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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: IMPROVED PLANT GENETIC RESOURCES FOR PASTURES AND RANGELANDS IN THE TEMPERATE SEMIARID REGIONS OF THE WESTERN U.S.

Location: Forage and Range Research

Title: Evaluation of Chinese and Kyrgyzstan grass germplasm collections for maintenance of green cover under limited irrigation in western North America

Authors
item Johnson, Paul -
item Johnson, Douglas
item Connors, Kevin

Submitted to: International Turfgrass Society Research Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: January 25, 2013
Publication Date: June 25, 2013
Citation: Johnson, P.G., Johnson, D.A., Connors, K.J. 2013. Evaluation of Chinese and Kyrgyzstan grass germplasm collections for maintenance of green cover under limited irrigation in western North America. International Turfgrass Society Research Journal. 12:305-318.

Interpretive Summary: With increased human population in the semi-arid Intermountain Region of the western U.S., limited water resources in the region, and possibly warmer and drier conditions in the future, it is important to develop turfgrass cultivars with improved drought tolerance. Maintenance of green cover during summer under reduced irrigation is of particular importance in this region. Seed of various turfgrass species were collected in Inner Mongolia of China and Kyrgyzstan and then evaluated under the climatic conditions of the Intermountain West. We evaluated the various collections in northern Utah under reduced irrigation for the amount of green cover retained during the summer drought season and visual turf quality. We also used digital photographs to measure percent green cover and green color of the various grasses. Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis) was the species group that maintained the highest overall turf quality throughout the study. Several fo the bluegrass collections from China and Kyrgyzstan exhibited higher turf quality and green cover than commercially available turf varieties. These promising collections need to be further evaluated for their response to reduced-input conditions of the Intermountain West.

Technical Abstract: An important strategy to save irrigation water on turf is to develop cultivars with improved drought tolerance, especially in the arid and semi-arid North American West. In this region, maintenance of green cover during summer with reduced levels of irrigation is of paramount importance. Germplasm of various turfgrass genera were collected in Inner Mongolia of the People's Republic of China and in Kyrgyzstan and then evaluated under the climatic conditions of the Intermountain West of North America. We were particularly interested in the amount of green cover retained during the summer drought season. Digital photographs were used for measuring percent green cover (PGC) and green color (Dark Green Color Index, DGCI) of the plots besides visual turf quality ratings. Among Poa species, P. pratensis was the species group that maintained the overall highest turf quality throughout the study with a number of individual collections exhibiting higher turf quality and PGC than check varieties. Other Poa species that exhibited high ratings included P. tibetica, P. secunda, P. sphondylodes, and P. versicolor. Poa pratensis exhibited the greatest variation in turf quality and PGC. Among other species, Festuca rubra and Phleum phleoides maintained favorable turfgrass quality and PGC during the summer drought period. These species were followed by Agrostis gigantea, Avenula pubescens, Helictotrichon tianschanicum, Hordeum bogdanii, Koeleria macrantha, Hordeum brevisubulatum, Schedonorus pratensis and Trisetum sibiricum. Based on these results, the greatest potential for drought tolerance and adaption to the North American West appears to be in Poa pratensis, at least among the collections and germplasm originating from Inner Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan.

Last Modified: 7/28/2014
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