A method to differentiate summer-dormant from summer-active tall fescue and orchardgrass accessions at germination stage Academic Article uri icon


  • Summer-dormant, cool-season perennial grasses are being used in place of traditional, summer-active cultivars for high-quality winter forage. One reason for this change is the ability of cultivars with summer-dormant attributes to tolerate increasing annual temperature, decreasing precipitation, and repeated severe summer droughts. The mechanism of summer dormancy is still not understood in detail. Cultivar development for summer dormancy typically is conducted under field conditions in environments where summer-active types do not survive summer weather conditions. We developed a method based on germination responses to photoperiod to differentiate summer-dormant from summer-active types of tall fescue [Lolium arundinaceum (Schreb.) S. J. Darbyshire] and orchardgrass (Dactylis glomerata L.). Seed of cultivars with known summer dormancy characteristics was germinated at a constant temperature of 24C under a range of photoperiods (024h) for 14 days. Total germination, modelled cumulative germination, instantaneous rate of germination, and relative germination (to that in the dark) were analysed. Germination of summer-dormant orchardgrass was similar in the dark and short photoperiods (412h), but it was inhibited by a photoperiod longer than 12h. Germination of summer-active orchardgrass was promoted by any photoperiod compared with the control (0h). Short photoperiods (412h) promoted germination of summer-dormant tall fescue, while long photoperiods (>12h) inhibited germination compared with germination in the dark. Summer-active types of tall fescue did not respond to photoperiod, regardless of length. A validation test using two Mediterranean origin cultivars of orchardgrass with contrasting summer dormancy characteristics and experimental lines of Mediterranean origin tall fescue with known expression of summer dormancy characteristics supported the use of seed germination analysis to differentiate among lines for this trait.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Malinowski, D. P., Belesky, D. P., Kramp, B. A., Ruckle, J., Kigel, J., & Pinchak, W. E.

citation count

  • 8

complete list of authors

  • Malinowski, Dariusz P||Belesky, David P||Kramp, Betty A||Ruckle, Joyce||Kigel, Jaime||Pinchak, William E

publication date

  • November 2008