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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Logan, Utah » Forage and Range Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #350203

Research Project: Develop Improved Plant Genetic Resources to Enhance Pasture and Rangeland Productivity in the Semiarid Regions of the Western U.S.

Location: Forage and Range Research

Title: Low-maintenance turfgrass potential of crested, thickspike, and western wheatgrass germplasm

item Robins, Joseph
item Bushman, Shaun

Submitted to: Journal of Agricultural Science and Botany
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/10/2018
Publication Date: 5/17/2018
Citation: Robins, J.G., Bushman, B.S. 2018. Low-maintenance turfgrass potential of crested, thickspike, and western wheatgrass germplasm. Journal of Agricultural Science and Botany. 2(2):22-28.

Interpretive Summary: Wheatgrass species provide a potential alternative to common turfgrass species for situations when inputs, including irrigation and fertilization, are limited. We found that populations of crested, thickspike, and western wheatgrass possessed lower ground cover, but darker green color than tall fescue and Kentucky bluegrass under limited irrigation. We also found that these populations possess a large range of values for these traits and that selection for these traits would improve the turfgrass potential of these species.

Technical Abstract: Traditional cool-season turfgrass species, such as Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis L.), perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.), and tall fescue (Lolium arundinaceum [Schreb.] Darbysh.), provide high quality turfgrass for athletic and aesthetic uses. Unfortunately, this high level of quality often comes at a cost of high levels of inputs in the forms of irrigation and fertilization. Therefore, there is a growing need and demand to produce turfgrass with lower inputs, particularly irrigation. Herein, we describe a study of the turfgrass potential of crested wheatgrass (Agropyron cristatum [L.] Gaertn.), thickspike wheatgrass (Elymus lanceolatus [Scribn. & J.G. Sm.] Gould), and western wheatgrass (Pascopyrum smithii [Rydb.] A. Love) when managed under low irrigation. We found that these species generally possessed lower percent ground cover than tall fescue and Kentucky bluegrass under reduced irrigation, but that they exhibited darker green color. We identified a large range of phenotypic values and generally high narrow sense heritability (h2>0.5) for turf quality within these species, particularly for thickspike and western wheatgrass. Selection for increased turfgrass quality in these wheatgrass species has a high likelihood of developing improved turfgrass cultivar in these species.