Monday, November 13, 2006

Screening Cool Season Turfgrasses for Salt Tolerance in the Field and Greenhouse.

Matthew Koch, Rutgers University, 59 Dudley Rd, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, United States of America and Stacy Bonos, Rutgers U./Plant Bio. & Pathology, "59 Dudley Rd., Foran Hall", "59 Dudley Rd., Foran Hall", New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8520, United States of America.

Turfgrass areas are potential sites for utilizing non-potable water sources however, this water can be high in dissolved salts which can cause salt stress injury and poor turf quality.  The objectives of this study were to develop a screening technique to identify cool-season turfgrasses with salt tolerance.  A greenhouse salt chamber system was developed to simulate actual field conditions by applying saltwater overhead.  Eight clones of each of five perennial ryegrass cultivars (Palmer III, Paragon GLR, Applaud, Brightstar SLT and Nui) were established in plastic tanks containing 100% sand.  Saltwater applied in an enclosed chamber was collected into a reservoir tank containing a circulating pump for saltwater re-application.  The plants were evaluated at four different salt water concentrations (0, 5, 10 and 15 ds/m) and arranged in a randomized complete block design with three replications.  Plants were exposed to salt treatments for 10 weeks.  Clipping weights, plant heights, and percent green ratings were taken weekly.  Root lengths, root weights and shoot weights were taken after the 10 week salt stress period.  Significant differences were observed between salt treatments.  The highest salt treatment (15 ds/m) caused the most stress on the perennial ryegrass plants.  Significant differences between perennial ryegrass clones were also observed.  Based on initial results of percent green ratings clones of Palmer III were the most salt tolerant while clones of Brightstar SLT were the most salt sensitive.  This greenhouse screening technique is being validated with field screening techniques to determine the potential for screening cool-season turfgrasses.