3 Keys to Successful Seeding
Though there are numerous types of grasses and even more cultivars, the seed germination process is basically the same. While this discussion is not about choosing seed varieties, I would strongly encourage you to do your homework on turfgrass types and cultivars before deciding which seed to sow. Aside from timing and proper site preparation, there a few factors that are crucial to seed germination and establishment. Oxygen, temperature and water availability are essential and periods without any of the three can lead to rapid decline and death.
Grass seed is very dry at the time of planting, usually less than 10% of the seed’s total weight is water. For a seed to germinate it must absorb water, this process is referred to as imbibition. Water is imperative to activate the seed and begin the process of development. During this water absorption period, enzymes are activated from a dormant state and help with stored food utilization during embryo development. Cell division begins at this point and a constant source of water must be available for these processes to continue. Germination takes place when the first leaf and radicle (seed root) emerge from the seed. Different grasses will vary in the time it takes to germinate but all of them will require a damp seed bed to survive. While some moisture is needed, excess moisture will be detrimental as soggy seed beds will be depleted of oxygen or can lead to seed rot and/or seedling diseases none of which will produce the thick stand of turf you are looking for.
Once germinated, the new plant will require oxygen for the transpiration process. This is the function of the plant to transport water and nutrients to make food. Loose and well drained soils are desirable for a good balance of water and oxygen for the plant to use during development and throughout its life. Compacted soils tend to have less pore space for air and water retention so proper site preparation is important in your success.
The final environmental factor is temperature. Different seeds will vary in favorable temperatures for germination, however minimums and maximums will be more crucial. The good thing here is that there is a range to work with most grasses will germinate between 60°F and 85°F.
Seed Coatings and Fertilizers
Many different fertilizers and seed coatings are used depending on locations, specifications and preferences, but those choices are up to you and can enhance or impede good turf establishment. The take home message is that the seed will require moisture, oxygen and proper soil warmth to germinate.
Following germination water is just as essential to seedling survival. Periods without water can prevent germination or spell certain doom for young sensitive seedlings rendering all your hard work useless and leaving you with that same bare ground that you started with. Having said that, it is worth your time to provide yourself with a bit of insurance. Hydretain can maintain just enough soil moisture to promote and optimize seedling survival. Additionally, applications of Hydretain at the time of seeding will allow the technology to adhere to the seed coat and attract atmospheric moisture keeping just the right amount of water available to accelerate seed germination. Observations on treated vs. untreated areas have shown faster germination of and university data has proven more complete germination and better seedling survival.
Timing, location and seed varieties are your choice but when establishment is the end goal, why not give yourself the best odds.
If you have any questions, contact us!