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Evaluation of Cool Season Grass Varieties for Date of Heading Evaluation of Cool Season Grass Varieties for Date of Heading

Sid Bosworth, Associate Extension Professor, Plant & Soil Science Department, University of Vermont  sid.bosworth@uvm.edu



Cool season grasses are important forage species for dairy and other livestock producers in Vermont. Many grass species grow well with Vermont’s cool climate and varied soil environments. Grasses offer the potential for moderate to high yields and high quality and are excellent depositories for animal manure nutrients. A major challenge for producing high quality forage from cool season grasses is the short harvest window since forage quality declines rapidly within a short amount of time. One way to manage this dilemma is by growing grass species and varieties across the farm that offer a wide range of maturity times. The objective of this trial is to evaluate the relative differences in maturity of named and experimental varieties of the major forage grasses grown in Vermont.

Materials and Methods
As part of a cooperative effort with Cornell University, fifty cultivars of Timothy, 30 of orchardgrass, one of reed canarygrass and smooth bromegrass each, four of tall fescue, one of alfalfa, and two of birdsfoot trefoil  were seeded in 3’ by 25’ plots (one replication) on 8/15/95 on an Adams silt loam soil at the UVM Horticultural Research Center.  In 1996, 1997 and 1998, the whole treatment area was cut twice and fertilized with 50 lbs. of N (ammonium nitrate).  Starting in the spring of 1997 and repeated in 1998, each plot was monitored for maturity by determining the “date of heading” which is defined as the date when a plot has at least five tillers in the early head stage.

No yield data was collected from these plots.  There was only enough seed for one replication and yield was not assessed from such a situation.

Results
In both years,  orchardgrass matured earlier  than Timothy, reed canarygrass or smooth bromegrass (Table 2).  However, there was about a two week range in maturity dates within both orchardgrass and Timothy.  Grass response to environmental conditions varied.  When comparing years (Figure 1, Table 2), orchardgrass had about a two week earlier average heading date in 1998, which had a early, warm spring, as compared to 1997, which had a more typical cool spring.  On the other hand, Timothy’s average heading date was only a few days different between years.  The initiation of flowering in orchardgrass requires both long days and a temperature range of 62 to 91 degrees (1).   Most Timothy cultivars have been found to be less influenced by temperature except for cultivars developed at higher latitudes (2).  We found this same relationship.  The earliest heading cultivars had the greatest differences between years (Figure 1).

Figure 1.  Frequency distributions of orchardgrass and timothy date of heading in 1997 and 1998.
 

Table 1.  Average date of heading and standard deviation (days) of orchardgrass
and Timothy for 1997 and 1998.
 

Ave. Heading Date
Standard Deviation
n
1997
1998
1997
1998
Orchardgrass
30
4-Jun
23-May
6.0
7.4
Timothy
44
15-Jun
11-Jun
5.5
8.3

Table 2. Date of first five tillers reaching heading stage for each variety and specie, South Burlington, VT, 1997 and 1998.
 

Species
Variety
Date of Heading*
97 Order
Date of Heading*
98 Order
Orchardgrass
AC Nordic
5-Jun
8
26-May
12
Orchardgrass
AC Splender
8-Jun
11
26-May
12
Orchardgrass
Artic
6-Jun
9
26-May
12
Orchardgrass
Axiom
3-Jun
6
26-May
12
Orchardgrass
Bar DGL 5USF
3-Jun
6
20-May
6
Orchardgrass
Bar H DGL 051
30-May
2
20-May
6
Orchardgrass
Benchmark
31-May
3
15-May
1
Orchardgrass
Bronc
4-Jun
7
20-May
6
Orchardgrass
Condor
3-Jun
6
20-May
6
Orchardgrass
Dawn
4-Jun
7
24-May
10
Orchardgrass
DS 7
4-Jun
7
26-May
12
Orchardgrass
Elsie 888
2-Jun
5
20-May
6
Orchardgrass
Haymate
4-Jun
7
23-May
9
Orchardgrass
Jay
9-Jun
12
1-Jun
18
Orchardgrass
Juno
30-May
2
17-May
3
Orchardgrass
Justus
29-May
1
15-May
1
Orchardgrass
Kay
6-Jun
9
26-May
12
Orchardgrass
Lupre
6-Jun
9
1-Jun
18
Orchardgrass
Mobite
12-Jun
15
26-May
12
Orchardgrass
Napier
30-May
2
17-May
3
Orchardgrass
OSG 16
1-Jul
34
10-Jun
27
Orchardgrass
Pennlate
5-Jun
8
26-May
12
Orchardgrass
Pizza
5-Jun
8
26-May
12
Orchardgrass
Potomac
29-May
1
15-May
1
Orchardgrass
Rancho
2-Jun
5
22-May
8
Orchardgrass
Rapido
2-Jun
5
21-May
7
Orchardgrass
Rough Rider
2-Jun
5
17-May
3
Orchardgrass
Shawnee
31-May
3
20-May
6
Orchardgrass
Takena
4-Jun
7
21-May
7
Orchardgrass
Warrior
3-Jun
6
21-May
7
Timothy
Alexander
16-Jun
19
12-Jun
29
Timothy
Alexander
16-Jun
19
14-Jun
31
Timothy
Alpha
16-Jun
19
15-Jun
32
Timothy
Argus
17-Jun
20
15-Jun
32
Timothy
Barlis
17-Jun
20
15-Jun
32
Timothy
Barnee
1-Jul
34
30-Jun
47
Timothy
Basbo
11-Jun
14
12-Jun
29
Timothy
Basho
11-Jun
14
7-Jun
24
Timothy
Bottina II
20-Jun
23
16-Jun
33
Timothy
Bounty
20-Jun
23
17-Jun
34
Timothy
Carola
16-Jun
19
11-Jun
28
Timothy
Carola
16-Jun
19
14-Jun
31
Timothy
Champ
12-Jun
15
10-Jun
27
Timothy
Champlain
21-Jun
24
19-Jun
36
Timothy
Chazy
16-Jun
19
12-Jun
29
Timothy
Clair
9-Jun
12
1-Jun
18
Timothy
Climax
17-Jun
20
15-Jun
32
Timothy
Colt
13-Jun
16
8-Jun
25
Timothy
Comtal
17-Jun
20
19-Jun
36
Timothy
Drummond
8-Jun
11
1-Jun
18
Timothy
Erecta
20-Jun
23
18-Jun
35
Timothy
Farol
1-Jul
34
1-Jul
48
Timothy
Glenmore
16-Jun
19
12-Jun
29
Timothy
Hakvo
12-Jun
15
8-Jun
25
Timothy
Heidemij
1-Jul
34
> July
Timothy
Hokusen
20-Jun
23
18-Jun
35
Timothy
Hokushu
19-Jun
36
Timothy
Itasca
17-Jun
20
15-Jun
32
Timothy
Kampe II
5-Jun
22
Timothy
Kappa
12-Jun
15
10-Jun
27
Timothy
Kunpu
5-Jun
8
24-May
10
Timothy
Leafy
9-Jun
12
26-May
12
Timothy
Lorain
26-May
12
Timothy
Mariposa
12-Jun
15
4-Jun
21
Timothy
Mohawk
16-Jun
19
18-Jun
35
Timothy
Nike
13-Jun
16
12-Jun
29
Timothy
Ontario
12-Jun
15
9-Jun
26
Timothy
Richmond
11-Jun
14
3-Jun
20
Timothy
Salvo
7-Jun
10
1-Jun
18
Timothy
Samos
27-Jun
30
30-Jun
47
Timothy
Senpoky
14-Jun
17
9-Jun
26
Timothy
Tiiti
18-Jun
21
14-Jun
31
Timothy
Tiller
7-Jun
10
26-May
12
Timothy
Timfor
16-Jun
19
15-Jun
32
Timothy
Toro
12-Jun
15
4-Jun
21
Timothy
Transfer
11-Jun
14
8-Jun
25
Timothy
Vanadis
14-Jun
17
10-Jun
27
Timothy
Winmore
19-Jun
22
17-Jun
34
Reed Canarygrass
Palaton
16-Jun
19
1-Jun
18
Smooth Bromegrass
York
11-Jun
14
26-May
12
Tall fescue
BAR FA 2 HG
9-Jun
12
26-May
12
Tall fescue
BAR FA 4113
9-Jun
12
1-Jun
18
Tall fescue
FA 89 K
9-Jun
12
28-May
14
Tall fescue
Stargrazer
9-Jun
12
1-Jun
18
Alfalfa
Guardsman
6-Jun
9
22-May
8
Birdsfoot trefoil
Empire
2-Jun
5
too weedy
Birdsfoot trefoil
Upstart
6-Jun
9
26-May
12

* Date of heading was determined when five tillers were in early head stage.

References
1. Van Santen, E. and D.A. Sleper. 1996. Orchardgrass. In L.E. Moser, D.R. Buxton and M.D. Casler (eds.), Cool-Season Forage Grasses.  Agronomy Monograph no. 34.  American Society of Agronomy, Madison, WI.

2. Berg, C.C., A.R. McElroy and H.T. Kunelius.  1996. Timothy. In L.E. Moser, D.R. Buxton and M.D. Casler (eds.), Cool-Season Forage Grasses.  Agronomy Monograph no. 34.  American Society of Agronomy, Madison, WI.


This site is maintained by Sid.Bosworth@uvm.edu, Plant & Soil Science Department, University of Vermont.

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