Submitted to: United States Japan Natural Resources Forage Seed Panel
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/15/2003
Publication Date: 5/1/2003
Citation: Kindiger, B.K. 2003. Texas bluegrass: A novel germplasm resource for Poa improvement. United States Japan Natural Resources Forage Seed Panel. 5:36-44. Interpretive Summary: During the periods of March-June and September-November, there is a lack of palatable and productive cool-season grass forage in the Southern Plains. As a consequence, a comprehensive program is underway to identify and develop native cool-season grass forages which possess superior nutritional qualities and abundant forage production during these seasons which are typically devoid of abundant and palatable forage for grazing livestock. Species which may have value during this period are representatives of the Poa or bluegrass complex. Texas bluegrass is a native Poa found commonly in Oklahoma, northern Texas and southern Kansas. It is highly tolerant of drought and exhibits an excellent sod-forming capacity. Texas bluegrass has received little scientific study and has been rarely utilized in a breeding program. It has, however, been successfully hybridized to both Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis) and Sandberg bluegrass (Poa secunda) with at least one cultivar being recently released as a turf form. This study discusses the use of Texas bluegrass in hybrids with big bluegrass (Sherman cultivar) and its use as a forage germplasm resource. Results of the study indicate that the Texas bluegrass contributions to the hybrids are its sod-forming root system, disease resistance, and heat and drought tolerance. Big bluegrass contributed an apomictic form of reproduction, which may be advantageous in the production of uniform seed stocks.
Technical Abstract: Texas bluegrass (Poa arachnifera Torr.) is a vigorous, rhizomatous, sod-forming perennial bluegrass which is indigenous to the Southern Plains of the USA. Texas bluegrass grows throughout the winter, producing abundant, nutritious forage which is highly palatable. It is a little-studied but potentially useful cool-season resource which has been observed to provide rust resistance, drought tolerance, heat tolerance and insect resistance in interspecific hybrids with other bluegrass species. In this study, Texas bluegrass was hybridized with another native Poa, Big bluegrass (P. secunda cv. Sherman). By utilizing Texas bluegrass as the female parent, hybrids were readily generated with Big Bluegrass and were observed to exhibit several advantageous agronomic and forage nutritional characteristics. This report describes the successful hybridization of Texas bluegrass x Big bluegrass and the favorable characteristics associated with the hybrids. Several of the hybrids were identified to possess favorable sod-forming capabilities, reproduce by an apomictic form of reproduction, have application toward genetic analysis and contribute resistance to leaf rust. Results of the study indicate that Texas bluegrass will be a useful resource for the development of new and diverse native bluegrass germplasm which may be widely adapted and biologically appropriate to the Central and Southern Plains of the USA.