Improved Germination of American Ginseng Seeds Under Controlled Environments

in HortTechnology
Authors:
Thomas S.C. LiAgriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre, Summerland, BC, Canada, contribution 2034. The cost of publishing this paper was detion 2034.

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K.E. BedfordAgriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre, Summerland, BC, Canada, contribution 2034. The cost of publishing this paper was detion 2034.

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P.L. SholbergAgriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre, Summerland, BC, Canada, contribution 2034. The cost of publishing this paper was detion 2034.

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Traditionally, American ginseng (Panax quinquefolium L.) seeds are stratified for 18 to 22 months, before seeding, in a sandbox buried outdoors in late August or early September. Uncontrolled fluctuating temperature and moisture levels and the presence of pathogenic organisms in the seed box can cause seeds to sprout prematurely, rot, dry out and die. A study was initiated to shorten the lengthy stratification period, and to increase seed viability and percentage of germination by stratifying seeds indoors under a controlled environment. Seeds were subjected to various periods of warm [15 or 20 °C (59 or 68 °F)] and cold [2 °C (35.6 °F)] temperature stratification regimes in growth chambers. Embryo growth and viability, and seed moisture content were tested periodically during stratification. The best warm regime for embryo development, seed viability and germination after subsequent cold treatment was 15 °C (59 °F). The first “split” seeds, indicating incipient germination, were observed after 3 months of warm [15 °C (59 °F)] and 4 months of cold [2 °C (35.6 °F)] treatment, when average embryo length reached 6 mm (0.24 inch). Greenhouse germination of stratified seeds was as high as 80%. The results from this study indicate that good germination is possible when ginseng seeds are stratified indoors under a controlled environment and seeds can be made to germinate at any time of the year.

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