Depletion of an Artificial Weed Seed Bank during the Dormant Period via Heating and Subsequent Chilling of Soil

in HortScience

Depletion of the weed seed bank by stimulating germination during winter months and subsequently exposing the seedlings to adverse air temperatures is a possible means of controlling weeds in small-scale horticultural operations. Johnsongrass [Sorghum halepense (L.) Pers.], hemp sesbania [Sesbania exaltata (Raf.) Rydb. ex A.W. Hill], and barnyardgrass [Echinochloa crus-galli (L.) Beauv.] were seeded in soil trays and maintained for 4 days at 4 or -12 °C, then heated to 32 °C for 4 days using electric heating pads. Germination percentages, after heating soils, were: 55% and 70% for hemp sesbania, 82% and 72% for barnyardgrass, and 45% and 55% for johnsongrass, respectively; for seeds kept at -12 and 4 °C, respectively. Subsequent exposure of seedlings to -12 °C for 7 days killed all seedlings, while exposure to 4 °C killed only 18% to 28%. The temperature regimes of -12 °C for 4 days, and 32 °C for 4 days followed by -12 °C killed 95%, 78%, and 68% of the johnsongrass, hemp sesbania, and barnyardgrass, respectively.

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