The University of Arizona

Technical note: Early harvest of squirreltail seed.

P.S. Doescher


Squirreltail (Sitanion hystrix (Nutt.J. G. Smith), a native, cool-season perennial bunchgrass of the Intermountain West has been shown to reinvade degraded rangelands invaded by exotic annual weeds. However, one limitation to mechanical seed collection of this species is the disarticulating nature of the rachis at seed maturity. The purpose of this research was to determine if early harvest of the inflorescence before disarticulation would result in viable seed. After anthesis, seeds were collected weekly in 1995 and about every 10 days in 1996 at a research site near Prineville, Oregon. Seeds were germinated for 21 days at a constant temperature of 20 degrees C. Germinable seeds were present at all collection dates from late anthesis to seed shatter in 1995, and all but early anthesis in 1996. Total germination, rate of germination and seed weight increased as seeds were collected later in the summer. Collection of squirreltail seed when a majority of seed awns have moved from a reddish to a divergent, straw colored appearance resulted in germination properties similar to fully mature seed. This occured about 1 week prior to the onset of seed head disarticulation.



sward renovation;Elymus elymoides;seed development;harvest date;seed maturation;seed weight;reclamation;seed germination;range management

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