In the Grande Ronde Valley of eastern Oregon, two perennial grass species in the genus Puccinellia, weeping alkaligrass and Nuttall's alkaligrass, are weeds of Kentucky bluegrass grass-seed production fields. Weeping alkaligrass is introduced from Eurasia, whereas Nuttall's alkaligrass is native to the region. These two species were studied to determine dormancy attributes and optimal temperature conditions for seed germination. Results from the current studies indicate that both species have a high level of embryonic dormancy immediately following seed harvest, which is primarily eliminated through dry storage (afterripening) and an incubation temperature of 20 C. Following adequate afterripening, a prechill treatment of 5 d at 5 C had an inconsistent effect on germination of weeping alkaligrass (P = 0.012 in 2002, 0.156 in 2003) and improved germination of Nuttall's alkaligrass over both years (P < 0.0001). The afterripening requirement for weeping alkaligrass was more than 90 d, whereas Nuttall's alkaligrass required more than 180 d. Following adequate afterripening, both species had rapid and well-synchronized germination at fluctuating day/night temperatures of 30/10 C given unlimited moisture conditions. Given these results, it is unlikely that seeds of either species would germinate in eastern Oregon during the summer months. The data predict a long viability period under dry storage for both species. Weeping alkaligrass and Nuttall's alkaligrass should exhibit a rapid, well-synchronized germination in the spring as observed in the field.
Nomenclature: Nuttall's alkaligrass, Puccinellia nuttalliana Hitchc; weeping alkaligrass, Puccinellia distans (L.) Parl; Kentucky bluegrass, Poa pratensis L.