Artificial weed seed banks are practical for studying seed bank depletion and weed seedling emergence because the number, depth, and species composition of seed banks can be managed. However, no studies have determined whether artificial seed banks are representative of natural seed banks. We compared the emergence of velvetleaf, giant foxtail, and common waterhemp in a natural seed bank, an artificial seed bank with stratified seeds, and an artificial seed bank with nonstratified seeds. Velvetleaf seedling emergence was higher in the nonstratified seed bank in 2001, but no differences were observed in 2002. The number of viable velvetleaf seeds at the end of the experiment was lower in the natural seed bank than in the artificial seed banks in 2002. Velvetleaf emergence occurred earlier in the natural seed bank than in the artificial seed banks. Giant foxtail emergence was higher in the artificial seed banks (58 to 82%) than in the natural seed bank (5 to 23%). Common waterhemp emergence ranged from 7 to 65% in the artificial seed banks and from 1 to 5% in the natural seed bank. In general, the distribution of emergence with time differed in the natural seed bank compared with the artificial seed banks. These differences were attributed to differences in soil temperature and soil bulk density between the natural and artificial seed banks. Artificial seed banks showed lower soil bulk density and greater temperature fluctuation than the natural seed bank. However, there was no consistent relationship between growing degree days and emergence timing in the three treatments for any of the species studied.
Nomenclature: Common waterhemp, Amaranthus tuberculatus (Moq.) J.D. Sauer. synonymous Amaranthus rudis J.D. Sauer. AMATA; giant foxtail, Setaria faberi Herrm. SETFA; velvetleaf, Abutilon theophrasti Medicus. ABUTH.