Bill Carter, Washington

Time to harvest seeds in Washington

June 2, 2013

Categories: Hybridizing, Seeds

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The pods that I pollenated April 1 are ready to pick after 8 weeks.  Some pods are starting to turn brown others are still green but most of the seeds are a large shiny black.  My question is occasionally I get a pod that contains white seeds that have not tuned black yet.  Are they still viable?

How long do breeders usually keep pods going before they collect seeds?  I usually what until the pods turn brown but if you let them go too long they sometimes shed their seeds so I started picking green/yellow pods.

5 responses to “Time to harvest seeds in Washington”

  1. Larry Force, Mississippi Larry Force, Mississippi says:


    If the seeds are still firm and look good after a few days of drying, they will probably be ok. hard to say for sure, as I have not specifically planted such seeds to check. A lot of the time such seeds are just filled with water and dry up and flatten out after drying. Of course those will not germinate.

    All hybridizers have been on their knees, scratching through the leaf litter, at one time or another searching for those seeds that may be the award winners. When the weather get hot the seed pods can pop open in a hurry. You are safe collecting seed from pods turning yellow or green/yellow  when the old flower snaps off the pod with a slight tug, especially if you are not able to check pods every day. That has been my experience. Good luck with your crosses, may they all be award winners.




  2. David Adams, New Zealand says:

    Hi Bill,

    I am surprised that the advice has not got through to you yet regarding ensuring you do not lose your seed and allow it to develop fully on the plant, both important considerations. A few people pick the stem whilst the pod is still green and mature the seed with the stem in water. Many of us wrap the seed pod in nylon stocking or a cotton finger cover and leave the pod on the plant until it is fully mature. This way if the stem falls you still have the seed contained. The seed number is usually contained in the cover also.

    Try to not pick the seed until the pod splits on its own I suggest.

    Dave Adams

  3. Hello Bill,

    As much as I agree with David’s comments I am one of the others who pick the stems at about 4” down from the pod when they have turned colour at the green yellowish stage and put them in water on my kitchen window ledge, one glass one seed pod with label, for a couple of days, this is because as a working boy I can’t keep an eye on them as I would like, but gives me instant access every time I walk in the door.

    When I see the small split on apex of the pod or the dead flower has fallen off, I place the seed pod into an envelope with label and more often than not the next morning all the seeds have freed themselves.

    I then pot them up as soon as possible and for the last two year have been getting better germination rates!

    As I live in a town setting, I am reluctant to bag anything up in tights or stockings if only to save face from the ridicule from my neighbours!  They think I’m insane anyway to like daffodils, but I know better!



  4. Denise and Neil McQuarrie, New Zealand says:

    I’ve found if the seeds in the pod rattle it is safe to pick, by that stage the pod is browning off and may have a wee split in the top.  I pick with a bit of stem about 6″) with the label still attached and put upside down in an open container in the dry warm shed until the pods dry out and open.  Separate container for each cross.  Seed then collected and put into labeled envelopes until I am ready to plant them.  And yes I have been reduced to scrabbling round on the ground looking for seed that beat me to it!  A couple of years ago I managed to find over 50 poet seeds that I had forgotten about.  Time will tell if it was worth while!

  5. Donna Dietsch, Ohio says:

    Hi Bill,

    The white seeds are not yet ripe.  My experience is that they will quickly dry up and never will be viable.  I’ve had some germination with partly black seeds, but most of them will not be good, either.   I sometimes scratch a bit of the outside of the pod with a fingernail and if the seeds inside are not yet ripe, I do as other suggested and put the stem in a container of water to finish ripening.  Better though, to leave the stem and pod on the plant until the seeds ripen.  Tie a bit of colored yarn around the stem below the pod to remind you where it is.