• Emergence of Dallisgrass as Affected by Soil Water Availability

      Cornaglia, Patricia S.; Schrauf, Gustavo E.; Nardi, Matías; Deregibus, V. Alejandro (Society for Range Management, 2005-01-01)
      Water supply affects seed germination and seedling establishment of shallow-rooted warm-season grasses. This may explain the difficulty of incorporating Dallisgrass (Paspalum dilatatum Poir.) into humid temperate grasslands through interseeding. We studied the effects of water availability on seed germination and seedling growth under controlled conditions to determine which step of the establishment process was most affected. In a laboratory experiment, seeds were germinated at 0, -0.25, -0.5, -0.75, and -1 MPa water availability generated with solutions of polyethylene glycol. Although both maximum rate and total germination (P < 0.05) significantly decreased with increased water stress, the speed of germination was even more sensitive. In a greenhouse experiment, variations in seedling emergence and morphological characteristics were measured in relation to water availability. Pregerminated and dry seeds were sown in pots that were irrigated at 1-, 2- , 4-, or 7-day intervals. This species showed high sensitivity to water stress during germination and early emergence. High emergence was obtained from the daily irrigation treatment. In all other treatments, where watering frequency was extended, emergence was decreased. Results suggest that rapid germination and early adventitious root growth can be obtained only with reliable availability of water. These conditions, combined with the high temperatures required for breaking seed dormancy, occur infrequently, explaining the difficulty of achieving successful establishment of Dallisgrass. Water availability during seed germination and seedling emergence is a critical factor for survival of this species.