Effect of smoke solution on performance of Pinus elliottii and P. taeda seed.
In recent years research has shown that exposing seed to smoke or smoke solutions results in increased germination of some, but not all the species tested. Tests showed that exposing seeds of some commercial crops to smoke increased early plant growth. The stimulatory effects of smoke were shown to benefit the germination of species regardless of whether or not fire played a part of the species ecological cycle. In commercial forest nurseries any method of increasing the recovery rate of seed presents opportunities for realising savings of related production costs. Greater recovery rates of genetically improved seed present opportunities for capturing more related growth in field operations. Improving efficiencies of seed recovery at an early point in the production chain have multiplied effects further on down the chain. Two species of pine, namely Pinus taeda and Pinus elliottii that do not generally present high rates of germination were selected to test if applications of smoke solution could increase germination or emergence rates by more than 5%. As seed of both species are known to respond positively to existing seed pre-treatments the effects of smoke needed to be tested in combination, and apart from the pre-treatments. A secondary aim of the study was to examine the effect of smoke on early plant growth. Attempts to optimizes the concentration of the smoke solution were not undertaken as part of this study, as a rinsing treatment, included in the trials, is known to remove any inhibitory effects of a high concentration of the smoke solution. Tests to determine the variability of the seedlots was carried out for statistical purposes. The interaction between smoke application and pre-treatments were tested, firstly in Petri dishes under controlled environmental conditions, and then in nursery trays under standard commercial nursery conditions for both species. The inclusion of smoke in combination with the target moisture stratification (TMS and rinse pre treatment) had a significantly positive effect on P. taeda in a controlled environment. The same combination did not yield a positive results when tested under nursery conditions. Recommendations are made regarding future tests to see if the beneficial combination found in the controlled environment could be replicated under nursery conditions. Further motivation for conducting the tests exists in that the particular combination set gave significantly better early plant growth under nursery conditions. No other combinations tested yielded positive results.