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High-Temperature Effects on Germination and Survival of Weed Seeds in Soil

  • Grant H. Egley (a1)

Seeds of eight weed species were heated for up to 7 days at 40, 50, 60, and 70 C in dry (2% moisture) and moist (19% moisture) Bosket very fine sandy loam to determine temperature-time treatments lethal to weed seeds. Seeds in dry soil were very tolerant to 60 C or less for up to 7 days but most seeds were killed at 70 C after 7 days. In moist soil, a few (1 to 12%) seeds of common purslane, redroot pigweed, johnsongrass, and spurred anoda survived for up to 3 days at 70 C. Some (4 to 30%) seeds of velvetleaf, pitted morningglory, and the above species survived up to 7 days at 60 C. No seeds of prickly sida and common cocklebur survived more than one-half day at 60 C. Three days at 50 C were lethal to all cocklebur seeds. Many of the sublethal treatments promoted germination of prickly sida, velvetleaf, spurred anoda, and pitted morningglory, presumably because high temperature broke dormancy of some hard seeds. The enhanced effect of heat treatments upon seeds in moist soil compared to seeds in dry soil was due to the higher moisture content of seeds, or in fruit tissues of dispersal units in moist soil. Because some seeds survived several days in moist soil at 60 and 70 C, it is unlikely that soil solarization or other natural methods of raising soil temperature will eliminate weed seeds from the field. However, high soil temperatures may reduce weed seed populations by killing heat-susceptible seeds and by breaking dormancy of hard seeds followed by thermal kill of seedlings.

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Weed Science
  • ISSN: 0043-1745
  • EISSN: 1550-2759
  • URL: /core/journals/weed-science
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