Thursday, November 8, 2007 - 10:15 AM

Soil Water Use Patterns of Tall Fescue and Hybrid Bluegrass.

Leonard Githinji, Jacob H. Dane, and Robert H. Walker. Auburn University, Auburn University, 285 Funchess Hall, Auburn, AL 36849-5412

Knowledge of water use patterns is important in the turf industry for selecting turfgrasses that withstand drought stress and also for developing efficient irrigation management practices. This study was designed to assess the response of tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) and hybrid bluegrass cultivars to water deficit conditions. The hybrid bluegrass cultivars were genetic crosses between Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis L.) and Texas bluegrass (Poa arachnifera Torr.). Field experiments were conducted at the Turfgrass research facility, Auburn University, AL, to evaluate the performance of hybrid bluegrasses compared to tall fescue cultivars. The study periods were from June through September in 2005 and in 2006. Four hybrid bluegrasses: HB 129 (Thermal Blue), HB 130 (Experimental line), HB 328 (Experimental line) and HB 329 (Dura Blue) and two tall fescue (Kentucky 31 and Green Keeper) cultivars were included in this study. These grasses were seeded in the fall of 2004 and three irrigation treatments were applied based on potential evapotranspiration (ET). These were 100 % ET, 80 % ET and 60 % ET replacement. Tensiometers were installed at 7.5 cm, 15 cm and 30 cm depths for each of the blocks and matric head values were monitored daily. Results generally demonstrated that hybrid bluegrasses were able to survive reduced soil moisture content better than the tall fescue cultivars. Performance ranking was: HB 130 (best water saving) > HB 129 > HB 328 > HB 329 > Kentucky 31 tall fescue > Green Keeper tall fescue (least water saving).