Submitted to: Crop Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/5/2013
Publication Date: 3/21/2014
Citation: Skinner, R.H., Stewart, A.V. 2014. Narrow-Leaf Plantain (Plantago lanceolata L.) selection to increase freezing tolerance. Crop Science. 54:1238-1242. Interpretive Summary: Narrow leaf plantain is a highly desirable species for inclusion in pasture mixtures because of its productivity under mild winter conditions and due to its value for animal production. However, narrow leaf plantain does not have the freezing tolerance necessary to survive harsher winters typical of the northeastern USA. To improve the freezing tolerance of narrow leaf plantain, we selected superior performing plants grown under field conditions in Pennsylvania then subjected their progeny to freezing stress in controlled environment chambers. Progeny from the selected plants had 57% survival after exposure to -14 deg C compared with zero survival for Tonic, the most common cultivar currently available in the USA. Progeny from the selected plants are currently being evaluated at several locations for possible release as a commercial cultivar.
Technical Abstract: Studies in the northeastern USA have shown that the improved New Zealand cultivars of narrow leaf plantain (Plantago lanceolata L.), Tonic and Lancelot, do not have sufficient winter hardiness to persist under wintertime conditions typical of this region. However, an experimental line, PG700, developed from productive plants collected in several states from the Southern, Mid-Atlantic, and Mid-Western USA had significantly greater survival after freezing than the commercially available cultivars. A field study was initiated in 2006 to select for additional freezing tolerance in PG700. Superior materials collected after two-years of selection pressure were then evaluated in controlled environment chambers for survival after exposure to -11 and -14 deg C or after exposure to drought that was severe enough to kill all visible leaves. The cultivar ‘Tonic’ was included as a freezing susceptible control. Survival of spaced plants in the field was high with mortality rates of 9% during the first winter after transplanting, 26% after the following summer and 11% after the second winter. Even with the low selection pressure, plants selected after the first winter had more than twice the survival rate of the original population when exposed to -14 deg C. No Tonic plants survived at -14 deg C. PG700 did not have greater drought resistance than Tonic, nor was its drought resistance improved by the selection process. Increased freezing tolerance will increase the suitability of plantain as a component of perennial pasture mixtures in temperate regions of the USA.