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Patterns of seed softening and seedling emergence of nineteen annual medics during three years after a single seed crop in southern Queensland

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Lloyd, D.L., Taylor, G.B., Johnson, B. and Teasdale, K.C. (1997) Patterns of seed softening and seedling emergence of nineteen annual medics during three years after a single seed crop in southern Queensland. Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture, 37 (3). pp. 767-778. ISSN 0816-1089


Article Link: https://doi.org/10.1071/EA97060


To produce seed to determine the rates of seed softening of annual medics in the subtropics, 8 lines of barrel medic (Medicago truncatula), 3 lines of burr medic (M. polymorpha), 4 lines of snail medic (M. scutellata), and 1 line of each of button medic (M. orbicularis), strand medic (M. littoralis) and gama medic (M. rugosa) were grown at Warra in southern inland Queensland, in 1993. Seed of a fourth line of burr medic, a naturalised line, was harvested from Hermitage Research Station at that time. Pods were placed on the soil surface and buried at a depth of 7 cm, both in flywire envelopes and as free pods. Residual hard seed numbers were determined each year for 3 years from the envelopes, and seedlings were counted and removed from the free pods after each germination event. Patterns of softening of seeds from the same seed populations were also determined after placing them in a laboratory oven with a diurnal temperature fluctuation of 60/15° C for periods of 16, 40 and 64 weeks followed, after each time period, by 4 diurnal cycles of 35/10°C.
More than 90% of the original seeds were hard. Seed softening at the soil surface ranged from 26% after 3 years in button medic to almost complete softening in the gama medic after only 2 years. Burial had little effect on the rate of softening of the button medic but about halved the rate of softening of the other lines. The barrel medics were vulnerable to losses of large numbers of seedlings which softened and germinated in January–February and the snail medics from seedlings emerging in August–December. The proportion of soft seeds recovered as seedlings in the buried compared with the surface pods was higher in the larger-seeded medics, snail and gama, and lower in the other, smaller-seeded medics. Laboratory techniques effectively ranked the medic lines for their rate of seed softening in the field and provided some insight into their seasonal patterns of seed softening.

A wide range of seed softening patterns is available for fitting the requirements of various farming systems. The most appropriate pattern of softening will depend on the variability of medic seed production between years and the need for self regeneration of the medic after a cereal crop.

Item Type:Article
Subjects:Plant culture > Seeds. Seed technology
Plant culture > Field crops > Forage crops. Feed crops
Live Archive:26 Mar 2024 01:09
Last Modified:26 Mar 2024 01:09

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