Asparagus is a vegetable crop with many varieties and it is one of the oldest vegetables known to man. Asparagus has been cultivated for centuries for its edible spears, but it can also produce seeds that can be harvested and stored for later use. This article explores harvesting asparagus seeds, preparing them for storage, and conditions needed to maintain their viability.
Harvesting Asparagus Seeds
The best time to harvest asparagus seeds is usually in the fall when they are mature and have developed a red color. The best way to collect them is by hand-picking; however, some growers may find it easier to use a rake or tined tool to remove them from the plant. After harvesting, it is important to clean off any dirt or debris that may be attached to the seeds.
How to Remove Asparagus Seeds
Asparagus seeds are contained within a red berry-like husk, which needs to be separated from the seed before it can be stored. The easiest way to do this is by rubbing the berries between your hands or against a screen until the seed has come out and the skins have been separated. Make sure to remove any debris that may be stuck to the seed.
Once the berries have been separated from the seed, they should be rinsed with water to ensure that any dirt or debris has been washed away. This will help preserve the quality of the seed and improve its overall storage potential.
Preparation for Storage
After the seed has been washed, it should be spread out in a single layer on an absorbent cloth or paper towel. This will help to remove any excess moisture from the seed before storage. When the seeds are completely dry, they can be placed into an airtight container with a desiccant packet to minimize any additional moisture that could be present in the container. The desiccant packet should be changed every 6-12 months for long-term storage of asparagus seed.
Conditions and Terms of Seed Storage
For optimal storage, asparagus seeds should be kept in a cool, dry environment. A temperature of between 32-41°F (0-5°C) is suggested for long-term storage and a relative humidity of less than 60% should be maintained. The seed should also be stored away from direct sunlight, which can cause the seeds to become discolored and potentially reduce their germinability.
Asparagus seed can be stored for up to 3 years in these conditions, however, the germination rate will begin to decline after 2 years. To ensure that your seed lot remains viable over time, it is important to regularly check on the quality of your stored seed. Testing a small sample of seed regularly can help you determine when to replenish your stock. Additionally, it is beneficial to store multiple lots of seeds in separate containers so that they can be monitored and replaced as necessary.