Growth and Water Use of Tall Fescue as Influenced by Several Soil Drying Cycles1
- M. J. King and
- L. P. Bush2
Many investigations have studied various physiological processes using plants watered on a schedule with the effect of this watering schedule seldom considered significant. An understanding of the effect of watering frequency on growth and water use is required to understand water stress tolerance of tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.). Experiments were designed to evaluate the effect of watering schedule in greenhouse grown tall fescue on growth, water use, and meristem tissue water status. Growth and water use as well as water, osmotic, and turgor potential of the leaf meristematic region were measured on tall fescue seedlings that had been exposed to several Maury soil (a fine, mixed, mesic Typic Paleudalfs) drying cycles (stressed and daily watered). Growth, measured as leaf extension rate (LER), was greater for seedlings watered to field capacity every 4th day than daily watered seedlings when soil of both treatments was allowed to dry. No signifwant difference in water potential or osmotic potential was observed during the experiment, and the dxerential LER was not dependent on turgor potential of the meristematic area which was similar to both treatments. Water use was 50 to 100% higher in control seedlings during the first 48 h of a soil drying cycle than in stressed seedlings. After several soil drying cycles the enhanced growth of stressed plants increased as high as 280%, then declined over the next 24 days of daily watering to about 50% above the control. The enhanced LER did not result in greater shoot fresh weights, but, repeated soil drying depressed root development. Consequently, growth, water status, and water use by tall fescue plants during an experiment must be evaluated in terms of the plants prior water stress history.Please view the pdf by using the Full Text (PDF) link under 'View' to the left.
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