• Genetic variability of Mg, Ca, and K in crested wheatgrass

      Mayland, H. F.; Asay, K. H. (Society for Range Management, 1989-03-01)
      Increasing available Mg in crested wheatgrass (Agropyron spp.) could reduce the incidence of grass tetany (hypomagnesemia) in ruminants grazing this forage. Raising the Mg levels might be done through genetic processes if enough variation in ion concentration existed in the Agropyrons. The purpose of this study was to determine the genetic variation in Mg, Ca, and K concentrations in 2 crested wheatgrass populations. Parent plants were vegetatively propagated to provide 6 replicates each of 12 clones of crested wheatgrass (A. desertorum) and 16 F3 clones of colchicine-induced tetraploid A. cristatum X natural tetraploid A. desertorum. Each plant was selected on a basis of seedling and mature plant vigor, forage, and seed yield, leafiness, resistance to pests, and response to environmental stress. The 2 populations were grown in separate, space-planted nurseries at Logan, Utah. Herbage was harvested at the pre-boot and early flowering stage in each of 2 years. Magnesium and Ca were determined by atomic absorption and K by flame emission. A reduced tetany potential (RTP) index for each clone was calculated as the sum of normalized Mg and (Ca+Mg)/K values. Significant (P < 0.01) differences for all traits were detected among clones in each population. All traits, except K and RTP, were closely correlated. Broad-sense heritability values for most traits ranged from 0.61 to 0.84. Enough genotypic variation existed in both populations to warrant breeding lines with higher concentrations of Mg and larger RTP values. Such changes could reduce the incidence of grass tetany in livestock grazing crested wheatgrass.
    • Silicon in C-3 grasses: effects on forage quality and sheep preference

      Shewmaker, G. E.; Mayland, H. F.; Rosenau, R. C.; Asay, K. H. (Society for Range Management, 1989-03-01)
      Silicon in forage reduces dry matter digestibility and may reduce grazing preference. Two studies were conducted with the following objectives: (1) to evaluate a method of determining grazing preference, and (2) to characterize the distribution and solubility of silicon in 31 accessions of C-3 grasses and relate these traits to grazing preference and estimated forage digestibility. Forage samples were clipped at the beginning of each 7 to 10-day grazing period corresponding to 6 phenological stages of the Agropyron sp. Samples were washed and analyzed for acid detergent fiber (ADF), neutral detergent fiber (NDF), and silicon in ADF and NDF residues. Leaf silicon concentrations increased from the vegetative to seed-ripe stage. Genera were aligned into 3 groups based on the increase in leaf silicon concentration with advancing phenological age. Silicon concentrations in leaves of Agropyron, Pseudoroegneria, and Thinopyrum increased at nearly twice the rate of those in Critesion, Hordeum, Leymus and Psathyrostachys. Elymus leaves contained higher concentrations of silicon at the vegetative stage than the other groups, but the accumulation rate was intermediate. About 32% of total leaf silicon remained in NDF and 76% in ADF residues at the vegetative stage. These insoluble portions of silicon increased with aging. Preference was positively related to estimated dry matter digestibility at boot and anthesis, but was not related to fiber or silicon measurements. Leaf harshness was negatively related to preference at seed-ripe stage. Further progress in characterizing the role of silicon in C-3 forage grasses should be possible by studying a representative species from each group.