, Volume 163, Issue 1, pp 131–141 | Cite as

Freezing tolerance of selected perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.) accessions and its association with field winterhardiness and turf traits

  • Brent S. Hulke
  • Eric Watkins
  • Donald L. Wyse
  • Nancy J. Ehlke


Many winter stresses affect the ability of a perennial grass to overwinter in cold, temperate climates. Freezing tolerance is one of the major component traits affecting winterhardiness. Although effective freezing tolerance assessment procedures have long been available for perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.), no work has been done to characterize plant collections in the United States that may possess novel variation for freezing tolerance and winterhardiness. In this study, 21 accessions sampled from a larger set of 300 accessions with known winterhardiness and 3 check varieties were subjected to environmentally-controlled, low temperature acclimation, followed by controlled freezing using a programmable laboratory freezer. Eight freezing treatments from −2 to −16°C were used to determine survival across the known spectrum of freezing tolerance in perennial ryegrass. LT50 values were estimated based on whole plant survival, as well as tiller survival at each of the temperature treatments in the evaluation. LT50 values for the accessions and checks ranged from −10.31 to −13.95°C, with 3 accessions possessing significantly greater freezing tolerance than the most freeze-tolerant check, ‘NK200’. LT50 values were well correlated with winterhardiness in St. Paul during the winters of 2004–2005 and 2005–2006. Lower LT50 values in this experiment were associated with greater spring growth following the stressful winter of 2004–2005 and upright growth habit. The lack of negative biological association between freezing tolerance and turf quality components indicates that freezing tolerance testing could be a useful tool in breeding and selection with landrace germplasm.


Cold tolerance Freezing tolerance Lolium perenne Perennial ryegrass Turfgrass Turf quality 



The authors wish to thank Andrew Hollman for his assistance in maintaining the greenhouse and acclimation and freezing chambers, and for providing insightful conversation which helped us design this study. We also thank William Meyer of Rutgers University for contributing germplasm from their collection, and Dave Stout of the NPGS for assistance in submitting data to the U.S. Department of Agriculture––Germplasm Resources Information Network (USDA-GRIN) database.


  1. Breese EL, Foster CA (1971) Breeding for increased winter hardiness in perennial ryegrass. In: The Welsh plant breeding station report, 1971. The University of Wales, Aberystwyth, pp 77–86Google Scholar
  2. Eagles CF (1989) Temperature-induced changes in cold tolerance of Lolium perenne. J Agric Sci (Cambridge) 113:339–347Google Scholar
  3. Ehlke NJ, Undersander DJ (1990) Cool-season grass seed production. In: Alternative field crops manual. University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, USA and University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN, USAGoogle Scholar
  4. Fraser ML, Rose-Fricker CA, Meyer WA, Funk CR (2004) Registration of ‘Citation Fore’ perennial ryegrass. Crop Sci 44:345–346CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Fuller MP, Eagles CF (1978) A seedling test for cold hardiness in Lolium perenne L. J Agric Sci (Cambridge) 91:217–222Google Scholar
  6. Fuller MP, Eagles CF (1980) The effect of temperature on cold hardening of Lolium perenne seedlings. J Agric Sci (Cambridge) 95:77–81Google Scholar
  7. Garwood EA (1967) Seasonal variation in appearance and growth of grass roots. Grass Forage Sci 22:121–130CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Gay AP, Eagles CF (1991) Quantitative analysis of cold hardening and dehardening in Lolium. Ann Bot (London) 67:339–345Google Scholar
  9. Hofgaard IS, Vollsnes AV, Marum R, Larsen A, Tronsmo AM (2003) Variation in resistance to different winter stress factors within a full-sib family of perennial ryegrass. Euphytica 134:61–75CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hulke BS, Watkins E, Wyse DL, Ehlke NJ (2006) Data from the field evaluation of perennial ryegrass accessions. Cited 19 Oct 2006
  11. Hulke BS, Watkins E, Wyse DL, Ehlke NJ (2007) Winterhardiness and turf quality of accessions of perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.) from public collections. Crop Sci 47:1596–1602CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Humphreys MO (1989) Assessment of perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.) for breeding. II. Components of winter hardiness. Euphytica 41:99–106CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Humphreys MO, Eagles CF (1988) Assessment of perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.) for breeding. I. Freezing tolerance. Euphytica 38:75–84CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Lawrence T, Cooper JP, Breese EL (1973) Cold tolerance and winter hardiness in Lolium perenne II. Influence of light and temperature during growth and hardening. J Agric Sci (Cambridge) 80:341–348Google Scholar
  15. Lemežis E (1998) Influence of natural environments fluctuating temperatures on hardening and dehardening of Lolium perenne. Scientific Works of the Lithuanian Institute of Horticulture and Lithuanian University of Agriculture. Hortic Veg Grow 17:106–111Google Scholar
  16. Lorenzetti F, Tyler BF, Cooper JP, Breese EL (1971) Cold tolerance and winter hardiness in Lolium perenne. J Agric Sci (Cambridge) 76:199–209Google Scholar
  17. National Genetic Resources Program (2006) Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Cited 10 Oct 2006
  18. Pollock CJ, Eagles CF, Sims IM (1988) Effect of photoperiod and irradiance changes upon development of freezing tolerance and accumulation of soluble carbohydrate in seedlings of Lolium perenne grown at 2°C. Ann Bot (London) 62:95–100Google Scholar
  19. Rajashekar C, Tao D, Li PH (1983) Freezing resistance and cold acclimation in turfgrasses. HortScience 18:91–93Google Scholar
  20. Rose-Fricker CA, Fraser ML, Wipff JK (2003) Registration of ‘Brighstar SLT’ perennial ryegrass. Crop Sci 43:2309–2310CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. SAS Institute (2002) The SAS System for Windows, v. 9.1. SAS Institute, Cary, NC, USAGoogle Scholar
  22. Stewart DW, Costa C, Dwyer LM, Smith DL, Hamilton RI, Ma BL (2003) Canopy structure, light interception, and photosynthesis in maize. Agron J 95:1465–1474CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Taylor DH, White DB, Stienstra WC, Ascerno ME Jr (1997) The home lawn: selecting grasses. Cited 10 Oct 2006
  24. Tcacenco FA, Eagles CF, Tyler BF (1989) Evaluation of winter hardiness in Romanian introductions of Lolium perenne. J Agric Sci (Cambridge) 112:249–255Google Scholar
  25. Waldron BL, Ehlke NJ, Vellekson DJ, White DB (1998) Controlled freezing as an indirect selection method for field winterhardiness in turf-type perennial ryegrass. Crop Sci 38:811–816CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brent S. Hulke
    • 1
  • Eric Watkins
    • 2
  • Donald L. Wyse
    • 1
  • Nancy J. Ehlke
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Agronomy and Plant GeneticsUniversity of MinnesotaSt. PaulUSA
  2. 2.Department of Horticultural ScienceUniversity of MinnesotaSt. PaulUSA

Personalised recommendations