Everybody knows that the right mixture of water, fertilizer, air, and temperature is required to get seeds to sprout.
If one of those ingredients is out-of-balance, seed may take many days or weeks to germinate.
FAST GERMINATION is important to compete with weeds.
But even on a golf course putting green with sterilized soil, FASTER GERMINATION is beneficial in holding the fragile sand mix in place and minimizing erosion.
New data from Ph.D. candidate Marcus Jones and Professor Nick Christians at Iowa State University, in Ames, has shed light on varietal differences in GERMINATION SPEED and what physical seed properties favor emergence.
The Iowa State University study was unique in that it LOOKED AT GERMINATION IN A BROADER CONTEXT.
National Turfgrass Evaluation Program ( NTEP ) traditionally tests varieties for GERMINATION across locations ( see most recent averages below ).
But NTEP data IS BASED ON ONE SINGLE SEED-LOT.
A particularly good seed-lot can make a mediocre cultivar appear to be a world-beater or vice versa.
Many environmental conditions in the seed field go into making a seed-lot faster or slower to sprout, including ―
1. Harvesting even a day or two early before the seed is totally ripe can stunt a seed-lot’s field emergence with-out affecting its lab germ figures. The seed tag numbers can look good but the lot is sluggish coming out of the ground.
2. Final watering and crop dry-down are a critical balancing act for the seed farmer. Water too late and the harvested seed will be damp and may mold. Dry down the crop too early and you can stunt the seed’s carbo-loading.
3. Many other subtle touches in the seed field such as fertilizer, pesticides, growth regulators ― and the local weather ― impact how fast your grass will emerge.
The Iowa State study was particularly insightful because it was the first to use MULTIPLE SEED-LOTS of each variety, thereby averaging across the ups and downs of seed farmers.
The objective of this research was to study the germination characteristics of 15 modern cultivars of Creeping Bentgrass ―
‘ L-93 ’, ‘ T-1 ’, ‘ Alpha ’, ‘ Penn A-1 ’, ‘ Penn A-4 ’, ‘ Crystal Bluelinks ’, ‘ Pennlinks II ’, ‘ Penncross ’, ‘ Tyee ’, ‘ 007 ’, ‘ Mackenzie ’, ‘ SR 1150 ’, ‘ Memorial ’, ‘ Independence ’, and ‘ Declaration ’.
For each variety they included 2 to 4 seed-lots from production year 2007.
The researchers studied the seedlings in both the lab and field.
Iowa State University has one of the country’s most respected seed science laboratories.
Standard germination tests were conducted according to the rules established by the Association of Official Seed Analysts ( AOSA ).
They found that ‘ T-1 ’ had THE HIGHEST SEED FINAL GERMINATION RATE, SYNCHRONY, and seed weight, compared to ‘ Penncross ’.
SYNCHRONY was defined as THE AMOUNT OF TIME BETWEEN 25 AND 75 PER CENT GERMINATION.
Better SYNCHRONY means FEWER SLUGGISH SEED.
Other cultivars that did well in SYNCHRONY were ‘ Alpha ’, ‘ Independence ’, and ‘ Declaration ’.
Seed size did not correlate with speed of initial germination, but it did with final germination and SYNCHRONY.
Jones and Christians concluded that MODERN VARIETIES DO INDEED HAVE FASTER GERMINATION THAN ‘ PENNCROSS ’.
‘ T-1 ’ surpassed ‘ Penncross ’ in 3 germination parameters.
Jones speculated that the success people are having with INTER-SEEDING ‘ T-1 ’ could be directly related to its faster, more synchronized germination.
And perhaps past INTER-SEEDING FAILURES MIGHT BE TIED TO USING ‘ PENNCROSS ’.
Seedling Vigor of Bentgrasses in the NTEP 2003 – 2008 Putting Green Trial.
Data Were Averaged Over University Sites In Arkansas, Arizona, Kentucky, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, and Quebec.
‘ T-1 ’
‘ Penncross ’
‘ Pennlinks II ’
‘ 007 ’ ( DSB )
‘ Declaration ’
‘ Alpha ’
‘ Independence ’
‘ LS-44 ’
‘ Cobra 2 ’ ( IS-AP 9 )
‘ Shark ’ ( 23R )
‘ Tyee ’ ( SRX 1GD )
‘ Bengal ’
‘ CY-2 ’
‘ Villa ’ ( IS-AC 1 )
‘ Mackenzie ’ ( SRX 1GPD )
‘ Kingpin ’ ( 9200 )
‘ SR 7200 ’
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