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Ben Wherley, Ambika Chandra, Anthony Genovesi, Mason Kearns, Tim Pepper, and Jim Thomas

St. augustinegrass [Stenotaphrum secundatum (Walt.) Kuntze] is considered to be one of the most shade-tolerant warm-season turfgrasses, yet information is lacking on intraspecies developmental responses and performance in shade. This greenhouse study was conducted to 1) compare quality, development, and physiological responses of 10 commercial and experimental lines of st. augustinegrass in moderate and heavy [32% and 15% photosynthetic photon flux (PPF), respectively] shade environments’ and 2) evaluate physiological and morphological indicators that could be used in rapid screening for shade tolerance among st. augustinegrass progeny from a segregating population. A range of shade tolerance was observed between the entries, as noted by quality and percent green cover after 10 weeks of imposed shade conditions. In moderate shade, most entries maintained acceptable (6 or greater) quality and greater than 50% green cover. However, in heavy shade, only ‘Captiva’, ‘Amerishade’, and ‘PI 600734’ maintained acceptable quality, with only PI 600734 and Captiva maintaining greater than 50% cover. ‘TAES 5732-6’, an embryo rescue-derived hybrid from ‘Floratam’, exhibited the least shade tolerance of the group in both shade environments. Neither chlorophyll content nor total nonstructural carbohydrates related well to observed shade quality differences between the entries. A strong correlation existed between shoot elongation rate of a cultivar and its corresponding final percent green cover in moderate shade (R 2 = 0.66) but not in heavy shade (R 2 = 0.19), suggesting that moderate shade may be the better environment for discriminating genetic differences among st. augustinegrass germplasm for shade tolerance.