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Tree seed storage and pretreatment

Raising Trees and Shrubs from Seed (PDF-648K)

Forestry Commission
Practice Guide 18.

In nature, the germination of dormant seeds may be triggered by different phenomena such as the cycle of one or more cold winters followed by the warmth of spring; cycles of burial followed by re-exposure to light; passage through a bird or animal gut, fire, or various combinations of these treatments. Artificial substitutes which can be used as dormancy breakage treatments often mimic these conditions and are termed pre-sowing treatments or more commonly ‘pretreatments’.

It must be remembered that:

  • There is no single method of pretreatment which is universally effective at overcoming the dormancy of all tree species, and
  • The level of dormancy varies between seedlots and individual seeds in a seedlot, hence there may be significant leeway in pretreatment durations.

Select the tree or shrub species whose fruit / seed you wish to pretreat from the alphabetical lists of either common or scientific names below:

Common name
(in alphabetical order)

Scientific name
(in alphabetical order)

Pretreatment methods


Richard Jinks