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This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 105 No. 4, p. 907-914
    Received: Sept 24, 2012
    Published: April 15, 2013

    * Corresponding author(s): dennis.gitz@ars.usda.gov
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Suitability of Eastern Gamagrass for In Situ Precipitation Catchment Forage Production in Playas

  1. Dennis C. Gitz III *a,
  2. Jeffrey T. Bakerb,
  3. John E. Stouta,
  4. David K. Brauerc,
  5. Robert J. Lascanoa and
  6. Jeff P. Veltena
  1. a USDA-ARS, 3810 4th Street, Lubbock, TX 79415-3397
    b USDA-ARS, Cropping Systems Research Lab., Big Spring, TX 79720-0013
    c USDA-ARS, 2300 Experiment Station Rd., Bushland, TX 79012


Freshwater playas, shallow ephemeral lakes whose basins fill after periods of prolonged or intense rainfall, occupy 3 to 5% of the land in the Llano Estacado and are considered marginal farmlands. The goals of this work were to determine if a native species, eastern gamagrass, could be grown on playa soils and to preliminarily evaluate the suitability of gamagrass [Tripsacum dactyloides (L.) L.] as a component of an in situ precipitation catchment forage production system. Flooding tolerance of gamagrass seeds was evaluated, and plants were grown on playa soil in both the greenhouse and field for several seasons. Gamagrass seed was resistant to extended flooding, especially at low ambient temperatures typically encountered in late fall or winter. Gamagrass roots penetrated nearly 2 m into waterlogged playa soil in greenhouse experiments. Stands were successfully established in playas, and plants survived for 6 yr when crowns were not destroyed by close mowing or vehicles. Eastern gamagrass is a viable candidate species that might be used as part of a novel playa-based forage production system.

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