Submitted to: Agronomy Journal
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/13/2013
Publication Date: 3/1/2013
Citation: Gitz, D.C., Baker, J.T., Stout, J.E., Brauer, D.K., Velten, J.P., Lascano, R.J. 2013. Suitability of eastern gamagrass for in situ precipitation catchment forage production in playas. Agronomy Journal. 105(4):907-914. Interpretive Summary: Playa lakes are shallow depressions that occur in the southern high plains. Occasionally they flood after heavy rains so they are not very good farmland. We decided to see if Eastern Gamagrass, a flood tolerant plant that has as much nitrogen and is as palatable to cattle as alfalfa, could be grown on playa soil. We found that eastern gamagrass can be grown on playa soil and that it might be used as part of a forage production system in playas.
Technical Abstract: Freshwater playas, shallow ephemeral lakes whose basins fill after periods of prolonged or intense rainfall preceding runoff events, occupy 3-5% of the land in the Llano Estacado and are considered marginal farmlands. The goals of this work were to determine if a native species, eastern gamagrass, could be grown on playa soils, and to preliminarily evaluate the suitability of gamagrass as a component of an in situ precipitation catchment forage production system. Flooding tolerance of gamagrass seeds was evaluated, and plants were grown on playa soil in both the greenhouse and field for several seasons. Gamagrass seed was resistant to extended flooding especially at low temperatures. Likewise, gamagrass roots penetrated to nearly 2m into waterlogged playa soil in greenhouse experiments. Survival in established plots was affected by mowing, but stands were successfully established and plants survived for 6 years when crowns were not destroyed. Eastern gamagrass is a viable candidate species that might be used as part of a novel playa based forage production system.