Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation

Influence of post-harvest management practices on plant growth and seed yield of cool season grasses

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  • Field and controlled environment chamber studies were carried out to evaluate modes of action of post-harvest treatments on the development and seed yield of cool season grasses. Red fescue (Festuca rubra L.) was used as the primary test species. There was no difference in total biomass production of red fescue as influenced by either burning or mechanical removal of post-harvest residue. Burning did cause a shift in biomass distribution resulting in a 168% increase in seed yield. Variation in the number of fertile tillers per unit area accounted for 69% of the seed yield variation. Burned plots produced 582 fertile tillers m⁻² while mechanically removed plots produced 392 fertile tillers m⁻². Statistical analysis indicated that most of the differences in seed yield due to treatment were accounted for by the number of fertile tillers per unit area. Mechanical removal of residue resulted in the development of one axillary tiller per 10 primary tillers of red fescue by December. Burning significantly increased the rate of 16 axillary tillers per 10 primary tillers by the same date. This clearly suggests an increased availability of substrates for fall plant development. This in turn may have contributed to a greater number of fertile tillers in the spring. The overall effect was higher seed yield. Linn perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne), Merion bluegrass (Poa pratensis), Highland bentgrass (Agrostis tenuis), and Alta tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea) all showed a significant increase in the number of axillary tillers developed by November as a result of burning postharvest residue as opposed to mechanical removal. Light energy received by the individual tiller appears to be a major factor influencing early tiller development in red fescue. This factor can be strongly influenced by tiller density. Controlled environment studies suggest that at a tiller (seedling) density of 2 per 100 cm², 47 axillary tillers per 10 primary tillers are produced. When the density is increased to 100 per 100 cm², only 8 axillary tillers per 10 primary tillers are produced. Parallel experiments with light energy showed that at 1800 μwatts cm⁻² and 2 seedlings per 100 cm², 48 axillary tillers were produced per 10 primary tillers. At 900 μwatts cm⁻² under the same conditions only 25 axillary tillers per 10 primary tillers were produced. A reduction in the day temperature from 19 C to 9 C and night temperature from 14 C to 6 C did not affect this light energy-axillary tiller production relationship.
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