Cup plant (Silphium perfoliatum L.) has demonstrated potential for biomass production in studies using transplants in poorly drained cropland not suitable for conventional crops, but little is known about its establishment from seeding. The success rate for stand establishment of perennial plants is usually positively correlated with seed weight. Therefore, objectives of this study were to determine contribution of genetic effects to variation in achene weight, seed weight, achene length, and achene width of cup plant in a population with high biomass potential. Seedlings of 33 half-sib (HS) families were transplanted at Brookings, SD in 1999 and 2010. Achene/seed traits were determined at seed maturity in 2000, 2011 and 2012. Narrow-sense heritability was higher for achene weight and seed weight than that for dimensional achene traits. Within-population genetic variation occurred for achene and seed weight, both of which varied in response to temporal variation in precipitation and temperature. Results of this study indicated the presence of sufficient additive genetic variation for progress from among-family selection for achene weight. Thus, since families with heavy achenes had higher percent seedling emergence and superior seedling vigor compared to families with light achenes, achene weight may be useful for indirect selection for enhanced seed quality in development of new cultivars of cup plant for biomass production on marginal crop land.
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