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The phenomenon of seed dormancy is widespread in plants and serves to prevent all or most of a given population from germinating at the “wrong” time, e.g., during an unusually mild fall in an area subject to typically harsh winters. Seed dormancy is an effective survival strategy in many plant populations, but may greatly complicate efforts to establish large cohorts of seedlings (groups of similar age or developmental stage) needed for re-search and other purposes. In an effort to break seed dormancy in common sunflower, Helianthus annuus L. (Asteraceae), we conducted experiments designed to compare germination times and overall germination success among groups of field-collected H. annuus seeds subjected to several treatments. Overall germination success during a 14-d period posttreatment was lowest among untreated controls and groups soaked in a disinfecting solution for 15-h (1.2% and 2.6% germination, respectively; P<0.05) and was greatest among cohorts subjected to the aforementioned soaking-disinfecting solution for 15-h followed by additional soaking in HCl at concentrations of 0.1M and 1.0M for 55 min (87.2% and 65.9% germination success, respectively; P<0.05). These results suggest that the conventional soaking-disinfecting solution followed by an acid bath may provide researchers with an effective and inexpensive means of generating large cohorts of plant seedlings for field and laboratory research and other applications.

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Subtropical Agriculture and Environments



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