Spring irrigation management of tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) seed crops Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/k643b348b

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  • Later maturing cultivars and increased ability to apply irrigation have led to inquiries by producers about proper irrigation management in tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) seed crops. The literature reveals little information about irrigation of perennial grass seed crops in general, and none about tall fescue in particular. Willamette Valley producers need research-based information on which to base irrigation management decisions. A field study was established near Corvallis, Oregon on a Woodburn silt loam soil (fine-silty, mixed, mesic, Aquultic Argixeroll) to study the effect of spring irrigation on six cultivars of tall fescue. Dryland conditions were compared to (1) irrigation to fill the profile to field capacity (238 mm) at anthesis and (2) irrigation to maintain water deficit ≤ 50 n-rn-i below field capacity until the beginning of seed fill. Soil water was monitored with time domain reflectometry (TDR) at 15-cm increments to a depth of 60 cm. Data from the experiment were used to calculate reproductive efficiency (RE), harvest index (HI) and water use efficiency (WUE). The 2003 growing season was wet during the first half and dry during the second half, while the 2004 season was characterized by alternating moist and dry periods. Both irrigation treatments received 78 mm of water in 2003. In 2004, treatments received 112 and 172 mm of water for the single application and maintained application, respectively. Responses did not differ between the two irrigated treatments. In both years, an interaction existed between irrigation and cultivar for yield but not for seed number and weight. In 2003, yields were increased by 13 to 39% over non-irrigated yields, depending on cultivar. 'Barrington' and 'Bingo' showed the strongest response to irrigation. 'Velocity' was not responsive to irrigation in 2004, though the remaining cultivars exhibited a positive yield response (14%). Seed weight across cultivars increased with irrigation in 2003 and 2004. Seed number increased with irrigation in 2003 but not 2004. Potential yield, tiller and panicle characteristics, RE, HI and WUE were not affected by irrigation but were cultivar dependant. Average RE was greater in 2004 (3 1%) than in 2003 (19%). Harvest indices ranged from 0.05 to 0.19. Water use efficiency ranged from 2.92 to 9.92 kg ha⁻¹ mm⁻¹, averaging 6.21 kg ha⁻¹ mm⁻¹. In general, the reduction of water deficit stress during seed fill increases tall fescue yield due to increases in seed weight and number. However, level of response depended on cultivar and climatic conditions during the growing season. Irrigation in the present study would have been profitable for Willamette Valley producers.
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