The effect of hydration (priming) treatment on dormancy release in annual ryegrass seeds from two populations was investigated. Hydration duration, number, and timing with respect to after-ripening were compared in an experiment involving 15 treatment regimens for 12 wk. Seeds were hydrated at 100% relative humidity for 0, 2, or 10 d at Weeks 1, 6, or 12 of after-ripening. Dormancy status was assessed after each hydration treatment by measuring seed germination at 12-hourly alternating 25/15 C (light/dark) periods using seeds directly from the hydration treatment and seeds subjected to 4 d postpriming desiccation. Seeds exposed to one or more hydration events during the 12 wk were less dormant than seeds that remained dry throughout after-ripening. The longer hydration of 10 d promoted greater dormancy loss than either a 2-d hydration or no hydration. For the seed lot that was most dormant at the start of the experiment, two or three rather than one hydration event or a hydration event earlier rather than later during after-ripening promoted greater dormancy release. These effects were not significant for the less-dormant seed lot. For both seed lots, the effect of a single hydration for 2 d at Week 1 or 6 of after-ripening was not manifested until the test at Week 12 of the experiment, suggesting that the hydration events alter the rate of dormancy release during subsequent after-ripening. A hydrothermal priming time model, usually used for modeling the effect of priming on germination rate of nondormant seeds, was successfully applied to dormancy release resulting from the hydration treatments.
Nomenclature: Annual ryegrass, Lolium rigidum Gaud.