Seed longevity of 41 weed species buried 17 years in eastern and western Nebraska

Orvin C. Burnside, Robert G. Wilson, Sanford Weisberg, Kenneth G. Hubbard

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200 Scopus citations


Seed of 41 economically important weed species of the Great Plains region of the United States were buried 20 cm deep in soil in eastern and western Nebraska in 1976. The 41 species consisted of 11 annual grass, 14 annual broadleaf, 4 biennial broadleaf, and 12 perennial broadleaf species. Weed seeds were exhumed annually for germination tests the first 9 yr, then after 12 and 17 yr. Germination percentages at the two burial locations averaged over 0, 1 to 4, 5 to 8, and 9 to 17 yr of burial were 57, 28, 9, and 4% for annual grass; 47, 26, 16, and 11 % for annual broadleaf; 52, 49, 44, and 30% for biennial broadleaf; 36, 18, 13, and 8% for perennial broadleaf; and 47, 26, 16, and 10% for all 41 weed species, respectively. Biennial broadleaf weeds showed the greatest seed germination over years. Annual grass weeds showed less seed germinability over 17 yr of burial than annual broadleaf weeds and perennial broadleaf weed species were intermediate. Weed seed germinability in soil was greater in the reduced rainfall and more moderate soil temperatures of western Nebraska than in the greater rainfall and more fluctuating soil temperatures of eastern Nebraska. The greatest seed survival among the 41 weed species was shown by common mullein, which had 95% germination after 17 yr of burial in western Nebraska. Decay rates of individual weed species in soil will be of most value to weed scientists, agriculturalists, and modelers evaluating past or designing future weed management systems. Nomenclature: Common mullein, Verbascum thapsus L. #3 VESTH.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)74-86
Number of pages13
JournalWeed Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1996


  • Hard seed
  • Seed dormancy
  • Seed germination
  • Seed persistence
  • Seed viability
  • Soil seed bank
  • Weed seed survival


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