Many common agronomic practices affect weed seed dormancy and germination by influencing the microenvironmental and edaphic conditions surrounding seeds in soil. Factors such as light penetration, soil water content, soil fertility, and temperature are modified by tillage, planting, harvesting, and other production practices, resulting in enhanced or depressed weed seed germination. Changes in these environmental factors may also indirectly lead to alterations in phytohormone concentrations during seed development, which can subsequently affect dormancy status of the mature seed. Integrated approaches that place priority on depleting weed seed banks through interfering with dormancy or germination requirements have strong potential to enhance weed management aspects of agricultural systems.
The high production of seeds in constantly disturbed environments is one of the main mechanisms of weeds survival. These seeds have usually some dormancy mechanism which constitutes weed species perpetuation in the crops. Seed dormancy can be characterized by temporally absence of the germination capacity, even though the seeds have satisfactorily conditions to germinate, thus allowing species survival under adversities, mainly those that make it difficult or hinder vegetative and reproductive growth. The causes of dormancy stem from two basic mechanisms: the first is related to inner seed events (embryo) and the second to outer characteristics in the seeds (tegument, endosperm or fruit barriers). Conceptually, dormancy can be classified as primary dormancy (when the mechanisms occur in plants-mother) and secondary dormancy (when the mechanisms causing dormancy occur after seed dispersion). These types of dormancy occur normally in weeds. Their alternation or cycling ensures germination flow these species, which depends on the characteristics occurring at the initial stages of seed formation (primary dormancy), and later, on the environmental conditions (secondary dormancy). However, many mechanisms coordinate dormancy, with the differences among them being still controversial. Thus, this study aimed to approach some of the main concepts and mechanisms in weed dormancy, in order to contribute and stimulate research which is still scarce in this area.