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Agronomy Journal Abstract -

Yield and Persistence of Tall Fescue in the Southeastern Coastal Plain after Removal of Its Endophyte


This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 85 No. 1, p. 52-55
    Received: Dec 2, 1991

    * Corresponding author(s):
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  1. J.H. Bouton ,
  2. R.N. Gates,
  3. D.P. Belesky and
  4. M. Owsley
  1. A gronomy Dep., Univ. of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602
    U SDA-ARS, Coastal Plain Exp. Stn., Tifton, GA 31793
    U SDA-ARS, Applachian Soil and Water Conserv. Res. Lab., Beckley, WV 25802
    U SDA-SCS, Americus Plant Materials Ctr, Americus, GA 31709



The coastal plain of the southeastern USA lacks a dependable perennial cool season forage crop, but tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) germplasms have been developed which show greater persistence and yield than currently marketed cultivars in this region. Since these germplasms were found to be infected with the tall fescue endophyte (Acremonium coenophialum Morgan-Jones and Gams), the contribution of the endophyte to their performance was unknown. The objective of this study was to compare yield and stand survival of endophyte-infected (El) and endophyte-free (EF) (achieved by removal of its endophyte) versions of four persistent germplasms (GA-5, GA-Jesup, GA-Jesup Improved, and GA-Ecotype KY31) in clipped small plots at three locations in Georgia (Americus and Tifton in the coastal plain and Watkinsville located in the fescue growing area of the southern piedmont region) for a 3-yr period. The El version of each germplasm showed greater stand survival and yield than its EF version at Americus and Tifton, but no differences were recorded for infection status for the same parameters at Watkinsville. These findings indicate that endophyte removal greatly reduces the ecological fitness of tall fescue by possibly allowing less tolerance to summer drought. Presently, only El tall fescue can be dependably recommended for perennial pasture in the southeastern coastal plain.

Research supported by state and Hatch funds allocated to the Georgia Agric. Exp. Stns. and ARS and SCS funds.

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