As the season transitions from outdoors work to indoors work, it’s also time to bring in all that roughly cleaned seed you have sitting in buckets and bins throughout your seed workshop area.
At Tourne-Sol this means moving seeds from the greenhouse where we dry and extract all our seeds to our warehouse where we pack seeds and fulfill seed orders.
Here are all the steps that seeds go through when they enter our seed warehouse before they get into the seed storage room.
These systems are important because we’re bringing in the seed harvest from 1 acre of seed crops and we need to make sure everything is organised and ready when we start seed packs.
But these processes are just as valid if you only grow a few batches of seed. (Though I imagine you wouldn’t use pallets to indicate the different phases of receiving seed.)
Seed flow moving through the warehouse
Seeds go through a series of steps from the moment they enter our warehouse to when they get placed in the seed storage room.
At Tourne-Sol each step involves moving the seed from one pallet to another pallet.
This checklist shows the steps each seed lot needs to complete to go from one step to the next.
1. Receive seeds
This is where the process begins. We place containers of roughly cleaned seed onto the receiving pallets. They wait there until we have time to deal with them.
2. Label seed lots
In an ideal world all seed lots come into the warehouse clearly labelled.
What that might actually look like are scribbles on scraps of paper. Sometimes those scribbles have been bleached by the sun, if the label was written a while ago. And of course there’s those mystery lots.
It is important to clearly label everything before you move it on to seed cleaning. That means adding a lot number, a product code (if that’s the code of thing you do) and the crop name,
Make sure to label the outside of the container and place a label on the inside of the container.
When the seed is labelled you can move it along to seed cleaning.
3. Clean Seeds
At this point, I want to get seeds clean enough that they are ready for seed packing and I want to do that as quickly as possible.
In the past, I would start by running seeds through the seed clipper first. But currently I start with the Winnow Wizard. (This is our first season with a Winnow Wizard – in fact I’ve only been using it for two weeks – but I love it and will definitely be writing more about it soon).
If the seed is clean enough I move it to the sampling pallet.
If the seed still needs more work, I put it aside for further cleaning. I can come back to those seed lots when I have extra time to run them through an air column, or the clipper, or even do a little handpicking. But my priority is always to make sure easy to clean seed lots get through to the sampling pallet as quickly as possible.
EXCEPTION There are a few seed types that have one more step before sampling – freezing. We freeze all our bean, pea, and sunflower seeds for a week to destroy any weevil seeds. We do this once the seed is completely clean. After freezing, seed moves to the sampling pallet.
4. Take Seed Samples
We take two samples from this seed:
Stock seed – we remove the seeds we’re going to use for our next seed crop. Often we’ll take enough for 2 seed crops in case we have a crop failure and need to restart in the future. In some cases we’ve already taken stock seed straight from the field from the best parents. But if we haven’t this is our chance to make sure we’ve got stock seed set aside.
Germ sample – we take a few hundred seeds that will go into a germination test as soon as possible.
When the samples have been taken, we move the seed over to the holding pallet.
5, Hold Seeds
Seed stays here until it passes a germination test.
Once we know the seed is viable and that we can sell it, we move the seed into the storage room!
This is where seed receiving ends
At this point, any seed in the storage room is ready to be packed and sold. No one has to worry about holding back any of this seed for replanting or opening a bag and discovering that the seed isn’t clean enough to pack.
How different do these seed systems look to yours?
My next free online workshop is on Thursday November 17 ..
Details coming soon!