The combination of hyperspectral imaging with multivariate data analysis methods has recently been applied to develop a nondestructive technique, required to determine the seed viability of artificially aged vegetable and cereal seeds. In this study, the potential of shortwave infrared hyperspectral imaging to determine the viability of naturally aged seeds was investigated and thereafter a model for online seed sorting system was developed. The hyperspectral images of 400 Hinoki cypress tree seeds were acquired, and germination tests were conducted for viability confirmation, which indicated 31.5% of the viable seeds. Partial least square discriminant analysis models with 179 variables in the wavelength region of 1000–1800 nm were developed with a maximum model accuracy of 98.4% and 93.8% in both the calibration and validation sets, respectively. The partial least square discriminant analysis beta coefficient revealed the key wavelengths to differentiate viable from nonviable seeds, determined based on the differences in the chemical compositions of the seeds, including their lipid and fatty acid contents, which may control the germination ability of the seeds. The most effective wavelengths were selected using two model-based variable selection methods (i.e., the variable importance of projection (15 variables) and the successive projections algorithm (8 variables)) to develop the model. The successive projections algorithm wavelength selection method was considered to develop a viability model, and its application to the raw data resulted in a prediction accuracy of 94.7% in the calibration set and 92.2% in the validation set. These results demonstrate the potential of shortwave infrared hyperspectral imaging spectroscopy as a powerful nondestructive method to determine the viability of Hinoki cypress seeds. This method could be applied to develop an online seed sorting system for seed companies and nurseries.
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