New Seeds 2022

We find ourselves in-between seasons with our lucerne tree seed stocks. 

Currently, our previous seed harvests from 2020 / 2021 have hardened due to natural ageing in the hot, dry summer season, and our germination results are no longer as high as we would like them to be.  In our latest trials, we have had lower germination rates and the process has taken longer than normal.

This month, January 2022, we harvested our lucerne tree seeds. We hand-picked, sifted, and packaged our newest lucerne tree seeds, but these seeds will not germinate as readily at this stage as the seeds are too fresh and need a few months to mature.  Some of the seed germ (the little beige tips where the roots and leaves emerge) is still a little green.

In nature, around this time of year, when the seed pods on the tree turn brown and dry out, the pods twist, split and pop open and the lucerne tree seeds fall out of their pods onto the ground around the mother tree. Here, these seeds lie in the soil during the hot, dry summer months. Remember that lucerne trees are native to the Canary Islands which enjoys a Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and cold, rainy winters. After about 5 months of exposure to the elements, and when the winter rains begin to fall, these fallen seeds start to germinate.  Just a quick note – although these volunteer seeds may come up, most do not make it to maturity as insects and animals graze and eat them before they grow into trees.

When you receive your latest lucerne tree seeds from us, we recommend that you hold these 2022 seeds in a cool, dry, dark place until May 2022 and only then begin your germination process as described. The seeds will be fine kept in their little zip-bag, and then placed in a labelled paper bag, stored indoors, in a cool, dry cupboard.

In the meantime, for clients who still have some of our older seed stock, we recommend that you still germinate your seeds, but wait a little longer for those seeds to come up.

Our sincere wish is that our clients enjoy every success in their lucerne tree farming, so please contact us on our Orders page with any questions, quotes or orders, and we will do our best to assist you.

Happy Farming!

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!

Watch out for critters!

Spring time — and it’s time to germinate your lucerne tree seeds!

Over the many years that we have germinated our lucerne tree seeds, we have come across evidence that birds, snails, slugs, hares and crickets have nibbled the delicious sprouting seeds’ leaves, leaving only a little stem sticking up out of the ground. Often this spells disaster for that little plant! Even pets can cause damage to vulnerable seed beds by having access.

Management is key!

Planting trees

Some practical advice if you are germinating seeds in a seed bed:

  • Germinate your seeds in a protected area, fenced off.
  • Cover the seed bed with shade cloth to keep out birds and hares.
  • Sprinkle snail bait around the seed bed every week. Remember to refresh your snail bait after rains and weekly irrigation.

If you germinate in seed trays, try the following:

  • Place your seed trays off the ground, such as on a plank resting on a few bricks or on a table, so that snails can’t get to them.
  • Drape shade cloth over the seed trays so that birds don’t nibble the sprouting leaves.
  • Create a shade cloth nursery.

Please follow our germination instructions as exactly as described. It is our tried and tested and re-tested method that provides the best germination results. You can download our instructions here – Germination Instructions. Place your order for a fresh batch of lucerne tree seeds in packs of 100s or 1000s here – Orders.

Happy farming!

Inoculant is NOT needed

A new client recently wrote to ask me,

“Can I plant my lucerne tree seeds without bacterial legume inoculant, or do I get nothing at all?”

Simple answer ~ You do NOT need inoculant for seeds to germinate. Germination is completely successful without any inoculant. Your seed contains everything it needs within its body to germinate given the right conditions – water and warmth – and will develop into seedlings with almost nothing extra required.

Inoculant is added to ensure that legumes’ (nitrogen-fixing plants) roots will have the necessary bacteria present to help develop nitrogen-fixing nodules on their roots. And because most healthy soils contain natural rhizobia, it is NOT necessary to add inoculant to your seed germination process as the plant and bacteria naturally occuring in the soil will do their magic and form the symbiotic relationship that will cause the roots to form nitrogen-fixing nodules. I wrote about this process here –Lucerne trees’ nitrogen-fixing nodules.

Should you wish to purchase and add inoculant to your seed germination, please read this post I wrote here – What, Why and How to Inoculate for Rhizobia.

Follow our tried and tested germination instructions by reading all our information, step-by-step process and photos this page – Seeds. We will begin to germinate our lucerne tree seeds now, during autumn. Seeds will germinate and grow slowly through winter and we will have loads of little seedlings come spring. Order your seeds today.

Happy Farming!

What, Why and How to Inoculate for Rhizobia

Recently a reader asked me to explain the reason for inoculation of lucerne tree seeds. The lucerne tree is a part of the legume family, similar to peas and beans, and can fix nitrogen in the soil through special rhizobia nodules that form on their roots. These nodules can take nitrogen from the air and change it into forms that plants can use – a huge benefit of planting these trees.

What is rhizobia?

Rhizobium are a group of highly specialized bacterial microbes that live in the soil and “infect” legume plant roots which then form nodules. This is not harmful, but a symbiotic (a mutually beneficial) relationship. To see exactly how this occurs, here is an excellent YouTube video The Basics Behind Rhizobia Bacteria.

Why do legumes and lucerne trees need rhizobia?

These rhizobia nodules on the roots help the plant fix nitrogen gas (N2) from the atmosphere turning it into a more readily useful form of nitrogen. This nitrogen is exported from the nodules and used for growth in the plant. Read more – Wikipedia. Below you can see the little rhizobia nodules that have already formed on the roots of our young lucerne tree seedlings.

What is inoculation?

The process of soil inoculation involves taking specific microbes found naturally among the billions of organisms in the soil and incorporating them into the soil, or applying them directly on seeds or plant roots. Adding soil inoculants like mycorrhizae will help ensure that your plants grow in healthy soil that provides them ready access to nutrients. You can read the full article – The Benefits Of Using Soil Inoculants and Microbes In The Garden.

How to apply the inoculant?

The simplest method is to add a pinch of inoculant to the water after you have soaked your seeds in a bowl of hot water overnight. Remember 2 things — 1. You only need a little inoculant and 2. plant the seeds within 24 hours or the inoculant will no longer be active. We recommend you soak your lucerne tree seeds overnight in hot tap water. The next morning, when the water is now cool, stir the recommended amount of inoculant in the water and leave the seeds to soak for about an hour. Do NOT put the inoculant in the hot water as the heat will kill the organisms. You can watch a YouTube video of an inoculation process here.

To inoculate your seeds we recommend the Groundnut & Cowpea Group Inoculant which contains Bradyrhyzobium sp. (Vigna) bacteria, a bacterial legume inoculant. We do NOT supply inoculant, but you can order a packet from your local agricultural supplier. Once your trees establish rhizobia, they will automatically ‘infect’ your soils with this bacteria and your trees and their seeds will not require any additional inoculant. Store your inoculant in a cool and dark place.

Remember — Do NOT add any nitrogen-rich fertilizer or manure when you plant your young trees. This added nitrogen will prevent your saplings’ roots from developing and forming their rhizobia nodules and nitrogen can burn their sensitive feeder roots at this stage. We always add compost and about 50g of rock phosphorous  into our holes when we plant out our trees. Phosphorus is an essential nutrient for plants works with plants in the nitrogen cycle. With time and larger sized plants, and with mycorrhiza fungi inoculation and efficient nitrogen fixation, your lucerne trees will be able to make phosphorus that’s already in the soil available. You can read more here –

Order your seeds today!

Happy farming!

Limited Late Summer Stocks

We are entering early winter here in South Africa, and the last of our late summer lucerne trees in  their individual bags will soon need to be planted out.


Because lucerne trees have very vigorous root growth, they will soon be limited by the size of their potting bags.  Pot-bound trees just never do well  when eventually planted out, often remaining slow and spindly instead of budding and flourishing.12 c

We normally plant out any of our remaining lucerne tree stock on our farm or we are forced to compost excess saplings that have stood too long in their bags.  Please order now to avoid disappointment.

Late this summer we started germinating lucerne tree seeds which have all come up.  P1150188We will transplant these into individual potting bags to grow out in the nursery during winter.  Although growth slows dramatically in the cold season, these little seedlings will be well on their way to grow into saplings come early spring.

We have had several deposits for large orders of lucerne trees which we will hold in reserve and nurture in our nursery until September and late spring before we courier them to clients across South Africa.  This gives you, the client time to prepare your lands and fence in your fields or camps where the trees will be planted.

Most tree losses are from insufficient protection from both wild and domestic animals who snack the tender saplings in an evening of foraging, so putting up fences is a very important part of your tree management.  Remember to approach planting lucerne trees as if you are planting out a fruit orchard.  Management is the key to success.

Now is the perfect time to try your hand at germinating your own seeds.  If you follow our tried and tested methods which come with your seed packs, you will enjoy the thrill of growing out your own trees.  These little seeds will need a warm spot to germinate and then a sheltered place to grow in their bags.

Order your seeds and trees now!

Life is in the Seed!

Some sensible truths

Drippers 3-20140809_171434We would like to share some honest truths here because the end-user is always looking for a life-line or miracle, especially in droughts and when starting new farming ventures and the tagasaste just can’t be that.  The lucerne tree definitely has its place in agriculture and it is just here where we need to be realistic and not idealistic.
Tagasaste cannot produce as much forage as alfalfa or erogrostas grasses, but its advantages are that it has green forage available year round. It is best established together with grasses and used as part of the grazing management and not seen as the grazing.  Everything in nature has its limits and it is during these periods that the farmer will need the other sources of feed to complete the feeding management programmes.
Farming with lucerne trees can be done either extensively or intensively. Their success mostly depends on the availability of irrigable water and the farmer’s management capabilities.
We have found that the most viable practice for ourselves is setting up dedicated camps and managing these in various ways.
  • Seasonal pruning and chipping of lucerne tree branches and leaves does requires labour, but these methods quadruples the amount of feeding material a tree can produce and encourages a feedlot environment where the farmer can collect a concentration of valuable dung.
  • Alternately the animals can graze directly off the trees and then be removed so that the trees can fully recover.
Everything needs water to produce copious amounts of feed.  I do not encourage establishing trees without irrigation. The success rate is very poor, but once established, these trees can withstand incredibly harsh, dry conditions. but then also they do not produce maximum feed, but they yield smaller little leaves as does alfalfa when it is taking strain.
Spring always is the best time to germinate seed and a nursery is possibly the best way to supply a demand. Most folk manage to germinate their seeds, but the success rate among farmers growing them into healthy trees and then into a sustainable feeding programme is a bit too few and far between for tagasaste to become the next green revolution for agriculture.
Our experience and evidence points to farming with tagasaste as the sole food resource in large-scale, commercial farming economies to be unrealistic and largely unsuccessful.  It is most valuable for self-sufficiency homesteaders or for farmers who require additional good protein, green feed during calving or lambing.  It can be used as a supplementary feed, but the management of trees is not always justifiable when normal grazing grasses are available.  We therefore recommend farmers and homesteaders plant the lucerne tree on more marginal grounds, reserving best soils to establish their permanent and seasonal grass grazing camps.
Bearing these truths in mind, we offer this realistic advice with the hope that farmers continue to introduce and grow  lucerne trees in their farming practices and we are confident that they will be rewarded by the amazing amounts of exceptional food that they yield.

Hold your seeds until Spring

P1120686With winter temperatures now upon us in the southern hemisphere, most seeds and plants become dormant.  We would recommend that you hold your seeds until well into spring giving the ground and soils enough opportunity to increase in temperature best suited for optimum seed germination.  With cold soils and even colder water keeping the sand wet, seeds are prone to rot instead of germinating.
Please follow our germination instructions for best results.
  • We soak our seeds in boiling water overnight, remove swollen seeds and repeat the boiling water soaking several times, each time removing the swollen seeds, until almost all the seeds are swollen.  OR
  • We nick the seed coat edge with nail clippers and soak them in boiling water and almost all swell and are ready with one soaking.
Remember that these seedlings and trees hate sitting in water and do not thrive in very soggy soils.  Water lightly  but regularly.  Your climate and soils will determine how much and how often they need watering.
Transplant your seedlings once they have their first true leaves and are about 2cm tall into individual potting bags.
If your potted trees reach 40cm and have nice pencil-thick stems, but are still tender, wait until early summer before planting them out in your land.  Likewise, don’t plant them in late autumn or winter as they may struggle in the frosts and cold.  Hold them in a sheltered spot until late spring before planting them in your lands.
Happy farming!

Proof – new germination method is effective!

Recently we posted our new germination process we recommend which weakens the hard seed coat of the lucerne tree seeds to encourage germination.  This new scarification process has  2 simple steps –

  1. Nick (cut or snip off) the edge of the seed with a clipper or sharp blade and then
  2. Soak the seeds in hot tap water (not boiling water) overnight

We have been doing several trials to test this process and below are the photos to show how effective it is when one nicks or snips off the top edge of the hard seed coat.


Within 1 hour, the nicked seeds were already swelling and by the next morning all the seeds were swollen and ready for planting.  Compared to the control batch of seeds simply soaked in hot tap water.

20180317_121948-001A few seeds in the uncut control batch did swell, but when I took those out, I saw that 2 had broken seed coats and the other 2 were some of the nicked seeds that fell back into my seed container as I worked.

Please use both scarification methods when you want to germinate your seeds for optimum seed germination.

Life is in the seed!

Scarification germination process

Lucerne tree seeds are naturally very hard-shelled seeds and require a process called scarification to encourage germination.  Up till now we have only soaked the seeds, but to encourage much better germination results, we now recommend you nick or cut the edge of each seed before soaking.

We nick (cut) the edge of the seed with a clipper or sharp blade and then soak the seeds in hot tap water overnight to weaken the hard seed coat of the seed to encourage germination.

Watch a video on how to nick the seed coat ~


Here are our updated germination instructions ~

Only start the germination process when you are ready to plant your seeds into seed trays or potting bags.  Work with batches of  + 100 seeds at a time.

  1. Nick the edge of each seed with a nail clipper or sharp blade. Only cut off the edge of the seed coat and do not cut into the seed itself. Do not cut the the white germ edge.
  2. Soak the cut seeds in a bowl filled with hot tap water overnight.
  3. Plant out the swollen seeds the next day in seed trays or potting bags filled with coarse river sand.  Do NOT use potting soil.
  4. Use a stick & make rows roughly 5mm (0.5cm) deep and place the seeds in these rows & cover lightly with sand.  Seeds planted too deep do not germinate easily!
  5. Water lightly regularly & do not to let the soil dry out.
  6. Seeds usually germinate within 15 days.
  7. Wait at least 40 days for maximum germination before potting out seedlings into individual 1-litre potting bags. Use a mix of coarse sand and potting soil.
  8. Dig deep under the seedlings to loosen the soil and gently lift each seedling out of the potting soil. Do not pull the seedlings up from the tray as this will damage the roots.
  9. Wait till these potted trees are at least 40cm tall with pencil-thick stems before planting them out in your lands. This can take about 4 months.
  10. Keep watering the remaining germination sand because the slower seeds may still germinate!

Download these germination instructions ~ Germination Instructions 2018

Life is in the seed!