I have always been curious about seed germination and emergence. As a youngster, I found it interesting how a tender seedling was able to punch through the soil while typically remaining undamaged. So, how is this possible? Well, most seed store food reserves (endosperm) during their initial formation. These food reserves are utilized by the germinating seed to aid in the development of a root and shoot. By the time the seedling exposes its first leaves (corn) or stem (beans) to sunlight the seedling has depleted most of its reserves. At this point, the emerged seedling becomes dependent on sunlight for the manufacture of essential carbohydrates. Simultaneously, the root continues to grow and takes up water and nutrients from the soil also contributing to the growth of the developing plant.
It’s been said that the most important stage in growing a successful crop takes place during stand establishment. Unfortunately, this is not always achievable especially if Mother Nature brings forth adverse weather shortly after planting. However, assuming that all is well, and conditions are prime for germination and emergence, we can anticipate excellent results as long as we continue to irrigate in a timely manner and are prepared to furnish supplemental fertilizer, if necessary.
To all gardeners, always plant the best quality seed available!
This post was prepared in memory of Dr. Tom Cothren (Professor of Crop Physiology – Texas A&M University).