Irrigation but not N fertilization enhances seedhead density in plains rough fescue ( F estuca hallii)


Correspondence to: E. G. Lamb, Department of Plant Sciences, University of Saskatchewan, 51 Campus Drive, Saskatoon, SK, S7N 5A8, Canada.



Plains rough fescue ( F estuca hallii) is an important forage grass species in western Canada. Seed for use in pastures and ecological restoration is in high demand but supply is limited because F. hallii is an erratic seed producer. Seed producers require an understanding of the factors that influence flowering and seed set in this species. The aim of this study was to assess the effect of irrigation and nitrogen fertilization on the flowering and growth of F. hallii in a native rough fescue prairie in Alberta, Canada. Irrigation had a strong positive effect on seedhead density, whereas fertilization had limited effects on growth and reproduction of F. hallii. These results demonstrate that under field conditions, available moisture is likely to be a key factor driving flowering and seed production in F. hallii.