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Methods of Breaking Seed Dormancy

i) Microorganisms present in the soil weaken and decompose the hard seed coat

ii) The digestive juices present in the alimentary canal of the fruit eating birds makes the seed coat soft

iii) Mechanical abrasions weaken the tough and impermeable seed coat

iv) Washing away of inhibitors by rain or irrigated water

v) Inactivation of growth inhibitors by heat and cold

vi) Leaching of solutes in halophytes where dormancy is due to high concentration of salts

vii) Synthesis of growth hormones

viii) Maturation of embryo


Artificial Methods

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It is the weakening of seed coats by mechanical abrasions or chemical treatments.

Mechanically, the abrasions are caused by machine threshing, vigorous shaking.

Chemically, the seeds are treated with chemicals like potassium nitrate, thiourea, ethylene, chlorohydrine to make the seed coats soft and weak.

Low Temperature (Chilling)

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In many woody and in certain herbaceous species the dormancy can be broken by chilling treatments, just above freezing (0 - 5o C).

Alternating Temperatures

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Seeds are exposed to alternating high and low temperatures to reduce the concentration of the inhibitory substances.

Running Water Treatment

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Running water washes off the inhibitors from the seeds and breaks dormancy.


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In some plants, dormancy can be broken by exposing them to light.

Hormones Treatment

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Dormancy in some seeds is broken by treating them with hormones such as gibberellins, cytokinins and ethylene.

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