318 Vermicompost Enhances Germination in Low-viability Echinacea purpurea Seed

in HortScience
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  • Tennessee Technological University, School of Agriculture, Box 5034, Cookeville, TN 38505

Vermicompost or worm-worked wastes have been reported to enhance seedling germination and growth during plug production. The objective of this project was to examine the effects of vermicompost on germination of a herbaceous perennial having varying viability in coir-based container media. Seeds of Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower) collected from field-grown plants in 1998 and 1999 were considered low- and medium-viability seeds, respectively. A third group of seeds was purchased from a major seed company and was considered to have high viability due to optimal storage conditions. “Ragdoll” germination tests resulted in the following viability ratings: low (1%), 1998; medium (67%), 1999; and high (79%), purchased seed. The three sources of seed were planted into coir-based media. Vermicompost was incorporated into the media at 10% by volume. The control media did not have vermicompost added. Twelve days after project initiation seeds sown into media containing vermicompost had 73% and 90% greater germination than control media for the 1999 and purchased seed. At the project conclusion, 24 days after initiation, seeds sown into media containing vermicompost had 23% and 42% greater germination than the controls for the 1999 and purchased seed. The 1998 seed had 5% germination after 24 days compared to 1% for the control. The addition of vermicompost could be used as a method to increase germination rate and percentage of seeds having lower viability.

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