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Individual study: Late autumn vs. spring seeding in the establishment of crested wheatgrass Agropyron desertorum on degraded steppe in Zarand Saveh region, northern Iran

Published source details

Moghaddam M.R. (1976) Late fall vs spring seeding in the establishment of crested wheatgrass in the Zarand Saveh region of Iran. Journal of Range Management, 29, 57-59


Due to long-term livestock overgrazing, native arid steppe (prevalent species including whitewormwood Artemisia herba-alba, the chenopod Salsola rigida and feather grass Stipa barbata) in the Zarand Saveh region of northern Iran is severely degraded. Attempts were made to improve vegetation condition by sowing with crested wheatgrass Agropyron desertorum (native to the region). Success of early spring and late autumn seeding were compared.

A seriously deteriorated homogenous area was selected. Seedbed preparation comprised ploughing, discing and rolling. Seed was drill-seeded at 2.54 cm depth (row spacing 50 cm) at a rate of 5.75 kg/ha. Autumn sowing was undertaken 17 November 1972, and in early spring on 24 March 1973.

Monitoring was undertaken in 20 randomly located 1 m² plots. Crested wheatgrass seedlings were counted within each after seedling emergence and again in mid-summer (time of maximum growth) for 2 years. Reproductive shoots (seed stalks) for each plant were counted.

Best wheatgrass emergence and establishment was obtained from autumn seeding. There was higher seedling emergence (37.5 seedlings/m² vs. 31.1/m²) and a greater density of (more vigorous) plants in both summers (1973: 27.8 vs. 13.1; 1974: 25.2 vs. 10.9).

The number of reproductive stems was also higher for autumn sowing. In the first year flowering was low (2 plants/m² flowered in autumn sown plots but none in spring sown). In 1974, 25.2 plants/m² flowered in autumn sown plots (average 14.5 shoots/plant) and 10.9/m² in spring sown plots (average 1.8 shoots/plant).
The author suggests that autumn seeding yielded better results as seeds were able to germinate earlier in the spring (i.e. longer period of access to soil moisture before depletion and onset of high summer temperatures) than spring seeded plants.
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