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All the latest news on Starke Ayres’ vegetable seed varieties, and the success that commercial vegetable seed farmers have achieved using them.

This page will also be updated with new seed variety releases and other commercial seed industry news.

The Benefits of Primed Seed

In the highly competitive environment that is the vegetable industry, uniform seedling emergence and crop uniformity are challenges facing many growers.  In meeting these challenges one of the techniques available to improve uniform crop establishment is the priming of seed.


Priming improves the uniformity of germination of seeds and emergence of seedlings.  It is a technique used to speed up the germination process by exposing seed to moisture for a period of time at a specific temperature.  Priming initiates the pre-germinative metabolic processes within a seed (by immersing seed in water), but prevents actual germination by inhibiting radicle emergence.  Following the initial hydration process but before the onset of radicle emergence, the seed is dried again and maintained in this state until the grower is ready to sow the seed. (Remember that primed seed has a shortened life span and is less tolerant of unfavourable storage conditions)


When the grower sows the primed seed the result is seeds with an increased germination rate and seedling uniformity compared to non-primed or raw seed.  Priming gives the seed a head start and is used on vegetable seed to increase vigour, germination and uniformity. Uniformity of emergence is of paramount importance to the vegetable grower as a uniform crop ensures a higher cut percentage in the field and consequently better financial returns. Speed and uniformity are the most beneficial effects of priming seed.


Priming also ensures that the seed can germinate over a wider range of temperatures than is normal for a particular seed type.  In lettuce, for example, priming helps overcome thermo-, and phyto- dormancy, allowing growers to sow under conditions where high temperatures would normally cause poor results. 


Current hydration protocols include the use of priming agents such as polyethylene glycol. By the use of this and other proprietary salt solutions, water potential in germinating seed is controlled and allows uptake of moisture without allowing onset of the germination process.  Once seed has been primed,  it must be used within a set period of time or else it will rapidly lose viability.  Under the correct storage regime, primed seed can generally last between 3 and 6 months.


Starke Ayres has several types of vegetable seed varieties that are available as primed seed and these include several crisp head and speciality lettuce varieties as well as certain pepper varieties. The objective of this is to provide growers with optimal quality seed produced with cutting-edge technology.


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