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January 30, 2019
Definition: A method of seed pretreatment that nicks the protective seed coat to promote faster seed germination. It is a frequently used method when dealing with species with hard seed coats. By lightly scraping or scratching the edge of the seed coat, scarification allows for water to penetrate and activate the germination process. It is important to not scarify seeds on the hilum as this is where the roots and cotyledons will first sprout, damage to this area can prevent a seed from germinating.
In the Forest Garden: Farmers in our Forest Garden Programs are always encouraged to pretreat their seeds by one method or another (read about the other methods here) before sowing their seeds in the nursery. Seeds remain in a dormant state until the germination process is triggered, but if left to trigger naturally, seeds may germinate at different times and speeds. By scarifying their seeds, farmers send a trigger for the germination process to begin, this ensures that all of the seeds will germinate and be ready to be outplanted from the nursery at the same time.