The osmotic conditioning or priming is considered a promising technique to speed up germination and to improve seed performance. Four seed lots of asparagus, Mary Washington cultivar, were primed at 25°C for seven or 14 days using PEG 6000 at -1.0 or -1.2 MPa, or sea water at -3.3 MPa; or for three days in distilled water. The physiological quality of the seeds was evaluated by standard germination, first count germination, speed of seedling emergence, and germination percentage and seedling fresh and dry weights after controlled deterioration test. Primed seeds presented higher germination speed, independently of their initial physiological quality. Beneficial effects of priming on germination and vigour were more expressive in the seed lot of low physiological quality. Priming in PEG 6000 at -1.0 MPa for 14 days was the most beneficial treatment to improve asparagus seeds performance.
osmotic conditioning; physiological quality