Evaluating the Salinity Tolerance of Clonal-type Bermudagrass Cultivars and an Experimental Selection

in HortScience

Bermudagrass (Cynodon sp.) is a highly productive, warm-season, perennial grass that has been grown in the United States for turfgrass, forage, pasture, rangeland, and roadside use. At the same time, many bermudagrass production and reclamation sites across the United States are affected by soil salinity issues. Therefore, identifying bermudagrass with improved salinity tolerance is important for successfully producing bermudagrass and for reclaiming salt-affected sites with saline irrigated water. In this project, the relative salinity tolerance of seven clonal-type bermudagrass was determined, including industry standards and an Oklahoma State University (OSU) experimental line. The experiment was conducted under a controlled environment with six replications of each treatment. Seven bermudagrass entries were exposed to four salinity levels (1.5, 15, 30, and 45 dS·m−1) consecutively via subirrigation systems. The relative salinity tolerance among entries was determined by normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), digital image analysis (DIA), leaf firing (LF), turf quality (TQ), shoot dry weight (SW), visual rating (VR), and dark green color index (DGCI). Results indicated that there were variable responses to salinity stress among the entries studied. As salinity levels of the irrigation water increased, all evaluation criterion decreased, except LF. All entries had acceptable TQ when exposed to 15 dS·m−1. When exposed to 30 dS·m−1, experimental entry OKC1302 had less LF than all other entries except ‘Tifway’, while ‘Midlawn’ showed more LF than all the entries. Leaf firing ranged from 1.0 to 2.7 at 45 dS·m−1, where ‘Tifway’ outperformed all other entries. At 45 dS·m−1, the live green cover as measured using DIA ranged from 3.07% to 24.72%. The parameters LF, TQ, NDVI, DGCI, SW, and DIA were all highly correlated with one another, indicating their usefulness as relative salinity tolerance measurements.

Contributor Notes

Approved for publication by the director of the Oklahoma Agricultural Experiment Station.

We thank Paul Raymer for advice and guidance on the salinity testing methods.

Funds to support this research were provided by the Oklahoma Agricultural Experiment Station and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under award number 2010-51181-21064.

Corresponding author. E-mail: justin.moss@okstate.edu.

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