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The Center for Native Grasslands Management

Title: Combining ability of binary mixtures of native, warm season grasses and legumes
Year: 2001
Author(s): Springer, T. L., Aiken, G. E., McNew, R. W.
Source Title: Crop Science
Source Type: Journal
pages: 818-823
Original Publication: http://  
Abstract: Growing complementary plant species is an alternative approach to enhancing pasture production. Our objective was to estimate combining ability for native, warm-season grasses and legumes grown in binary mixtures in the field using a combining ability analysis of variance. Six monocultures and 15 binary mixtures of the following species were studied: big bluestem, Andropogon gerardii Vit.; Illinois bundleflower, Desmanthus illinoensis (Michx.) MacM.; roundhead lespedeza, Lespedeza capitata Michx.; slender lespedeza, L. virginica (L.) Britt.; switchgrass, Panicum virgatum L.; and indiangrass, Sorghastrum nutans (L.) Nash. General combining ability (GCA) effects were found for forage dry matter yields (DMY, P < 0.05) of Illinois bundleflower (21240 kg ha21 ), roundhead lespedeza (23460 kg ha21 ), slender lespedeza (23300 kg ha21 ), and switchgrass (8370 kg ha21 ). Specific combining ability (SCA) effects were found for DMY (P < 0.1) of switchgrass-legume mixtures (1360 kg ha21 ) and indiangrass- Illinois bundleflower mixtures (1230 kg ha21 ). General combining ability and SCA effects were found for crude protein concentration (CPC) of all species and mixtures (P # 0.1), respectively. General combining ability effects were found for in vitro dry matter digestibility (IVDMD) for switchgrass and the three legume species (P < 0.05). The compatibility of these species could not be predicted solely by DMYs. Compatible mixtures, however, were identified with greater confidence when other variables, such as CPC, IVDMD, and visual observations, were taken into account. On the basis of total forage protein (DMY times CPC), the only compatible grass-legume mixture was indiangrass-Illinois bundleflower (SCA effect = 100 kg ha21, P < 0.05).