Conventionally-grown and organically-grown tomato seeds sourced from both fresh tomatoes and store-bought packages were germinated for seven days to evaluate the effect of seed source on germination rates. Seeds from fresh Roma tomatoes were prepared by allowing them to ferment in their own pulp for 24 hours, while commercially packaged dry seeds did not require any preparation. Once prepared, the seeds were spaced evenly on wet paper towels and stored in resealable plastic bags in groups of 10 for a total sample size of 100 seeds in each of four treatments. The number of germinated seeds and the length of their roots were measured daily for seven days. 82.5% of the seeds from fresh tomatoes germinated—91% of the conventional and 74% of the organic—while only 49% of the commercially dried seeds germinated—35% of the conventional and 63% of the organic. Conventionally-grown seeds germinated on average one day faster than organically-grown seeds. In addition, the seeds from fresh tomatoes experienced significantly faster germination rates by 0.78 days and longer average growth. Our data indicate potentially higher germination success for seeds sourced from fresh tomatoes, but only when conventionally-grown.


We thank Dr. Christopher Adams for his friendly review of this manuscript. Thanks also to two anonymous reviewers and Editor David L. Belcher for their invaluable comments.