Beets are a cool-season crop that produces edible roots, leaves and seeds. Beet seeds can be harvested for replanting or for use in cooking, baking, or as an additive to salads and smoothies. Careful preparation of beet seed is essential to ensure its viability over time.
Where do Beet Seeds Come From?
Beet seeds are formed from the flowers of the beet plant. The flower will produce a seed head, composed of hundreds of small, dry fruits known as achenes. Each achene contains one or more tiny seeds. Beet plants will self-pollinate, so planting them near other varieties is not necessary for successful germination rates and good yields.
When to Harvest Beet Seeds
Beet seeds should be harvested when the seed head is dry and brown, usually when the plant has died back. Harvesting before the seed head is completely dried out may result in poor germination rates or lower-quality seeds. After harvesting, it’s important to store them properly to ensure their viability over time.
How to Harvest Beet Seeds
Beet seeds are formed on peduncles along their entire length. When they turn brown, it means they are ripe and can be harvested by simply breaking off the peduncles and rubbing them in your hands or between two pieces of cloth to release the small achenes. Once you’ve gathered all of the seed heads, spread them on a tray or baking sheet to finish drying out before storing them.
Selection Seeds for Storage
When selecting beet seeds for storage, look for ones that are uniformly round and of the same size. Discard any misshapen or damaged seeds as they tend to have shorter shelf lives than unaffected ones.
How to Store Beet Seeds
Beet seed should be stored in a cool, dry place between 40-45°F (4-7°C) and at a relative humidity of 60-65%. Pack the seeds in an airtight container such as a Mason jar, plastic bag, or storage box with a lid. Label the container with the variety name and date so you can track how long they’ve been stored.
With optimal storage conditions, beet seed can remain viable for up to seven years! The data included below visually illustrates the germination rate decline which accompanies extended seed storage.
- 1 year – 74%
- 2 years – 70%
- 3 years – 69%
- 4 years – 62%
- 5 years – 34%
- 6 years – 21%
- 7 years – 15%