Environmental factors affect seed germination and seedling emergence of invasive Centaurea balsamita.
Centaurea balsamita is a problematic and invasive weed of agricultural fields in western Iran. This study was conducted to determine the effect of different environmental factors on germination and seedling emergence of this weed species. Results revealed that seed germination occurred over a wide range of temperatures (from 5°C to 35°C) with the highest germination at 25°C. Seed germination of C. balsamita was similar between light and dark conditions. Germination decreased with increased in water stress levels, but some seeds were capable of germinating at -1.4 MPa osmotic potential. Seed germination was sensitive to salt stress and complete inhibition occurred at 150 mM sodium chloride. Seed germination of C. balsamita occurred over a pH range of 4-10 with lowest seed germination at pH 4. Seed germination was inhibited by increasing concentrations of potassium nitrate. No seedlings emerged when seeds were buried in the soil at depths greater than 6 cm, suggesting that using a sweep cultivator in crops and deep tillage would be beneficial in managing C. balsamita. The ability of C. balsamita to germinate under a wide range of temperature regimes and high levels of osmotic potential shows that this weed is well adapted to invade other cropping regions, especially rain-fed fields in western Iran.