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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Logan, Utah » Forage and Range Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #374048

Research Project: Improved Plant Genetic Resources and Methodologies for Rangelands, Pastures, and Turf Landscapes in the Semiarid Western U.S.

Location: Forage and Range Research

Title: Turfgrass performance of perennial wheatgrass species when grown as monocultures and mixtures

item Robins, Joseph
item Bushman, Shaun

Submitted to: Agronomy Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/24/2020
Publication Date: 7/1/2020
Citation: Robins, J.G., Bushman, B.S. 2020. Turfgrass performance of perennial wheatgrass species when grown as monocultures and mixtures. Agronomy Journal. 112(5):3567-3578.

Interpretive Summary: Low maintenance turfgrass production requires species adapted to the management strategy. In the western United States, perennial wheatgrasses are well adapted to non-irrigated conditions, but lack adequate turf quality. This study described the effect on perennial wheatgrass turf quality when mixed with Kentucky bluegrass and hard fescue. The mixtures resulted in improved quality of the wheatgrass turf and showed potentisl for more widely used wheatgrass turf.

Technical Abstract: Perennial wheatgrasses are cool season Triticeae species native to arid and semi-arid regions of the world. Due to their inherent drought tolerance and summer dormancy, they have potential in low to no maintenance turf situations. However, there is an underlying need to understand and improve their turf quality and density in order to broaden their application. This study evaluated the turfgrass performance of populations of crested wheatgrass [Agropyron cristatum (L.) Gaertn.], intermediate wheatgrass [Thinopyrum intermedium (Host) Barkworth & D.R. Dewey], thickspike wheatgrass elymus lanceolatus (Scribn & J.G. Sm.) Gould], and western wheatgrass [Pascopyrum smithii (Rydb.) A. Love] in monoculture and in two- and three-way mixtures with Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis L.) and hard fescue (Festuca brevipila Tracey). Plots were seeded at a Millville, UT field site in 2016 and evaluated under two irrigation levels (no irrigation and 50% evapotranspiration replacement) and two mowing heights (51 and 76 cm) during 2017 and 2018. Evaluations of coverage, dark green color index, density, uniformity, and quality were conducted using digital imagery. There were significant differences (P<0.0001) between irrigation levels and mowing heights, and among turfgrass entries for each trait, except mowing height did not influence uniformity. All perennial wheatgrass monocultures possessed low density and coverage, but higher dark green color index. Mixtures, particularly with Kentucky bluegrass, resulted in substantial improvement in coverage and density.