Tropical Grasslands (2005) Volume 39, 3141
Effects of severity of threshing damage on seed quality of Gatton panic (Panicum maximum)
J.M. HOPKINSON AND B.H. ENGLISH
Department of Primary Industries, Queensland Beef Industry Institute, Research Station, Walkamin, Queensland, Australia
Different degrees of severity of threshing were imposed during combine-harvesting of seed of Gatton panic, a cultivar of Panicum maximum, to determine effects of degree of threshing damage on subsequent properties of seed. Threshing cylinder peripheral speeds and concave clearances covering the normal range employed commercially were varied experimentally in the harvest of 2 crops grown in north Queensland. Harvested seed was dried and cleaned, then stored under ambient conditions. The extent of physical damage was measured, and samples were tested at intervals for viability, germination, dormancy and seedling emergence from soil in a glasshouse and in the field over the 2 seasons following harvest. Physical damage increased as peripheral rotor speed rose and (though less markedly) as concave clearance was reduced. As the level of damage increased, viability was progressively reduced, life expectancy was shortened, and dormancy was broken. When the consequences were measured as seedling emergence from soil, the adverse effects on viability tended to cancel out the benefits of dormancy-breaking, leaving few net differences attributable to the degree of threshing severity. We concluded that there would be no value in trying to manipulate the quality of seed produced for normal commercial use through choice of cylinder settings, but that deliberate light or heavy threshing could benefit special-purpose seed, destined, respectively, for long-term storage or immediate use.