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- Author or Editor: Cécile Bertin x
A series of field studies were conducted from 1999 to 2005 in Ithaca, NY, at the Cornell Turfgrass Research Center as part of the National Turfgrass Evaluation Program (NTEP) to evaluate a collection of 78 fine-leaf fescue cultivars (Festuca spp.) for turfgrass quality, seedling vigor, and ability to inhibit the establishment of common annual and perennial weeds. Using these criteria, we evaluated the overall suitability of the cultivars for use in turfgrass settings, as well as their potential weed suppressive or allelopathic ability. The ability of fine-leaf fescue to displace weeds was visually evaluated by density-wise comparison, and several cultivars of the 78 studied consistently established well and provided good to very good suppression (greater than 70%) of common turf weeds when established at the same planting density. Other cultivars provided moderate (between 35% and 70%) to (< 30%) little weed suppression. Greater weed suppressivity is likely associated with the differential ability of fescue cultivars to establish rapidly and to form a dense canopy, as well as potential allelopathic interference. This study was conducted in conjunction with laboratory experiments that revealed that certain fine-leaf fescue cultivars produced phytotoxic root exudates that were released into the rhizosphere over time. Additional field studies conducted in Ithaca showed that cultivars Intrigue, Columbra, and Sandpiper were consistently more weed suppressive than the other fine-leaf fescues evaluated. Although our understanding of the dynamics of production and degradation of fine-leaf fescue root exudates in the rhizosphere is limited, recent field studies also suggest that allelopathic interference as well as the ability to rapidly establish influence subsequent weed infestation in fine-leaf fescue stands. From a more practical standpoint, certain fine-leaf fescue cultivars, including Intrigue, Columbra, Sandpiper, and Reliant II, could be recommended for use in low-maintenance turf settings in the northeastern United States due to their aesthetic appeal and their limited weed infestation in circumstances where herbicides are not applied.