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Rooting characteristics and associated drought resistance of zoysiagrasses

Marcum, K.B., Engelke, M.C., Marton, S.J., White, R.H.
Agronomy journal 1995 v.87 no.3 pp. 534-538
Zoysia japonica, Zoysia matrella, Zoysia tenuifolia, hybrids, lawns and turf, drought tolerance, root systems, cultivars, branching, weight
Declining availability of water for landscape irrigation has increased the need for drought-resistant turfgrasses. Though drought-resistance mechanisms are known to include deep rooting in some plants, little is known concerning zoysiagrass rooting characteristics. This study was conducted to determine if differences in rooting parameters exist among zoysiagrasses, and if they are associated with drought resistance. Twenty- five zoysiagrasses cultivars and species [Zoysia japonica Steud., Z. matrella (L.) Merr., and Z. japonicea Steud. X Z. tenuifolia Willd. ex Trin.] were studied in polyethylene tubes in a glasshouse. Differences were observed for average maximum root depth (AMRD), total root weight, and root numbers and weights at increasing 100-mm depth increments. Average maximum root depth was positively correlated with total root weight and root number and weight at increasing 100-mm depth increments. Grasses with superior AMRD, total root weight, and root numbers at deeper profile depths (300-500 mm) included QT2047, El Toro, DALZ8512, TC5018, Meyer, DALZ8514, and DALZ8516. In a previously reported field experiment, 11 of the 25 zoysiagrasses were rated for percent of plot area covered by green turfgrass (an indicator of drought resistance) under three levels of irrigation (0, 35, and 100% of turfgrass evapotranspiration [ET]). Average maximum root depth, total root weight, and root numbers at 200-, 300-, and 400-mm depths in polyethylene root tubes were positively correlated with percent green plot cover in the field under deficit irrigation (0 and 35% ET), indicating that rooting depth, weight, and branching at lower depths are important drought-resistance mechanisms in zoysiagrasses.