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Agronomy Journal Abstract -

Seedling Vigor of Some Important Range Species as Affected by Nitrogen and Phosphorus1


This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 68 No. 4, p. 565-569
    Received: June 13, 1974

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  1. R. D. B. Whalley and
  2. C. M. McKell2



Russian wildrye (Elymus junceus Fisch.) is a valuable species for range seeding throughout the Northern Great Plains and Intermountain region. However, it has poor seedling vigor and establishment is often difficult. This study was designated to investigate the effects of added P and N on the seedling vigor of several species and strains of Elymus in comparison with crested wheatgrass (Agropyron desertorum [Fisch.] Schutt.) and two common competing weeds (cheatgrass, Bromus tectorum L., and Russian thistle, Salsola kali L.). Two factorial experiments were conducted in a greenhouse study involving seven grass species and strains and one forb. Plants were grown at two levels of N and two levels of P which were added to desert soil taken from the 0 to 8 cm and 8 to 30 cm profile depth. Leaf elongation was measured daily for 24 days after emergence. Tillers and leaf numbers were recorded. Harvest weights of leaves and roots were obtained after 49 days. The response of Russian wildrye to added P was detected about 6 days after the emergence of the first leaf, but no response to N was evident until about 15 days. The response to P was of a much greater magnitude than the response to N, and the weeds gave a greater and earlier response to both nutrients. The results suggest that P fertilization of autumn sowings of Russian wildrye could improve its seedling vigor in the field. The variability in response to added P among the species and strains of Elymus suggest that increased seedling response to P might be a useful objective in plant breeding programs aimed at increasing the seedling vigor of this important range species.

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