Yellow bristle grass (Setaria pumila) germination biology

  • Claire A. Dowsett AgResearch
  • Chris Buddenhagen AgResearch
  • Trevor K. James AgResearch
  • Craig R. McGill Massey University
Keywords: Setaria pumila, yellow bristle grass, germination, seed persistence


The presence of Setaria pumila in dairy pastures lowers feed quality and may cause grazing avoidance. More information is required about the germination biology of this weed to improve the effectiveness of control strategies. Base temperature and germination profile were determined on a thermo-gradient table. For emergence depth, seeds were buried at 0–50 mm and time to emerge recorded. Seed persistence was tracked at seven field sites over 5 years and in a laboratory-based controlled-ageing test. Base temperature for germination was 10.2°C, germination was most rapid at 30–35°C and most numerous from 20–30°C. Emergence occurred from 2–50 mm depth but mostly from 2–15 mm. The controlled-ageing test indicated the seed was viable for <3 years. However, some Setaria pumila seed continued to germinate after 5 years of burial in all but the clay soil. Farmers should try to prevent this species from seeding for at least 5 years to reduce  the seed bank. Soil inversion could promote dormancy and seed persistence.  If followed by effective control, cultivation could stimulate germination and further reduce the seed bank.


Baskin CC, Baskin J 2001. Seeds Ecology, Biogeography, and Evolution of Dormancy and Germination. London, Academic Press.

Bradford KJ 2002. Applications of hydrothermal time to quantifying and modeling seed germination and dormancy. Weed Science 50(2): 248-260.[0248:AOHTTQ]2.0.CO;2

Cardina J, Herms CP, Doohan DJ 2002. Crop rotation and tillage system effects on weed seedbanks. Weed Science 50(4): 448-460.[0448:CRATSE]2.0.CO;2

Chauhan BS, Johnson DE 2010. The Role of Seed Ecology in Improving Weed Management Strategies in the Tropics. Advances in Agronomy. Metro Manila, Philippines, Elsevier Inc. Pp. 221-262.

Coolbear P, Francis A, Grierson D 1984. The effect of low temperature pre-sowing treatment on the germination performance and membrane integrity of artificially aged tomato seeds. Journal of Experimental Botany 35: 1609-1617.

Csontos P, Kalapos T 2013. More lightweight and isodiametric seeds for C4 than for C3 grasses are associated with preference for open habitats of C4 grasses in a temperate flora. Grass and Forage Science 68(3): 408-417.

Dekker J 2003. The foxtail (Setaria) species-group. Weed Science 51(5): 641-656.

Dowsett C, James T, Trivedi P 2012. Adaption of a technique for the accelerated ageing of weed seeds to evaluate their longevity. New Zealand Plant Protection 65: 69-73.

Dowsett CA, James TK 2012. Seed longevity of cropping weeds in soils. Agronomy New Zealand 42: 163-170.

Forcella F, Colbach N, Kegode GO 2000. Estimating seed production of three Setaria species in row crops. Weed Science 48(4): 436-444.[0436:ESPOTS]2.0.CO;2

ISTA 2003. ISTA Handbook on Seedling Evaluation. Bassersdorf, CH-Switzerland, International Seed Testing Association.

ISTA 2015. International Rules for Seed Testing. CH-8303 Bassersdorf Switzerland, ISTA Secretariat.

James TK 2011. Yellow Bristle Grass – the ute guide 3rd edition. MPI ed. Wellington. New Zealand.

James TK, Rahman A, Trivedi P 2010. Germination of seed from five broadleaf weeds after burial for up to 28 years in two soils. New Zealand Plant Protection 63: 84-89.

James TK, Rahman A, Webster T, Waller J 2002. Emergence of weeds as affected by vertical seed distribution in arable soils. New Zealand Plant Protection 55: 213-217.

James TK, Rahman A, McGill CR, Trivedi PD 2011. Biology and survival of broom corn millet (Panicum miliaceum) seed. New Zealand Plant Protection 64: 142-148.

James TK, Rahman A, Trolove MR, Dowsett CA 2016. Seed germination characteristics and control options for Noogoora bur (Xanthium strumarium) in commercial maize production. New Zealand Plant Protection 69: 270-277.

Long RL, Panetta FD, Steadman KJ 2008. Seed persistence in the field maybe predicted by laboratory controlled ageing. Weed Science 56: 523-528.

Masin R, Zuin MC, Otto S, Zanin G 2006. Seed longevity and dormancy of four summer annual grass weeds in turf. Weed Research 46: 362-370.

Moeys J 2018. soiltexture: Functions for Soil Texture Plot, Classification and Transformation. R package version 1.4.5.

Newton R, Hay F, Probert R 2009. Protocol for comparative seed longevity testing

NIWA 1981-2010. Mean 10 cm earth temperature (°C), updated 04.04.2018:

Ogg AG, Dawson JH 1984. Time of emergence of eight weed species. Weed Science 32(3): 327-335.

Qi MQ, Redmann RE 1993. Seed germination and seedling survival of C3 and C4 grasses under water stress. Journal of Arid Environments 24(3): 277-285.

Ritz C, Streibig JC 2005. Bioassay analysis using R. Journal of statistical software 12: 1-22.

Ritz C, Pipper CB, Streibig JC 2013. Analysis of germination data from agricultural experiments. European Journal of Agronomy 45: 1-6.

Ritz C, Baty F, Streibig JC, Gerhard D 2015. Dose-response analysis using R. PloS one 10: e0146021.

Satyanti A, Nicotra AB, Merkling T, Guja LK 2018. Seed mass and elevation explain variation in seed longevity of Australian alpine species. Seed Science Research: 1-13.

Scherner A, Melander B, Kudsk P 2016. Vertical distribution and composition of weed seeds within the plough layer after eleven years of contrasting crop rotation and tillage schemes. Soil and Tillage Research 161: 135-142.

Tozer KN, James TK, Cameron CA 2008. Botanical and management factors associated with Setaria pumila abundance: Implications for pasture management. New Zealand Plant Protection 61: 121-126.

Tozer KN, James TK, Rahman A 2009. Yellow bristle grass; a recent weed incursion in Waikato dairy pastures. New Zealand Grassland Association 71: 39-42.

Villiers T 1974. Seed aging: chromosome stability and extended viability of seeds stored fully imbided. Plant Physiology 53(6): 875-878.

Zhang H, Yu Q, Huang Y, Zheng W, Tian Y, Song Y, Li G, Zhou D 2014. Germination shifts of C3 and C4 species under simulated global warming scenario. PLoS ONE 9(8): e105139.
How to Cite
Dowsett, C., Buddenhagen, C., James, T., & McGill, C. (2018). Yellow bristle grass (Setaria pumila) germination biology. New Zealand Plant Protection, 71, 72-80.
Vol 71 Weeds 2018