Little is known about intraspecific variability in St. Augustinegrass [Stenotaphrum secundatum (Walt.) Kuntze] freezing tolerance and the physiological factors that may influence survival. Stolons of field-grown `Raleigh', `Floratam', and FX-332 St. Augustinegrass were sampled between October and March in 1990 to 1991 and 1991 to 1992 to measure freezing tolerance, nonstructural carbohydrates, and water content. Stolons were exposed to temperatures between 1 and -8C in a freezer, and regrowth was evaluated in the greenhouse. Generally, freezing tolerance of `Raleigh' > `Floratam' = FX-332. `Raleigh' exhibited >60% survival in December and January, while survival of `Floratam' and FX-332 was <20%. `Raleigh' was the only cultivar that acclimated, as indicated by a 75% increase in survival between October and December 1990. Starch and sucrose were the primary storage carbohydrates extracted from stolons, but neither was correlated with freezing tolerance. A negative (r = -0.80) correlation was observed between `Raleigh' survival and stolon water content between January and March 1991. Reduced water content in `Raleigh' stolons during winter months may contribute to acclimation.
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