Intermountain West native and adapted grass species and their management for turfgrass applications

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Agriculture


This research addresses irrigation and water use of native and adapted grasses for turfgrass application. For this purpose, plots were established at the MSU Horticulture Research Farm, Bozeman, MT. The selected native and adapted grass species include 12 single species and 12 mixed species stands of 'Cody' buffalograss, 'Foothills' Canada bluegrass, 'Bad River' blue grama, sheep fescue, Sandberg bluegrass, muttongrass, and wheatgrasses 'Sodar' streambank, 'Road Crest' crested, 'Rosana' western, and 'Critana' thickspike with Kentucky bluegrass and tall fescue as introduced species. A line source irrigation system was installed to allow the plots to be evaluated at four irrigation levels. Experimental measurements on the plots included growth response as determined by clipping yield and quality ratings for color, texture, and density. Estimated timing and recommended minimum amount of water for irrigation for the grasses and mixtures for Bozeman, Montana, was determined from the data. Single species and mixtures that had a good turf quality overall were sheep fescue, blue grama, buffalograss, and the mixture of buffalograss + sheep fescue.
The single species and mixtures with adequate overall turfgrass were western wheatgrass and the mixtures of western wheatgrass + streambank wheatgrass, western wheatgrass + streambank wheatgrass + sheep fescue, blue grama + western wheatgrass, buffalograss + muttongrass, blue grama + muttongrass, and buffalograss + western wheatgrass. Canada bluegrass, crested wheatgrass, streambank wheatgrass, thickspike wheatgrass and the mixtures of Canada bluegrass + crested wheatgrass, and Canada bluegrass + western wheatgrass had poor overall turfgrass ratings and would not be recommended for turfgrass applications. The results indicated that all the single species and mixtures required some irrigation for their optimum turfgrass quality. However, native and adapted grasses required less than or equal to the amount of supplemental irrigation needed by Kentucky bluegrass or tall fescue, and with many species and mixtures in the study, required a later recommended timing for irrigation.




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