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Agronomy Journal Abstract -

Effect of Soil Temperature on Development of Perennial Forage Grasses1


This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 71 No. 1, p. 7-10
    Received: Dec 17, 1977

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  1. L. A. Morrow and
  2. J. F. Power2



Soil temperature has a great influence on the development and establishment of all types of plants. The lack of soil temperature information on the development of perennial forage grasses led to the initiation of this study. Seedlings of crested wheatgrass [Agropyron desertorum Fisch. (Schult.)], western wheatgrass (A. smithii Rydb.). smooth brome (Bromus inermis Leyss.), Altai wildrye (Elymus angustus Trin.), Russian wildrye (E. junceus Fisch.). green neellegrass (Stipa viridula Trin.), sideoats grama [Bouteloua curtipendula (Michx.) Torr.], and blue grama [B. gracilis (H.B.K.) Lag. ex Steud.] were grown in a Temvik silt loam soil (typic Haploborolls, fine , silty, mixed) for 12 weeks in a growth room at soil temperatures ranging from 3.3 to 33.3 C in 5 C increments. Air temperature was held constant and a 16-hour photo period was used. Plant height and water use were measured weekly and dry matter and nitrogen concentration were measured at the conclusion of the study. Crested wheatgrass, Altai wildrye, and green needlegrass reached maximum aboveground dry matter production at 23.3 C. Western wheatgrass, smooth brome, and Russian wildrye produced the most aboveground dry matter at 18.3 C. Crested wheatgrass was the most efficient in water use. Root dry matter production was greatest at 18.3 C for most grasses. Nitrogen concentration of aboveground tissue was usually greatest at soil temperatures of 18.3 or less but all grasses contained sufficient N for grazing livestock. Of the grasses studied, crested wheatgrass, western wheatgrass, and smooth brome appear to be best for dry matter forage production under northern Great Plains climatic conditions.

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