Seed Testing 101

Superior germination is a promise we stand behind every day.

Most of you know by now that, at Park Seed, we test our seeds for quality, but you may not know the particulars of this testing. Read on to learn more about the who, what, when, where, and why of seed testing at Park Seed.

Presented by Park Seed’s Germination Analyst, Annette


At Park Seed, that would be me. I'm Annette, the Seed Germination Analyst.


While we refer to it as seed testing it's more accurately called germination testing. We don't determine which seed is better because that decision is made subjectively by you based on your needs, your preferences, your growing experiences, your environments, and if we're being honest, occasional offers of free shipping.



We test a sample of each lot of seeds as soon as we possibly can after their arrival. (A "lot" is a group of seeds of the same variety that are grown and harvested at the same time and in the same conditions.) We catalog and record the lifecycle of each individual lot of seeds and, if we have any of a specific lot in stock, we periodically continue testing it to ensure your growing success. We don't test mixed lots unless we are selling those seeds as a mix because we want to provide the most accurate assessment we can of the potential of the seeds.

seeds are packed by hand


Here, in our South Carolina Germination Lab primarily. But since seeds germinate in different conditions, (and some need a serious winter, up to a month under snow, to germinate) we also test seeds stored in a refrigerator and two of them in a freezer beside the Freezer Pops. (Shout out to Maintenance & Grounds for not eating my cool seeds on hot summer days.)


This is the crux of our testing. Seed germination percentages are federally mandated and if you farm commercially, you understand why. Crop production and budgeted harvests during a planting season are based on anticipated results. If a season’s crop production falls short, then families, commercial farms, economies, and ultimately the food chain are negatively impacted. It's a big deal.


Park Seed sets germination standards at least 5% above the federal mandate (our germination rates frequently exceed that additional 5%.) Then, through testing, we verify that Park seeds meet our higher standard. That’s why we're able to offer superior quality seeds, higher germination rates, and why we proudly stand behind them with our satisfaction guarantee to replace or refund seeds that don’t germinate at expected levels.

I hope this is helpful, insightful, and reassuring. Gotta go wash the dirt off my hands now and record my findings.

Thank you, Annette! If you have questions about the process, please send them via Facebook, Instagram, or by email to