Winterhardiness and turf quality of accessions of perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.) from public collections

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The lack of winterhardiness of some cool-season grasses limit their usefulness in northern climates. Perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.) lacks winterhardiness in Minnesota but has desirable qualities, such as wear tolerance and rapid establishment, that are useful in many turf applications. While domesticated germplasm may lack winterhardiness, undomesticated wild or landrace germplasm may have genes for better winterhardiness in environments like Minnesota's. In 2004, 300 accessions from two public sources in the USA were planted with eight check varieties and populations in two environments in central Minnesota, St. Paul and Becker. Thirty individuals of each accession were evaluated for seedling vigor and tiller survival after the first winter. Other turf-quality traits and tiller survival after the second winter were evaluated on those plants that survived the first winter. The first winter was extremely harsh and resulted in the death of all accessions and checks at Becker. There was good differentiation among accessions at St. Paul for tiller survival, with 8 of the 300 accessions performing better than NK200, the most winterhardy check variety. The second winter was considerably less harsh, with less death of tillers and whole plants. While the accessions do not have suitable turf quality for direct domestication, turf quality can be improved through breeding.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1596-1602
Number of pages7
JournalCrop Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2007


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