Monday, November 2, 2009: 10:15 AM
Convention Center, Room 315, Third Floor
Prairie junegrass (Koeleria macrantha (Ledeb.) Shultes) is a perennial, short-grass prairie species widely distributed throughout the Northern Hemisphere. This species is known to require fewer inputs than other cool-season turfgrasses and it demonstrates tolerance to many environmental stresses found in Minnesota; however, the species has received little attention as a low-input turfgrass. The objective of this study was to evaluate the variation in turfgrass quality characteristics in the U.S. National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS) accessions of prairie junegrass. In June 2007, 48 K. macrantha accessions from NPGS were grown and evaluated in mowed, space plantings in 2 locations (St. Paul, MN and Becker, MN). Significant variation was found among accessions for several turf quality characteristics including density, color, texture, and overall turf quality. A unique mat-like phenotype was identified within several accessions that maintained vegetative growth below the 6.35 cm mowing height after 2 years at the Becker location. In 2008, 10 collections at the Becker location and 33 collections at St. Paul exhibited a mean acceptable turfgrass quality (above 5.0). The top performing turfgrass collection (Ireland, PI430287), also demonstrated the highest color and density ratings at both locations. This line appears to be tetraploid which could limit its use in the breeding program. The significant variation in quality traits observed in the accessions indicate that it should be possible to incorporate important turfgrass quality characteristics into the germplasm improvement program.