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  • Author or Editor: Bruce B. Cobb x
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The effect of seed germination rate, or of seedling emergence rate, was studied in relation to subsequent plant growth of `Cortina' lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.). Seedling growth response to selection by time of germination was assessed by imbibing seeds at 5 °C to increase the time range for germination. Germinated seeds were removed daily and transferred to “slants” (germination paper held at 20° from vertical) at 15 °C. Five days after each transfer, root and hypocotyl lengths were measured. As days required for germination increased, root lengths decreased and hypocotyl lengths increased, resulting in no change in total seedling length. The relation between rate of seedling emergence from raw or pelleted seeds of the same lot and shoot fresh weight was examined using commercially practiced hydroponic techniques. Shoot fresh weight at 10 and 21 days after planting was related inversely and linearly to the day of emergence for both seed treatments. In the same study, the coefficient of variation of shoot fresh weight was positively related to time of seedling emergence only at 10 days. Germinated seeds were selected after 1 and 2 days of imbibition; subsequent seedling emergence rate and shoot fresh weight at 25 days were recorded. First-day germinated seeds had faster and more synchronous emergence, and produced heavier and more uniform shoots. Discarding slow-to-germinate seeds should enhance seedling emergence and growth.

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Raw, pelleted or germinated seeds of `Cortina' lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) were sown in phenolic foam cubes preplant soaked in water or fullstrength nutrient solution (2 mmho·cm−1, 2 dS·m−1). The seeds were left uncovered or covered with fine vermiculite (grade 5), and seedling emergence characteristics were subsequently determined. Shoot fresh masses and their coefficients of variation (cv) by 9 days after planting (1 or 2 true leaves) and by 31 days after planting (4 or 5 true leaves) also were determined. Soaking the cubes in nutrient solution rather than water increased seedling emergence percentage and rate, and increased shoot fresh masses by 9 or 31 days after planting. This increased shoot fresh mass was accompanied by lower cv of shoot fresh mass by 9 days after planting, but not by 31 days after planting. Covering seeds with vermiculite decreased emergence from 99% to 93%, but increased shoot fresh mass by 9 and 31 days after planting when cubes were soaked in water, but not in nutrient solution. Seed treatments influenced shoot fresh mass at 9 and 31 days after planting in the order germinated > pelleted > raw. Germinated seeds resulted in lower cv of shoot fresh mass (24%) than raw or pelleted seeds (29%) by 31 days after planting. Thus, sowing germinated seeds into foam cubes soaked in full-strength nutrient solution, with or without covering the seeds with vermiculite, produced the heaviest and most uniform seedlings.

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