Seedling survival after desiccation
--Charles R. Burnham

When I was at West Virginia University, classification for certain virescents was difficult in the field because temperatures were too high. If started in the greenhouse in sand, separation was easy. Leaves were cut back, seedlings removed from the sand, virescents were separated from the green seedlings, then transplanted to the field. They were watered and a mulch of dry soil was added on top. Without the mulch, the soil dries out and watering every day is needed.

I was transplanting late one evening and I left when it was dark. I went out the next evening, after a hot day, and found that some 20 feet or so of seedlings were still uncovered. I decided to put them in anyway, watered them well and added the dry soil mulch. I was surprised when I took notes later in the summer. There was no gap in the planting. The seedlings had survived even after more than 20 hours of drying.

I finally tested it here at Minnesota in the greenhouse. Old seed samples were being started in sand. Often when the seed ears were old, a few seeds on a few ears of the same stock would germinate in sand and were then transplanted.

One ear culture had a lot of extra plants. I clipped the leaves, removed them from the sand and left them lying on top of the dry sand in another bench. It was a hot day and after various intervals of time, the plants were transplanted in sand and watered. Seedlings recovered after many hours of drying. Dr. Dale Hicks, D took pictures, the data are on the slides.

How did the dried-up roots recover? I should have dug them up after recovery. 


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