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  • Author or Editor: H. J. Hill x
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The use and improvement of pelleted seed technology has greatly expanded in the last 15 years. Vegetable and flower seeds are pelleted to improve the singulation and planting placement in the field and greenhouse. Improved planting placement increases final-stand establishment, crop uniformity, and decreases seed and production costs. The commercial history of pelleted seed in the U.S. started after WWII with the development of the clay pellet by Filtrol Inc. Seed tablets and seed tape technologies were also developed but faded from the industry with the advent of better pelleted products. Current technology consists of a “splitting” seed pellet that allows for improved oxygenation. Improved technology also allows for pellet weights that can be tailored to meet the planting requirements of different species and planting systems.

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Imbibed nonviable lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) seeds have been shown to have lower density than imbibed control seeds. The purpose of this study was to investigate density differences associated with seed death. The relationship between endosperm integrity and the volume, density, and leakage of imbibed control and heat-killed ‘Montello’ lettuce seeds was studied. After an 8-hr soak, heat-killed seeds imbibed 23% more water than control seeds. The percentage of heat-killed seeds with density of 1.08 g·cm-3 was 2%, compared to 90% for the control. Mean electrical conductivity of the steep water was similar for heat-killed and control seeds. Seeds were punctured to rupture the endosperm layer surrounding the embryo. Puncturing the heat-killed seeds decreased total water uptake, as measured by decreased swelling, and increased density compared to intact heat-killed seeds. Leachate from punctured heat-killed seed had a 41% higher mean conductivity than that from punctured control seed. These data suggest that the undamaged endosperm restricted leakage of electrolytes from the embryo to the soak water. We speculate that the endosperm caused osmotically active solutes to accumulate in the extra-embryonic fluid of heat-killed seeds. This accumulation of solutes decreases the water potential inside the embryonic pouch, resulting in a greater uptake of water from the environment. The additional water uptake by heat-killed seeds would increase seed swelling and decrease seed density relative to control seeds.

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Growth chamber studies were conducted to determine if inverse day/night temperature could control canopy height of sweetpotato without adversely affecting storage root yield. Four 15-cm-long vine cuttings of TU-82-155 sweetpotato were grown in rectangular nutrient film technique hydroponic troughs for 120 days. Two troughs were placed into each of six reach-in growth chambers and subjected to 24/18, 26/20, 28/22, 18/24, 20/26, and 22/28 °C, respectively. Growth chamber conditions included a 12/12-h photoperiod, 70% RH, and photosynthetic photon flux of 1000 μmol·m-2·s-1 at canopy level. Total and edible storage root yields were reduced by 50% among plants grown under cool days/warm nights regimes. Harvest index was similar among treatments except for the low value obtained at 22/28 °C. Canopy height was positively correlated with the change in temperature, and for every 2 °C decrease there was a 3.1 centimeter decrease in canopy height. Inverse day/night temperature effectively controlled canopy height but at the expense of storage root production.

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The Ellis-Roberts seed viability equation is used to predict seed survival after storage at specified temperatures and moisture contents. Seed priming, which can break dormancy and accelerate germination, can also reduce seed storage life. Because primed seeds were not used in developing the Ellis-Roberts equation, the reciprocal nature of specific seed moisture content (MC, fresh weight basis) and temperatures that applies to nonprimed lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) seeds may not apply to primed seeds. To determine how priming affects lettuce seeds in relation to the viability equation, an experiment was conducted using two cultivars, ‘Big Ben’ and ‘Parris Island Cos’. Seeds primed in polyethylene glycol 8000 (–1.45 MPa, 24 h at 15 °C) and nonprimed seeds were first adjusted to 6% and 9% moisture contents and then stored at 48 and 38 °C for up to 30 days, respectively. These storage conditions (6% MC and 48 °C; 9% MC and 38 °C) were predicted by the viability equation to result in equal longevities. Subsequent viability assays at 20 °C revealed that nonprimed seeds in both storage environments exhibited similar losses in viability over time, thus validating the Ellis-Roberts equation and the use of these conditions to apply different but equal aging stress. Primed seeds of both cultivars deteriorated faster than nonprimed seeds as expected. However, primed seeds did exhibit different rates of deterioration between the storage environments. Primed seeds stored at 9% MC and 38 °C deteriorated faster than primed seeds stored at 6% MC and 48 °C. The rate of decline in probit viability percentage was three times greater in primed ‘Big Ben’ seeds stored at 9% MC and 38 °C than for those stored at 6% MC and 48 °C (–1.34 versus –0.26 probits per day, respectively). ‘Parris Island Cos’ seeds stored at 9% MC and 38 °C had twice the rate of deterioration that those stored at 6% MC and 48 °C (–1.19 and –0.49 probits per day, respectively). The results indicate that primed lettuce seeds were more sensitive to the adverse effects of higher seed MC than were nonprimed seeds during storage at elevated temperatures.

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