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National Seed Laboratory
5675 Riggins Mill Rd
Dry Branch, GA 31020

(478) 751-3551

 United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service. USDA logo which links to the department's national site. Forest Service logo which links to the agency's national site.

NSL Newsletter

Dear Friends and Colleagues

The National Seed Laboratory (NSL) staff sincerely thank you for your support over the years as we look forward to working with each of you this upcoming season. It's been awhile since we've written to update you on the status of our programs and we want to take this opportunity to inform you of some changes at the laboratory and in our current mission.

Seed Testing Program


Results and Reporting

Pure Harvest provides the ability to view test results online as the tests are completed, including weekly germination results, as well as print and e-mail seed test reports as they become available. Most of you are already using these features and no longer need us to mail you seed test reports. The NSL will stop mailing test reports as part of our regular reporting process. If you would like to continue to receive test reports through the mail, please contact us.

We implemented many of your suggestions in Pure Harvest and one of the most visible improvements is the test results spreadsheet. Using the spreadsheet download feature will allow you to view test results of all of your samples at one time.

We have a new way to x-ray!. We now have a digital x-ray system.

Germination Testing

Germination tests will be stopped after 28 days in the germinator unless a minimum of 5% of the seed germinate during the fourth week. Tests will be extended as long as 5% of the seed continue to germinate. If less than 5% germinate per week, the test will be taken out of the germinator and the percentages of dormant and dead seed may be determined using x-ray and by cutting seed and using tetrazolium.

Technical Assistance

The NSL will continue to provide assistance to you on seed collection, processing, testing, storage, and seed germination. We'll be available to assist you through workshops and site visits, our NSL website, ( phone and e-mail. Please contact us if you have any questions or suggestions on how we can improve our services or methods of delivery.

Germination Studies

Over the past few years, the formal mission of the NSL has evolved to include work on native herbaceous plants. We've added 12 new double germination cabinets.

The NSL conducts germination tests on several hundred species of trees, shrubs and native plants. One of the challenges we have in working with many of these species is the degree of dormancy present in a species may not be known or may vary from year to year or between sources and even within individual seed lots. Dormant seed may require specific pretreatment conditions (warm and/or cold temperature(s) and length of time at those temperatures) for the necessary chemical and developmental changes to take place before germination can begin. In addition, specific temperature(s) may be required for germination.

We're studying the germination requirements for seeds of numerous species from the Great Basin area of the Western US and from the longleaf-wiregrass coastal plain of the Southeastern US. Results will be used to help plant producers and land managers produce plants for a variety of revegetation projects. If you would like us to work with you to develop pretreatment and germination methods for a particular species, please contact us.

Germination Conservation

The NSL is also helping protect plants native to the United States by serving as an entry point for seed collections into the USDA National Plant Germplasm System. Working with a number of cooperators, the NSL has received seed lots of Carolina hemlock (Tsuga caroliniana), ash (Fraxinus spcs.), and redbay (Persea borbonia) over the past year for inclusion in the system. Each species is currently threatened by exotic insect or fungal pests in areas of their natural ranges making preservation of these species critical. Some of the seed collected from each location will be stored at the USDA National Center for Genetic Conservation and Preservation in Fort Collins, CO.

Thank you again for all of your support and we look forward to working with you this coming year and in the future.



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