Weed management is complicated by the presence of soil seed banks. The complexity of soil–seed interactions means that seed persistence in the field is often difficult to measure, let alone predict. Field trials, although accurate in their context, are time-consuming and expensive to conduct for individual species. Some ex situ techniques for estimating seed life expectancy have been proposed, but these fail to simulate the environmental complexity of the field. Also, it has been questioned whether techniques such as the controlled aging test (CAT) are useful indicators of field persistence. This study aimed to test the validity of the standard CAT (seed aging at 45 C and 60% relative humidity) in use at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, U.K., for predicting field seed-persistence. Comparison of seed persistence and CAT data for 27 northwest European species suggested a significant positive correlation of 0.31. Subsequently, 13 species of emerging and common weeds of Queensland were assessed for their seed longevity using the CAT. The seed longevity data of these species in the CAT were linked with field seed-persistence data according to three broad seed-persistence categories: < 1 yr, 1 to 3 yr, and > 3 yr. We discuss the scope for using the CAT as a tool for rapid assignment of species to these categories. There is a need for further studies that compare predictions of seed persistence based on the CAT with seed persistence in the field for a larger range of species and environments.
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Vol. 56 • No. 4