Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
Agriculture, Forestry, Horticulture, Fishery, Domestic Science, Nutrition
Little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium (Michaux) Nash), a perennial bunchgrass, is a potentially valuable species for use in restoring ground cover in shallow range sites that are subject to drought. However, there are no data on the nutritive quality of the diverse phenotypes of little bluestem found in the north central USA and south central Canada, and there are no cultivars of little bluestem that are adapted to these areas. The objectives of this study were to measure the nutritive quality of little bluestem clones sampled on different dates and to determine whether clones differed sufficiently to facilitate selection efforts to improve forage quality. Whole plant samples of little bluestem were clipped on 8 August and 8 September 1983 and 5 July and 6 August 1984 from a field nursery at Mandan, North Dakota, containing plants originating from Minnesota and North and South Dakota in the USA. Significant differences between sampling dates were found each year for in vitro digestible organic matter (IVDOM), crude protein, lignin, calcium, phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). In order to minimize the effects of maturity on chemical composition, data were statistically evaluated for clonal differences, using only the August sampling dates. Clones were further separated into north and southeast groups according to stage of maturity and latitude and moisture conditions where the clones originated. Clones were significantly different with respect to IVDOM and P in both the north and southeast groups for the August 1983–1984 data. IVDOM and P among clones averaged over years for the August sampling date ranged from 374to 521 g kg−1 and from O-9to l-6g kg−1, respectively, for the north group and from 456 to 538 g kg−1 and from 1–2 to 2–0 g kg−1, respectively, for the southeast group. The range in IVDOM and P suggests that selection to improve little bluestem quality components, especially later in the season, may be warranted. However, it is important that these results be corroborated under conditions where the effects of maturity are further diminished.
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