Nip your seeds before soaking

Lucerne trees seeds have extremely hard seed coats and require a process called scarification to help them prepare for germination. What is scarification?

Scarification in botany involves weakening, opening, or otherwise altering the coat of a seed to encourage germination. Scarification is often done mechanically, thermally, and chemically. The seeds of many plant species are often impervious to water and gases, thus preventing or delaying germination. 


We have proven success with a 2-fold process = NIP and then SOAK.

We use nail-clippers to nip a tiny piece off the top of each seed. Just snip off a tiny sliver of the seed coat and try not to cut too deep into the seed. Especially do NOT cut the creamy, light brown bit at the bottom of the seed. This is where the seed germ will emerge with the roots and first 2 little leaves. If this part is damaged, usually the seed will not germinate.

Yes, this is a time-consuming process, but we recommend that you germinate your seeds in batches and not try to do them all at once. Alternatively, you can nip them in small batches over a few days, storing them sealed and kept in a dry, cool, dark place and then soak them all together to begin the actual germination process. Once the seed coat has been nipped, it is vulnerable, whereas untreated seeds can be safely stored as described for several years.

Next comes the soaking process. We have done trials regularly and can see the huge difference between seeds that were nipped and then soaked and those that are only soaked. Please do not cook your seeds by using boiling water! Hot tap water is good, but boiling water may kill the seed germ.

Wait for the soil temperatures to rise before starting your germination process. When the soil is too cold, your seeds will remain dormant in the ground. You could start germination earlier if you germinate your seeds indoors in trays under grow lights for warmth.

We want you to have real success in your germination process. You can read and download our germination process and step-by-step instructions on our Seeds page. We provide these instructions with your seeds when you order. Place your order today by filling out the contact form on our Orders page.

Happy Farming!


4 thoughts on “Nip your seeds before soaking

    • @vmrnad002, Thank you for your question. The seed pods will dry and turn brown on the trees as they mature. We normally twist the pods to feel if they are dry and pop open. Then they are ready to harvest. If too green, the pods will not pop or crack open. Wait a little longer. You will actually hear the pods popping on the trees as they dry out.

      To hand-harvest before they pop and the seeds fall to the ground, you can simply pick the pods off the trees and store them in a feed bag. Because we have so many trees to harvest, we prune the branches with all their brown pods and bring them and lay the branches on a tarp in a dry storeroom so that we are able to catch all the seeds as the pods pop and release their seeds. A few knocks on the pods usually cracks them open and we then sift the seeds.
      Store your seeds in a dry, cool, dark place.


  1. Hi I got seeds a while ago now but only 6 have come out of 25.I will try another 25 to see what comes I put each/ see in a small bag with stoNes in the boTtom and covered with a strip of green net that takes out 75 or80 % of the ultra waves. Regards Hazel Sent from my iPad



    • @Hazel Smith, keep your soil with those first batch of seeds watered. The seed shell is very hard and soil temperatures are an important factor in germination. As the soils become warmer through spring, seeds will start to germinate quicker. Be patient and let’s hope that the rest emerge.


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