Relationship of Seed Vigor to Crop Yield: A Review
Seed viability and vigor directly affect the performance of seeds planted to regenerate the crop. Although seed quality can influence many aspects of performance (e.g., total emergence, rate of emergence), the objective of this review was to examine the relationship of seed vigor to one aspect of performance: crop yield. Reductions in yield can be indirectly related to low seed vigor if plant populations are below a critical level. Thus, we have reported only on the direct effects of seed vigor on yield in the absence of population differences. Only those references where seed vigor was measured or where seed lots were evaluated following natural or artificial storage (both reduce seed vigor) were included. Annual crops were subdivided into those harvested during vegetative growth (eight species), early reproductive growth (four species) or full reproductive maturity (nine species). Seed vigor affects vegetative growth and is frequently related to yield in crops that are harvested vegetatively or during early reproductive growth. However, there is usually no such relationship in crops harvested at full reproductive maturity, because seed yields at full reproductive maturity are usually not closely associated with vegetative growth. The use of high-vigor planting seed can be justified for all crops, however, to ensure adequate plant populations across the wide range of field conditions that occur during emergence.
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