Figuring out if seeds are still good.


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What is the best way to determine if seeds are still good? I have some corn and bean seeds that I purchased exactly 3 years ago. They have been stored in a cool, dry place. I'm assuming the paper towel method is the best/easiest?
I put 4 or 5 of each kind in paper towels, wet them and set them out in the sun. But I don't entirely know what I'm doing. I've read that I should use the brown paper towels (which I don't have at the moment) and that I should seal them in a bag.
I have way more of these seeds than I need, so I can do some more experimenting if needed.
Thanks.
 
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Dampen a paper towel (white or brown, it doesn't matter) place seeds on it, and put it in a sealed plastic bag (bag acts as a mini-greenhouse). If the seed germinates and little roots appear, you can figure out the germination rate (10 seeds in the bag, 5 germinated, 50% germination rate).
You don't need to set the bag in the sun--I put mine on the kitchen counter out of direct sunlight.
 
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As @Ester Knapicius said except the larger the seed the longer it takes, for instance beans. Give them 45 minutes to make sure
 
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Well, I put 10 bean seeds and 10 corn seeds in water over 4 hours ago, and they all have been sunk on the bottom the whole time. So I guess they passed that test. I'm going to put them in a moist paper towel and seal it in a zip lock bag and see how they fare in that test.
Thanks everyone.
 
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Well, I put 10 bean seeds and 10 corn seeds in water over 4 hours ago, and they all have been sunk on the bottom the whole time. So I guess they passed that test. I'm going to put them in a moist paper towel and seal it in a zip lock bag and see how they fare in that test.
Thanks everyone.
If you have done all of that you may as well plant them in the soil if the soil is warm enough
 
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Thank you for all of this information. I need to try this to help me avoid the frustration I feel when wondering why one corn seed sprouted and the other one didn't. (I have so much to learn.)
 

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