Systematic performance trials have been conducted in several states for more than 20 yr to evaluate agronomic performance of annual ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum Lam.). Despite development and testing of many annual ryegrass cultivars, the first improved cultivar, Gulf, has remained one of 10 to 12 cultivars recommended for planting in the southeastern USA. Our objectives were to evaluate cultivar yield performance across 12 yr at five locations, to assess cultivar yield distribution within growing seasons, and to estimate cultivar yield stability (consistency of relative performance environments). Efficacy measures were early-season yield (total before 1 March), late-season yield (total after 1 March), and total annual yield. Overall means for all cultivars and individual cultivar performance (for common years) were compared with Gulf or Marshall. Neither location effects nor cultivar x location interactions were found. Cultivar and year effects, plus cultivar x year interactions were detected (P < 0.05) for all three yield responses. Mean early season yields ranged from 2.3 to 4.6 Mg ha-1, with mean late-season yields ranging from 5.1 to 7.4 Mg ha-1. No trend existed for mean total yield relative to Gulf or Marshall to increase over time in association with availability of newer cultivars. Given large yearly fluctuation in yields, it is apparent that unpredictable environmental factors, including climate and perhaps pests, are the primary determinants of anneal ryegrass performance rather than differences in yield potential among cultivars. Thus, yield stability may be an appropriate selection factor to include among the criteria for development of improved annual ryegrass cultivars.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agronomy and Crop Science