Establishment of Red Fescue Seed Crops with Cereal Companion Crops. I. Morphological Responses
- T. G. Chastain and
- D. F. Grabe
A number of perennial grass seed crops, including red fescue (Festuca rubra L.), do not produce a seed crop during the establishment year. Planting red fescue with cereal companion crops would enable the grower to obtain an income from the grain crop during the establishment year. The objectives of this study were to determine the feasibility of establishing red fescue seed crops with cereal companion crops in Oregon's Willamette Valley and to examine the influence of cereal companion crops, cultivars, and row spacings on growth environment and plant development of red fescue. ‘Pennlawn’ red fescue was charcoal-seeded in 30-cm rows in October 1982 and 1983 on a Woodburn silt loam (fine-silty, mixed, mesic Aquultic Argixeroll) soil near Corvallis, OR. ‘Yamhill’ and ‘Hill 81’ winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.), and ‘Hesk’ and ‘Scio’ winter barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) were drilled in 15-, 30-, 45- and 60-cm rows perpendicular to the red fescue rows. The effect of wheat and barley on photosynthetic photon flux density (PPFD), soil moisture available to red fescue plants, and red fescue growth characteristics were monitored until cereals were harvested. Companion crops reduced PPFD incident on red fescue plants by as much as 90% at peak cereal leaf area~ This greatly decreased red fescue tiller numbers, dry matter production, and increased tiller height. The two cereals did not differentially affect red fescue growth. Increasing row spacing resulted in more red fescue tillers, dry matter, and reduced etiolation of tillers. Soil moisture content was not decreased by establishment with cereals. Competition by companion crops for PPFD was more important than for soil moisture in reducing red fescue growth during the establishment year. The effect of companion crops on red fescue seed yield and the economic returns from this cropping system are reported in a companion paper.
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