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  • Author or Editor: A. G. Taylor x
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Four topics are presented on the status of water in seeds; 1) methods to express moisture content (MC), 2) methods to determine MC, 3) relationship between relative humidity (RH) and MC, and 4) utility of water activity measurements in seeds. Seed MC is expressed on a fresh-weight basis in commerce and seed technology, while dry weight basis is used in physiological or biophysical literature. Conversion equations are available for the fresh and dry weight measurements. Moisture testing methods are grouped as primary and secondary. Primary methods are direct methods in which the water is removed and determined, while the secondary methods are indirect methods that rely on a chemical or physical characteristic that changes with MC. The oven method is the most common primary technique and the electronic moisture meter is widely used as a nondestructive secondary technique. The relation between RH and MC is known as an isotherm, and three zones of water binding are observed. The RH and the seed composition, in particular the lipid content, determines the MC. Seeds with low lipid content have a greater equilibrium MC than seeds with high lipid content. Water activity, defined as the ratio of water vapor of the seed over the water vapor of pure water at a particular temperature, is related to water potential in a log-linear relationship. Water activity (aw) can be used to define the water status of any species, regardless of composition.

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Deterioration of snap bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) seed quality during accelerated aging at 42°C and 100% relative humidity was accompanied by a decline in germination, radicle emergence, hypocotyl length, and ethylene production. Field emergence of 5 seed lots had a highly significant correlation with ethylene production rates when measured after 22 to 23.5 hours of imbibition at 25°. Seed lots that produced low levels of ethylene emerged poorly in the field. Results indicate that determination of ethylene production of imbibed seeds might be a useful method for detecting changes in seed vigor.

Open Access
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The production of ethanol under anaerobic and aerobic conditions is suggested as a sensitive indicator of seed aging. Seeds of sweet corn (Zea mays L. `Jubilee') and lettuce (Lactuca sativa L. `Salinas') were aged at 75% relative humidity and 45C to obtain five aged seed lots and compared to a nonaged control sample. The percent germination decreased while percent abnormal seedlings initially increased with seed aging. Anaerobic treatments were induced either by immersing seeds in distilled water for sweet corn or in a solution of 50 mM glucose and 5 mM KPO4 buffer adjusted to pH 5.6 for lettuce. Aerobic treatments were performed by placing seeds in a plastic chamber filled with a known amount of glass beads sufficiently moistened to allow imbibition. Ethanol was measured after 12 and 24 hours from lettuce and sweet corn, respectively. Aqueous extracts were analyzed by immobilized enzyme technology and verified by gas chromatography. Anaerobiosis induced large amounts of ethanol production compared to aerobic treatments. The amount of ethanol decreased with seed aging duration under anaerobic conditions while these trends were generally reversed under aerobic conditions. The ratio of ethanol produced under anaerobic compared to aerobic conditions was best able to separate differences in seed quality due to aging.

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Field studies were. conducted in 1992 and 1993 to evaluate vacuum planters with respect to precision placement of seeds and to separately study plant spacing and emergence uniformity on stand establishment and yield. All studies were. performed with Bush Blue Lake 47. In 1992, a cooperative study was conducted with the Experiment Station and ten growers in Upstate New York representing four makes of commercial planters. No planter was able to precision seed, and seedling emergence revealed a large tendency to clump plant, with less errors made in the form of misses or skips. In 1993, tractor planting speed was studied as a variable from 3.4 to 12.3 KPH (2.1 to 7.6 MPH) on spacing uniformity and yield. The average number of seedlings per meter of row was similar for all treatments, however, the variation in spacing between plants generally increased as planter speed increased. In research plots, in-rowspacing and emergence uniformity were studied. Plant population was held constant and three in-row spacings were. developed (1 plant 5 cm apart, 2 plants 10 cm apart or 3 plants 15 cm apart). There were. no differences in yield in this study. Daily emergence was recorded and seedlings were grouped into three categories based on their time to emergence (early, medium or late). Yield was more than twice as much from early than late emerging seedlings, while the medium group was intermediate with respect to yield.

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The seedcoat permeability, uptake, and transport of model fluorescent tracers were investigated in snapbean (Phaseolus vulgaris), pepper (Capsicum annuum), tomato (Solanum lycopersicum), onion (Allium cepa), cucumber (Cucumis sativus), and lettuce (Lactuca sativa) seeds. Nine fluorescent tracers and one vital stain were selected to represent a diversity of physicochemical properties (lipophilicity, electrical charge, etc.) and to simulate behavior of applied seed treatments. To study seedcoat permeability, tracers were applied to seeds as dry powders, and treated seeds were sown in moistened sand at 20 °C and removed after 18 to 24 h, a time before visible germination. Imbibed seeds were dissected and fluorescence (staining) was observed in embryos with a dissecting microscope under ultraviolet (365 nm) or visible radiation. Seedcoat permeability of species to solutes was grouped into three categories: 1) permeable—snapbeans; 2) selectively permeable—tomato, pepper, and onion; and 3) non-permeable—cucumber and lettuce. Systemic tracers that failed to permeate seedcoats during seed imbibition were taken up by roots or hypocotyls after visible germination.

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There is considerable confusion in the literature regarding tomato fruit abnormalities variously termed “internal browning”, “gray wall”, “blotchy ripening”, and other less common terms such as “cloud” and “waxy patch”. It is difficult to determine if these names refer to one or more disorders because of the similarity of symptoms in ripening fruit. Tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) has been shown to play an important role in the occurrence of various fruit symptoms (2, 3, 4), yet this factor frequently is not considered in dealing with ripening disorders (1,5,6).

Open Access

Abstract

Improved emergence rate and final stand occurred when ‘Ruby Queen’ beet seed pellets, amended with 1.10 to 3.95 mg polyethylene glycol 8000 (PEG) per seedball, were field planted. The number of seedlings per seedball 17 days after planting ranged from 1.39 to 1.60 for PEG-amended pellets, compared to 0.71 plants for non-PEG pellets or dry seeds. The PEG-amended seed pellets yielded 16 to 18 marketable roots per meter of row compared to 11 roots from non-PEG pellets.

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Abstract

Germinated seeds of ‘King Cole’ cabbage (Brassica oleracea L. ‘Capitata’) were separated on a float-sink basis from nongerminated seeds by density differences. Aqueous solutions of varying densities were prepared from Maltrin 250. Brief exposures (<2 min) of the germinated seeds to 1.10 g cc−1 solution did not affect the percentage of seedling growth. The percentage of recovery of germinated seeds increased, and the percentage of germinated seeds decreased as the solution density increased from 1.06 to 1.09 g cc−1. Sowing density-separated germinated seeds improved both the percentage of emergence and time to 50% emergence for nonaged and artificially aged seeds. The greatest improvement in emergence was observed from the aged seeds. Dry seeds were separated into density lots of 0.95 to 1.05 g cc−1 in 0.05 increments with solutions of hexane and chloroform. Each dry seed density lot then was germinated and separated. The dry seed density separation did not improve the percentage of germinated seeds or recovery. No correlation was found between the densities of dry and imbibed seeds.

Open Access
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Abstract

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.

Open Access