Weed Seed Longevity

Why some germinate right away and others can lie dormant for years. JSTOR is a digital library of academic journals, books, and primary sources. Weed Seed Longevity Fact Sheet The Weed Science Society of America (WSSA) recently released a fact sheet that covers the main topic of weed seed longevity. Other topics addressed include how

Weed Seed Longevity

We all have weeds that we just can’t seem to get the upper hand on. Their weapon against us is seed longevity. Most annual weedy grass seeds die after two-to-three years, but some broadleaf weed seeds can remain viable for decades.

Mike Owen is a weed scientist at Iowa State University. He says weed seeds that have a hard seed coat are more likely to survive the trials and tribulations that occur when they fall into the soil.

“Weed seeds such as the velvet leaf, very hard-seeded coat, will last a long time. Foxtail seeds, which don’t have a hard seed coat, are less likely to survive more than a couple of years. There are many things that attack weed seeds. There’s disease, there’s climatic conditions, there’s insects, and all kinds of things that will affect them,” says Owen. “Those generally are what is going to determine just how likely a weed seed is going to survive.”

The pesky Palmer Amaranth weed can produce as many as a million seeds per plant, but only a small percentage of those seeds will sprout and grow into a pain-in-the-field. Owen says from an ecological perspective, it depends on whether a weed seed is in a “safe site” to germinate.

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“Factors that are involved are obviously temperature of the soil, sunlight to some degree. Nutrients and things like that really don’t affect it,” he says. “The depth obviously will impact because sometimes in tillage, for example, you may cause the weed seed to get the appropriate sunlight exposure, but then because of that tillage you bury it too deep.”

Careful weed management over time will reduce the number of viable seeds in the soil, and make your life in the garden or field a little easier.

Weed Seed Longevity

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Weed Seed Longevity Fact Sheet

The Weed Science Society of America (WSSA) recently released a fact sheet that covers the main topic of weed seed longevity. Other topics addressed include how seeds travel, germination and ways to eliminate weeds.

Weeds are an ancient problem for small and large agriculturists. The new WSSA fact sheet helps to eradicate some weed issues. A few facts included in the resource are:

  • The broadleaf weed Palmer amaranth has been found to produce as many as a million seeds per plant.
  • Seeds of most annual weedy grasses die after two to three years.
  • Tillage is an especially common trigger of weed seed germination.
  • Earthworms are known to collect weed seeds and move them into their burrows.
  • Specially equipped airplanes have discovered horseweed seeds in the earth’s planetary boundary.
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Find a free download of the weed seed longevity fact sheet at wssa.net, and check out the other interesting fact sheets on the WSSA website.