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RESEARCH ARTICLE

Establishment and summer survival of the perennial legumes, Dorycnium hirsutum and D. rectum in Mediterranean environments

L. W. Bell A C D , G. A. Moore B C , M. A. Ewing C and S. J. Bennett C
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A School of Plant Biology, University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia.

B Department of Agriculture Western Australia, 3 Baron-Hay Court, South Perth, WA 6151, Australia.

C CRC for Plant-based Management of Dryland Salinity, University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia.

D Corresponding author. Email: belll02@student.uwa.edu.au

Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture 45(10) 1245-1254 https://doi.org/10.1071/EA04227
Submitted: 28 October 2004  Accepted: 3 May 2005   Published: 15 November 2005

Abstract

The genus Dorycnium has been identified for its potential use as a forage plant for southern Australia, but little is known about factors affecting establishment and survival. This investigation examined some factors affecting the establishment of D. hirsutum and D. rectum in Mediterranean environments of south-west Western Australia. The population dynamics of D. hirsutum and D. rectum seedlings were investigated during the summer drought in 4 environments. The effect of time of sowing on establishment and survival of D. hirsutum was tested as a management option for improving establishment of these species.

Poor seedling performance was observed in both Dorycnium species. Less than 20% of D. rectum plants survived the summer drought at all locations, compared with >50% for D. hirsutum seedlings. Poor seedling vigour coupled with weed competition resulted in low plant numbers at 2 sites. Compared with autumn sowings, populations of D. hirsutum sown in August and September had lower plant densities before summer due to poorer seedling emergence. Plant numbers declined during the summer in all plots, but losses were greatest in those sown in September. In both experiments, small D. hirsutum plants survived in plots where little competition was present. Improvements in seedling vigour may be possible with plant breeding but establishment methods that reduce weed competition are valuable. Spring sowing may enable effective weed control before seeding, but later sowings run the risk of reducing seedling emergence and survival.

Additional keywords: drought, canary clover, seedling, perennial pasture.


Acknowledgments

For their assistance, we would like to thank Bradley Wintle, John Titerington and Tony Albertsen for carrying out plant tracking and taking plant density measurements at Katanning and Bibby Springs Thanks to Richard Bennett and Claire Farrell for their help at Merredin with sowing and taking measurements, and to Aleida Williams for her help with stem water potential and survival measurements. Thanks must also go to the Trifolium Genetic Resource Centre, Department of Agriculture Western Australia for providing seed and to the CRC for Plant-based Management of Dryland Salinity, Jean Rogerson Memorial Trust, and to the AW Howard Memorial Trust for providing the primary author with a stipend.


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