It’s autumn and fresh seeds are arriving at the nursery. Their arrival fills our crew’s days with activity. Each batch of seed must be weighed and checked for quality. We are careful to track many different data points for each lot of seeds. This information helps us customize the treatments we give the seeds and predict germination. This is just the first step in many to ensure the next year’s crop of seedlings flourish. When seeds arrive at the nursery, there is urgency because they often become hot during transit. Living seeds respire, or use energy stored in their tissues to stay alive. Respiration creates heat which isn’t noticeable until the seed is gathered in a bag or box. Many species of tree seeds germinate soon after falling to the ground in autumn. It is very important when we receive those species to plant the seeds right away. Doing so keeps the roots straight and ensures our trees are the best quality. Other species need stratification. Stratification happens in a large walk-in cooler after the seed is soaked in water. During stratification, the seeds undergo the changes necessary for germination to take place in spring.