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Seedling performance associated with live or herbicide treated tall fescue

Jonathan J. Halvorson, David P. Belesky, Harry W. Goodwin
International journal of agronomy 2015 v.2015 no.Article ID 841213 pp. -
Festuca arundinacea, Medicago sativa, Trifolium pratense, Trifolium repens, alfalfa, biomass, cultivars, endophytes, forage grasses, fungi, herbicides, herbivores, host plants, livestock production, nitrogen, nutritive value, pesticide application, plant competition, root growth, seed germination, seedling growth, seedlings, shoots, soil, sward
Tall fescue is an important forage grass which can host systemic fungal endophytes. The association of host grass and endophyte is known to influence herbivore behavior and host plant competition for resources. Establishing legumes into existing tall fescue sods is a desirable means to acquire nitrogen and enhance the nutritive value of forage for livestock production. Competition from existing tall fescue typically must be controlled to ensure interseeding success. We used a soil-on-agar method to determine if soil from intact, living (L), or an herbicide killed (K) tall fescue sward influenced germination and seedling growth of three cultivars of tall fescue (E+, MaxQ, and E-) or legumes (alfalfa, red clover, and white clover). After 30 days, seedlings were larger and present in greater numbers when grown in L soil rather than K soil. Root growth of legumes (especially white clover) and tall fescue (especially MaxQ) were not as vigorous in K soil as L soil. While shoot biomass was similar for all cultivars of tall fescue in L soil, MaxQ produced less herbage when grown in K soil. Our data suggest establishing legumes or fescue cultivars may not be improved by first killing the existing fescue sod and seedling performance can exhibit significant interseasonal variation, related only to soil conditions.