Forage Yield and Nutritive Value of Selected Quackgrass
Craig C. Sheaffer, firstname.lastname@example.org,
Nancy J. Ehlke, Donald L. Wyse, Donne J. Vellekson, Douglas R.
Swanson, and J. L. Halgerson, Department of Agronomy and Plant
Genetics, University of Minnesota, St. Paul 55108; and R. D. Mathison,
North Central Research and Outreach Center, Grand Rapids, MN 55744
Quackgrass is often considered a weed. A new quackgrass cultivar,
Everett, is now available for use in soil conservation. This project
compared forage yields and nutritive value of Everett quackgrass,
common quackgrass, orchardgrass and reed canarygrass when each
was grown in pure stands and mixture with alfalfa. Nitrogen was
used to fertilize the grass stands. Plots were harvested three
times each year during the 3-year study. The plots were located
at St. Paul and Grand Rapids, Minnesota. Yields of quackgrass
entries were similar.
They averaged a yield of 5.0 and 2.2 tons/acre at St. Paul and
Grand Rapids, respectively. Reed canarygrass yielded 5.4 and 2.8
tons/acre at St. Paul and Grand Rapids, respectively. The quackgrass-alfalfa
mixtures compared favorably to the yield of reed canarygrass-
or orchardgrass-alfalfa mixtures. The nutritive value of orchard
grass was sometimes lower than quackgrass and reed canarygrass.
The researcher concluded that Everett quackgrass could be a valuable
forage crop. Further information can be found in the Forage and
Grazing Lands journal.
Plant Roots, Too, Know How To "Seize the Moment"
Don Comis, USDA ARS Writer, Agricultural Research Service
Room 301-504-1625, Comis@ars.usda.gov
A recent discovery by Agricultural Research Service plant physiologist
Richard Zobel may lead to a "rewriting of the book"
on plant roots. Zobel and a colleague have found that many plant
roots commonly regrow from the same spot on a root, and that they
can do this on roots deep below the soil surface. Zobel, with
the ARS Appalachian Farming Systems Research Center in Beaver,
W.Va., and Dominick J. Paolillo, Jr., at Cornell University in
Ithaca, N.Y., found evidence of roots growing this way on 22 species
of plants from 12 plant families in nine orders of plants. These
plants included alfalfa, carrots, chicory, clover, crown vetch,
dandelion, horse chestnut, lamb's-quarters, parsnip, poke weed,
rock maple, thistle and tree of heaven.
Zobel and Paolillo made these discoveries while searching for
plants with so-called opportunistic, or adventitious, rooting.
They found adventitious roots growing in clusters along older
roots. Adventitious roots grow from a different cell layer than
the regular, lateral roots, so a plant that has used up the tissue
available to grow regular roots can still grow adventitious roots.
These roots are called "opportunistic" because they
can develop in a matter of hours, to take advantage of sudden
environmental changes such as a rare rain in a desert. The discovery
that adventitious roots growing this way are an everyday occurrence
suggests they may play an important and unexpected role in routinely
helping plants reach water and nutrients. These roots can sprout
on larger roots whose lateral roots have long since died back,
enabling the plant to access water and nutrients that have recently
become available in those sections of the soil that would otherwise
be out of reach. This information could also help scientists introduce
adventitious roots to a crop like cotton that apparently is one
of the few plants that doesn't have them, as a more efficient
way for the crop to grow new roots when rain comes after a dry
Consumer Acceptance Critical Factor in Success of Genetically
Shannon Hartenstein, IANR Writer, Institute of Ag and Natural
Resources, University of Nebraska, (402) 472-3030
Farmers may embrace it. Companies can invest billions. Yet, ultimately,
the fate of agricultural biotechnology hinges on consumers. Consumer
acceptance and demand depend largely on whether people think this
technology benefits them and whether they believe foods made from
genetically modified, or GM, crops differ from traditional products,
said Konstantinos Giannakas. The University of Nebraska agricultural
economics has extensively studied the economic ramifications of
ag biotechnology for consumers, producers and biotech companies.
"My research looks at the market and welfare effects of introducing
genetically modified products into the food system," he said.
His economic analysis provides a clearer picture of what's likely
to happen to GM products in the marketplace under different regulatory
and labeling scenarios.
Overall, he found that consumer attitudes toward GM food and
their influence on public policy will significantly affect demand
for GM products throughout the food system.