this year... Couldn't get any Carolina Reapers or Ancho San Luis to sprout from my own saved seed. Mushroom Pepper and Peter Pepper that I received in trades were duds also. I have a couple hundred peppers (around 30 varieties) that did sprout and are growing nicely. Too late to try to get any super hots started.
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Old March 23, 2017   #9
Cole_Robbie
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pmcgrady View Post
Too late to try to get any super hots started.
What? We have plenty of time. I am just now about to start another round of seeds. My superhots are sprouting just about as fast as my sweet peppers.
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Old March 23, 2017   #10
rhines81
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cole_Robbie View Post
What? We have plenty of time. I am just now about to start another round of seeds. My superhots are sprouting just about as fast as my sweet peppers.
I agree, there is probably another week left to germinate pepper seeds if you have a 100 day growing season, another 2-3 weeks to get tomatoes started. I notice little difference (in GOOD seed) between hot or sweet peppers, on average it seems to be about 11 days. I've had hots come up in 7 days and sweets come up in 23 days (and the other way around too).
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Old March 24, 2017   #11
Gerardo
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Tradewinds germ rates were very high, so there's definitely a method. Their seed is wrinkly and uniform in shape and color.
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Old March 24, 2017   #12
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The sink method works not only with peppers, but tomatoes and ornamental seeds too.

When saving seed from peppers we have a tendency to scrape all the seeds out on the same plate to dry. Most of those seeds are immature and why the sink method works.

If you don't use the sink method but want to try and get better germination, cut around the top core of the pepper where the stem is. Then when you have the core out, cut it in half, actually saving only the top 1/3 is better.

Those are the first seeds that develop. They grow bigger and receive more nutrients than those further on down the core. Yes, ones down the core will develop an embryo if pollinated, but it will be weak. Most of the embryos die during the drying out process and over time.

If you cut and dry just the seeds from the top core part on one plate and then the bottom half on another, or if you do it in thirds you can really see the difference, then when dry you can see the difference in size and plumpness of the top third seeds.

If you use this cut method and then take the bottom section of seeds, you'll see that they floaters and not worth trying to germinate.

If I have bought package seed, I lay them out on a plate and pick through them looking for the biggest and ones I can see have a little bump showing an embryo in it. I got 25 seeds in this 6 buck package of seed I just bought and only ten have what looks like viable embryos. The rest are small and totally flat. Those will hit the trash.

Just another method you might try. Oh and CR... I don't know about using the Oxy Clean, but I do spray my seed with hydrogen peroxide to help kill off any possible pathogens before letting dry.
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Old March 24, 2017   #13
pmcgrady
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cole_Robbie View Post
What? We have plenty of time. I am just now about to start another round of seeds. My superhots are sprouting just about as fast as my sweet peppers.
Reapers took almost a month to germinate last year... I will try another batch of them. None of the Jimmy Nardello I planted came up either. I did have near 100% germination on Corbaci and Manganji seeds I bought from Baker Creek.
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Old March 24, 2017   #14
dmforcier
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I've used the OxyClean procedure on peppers and toms both. The question is, what are you trying to do with it? Clean off the seeds? Good. Improve germination? No effect. Nor for that matter will H2O2 improve germination in any way. (It may well help keep them alive once they do pop...)

Are you selecting seed when you 'plant'? If I want to start say, six, I spread out 100 on a plate, select six with a magnifying glass - the six strongest looking ones - and go with those.* There will be some with discolorations and some that are small and feeble looking. Those don't get planted.

Obviously no one can vouch for seed received, but one does expect that seed from one's own garden will be viable a few years hence. But it ain't necessarily so. 95% of the time my own seed hits the ground running, yet some varieties just seem "weak". Couldn't tell you why.


* I do a similar selection with seed I'm sending.
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Old March 24, 2017   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pmcgrady View Post
Reapers took almost a month to germinate last year...
2015, last year I grew the Reaper, 7 of 8 seeds germinated over 3-10 days. All 7 broke ground.

I've learned that it is not the variety that dictates the length of pre-germination 'cooking', but the condition of the seed, and the conditions under which you're trying to get them to grow. In this case, the seeds were from nice pods sent in the mail from a friend's 2014 crop. Seeded, dried, bagged. Nothing special.
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