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Turfgrass evaluation of native grasses for the northern Great Plains region

Turfgrass evaluation of native grasses for the northern Great Plains region

Crop Science 42(6): 2018-2024

ISSN/ISBN: 0011-183X

DOI: 10.2135/cropsci2002.2018

A range of native grass species evolved under the environmental extremes of a continental climate in the northern Great Plains, but most have not been evaluated for their suitability as turf. The objective of this research was to evaluate the turfgrass potential of a range of native grasses under three mowing heights. Twelve species (a total of 28 entries) were evaluated under three mowing heights (62, 38, and 18 mm), for turf quality, color, and density at two locations in Manitoba, Canada. The species evaluated included alpine bluegrass (Poa alpina L.), alkali grass [Puccinellia nuttalliana (Schult.) Hitchc.], alpine fescue [Festuca ovina L. var. brachyphylla (Schult. & Schult. f.) Piper, syn. F. brachyphylia Schult. & Schult. f.], blue grama [Bouteloua gracilis (Kunth) Lag. ex Griffiths], buffalograss {Buchloe dactyloides (Nutt.) Engelm. [=Bouteloua dactyloides (Nutt.) Columbus ]} Canada bluegrass (Poa compressa L.), fescue spp., fowl bluegrass (Poa palustris L.), Idaho bentgrass (Agrostis idahoensis Nash), marsh muhly [Muhlenbergia racemosa (Michx.) Britton et al.], prairie junegrass [Koeleria macrantha (Ledeb.) Schult.], rough hairgrass {Agrostis scabra Willd. [= A. hyemalis var. scabra (Willd.) H. L. Blomq.]}, side-oats grama [Bouteloua curtipendula (Michx.) Torr.], and tufted hairgrass [Deschampsia cespitosa (L.) P. Beauv.]. Entries showed similar results across all mowing heights. 'Bad River' blue grama, Minnesota ecotype blue grama, and 'Barkoel' prairie junegrass; entries showed high quality ratings across all years and locations. Blue grama, a warm-season grass, was drought tolerant and maintained consistent green color throughout the growing season. Although a number of the species showed promise, most entries will require a breeding and selection program before release as low-maintenance turfgrasses.

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