Matric Priming Increases Germination Rate of Great Basin Native Perennial Grasses
Cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum L.) is an undesirable nonnative annual that germinates at relatively low temperatures in the spring and fall and can establish a root system more quickly than Great Basin native perennial grasses. The purpose of this study was to determine whether seed priming could be used to enhance low-temperature germination rate of native perennial grasses so that they can better compete with cheatgrass. A matric-priming technique was used to increase low-temperature germination rate of seven native perennial grasses: blue-bunch wheatgrass [Pseudoroegneria spicata (Pursh) Löve], thickspike wheatgrass [Elymus lanceolatus (Scribn. & J.G. Smith) Gould; syn. Agropyron dasystachyum (Hook.) Scribn.], basin wildrye [Leymus cinereus (Scribn. and Merr.) A. Löve], sheep fescue (Festuca ovina L.), canby bluegrass (Poa canbyi Scribn.), sandberg bluegrass (Poa sandbergii Vasey), and bottlebrush squirreltail [Sitanion hystrix (Nutt.) J.G. Smith]. Seeds primed at both 10 and 25°C were evaluated for germination response at both 10 and 25°C. Days to 50% germination (D50) was ≈ 4 d for cheatgrass germinated at 10°C. Native grass seeds in control treatments germinated between about 4 and 11 d later than cheatgrass at 10°C. Priming reduced D50 by between 4 and 8 d for all native species when germinated at 10°C. Germination rate at 10°C was generally higher when the seeds were primed at 25°C, except for basin wildrye. Priming increased cold temperature germination rate of bluebunch wheatgrass, thickspike wheatgrass, and sheep fescue to a level comparable to cheatgrass.
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