• Responses of Crested Wheatgrass and Russian Wildrye to Water Stress and Defoliation

      Mohammad, N.; Dwyer, D. D.; Busby, F. E. (Society for Range Management, 1982-03-01)
      Crested wheatgrass (Agropyron desertorum, Fisch Schult) and Russian wildrye (Elymus junceus, Fisch) plants were subjected to three levels of water stress (13, 2.6, and 1.8% soil moisture), in interaction with 4 defoliation levels (0, 40, 60, and 80% defoliation). Plants were clipped biweekly using the height-weight ratio method to determine the assigned defoliation level and leaf water potential $(\Psi _{1})$ was measured by pressure bomb. Following the final clipping at ground level a 40-day recovery period was allowed while maintaining plants at field capacity (13% soil moisture). Leaf water potential measurements showed significant differences between species, among three water stress levels, and within four defoliation levels. Water stress and defoliation levels significantly affected foliage yield, root biomass, and plant recovery. Heavy defoliation (80%) resulted in a 100% death loss for both species at wilting point (1.8% soil moisture). Light defoliated (40% at field capacity) produced more total dry matter than undefoliated plants maintained at field capacity or wilting point. Maximum root biomass was found in undefoliated plants of crested wheatgrass grown at field capacity. Significant differences in root production were also found among water stress and defoliation treatments. No plant recovery occurred among plants maintained at wilting point and defoliated at 80%. However, plants defoliated at 40 and 60% under 13 and 2.6% soil moisture exhibited considerable regrowth. In general crested wheatgrass out-yielded Russian wildrye in every treatment and was more resistant to defoliation and water stress.