Native Seed Collection, Processing, and Storage for Revegetation Projects in the Western United States

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Abstract

The foundation of a successful revegetation or restoration program is quality native seed. This requires careful collection, processing, and storage. Mature seed should be collected from healthy, local stands with a sufficiently broad genetic base. Careful identification of the site characteristics and seed-lot tracking are essential. Yearly variation in seed production and seed quality can be very high, and an early determination of seed quality can prevent expensive failures. Nondestructive evaluation using X-rays is effective and economical, but techniques such as staining, inspection, and germination tests can also be helpful. Cleaning, dewinging, and upgrading seed before storage can (1) reduce weight and bulk, (2) improve storage life, (3) increase germination, and (4) make greenhouse production and field planting easier and more economical. The seeds of many native plants can lose their viability quickly if they are not stored under controlled conditions. Seeds in storage must also be protected from rodents, pests, and disease. Dormancy is common in the seeds of many native species, and experimentation is often necessary to determine the best way to break seed dormancy. This can be complicated by year-to-year and plant-to-plant variation.

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