Weed suppression has been observed in the fine fescues, a group of low-input turfgrasses. Of the fine fescues, Chewings fescue (Festuca rubra L. ssp. commutata Gaudin; CH) and strong creeping red fescue (F. rubra L. ssp. rubra Gaudin; ST) displayed the strongest weed suppression ability in previous research while hard fescue (F. brevipila Tracey; HF) did not appear to have the same level of suppression. However, most of this research occurred more than 10 years ago and did not lead to improved cultivars. There is a need for confirmation of these results using diverse germplasm that may have genetic variability for weed suppression; this information would be useful for turfgrass breeding efforts. Our objective was to screen for weed suppression abilities in 19 fine fescue accessions originally collected in Europe, at two distinct field locations, St. Paul, MN and West Lafayette, IN, infested with smooth crabgrass (Digitaria ischaemum (Schreb.) Schreb. ex Muhl.). Our results confirmed previous reports that the F. rubra taxa are more crabgrass suppressive than HF. Chewings fescue and slender creeping red fescue [F. rubra L. ssp. littoralis (G. Mey.) Auquier; SL] displayed the strongest ability to suppress smooth crabgrass. Results also indicated that there is large variability between the entries within each taxon, including within HF. Slender creeping red fescues were relatively more weed suppressive than previously shown, and this taxon needs further attention. Results suggest further opportunities for plant breeders to develop new weed suppressive cultivars for low-input turfgrass systems.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors wish to acknowledge the funding support by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA, Specialty Crop Research Initiative under award number 2017‐51181‐ 27222. Thank you also to Dr. William Meyer, Rutgers University, for sending germplasm for screening. The authors would also like to thank all the undergraduate students and Geoffrey Schortgen for their participations in collecting the data presented.
© 2021 The Authors. Crop Science published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of Crop Science Society of America.