Submitted to: Landscape Ecology
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/3/2017
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: No Interpretive Summary is required for this Abstract Only. JLB.
Technical Abstract: Winter hardiness limits the use of the productive forage grass perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.) in the northeastern United States. Both efforts to breed more cold-tolerant varieties and the changing climate increase the potential of this grass in pastures. Growth chamber studies of thirteen commercial cultivars of perennial ryegrass provided information on the freeze tolerance of each. There was substantial variation in survival among cultivars, with LT50s, the temperature at which 50% of plants would die, from -12.9 C to -20.8 C. Under baseline winter temperatures (1960-1989), only 2-33% of the northeastern United States was warm enough for these cultivars to survive in most winters. By 2099, that area may increase to 55-88%, depending on cultivar. In the future, farmers may be able to rely more heavily on this very productive grass. Freeze tolerance is only one attribute, and minimum temperature only one aspect of the environment. This study is part of a larger effort using controlled environment studies, field trials, and regional and national surveys, to better understand the future of agriculture in the United States, to most effectively focus planning and preparation.