Effects of maturity and seed size on seed vigor and plant growth in snap bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.)

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Virginia Tech

Stage of maturity at harvest and relative seed size can affect seed vigor. Greenhouse and field studies were conducted to determine the effect of seed maturity on seed vigor, storability, and subsequent plant growth of four cultivars of snap bean (Topcrop, Provider Black, Provider White, and Cherokee Wax). Seeds harvested between physiological maturity (PM) and harvest maturity (HM) showed the highest seed vigor and storability. At PM, seed moisture content was about 55%. A drop in seed fresh weight and a pod color change from green to yellow appear to signal the stage of PM. Delaying harvest past HM reduced seed vigor. The three cultivars with colored seed coats showed higher seed vigor than Provider White.

Climatic and weathering effects on maturity, vigor, and yield of Topcrop and Cherokee Wax seed were evaluated at three locations (L-I, L-2, and L-3) in Sri Lanka having different agro-climatic conditions. Seeds that developed and matured under cooler conditions (L-l) produced higher yields and had larger size, better color, and higher vigor. Seeds developed and matured faster under warmer conditions (L-3); however, seed vigor and yields were lower and seed vigor dropped prior to HM. Cherokee Wax was the most tolerant to field weathering.

Seeds of Topcrop and Cherokee Wax were separated by weight into three seed sizes (small, medium, and large) and evaluated for crop performance in two plantings (12/90 and 3/91). Field emergence was higher from larger seeds in the second planting, where the soil conditions were more stressful. Seedlings and plants at the flowering stage were larger and pod yields higher from larger seeds.

The cultivar x seed size interaction was significant for pod yield per plant. Topcrop showed no differences, while with Cherokee Wax, pod yield per plant increased with increase in seed size during both plantings. Seeds produced from small seeds were similar or higher in vigor, indicating that small seeds could be used for seed production purposes. The data from these experiments indicate that vigor in snap bean seeds can be optimized by harvesting at an early stage after PM and by grading to remove small seeds.