High quality seeds of improved vegetable varieties are essential to enhance the production of annual horticultural crops. In tropical climates, high temperatures and humid conditions combine to cause rapid deterioration of seeds in open storage, resulting in lost value, poor stand establishment, lowered productivity and a disincentive to invest in improved seeds. Most horticultural seeds in Nepal are locally produced or self-saved and stored without facilities for maintaining dryness that would greatly extend the seed longevity in storage.
Led by Kent Bradford at UC Davis, this international project team demonstrates a simple, inexpensive and widely adaptable method for drying horticultural seeds and maintaining high seed quality during storage. A novel zeolite desiccant — called drying beads — combined with inexpensive hermetic containers, can dry horticultural seeds and maintain the seeds in a dry state during storage, greatly increasing their storage lifetime.
As women perform most of seed production, harvesting and storage operations for horticultural seeds in these regions, adoption of this improved seed drying and storage system would enhance the value of their labor. This simple seed drying and storage system enables the development and distribution of more productive seed varieties, leading to higher quality crops and increased incomes.