Submitted to: Crop Science
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/31/2004
Publication Date: 1/1/2005
Citation: Hussey, M.A., Burson, B.L. 2005. Registration of 'Frio' buffelgrass. Crop Science. 45:411-412. Interpretive Summary: Buffelgrass is an important warm-season forage grass that is grown in many of the warmer semi-arid regions throughout the world. It is currently grown on about 15 million acres in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico and approximately 100 million acres world wide. The grass has excellent drought tolerance and produces large quantities of high quality forage with minimal moisture. Lack of cold-tolerance has been the major factor that limits its distribution and use. The Texas Agricultural Experiment Station and the Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA-ARS) recently released a new winter-hardy buffelgrass cultivar (variety) that was selected from a plant that was introduced into the U.S. from South Africa. This new cultivar is called 'Frio' and it has more winter-hardiness than any of the buffelgrass cultivars that are currently available to the ranchers and farmers. Frio survived winters at Vernon and Knox City in north Texas; whereas, commercial cultivars were either killed or severely damaged by the cold weather. In south Texas where winter survival is not a problem, Frio produced about the same quantity of forage as Common buffelgrass and its forage quality was similar to Common. Frio is intended to be used at higher elevations in the arid tropics where current buffelgrass cultivars cannot be grown and in regions where currently available cultivars experience periodic winter damage. This new cultivar should positively impact livestock production in the southwestern U.S. and northern Mexico.
Technical Abstract: 'Frio' is a new cold-hardy buffelgrass [Pennisetum ciliare (L.) Syn. Cenchrus ciliaris L.] cultivar that was released by the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station and the Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture. It has more winter-hardiness than any commercially available buffelgrass cultivar. Frio was selected from progeny of a facultatively apomictic plant introduction (PI 409704) from South Africa. Frio is an aposporous facultative apomict that produces less than 0.1% off-type plants. It is a pentaploid with 2n=5x=45 chromosomes. In a multi-year evaluation, Frio was significantly more winter-hardy than the cultivars Common, 'Llano,' and 'Nueces' at three locations in north Texas. During the past 15 years, established plantings of Frio have survived all winters at College Station, while Common has suffered winter damage when the temperature dropped below -5 C. At locations where winter survival is not a problem, Frio produces about the same or slightly less quantity of forage as Common. Forage quality studies indicate that the nutritive value of Frio is similar to Common. Seed set for Frio is less than Common but it produces a sufficient quantity of seed that it can be propagated commercially. Frio will reduce the risk of winter damage in areas where buffelgrass is presently grown and expand the northern and western range of buffelgrass in the southwestern United States.