Modelling the germination of Stellaria media using the concept of hydrothermal time

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Abstract

The germination characteristics of Stellaria media (common chickweed) were investigated over a range of constant temperatures and degrees of moisture stress in order to assess the suitability of hydrothermal time as a basis for modelling germination under field conditions. Maximum percentage germination occurred over a much narrower temperature range around the optimum temperature than previously seen for cultivated crop seed. The entire final percentage germination response to temperature in water was well described by two probit curves, and this model was extended to describe the data at all water potentials at a temperature close to the optimum. The implications of the reduction in germination at nonoptimal temperatures are discussed with respect to the interpretation of germination progress curves and conditional dormancy. After adjusting for maximum percentage germination, a hydrothermal time model was found to fit the data set well within the conditions normally encountered in horticultural seedbeds. This separation of the final percentage germination presents a flexible modelling approach that allows for the different levels of dormancy typically expressed within weed populations. By contrast with many previously reported species, S. media had a synchronous germination rate within the population at any given temperature/water potential combination. This synchronous germination of at least a proportion of the population over a wide range of temperature and water potentials might have ecological significance for the opportunistic germination behaviour of this weed species.

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