The University of Arizona

Effect of temperature on growth of cheatgrass and Idaho fescue.

M. Nasri, P.S. Doescher


Development of deep and extensive root systems especially at cold temperatures has been considered an advantage to successful establishment of grass species in arid environments. This study determined the effects of temperature on seedling root and shoot growth of cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum L.) and 5 collections of Idaho fescue (Festuca idahoensis Elmer). Four collections of Idaho fescue were from degraded sites while the fifth Idaho fescue collection was from a site in high ecological condition. Seedlings were grown in environmental chambers (16 hours day/8 hours night) at 5, 10, and 15 degrees C. Root depth was recorded weekly for 9 weeks, and seedlings were harvested after 63 days. Tiller and leaf number, below and above-ground biomass, and total root length were evaluated. At temperatures of 5, 10, and 15 degrees C, cheatgrass grew faster and produced a greater mass of roots and shoots than Idaho fescue. Root and shoot growth were similar for the 5 Idaho fescue collections at all temperatures. Idaho fescue collections produced more tillers than cheatgrass, except at 5 degrees C. These results indicated that cheatgrass produces greater root and shoot growth mass, but tillers less at warmer temperatures than Idaho fescue.


rooting depth;strain differences;ecotypes;Festuca idahoensis;roots;ambient temperature;Bromus tectorum;weight;growth;Oregon;tillers;plant competition

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