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Mr. Smarty Plants - Removing insects from seeds

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Tuesday - August 27, 2013

From: Temple, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Seeds and Seeding
Title: Removing insects from seeds
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Minnette Marr

QUESTION:

I collect and plant native seed for Blackland Prairie restoration. Have recently collected a good bit of purple prairie clover. Now small beetles are hatching out of it in pretty good numbers. What can I safely put on or with the seed to kill the beetles but not the seed?

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants contacted our seed preservation expert, Minnette Marr, and here is what she said:

"The folks at the Bend Seed Extractory actually place contact paper in the container with seeds as a way to "capture" insects.
 
The seeds would need to be dry before being placed in freezer.  Silicon dioxide can be purchased in small quantities at hobby stores.  It is usually found with the supplies for weddings because it can be used to preserve flower arrangements. 

Place the seeds in a cloth bag or paper envelop that will fit into a pint or quart jar.  Place about an equal amount of the desiccant in the bottom of the jar.  Place the bag of seeds over the desiccant and screw the jar lid on tightly.  The desiccant will absorb moisture from the seeds (and the insects).  Repeat as needed to remove excess moisture from the seeds.  Usually three times does the job.  Silicon dioxide is blue when dry, pink when wet.  When an amount equal to the mass/volume of the seeds stays blue for 24 hours, the seeds can safely be placed in a freezer. 

Some seeds are harder to germinate after freezing.  Some require freezing to germinate.  Since Temple does not receive many hard freezes, I suggest trying the contact paper first."

 

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