Seeds sown in the fall to restore sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) steppe plant communities could experience high mortality when they germinate and seedlings freeze during the winter. Delaying germination until the risk of frost is past could increase seedling survival. We evaluated the use of abscisic acid (ABA) to delay germination of Elymus elymoides, Pseudoroegneria spicata, and Linum perenne. The following treatments were applied: uncoated seed, seed coated with ABA at 2.2, 4.4, 8.8, 13.2, and 17.6 g of active ingredient kg-1 of seed, and seed coated with no ABA. The influence of seed treatments on germination were tested at five different incubation temperatures (5-25°C). The lowest application rate of ABA had no significant influence on germination percentage but higher application rates showed a decline. All concentrations of ABA tested delayed germination, especially at low incubation temperatures. For example, the time required for 50% of the seeds to germinate at 5°C was increased with the use of the lowest ABA application rate by 56, 61, and 14 days, for E. elymoides, P. spicata, and L. perenne, respectively. Quadratic thermal accumulation regression models were developed for each species and treatment to predict progress toward germination. For the two grasses, models had sufficient accuracy (R2 = 0.61- 0.97) to predict germination timing using field seedbed temperatures. Equations for L. perenne were less accurate (R2 = 0.03-0.70). Use of these models will allow testing whether ABA will delay germination sufficiently to avoid winter frost periods and provide the basis for future field tests.



College and Department

Life Sciences; Plant and Wildlife Sciences



Date Submitted


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abscisic acid, seed coating, squirreltail, bluebunch wheatgrass, Lewis flax, rangeland restoration