Front Range Seed Analysts
1993 Seed Forum Volume 7 Number 3
Priming Techniques Speed Native Grass Germination in Idaho
USDA/ARS plant physiologist Dr. Stuart Hardegree of Boise, Idaho presented a seminar at the NSSL on July 7 regarding strategies for increasing establishment success of Great Basin native perennial grasses. Dr. Hardegree is using priming techniques to speed up the germination response of native grasses to compete favorably against cheatgrass (or downy brome) Bromus tectorum after fire. All grasses used in the study are non-dormant. The effect of priming on deeply dormant seeds is unknown but may be incorporated into future studies. The priming technique used involves placing seeds in an enclosed cup on a differentially permeable membrane suspended above a solution of polyethylene glycol (PEG). The water potential of the solution is monitored until the desired priming conditions have been achieved. Past priming techniques usually involve immersing the seeds in the PEG solution. Dr. Hardegree's priming method has the advantage of keeping the seeds aerated. The seeds are ready to plant immediately and do not have to be retrieved from the solution at the end of the priming process.
In an effort to mimic field conditions for simultaneous laboratory experiments, Dr. Hardegree is working with atmospheric scientists, soil scientists, and computer programmers to program germinators which will simulate daily field conditions. Information from weather stations is downloaded and used to control the germinators.
For more information, contact:
Dr. Stuart P. Hardegree
Watershed Management Research
USDA, ARS, PWA
N.W. Watershed Research Center
800 Park Blvd. Plaza 1V, Suite 105
Boise, ID 83712-7716
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