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Effect of different mowing regimes on the growth and development of 4 clones of couch elytrigia repens synonym agropyron repens in mono cultures and in mixtures with perennial rye grass lolium perenne

Effect of different mowing regimes on the growth and development of 4 clones of couch elytrigia repens synonym agropyron repens in mono cultures and in mixtures with perennial rye grass lolium perenne

Mededelingen Landbouwhogeschool Wageningen 81(15): 1-26

The experiment, in which monocultures of perennial ryegrass were also included, was done at a high fertilization level; the mowing height was 3 1/2 cm. Repeatedly late 9-weekly mowing invigorated the growth of couch and on a long term weakened perennial ryegrass. In mixtures this invigoration of couch, especially in the 1st part of the growing season, can lead to the exclusion of perennial ryegrass, although in the later growing season and in early spring at sufficiently high tiller densities the latter species can reassert itself. Possibly perennial ryegrass can only be totally excluded by couch at high densities of couch. Perennial ryegrass can even be temporarily excluded by couch at 6- and 3-weekly mowing, if there was a late mowing in the preceeding year. Typical cases of an explosive increase of couch in intensively used perennial ryegrass grasslands may be primarily due to an open sward, which at a high N fertilization is easily colonized by clones with a strong ability to propagate vegetatively. Couch not only differs from perennial ryegrass because it forms rhizomes but also because of its continuous strong stem elongation and weak tillering. The invigoration of couch through late mowing may be partly related to its stemmy growth habit, which enables this species to form a tall crop, in which especially at high densities of couch perennial ryegrass can be crowded out in the competition for light. Long growth periods will also favor the rhizome production of couch. However, mowing at an extremely late first cut can also temporarily weaken the growth of couch, because after its stems have been mown off at a senescent stage it can no longer regenerate from basal stem buds. The species can then only regenerate from rhizomes, which can lead to temporary low shoot densities and temporary low cut yields. Couch is relatively sensitive to frequent defoliation, possibly because of its poor tillering. Couch clones can differ greatly in rapidity of vegetative propagation by rhizomes, but this variability becomes especially apparent in spaced plant situations, e.g., in an open sward. Because of differences in the onset of spring growth and stem elongation and differences in growth vigor in the autumn, couch clones can differ in seasonal pattern of dry matter production and therefore also in their seasonal changes in dry weight ratio vis-a-vis perennial ryegrass in mixtures. Couch clones with a strong ability to tiller may better be able to stand intensive and short defoliation in grassland over the long term.

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