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Browsing by discipline "Crop Science"

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  • Kousa, Matti (2008)
    Meadow fescue is a perennial forage grass and it belongs to the Poaceae-family. Fescues are cultivated for feed for domestic animals such as cattle or horses. Usually meadow fescue is cultivated in a mixed sward and therefore it is the second most cultivated forage grass after timothy in Finland. Meadow fescue has a good ability to recover after cutting. It also tolerates lower stubble height, more frequent cutting and more intense grazing than timothy. However, the quality of forage is not as good as the quality of timothy. Meadow fescue is also sensitive to drought. In 2005, there were 612 000 ha of perennial grasslands in Finland. In Finland, the seed production area of meadow fescue was 1 510 hectares in 2006. The average seed yield in 1983-2006 was 460 kg of certified seed per hectare. It has been observed that seed yields of meadow fescue have decreased in Finland during the past 10-15 years. Similar observations were made also in Norway. It is hypothesized that the decrease in seed yield is due to forage orientated plant breeding. This might have resulted in good quality, highly productive forage grasses on the cost of traits most effective in seed formation. Low seed yields of the fescues are more than likely to depress farmers’ interest in production of fescue seeds which may lead to shortage of locally produced seed. Locally produced seed improves the winter survival and canopy formation of forage grasses and thus it is the basis of successful forage production. The field experiment was carried out at the University of Helsinki, Viikki Experimental Farm to compare differences in seed formation traits between the old cultivar, Kalevi and the new cultivar, Fure. Total dry matter accumulation, forage quality, number of flowers per panicle and accumulation of dry matter in spikelets were determined during the summer 2006. Seed yield was harvested and number of tillers, panicles and seeds were counted. Also the dry matter of straw, leaves, panicles and seeds were determined as well as seed yield, seed weight and germination percentage. Leaf dry weight of the new cultivar, Fure, was higher than leaf weight of the old cultivar, Kalevi. However, the panicle weight of Kalevi was higher than that of Fure. Even though Kalevi produced more tillers than Fure, in Fure a larger proportion of tillers remained at the vegetative stage. Kalevi also produced more panicles than Fure though the panicles of Fure had more florets and seeds. In both cultivars 20 % of florets were aborted. Thousand seed weight of Kalevi was higher than that of Fure. There was not significant difference in seed yield which indicated that meadow fescue cultivars studied had ability to compensate changes in traits affecting the seed yield similarly to small grain cereals. Based on stepwise regression analysis increase in the tiller number of Kalevi tends to result in lower seed yield as well as increase in the seed number per panicle of Fure. Increase in plant dry matter at the stem elongation phase tends to decrease the seed yield of Fure unlike in Kalevi whose seed yield tended to increase in this case. The forage quality of meadow fescue cultivars studied differed only in the longevity of D-value (digestibility), which remained high for a longer period in Kalevi than in Fure.