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Evaluation of phalaris (Phalaris aquatica L.) germplasm for persistence under grazing on the North-West Slopes, New South Wales

R. A. Culvenor A C and S. P. Boschma B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A CSIRO Plant Industry, GPO Box 1600, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia.

B NSW Department of Primary Industries, Tamworth Agricultural Institute, 4 Marsden Park Road, Calala, NSW 2340, Australia.

C Corresponding author. Email:

Australian Journal of Agricultural Research 56(7) 731-741
Submitted: 3 December 2004  Accepted: 11 May 2005   Published: 22 July 2005


The survival of available cultivars of introduced temperate perennial grasses has been less than adequate under grazing on the North-West Slopes of New South Wales. A wide range of germplasm of the Mediterranean perennial grass, phalaris (Phalaris aquatica L.), was assessed for persistence, seedling vigour, winter yield potential, time of reproductive development, and summer dormancy in grazed swards at 3 sites (Manilla, Tamworth, Purlewaugh) from 1998 to 2001. The aim was to understand population characteristics that influence persistence in this environment and to identify persistent populations.

Good establishment was achieved after above-average winter–spring rainfall in 1998. Persistence was high during the first year of grazing (1999) but declined under lower rainfall during 2000 at the Manilla and Tamworth sites. By 2001, a wide range in persistence had developed at these 2 sites. A group of wild populations, mainly from North Africa, was identified as being more persistent at both sites than any available cultivar. Two early cultivars, Sirocco and CPI 19305, were also relatively persistent. None of the germplasm survived a subsequent severe drought in 2002 at Manilla and Tamworth. Persistence remained high despite higher grazing pressure at the Purlewaugh site until the 2002 drought year, when changes in survival correlated with those at the other sites occurred.

Biplot analysis indicated that early reproductive development and high summer dormancy were associated with persistence in both wild and bred populations. High seedling and winter growth potential was less strongly associated with persistence. Wild and bred germplasm from North Africa displayed these characteristics to a marked extent, whereas germplasm from southern Europe and Sardinia did not and was less persistent. A group of wild populations mainly from Morocco was identified as the basis for cultivar development.


We thank Mr and Mrs A. and V. Haynes, ‘Narrawarra’, Manilla, and Mr and Mrs R. and S. Williams, ‘Kurrajong Vale’, Purlewaugh, for kindly allowing us to conduct experiments on their land. We also thank Steven Harden, NSW Department of Primary Industries, for performing the principal component analyses and biplot presentation. The technical assistance of Terry Mullens (NSW Department of Primary Industries) and Scott McDonald and Phillip Veness (CSIRO) is gratefully acknowledged. We also thank Malcolm Anderson, Department of Primary Industries, Vic., for supplying seed of the wild populations collected by Cunningham et al. (1997). Support for this project was provided by Australian wool growers and the Australian government through Australian Wool Innovation Ltd.


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