Shoot and Root Characterization of Rudbeckia hirta L. Mowed at Different Heights

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  • 1 Department of Horticulture, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE 68583-0724
  • | 2 Department of Horticulture, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE 68583-0724
  • | 3 Department of Horticulture, Forestry, and Recreation Resources, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506-5506

Significant research has been conducted on wildflower sod, but the reasoning behind the production system methods is not clear. The purpose of this research was to determine the influence of mowing height on the subsequent leaf growth and root biomass distribution in a wildflower sod production system. Rudbeckia hirta was grown in sand in polyvinyl chloride (PVC) tubes in simulating field conditions. Plants were either not mowed (control) or hand-clipped to 5.1, 7.6, or 10.2 cm to simulate mowing. After the initial mowing, plants were mowed at ≈7-day intervals. Total root depth, number of root axes in the top 2.5 cm, root: shoot ratio, total root dry weight, and root dry weight at depths of 0.0-2.5, 2.5-21.7, 21.7-40.8, and 40.8-60.0 cm were measured at the end of the study. Comparing the total root dry weight of all segments indicates that mowing significantly reduces root biomass. As mowing height increased, the depth of longest root increased linearly. Plants not mowed or plants mowed to 10.2 cm produced significantly more root axes in the top 2.5 cm of sand than did mowing heights of 5.1 or 7.6 cm. Root dry weight in the top 2.5 cm was considerably greater in nonmowed plants. Increased root axes in sod with higher mowing heights indicated a greater root density, which may also increase wildflower sod stability.

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to whom reprint requests should be addressed. E-mail address: ghorst@unlserve.unl.edu
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