For you to obtain a healthy yield, your seeds require specific conditions to germinate. They require warmth, moisture, and sunlight or lamps. The majority of farmers and home gardeners alike understand the role that soil conditions play in determining whether they will get a successful yield regardless of the crop planted. It is imperative to ensure that your seeds are planted under optimum temperatures, both high and low. Soil temperature affects plant growth. If it is too hot or too cold, the seeds’ germination rate might be too low with some seeds not germinating all together.
How Do Temperatures Change?
When talking about the soil temperature desired for seed germination, there are several factors involved. Usually, essential soil organisms and soil nutrients have optimal temperatures. The organisms and nutrients, however, are not the only aspects associated with soil temperature. Soil moisture and aeration also play a major role. You also need to know that soil temperature is most critical at the initial stages of development and germination of seeds.
Furthermore, air temperature and soil temperature involve two distinct processes brought about by the way they move. In fact, temperature changes are attributable to such movements. When it is sunny, the rays go through the atmosphere to hit the earth’s surface, and that’s how it gets heated. The air then gets heated from below through the process of convection. The convection process is faster and quite different from how heat is absorbed into the ground and by the soil.
When the sun’s rays hit the ground, the heat is absorbed much slower through the conduction process. Basically, the optimum temperature when your seeds are at a depth of 2-inches occurs approximately one hour after the optimum surface temperatures have been reached where the temperature is usually 30 percent less than that of the surface. Alternatively, the peak temperatures could occur after 2 to 3 hours when your seeds are 4-inches below the ground because the temperatures will be approximately 66 percent less.
During the night, however, your seeds experience a different scenario altogether. The heat travels upwards from below the surface, which means that the temperatures below the surface remain constant. The slow movement of heat is advantageous because it avoids freezing temperatures from penetrating too deep into the subsurface even during winter season. On the other hand, the heat from the surface moves into the air through the process of radiation, thus cooling the air above the surface rapidly.
Another crucial factor that affects the soil temperatures is the soil moisture. Technically, water is known to have a high heat capacity. Additionally, it uses heat or energy to evaporate. This means that temperatures will vary according to the seasons. During the spring, for instance, soils with high moisture content take longer to get warm.
Besides the moisture content, the soil type also affects the rate of warming up. This is because the soil type goes hand in hand with soil moisture. Clay soils retain a lot of water, which means that they take longer to warm up. Sandy soils have plenty of air spaces, which means that they drain well, thus allowing them to warm up faster during the day and cool off rapidly at night. Loamy soils are the best for retaining temperature and moisture. As a result, they will deliver the optimum temperatures needed for seeds to germinate.
The Ideal Temperatures for Seed Germination
There are different types of seeds, and the soil temperature required for each type of seed to germinate varies. Moreover, the speed of germination for different types of seeds varies. It is important, therefore, that you establish what you intend to plant so that you can guarantee a healthy yield depending on your soil’s temperature. You have to keep in mind that every seed has an optimum temperature and a minimum temperature requirement for its germination.
For instance, tomato seeds require soil temperatures between 10◦C and 35◦C to germinate. However, to get a successful yield, the most suitable soil temperatures to germinate your tomato seeds should be between 20◦C and 25◦C., Unlike the tomato seeds, the ideal soil temperatures for carrot seeds fall between 7◦C and 29◦C. However, a rapid germination of the carrot seeds mainly occurs at soil temperatures of 10◦C.
If you don’t know anything or know little about the optimum temperatures required to germinate your seeds, you don’t have to worry. You can take advantage of the plenty of information available online that could help you learn more about the best plant growth solutions. Moreover, you could review the available seed catalogs or check the details on seed packs to determine the ideal temperatures for growing your seeds. Besides reviewing your soil’s temperature, however, you also have to consider other factors such as air temperatures because they are likely to affect the growth pattern of your seeds.
Intriguingly, you can measure the soil temperature all by yourself since it is quite a seamless process. To take the temperature levels of your soil, you only need to acquire any of the simple and inexpensive soil thermometers from the market. To acquire one, you will need less than $10. To measure the temperature, just dip the thermometer into the soil. Make sure to stick it to the depth that you wish to plant your seeds.
For your plants to deliver a successful yield, the seeds have to germinate in the most suitable conditions. Seeds require moisture, light, and soil to germinate. The soil temperature plays a significant role because if it is too high or too low, it will affect the rate of your seeds’ germination. Different seeds require different soil temperatures to germinate. To get a high yield, therefore, you need to know the optimum temperatures required to support the desired germination rate of the seeds that you want to propagate.