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  • Author or Editor: Francesco Maria Rogai x
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In the transition zone, warm-season grasses are often overseeded with diploid perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L., 2n = 2x = 14) to provide a temporary green surface for winter sporting activities. Because improved cultivars of perennial ryegrass will often persist into summer in overseeded turf, alternative cool-season grasses have been developed to facilitate more rapid transition back to the warm-season species. Limited information is available on these alternative species, especially with regard to their germination characteristics under shade and performance under limiting factors, such as low temperature and restricted photoperiod. Greenhouse and growth chamber studies were designed to test four alternative overseeding grasses in comparison with diploid perennial ryegrass, to verify their potential use in the artificial environment of modern stadiums. Meadow fescue (Festuca pratensis Huds.), tetraploid perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L., 2n = 4x = 28), annual ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum Lam.), and spreading diploid perennial ryegrass [Lolium perenne L. subsp. stoloniferum (C. Lawson) Wipff.] were tested. Six different shade treatments were used in the greenhouse study, including 30%, 50%, 70%, 90%, and 100% shade and a nonshaded control (0% shade). Germination was monitored daily over a 21-day period by counting and removing emerged seedlings. The experimental design for this study was a randomized complete block design, with four replications of each species and shade level for a total of 120 experimental units. In the growth chamber study, the same plant material was tested simulating optimal, suboptimal, and critical environmental conditions that can be potentially found within a modern sport facility. In the greenhouse study, the highest final germination was observed with annual ryegrass at 90% shade (98.7%), whereas the lowest for tetraploid perennial ryegrass at 30% shade (58.8%). Annual ryegrass was the fastest emerging species, whereas meadow fescue the slowest. In the growth chamber study, in comparison with perennial ryegrass, the following results may be summarized: 1) meadow fescue and tetraploid ryegrass showed coarser leaf texture, similar growth rates and Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) value; 2) annual ryegrass had similar leaf texture, accelerated growth characteristics, and lower NDVI value; and 3) spreading perennial ryegrass displayed finer leaf texture, lower vertical growth, and similar NDVI value.

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