Published on December 20, 2007
Drought Resistant Turf Species for Colorado Tony Koski Extension Turf Specialist Colorado State University Dept. of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture
Turfgrass Responses to Drought Stress Wilt Reduced vertical growth Decreased density Reduced color Increased leaf firing Increased canopy temperature
Drought Resistance Tolerance Avoidance Escape J. Levitt, 1980
Drought Escape Plant completes its life cycle prior to the onset of drought Example: Poa annua var. annua
Drought Tolerance Increased tolerance of dehydration Osmotic adjustment Na+, K+, Cl- Recycling of CO2 Ability to recover Example: Kentucky bluegrass
Drought Avoidant Grasses Have: High internal H2O potential Continued growth and development
Drought Avoidance Mechanisms Reduced ET Deep, Extensive Root System Root Plasticity High Root:Shoot Reduced radiation absorption Example: Tall Fescue Xeromorphic characteristics
Turfgrass water use Total amount of water used for growth plus that lost by transpiration and evaporation from plant and soil surfaces. J. B. Beard, 1973 May or may not be related to drought resistance
Turfgrass ET Classification Relative ET Ranking mm day-1 Very low < 4.0 Low 4.0-4.9 Medium-low 5.0-5.9 Medium 6.0-6.9 Medium-high 7.0-7.9 High 8.0-8.9 Very high >9.0 J. B. Beard, 1985 Tall fescue Kentucky bluegrass, buffalograss
Reported range of turfgrass ET by species ET+ Com on Nam m e Scientific Name Inch/wk (m day-1) m Tall Fescue 7-13 2.0-3.8 Festuca arundinacea 1.8-3.1 Perennial Ryegrass 7-11 Loliumperenne St. Augustinegrass 6-11 Stenotaphrumsecundatum Seashore Paspalum 6-8 Paspalumvaginatum Bahiagrass 6-8 Paspalumnotatum Kikuyugrass 6-9 Pennisetumclandestinum Creeping Bentgrass 6-10 Agrostis Palustris Centipedegrass 5-9 Erem ochloa ophiuroides Berm udagrass 4-9 Cynodon spp. Zoysiagrass 5-8 Zoysia spp. 1.1-1.8 Kentucky Bluegrass 4-7 Poa pratensis 1.5-2.0 Buffalograss 3-6 Buchloe dactyloides + Field grown under high evaporative demand conditions
Turf Survival Without Water in Colorado BEST: buffalograss, blue grama, bromegrass, wheatgrasses, bermudagrass can survive without ANY supplemental irrigation FAIR: Kentucky bluegrass, fine fescues, bentgrass and zoysiagrass can become dormant and survive for many (3-6) months without irrigation; some thinning will occur POOR: perennial ryegrass and tall fescue may survive 2-4 months without ANY irrigation, but will be severely thinned VERY POOR: annual bluegrass; survives due to prolific seed production
Factors Affecting Drought Survival Condition/health of turf entering drought Exposure to sun, wind Soil type (better survival on fine-textured soils) Excess thatch will reduce survivability Varietal differences Traffic will reduce ability to survive prolonged drought
Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis) High quality Great recuperator Sod-former Stress-resistant Thatch-former Poor shade tolerance Disease-prone Higher water and N requirements
KBG is drought resistant KBG cultivars vary in ability to remain green during extended drought
KBG Varieties for Drought Resistance SR2000 Livingston America Unique Apollo Showcase Brilliant Classic Compact
How much water does bluegrass REALLY need to stay green?
Annual Lawn Water Needs KBG needs 24-26 inches per growing season to stay healthy “normal” precipitation year (10-11 inches, April-October) Accounts for average irrigation coverage provides for trees, other plants in the landscape Tall fescue maybe 10% less than KBG (20-22 inches) With deep roots With good subsoil moisture, normal precipitation year Tall fescue maybe 10% MORE than KBG with shallow rooting, no subsoil moisture (or poor soil) Fine fescues? 18-20 inches (with deep roots, good soil) Buffalograss? 8-10 inches for GOOD quality Bermudagrass? Slightly less than buffalograss! Saltgrass? Less than or equal to bermuda and buffalograss
KBG Varieties for Heavy Use Rugby II Compact America Haga Champagne Jewel Sidekick Liberator Bluechip Princeton 105 Odyssey Quantum Leap Unique Rambo Brilliant Total Eclipse Award Limousine
Tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea) Slow thatch former “Tough” turf/good quality Few pest problems Low N requirement, and MAY save water Can’t recuperate “Tender” when young More frequent mowing than KBG Tough leaves dull mower blades
Buffalograss (Buchloe dactyloides) Native to North America Very stress resistant Low maintenance Sod-former Difficult to propagate Poor traffic tolerance Dormant most of year Weeds can be a problem
Turf-type 609 tall fescue buffalograss
Buffalograss Tall fescue
Buffalograsses for Colorado Seeded types Tatanka, Cody, Sharpshooter, Sharps Improved, Topgun Vegetative types Legacy (good availability) 315, 378 (available in NE) 609 (marginal winterhardiness)
Fine fescues (Festuca spp.) Low maintenance Good stress tolerance Fine texture, high density Shade tolerant Poor traffic tolerance Don’t like heat (dormancy) Very thatchy Plum Creek Golf Club Poor recuperation rate fine fescue roughs
Kentucky Bluegrass Texas Bluegrass Hybrid Bluegrass Kentucky Bluegrass Texas Bluegrass (Poa pratensis L.) (Poa arachnifera Torr.) X Apomictic Diecious (asexual plants) (male/female plants)
Hybrid Bluegrass Regions of Adaptation Colorado Arizona Texas
Development of Turf-type Saltgrass Dana Christensen, Yaling Qian, Tony Koski, Harrison Hughes Colorado State University David Kopec and Mohamed Pessarkli University of Arizona
Our Goal? Fairway Quality Saltgrass (or better?)
Saltgrass Availability Sod Currently being grown at Gardner Turfgrass (AZ) 2-3 years? Seed 5-6 years for turf- type variety
CSU Turf Web Site http://csuturf.colostate.edu
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