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Kar-Ling Tao, Anwar A. Khan, Gary E. Harman, and Charles J. Eckenrode


Several chemicals applied to dry seeds by means of organic solvents were successful in preserving seed quality as determined by germinating capability of seeds or ATP content. The fungicide (pentachloronitrobenzene)-treated, injured or healthy pea (Pisum sativum L. cv. Alaska) seeds were highly resistant to infection by Aspergillus ruber (Konig, Spiekerman and Bremer) Thom and Church (NRRL 52), a storage fungus. The insecticide, Chlorpyrifos caused the lima bean (Phaseolus lunatus L. cv. Fordhook 242) seeds to produce seedlings with reduced levels of damage from the seed-corn maggot, Hylemya platura (Meigen). The antibiotics, chloramphenicol and puromycin, slowed down the rate of deterioration of lettuce (Lactuca sativa L. cv. Grand Rapids) seeds stored under accelerated aging conditions [43°C & 85% Relative Humidity (RH)].

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A.G. Taylor, D.B. Churchill, S.S. Lee, D.M. Bilsland, and T.M. Cooper

Color sorting was performed to upgrade seed quality by removal of fluorescent coated seeds. The fluorescent coating was attributed to sinapine leakage from nonviable seeds. Nine seedlots, three seedlots each of cabbage (Brassica oleracea L. Capitata group), broccoli, and cauliflower (B. oleracea L. Botrytis group) were custom coated. Seed samples were pretreated before coating with or without 1.0% NaOCl for 10 minutes to enhance leakage. All samples revealed a percentage of seeds with fluorescence. The light emission from selected fluorescent and nonfluorescent coated seeds was quantified by fiber-optic spectrophotometry. Fluorescence was expressed from 400 to 560 nm, with peak emission being from 430 to 450 nm. These data confirmed our visual interpretation of blue-green fluorescence. The ratio of light emission from fluorescent compared to nonfluorescent coated seeds ranged from 4.5 to 7.0 for all samples and averaged 5.7. An ultraviolet (UV) color sorter was employed to separate fluorescent (reject) from nonfluorescent (accept) coated seeds. The percentage of nonfluorescent coated seeds (averaged over seedlot and NaOCl pretreatment) before and after sorting was 89.5% and 95.9%, respectively. Therefore, color sorting was able to remove a high percentage of fluorescent coated seeds with an average loss (rejection of nonfluorescent coated seeds) of 6%. An increase in the percent germination was recorded in eight of the nine seedlots following color sorting, and the greatest improvement was obtained with seedlots of medium quality. Germination of three medium quality lots was increased by 10 to 15 percentage points. The average increase in germination with or without NaOCl pretreatment was 8.2 and 5.5 percentage points, respectively. In conclusion, the germination of Brassica seedlots could be improved by separating (removing) fluorescent from nonfluorescent coated seeds. UV color sorting technology was employed to demonstrate that seed conditioning could be conducted on a commercial basis to upgrade seed quality.

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Samuel Contreras, David Tay, and Mark A. Bennett

Among the factors affecting germinability of a seed lot are the environmental conditions under which the seeds are produced. The objective of this study was to determine the effects of temperature during seed development on seed quality of two Asteraceae species. Seeds of lettuce cv. Tango and Helianthus debilis cv. Vanilla Ice and sp. cucumerifolius were produced in a greenhouse under one of two treatments: i) hot (27, 40, and 20 °C temperatures average, max, and min, respectively), and ii) cool (23, 33, and 18 °C temperatures average, max, and min, respectively). In both species, heavier seeds were produced under the cool conditions and no differences were observed in standard germination. In lettuce, germination percentage and rate were both affected by increased levels of exogenous ABA concentrations and reduced water potential (PEG solutions), and, in both cases, seeds from cool treatments were more affected. Germination at 30 °C and constant light was higher for seeds from the hot treatment. Lettuce seed showed a strong light requirement for germination. However, seeds from the hot treatment gave better dark germination at 13 and 19 °C. Seeds of H. debilis did not required light for germination, and the germination percentage and rates were evaluated at 13, 21, and 29 °C. For both lines, seeds from each treatment behave similarly; however, the germination of H. debilis cv. Vanilla Ice at 29 °C was higher when seeds were produced in the hot conditions. The results showed that temperature during seed development affected aspects of seed quality that are not detectable by the standard germination, but by germination at suboptimal conditions. Within the Asteraceae family, differences varied among and within species.

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Kay Oakley, Robert Geneve, Sharon Kester, and Patchara Wonprasaid

Standardized seed vigor tests must be developed for greenhouse-grown flower species. Current vigor tests used to evaluate large-seeded agronomic crops are generally not useful for evaluating smaller-seeded flower species. One alternative is to use radicle length in seedlings grown under controlled environments as an indicator of seed vigor. For that purpose, a seed vigor test was developed that uses digital images taken using a flat bed scanner to measure radicle length in small-seeded flower species. A novel, cellulose substrate was used for germinating seeds. It provided similar moisture-holding properties to standard germination blotters used by commercial seed analysts, but is clear. This has allowed for quick image acquisition without removing seedlings from the petri dish. Correlations were made between seedling growth (radicle length, total seedling length, and total seedling area) with other vigor tests (saturated salts accelerated aging) and greenhouse plug flat emergence. For several seed lots of impatiens that varied in initial seed quality, radicle length after 4 days showed good correlations (>R 2 = 0.79) with other measures of seed vigor for describing seed quality. This system is an improvement over other attempts to use computer-aided assessment of digital images because it provides digital images that do not vary due to external lighting; it uses software that can evaluate radicle length in a petri dish assay that does not require a slant-board for straight radicle growth; it relies on standard germination technics used by every seed lab; it uses a clear substrate to replace the opaque blotter to allow digital images to be taken within the petri dish; and accurate measurements of seedling parts is performed in under 2 min per petri dish.

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Alan G. Taylor, C.J. Eckenrode, and R.W. Straub

Conventional methods to control the onion maggot or onion fly, Delia antiqua (Meigen), have relied on in-furrow applications of the toxicant pesticide, chlorpyrifos. The objective of this research was to develop an onion (Allium cepa L.) seed treatment that utilizes a new chemistry compound that is environmentally safe. Cyromazine is an insect growth regulator with a mode of action different from traditional pesticides used to control onion maggot. Cyromazine has low mammalian toxicity and is relatively nontoxic to other insects, including beneficials. High seed loading rates (50 g·kg-1 active ingredient) are required for optimal efficacy, and conventional slurry methods are inadequate to apply these high loading rates. Film coating and pelleting were performed at Cornell Univ. to apply cyromazine and a registered fungicide (a formulation of thiram and carboxin) to onion seeds. Results of field studies performed over several years revealed that stand losses due to the onion maggot ranged from ≈20% to 60%. Cyromazine applied by either film coating or pelleting decreased the loss by onion maggot from 1% to 8%, and efficacy was comparable to an in-furrow application of chlorpyrifos. Cyromazine was registered as a seed treatment and is commercially used in the northeastern and midwestern United States, where onion maggot is a serious pest. Field emergence was not negatively affected by cyromazine coated onto the seeds when onion seeds are sown in organic (muck) soils. There is other evidence, however, that cyromazine seed treatments may cause phytotoxicity to germination and seedling growth. Testing seed quality in sand or on roll towels revealed a high percentage of abnormal seedlings. Retarded root growth was observed in seeds treated with cyromazine, resulting in an increase in abnormal seedling classifications. A finely ground sphagnum peatmoss applied over the seeds in a roll towel test ameliorated the abnormal root growth symptoms, and seedlings had robust growth. Collectively, film coating and pelleting were effective delivery systems for the application of plant protectants required at time of sowing. Modification of the standard germination test was needed to accurately assess onion seed quality. Moreover, this project was successful due to a team effort of a university seed scientist and entomologists working with onion growers and industry. Future registrations on small acreage, high-value horticultural crops are envisioned to require similar multi-partner approaches. Chemical name used: N-cyclopropyl-1,3,5-triazine-2,4,6-triamine (cyromazine).

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Dennis M. TeKrony and Dennis B. Egli

Both seed viability and vigor directly affect the performance of seeds planted to regenerate the crop. Although seed quality can influence many aspects of performance (e.g., total emergence, rate of emergence), this presentation will primarily examine the relationship of seed vigor to one aspect of performance - crop yield. Reductions in yield can be indirectly related to low seed vigor if the low vigor seed results in plant populations that are below a critical level. Thus, we investigated the direct effects of seed vigor on yield in the absence of population differences for annual crops that are harvested at three stages; during vegetative growth, early reproductive growth or at full reproductive maturity. Seed vigor affects vegetative growth and is frequently related to yield in crops that are harvested during vegetative growth or during early reproductive growth. However, there is usually no relationship between vigor and yield in crops harvested at full reproductive maturity because seed yields at full reproductive maturity are usually not closely associated with vegetative growth. The use of high vigor planting seed can be justified for all crops; however, to insure adequate plant populations over the wide range of field conditions which occur during emergence.

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Warley M. Nascimento

The growing of transplants in plug cell trays is the primary method of producing brassica transplants in many countries. Seed quality is an important aspect to achieve success in transplant production. Seed size may affect seed performance, seedling growth and development of brassica transplants. Seeds of cauliflower (`Vitoria de vero') and cabbage (`Unio') from Embrapa Vegetables were used in this study. During seed conditioning, seeds were classified using round screens generating three (>1.5, 1.5-2.0, and 2.0-2.5 mm) and four (>1.5, 1.5-2.0, 2.0-2.5, and < 2.5 mm) seed size categories, for cauliflower and cabbage, respectively. The original seed lot was used as control. Seed weight increased with seed size. Seed germination (laboratory) and seedling emergence (greenhouse) were not affected by seed size. In both species, root and shoot weight, and leaf area, measured 30 days after seeding, in greenhouse conditions, increased with seed size. Also, transplants from larger seed size resulted in a significantly higher root weight, shoot weight, and leaf area relative to the original (control) seeds. The results indicate that, overall, an adequate seed conditioning improve brassica transplant quality.

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Carlos A. Parera and Daniel J. Cantliffe

In a test to overcome poor seed germination and seedling vigor of sweet corn (Zea mays L.) seeds carrying the shrunken-2 (sh2) mutant endosperm, primed seeds of two sh2 sweet corn cultivars—Crisp N'Sweet 711 (CNS-711) and How Sweet It Is (HSII)—were redried at 15, 20, 30, or 40C and 25% relative humidity after solid matrix priming (SMP). The dehydration rate was significantly lower in `CNS-711' than `HSII' at all temperatures. In both cultivars, the drying temperature after SMP was critical for seed performance. Primed seeds with a higher dehydration rate (dried at 30 or 40C) had better seed vigor, greater field emergence and seedling vigor, lower leachate conductivity and imbibition rate, and a higher respiration rate and glutamic acid decarboxylase activity than primed seeds redried at the lower temperatures or control seeds. Increased incidence of pathogen growth was observed on seeds dried at 15 and 20C relative to those dried at 30 or 40C, probably as a consequence of greater leakage from the seeds at a lower redrying temperatures. Lack of tolerance to dehydration at 15 and 20C was another factor adversely affecting the seeds redried at low temperature. A more rapid dehydration rate at a higher temperature after priming sh2 sweet corn improved many of the physiological characteristics used to measure seed quality and the subsequent emergence and vigor of the seedlings under field conditions.

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Sung Eun Lee*, Sang Gyu Lee, and Chiwon W. Lee

The influence of plant density on yield of three confectionery seed pumpkin accessions was investigated under non-irrigated field conditions. Seeds of Golden Delicious (GD), open-pollinated Chinese snow-white seed (CS), and a selection from Austrian hull-less (HL) pumpkin were planted 30, 60, and 90 cm apart in rows that were 127 cm apart with seedlings thinned to one plant per hill. Plants were grown from 23 May to 18 Sept. One fruit per plant was harvested from five plants for each of the three replications. The number of seeds (and dry weight of seed) per fruit were 242 (59 g), 304 (87 g), and 334 (106 g), respectively, at 30, 60, and 90 cm spacing for GD. The number of seeds (and dry weight of seed) per fruit were 219 (108 g), 266 (108 g), and 258 (106 g), respectively, at 30, 60, and 90 cm spacing for CS. The number of seeds (and dry weight of seed) per fruit were 376 (76 g), 404 (94 g), and 304 (82 g), respectively, at 30, 60, and 90 cm spacing for HL. Highest seed yield was at 60 cm plant spacing for CS and HL, whereas GD produced highest seed yield at 90 cm plant spacing. The differences in total seed yield, seed size, and confectionery seed quality, as influenced by plant density and seed source, were also characterized.

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Nancy L. Shaw and Emerenciana G. Hurd

Recent emphasis on restoration of degraded wetland and riparian areas in the Intermountain area has created a demand for planting stock of native sedges (Carex spp.) and rushes (Juncus spp.). There are ≈ 100 native sedges and 20 rushes in this region, few of which have been propagated in the past. Many grow in moist to wet areas and are adaptable to water gardens. Some are upland species, capable of growing in drier areas and landscape plantings. Members of both genera are easily propagated vegetatively, but there is increasing interest in seed propagation of these species, with nurseries installing seed production blocks of common sledges. Longevity of sedge and rush seed in sealed, dry storage is unknown, but we have noted little or no viability loss in 15 species after 3 years of storage. Viability testing is used to estimate seed quality because rules for testing seeds of each species are not yet available. Researchers are beginning to examine germination requirements of individual species. Germinability and dormancy vary widely among species and seedlots, but germination is frequently improved by exposure to light and alternating incubation temperatures. Developing seedlings grow rapidly, producing dense, fibrous root systems.