Monday, November 13, 2006 - 4:00 PM

Drought Tolerance and Water-Saving Characteristics of Kentucky and Hybrid Bluegrasses.

Bingru Huang and Emily B. Merewitz. Rutgers University, 59 Dudley Rd, New Brunswick, NJ 08901

Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis L.) (KBG) is a widely-used cool-season turfgrass species but has relatively limited drought tolerance. Texas bluegrass (Poa arachnifera Torr.) (TBG) has been found to have superior drought tolerance since it is native to arid environments. Unlike KBG, TBG does not have desirable turfgrass characteristics, thus, Texas x Kentucky bluegrass hybrids have been bred for the development of a variety with improved drought tolerance and adequate turf quality. This field study aimed to compare 3 KBG cultivars (‘Cabernet’, ‘Midnight’, and ‘Baron’) and 7 TBG x KBG hybrids (6 unreleased cultivars and ‘Thermal Bluegrass’) for water use characteristics, drought tolerance mechanisms, and overall turf quality under well-watered and absolute drought conditions. Measurements of net photosynthetic rate, electrolyte leakage, relative water content, soil moisture, root quantity, leaf density, and turf quality were taken during a 6 week drought period and a subsequent recovery period. Based on these measurements, ‘Cabernet’ and two hybrids ‘A03TB-568’ and ‘A03TB-795’ maintained superior turf quality during the drought period.