Plastic film mulching improves seed germination, seedling development and potential for perenniality of Vicia unijuga under subalpine climate conditions

Wei Tang, Carol C. Baskin, Jerry M. Baskin, Zhibiao Nan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

Our aim was to identify temperature and moisture modifications needed for improvement of seed germination, growth and establishment of the protein-rich forage legume Vicia unijuga A.Br. so that it could become large enough and store sufficient root reserves to survive in subalpine conditions. Germination tolerance of scarified V. unijuga seeds to various temperatures and water potentials was tested in the laboratory, and a 3-year field experiment was conducted in the subalpine region of China to evaluate the effects of modified soil temperature and moisture conditions generated by mulching with plastic film and barley straw on seedling emergence, growth, root nutrient reserves and subsequent overwinter performance. The highest germination percentage and rate occurred at the optimum temperature of 15-20°C, which improved these germination traits at low water potentials between -0.6 and -1.0 MPa. Higher soil temperature and water content were recorded in the plastic mulch treatment than in the control and straw mulch treatments. This enhanced establishment and accumulation of biomass and root reserve pools in the plastic mulch treatment, with nearly 100% of the plants surviving overwinter. The relative contribution of soil temperature was greater than of soil-water content to the variation in biomass and root nutrient reserves. Root starch content explained the most variation in overwinter survival. In conclusion, scarified V. unijuga seeds can germinate over a wide range of conditions, including those in the subalpine zone in spring. The plastic mulch treatment provided adequate soil temperature and water resources to improve growth and root starch reserves in first-year plants of V. unijuga, thereby improving overwinter survival in the subalpine environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)592-609
Number of pages18
JournalCrop and Pasture Science
Volume71
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 CSIRO.

Keywords

  • agronomic traits
  • environmental stresses
  • stand establishment
  • two-leaf vetch

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Plant Science

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