Cracking beans and getting helmets. What am I doing wrong?

I posted this under the general indoor growing section but I feel like this is a better place to post my question.

So I apologize in advance to the admins for posting this again.

Aloha guys,

I been growing from clone for years but recently wanted to try out some of the new genetics from Rado and Exotic Mike. The seeds were expensive so I ran a couple of the freebies and all of them came out with helmet heads. So I figured that I was planting my beans too shallow. So I ran another test batch but this time I planted them 1/2" deep instead of 1/4". But those beans had helmets on them too. I do not ever remember having this issue.

Here is my process maybe someone can help me identify what I am doing wrong.

1) Soak beans in RO water for roughly 24hrs
2) move to paper towel to fully germinate
3) Once the tail is showing. I plant directly into soil medium with 1/4" to 1/2" deep. I have bad fungus gnats in Hawaii so I mix some bti into the soil. (I cant see why this would cause an issue)
3) Seeds go into humidity dome with heat mat and small led light about 2ft away.

I am afraid to crack my good beans until I can figure out what I am doing wrong. This is the same system I have used since the late 90s. But like I said I have been out of the seed game for the last 5 years or so.

The only thing I can think of that might help soften the shell and the membrane would be to add some diluted EWC/coconut water tea brewed for 48rs. Could I soak the seeds and wet the soil with the tea before planting? Any other feedback or advice is appreciated. I have some killer stuff I want to smoke asap and it all starts with the beans brah! But the helmets are making me nervous and I would really prefer to not have to manually remove helmets. I have bad eyes and big hands lol!

Aloha for any feedback.
 
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Try planting the seeds tap root up.

Try a coffee filter instead of paper towel. Roots dont stick to the coffee filter.

Try not soaking good fresh seeds. They should germ in just the moist filter.

Thats all I got.
 

Jimster

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I have grown for a few decades and 95% were from seeds. I used Promix for the medium when I planted them, but the method I have always used was to simply take a paper towel or two and fold it into a square that will fit into a small ziplock sandwich bag. I just put the seeds on the damp towel (NOT wet, just fairly damp) and sit it on something slightly warm, in my case it is the TV cable box. In a day or two you should get them to crack, but I wait until the tail, or root, is about 1/2 to 3/4 inch long... not just barely cracked. I stick my finger about 3/4 of the way to my bottom knuckle and put the seed root own in the medium (I plant directly into my final container, you might want to up-pot instead) and gently tamp the dirt around the seed and root, so that the top of the seed is about even with the top of the medium. I squeeze shut the remaining hole and put a little water right around the deed to settle it nto the medium. Lastly, I take a pinch of medium and sprinkle it above the seed, covering it, but jus barely. When the seed emerges in a day or two, I hit it with about 50% max lighting and start the 18/6 photoperiod. I give a few ml of water on the 2nd day and it goes on it's own from there. FWIW, I plant directly into 5 gallon buckets and they are well hydrated before I start. The water in the Promix will supply it for a few weeks as the roots extend thru the medium and gets the water. This has worked well for me for decades and I know most growers don't like to plant directly into a 5 gallon bucket, but I hav never had any problems. Don't use any nutes for a few weeks minimum, and don't try to help the seedling shed it's cover. Don't overwater as it will cause the seed to suffer and it might die or damp off.
Keep in mind that roots and plants can split rocks in half, so getting rid of the seed shell shouldn't be a problem. If they are sprouting and then dying off before the shell comes off, then you might be using too much water, IMO.
 
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Thanks for the reply both of you. I read somewhere about planting with the tap root facing up. Forces the shell to drag some while it works itself to the surface.

Jimster the process you described will work for me but I am so bad at being gentle with seedlings that I was really hoping for a sow direct to soil method. But I have more batches of test seeds. I will try and see if the tap root up works and if not then I am going to have to get my hands dirty it sounds like.

thanks again for taking time to answer my question guys. I will report back with results.

Aloha
 

Jimster

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Thanks for the reply both of you. I read somewhere about planting with the tap root facing up. Forces the shell to drag some while it works itself to the surface.

Jimster the process you described will work for me but I am so bad at being gentle with seedlings that I was really hoping for a sow direct to soil method. But I have more batches of test seeds. I will try and see if the tap root up works and if not then I am going to have to get my hands dirty it sounds like.

thanks again for taking time to answer my question guys. I will report back with results.

Aloha
When a seed first cracks, the root usually does a 180 from the direction it came out of the shell with. This is why I let the root get a little longer, so it usually already makes the change of direction, eliminating the need to plant it upside down. You don't want the root to get too long, as it can use up too much energy trying to find the soil instead of finding it and growing. When I plant, the seed and root sort of looks like a candy cane shape, with the root tip being the cane and the seed shell being the handle. The seed hood doesn't get dragged off, the swelling seedling pushes it apart. It might sometimes hang onto one of the seed leaves, but it should be OK. I have NEVER had good results from helping to remove the seed shell manually... it invariably harms the seedling and disfigures it... sometimes irreversibly.
I'm 60+ and my eyes aren't as good as they used to be and I'm not too gentle either. As long as you can get the seed into the hole without crushing it, you should be OK. A coffee filter might be better than a paper towel, as mentioned above, if you worry about the roots growing into the paper towel. I find that as long as you don't let the roots grow too long, they don't grow into the paper towel... after about 5 days, however, you might need to cut the seed/rot out of the towel and plant it with the paper attached instead of tearing up the roots.
 
I know what you mean about the disfigure have seen it before. I just started to germ 4 freebies in some coffee filters that came with my cold brew machine.

Lets see how this goes. So you are saying that seedlings usually popped with the helmet on. Then after they break the surface of the medium they burst open the shell? Jimster, what temp do you think the top of your cable box is?

Aloha
 

Jimster

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I know what you mean about the disfigure have seen it before. I just started to germ 4 freebies in some coffee filters that came with my cold brew machine.

Lets see how this goes. So you are saying that seedlings usually popped with the helmet on. Then after they break the surface of the medium they burst open the shell? Jimster, what temp do you think the top of your cable box is?

Aloha
In a nutshell, yes. I might take them a few days to shed the shell after they break thru the surface, but as long as they are staying green, the shell should split apart and eventually fall off. My cable box is probably about 85-90 degrees F. Pulling the shell off usually damages the embryonic leaves which the plant grows upon, resulting in funky or misshapen seedlings. I think by having a slightly longer root, the growing roots can access the moisture which is below it in the medium, giving it enough water to continue to grow. It might break the surface and seem to stall for a little, but this can be normal as the seedling first establishes the root system before starting to grow, in general.
 
Jimster I think I figured it out. Could the size of the container that I am transplanting to have something to do with all this. Right now they are going into a tiny container. I should try putting some into igloo cups. That way the roots will have room to grow and more energy to break out of the shell. Does any of this make sense?

Thanks for all of your responses.
 

Jimster

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Jimster I think I figured it out. Could the size of the container that I am transplanting to have something to do with all this. Right now they are going into a tiny container. I should try putting some into igloo cups. That way the roots will have room to grow and more energy to break out of the shell. Does any of this make sense?

Thanks for all of your responses.
That could have a lot to do with it, although in general, if you left the sprouted seed in the baggie/paper towel, it would grow a very long root and probably unfurl the seed leaves, leaving the split shell behind. This isn't a recommendation, I'm just saying that a seedling should hve no problem shedding the seed on it's own. If it sprouts and then stops growing altogether, it might just be a bad seed. These are pretty rare, though. Igloo cups work well, especially for seeds because they allow for a longer taproot (the main central root). Clones don't develop a taproot and aren't quite as fussy, in general. Make sure that your cups block out the light at the root zone. Root growth is inhibited by light, so keep the roots in darkness... a darker colored solo cup should work and I see a lot of folks using the red ones. Keep in mind that plants have been shedding their shells for millions of years and don't normally need help. Don't over-mother your plants... let them alone to grow and it seems to work out the best. Your best bet is to prepare a good but not too hot of a soil/medium that will take care of most issues that might arise in the future. This includes having a stable Ph, good drainage (VERY important), and plenty of light. It's a lot easier to have your soil prepped prior to planting, since it is hard to change a medium once plants are in it.
 
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