Submitted to: Applied Turfgrass Science
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/4/2006
Publication Date: 4/18/2007
Citation: Bushman, B.S., Waldron, B.L., Robins, J.G., Jensen, K.B. 2007. Color and shoot regrowth of turf-type crested wheatgrass managed under deficit irrigation. Applied Turfgrass Science. Interpretive Summary: More drought tolerant, water-use efficient, turfgrasses are of growing interest in semi-arid regions. One possible source of drought tolerant grasses is the perennial wheatgrasses, but a challenge of the wheatgrasses is their disposition to become dormant under stress conditions. This paper compares turf color and regrowth, as indicators of turf quality and dormancy, among the wheatgrasses, tall fescue, hard fescues, and Kentucky bluegrass. The plants were watered under an irrigation gradient to determine their response to a continuum of water levels. The wheatgrasses were found to enter dormancy only under the lower watering regimes. The tall fescue and Kentucky bluegrass checks showed the best color ratings within all water levels, likely because the wheatgrasses have genetically lighter green foliage.
Technical Abstract: An increased demand on limited water supplies has led to a growing interest in turfgrasses tolerant of lower watering regimes. One potential source of drought-hardy turfgrass is the perennial Triticeae wheatgrasses. These grasses have thrived in semi-arid regions, mainly through dormancy in the dry periods. However, dormancy is undesirable in residential and commercial settings where water can be applied regularly. In this study, we used line-source gradient of water on six classes of turf-type grasses: three wheatgrass classes, two fescue classes, and Kentucky bluegrass. Our objective was to determine what level of irrigation will prevent dormancy in the wheatgrasses, and compare the color and regrowth after mowing across all six classes at seven different irrigation levels. The wheatgrasses did not enter dormancy under moderate and high water levels. Across all water levels, tall fescue and Kentucky bluegrass had the highest color ratings, and maintained a color rating of six at an approximate 50% ET0. Regrowth differences between the classes were small, and also indicated dormancy only under the lowest irrigation levels.