282 Shoot and Root Characteristics of Rudbeckia hirta L. at Different Clipping Heights in a Model Wildflower Sod Production System

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  • 1 Horticulture Dept., University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE 68583

Field-grown wildflower sod has been in production for several years, but as with any crop management system, the reasoning behind the methods is not always known. One characteristic of wildflower sod production that has been debated is the height at which the plant is maintained. The above-ground shoot growth is managed to reduce the damage to plants when undercut and to allow for ease of shipping. Growers typically use a height of 7.6 cm because this is the highest height allowed by many mowers. Also, root production is the key to forming a sod that will hold together well and withstand the rigors of undercutting, lifting, storage, and transplanting. The purpose of this study was to determine the influence of cutting height on the plant's ability to produce a sod. Rudbeckia hirta L. was used as a model wildflower species and was seeded into polyvinyl chloride (PVC) tubes 10.2 cm in diameter with a depth of 60 cm to simulate a field situation. To characterize shoot and root growth, during a period of 12 weeks plants either received no clipping or continuous clipping at heights of 5.1, 7.6, and 10.2 cm. Root dry weights were measured at depths of 0-2.54, 2.54-21.7, 21.7-40.8, and 40.8--60.0 cm. Leaf area measurements of the clippings were recorded to determine productivity. Results indicated that clipping the shoots of Rudbeckia hirta caused a decrease in root biomass.

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