, Volume 28, Issue 2, pp 393-402

The effect of seed weight and coleoptile tiller development on seedling vigour in tall fescue, Festuca arundinaceaSchreb.

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Summary

Two characters, previously shown to influence the rate of seedling growth in tall fescue, were studied in detail in three distinct populations as part of a programme to improve seedling vigour in the species. The effect of seed weight was found to be confined to the very early stages of growth and was apparent in seedling dry matter yield but not in tiller number. The development of a tiller in the axil of the coleoptile, which varied significantly between populations, had a far greater and more permanent effect both in terms of dry matter yield and tiller number. The increase in tiller number attributable to the coleoptile tiller and its derivatives increased geometrically in step with the total tiller number, so that the intitial difference of 28% in the first harvest remained practically unchanged in the subsequent three harvests. Similarly, the percentage difference in dry matter yield between plants with and without a coleoptile tiller remained more or less constant at about 22% from the second harvest onwards.

It is concluded that the development of a coleoptile tiller may prove to be a useful selection criterion in the breeding of this species.