Acid and Temperature Treatments Result in Increased Germination of Seeds of Three Fescue Species

Efficient germination of fescue seeds is essential for successful establishment of meadows and pastures. This research was conducted to ascertain the effects of various acid and temperature treatments on seed germination in three fescue species: Festuca rubra, F. ovina, and F. pratensis. Seeds from different cultivars, populations, or lots were exposed either to four concentrations of sulfuric acid at three different time intervals (12 treatments) or six different temperatures at three different time intervals (18 treatments). Despite all belonging to the genus Festuca, the seed from different species responded differently to the treatments. The three optimum treatments for F. rubra seed involved soaking in a 75% solution of sulfuric acid for 20 minutes (improved the germination rate by 19%), soaking in a 50% solution of sulfuric acid for 30 minutes (improved the germination rate by 18%) and exposure to either 60°C or 70°C for 90 minutes (improved the germination rate by 17%). For F. ovina seed, optimal treatments included soaking seeds for either 10 or 20 minutes in a 50% sulfuric acid solution (both treatments improved germination rates by 13%) or exposing seeds for 30 minutes in a 25% sulfuric acid solution and 80°C for 60 minutes (improved germination rate by 12%). Two optimal treatments were identified for F. pratensis seed. Whereas the first involved soaking the seeds in a 75% sulfuric acid solution for 30 minutes (improved germination rates by 22%), the second involved either exposing the seeds to 90°C for 90 or 60 minutes, or exposing the seeds to 80°C for 90 minutes (improved germination rate by 21%). Our findings indicate that if fescue seed is to be sown during the autumn (two to three months after seed collecting), treating it with acid and temperature can significantly enhance its germination.

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