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David Cross and Roger Styer

Impatiens (Impatiens wallerana Hook.f.) flower seeds are believed to be sensitive to storage temperature and humidity conditions. A study was conducted to evaluate seed quality changes occurring during a 1-year period of storage under various temperature and humidity combinations. Four seed lots of `Super Elfin Red' and `Super Elfin White' impatiens were studied. Constant humidity treatments were obtained using saturated salt solutions; 15% relative humidity (RH) with LiCI, 25% RH with KAc, 33% RH with MgCl2, and 43% RH with K2CO3. Constant temperature treatments were 5, 15, and 22C. At 3-month intervals, replicate samples were sown in plug flats in the greenhouse. Seed quality was evaluated as the percentage of usable seedlings 21 days from sowing. Rapid deterioration of seed quality was seen under high temperature and high humidity storage conditions. Seeds became less sensitive to humidity at 5C. Conditions of 20% to 25% RH and 5C are recommended for impatiens seed storage.

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Alan G. Taylor

High seed quality is required to obtain optimal plant stands and to achieve maximum yield potential. Onion seeds are commonly coated and treated with an insecticide and fungicide to control early season insects and diseases. The seed treatments may cause phytotoxicity in standard germination tests, and thus reduce the percent germination of a seed lot. The objective of this study was to examine the effect of seed quality on seed storage, stand establishment and yield. Two seed lots of two long-day onion varieties were pelleted and treated with the seed treatments Trigard and Pro-Gro. Standard germination and saturated salt aging tests were performed on each seed lot, indicating a high and lower quality seed lot for each variety. Aging was conducted by equilibrating pelleted seeds at 35% relative humidity and aging at 25 °C for up to 12 months. Aging decreased germination with time, especially for the lower quality lots. Field studies were conducted in two locations in upstate New York. The plant stand was greater in the high compared to the lower quality lots in both varieties at both locations. Yield was reduced in the lower quality than high quality lot; however, the response differed by variety and location. Overall, the initial seed quality had an impact on seed storagability, stand establishment and yield.

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David W. Still and Kent J. Bradford

Brassica crops have an extended flowering period due to both progressive development within a given raceme and variability among multiple racemes. Early harvest can result in poor seed quality due to immaturity, while delayed harvest may sacrifice yield due to shattering. To characterize the development of seed quality, we measured maturity indices and conducted vigor tests on hybrid red cabbage (Brassica oleracea var capitata) seed harvested weekly starting 33 days after full bloom (DAF). Viability and germination rate increased from the top to the bottom of the raceme, and were maximal by 40 and 48 DAF, respectively. After 48 DAF, there was little difference in seed quality due to position on the raceme. Seed dry weight also reached a plateau by 48 DAF, when rapid dehydration began. Sensitivity of germination to inhibition by reduced water potential or abscisic acid (ABA) was assessed using a threshold model based upon germination rates. Germination became less sensitive to both factors and more uniform during maturation, with -1.0 MPa or 50 μM ABA being required to inhibit germination by 50% after about 48 DAF Seed ABA content reached a peak of 10 μg/g dry wt. by 40 DAF, then declined linearly to 1.5 μg/g dry wt. by 68 DAF Overall, optimal seed quality was attained at 54 DAF

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Corrie Cotton and Gregory E. Welbaum

Maturity at harvest determines seed viability and vigor. However, separating seeds from different stages of development can be difficult using existing seed sorting technologies. New technology non-destructively sorts seeds based on their chlorophyll fluorescence (CF), so seeds with the same dry weight but with different physiological maturates can be separated. We determined whether chlorophyll content of muskmelon (Cucumis melo L. cv. Top Mark) seeds changes during development and whether those changes were related to viability and vigor. Seed viability and vigor were determined using an Association of Official Seed Analysts wet paper towel germination test. `Top Mark' seeds from nine stages of development were run through the SeedMaster Analyzer (Satake USA Inc., Houston, Texas), which calculated the chlorophyll content of each seed. The CF signal was fed into a computer to obtain a frequency histogram. Forty, 45, and 55 days after anthesis (DAA) seeds had germination percentages of 96%, 98%, and 100%, respectively, the highest in the study. Fifty-five DAA had greater seed vigor and viability and contained the lowest CF values; 207 on the 1000-value scale. The less-mature seeds contained higher chlorophyll content and had the lowest seed vigor and viability. Seed vigor and chlorophyll content were negatively correlated in this study. All seeds with high CF values had low vigor, but not all seeds with low CF values have high vigor. Seed aging during storage can reduce viability and vigor independent of chlorophyll content. Based on chlorophyll content, the SeedMaster Analyzer can non-destructively remove immature, low-vigor seeds that have the same physical characteristics and weight as more mature seeds. Chlorophyll fluorescence technology may allow the seed industry to further improve seed quality and maximize vigor.

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David Tay and Xiaolei Hu

Radiography is a simple and nondestructive technique to detect empty, immature, and insect- and mechanically damaged seed during seed processing and testing. However, there is a lack of information on the effect of X-ray on seed quality despite recommendations by the Association of Official Seed Analysts for testing agricultural and forest tree seeds since 1979. Two experiments were carried out using lettuce seed of Seed Dynamics, Inc. (No. 52694) and Faxitron MX-20 cabinet X-ray unit set at 20 kilovoltage (kV) for 20 seconds, a standard setting to observe many species of flower seeds. In both experiments, the focus-object distance was 34 cm with no image magnification. The treatments in Experiment 1 were 0 (control), 4, 8, and 12 times of X-ray exposures and Experiment 2 were 0 (control), 15, 30, and 60 times of X-ray exposures on non- and 5-hour imbibed seed. In Experiment 1, germination was done in 288-cell seedling trays in soilless potting mix under greenhouse conditions with four replications of 50 seeds per replicate to observe germination rate, and cotyledon and young leaf discoloration and deformation. Experiment 2 was analyzed using computerized seedling imaging system on germination paper to examine seed vigor and germination rate. There were no significant differences in germination rate in both the non- and imbibed seed in the two experiments. The mean germination rates were 77.75% in Experiment 1 and 94.81% in Experiment 2. No cotyledon and young leaf discoloration and deformation were observed in Experiment 1 and no significant differences in vigor index were found in Experiment 2. The conclusion is that there was no observable effect of repeated X-ray exposures up to 60 times at 20 kV and 20 seconds on a seed lot for both non- and imbibed lettuce seed.

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Corinne F.J. Rutzke, Alan G. Taylor, and Ralph L. Obendorf

( Garrett and Grisham, 1995 ). The anaerobic-to-aerobic (ANA) ratio index, a seed quality test, uses the ratio of anaerobic (AN) and aerobic (A) ethanol production in seeds and was developed as a rapid, sensitive, predictive indicator of seed quality

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K.G.V. Davidson, F.D. Moore III, E.E. Roos, S. Nath, and S. Sowa

Five seed-quality indices based on individual seed electrolyte leakage tests were evaluated. Zea mays L. seeds were soaked for 6 hours, and individual seed leachate conductivity values were obtained. A total of 100 cells were scanned, one seed per cell, at 5-minute intervals for the first 30 minutes, followed by 15-minute intervals for the remaining 330 minutes. Seeds were allowed to dry for 5 to 7 days at room temperature and then were tested for germinability at 25C for 7 days. Radicle lengths were measured after 72 hours. The Richards function was fitted to cumulative frequency distributions of μAmps to obtain internal slope (IS), mean μAmp, and median μAmp values for each scan. Initial leach rate (ILR) was estimated after fitting hyperbolic functions to μAmp vs. soak time data. Average leach rate (ALR) was also derived from fitting the Richards function to μAmp vs. soak time data. Linear regression of seed quality on IS, mean, and median μAmp values after 5 hours of imbibition yielded r2 values of 0.91, 0.81, and 0.86 for predicting viability and 0.56, 0.46, 0.52 for predicting radicle length. Thus, IS was the best seed quality predictor, followed closely by median and mean μAmp values. ILR and ALR were not correlated with seed quality.

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Glen Kaufman

Seeds are coated for ease of handling, singulation, precise placement, and the incorporation of beneficial chemicals or microbials. Coated seeds are accepted widely as a standard product for many crops. Quality demands for seed suitable for coating have improved knowledge of physiological seed quality. Higher, better-defined quality standards in the seed and coating industry, combined with additional quality demand for enhanced seed, will continue to improve stand establishment potential for growers.

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David W. Still and Kent J. Bradford

With many seed crops, the most difficult production decision is when to harvest. In indeterminate crops such as Brassica species, early harvests result in immature seed of low vigor while late harvests risk seed deterioration and seed loss due to shattering. To provide a biological basis on which to determine harvest timing, we have characterized seed development in rape seed (Brassica napus L. `Weststar') and red cabbage (Brassica oleracea L. Group Capitata) using population-based hydrotime and ABA-time models. These models provide information relevant to assessing physiological maturity, and therefore, seed quality. The hydrotime and ABA-time models quantify germination rate, the uniformity of germination, viability, and the sensitivity of germination to water potential and ABA. Indices derived from these models, along with maximum germination and t50 values, were used to determine physiological maturity (maximum seed quality) of the seeds during development. The overall trends in seed development were similar in both species: as seeds matured, germination became more uniform and less sensitive to low Ψ and externally applied ABA. The models accurately described germination time courses and final germination percentages except for seeds imbibed at very high concentrations of ABA. In rape seed, physiological maturity was attained several days after maximum seed dry mass, while in red cabbage physiological maturity occurred at or after maximum seed dry mass. Vigor indices were correlated with easily discerned traits such as moisture content and silique phenotypic characteristics. The results of these experiments suggest that hydrotime and ABA-time models can be successfully used to provide a biological basis on which to determine harvest in brassicas.

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P. Kataki and A.G. Taylor

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.