U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska


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Published in COMMUNICATIONS IN SOIL SCIENCE AND PLANT ANALYSIS, Vol. 35, Nos. 9 & 10, pp. 1339–1355, 2004. DOI: 10.1081/CSS-120037550


HiMag, an accession of tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.), was selected for high magnesium (Mg) concentration in leaves to reduce grass tetany risk to ruminants. However, the mechanism for enhanced Mg uptake in HiMag leaves has not been determined. The objective was to investigate if increased Mg uptake in HiMag could be explained by differences in elemental distribution among plant parts, root characteristics, or organic acid concentrations compared to its parental cultivars, ‘‘Kentucky 31’’ (KY31) and ‘‘Missouri 96’’ (MO96). The study was conducted on a surface-irrigated calcareous Portneuf silt loam (coarse-silty, mixed, mesic, Durinodic Xeric Haplocalcid). Vegetation and soil cores of 7.6-cm diameter were sampled to a 45-cm soil depth in 15-cm increments. Mass and ash were determined for leaves, crowns, and roots. Leaf area, root length, root area, root length density, elemental concentration, and uptake [potassium (K), calcium (Ca), Mg, sodium (Na), and phosphorus (P)], and malate and citrate concentrations also were determined. Leaf Mg concentration was higher in HiMag than parental cultivars. HiMag generally did not differ in crown and root elemental concentrations from its parents. Risk of causing grass tetany, indicated by leaf K/(Ca+Mg), was lower in HiMag than KY31 and MO96 in both 1994 (P=0.03) and 1995 (P=0.01). Root length, area, and mass were not related to cation concentrations in the three tall fescue accessions, suggesting that HiMag may have an active uptake or transport mechanism for Mg.