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Factors affecting seed germination of annual sowthistle (Sonchus oleraceus) in southern Australia

  • Bhagirath S. Chauhan, Gurjeet Gill (a1) and Christopher Preston (a2)

Annual sowthistle has become more abundant under no-till systems in southern Australia. Increased knowledge of germination biology of annual sowthistle would facilitate development of effective weed control programs. The effects of environmental factors on germination and emergence of annual sowthistle seeds were examined in laboratory and field experiments. Seeds of annual sowthistle were able to germinate over a broad range of temperatures (25/15, 20/12, and 15/9 C day/night temperatures). Seed germination was favored by light; however, some germination occurred in the dark as well. Greater than 90% of seeds germinated at a low level of salinity (40 mM NaCl), and some seeds germinated even at 160 mM NaCl (7.5%). Germination decreased from 95% to 11% as osmotic potential increased from 0 to −0.6 MPa and was completely inhibited at osmotic potential greater than −0.6 MPa. Seed germination was greater than 90% over a pH range of 5 to 8, but declined to 77% at pH 10. Seedling emergence was the greatest (77%) for seeds present on the soil surface but declined with depth, and no seedlings emerged from a soil depth of 5 cm. In another experiment in which seeds were after-ripened at different depths in a field, seed decay was greater on the soil surface than at 2 or 5 cm depth. At the end of the growing season, there was a much greater persistence of buried seed (32 to 42%) than seeds present on the soil surface (8%). Greater persistence of buried seed could be due to dormancy enforced by dark in this species.

Corresponding author
Corresponding author. School of Agriculture, Food and Wine, The University of Adelaide, Roseworthy Campus, South Australia, Australia 5371;
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Weed Science
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