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Irrigation Frequency Differentially Alters Vegetative Growth and Seed Head Development of Poa annua L. Biotypes

Slavens, Mark R., Johnson, Paul G., Bugbee, Bruce
Crop science 2011 v.51 no.1 pp. 314-322
Poa annua, lawns and turf, turf grasses, annuals, perennials, biotypes, irrigation scheduling, frequency, vegetative growth, seed development, plant reproduction, turf management, flowering, soil water content, mowing, dry matter accumulation
L. (annual bluegrass) includes biotypes ranging from true annuals to long-lived perennials. It is widely thought that turfgrass management practices can be altered to promote certain biotypes and minimize undesirable seed head development. This study examined the effect of irrigation frequency on lateral spread and inflorescence development of annual, perennial, and intermediate biotypes. Three treatments were imposed by watering to field capacity and allowing depletion to 12, 8, or 4% volumetric water contents (VWC) before rewatering. Plants were mowed 5 d a week at 6 mm and grown for 3 mo. Plant lateral spread and number of inflorescences were measured weekly. Lateral spread of the perennial and intermediate biotypes was four times faster than the annual biotype, but the annual biotype had a sixfold higher density of inflorescences than either of the other two biotypes. Lateral spread of all biotypes was reduced by more than 60% at the lowest water level (4% VWC), but, unexpectedly, changing irrigation from the highest frequency (12% VWC) to an intermediate frequency (8% VWC) increased lateral spread of the annual biotype 30% and decreased inflorescence density 25%. These results suggest that less frequent irrigations have the potential to increase growth and decrease seed head development.