Scarification, Stratification, and Breaking Dormancy in CRP Seed

Last month, we broke down the different elements of CRP seed tags. One piece of information listed on seed tags is “dormant seed”. This refers to the percentage of seed that is alive and capable of growth but won’t germinate under normal soil conditions.  

Often, this is because of a hard exterior shell that prevents water from reaching the tissue inside. Other times, the dormancy is caused by the internal seed tissue itself. 

Depending on the type of dormancy occurring, different methods can be used to initiate germination. In situations where the seed is covered by a hard exterior, a process called scarification is needed to allow germination. When dealing with internal dormancy, you’ll need to utilize methods referred to as stratification. 


Scarification is the process of breaking, dissolving, or otherwise disrupting the seed’s coating so that water can reach the tissue within. This process can occur naturally, such as when a seed scratches against a hardnatural surface. Also, an animal may eat a seed, initiating scarification as it passes through its digestive track. 

To really drive down dormant seed percentages, however, a manual approach is often needed. There are a number of ways scarification can be performed manually. 

One method is to soak seeds in sulfuric aciddissolving the outer coating while leaving the rest of the seed intact. Vinegar can be a safer alternative, though it’s not as effective. 

Otherwise, machinery or tools can be used to file, rub, or crack open the seed coating. For softer exterior shells, sandpaper is often used. Whatever tool is being used, it must be handled carefully so that the seed embryo is not damaged. 


To break internal dormancy, stratification is utilized. This typically involves placing the seed in cool, moist environments. Fall planting can often cause stratification to naturally occur. The dry fall ground freezes, incubating the seeds. As spring comes and the ground begins to thaw, the cool, moist earth stratifies the dormant seed, allowing it to germinate in spring.  

Manual stratification often involves placing seed in cooltofreezing temperatures (depending on the seed), incubating them for a select period of time. This breaks the dormancy, allowing them to properly germinate once they are planted. 

Scarification and Stratification for CRP Seed Mixes 

When it comes to purchasing CRP Seed, it’s best to look for mixes that have already undergone stratification and scarification processes. This ensures that you get the highest germination rate possible with no additional work needed on your end. 

At ANS, we’ve spent over 16 years testing and modifying CRP seed mixes in the field to achieve higher purity and better germination. In addition to addressing seed dormancy, our seed has been cleaned, reprocessed, and tested for all pigweed species including Palmer amaranth. Click here to browse and buy our CRP seed mixes. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us directly.