Seeds on the Rocks

Summertime in the high desert environment of Bend dries your lips, freckles your skin, dampens the path of your back, and leaves you craving a cold one.

Although the seeds aren’t kept in the same fridge where your lemonade is kept, they reside in the freezer – larger than my apartment, mind you – located just a matter of paces from the Seed Extractory.

A little about the freezer!

The main goal of seed storage is to maintain viability. It offers prolonged safekeeping of seed material in ‘ideal’ conditions, which reduce physiological activity of the seed. While in this dormant state, seeds may maintain their viability, and overall usefulness, in the months, years, or even decades to come.

In order for the seeds to make it to their final limbo-like state they must reach certain requirements. Although I included little mention of this over my last post, I believe it’s deserves reiteration.

Seeds must be dried and stored under proper conditions. These conditions include: 20-40% ERH (Estimated Relative Humidity), and remain at a constant temperature.

High seed moisture content is associated with freezing injury through ice crystal formation that disrupts, and ultimately destroys cells. Additionally, high moisture is also a problem with microbial contamination and activity.

It would be a shame for all of our collective work to be all for nothing! From the field, to the office, to traveling via mail, to testing, to storage these seeds take an absolute voyage. What a shame, and what a waste it would be if the finish line turned out to be nothing more than a trash can, right?

I know the storage facility here resembles nothing remotely close to the gorgeous forests, plains, bluffs, glades, etc these plants came from. But to me, the images above display promise. A promise that those same fields where you all scuffed your knees, cut up your shins, burned your necks, and calloused your hands can, and will remain just as beautiful as they were that day you spent with them. If the seeds are properly stored, we’ll be able to properly, and appropriately reintroduce them where they’re needed, when they’re needed.

Corey Skeens from the Bend Seed Extractory