Seed harvesting and seed extraction
Seeds should be carefully harvested to ensure high quality. The seeds should possess the qualities of the variety that was planted. For example if a long purple eggplant was planted the harvested fruit should possess these qualities. Seeds from more plants should he harvested when the plant is cross -pollinated.
Seeds should also be harvested when they are already mature. Seeds that are overmature are not recommended since they might have already been infected with pests and diseases. Secondly they are already weak because they are old. Seeds that are undermature will not produce good seedlings and usually do not germinate. Usually for fruits that have lots of seeds (example: bottle gourd sponge gourd bitter gourd eggplant) the seeds that will be used for planting are collected or extracted from the middle portion of the fruit where the maturity of the seeds is just right and the seeds are the same age. If earliness or lateness of fruiting is not one of your selection criteria it is recommended to get fruits that ripen in the middle of the fruiting season.
To allow for losses during storage germination and early growth' about 50% more seeds than needed for planting should be harvested. It is very important that the seeds are labelled after harvesting to avoid mixing up the seeds.
How To Determine if the Seeds are Already Mature
1. The fruit has a hollow sound.
2. Color size and shape of the fruit.
3. Shattering of pods.
4. Fruit is disconnected from the branch.
5. Number of days - This depends on the familiarity of the farmer for the type of plant.
Some seeds improve their germination if they are allowed to stay inside the fruit for several weeks.
The extraction of seeds from the fruit depends on the condition of the fruit and seeds that will be harvested:
1. Wet seeds from fleshy fruits -The fruit and the seeds are both wet. Usually, the flesh is attached firmly to the seeds. Seeds are extracted using the hands or a knife. The fermentation process is sometimes done to remove the seeds. Soak the fruit in water for one to two days. After soaking, separate the seeds from the flesh, and throw away the flesh together with the seeds that float (except when the seeds naturally float). Sunken seeds are then washed and dried.
Example; eggplant, cucumber, tomato, bitter gourd, squash, sponge gourd, bottle gourd
2. Dry seeds - These are obtained or extracted from a dried fruit or pod. These are extracted by hand or pounded collectively while inside a sack or net bag. Pounding the seeds inside the bag is necessary to prevent them from scattering.
Example: cabbage, cauliflower, mustard, pechay. lettuce, pea, lima bean, cowpea, hyacinth bean, yardlong bean, pigeon pea, munghean, onion
If possible, do not harvest these seeds when it is raining or in early morning when there is still dew. Also, do not harvest at midday since the pods will break or shatter, allowing the seeds to come in contact with the soil and with microorganisms that lower seed quality.
3. Dry seeds from fleshy fruits -The ripe fruit is dried before extracting the seeds.
Example: chili, ladyfinger
For all kinds of seeds, winnowing or removal of contaminants after drying and before storage is recommended to maintain good quality. Contaminants include weed seeds, seeds of other crops or of different variety of the crop, chaff, dust and other inert materials like rocks, dirt, twigs and leaves.
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