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Title: Festuca rubra evaluation for potential use in green stripping for wildfire control

item Robbins, Matthew
item Staub, Jack
item JOHNSON, PAUL - Utah State University

Submitted to: Society for Range Management Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/15/2011
Publication Date: 1/29/2012
Citation: Robbins, M.D., Staub, J.E., Johnson, P.G. 2012. Festuca rubra evaluation for potential use in green stripping for wildfire control. Society for Range Management Meeting Abstracts.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Much of western U.S. land is experiencing increased drought, higher temperatures, and increased soil salinity levels, which lead to rangeland degradation. These factors contribute to encroachment of weedy species into previously productive range and agricultural lands, which dramatically increases wildfire frequency and severity resulting in increased soil erosion, decreased watershed habitat, and loss of biological diversity. Green strips containing novel plant materials such as forage kochia [Kochia prostrata (L.) Schrad.] have been proposed for the control of wildfires. The plant composition of green strips could benefit by mixing kochia with late maturing grasses that are drought and heat tolerant such as fine fescue [Festuca rubra (L.)]. Therefore, replicated studies with 27 F. rubra collections and derived half-sib families were designed to evaluate the performance of this species at 7 and 12 inch (178 and 305 mm) precipitation zones (Malta, ID and Eureka, UT, respectively). Based on vigor ratings from 1 (low) to 5 (high) and total biomass (dry weight), several entries performed better than the Festuca controls 'Durar' and 'Covar'. For instance, the vigor ratings of PRC-1574 (3.1) and its half-sib progeny (3.3) were higher than 'Durar' (2.7) and 'Covar' (2.6). Likewise PRC-1574 and its half-sib progeny produced more biomass than 'Durar' and 'Covar' (57.64, 55.76, 38.64, and 37.35 g/plant, respectively). Regrowth (September) after a mid-season harvest (July) indicates that PRC-1574 and its progeny remain productive throughout the growing season, suggesting that this F. rubra germplasm may have potential for use in mixed-planting green strips for fire control.