Mowing of Three Fescue Species for Low-Maintenance Turf Sites
- P. H. Dernoeden ,
- M. J. Carroll and
- J. M. Krouse
While Festuca spp. are suited to low management,there is little information regarding their performance with little or no inputs of irrigation, fertilizer, or herbicides. In this 3-yr field study, the quality of ‘Bighorn’ blue fescue [Festuca ovina L. spp. glauca (Lam.)W.D.J. Koch], ‘Aurora’ hard rescue (F. longifolia Thuill.), and ‘Silverado’ and ‘Rebel II’ tall rescue (F. arundinacea Schreber) were compared under three mowing regimes. Turf received no supplemental irrigation or fertilizer following seedling emergence. The three mowing regimes were mowing as needed to a height of $.5 cm (Regime I); monthly mowing to a height of 8.0 cm (Regime H); and monthly mowing initiated following seedhead senescence to a height of 8.0 cm (Regime HI). Initially, both tall rescue (TF) cultivars exhibited very good quality. Within I yr of seeding, however, Bighorn and Aurora quality surpassed that of both TF cultivars. Both TF cultivars were more rapidly and extensively invaded by smooth crabgrass [Digitaria ischaemum (Schreber) Schreber ex Muhlenb.] and white clover (Trifolium repens L.) than either Bighorn or Aurora following a spring drought in the second year of study. By the second summer and thereafter, Bighorng enerally received the highest quality ratings followed by Aurora. Turf maintained in Regime I was generally of higher quality, but seasonal quality ratings during the latter 2 yr of the study were similar for Regimes I and II. Lowest turf quality was most often associated with Regime III , particularly during spring and summer. Herbicide use in the final study year was important in improving the quality and cover of the TF cultivars but only slightly improved Bighorn or Aurora quality. Hence, in a 3-yr absence of irrigation or fertilizer inputs, Bighorn and Aurora maintained better quality and better resisted weed invasion compared with the TF cultivars evaluated.
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