Trials were carried out to investigate the effects of seed burial depth on seedling emergence rate of 20 weed species. Marked depth-mediated variation in emergence ability of the different species was observed, together with a general pattern of decreasing emergence with increasing soil depth. At 10 cm, only johnsongrass, velvetleaf, catchweed bedstraw, and cutleaf geranium emerged, albeit only in limited numbers. Species most severely inhibited by burial depth were buckhorn plantain, large crabgrass, common purslane, chickweed, and corn spurry, none of which emerged from beyond 6 cm. In all species, depth-mediated inhibition was found to be sigmoidal (polynomial regression). In addition, the number of seedlings and rate of seedling emergence decreased when depth of burial increased. The depth at which the number of emerged seedlings was halved varied by species and ranged from 3.6 cm for common purslane and chickweed to 7 cm for velvetleaf and catchweed bedstraw. Excessive burial depth generally induced dormancy (in roughly 85% of cases) rather than suicide germination. A close inverse relation (second-degree equation) between seed unit weight and depth-mediated inhibition was observed. The physiological involvement of depth inhibition in seed bank ecology is discussed.
Nomenclature: Buckhorn plantain, Plantago lanceolata L. PLALA; catchweed bedstraw, Galium aparine L. GALAP; common chickweed, Stellaria media (L.) Vill. STEME; common purslane, Portulaca oleracea L. POROL; corn spurry, Spergula arvens L. SPRAR; cutleaf geranium, Geranium dissectum L. GERDI; johnsongrass, Sorgum halepense (L.) Pers. SORHA; large crabgrass, Digitaria sanguinalis (L.) Scop. DIGSA; velvetleaf, Abutilon theophrasti Medicus ABUTH.