Summer Dormancy Trait as a Strategy to Provide Perennial Cool-Season Grass Forage Alternatives in Southern Latitude Environments Affected by Climate Change Academic Article uri icon


  • Climate change and extreme weather events are affecting agriculture, water supplies, ecosystems, energy use, and the socioeconomic system in the southern Great Plains (SGP) of the United States and other semiarid regions of the world. Winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) is one of the crops with the ability to compensate for these weather extremes. Wheat is often managed as a dualuse crop in the SGP, providing winter forage for cattle and grain. In the 1970s and 1980s, introduced coolseason perennial grasses were an important source of high quality forage to complement dualuse wheat and perennial native and introduced warmseason grass pastures. Changing climatic conditions are considered one reason for declining persistence of traditional coolseason perennial grasses at the margin of their existence in C4 dominated ecosystems of the SGP. A primary strategy to supply forage during the coolseason period will be adoption of new forage grasses with improved tolerance to heat and drought. This chapter presents current research on summerdormant coolseason perennial grasses of Mediterranean origin. These grasses express a summer dormancy trait, for example, they cease growth during summer and actively grow during autumn to early spring. This growth pattern enables summerdormant coolseason grasses to adapt to the bimodal springfall precipitation patterns in the SGP and makes them more persistent than traditional, summeractive coolseason perennial grass species. We discuss longterm data on forage productivity, persistence, and soil water dynamics of summerdormant vs. summeractive coolseason perennial grasses and their potential implementation into grazing systems of the SGP.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Malinowski, D. P., & Pinchak, W. E.

citation count

  • 4

complete list of authors

  • Malinowski, Dariusz P||Pinchak, William E

publication date

  • July 2015