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Response of herbage regrowth and water-soluble carbohydrate concentration of ryegrass species to defoliation practices when grown in a Mediterranean environment

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Callow, M. N., Michell, P., Baker, J.E., Cocks, P.S. and Hough, G.M. (2005) Response of herbage regrowth and water-soluble carbohydrate concentration of ryegrass species to defoliation practices when grown in a Mediterranean environment. Grass and Forage Science, 60 (1). pp. 59-67. ISSN 0142-5242

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Article Link: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2494.2005.00451.x


Three experiments were conducted to determine the association between leaf number per tiller at defoliation, water-soluble carbohydrate (WSC) concentration and herbage mass of juvenile ryegrass plants when grown in a Mediterranean environment. Seedlings of ryegrass were grown in nursery pots arranged side-by-side and located outside in the open-air to simulate a mini-sward in Experiments 1 and 2, and a mixture of annual ryegrass and subterranean clover (Trifolium subterraneum L.) was grown in a small plot field study in Experiment 3. Swards were defoliated mechanically with the onset of defoliation commencing within 28 d of germination. Frequency of defoliation ranged from one to nine leaves per tiller, whilst defoliation height ranged from 30 mm of pseudostem height that removed all leaf laminae in Experiment 1, to 50 mm of pseudostem height with some leaf laminae remaining post-defoliation in Experiments 2 and 3.

A positive relationship between herbage mass of ryegrass, WSC concentration and leaf number per tiller at defoliation was demonstrated in all experiments. In Experiment 1, the herbage mass of leaf, pseudostem and roots of tillers defoliated at one leaf per tiller was reduced to 0·10, 0·09 and 0·06 of those tillers defoliated less frequently at six leaves per tiller. However, the reduction in herbage mass from frequent defoliation was less severe in Experiment 2 and coincided with a 0·20 reduction in WSC concentration of pseudostem compared with 0·80 measured during Experiment 1. In Experiment 3, the highest harvested herbage mass of ryegrass occurred when defoliation was nine leaves per tiller. Although the harvested herbage from this sward contained senescent herbage, the in vitro dry-matter digestibility of the harvested herbage did not differ significantly compared with the remaining treatments that had been defoliated more frequently.

Leaf numbers of newly germinated ryegrass tillers in a Mediterranean environment were positively associated with WSC concentration of pseudostem and herbage mass. A minimum period of two to three leaf appearances was required to restore WSC concentrations to levels measured prior to defoliation thereby avoiding a significant reduction in herbage mass. However, maximum herbage mass of a mixed sward containing ryegrass and subterranean clover was achieved when defoliation was delayed to nine leaves per tiller.

Item Type:Article
Subjects:Plant culture > Field crops > Forage crops. Feed crops
Live Archive:05 Feb 2024 23:26
Last Modified:05 Feb 2024 23:26

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