Submitted to: Society for Range Management Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/20/2016
Publication Date: 2/21/2016
Citation: Staub, J.E., Robbins, M.D., Bushman, B.S. 2016. Development of fine-leaved Festuca grass for forage and wildfire control in the Great Basin. Society for Range Management Meeting Abstracts.
Technical Abstract: Drought and heat tolerant fine-leaved fescue (Festuca ssp.) grasses have potential as components in rangeland greenstrips for wildfire control in semi-arid climates, although such grasses have not been evaluated under rangeland conditions. Therefore, 64 geographically diverse Festuca accessions of 12 species were evaluated for vigor, color, and biomass in 2009 and 2010 in North Logan, UT to identify grasses for use in U.S. western rangelands. Single plants representing seven species from the 18 best performing accessions in 2009 were selected for plant improvement. Controlled biparental matings among these selections in 2010 produced 18 populations that were evaluated with five commercial Festuca checks in replicated trials between 2012 to 2013 at Malta, ID, Blue Creek, UT, and North Logan, UT, where mean annual precipitation is 265 mm, 362 mm, and 484 mm, respectively. Plants were evaluated for color, relative vigor, biomass, seed yield, persistence, and regrowth over two years. Generally, four fine-leaved populations (R4S4, R4S6, R4S22, and R4S32) with parents originating from Turkey (F. valesiaca subsp. valesiaca), Russia (F. valesiaca, F. valesiaca subsp. valesiaca), Iran (F. valesiaca), and the U.S. (F. ovina) performed equal to or better than 'Durar' or 'Covar' checks. In Malta (harshest environment), the performance of these four populations compared to 'Durar' was 84-210% for vigor, 79-90% for color, 65-562% for biomass, 64-296% for seed yield, 92-117% for persistence, and 164-454% for regrowth, where R4S22 was superior. AFLP analysis indicated that all four populations were distinct, and that R4S4 and R4S6 grouped near 'Covar', R4S22 clustered near 'Black Sheep' and 'Durar', and R4S32 was genetically unique.