Hardening Behavior, Winter Survival, and Forage Productivity of Festuca Species and Cultivars in Subarctic Alaska1
- L. J. Klebesadel2
Marginal to inadequate winterhardiness is a continuing problem in grasses used for forage production and turf purposes in subarctic, southcentral Alaska. Cultlvars or strains from various latitudinal sources within five Festuca species or subspecies were compared in field plots in Knik silt loam soil (coarse-silty over sandy or sandy-skeletal, mixed, nonacid Typic Cryorthent) over 18 experiment-years for relative winterhardiness and forage production. Also three red fescues (F. rubra L.) of diverse latitudinal adaptation and differing widely in winterhardiness here (cvs. Arctared, Duraturf, Illahee) were compared for changes dry matter concentration in crown tissues during winterhardening, food reserves stored by onset of winter, and winter survival of plants left in the field. All broad-leaved fescues evaluated; including meadow fescue (F. elatior L.) strains ‘Bottnia II’, ‘Tammisto’, ‘An-2356’, and commercial, and tall fescue (F. arundi. nacea Schreb.) cv. Alta; winterkilled completely during the first or second winter of each test. Fine-leaved fescues generally deficient in winterhardiness included ‘Highlight’ and commercial chewings fescue (F. rubra var. commutata Gaud.), ‘Durar’ hard fescue [F. ovina var. duriuscula (L .) Koch], and red fescue cultivars from the conterminous 48 states (‘Ranier’, ‘Pennlawn’, Illahee) and from Canada (‘Boreal’, ‘Olds’). Duraturf, selected in Canada from germplasm of Scandinavian origin, was the most winterhardly of introduced cultivars, but it was not as hardy or productive of forage as the extremely winterhardy, subarctic adapted Arctared, developed in Alaska. Hardiness ranking of red fescue cultivars was Arctared > Duraturf > Boreal ≥ Olds > Ranier = Pennlawn > lllahe. Arctared, selected for turf characteristics, produced as much forage as ‘Polar’ bromegrass (predominantly Bromus inermis Leyss ✕ B. pumpellianus Scribn.), an Alaskan cultivar selected for forage productivity. Superior winterhardines of Arctared was associated with northernmost adaptation, highest percent dry matter in crowns, highest levels of stored reserves, and slowest expression of reserves as etiolated growth. Poorest winter survival occurred with southernmost-adapted Illahee which was lowest in percent dry matter in crowns and stored lowest level of food reserves. Duraturf, of intermediate-latitudinal adaptation, was intermediate in crown moisture, reserve storage, and winter survival.Please view the pdf by using the Full Text (PDF) link under 'View' to the left.
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