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Meghyn Meeks, Ambika Chandra and Ben G. Wherley

Interspecific hybrids between texas bluegrass (Poa arachnifera Torr.) and kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis L.) are known to exhibit good heat tolerance, which has aided in their adaptation to the warmer climates of the southern United States, but their tolerance to shade has not been investigated. The objectives of this study were to 1) evaluate the growth responses of interspecific bluegrass hybrids (P. arachnifera × P. pratensis) in comparison with kentucky bluegrasses and a shade-tolerant cultivar of tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) under full sunlight and shaded environments, 2) identify optimum times to evaluate shade tolerance using the selected growth measurements, 3) calculate the minimum daily light requirements to retain acceptable turfgrass quality, and 4) determine if trinexapac-ethyl (TE) applications enhance hybrid bluegrass quality under shade. Two 10-week greenhouse experiments (late spring and early fall) were conducted in Dallas, TX. Within each of three light environments a randomized complete block design was used to accommodate three replications of eight genotypes treated with and without TE (0 or 0.228 kg·ha−1 a.i.). Turfgrass quality, leaf elongation rates, clipping dry weights, and percent green cover were measured. Meaningful comparisons were best during the late spring when daily light integrals (DLI) were optimum for healthy plant growth. Shade-tolerant hybrid bluegrasses (DALBG 1201 and TAES 5654) were identified using turfgrass quality and leaf elongation rates. These genotypes exhibited above-acceptable turfgrass quality in all environments, and a reduced leaf elongation rate similar to the tested dwarf-type tall fescue. DLI requirements of DALBG 1201 and TAES 5654 were ≤4 to achieve acceptable quality. TE applications generally did not improve turfgrass quality of genotypes, although leaf elongation rates were significantly reduced in all environments.

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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.