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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: Salinity tolerance of foxtail barley (Hordeum jubatum) and desirable pasture grasses

Authors
item Israelson, Karl -
item Ransom, Corey -
item Waldron, Blair

Submitted to: Weed Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: May 16, 2011
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Greenhouse studies were conducted to determine the salinity tolerance of the weedy foxtail barley and seven desirable pasture grasses. Grass species were reed canarygrass, timothy, altai wildrye, tall fescue, tall wheatgrass, orchardgrass, creeping meadow foxtail, and foxtail barley. Grasses were exposed to increasing salt solution over time. Salinity tolerance varied among grass species. Increasing salt reduced plant growth of all species. Foxtail barley was among the most salt tolerant, requiring the highest salt exposure in 2008 and the second-highest exposure in 2009 to reduce growth by 50%. Grass mortality (death) increased with increasing salt levels. Reed canarygrass and timothy were the first to die with increasing salinity. Moderate salinity tolerance was exhibited by orchardgrass and creeping foxtail, and tall fescue was slightly more tolerant than these grasses. Foxtail barley, altai wildrye, and tall wheatgrass were most tolerant of salinity and persisted with little mortality occurring until very high salinity levels. All grass species with higher growth rates than foxtail barley and altai wildrye were more susceptible to salinity, with the exception of tall wheatgrass. Growth rates of foxtail barley and altai wildrye were less than they were for other grasses, suggesting that slower growth rates may aid in salinity tolerance.

Technical Abstract: Greenhouse studies were conducted to determine the relative salinity tolerance of foxtail barley and seven desirable pasture grasses. Grass species were reed canarygrass, timothy, altai wildrye, tall fescue, tall wheatgrass, orchardgrass, creeping meadow foxtail, and foxtail barley. Grasses were exposed to increasing electrical conductivity levels of NaCl and CaCl2 salt solution over time. Grass species were compared using a cumulative value of salt exposure (ECdays), which was calculated to account for the electrical conductivity (EC) and the time a plant was exposed at that level of conductivity. Salinity tolerance varied among grass species. Increasing EC significantly reduced plant biomass of all species. All grass species experienced a 50% biomass reduction (GR50) between 271 and 512 ECdays in 2008 and between 297 and 575 ECdays in 2009. Foxtail barley was among the most salt tolerant (GR50=512 and 525 ECdays), requiring the highest salt exposure in 2008 and the second-highest exposure in 2009 to reduce biomass 50%. Grass mortality increased with increasing EC levels. Reed canarygrass and timothy were most susceptible to increasing salinity, with 50% mortality (LD50) of both grass species occurring between 983 and 1,186 ECdays. Moderate salinity tolerance was exhibited by orchardgrass, which required 1,977 and 1,844 ECdays; creeping foxtail, which required 1,998 and 2,431 ECdays; and tall fescue, which required 2,501 and >  2,840 ECdays to LD50 in 2008 and 2009, respectively. Foxtail barley, altai wildrye, and tall wheatgrass were most tolerant of salinity and persisted with little mortality occurring at 3,033 and 2,840 ECdays in 2008 and 2009, respectively. All grass species with higher growth rates than foxtail barley and altai wildrye were more susceptible to salinity, with the exception of tall wheatgrass. Growth rates of foxtail barley and altai wildrye were less than they were for other grasses, suggesting that slower growth rates may aid in salinity tolerance.

Last Modified: 9/22/2014
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