The emergence of seedlings from natural, germinating and selected uniformlygerminated onion seeds was compared in a range of changing patterns of soil moisture. The timing, spread and amount of seedling emergence from seeds in all three treatments were affected by the timing of water availability in the seed bed and these effects differed between treatments.
The rate of seedling emergence in all three treatments under non-limiting soil moisture conditions was correlated with mean temperature, but this relationship was obscured in irrigation treatments where water stress occurred. However, if the seed bed was moist at sowing irrespective of subsequent moisture stress the reciprocals of the time to the start, time to 50% and time to the end of seedling emergence from uniformly germinated seeds were correlated with mean temperature (r > 0·87, D.F. 27).
The results show that if the seed bed is irrigated prior to sowing and soil moisture is maintained during the first 3 days following sowing high levels of seedling emergence with both predictable timing and uniformity can be achieved by sowing uniformlygerminated seeds. Seedling emergence from natural and germinating seeds was much less predictable.