Drought Resistance in Centipedegrass Cultivars

in HortScience

In our study, we sought to determine if an experimental cultivar of centipedegrass [`TC178'; Eremochloa ophiuroides (Munro) Hack.] had superior turf characteristics under extended droughts. Common centipedegrass (CC), vegetatively propagated `TC178' (VG178), and seed-propagated (F3) `TC178' (SD178) were evaluated in a 2-year controlled watering study that compared turf characteristics and drought resistance. The grasses were established under an automated rainfall shelter and were subjected to three drought regimes: watered twice per week (no stress), 2 to 3 weeks between watering (moderate), and 4 to 6 weeks between watering (severe). Turf characteristics (visual rating and clipping biomass) were measured weekly and soil water content profiles were measured daily. Visual ratings among cultivars were similar for no-stress conditions, but visual ratings of SD178 and VG178 were 18% higher than for CC for moderate stress and 28% higher for severe stress. At the end of moderate stress periods, clipping biomass of VG178 was 24% greater than for CC, but by the end of the severe stress periods, biomass from VG178 was 22% lower than for CC. Available soil water content profiles indicated that the three cultivars extracted soil water at the same rate. Visual ratings and growth decline with survival under severe stress showed that VG178 and SD178 had significantly better drought resistance than CC. `TC178' provides a superior appearance turf that will stand up to the droughts common in its adapted region.

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