Harvesting and storing melon seeds is an important part of growing a successful crop. Knowing how to harvest the seeds, properly store them, and ensure that they remain viable for future planting is key to long-term success in growing melons. This guide will provide information on harvesting melon seeds, seed preparation for storage, and the terms of seed storage.
When to Harvest Melon Seeds
Melon seeds are typically harvested when the melon is ripe or overripe. The seed should be firm to the touch. To ensure that the seeds remain viable, it is important to harvest them before they begin to dry out.
Harvesting Melon Seeds
When extracting melon seeds, the process should be handled with care. To start, slash the melon in two and delicately scoop out those succulent seeds using a spoon. Then they need to be rinsed off before being evenly spread over a well-ventilated surface area for drying at warm temps between 95°F – 104°F; anything higher could result in ruined results!
Some gardeners leave unwashed seeds with pulp “fermenting” in water for 3 or 4 days. They say that this increases germination. However, there is not enough data to come to a definite conclusion on this matter, so everyone chooses the method of preparation for storage himself, based on his own experience or preferences.
Preparing Melon Seeds for Storage
To ensure lasting shelf life, dried seeds should either be placed in paper or linen bags if they are to remain stored for less than one year. Plastic bags can trap moisture and lead to mold growth on the seeds so it is best practice not to use them at all. For more extended storage times, glass jars with lids that have been sealed tightly should be employed instead. It’s essential to always label each container of seed stock indicating both the type of crop as well as when they were harvested.
Shelf Life and Storage Conditions
The shelf life of melon seed will depend on both the variety and the conditions in which it is stored. Heat and humidity determine how quickly metabolic processes will take place in the grain because the seed remains alive and breathes, just all life processes are slowed down by the lack of these basic components – heat and moisture. So, the humidity in a closed container with seeds should be no more than 6%, so that a full-fledged plant could then develop and grow from them. The room in which the seed is stored should be ventilated, the air temperature should be maintained at 57-61°F degrees, and the humidity should be no more than 60% (even better if it is 50%). If the humidity rises to 75%, it will certainly have a detrimental effect on the quality of the planting material, it may well rot at such humidity.
As the storage time of seeds increases, the rate at which they germinate rapidly decreases; see below for a visual representation of this phenomenon.
- 1 year – 92%
- 2 years – 90%
- 3 years – 88%
- 4 years – 86%
- 5 years – 77%
- 6 years – 56%
- 7 years – 36%