Transplanting is the major method of rice cultivation in the world, in which seedlings are raised in nursery and then transplanted into well puddle and prepared fields. The traditional nursery sowing method is tedious and produces week seedlings that reduce the final yield due to high mortality. The potential of seed priming to improve the nursery seedlings and thus the transplanted rice was evaluated in the present study. The experiment was conducted in the rice growing area (31.45° N, 73.26°E, and 193 m) of Pakistan, during 2004-2005. Seed priming tools employed during the investigation included traditional soaking, hydropriming for 48 h, osmohardening with KCl or CaCl 2 (Ψs -1.25 MPa) for 24 h (one cycle), 10 ppm ascorbate for 48 h or seed hardening for 24 h. Priming improved the initial seedling vigor and resulted in improved growth, yield and quality of transplanted fine rice while traditional soaking behaved similar to that of untreated control. Osmohardening with CaCl2 resulted in the best performance, followed by hardening, ascorbate priming and osmohardening with KCl. Osmohardening with CaCl2 produced 3.75 t ha-1 (control: 2.87 t ha-1) kernel yield, 11.40 t ha-1 (control: 10.03 t ha-1) straw yield and 24.57% (control: 22.27%) harvest index. The improved yield was attributed due to increase in the number of fertile tillers. Significant positive correlation was found between mean emergence time of nursery seedlings and kernel yield, nursery seedling dry weight and kernel yield, fertile tillers and kernel yield, and leaf area duration and kernel yield.
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