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Keywords:

  • plains rough fescue;
  • seed yield;
  • reproductive tillers;
  • flower induction

Abstract

Plains rough fescue (Festuca hallii (Vasey) Piper) is a dominant grass in the endangered Fescue Prairie of North America. Infrequent and unpredictable seed production presents a challenge for the use of this species in restoration and rangeland seeding. The objective of this study was to compare seed yield of different plains rough fescue populations and to determine the dependence of seed yield on phenotypic characteristics. Effect of weather conditions during the floral induction and initiation period of different years of the study was also compared. In 2007, a completely randomized field plot experiment was established from eleven populations of plains rough fescue at Swift Current, SK, Canada. In 2007, 2010 and 2011, individual plant seed yield, reproductive tillers, above-ground biomass, plant height and crown diameter were measured, and plant vigour was scored. All measured variables differed significantly ( 0·05) among populations. Four populations were identified as having higher seed yield potential. Plants in these four populations also had characteristics of good plant vigour, taller stems, more reproductive tillers and greater biomass. Seed yield increased linearly with increasing plant height, crown diameter, above-ground biomass and number of reproductive tillers (r2 ranged 0·17–0·67, < 0·001), but number of reproductive tillers (r2 = 0·53–0·67, < 0·001) was a better predictor for selection of lines with higher seed yield. Although seed yield varied among years, populations with higher seed yield tended to produce greater amounts of seed over the period of the study.