Onion Seed Quality

in HortScience
Author: Alan G. Taylor1
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  • 1 Cornell University, Geneva Campus, Horticultural Sciences, NYSAES, Geneva, NY, 14456

High seed quality is required to obtain optimal plant stands and to achieve maximum yield potential. Onion seeds are commonly coated and treated with an insecticide and fungicide to control early season insects and diseases. The seed treatments may cause phytotoxicity in standard germination tests, and thus reduce the percent germination of a seed lot. The objective of this study was to examine the effect of seed quality on seed storage, stand establishment and yield. Two seed lots of two long-day onion varieties were pelleted and treated with the seed treatments Trigard and Pro-Gro. Standard germination and saturated salt aging tests were performed on each seed lot, indicating a high and lower quality seed lot for each variety. Aging was conducted by equilibrating pelleted seeds at 35% relative humidity and aging at 25 °C for up to 12 months. Aging decreased germination with time, especially for the lower quality lots. Field studies were conducted in two locations in upstate New York. The plant stand was greater in the high compared to the lower quality lots in both varieties at both locations. Yield was reduced in the lower quality than high quality lot; however, the response differed by variety and location. Overall, the initial seed quality had an impact on seed storagability, stand establishment and yield.