Rate and Synchrony of Seed Germination Influence Growth of Hydroponic Lettuce

in HortScience
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  • 1 Delaware Agricultural Experiment Station, Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19717-1303
  • | 2 Delaware Agricultural Experiment Station, Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19717-1303
  • | 3 ARC Greenhouses, Shiloh, NJ 08353

The effect of seed germination rate, or of seedling emergence rate, was studied in relation to subsequent plant growth of `Cortina' lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.). Seedling growth response to selection by time of germination was assessed by imbibing seeds at 5 °C to increase the time range for germination. Germinated seeds were removed daily and transferred to “slants” (germination paper held at 20° from vertical) at 15 °C. Five days after each transfer, root and hypocotyl lengths were measured. As days required for germination increased, root lengths decreased and hypocotyl lengths increased, resulting in no change in total seedling length. The relation between rate of seedling emergence from raw or pelleted seeds of the same lot and shoot fresh weight was examined using commercially practiced hydroponic techniques. Shoot fresh weight at 10 and 21 days after planting was related inversely and linearly to the day of emergence for both seed treatments. In the same study, the coefficient of variation of shoot fresh weight was positively related to time of seedling emergence only at 10 days. Germinated seeds were selected after 1 and 2 days of imbibition; subsequent seedling emergence rate and shoot fresh weight at 25 days were recorded. First-day germinated seeds had faster and more synchronous emergence, and produced heavier and more uniform shoots. Discarding slow-to-germinate seeds should enhance seedling emergence and growth.

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Current address: Dept. of Horticulture, Clemson Univ., Clemson, SC 29634.
to whom reprint requests should be sent.
ARC Greenhouses.
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