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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Potential for the Improvement of Turf Quality in Crested Wheatgrass for Low-Maintenance Conditions

Authors
item Robins, Joseph
item Waldron, Blair
item Johnson, Paul - UTAH STATE UNIVERSITY

Submitted to: HortScience
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: July 1, 2007
Publication Date: December 13, 2007
Citation: Robins, J.G., Waldron, B.L., Johnson, P.G. 2007. Potential for the Improvement of Turf Quality in Crested Wheatgrass for Low-Maintenance Conditions. HortScience. 42:1526-1529.

Interpretive Summary: The potential use of crested wheatgrass (Agropyron cristatum (L.) Gaertn.) as turfgrass has lately received increased attention. Although, crested wheatgrass has many desirable characteristics in semi-arid environments and might be a promising candidate for lower-water use turf, it also has undesirable characteristics especially its tendency to dormancy and low aesthetic value during the summer months. Using a population of twenty-seven half sib families, this study characterized the underlying genetics of turf quality and crested wheatgrass and compared the performance of crested wheatgrass turf to more traditional turf species over two years. Moderate to high heritability values (h2=0.44 to 0.84) for turf quality occurred during each month of this study except April. In addition to the strong underlying genetics, the genotypic correlations among the monthly turf quality scores were very high indicating a strong commonality for the genetics underlying turf quality during any point in the growing season. These results with the strong underlying additive genetic component of crested wheatgrass turf quality suggested that selection aimed at the improvement of this trait stands a good chance of success. However, the crested wheatgrass turf performed poorly compared to the traditional turf species during the late spring and early summer. Turf quality scores in early July were ~ 3 for the crested wheatgrass half sib families compared to scores between 5 and 6 for the traditional turf species. Thus, crested wheatgrass, for the near future, will likely be a viable turf candidate only in situations where turf aesthetics are secondary to a desire for low-input requiring species.

Technical Abstract: The potential use of crested wheatgrass (Agropyron cristatum (L.) Gaertn.) as turfgrass has lately received increased attention. Although, crested wheatgrass has many desirable characteristics in semi-arid environments and might be a promising candidate for lower-water use turf, it also has undesirable characteristics especially its tendency to dormancy and low aesthetic value during the summer months. Using a population of twenty-seven half sib families, this study characterized the underlying genetics of turf quality and crested wheatgrass and compared the performance of crested wheatgrass turf to more traditional turf species over two years. Moderate to high heritability values (h2=0.44 to 0.84) for turf quality occurred during each month of this study except April. In addition to the strong underlying genetics, the genotypic correlations among the monthly turf quality scores were very high indicating a strong commonality for the genetics underlying turf quality during any point in the growing season. These results with the strong underlying additive genetic component of crested wheatgrass turf quality suggestetd that selection aimed at the improvement of this trait stands a good chance of success. However, the crested wheatgrass turf performed poorly compared to the traditional turf species during the late spring and early summer. Turf quality scores in early July were ~ 3 for the crested wheatgrass half sib families compared to scores between 5 and 6 for the traditional turf species. Thus, crested wheatgrass, for the near future, will likely be a viable turf candidate only in situations where turf aesthetics are secondary to a desire for low-input requiring species.

Last Modified: 10/20/2014
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