• Genetic variances for dry matter yield, nitrogen content, and nitrogen yield in crested wheatgrass-alfalfa mixtures

      Asay, K. H.; Mayland, H. F. (Society for Range Management, 1991-09-01)
      Since its introduction from Asia in the early 1900s, crested wheatgrass [Agropyron cristatum (L.)Gaertner, A. desertorum (Fisch. ex Link) Schultes et al.] has had a major impact on the improvement of western rangelands of North America. Most of the early seedings with this cool-season grass were made as monocultures. Present and projected use of rangelands, however, prescribe that future crested wheatgrass cultivars have the genetic potential to be an effective component in a species complex including other grasses, shrubs, and forbs. The present study was conducted to evaluate the effect of associated alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) on the performance and genetic variability in a 50-clone sample of a tetraploid crested wheatgrass breeding population. Significant (P < 0.05) differences were found among the clonal lines for dry matter (DM) yield, nitrogen (N), and N yield. Opportunities for genetic improvement, as indicated by the magnitude of the genetic variation for these characters, was significantly increased when the grasses were grown in association with alfalfa. Significant (P < 0.01) and positive correlations of clonal means between stand types indicated that differences among the clonal lines in DM yield, N content, and N yield were relatively consistent when grown with or without alfalfa. These results indicate that initial screening could be effectively done in tetraploid crested wheatgrass in the presence or absence of alfalfa. Final evaluation of breeding lines and experimental strains, however, should be done with alfalfa if the object is to develop cultivars to be grown in combination with that species.